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Modern School

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Member since: Sun Dec 12, 2010, 01:09 PM
Number of posts: 794

Journal Archives

Florida Wasted $10,000’s Trying to Bust Poor People


Florida passed a law requiring those seeking welfare to first pass a drug test. The rationale was ostensibly to protect taxpayers from the horror of feeding the drug habits of low life scum who used welfare for drugs instead of feeding their babies. Proponents argued it would save the state money. Less people would apply (out of fear of getting busted), saving the state tens of thousands of dollars, while those who did apply but were caught would be rejected from the program and save the state tens of thousands of dollars more.

New research indicates that the program actually cost the government far more than it saved. Only 2.6% of applicants failed the test, mostly for marijuana use. Data obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union showed that the state spent over $118,000 for the tests, or $46,000 more than it would have spent on benefits for the few people who were disqualified, according to Democracy Now. Furthermore, the program dissuaded very few people, if any, from applying for welfare, with no change in the total number of people applying for welfare.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/04/florida-wasted-10000s-trying-to-bust.html
Posted by Modern School | Sat Apr 21, 2012, 10:56 PM (2 replies)

Mind-Numbing Finger Wagging By the SF Chron.

In her hit piece, “Mind-numbing protests meet pepper spray,” (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/14/12), Debra Saunders makes the University of California, Davis police out to be innocent victims of abuse by spoiled brat students, implying that their pepper spraying of students at point blank range was somehow justified. However, worse than the finger wagging, which activists have come to expect from the corporate media, are the numerous inaccuracies, exaggerations and omissions in her piece, including the reason why students were protesting: the 18% tuition hike for the 2011-2012 school year.

Let’s start with the most serious omission: students were seated and protesting nonviolently. They were doing nothing that was physically threatening to anyone, including the police. The legality, rationality and civility of their tactics are irrelevant. There was simply no justification for pepper spray or any other form of police violence. Furthermore, the pepper spray was sprayed directly into students’ faces, though it is not supposed to be used any closer than six feet, and it was a high potency variety that had not been approved for use on nonviolent protesters.

Saunders devotes much of her piece to the irrational argument that tactics like linking arms, setting up tents and chanting provoked police into pepper spraying them. This is absurd, tantamount to the argument that name-calling justifies a beating. Police could have ignored the students (they weren’t harming anyone). They could have issued citations on the spot or even arrested them without using pepper spray. She argues that students were warned they would be pepper sprayed and the “smart thing” to do was to leave, which is like saying that an abuse victim is to blame for not leaving her abuser or that a child is to blame if his father warns him first that he will be beaten with a coat hanger.

There are many rational reasons for the students to have remained, such as the common (if naďve) belief that the police will not use chemical weapons against nonviolent demonstrators. Indeed, Saunders accuses one protester of “taunting” police by saying, "You are going to shoot me for sitting here? Is that what you said, officer?" Yet this statement could just as easily be interpreted as a statement of disbelief.

Saunders lambasts the Reynoso report (which correctly placed blame for the incident entirely on the campus police and administration) of failing to address the “need to educate students about the difference between free speech and civil disobedience.” However, the commission’s purpose was to determine the causes and legitimacy of the pepper spraying incident, not to critique pedagogy or curricula. Even so, her point is just plain silly. Is free speech necessarily more noble or legitimate than civil disobedience? One should not forget that free speech is often legally used by hate groups to promote violence against people of color, GLBT’s and women and that civil disobedience has repeatedly been utilized in many well respected and legitimate struggles (e.g., underground railroad, civil rights movement, women’s suffrage, poll taxes).

She even criticizes the university administration for occasionally discouraging prosecution of student activists, as if this confused students into believing they were immune from punishment. This is ridiculous. People who engage in civil disobedience expect consequences. Their goals are to overwhelm the system with arrests and encourage media coverage of their cause. The students knew they were taking a risk. Furthermore, while administrators have discouraged prosecution from time to time, many more students have been prosecuted without intervention by the university. And in the few cases where prosecution was discouraged, taxpayers ought to be thankful, as it saved them thousands of dollars in unnecessary legal expenses.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/04/mind-numbing-finger-wagging-by-sf-chron.html
Posted by Modern School | Sat Apr 21, 2012, 10:55 PM (0 replies)

Censorship and Suppression of Academic Freedom at UCLA

UCLA Professor David Delgado Shorter has been asked to remove a link on his website that calls for the boycott of Israel, according to the Los Angeles Times. The university has asked him to remove the link and claimed he has agreed to not use the link in the future. Shorter claimed he never made such an agreement. In fact, he thought they had agreed to continue discussions over the issue and to provide an explanation of the campus policy on the matter.

