Category Archives: K-12 Education

A member of the “Educational Reform” Cabal busted pushing anti-union legislation

Ever since the Educational “Reformer” gang (Gates, Duncan, Rhee, Obama) started getting serious airtime in the national discussions about education, it’s been clear that their agenda requires defanging teachers’ unions. All along, the “Reformers” have insisted that they’re not anti-union, but that unions protect “bad teachers” by making them difficult to fire; unions create expenses (salaries and pensions) that are untenable; unions fight against changes in teaching load and class size in spite of clear violations of “efficiency” as a godterm, etc.

Those of us (myself included) who have described the cabal as “anti-union” have, at times, been criticized for overstating the position. It usually goes something like this: “If the unions would just be less, well, unionish, then we could work out reasonable solutions to these problems.”

Well, as if I needed clearer evidence of the gang’s anti-union proclivities, this morning’s Daily Kos reposts and explicates some evidence that Michelle Rhee’s organization, the Orwellian-named Students First, actively participated in crafting the Michigan legislation that all but eliminates collective bargaining rights for teachers. Students First provided agenda points for the legislation, and staff members vetted language in the bills, all while telling the press that they had nothing to do with the bills.

While this news comes as no surprise to those of us who have been following this (ahem) movement over the last couple of years, it may seem only tangentially related to APSCUF or higher education. And that’s probably true, technically. However, it adds another piece to the threat posed by the US Education Delivery Institute (which I wrote about last week and am preparing another post on currently), which is part and parcel of the same movement. Don’t underestimate, even for a moment, the extent to which these folks are not on our side.

I’m not going to claim that they hate students, or that they’re sadists, or any of the easy overstatements. Their specific motives for busting the chops of unions are beside the point, at least at the moment.

What’s on point is that we have to counter the message, at every turn, that unions support bad teaching, that we protect colleagues at the expense of students, that we oppose evaluation systems that determine quality, and so on. With the kind of money the Gates Foundation is throwing at them, with the kind of bully pulpit Arne Duncan has as Secretary of Education, we’re facing a serious challenge. And knowing that members of the cabal are participating directly in anti-union activities ups the stakes for us that much more.

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Collective Bargaining, deliverology, K-12 Education, lobbying, Michelle Rhee, National Education Association, Public education, US Education Delivery Institute

PASSHE and the US Education Delivery Institute (Part 1 of ???)

[When I started writing this, I quickly realized that it’s going to be much longer than I thought. So it’s becoming a series.  –Seth]

[Updated 5 pm Thurs]

Way back in April of this year, I co-hosted a pre-conference workshop called Labor Organizing in Hard Times at the Conference on College Composition and Communication (4Cs, for short) in Atlanta.

During our workshop, I learned a new word: deliverology (which, blessedly, the WordPress spellchecker doesn’t recognize as a word). My friend and colleague Kathleen, who directs the Writing Center at Cal St U-Channel Islands, told us that the CSU system had bought into deliverology, and faculty around the system were already seeing some insidious implications.

I remember thinking (in my much the same way I knew PASSHE would hire the current Chancellor as soon as I learned a little about him) that it couldn’t be long before PASSHE jumped on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, that all happened in the midst of a very long day, and I forgot all about it.

Flash forward to last week. I got an e-mail with a link to the website for an organization called the US Education Delivery Institute (USEDI). Roughly paraphrased, the note said something like, “Just in case you need something else to piss you off” (from a colleague whose sense of humor sometimes runs toward the tongue-in-cheek).

I can only describe my reaction thus (slightly Disneyfied so we can keep our PG-13 rating on the blog): “You gotta be [bleep] kidding me!”

USEDI is the brainchild of Sir Michael Barber, former member of Tony Blair’s Ministry of Education. According to the organization’s website:

The U.S. Education Delivery Institute (EDI) was founded in May 2010 by Sir Michael Barber, former head of the U.K. Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, with support from the Education Trust and Achieve.

This is a unique time in education:  Many K-12 state systems have set ambitious goals as part of the Race to the Top competition, while higher education systems are working to achieve President Obama’s goal of making the United States number one in the world in college attainment by 2020.  Meanwhile, fiscal concerns are requiring education systems to do more with fewer resources.

