The American Bear


Rahm Emanuel: Point Man For Obama's Bipartisan Pork Barrel Pedagogy | Bruce Dixon

By early this week, the truth was hard to avoid and impossible to deny. The Chicago Teachers strike threatened to expose the vast gulf between some of the president’s rhetoric about preserving public education and protecting teachers, and the savagery of the Obama administration’s Race To The Top initiative, which ties federal education funding to how many public schools are closed and privatized, how many public school teachers fired, and how many of those remaining are evaluated according to business-friendly norms like test scores.

“I want you to understand, the president has weighed in,” Emanuel said. “Every issue we’re talking about regarding accountability of our schools, quality in our schools to the education of our children, is the core thrust of Race to the Top.

Emanuel added that the “notion” of the teacher evaluations he proposed came from Race to the Top.

In that sense there couldn’t be a bigger push for the president,” Emanuel insisted.  

Emanuel also thanked Mitt Romney for his statement of support.

Besides the president, Rahm Emanuel had every newspaper and radio station in town, the Commerce Club and all the billionaires, scores of well-funded charter school operators and their contractors and hedge fund backers. He even had fake citizen groups like Democrats for Education Reform, which used money donated by its billionaire backers to run deceptive radio and TV ads (still running as of Tuesday night) aimed at inciting parents against the people who teach their children. Illinois is also one of twenty or so states that have passed corporate inspired “school reform” testing and curriculum measures into law, and drastically limited the issues over which teachers can negotiate along with the their right to strike.

But one of the signs carried by striking teachers told it all. It said “our working conditions are your child’s learning conditions.” The Chicago Teachers Union had prepared months in advance for the strike by reaching out to and working with organized parents around the city and enlisting them behind its basic demands to keep schools open and well-funded, and keeping them informed on and involved in activities that fought the creeping privatization of public education in Chicago. While Rahm had the media the billionaires, armies of hired stooges and the president, the teachers enjoyed broad support among parents and the public. [++]


Imagine what is your greatest fear in your lives, besides losing the people closest to you. For me, that was not being able to teach. And my fear came true this Friday. Five minutes after my last class, I was escorted by security from the school that I helped found, from a system I’ve worked in for 12 years…

We are not alone… As soon as I told people about my dismissal, I started hearing from people all around Chicago about how their position had been closed or redefined or they needed triple-certification to teach, and there was one thing that rang—these people were all really strong union activists…

If we didn’t have a union, you wouldn’t be hearing our story, because the only reason we are all here is because the CTU continues to fight for us.

Katie Hogan, a 12-year Chicago Public Schools teacher, described how she was laid off on August 24 by an interim principal who claimed Hogan’s position—as one of the school’s three English teachers—had been closed “for economic reasons.”


Confirmed: Chicago Public School Teachers Authorize Strike


Chicago public school teachers have voted overwhelmingly to give their union the authority to strike if contract negotiations with the city break down this summer - a move the head of the schools called “a shame.”

Nearly 90 percent of the Chicago Teachers Union rank-and-file members voted to authorize a strike, exceeding the required 75 percent, the union said on Monday. A strike would affect more than 400,000 students.

The strike authorization vote allows the union representing 21,000 teachers to call a strike in the event contract negotiations falter. Chicago teachers last went on strike in 1987 for four weeks.

(via anarcho-queer)

Testing 4-year-olds isn't the answer

When I heard the news last week that the Department of Education is aiming to subject 4-year-olds to high-stakes testing, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief and despondently mutter a slightly altered riff off “The Big Lebowski’s” Walter Sobchak.

Four-year-olds, dude.

You don’t have to be as dyspeptic as Walter to know this is madness. According to Stanford University’s Linda Darling-Hammond, who headed President Obama’s education transition team, though we already “test students in the United States more than any other nation,” our students “perform well below those of other industrialized countries in math and science.” Yet the Obama administration, backed by corporate foundations, is nonetheless intensifying testing at all levels, as if doing the same thing and expecting different results is innovative “reform” rather than what it’s always been: insanity.

(Source: azspot)

The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education | AlterNet

Since the 2010 elections, voucher bills have popped up in legislatures around the nation. From Pennsylvania to Indiana to Florida, state governments across the country have introduced bills that would take money from public schools and use it to send students to private and religious institutions.

Vouchers have always been a staple of the right-wing agenda. Like previous efforts, this most recent push for vouchers is led by a network of conservative think tanks, PACs, Religious Right groups and wealthy conservative donors. But “school choice,” as they euphemistically paint vouchers, is merely a means to an end. Their ultimate goal is the total elimination of our public education system.

The decades-long campaign to end public education is propelled by the super-wealthy, right-wing DeVos family. Betsy Prince DeVos is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the notorious private military contractor Blackwater USA (now Xe), and wife of Dick DeVos, son of the co-founder of Amway, the multi-tiered home products business.

By now, you’ve surely heard of the Koch brothers, whose behind-the-scenes financing of right-wing causes has been widely documented in the past year. The DeVoses have remained largely under the radar, despite the fact that their stealth assault on America’s schools has the potential to do away with public education as we know it.

(Read more)

High schooler challenges Bachmann to debate on U.S. Constitution | Minnesota Independent: News. Politics. Media.

I love this. Go Amy Myers.

A high school sophomore from New Jersey is challenging Rep. Michele Bachmann to a debate on civics and the U.S. Constitution. In an open letter to to Bachmann, Amy Myers of Cherry Hill, N.J., said, “I have found quite a few of your statements regarding The Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted.”

“I, Amy Myers, do hereby challenge Representative Michele Bachmann to a Public Forum Debate and/or Fact Test on The Constitution of the United States, United States History and United States Civics,” Myers wrote, according to a report at City Pages.

Detroit to send layoff notices to all its public teachers | Reuters

The emergency manager appointed to put Detroit’s troubled public school system on a firmer financial footing said on Thursday he was sending layoff notices to all of the district’s 5,466 unionized employees.

 In a statement posted on the website of Detroit Public Schools, Robert Bobb, the district’s temporary head, said notices were being sent to every member of the Detroit Federation of Teachers “in anticipation of a workforce reduction to match the district’s declining student enrollment.”

Bobb said nearly 250 administrators were receiving the notices, too. [read more]

(Source: pantslessprogressive)