Shorter said the link was one of a number of suggested links for his course “Tribal Worldviews.” The links were not required reading and were provided only as part of a “clearinghouse” of ideas.

The UCLA leadership was acting on a complaint by the Zionist AMCHA Initiative organization, a group of Jewish faculty that has accused other UC campuses of ignoring anti-Semitism and allowing harassment of Jews and that has acted as an apologist for the state of Israel.

While it is commonly believed that a professor’s job is to teach students how to think, not to think for them, exposing students to political movements, protests and other partisan activities cannot be banned or limited without also diluting or undermining the very nature of many courses. Furthermore, it’s a stretch to argue that exposing students to a cause is in any way condoning it or recruiting for it.

A political science teacher might ask students to visit the MoveOn.org website in order to study how digital fundraising can influence an election, while an ethnic studies professor might ask students to visit a hate group’s website to study how they recruit new members or to analyze the content of their speech.

Prohibiting political links on a professor’s website could prevent a philosophy of science teacher from posting links to organizations opposing stem cell research or those denying evolution or climate change, even those there are pedagogically sound reasons for asking students to study such organizations.

Such academic policies suppress academic freedom, critical thinking and learning and do little, or nothing to prevent the proselytization of students. Merely posting a partisan link as one of many in a clearinghouse of resources available for students is not at all the same as espousing or condoning a particular viewpoint. If our goal as educators is to teach students how to think, and not what to think, we must be allowed to expose them to a variety of resources and viewpoints, including controversial ones and ones we may ourselves oppose, while at the same time encouraging them to assess the content critically.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/04/censorship-and-suppression-of-academic.html
Posted by Modern School | Thu Apr 19, 2012, 11:11 PM (1 replies)

Union Busting in "ProLabor" California

In the wake of several recent sexual abuse allegations against Los Angeles school teachers and the mass public hysteria that followed, the California Legislature will consider three new laws that significantly reduce union protections for teachers. These union busting bills (SB 1530, AB 2028 and SB 1059) were set for hearing in the California legislature on April 18, 2012. According to the CTA website, SB 1059 would virtually eliminate Due Process rights for teachers.

SB 1530, sponsored by Sen. Alex Padilla, (Dem., Los Angeles), would give school boards the final decision over firing teachers facing sexual, drug, and other serious misconduct charges, according to the Topics in Education (Toped) website. The three-person appeals board currently in place would be replaced by an administrative judge whose opinions would only be advisory. This would turn school boards into partisan judge and juries, thus making it much harder for teachers to defend themselves against frivolous or vindictive accusations. The bill would also allow districts to suspend teachers for virtually any “infraction” they deem unprofessional, thus, making it even easier for school boards to get rid of teachers who are outspoken, critical of district policies or active in their unions.

SB 1530 would also eliminate the current requirement that districts issue a 45-day notice to teachers facing disciplinary action and it would allow districts to suspend teachers without pay. Thus, teachers would lose the ability to know that charges have been filed against them and to prepare a defense. This might seem unnecessary—shouldn’t a teacher be aware if she has done something wrong? Not necessarily. Teachers are disciplined fairly regularly based on unsubstantiated accusations by students, parents and administrators. A teacher may be completely unaware that such accusations have been made and should have the right to defend herself and clear her name, something that would become difficult or impossible under SB1530.

SB 1059, sponsored by Bob Huff (Rep., Diamond Bar), would also quicken the firing process and give school boards the final say over firing teachers for misconduct and for unsatisfactory performance, Toped reports. It would also remove the 4-year statute of limitations on misconduct investigations in a teacher’s file.

CTA’s response to the Padilla bill can be seen here: sb1530Page1 sb1530Page2.

Making Schools Safer for Children?
Aside from the fact that these laws will make it easier to fire teachers and take away many due process rights necessary for them to defend themselves from arbitrary, vindictive and retaliatory disciplinary actions, they are redundant and unnecessary. School districts already have the right to discipline and fire teachers for infractions that harm students, jeopardize safety or otherwise undermine the educational process. What happened in Los Angeles (e.g., suspected serial molesters being allowed to stay in the classroom) was due to the laziness and incompetency of LAUSD investigators and administrators, not inadequate laws (see here, here and here).