While systems often have the right ambitions and promising policies, the process of planning and driving implementation receives less attention.  More often than not, leaders approach implementation by fighting fires, making a laundry list of initiatives, or otherwise managing in an uncoordinated way.

Prime Minister Tony Blair faced a similar implementation dilemma in 2001, as he was elected to a second term.  To help him deliver on his priorities, he created the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) and appointed Sir Michael Barber to lead the effort.  The PMDU pioneered a new approach to managing priorities – delivery – and used it with great success to help Blair achieve his priorities.  With the help of the delivery unit, the Blair government reached 80% of policy targets; Prime Minister Blair called his investment in delivery the best domestic reform he had made.

If you’re already noticing the absence of specifics (sometimes signified by asking yourself or anybody else in shouting distance “What does that even mean?”), welcome to it. You should look at the website more carefully than just the highlights (ahem) I’ll lift out in this series of posts, but the short version of what you’ll find is this: USEDI is an organization that helps schools/districts/colleges/universities/systems set and meet policy targets related to “delivering” educational product as efficiently as possible.

The litany of arguments describing and critiquing the corporatization of American higher education is well-established and rehearsed, and frankly it’s too depressing to rehash (again) here. Let’s just say the folks at USEDI have leapfrogged over all that.

[OK… It’s getting harder to write about this without being really angry and sarcastic. Anger is probably appropriate, but sarcasm probably isn’t. Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!]

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Filed under APSCUF, deliverology, K-12 Education, PASSHE, Public education, Uncategorized, US Education Delivery Institute

Follow the money!

I’m sorry to title this post with such a tired cliche, but dagnabbit, it’s right on target again!

As you’re likely aware, Governor Corbett is attacking not just public higher education but all public education in PA.  There’s legislation pending in Harrisburg that would transfer a huge chunk of the money Governor Drill-and-Kill (Drill the Shale, Kill the Schools) wants to cut from K-12 education into a voucher program.

From my early morning cruise through the blogosphere, two articles that help debunk the notion that vouchers are anything but money-stealers from public schools for private interests:

1. In Testing for Thee, but Not for Me, Kevin Drum reports the results of a study from Milwaukee Public Schools indicating (not for the first time!) that voucher-eligible schools are producing test scores that aren’t any better than their public school counterparts. So, all those lazygreedyunion teachers wouldn’t seem to be the problem, would they?

2. If you follow the KUXchange blog, you’ve seen them developing arguments, based on Naomi Klein’s notion of the Shock Doctrine, which holds (in simplistic terms) that the powerful often use rhetorics of crisis and disaster (shock) as smokescreens behind which they accrete power to themselves while people aren’t watching.  In Monday’s HuffPost Education section, Timothy Slekar from Penn State-Altoona applies the Shock Doctrine directly to Governor Drill-and-Kill’s K-12 budget proposal.  His most interesting finding, in my estimation, is that the voucher program in SB1, along with increased (you gotta be frackin’ kidding me!) testing requirements that add nothing to education, will ACTUALLY COST MORE than the proposed cuts would save.

Sometime later today, I’ll see if I can find this again, but about 6 weeks ago, I found evidence that the second largest individual contributor to the Corbett for Governor campaign is the guy who owns the Charter School Management firm that would profit the most from Drill-and-Kill’s “education reform” package.  Gee.  We’re surprised, aren’t we?

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Budget Deficit, Follow the Money, K-12 Education, PA Senate Bill 1, PASSHE, Penn State University, Public education, research, Shock Doctrine, taxes, Tom Corbett, Uncategorized, Vouchers/School Choice

Why we MUST turn out tonight at the Chester County Public Education Rally

[Please share widely among WCU Faculty, Students, Staff, Family members, Friends]

Tonight’s Chester County Rally for Public Education is on, rain or shine.  Current weather forecast (as of about 11:45 am) says a slight chance of rain the evening.

If you (and students are invited to do this too) want to join the APSCUF Funeral Procession (mourning the death of higher education if Tom Corbett wins) and march up to the courthouse, meet at the APSCUF office around 6’ish.  Wear black if you have it.

If you can’t or don’t want to join the procession, just be on the courthouse lawn @ 7.