Rather than pandering to public hysteria about a nonexistent epidemic of molesters in the classroom, lawmakers ought to consider how to make schools truly safer by focusing on safety issues that affect the majority of students. For example, California classes often have 35-40 students in them, making them unsafe for lab activities and reducing the ability of teachers to identify and address dangerous behavior or bullying. Similarly, the declining number of counselors and support personnel in California schools means that many students who are suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety, grief and other emotional distresses are falling through the cracks. Aside from the tragedy that they are not getting the support services they need to feel safe and thrive at school, some of them could be also become dangers to their classmates if their conditions remain unidentified or treated.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/04/union-busting-in-pro-labor-california.html
Posted by Modern School | Thu Apr 19, 2012, 11:10 PM (0 replies)

Union Busting in “Pro-Labor” California

In the wake of several recent sexual abuse allegations against Los Angeles school teachers and the mass public hysteria that followed, the California Legislature will consider three new laws that significantly reduce union protections for teachers. These union busting bills (SB 1530, AB 2028 and SB 1059) were set for hearing in the California legislature on April 18, 2012. According to the CTA website, SB 1059 would virtually eliminate Due Process rights for teachers.

SB 1530, sponsored by Sen. Alex Padilla, (Dem., Los Angeles), would give school boards the final decision over firing teachers facing sexual, drug, and other serious misconduct charges, according to the Topics in Education (Toped) website. The three-person appeals board currently in place would be replaced by an administrative judge whose opinions would only be advisory. This would turn school boards into partisan judge and juries, thus making it much harder for teachers to defend themselves against frivolous or vindictive accusations. The bill would also allow districts to suspend teachers for virtually any “infraction” they deem unprofessional, thus, making it even easier for school boards to get rid of teachers who are outspoken, critical of district policies or active in their unions.

SB 1530 would also eliminate the current requirement that districts issue a 45-day notice to teachers facing disciplinary action and it would allow districts to suspend teachers without pay. Thus, teachers would lose the ability to know that charges have been filed against them and to prepare a defense. This might seem unnecessary—shouldn’t a teacher be aware if she has done something wrong? Not necessarily. Teachers are disciplined fairly regularly based on unsubstantiated accusations by students, parents and administrators. A teacher may be completely unaware that such accusations have been made and should have the right to defend herself and clear her name, something that would become difficult or impossible under SB1530.

SB 1059, sponsored by Bob Huff (Rep., Diamond Bar), would also quicken the firing process and give school boards the final say over firing teachers for misconduct and for unsatisfactory performance, Toped reports. It would also remove the 4-year statute of limitations on misconduct investigations in a teacher’s file.

CTA’s response to the Padilla bill can be seen here: sb1530Page1 sb1530Page2.

Making Schools Safer for Children?
Aside from the fact that these laws will make it easier to fire teachers and take away many due process rights necessary for them to defend themselves from arbitrary, vindictive and retaliatory disciplinary actions, they are redundant and unnecessary. School districts already have the right to discipline and fire teachers for infractions that harm students, jeopardize safety or otherwise undermine the educational process. What happened in Los Angeles (e.g., suspected serial molesters being allowed to stay in the classroom) was due to the laziness and incompetency of LAUSD investigators and administrators, not inadequate laws (see here, here and here).

Rather than pandering to public hysteria about a nonexistent epidemic of molesters in the classroom, lawmakers ought to consider how to make schools truly safer by focusing on safety issues that affect the majority of students. For example, California classes often have 35-40 students in them, making them unsafe for lab activities and reducing the ability of teachers to identify and address dangerous behavior or bullying. Similarly, the declining number of counselors and support personnel in California schools means that many students who are suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety, grief and other emotional distresses are falling through the cracks. Aside from the tragedy that they are not getting the support services they need to feel safe and thrive at school, some of them could be also become dangers to their classmates if their conditions remain unidentified or treated.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/04/union-busting-in-pro-labor-california.html
Posted by Modern School | Thu Apr 19, 2012, 11:09 PM (1 replies)

The One Laptop Per Child Deception


Audrey Watters, writing in Hacked Education, provides an interesting critique of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) movement, starting with the recent study by the Inter-American Development Bank in rural Peru which indicated that providing laptops does not improve test scores.

This should be no surprise. Test scores and academic success are influenced most significantly by socioeconomic factors that affect children well before they have even started school (see here and here), like malnutrition and poor health; exposure to smoke, lead and other environmental insults; and lack of early exposure to reading.

Nevertheless, one might wonder why anyone would believe that computer technology would provide more bang for the nonprofit buck than investing in nutrition- and poverty-reducing programs or building water treatment plants. These investments would not only save children’s lives but help improve their health and nutrition, thus reducing premature births, cognitive impairment and learning disabilities. Furthermore, when one considers that the laptops were not allowed to be taken home, that many of the families lacked electricity and internet access anyway, and the teachers were provided little or no professional development on integrating technology into the classroom, the program seemed doomed from the start.

The mission of OLPC was never about raising test scores or even improving learning. Rather, they believe that providing low-cost technology will “empower” children, make education more “joyful” for them, and provide them a “brighter future.” As with testing, there is no evidence that laptops do any of these things.

The idea of placing fancy, high tech toys (er, tools) into the hands of disadvantaged and marginalized people has the same sort of appeal as winning a shopping spree or the lottery. It’s exciting to imagine computers in the hands of children for whom classrooms and slate and chalk are luxuries. It is absurd, however, to think that this will erase years of hunger and privation or replace quality teaching.

Now let’s move on to the U.S., where the notion of a laptop (or tablet or iphone) in every hand is also a popular notion. Will this save districts money? It depends on whether they are maintaining and replacing the hardware and if students treat the hardware with the same carelessness and abuse with which they treat their textbooks. It will bring in millions of dollars to the big four textbook publishers—Harcourt Educational Measurement, CTB McGraw-Hill, Riverside Publishing (a Houghton Mifflin company) and NCS Pearson—which will be producing the majority of the ebooks, and tech companies like Apple, which will gain greater access to public K-12 revenues and which will lock districts into lucrative service contracts.

Will it improve learning? Not likely. The bulk of the material that will be available will be the same or similar to what is already produced by the big 4 publishers (i.e., digital versions of their existing textbooks). Will students suddenly improve their vocabularies and reading comprehension by virtue of having ebooks and tablets? Also unlikely.

Will it be a boondoggle that will hamstring districts and cut into scarce resources? Most definitely. They will have to purchase the laptops or tablets AND new ebook licenses, with an initial cost that will likely far exceed that of new textbooks alone, even though new textbooks are not even necessarily needed in electronic or hardback versions.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/04/one-laptop-per-child-deception.html
Posted by Modern School | Thu Apr 19, 2012, 12:02 AM (6 replies)

What’s Wrong With 99% Spring?

There has been lots of talk about the “99% Spring” and growing interest by mainstream unions in confronting corporate greed. There has also been a lot of criticism of “99% Spring” by OWS veterans who fear that Democratic Party Hacks will coopt and dilute their movement. Indeed, there is evidence it is a front group for MoveOn.org.

Regardless of the intent or consequences of the “99% Spring” movement, it shares with the OWS a fundamental naiveté and ignorance about the actual source of our financial woes that prevent either movement from achieving many of their stated goals.

The 99% Spring movement wants to “Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who’s responsible, what a different future could look like. . . “ Yet both the 99% Spring and OWS movements blame the economic crisis on the “1%,” or a “greedy few” who merely need to be reined in with tougher laws and better enforcement. They both accuse the 1% of being “exceedingly” rich (as if slightly rich were okay) because they “cheated and rigged the political system in their favor.”

This critique ignores the fact that our current economic crisis is merely a worsening of conditions that existed prior to the meltdown. There has always been a minority who possessed most of the wealth because they owned the businesses and machinery of production and paid their employees a fraction of the value of their labor. As a result of this relationship, there has always been unemployment, poverty, homelessness, hunger, uncertainty, debt and despair for the rest of us. The American Dream has always been exactly that, a dream, with only a rare few ever rising from poverty into wealth. And the wealthy minority has always controlled the political system. Indeed, it was designed to protect their interests and maintain their power. At its best, the political system gives us the annual right (duty?) to vote for our rulers and oppressors and give our consent to our own exploitation, not to change it in a way that would give us actual power or wealth.

Today’s Crisis is Not Unique
The situation today might seem worse than any in generations, but it is not unique or unusual under capitalism. Indeed, it is often compared with the Great Depression, while today’s wealth gap is often compared with the Roaring 20’s. There were many other historically significant depressions, recessions and panics, too. A terrible protracted depression lasted from 1873-1896, known as the “Great Depression” until overshadowed by the more recent one. The Panic of 1837 began with a collapsed real estate bubble in New York, leading to five years of depression.

Certainly things have been better than they are today. Not long ago it was easier for a middle class family to send their children to college and for one parent to earn enough to support the whole family. Those days seem to be gone. Incomes (relative to the cost of living) have declined steadily since the 1970s (coinciding with the declining power of unions). The costs of college and health insurance have been increasing at a much faster rate than inflation, making them increasingly out of reach for more and more Americans. The gap between the rich and the poor has been growing rapidly since the Reagan era.

If 99% Spring and OWS are only interested in reforms that restore middle class wealth and hope to their pre-Bush or pre-Reagan levels, fine. But they must remember that even if they succeed it will only be temporary. As long as a system based on economic exploitation, wage slavery, and dependence persists, those who profit from it will always try to squeeze more from their employees; reduce wages and benefits; exploit existing laws, write new ones and even break laws whenever it is profitable to do so. Consider that the ruling elite spent decades whittling away at the regulations of the New Deal and the union gains of the 1940s.

The “1%” is Not to Blame
Even when unions were at their strongest or when the wealth gap was smaller or when middle class Americans felt more hopeful, there was still a tiny minority of bosses, landlords, administrators, and CEOS who controlled the economy and political system. This class was (and is) defined by their ability to hire and fire workers, dictate working conditions, and manipulate the political system for their economic and social gain, not by their membership in the group of millionaires making up the richest 1%. Many are not even millionaires, nor members of the “1%” (e.g., most K-12 superintendents and site administrators), yet they maintain considerable control over our working and living conditions. They are allied with the “1%” and tend to make decisions that benefit the wealthiest members of society. They are, indeed, members of the ruling elite, despite their “modest” incomes, and their existence as a class is fundamental to the problems that OWS and 99% Spring decry.

Both movements want to “reclaim our” America, yet the America they want back was never “ours” to reclaim. It has always been “their country” economically and politically. While we might occasionally win a raise, the vast majority of us will remain politically and economically subservient so long as we accept the existing political and economic systems. We will continue to be paid a fraction of the value of our labor, with our bosses pocketing the difference so long as we continue to accept their right to do so, something both movements accept.

Direct Action Gets the Goods
A classic IWW (Wobbly) slogan is: “Direct Action Gets the Goods.” The “99% Spring” movement has been emphasizing nonviolent direct action as their tactic of choice, in the “spirit of Martin Luther King and Gandhi,” but apparently not in the spirit of the Wobblies, who have been discredited by the bosses, politicians and conservative activists as anarchists, reds, saboteurs, terrorists, and wing nuts.

The Wobblies defined direct action as the opposite of political action. They eschewed political action entirely, arguing that it was divisive (since union members came from various parties and political tendencies, including anarchism) and ineffective (since the political system exists to maintain the wealth and power of the bosses and continues to do so regardless of how workers’ vote).

While the Wobblies did participate in protests and street demonstrations, their most effective tactics were the ones that slowed down or halted production (e.g., working to rule, striking, sit-down strikes, sabotage, General Strikes). And while the Wobblies did fight for incremental gains like wage increases, union contracts, collective bargaining, safety rules and job security, they did so with ultimate goal of abolishing wage slavery in its entirety. They understood that the Employing Class (i.e., anyone with the power to hire and fire) was their class enemy and that as long as this class persisted, workers would always have to fight just to survive.

Aside from a few acts of solidarity with labor (e.g., shutting down ports or marching with striking workers), the OWS has focused primarily on occupying symbolic spaces, a tactic that has applied almost no pressure at all on the bosses, had no impact on their profits, and hardly even made them nervous. Now the 99% Spring movement wants to jump in and get union workers and the Democratic party faithful to do the same.

Even if we ignore the problems with their economic critique and assume that they develop a modest, reformist platform (e.g., stronger financial laws; single payer healthcare; pensions for everyone), marching in the streets, transferring money from large banks to local credit unions, and occupying public squares are unlikely to succeed unless they are accompanied with threats to profits. What made the occupation of the Wisconsin State House potentially effective was not the occupation itself, but the fact that so many workers were not at work. Had the mainstream unions not wimped out and sent their members home with the promise of an electoral or legislative victory, the occupation might have evolved into a General Strike, which would have a much greater chance of pressuring legislators to back down on their union busting agenda.

OWS Is Already Sanitized and Mainstreamed
An article in Gawker lamented that the 99% Spring will “likely . . . drown it out and sanitize , mainstreaming progressive populist outrage by beating it down. . .” An article in the Daily Kos shared this fear.

The problem with this analysis is that OWS was already sanitized and mainstreamed from the moment of its birth by the very nature of its tactics and message. The mainstream media loves the movement. It’s safe and sympathetic, it’s patriotic, and it doesn’t threaten profits or political power. Who could possibly be fearful of college students asking for student debt relief, uninsured people asking for healthcare, unemployed people asking for jobs, disillusioned voters asking for less financial influence on the political system, evicted home owners asking for mortgage relief, and people in general asking that the filthy rich be a little nicer and less greedy?

So long as the movements do not threaten profits or the security of the bosses and ruling elite they will continue with business as usual and the status quo will prevail.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/04/whats-wrong-with-99-spring.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Apr 18, 2012, 11:51 PM (4 replies)

California Seeks to Legislatively Cut Suspensions

In the 2009-10 academic year there were over 750,000 suspensions in California schools, Kathryn Baron wrote in a piece for Topics in Education last week. Meanwhile, Suspended Education in California, a recent analysis of federal data by The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, found that 20% of all African American students were suspended at least once in 2009-10, compared to one of every 14 Latino students and one of every 17 white students.

In the wake of such revelations, the California Legislature’s education committees recently approved six new bills to cut down expulsions and suspension. SB 1235, sponsored by Darryl Steinberg, would require schools with suspension rates above 25% for any ethnic group to implement an alternative consequence that still holds the student accountable while keeping them in school. (A list of the other bills can be seen here).

While it is certainly desirable to reduce inequities in the education system and to reduce suspension rates in general, it is also important to understand why suspension rates have climbed so high and why there are such large racial disparities, rather than cobbling together a few knee jerk laws that avoid the actual causes and do little to make schools safer or equitable.

Steinberg notes that kids who get suspended and miss school fall further behind and thus have a greater chance of dropping out. However, this is a correlation, not necessarily a cause. It may be true that students who have been suspended are less likely to graduate, but one or two suspensions are unlikely to cause a student to flunk out. A more likely scenario is that the student is already behind in credits and is struggling in his current classes. He may be reading well below grade level and have other problems that make it difficult to focus during class time, contributing both to behavior problems and poor academic success.

There are many alternatives to suspension and expulsion, the most effective of which is probably prevention. A lot can be done to create academic cultures in which students want to learn and understand and internalize the behaviors necessary for their academic success. Sadly, this does not exist at many of schools, particularly low income schools.

While there are many reasons for this, the Apartheid nature of our schools is a major influence. Some school are filled predominantly with middle class students who read at grade level, do their homework and study, and who tend not to get in very much trouble. Then there are the low income schools which are often filled with students who are reading far below grade level, who are behind academically, and who have trouble sitting still and focusing for extended periods. Not surprisingly, these students tend to have more trouble following the rules and get in trouble more often.

While there seems to be no political will to break up these segregated schools or to reassign students in a more equitable manner, there are a lot of things that administrators could do to create and support a more academic culture without relying on suspensions. For example, supporting teachers promptly and effectively when informed of a disciplinary problem can help maintain a positive classroom environment and prevent disruptions from growing out of control. Being visible on campus during passing periods, lunch and recess can help them to identify and stop bullying or other inappropriate behavior before they get out of hand. School rules and policies can be reinforced through assemblies, classroom visits and school media.

Unfortunately, these things often do not occur at schools. I have seen administrators ignore drugs and fights (or allow students back in class the same or next day). In one school I was at, after a homophobic assault and melee, the gay students were suspended and the only administrative or school wide response was an email by the principal recommending that teachers send their students to a voluntary debriefing by the student government. (For other examples of administrators behaving badly, click here or here).

Baron points to the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program as a model for changing student behavior and improving the school climate. She describes a principal who spent time calming an out-of-control student who wouldn’t stop cursing and then listening to her, learning that her mother had just abandoned the family. This is what schools should be doing all along, but often can’t because they don’t have the human resources. It takes time to listen. More importantly, the girl should have been identified and referred to her counselor or a school safety advocate (if either were available) before she lost control, something that is also difficult with all the budget and staffing cuts of the past few years.

Nevertheless, this sort of response by the adults at a school is far more likely to prevent school violence than zero tolerance policies and it is more likely to lead to solutions that can help students who are struggling with difficult situations before they blow up go postal.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/04/california-seeks-to-legislatively-cut.html
Posted by Modern School | Tue Apr 17, 2012, 11:52 PM (1 replies)

Cal State Faculty to Vote on Largest University Strike in U.S. History

California State University faculty started a strike authorization vote yesterday after 22 months of failed talks over salary, class sizes and other issues, the Los Angeles Times reported this week. Professors have had no raise in 5 years and are asking for a modest 1% pay increase for each year of the new contract, plus more control over class sizes and greater stability for faculty with temporary contracts.

A yes vote would result in two-day rolling strikes at the University’s 23 campuses, beginning in the fall of 2012, according to California Faculty Association, which represents 23,000 Cal State professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches.

The CSU system lost $750 million this fiscal year, with another $200-million reduction planned for next year if the governor’s tax plan fails to win enough votes in November. CSU has faced multiple large scale budget cuts for each of the past few years. In response it has increased tuition each year, slashed course offerings and turned away thousands of students.


As usual, Cal State officials claimed the union's demands would be prohibitive at a time of severe budget cuts. Yet administrators have been getting raises of 10% or more for the past few years. SDSU’s new president, for example, is earning $100,000 more than the previous president, a 25% salary hike.

Strike Early, Strike Often
If CSU faculty walks out, it would be the largest university strike in U.S. history and one of the largest strikes in the past five years. American workers need a good strike, particularly a successful one. The unions have all but given up strikes and other job actions that place financial pressure on the bosses even though these are our most effective weapons for winning improvement in compensation and working conditions.

Any large strike has the potential to inspire and embolden other workers. Strikes can beget more strikes, particularly when successful. The more workers go out on strike, the more the bosses will listen and compromise in hopes of averting larger, more militant and more demanding strikes. So long as workers remain quiescent, the bosses will continue to walk all over us under the belief they can do so without any risk or consequence.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/04/cal-state-faculty-to-vote-on-largest.html
Posted by Modern School | Tue Apr 17, 2012, 11:51 PM (2 replies)

Cal State Faculty to Vote on Largest University Strike in U.S. History

California State University faculty started a strike authorization vote yesterday after 22 months of failed talks over salary, class sizes and other issues, the Los Angeles Times reported this week. Professors have had no raise in 5 years and are asking for a modest 1% pay increase for each year of the new contract, plus more control over class sizes and greater stability for faculty with temporary contracts.

A yes vote would result in two-day rolling strikes at the University’s 23 campuses, beginning in the fall of 2012, according to California Faculty Association, which represents 23,000 Cal State professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches.

The CSU system lost $750 million this fiscal year, with another $200-million reduction planned for next year if the governor’s tax plan fails to win enough votes in November. CSU has faced multiple large scale budget cuts for each of the past few years. In response it has increased tuition each year, slashed course offerings and turned away thousands of students.


As usual, Cal State officials claimed the union's demands would be prohibitive at a time of severe budget cuts. Yet administrators have been getting raises of 10% or more for the past few years. SDSU’s new president, for example, is earning $100,000 more than the previous president, a 25% salary hike.

Strike Early, Strike Often
If CSU faculty walks out, it would be the largest university strike in U.S. history and one of the largest strikes in the past five years. American workers need a good strike, particularly a successful one. The unions have all but given up strikes and other job actions that place financial pressure on the bosses even though these are our most effective weapons for winning improvement in compensation and working conditions.

Any large strike has the potential to inspire and embolden other workers. Strikes can beget more strikes, particularly when successful. The more workers go out on strike, the more the bosses will listen and compromise in hopes of averting larger, more militant and more demanding strikes. So long as workers remain quiescent, the bosses will continue to walk all over us under the belief they can do so without any risk or consequence.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/04/cal-state-faculty-to-vote-on-largest.html
Posted by Modern School | Tue Apr 17, 2012, 11:50 PM (0 replies)
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