If you’re still not convinced that YOU have to YOUR PART in this fight, if you still believe that us loudmouth rabble-rousers will do your part for you, if you don’t think the threat is serious enough to warrant being at the courthouse for one stinkin’ hour, read on.

This is a somewhat modified version of the “speech” I gave at the student-led walkout/rally last week in front of Sykes Hall, starting after the hortatory “thanks for coming” stuff.  –Seth

I have only four things to say today, and I’ll make them very quick.

1.  We’re winning this fight.  If you’ve read or listened to or seen any news in the last couple of weeks, you know that lawmakers in both parties are pushing back hard against Governor Corbett’s original proposal to slash our state budget allocation by more than half.

The reason we’re winning is because we’re doing THIS WORK: rallying, writing, calling, postcarding, petitioning.  Let there be no mistake about that.

2.  Now that we fall all good about ourselves…  We haven’t WON anything yet.  There won’t be a budget in place for weeks, and a lot of bad [oops!] can go down between now and then.

That means we can’t afford to let up.  The gains we’ve made in both legislative and public support are important and impressive but fragile, and the second we stop pushing, the second the hammer falls on us.

3.  Now that we’re all scared again, there are two important things for us to be doing right now.  First is turning out for events like the Rally for Public Education at the Chester Co. courthouse on Wed 4/27.  Second is to make sure our contact networks are alive and well through the summer so we can stay organized and keep fighting together.

4. And finally, whatever happens between now and the passage of our budget; whatever happens between now and full restoration of the budget we need and deserve: don’t ever forget who picked this fight.  It wasn’t us–students, faculty, staff members, university employees, our families, our friends.  It wasn’t us, and the people who did pick it need to pay a steep price for that.

For those of you (and I know who some of you are) who are getting ready to graduate, or who don’t believe the current attacks on public education mean anything to you, I have only this to say:

If you intend to teach in a public school at any level, you’re a target.

If you care about anybody who teaches in, otherwise works for, or attends a public school, you’re a target.

If you believe that anybody besides the wealthiest Pennsylvanians deserve a shot at achieving anything remotely resembling a secure future, you’re a target.

Don’t let the slow place of the budget process lull you to sleep.  FIGHT!

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Collective Bargaining, Communities, free speech, K-12 Education, PASSHE, Public education, Rally, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, West Chester University

Teachers getting fired all over the place

Via Jana Nestlerode, two articles about mass teacher firings–

1.  Under Michigan’s new emergency manager law, the city of Detroit’s emergency appointee has sent layoff notices to all unionized teachers in the city.

2.  Providence, RI has simply dismissed all its public school teachers. They will, of course, rehire some.

If your response to this is, “That’s awful but it won’t happen here” or anything like that, I can’t tell you how much I’d love for you to be right.

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Filed under Budget, Budget Cuts, Communities, K-12 Education, Links, Retrenchment

Just in case you’re not clear on the political context…

…for Tom Corbett’s proposal to slash the PASSHE budget and all public education budgets in PA, for the Feds’ desperate rush to cut spending in the middle of deficit and so on, this gem of a video makes it all crystal clear.  Thanks to Kevin Mahoney from the KUXchange for posting.

 

So remember–

Wed April 27, 7 pm.  Chester County Courthouse!  Rally for Public Education!

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Budget Deficit, Collective Bargaining, Contract Negotiations, K-12 Education, Kutztown University, PASSHE, Public education, Shock Doctrine, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, West Chester University

Change of Date for Chester County Rally for Public Education

As soon as I can make the technology work, I’ll post the flyer for Sen. Dinniman’s rally at the Chester County Courthouse, the date of which has MOVED–

New Date: Wed, April 27

So you can have Wed, April 20 back for yourselves, but the 27th?  We need you there.

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Filed under APSCUF, Budget, Communities, K-12 Education, PASSHE, Penn State University, Public education, Rally, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, University of Pittsburgh, West Chester University

Information about another rally

From Kevin Mahoney at the KUXchange, news about a rally April 26 in Harrisburg.  This one merges issues of higher ed, K-12 ed, public and private sector unions.  Details about times/speakers/sponsors forthcoming.

For any student readers or community members–if you’re interested in co-sponsoring this rally, you can use the flyer that’s linked in the post and add your organization’s name and contact info.  Let me (Seth) know if you do this, so I can tell my colleague who designed the flyer to add you to the sponsor list.

Also, Kevin has designed and put up for sale t-shirts in support of the event.  As always, Kevin uses proceeds to support pro-education, pro-student, pro-workers-rights efforts.

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Collective Bargaining, Communities, free speech, K-12 Education, Kutztown University, PASSHE, Public education, Rally, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, University of Pittsburgh, West Chester University

Save the date! Wed, April 20. 7 PM.

At today’s event on campus, Sen. Andy Dinniman announced a Chester-County-wide pro-public-education (pre through college) rally and made an awfully convincing case that WE NEED TO TURN OUT IN FORCE.

Details forthcoming, but here are the vitals–

Wed April 20

7 PM

Chester County Courthouse Steps/Lawn/Wherever else we spill over

If you care about anything on this list, you should be there–

*WCU/PASSHE

*K-12 Education in PA

*Pre-K educational opportunities

*Anybody you know who goes to school at any of those levels

*Anybody you know who works at any school at any of those levels

That just about covers it.  Senator Dinniman said two things today that really hit.  First, he said that without pressure from us, we can’t expect the State Legislator to do anything for us.  Second, he said that with enough pressure from us, they can’t say no!

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Communities, K-12 Education, PASSHE, Public education, Rally, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, West Chester University

Corbett Makes “Worst Governors” List, and PASSHE Budget Cuts Are One Reason Why

They’re not in rank order, necessarily, but Tom Corbett makes this list of the 8 worst current governors in the US.  It’s worth reading the whole piece to see how Corbett compares/contrasts with some of his brothers in crime (Reverse Robin Hood, anyone?), but if you don’t have the time or stomach, here’s the section on Corbett (with apologies for a bit of R-rated language and a very snarky tone):

The Governor: Tom Corbett (Pennsylvania)

In order to deal with the state’s $4 billion deficit, the residents of Pennsylvania want Corbett to raise taxes on the natural gas industry. Plus, they don’t want him to cut funding for education.

And because Corbett is a man of the people, he plans to do the exact opposite.

WHUCK? (That’s shorthand for “What the fuck?”)

Corbett released his budget last week and it’s a doozy. He’s proposing massive cuts to education. He wants to cut state aid to public schools by a jaw-dropping $1 billion. He wants to freeze teacher salaries. And he wants to cut $625 million from higher education. That amounts to a 50 percent cut for the 14 state-owned universities and the four state-related schools (Penn State, Temple, Pitt and Lincoln University).

If this budget passes can you imagine all the services public schools will have to cut?

And I feel bad for the college students at these state schools. A 50 percent cut in state aid is horrifying. Those schools must find a way to replace all of that money. And you know what that means? It means the cost of tuition is going, in the words of Ralph Kramden, “TO THE MOON, ALICE!”

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Governor Corbett has given a coal company CEO unilateral authority to overturn laws and pass out drilling permits as he sees fit.

WHUCK?

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know. Because of natural gas drilling, there are certain parts of the state where the water is hazardous because it’s flammable. There are videos on Youtube where people set fire to the water as it comes out of their faucets. Drinking that water is dangerous. Number one, it might kill you. Number two, when you go to the bathroom to pee, there’s a good chance you might burn your house down!

You know what, Governor Corbett? This is an excellent idea. Let’s make this a national movement. Let’s appoint people to positions they have no business being within 100 feet of.

For example, let’s make high school dropout Bristol Palin the head of the Department of Education! Or how about Amy Winehouse as head of the Department of Health and Human Services? Or what if we made Charlie Sheen the Drug Czar?

Winning!

Last week Governor Corbett said, “Let’s make Pennsylvania the Texas of the natural gas boom!”

Yes, governor, let’s do that. Let’s give some coal executive power to pollute the state’s water supply as he sees fit.

And since you want Pennsylvania to be Texas, let’s cut billions of dollars in education so that the public schools disintegrate into barren wastelands. You know, just like in Texas!

 

And, not only does PASSHE make the article, but the writer actually understands the difference between the state-owned and state-related universities–which seems to be more than we can say for the Governor.

–Seth

 

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Filed under Budget, K-12 Education, PASSHE, Penn State University, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase