Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Goodlad on school reform: Are we ignoring lessons of last 50 years?

This is the first of three articles by influential education theorist and reformer John I. Goodlad.

Goodlad, author of more than three dozen books, is president of the Institute for Educational Inquiry in Seattle and has held professorships at Emory University, the University of Chicago, the University of Washington and UCLA, where he was dean of the Graduate School of Education from 1967-1983. His1984 book “A Place Called School,” is often credited with launching research efforts on school improvement.

This is long for a blog post, full of reflections by Goodlad about his own life, educational history and schools today, but it is worth your time. Goodlad always is.


By John I. Goodlad | Washington Post
April 27, 2010

Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.
—Ellwood Cubberley, 1909

In autumn 2008, I was at the end of a four-year metamorphosis that embraced a life-threatening illness and the loss of my wife of sixty years. Coming out of it was akin to a teeter-totter ride, with a measure of hope when my end was going up and a measure of despair when it was on the way down.

During the last three years of this semi-spiritual turning, I read a lot and then began to write a little again, a process that yielded one page worth keeping for every four that went into my wastebasket.

As autumn advanced, I became increasingly aware that some of what I had been reading about—on the nation’s cultural readiness for a long-overdue great turning—might come to pass.

At least it was being much talked about in my little domain of human behavior.

The prospect of sweeping change was gaining attention and conversation. Of course, as philosopher Hannah Arendt makes clear in her classic book “The Human Condition,” there is a considerable distinction between behavior and action. To act takes courage, risks failure, and often stirs contrary views and actions.

Perhaps this is a reason why schooling, a very large part of my long professional career, has been so shy of having even modest turnings. Perhaps it is also why researchers David Tyack and Larry Cuban found so little change in their study of schooling over the past hundred years and titled their book on the subject “Tinkering Toward Utopia.”

A few years before the onslaught of illness, I had joined with several other educators in creating the Forum for Education and Democracy, a nonprofit agency for stemming the tide of miseducation that has been steadily rising since Sputnik I and II circled the globe in 1957. The Soviet Union’s success in space had frightened the populace, increased expectations for our schools, and expanded the role of the federal government in their conduct.

Just a quarter century later, the solidification of these expectations and the federal role were at the core of the presidentially commissioned report “A Nation at Risk,” which offered this stunning rebuke of our schools in 1983: “If an unfriendly power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might have viewed it as an act of war.”

As always with reform era reports, those who are to implement the recommendations do not get to participate in their formulation. The National Commission on Excellence in Education recommended that “citizens across the nation hold educators and elected officials responsible for providing the leadership to achieve these reforms.”

But with the passage and subsequent implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, the founders of the Forum for Education and Democracy realized that Congress and the president [George W. Bush] had sharply limited the role of “citizens across the nation” in both determining and implementing their expectations for schooling.

And so, in 2008, the Forum published Democracy at Risk, a call for a new federal policy in public education. Half of the first paragraph reads as follows:

“As Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘If Americans desire to be both ignorant and free, they want what never has been and what will never be.” Indeed, it is our democratic system of governing, based upon the twin pillars of equal rights and responsibilities, which requires we have a system of public education.”

I was deep in both illness and grief when colleagues in the Forum wrote this powerful document that has gained at least modest attention in the Washington, D.C., Beltway. I was able to comment on the manuscript when it was still a work in progress.

By the time of its publication in April 2008, I was beginning to catch up with the growing discourse that linked with my earlier reading regarding the coming of a great turning in the well-being of the moral ecology that holds us together as a people. A healthy, thinking people sustained by this culture is essential to the good society.

It was clear a year later that health care and schooling were high on President Obama’s action agenda, as they had been in his campaign rhetoric.

But, as 2009 merged into 2010, the expectations for a new dawning in schooling were slipping away. The good news was that the No Child Left Behind Act soon would be history. But the proposals for “reform” were déjà vu all over again—been there, done that.

I suddenly awakened to the realization that we were tinkering, one more time, toward an ill-defined utopia.

I was dumbfounded. How could we so ignore the lessons of 50 years of failed school reform and the learning and strategies of those hundreds of innovative boutique projects, funded over these years by billions of dollars from philanthropic foundations, that excited and changed thousands of teachers nationwide?

How could we simply set aside the conclusions and recommendations of those many behavioral and social scientists in the fields of economics, history, psychology, sociology, child development, psychometrics, philosophy, education, and more, who have from their inquiries provided so much of the knowledge necessary for those whose work it is to guide the becoming of a wise people? And what about the knowledge of those experienced practitioners, thoughtful parents, and others? Is there any major field of endeavor other than schooling that has so little agency for its own mission, conduct, and well-being?

Given this reality, it is not surprising that the schooling enterprise is so rife with evidence-free ideology regarding its functioning. We will never have the schools we need until local communities, educators and their organizations, and policymakers share a common mission for them. And we will never have the world-class schools we seek until the people closest to them and best prepared for their agency are their designated stewards.

Now that the state is getting seriously into another era of school reform, it makes sense for us to study and learn from those of the past half-century. There are peculiarities that require considerable thinking if one tries to connect them with both reality and major patterns of human behavior. Significant change in most organizations, corporations included, comes from inside.

Reform, however, is commonly regarded as coming from the outside, imposed, and frequently regarded on the inside as noxious.

In the dictionary in front of me, reform as a verb is “to put an end to [an evil] by enforcing or introducing a better method or course of action.” The far less palatable definition of the noun is “amendment of what is defective, vicious, corrupt, or depraved.”

Because, early in my career, I taught in and directed the education component of the British Columbia Industrial School for Boys (a.k.a. reform school), I always cringe with our careless use of “school reform,” which I have endeavored, unsuccessfully, to get at least school principals and teachers to eschew.

In what probably were researcher Gerald Bracey’s last published words, he wrote the following: “Americans never hear anything positive about the nation’s schools and haven’t since the years just before Sputnik in 1957.”

In this same piece, Bracey notes that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said repeatedly that we are in an educational crisis. In dozens of books and magazines I have read over the past year, writers have simply taken it for granted that the public views today’s schools as a disaster.

It is rare for stewards of our supposedly malfunctioning schools to be left out of the blame. Yet, those who teach in them have for years been near or at the top in polls of the public’s trust.

This combination of realities is more than passing strange. The 41st Annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitude Toward the Public Schools, reported in September 2009 that more than 50 percent of the public gave either an A or a B to schools in their communities, the highest rating since 2001.

Seventy-five percent of parents gave the schools their oldest child attends an A or a B, the highest recorded. The people polled gave much lower marks to all those malfunctioning schools “out there.”

After all, for half a century, we have been taught that our poor-performing system of schooling is failing us and steadily getting worse.

There has been during these years a peculiar duality of two widely separated themes in school reform, whatever the driving force might have been.

There is initial rhetoric of deep concern. How much deeper can this be than the comment in A Nation at Risk that the imposition of our system of schooling upon us would be akin to an act of war? But the course of subsequent interest and action is like the month of March: it comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

The agenda for addressing initial deep concern is set aside as tomorrow’s business. The agenda for today is the grammar of schooling: the what and how of teaching, assessment, discipline, teacher evaluation, etc., and the ideas driving them. It would appear that these are precisely the components of schools that the Founding Fathers believed to be the responsibility of local schools and communities.

Interestingly, they constitute a large part of the symbols of schooling that the middle class in particular equates with the good old days of schooling and does not want changed.

The agenda for tomorrow that creeps in its petty pace from day to day pertains primarily to the cultural context of schooling that cries out for federal attention and sweeping change. Between the grammar and the cultural context of schools lies a domain of necessary collaboration and agreement among local communities, states, and the federal government.

-0-

A century has passed since the prescient educational historian Ellwood Cubberley wrote the epigraph with which this writing began: “Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.”

My only disagreement with his observation pertains to the implication of our owning children. We parents do not own our children; we just rent them for a while. Given the extent to which what he was troubled about has expanded, however, his reference to state ownership may well be appropriate.

The gap between the narrative of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001 and its implementation as the No Child Left Behind Act is a model of the duality in school reform described above. Its comprehensiveness was ignored in implementation. We do not yet know how wide the inevitable gap will be between the reauthorized Act and its implementation. But it does begin to appear that we could have Cubberley’s worry in spades.

So far, in the planning, there has been little sign of the transparency promised in the Obama election campaign. Where are the people who will be most affected by and involved in the consequences of the reauthorization: children and youths, teachers, school administrators, school board members, teachers of teachers, scholars of many stripes, PARENTS?

As a critic who has for decades conducted comprehensive studies of educational change, schooling, and the education of educators and worked with schools in replacing the sterility of the longstanding deep structure of schooling with strategies of renewal instead of reform, I find myself troubled with what I am writing.

It reads as though I am against change. Thousands of school people with whom I have worked over the years would chuckle at the thought. Many of the changes we have sought together are sweeping ones that we thought would be part of a new day.

I tend to be hopeful until overwhelmed by discouraging data. And so I have to believe that the "Race to the Top," taking place at about the same time as the race to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA, is simply a federal ploy to stir the interest of the populace in the comprehensive agenda put out by the U.S. Department of Education in "A Blueprint for Reform."

The words “blueprint” and “reform” give me the chills, however. I will feel more comfortable when local communities nationwide with long-term needs not included in the four domains approved for the Race to the Top are funded.

What is completely missing are data regarding the potential for an agenda that embraces a mission of schooling in addition to academic development of the young and then more academic development to ensure good work in the global age.

We need to be aware that recent decades of research on cognition reveal hardly any correlation of standardized test scores with a wide range of desired behavioral characteristics such as dependability, ability to work alone and with others, and planning, or with an array of virtues such as honesty, decency, compassion, etc. Employers dissatisfied with employees who studied mathematics and the physical sciences in first-rate universities often call for higher test scores.

Is academic development the totality of the purpose of schooling?

A comprehensive study asked 8,354 parents and 1,330 teachers to rank intellectual, personal, social, and vocational development of the young as purposes of our schools. About half of both groups selected intellectual development as first choice and variously ranked the other three.

Interestingly, the choice of 68.9 percent of the parents for the intellectual at the elementary school level dropped to 56.3 percent for junior high/middle schools and 43.1 percent for high schools. Teachers ranked the intellectual at about the same for all three—a little under 50 percent.

There is an irony here in regard to school reform eras, especially No Child Left Behind. Not only was its implementation confined to the academic realm, but it also reduced academic assessment of students and schools to a very narrow curriculum.

The consequence, of course, was the substantial narrowing of pedagogy to simply drilling for tests. We do not need schools for this. It is training, not education, and access to it can be obtained almost anywhere at any time in this increasingly technological age. That would leave the opportunity to turn schools, whose prime function has long been child care, into centers of pedagogy with the mission of guiding what education is: the process of becoming a unique human being whose responsibility it is to make the most of oneself.

Surely the formulation of standards for schooling makes no sense until we agree on a mission for schooling. In what was probably his last interview, behavioral scientist Ralph Tyler, arguably one of the most highly regarded and influential educators of the second half of the twentieth century, was asked what his long life told him about what schools are for. Without hesitating he said: they are to provide whatever educational is not being taken care of in the rest of our society.

-0-

Clearly, there must be a great turning in schooling. The new will not evolve out of what we have now or try to fix. It is not broken. Indeed, it is very stable and solid, guided by ideologies that will not be disturbed, no matter what the evidence to their contrary.

What we must do now nationwide is begin the 20-or-more-year process of creating a new tomorrow. But we have millions of children and youths who should have the best schools possible under present and future circumstances. Consequently, there must be a close linkage between these schools and the new so that the former move steadily toward the latter in their processes of renewal. What we have now is an enterprise of starts and stops that always is vulnerable to reform eras that change nothing fundamental but tinker once again with the grammar of schooling.

Schools of the new turning will begin to learn the processes of continuous renewal from the beginning. They will vary widely in their agendas of change, just as they vary in their cultural settings.

There are two long overdue things we must do now to begin the process of linking the schools we have with those we should and can have. I address one of these in part two and the other in part three of my trilogy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The White Rose

The White Rose

by

Rodolfo F. Acuña

http://forchicanachicanostudies.wikispaces.com/Reviews

Linda Greenhouse in the New York Times (April 26, 2010), wrote “I’m glad
I’ve already seen the Grand Canyon. Because I’m not going back to
Arizona as long as it remains a police state, which is what the
appalling anti-immigrant bill that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last
week has turned it into.” Greenhouse was referring to a state law that
requires the police to demand proof of legal residency from any person
about whom they have “reasonable suspicion” that “the person is an alien
who is unlawfully present in the United States?”

It does not take a rocket scientist to deduce that the law profiles
Latinos—the hue of their skin makes them suspect. Those who know history
remember the repatriation drives of the Great Depression and numerous
historical events where Mexican Americans were discriminated against.
The gigantic pro-immigrant marches testify to this awareness.

Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Arizona) has called on the nation’s
business community to protest the law by withholding its convention
business. While I believe in boycotts and I respect them, I believe we
should take our actions to the next level.

Arizona is an easy target – it is a small state and small states are
always singled out while states like California are ignored. Example,
Latinos did not coalesce after the passage of Proposition 187 and other
draconian laws targeting Latinos and minorities. Indeed, even Latino
elected officials discouraged massive demonstrations fearing that they
would hurt the Democratic Party.

Similarly, Texas passed a law in 1975 depriving undocumented immigrant
children of a free public education. Fortunately, it was struck down in
1982 by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote. I have no illusions about the
present Supreme Court’s fairness. The court is composed by a core of
ideologues that use the pretext of judicial restraint to deconstruct
human rights.

Without a doubt a moral case can be made for a boycott of Arizona.
However, time is not our ally. The summer season is already casting its
sunlight over the state – a time that much of the state goes into
hibernation. I remember getting a hotel room in Phoenix half of the
going rate.

So what then should people do? We cannot dismiss this blatant attack on
the entire race. At the same time, our narrative must be honed. House,
Senate and gubernatorial candidates, from Arizona are running scared.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Senator John McCain have joined the racist.
Getting elected is more important than decency. They are not
unintelligent goons such as Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio. They are scared
and have decided to join the lynch mob.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney has compared the law to Nazism. This is not
hyperbole. Fear of losing something especially to dark people is
irrational, i.e., the anti-immigrant cabal makes millions of dollars
annually by stoking this fear. What hope is there that the Democrats
will do the right thing? Most elected officials care about one thing,
getting elected, i.e., healthcare.

Then what are we supposed to do? Roll over? No. We have to fight. We
have to get in the fascists’ faces. The demonstrations have to continue
but we cannot isolate Arizona. Bigotry is infectious and we should
descend on Arizona with cameras, tape recorders and “White Roses” in
hand, and then follow the Mexican American leadership in the state –
encouraging daily marches on racist business establishments.

The White Rose was the symbol of opposition to Adolph Hitler. Those
standing up to bigotry believed that it was the duty of a citizen to
stand up against an evil regime. As I said, people are afraid, and a
lynch mob is not subdued by placating it or isolating it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Race for Reform

By Ericka Mellon | Houston Chronicle
May 2010

Grier focused most of his State of the Schools address on his efforts to ensure that every HISD student has access to top-notch teachers and principals. “All our policies and practices should be driven by the realization that our teachers and school leaders are the solution, pure and simple,” he said. “If we provide our students, and I mean all of our students, with effective teachers and leaders, then there’s almost nothing anyone can do to prevent them from succeeding.”

Grier already has begun to change the interview process for hiring all staff members, using a model based on the research of Martin Haberman. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor emeritus has spent three decades studying the qualities of educators who best serve disadvantaged students.

Under the Haberman screening, job candidates are asked how they would respond to certain situations, such as the need to improve student performance, and are evaluated on their values and problem-solving skills: Do they have high expectations for all children? Are they persistent?

Grier used the interview method in Guilford County and in San Diego and said it helped weed out those who wouldn’t succeed with diverse students. “If you do not have high expectations for all students, you cannot be an effective teacher in an urban setting,” Grier says. “We can teach you how to teach. Colleges and universities can teach you how to teach. They can’t teach you how to have different values and beliefs.”

The Houston school board has made improving human capital its top priority, and Grier has secured a partnership with The New Teacher Project to help the district assess and improve everything from recruitment to job evaluations to professional development.

Consultants with the New York nonprofit, started by Michelle Rhee before she was appointed chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, plan to present recommended changes to the district this summer. To ensure their report doesn’t collect dust, Grier says, staff from The New Teacher Project will embed themselves in the district’s human resources department.

The initial consulting cost the district $200,000—donations covered most of it—but the ongoing training and implementation is estimated to top $8 million over four years. Grier has pledged to raise private dollars. “There’s no question that our partnership with The New Teacher Project is going to have a dramatic impact on the school system,” he says.
The National Spotlight

And with all the changes and Grier’s reputation, it didn’t take Grier and the Houston school board long to make national news for their reform efforts. The board members asked for a policy to make it easier to oust ineffective teachers, and Grier eagerly gave it to them: Teachers whose students consistently fall short of expectations on standardized tests, based on a value-added analysis, can now be fired. And those value-added marks will be included in teachers’ evaluations.

The school board unanimously approved the policy in February. According to HISD’s data, 421 of about 13,000 HISD teachers are at risk of losing their jobs if they don’t improve their value-added marks. Some firings could come at the end of this school year.

HISD has been using the same value- data since 2007 to determine which teachers, principals and other school staff receive performance bonuses. This year, the district doled out $41 million, with the top teachers eligible for more than $10,000. “If you spend $41 million on merit pay using value-added scores, how can you be opposed to using those same scores to identify teachers at the bottom end of the scale?” Grier says.

Parent leaders supported the teacher-dismissal policy, as did several national advocacy groups, including the Education Equality Project and Democrats for Education Reform. But the district’s largest teacher association turned out 800 members to protest the school board’s vote.

“They feel Terry Grier only has one scapegoat and that’s teachers,” says Gayle Fallon, the president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. “When you constantly show that lack of respect, teachers are prone not to want to work for you.”

Fallon questions the accuracy of the value-added data and says her members don’t believe they should lose their jobs based on a complicated statistical analysis of standardized test scores that doesn’t take into account a student’s home life.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, had recently expressed support for more aggressive teacher policies, but she blasted Houston for focusing so narrowly on student test scores.

“I try not to take the attacks personally,” says Grier, who plays golf or tries new restaurants—Southern comfort food is a favorite—with his wife to unwind.

Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director of education for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has followed Grier’s career since he was superintendent of Guilford County (N.C.) Schools and says that Grier should interpret the pushback on his reforms as a compliment. “If there aren’t people criticizing you,” the Seattle consultant says, “you really don’t have an improvement agenda.”

Ericka Mellon is a K12 education reporter for the Houston Chronicle.

Tensions Flare in Race to Top's Second Round

States, Teachers’ Unions Clash Over Contest-Driven Reforms

By Michele McNeil | Ed Week
April 23, 2010

With the second-round deadline for federal Race to the Top Fund grants less than six weeks away, states are rushing to raise the stakes on their education reform plans as they fight over the remaining $3.4 billion in prize money.

But in doing so, states from Massachusetts to Colorado are tangling with their teachers’ unions as they test how far they can go to meet federal officials’ demands that they be aggressive, yet inclusive, in devising a road map to dramatically improve student achievement.

“On one hand, the federal government is saying, ‘Be bold,’ which implies significant challenge to the status quo, which then tends to be disruptive and generate resistance,” said S. Paul Reville, the education secretary in Massachusetts, where the American Federation of Teachers affiliate has revoked its support of the state’s second-round application over teacher issues. “Yet at the same time, the federal government is asking us to get full [district and union] support,” he said. “That’s the dynamic tension.”

Read on

Teacher-tenure bill passes out of Colorado Senate committee

By Jeremy P. Meyer | The Denver Post
April 24, 2010

The Senate Education Committee on Friday advanced a controversial bill to change the way teachers are evaluated and how they receive and keep tenure.

But the 7-1 committee vote is no guarantee that Senate Bill 191, even with the amendments made Friday, will survive to link teacher tenure to student academic achievement.

"There is good and bad here," said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, who voted for the bill. "It's a difficult vote. I think the full Senate should have a debate about this bill. There's a lot more to this bill than anyone has talked about."

The Senate committee added several amendments to the bill, including lengthening the time of implementation to three years from one; giving nonprobationary teachers a chance to appeal ineffective evaluations to the superintendent; and making the Governor's Council on Educator Effectiveness a legislative committee.

Teachers won't be held to the same expectations for academic growth if their classrooms have "diverse factors." These factors may include student populations that are highly mobile or classrooms in which 95 percent of the students are considered "high-risk" or students who have special-education needs.

Education reformers say the bipartisan Senate bill co-sponsored by Sens. Michael Johnston, D-Denver, and Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, could help Colorado win the second round of the federal Race to the Top education grant competition, in which the state is vying for up to $175 million.

Proponents say the bill could help Colorado conquer some of its most vexing education problems — the yawning achievement gap between races, a persistent dropout rate, and a dismal 50 percent graduation rate in urban districts.

"I don't think it's right to hook that much hope on this one bill," Steadman cautioned. "I've called this bill a leap of faith."

The Colorado Education Association — the state's largest union, with 40,000 members — has campaigned against the legislation, saying the bill is an unfunded mandate, warps the due-process system for tenured teachers and gives too much weight to standardized tests.

Several hundred union members gathered on the west steps of the Capitol on a rainy Friday morning to protest the bill before debate began.

Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, who warned the bill is too costly, was the only committee member to vote "no."

"We don't have any idea how much funding is necessary to create all these formative and interim assessments in every single course area," she said.

Hudak, a former teacher, argued that if the bill is meant to weed out bad teachers, then it should be about improving the state's dismissal process. "I don't think this focuses on what the problem is."

Hudak said tremendous research exists that says the best way to improve teaching is through professional development, coaching and time for collaboration.

"If it is a true teacher-effectiveness bill, then it should be providing for those things," she said.

Jeremy P. Meyer: 303-954-1367 or jpmeyer@denverpost.com

NEA Plan for Rewriting NCLB Departs From Obama's

Check out the NEA's ESEA reauthorization proposal.

-Patricia

By Stephen Sawchuk | Ed Week
April 14, 2010

The National Education Association has put forward its most detailed recommendations to date for the overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, in what a union official calls a new approach for the federal law.

“We think there is a real opportunity for policymakers to change the framework of what’s in the statute,” said Donna Harris-Aikens, the director of education policy and practice for the 3.2 million-member union. “I don’t think there was an appetite for doing that during the last time around. It probably doesn’t mean every single word [in ESEA] is going to change, but we’re using this as a way to start a discussion.”

The union’s close engagement in the law—even as the legislative window for moving a bill this year begins to close—stands in contrast to the rewrite that resulted in the current version of the ESEA, the No Child Left Behind Act, which became law in 2002. Teachers’ unions were widely considered to have been left out of that reauthorization. ("Unions' Positions Unheeded On ESEA," Nov. 6, 2002.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Students Arrested at AZ. State Capitol opposing SB 1070

U.S.’s Toughest Immigration Law Is Signed in Arizona

U.S.’s Toughest Immigration Law Is Signed in Arizona
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD
Published: April 23, 2010 / NYTimes


PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration into law on Friday. Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.

The move unleashed immediate protests and reignited the divisive battle over immigration reform nationally.

Even before she signed the bill at an afternoon news conference here, President Obama strongly criticized it.

Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24 active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called for a federal overhaul of immigration laws, which Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to take up soon, to avoid “irresponsibility by others.”

The Arizona law, he added, threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.

The political debate leading up to Ms. Brewer’s decision, and Mr. Obama’s criticism of the law — presidents very rarely weigh in on state legislation — underscored the power of the immigration debate in states along the Mexican border. It presaged the polarizing arguments that await the president and Congress as they take up the issue nationally.

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was worried about the rights of its citizens and relations with Arizona. Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles said the authorities’ ability to demand documents was like “Nazism.”

As hundreds of demonstrators massed, mostly peacefully, at the capitol plaza, the governor, speaking at a state building a few miles away, said the law “represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix.”

The law was to take effect 90 days after the legislative session ends, meaning by August. Court challenges were expected immediately.

Hispanics, in particular, who were not long ago courted by the Republican Party as a swing voting bloc, railed against the law as a recipe for racial and ethnic profiling. “Governor Brewer caved to the radical fringe,” a statement by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said, predicting that the law would create “a spiral of pervasive fear, community distrust, increased crime and costly litigation, with nationwide repercussions.”

While police demands of documents are common on subways, highways and in public places in some countries, including France, Arizona is the first state to demand that immigrants meet federal requirements to carry identity documents legitimizing their presence on American soil.

Ms. Brewer acknowledged critics’ concerns, saying she would work to ensure that the police have proper training to carry out the law. But she sided with arguments by the law’s sponsors that it provides an indispensable tool for the police in a border state that is a leading magnet of illegal immigration. She said racial profiling would not be tolerated, adding, “We have to trust our law enforcement.”

Ms. Brewer and other elected leaders have come under intense political pressure here, made worse by the killing of a rancher in southern Arizona by a suspected smuggler a couple of weeks before the State Legislature voted on the bill. His death was invoked Thursday by Ms. Brewer herself, as she announced a plan urging the federal government to post National Guard troops at the border.

President George W. Bush had attempted comprehensive reform but failed when his own party split over the issue. Once again, Republicans facing primary challenges from the right, including Ms. Brewer and Senator John McCain, have come under tremendous pressure to support the Arizona law, known as SB 1070.

Mr. McCain, locked in a primary with a challenger campaigning on immigration, only came out in support of the law hours before the State Senate passed it Monday afternoon.

Governor Brewer, even after the Senate passed the bill, had been silent on whether she would sign it. Though she was widely expected to, given her primary challenge, she refused to state her position even at a dinner on Thursday for a Hispanic social service organization, Chicanos Por La Causa, where several audience members called out “Veto!”

Among other things, the Arizona measure is an extraordinary rebuke to former Gov. Janet Napolitano, who had vetoed similar legislation repeatedly as a Democratic governor of the state before being appointed Homeland Security secretary by Mr. Obama.

The law opens a deep fissure in Arizona, with a majority of the thousands of callers to the governor’s office urging her to reject it.

In the days leading up to Ms. Brewer’s decision, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, a Democrat, called for a convention boycott of his state.

The bill, sponsored by Russell Pearce, a state senator and a firebrand on immigration issues, has several provisions.

It requires police officers, “when practicable,” to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and to verify their status with federal officials, unless doing so would hinder an investigation or emergency medical treatment.

It also makes it a state crime — a misdemeanor — to not carry immigration papers. In addition, it allows people to sue local government or agencies if they believe federal or state immigration law is not being enforced.

States across the country have proposed or enacted hundreds of bills addressing immigration since 2007, the last time a federal effort to reform immigration law collapsed. Last year, there were a record number of laws enacted (222) and resolutions (131) in 48 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The prospect of plunging into a national immigration debate is being increasingly talked about on Capitol Hill, spurred in part by recent statements by Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, the majority leader, that he intends to bring legislation to the Senate floor after Memorial Day.

But while an immigration debate could help energize Hispanic voters and provide political benefits to embattled Democrats seeking re-election in November — like Mr. Reid — it could also energize conservative voters.

It could also take time from other Democratic priorities, including an energy measure that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has described as her flagship issue.

Mr. Reid declined Thursday to say that immigration would take precedence over an energy measure. But he called it an imperative: “The system is broken,” he said.

Ms. Pelosi and Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, have said that the House would be willing to take up immigration policy only if the Senate produces a bill first.

Helene Cooper and Carl Hulse contributed reporting from Washington.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 23, 2010


A earlier version of this article misspelled the last name of the Arizona state senator who sponsored several provisions of the bill. He is Russell Pearce, not Pierce.

Support MALDEF's Fight against SB1070

LULAC OUTRAGED OVER ARIZONA GOVERNOR SIGNING UNCONSTITUTIONAL IMMIGRATION LAW

April 23, 2010
Contact: Lizette Jenness Olmos, LULAC
(202) 365-4553 mobile
Press Release
LULAC OUTRAGED OVER ARIZONA GOVERNOR SIGNING UNCONSTITUTIONAL IMMIGRATION LAW

LULAC will partner with sister organizations to develop the most effective legal strategy to fight this discriminatory law in court

Washington, DC - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer today signed into law Arizona's discriminatory immigration enforcement bill which requires law enforcement to question individuals about their immigration status during everyday police encounters. LULAC strongly condemns the governor's decision to sign the unconstitutional law and are dismayed by her disregard for the serious damage it could cause to civil liberties and public safety in the state.

“We are horrified," said LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. “This law opens the doors to racial profiling. It requires police officers, if they form a 'reasonable suspicion' that someone is an illegal immigrant, to determine the person’s immigration status.”

President Barack Obama addressed comprehensive immigration reform at the White House Rose Garden ceremony prior to the Governor’s signing saying, “Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.” The president said that comprehensive immigration legislation, debated for years, is overdue.

The measure has several provisions. Under Arizona state law it does not go into effect until 90 days after Legislature ends. It would:

-- Create a new state misdemeanor crime of willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document.

-- Allow officers to arrest immigrants unable to show documents proving they're legally in the country.

-- Ban so-called soft immigration policies at local police agencies and allow people to sue if they feel a government agency has adopted a policy that hinders the enforcement of illegal immigration laws.

-- Prohibit people from blocking traffic when they seek or offer day-labor services on street corners.

-- Make it illegal for people to transport illegal immigrants if the drivers of vehicles know their passengers are in the country illegally and if the transportation furthers their illegal presence in the country, even if they are family members.

LULAC called on the Governor to do what is right and veto this legislation, which poses a significant threat to the general welfare, civil rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Arizona. LULAC will now do what it has successfully done in the past and defend the civil and human rights of Latinos in our courts.

Until Congress passes a fair and just immigration reform bill, states will continue to take matters into their own hands and communities and families will remain terrorized and subject to racial profiling.

With your help, we can make sure this doesn't go any further and remind our Congressional leaders and the people of Arizona that this is not the way it is done in America. LULAC vows to challenge the measure.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health, housing and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide. For more information, visit www.lulac.org.

LULAC National Office, 2000 L Street, NW, Suite 610 Washington DC 20036, (202) 833-6130, (202) 833-6135 FAX

UFW: Polarizing anti-immigrant bill targets Latinos and farm workers

Enacting legislation to put local police officers on the front lines of America's failed immigration policies is both unfair and unfortunate. How can untrained police officers apply a fair standard by arresting people on the basis of a suspicion they are in the United States illegally, usually on the basis of the color of their skin or the language they speak?

Will an undocumented immigrant from Ireland be accosted? Probably not. Will Latino fathers bringing their sons to Little League baseball camp be targeted? Perhaps. Will the thousands of farm workers who harvest our food be automatic suspects? Certainly.

Would Cesar Chavez's be a suspect in the state of his birth and where his grandfather homesteaded a small family farm in the North Gila River Valley near Yuma? You bet. This bill not only singles out Latinos, but it specifically discriminates against those with dark complexion and humble attire.

The United Farm Workers and the agricultural industry negotiated the most bipartisan broadly supported immigration reform measure in the United States Congress: the AgJobs bill letting undocumented farm workers earn the right to permanently stay in this country by continuing to work in agriculture. It may become a model for a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Bringing people together is never easy. Bridging emotional and racial divisions is even more difficult. Polarizing people makes it impossible.

Arizona produces much of the nation's winter vegetables. We invite the governor and Legislature to work with us and the growers in Arizona and across the country to make AgJobs a model for immigration reform, one that respects the laws of our country and the labor of those who feed us.

Today somewhere between one-half and three-quarters of the U.S. farm labor workforce is undocumented. Agricultural employment is often the entry point for new migrants to this country.

We need to end the fear and help improve the lives of the immigrant farm workers whose sweat and sacrifice bring the rich bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables to our tables. They do the hardest, most difficult jobs other American workers won't do. They pay taxes but enjoy few, if any, benefits while performing some of the most important work in our nation-feeding America and much of the world.

The Arizona anti-immigrant bill is not the answer. The answer comes from AgJobs and comprehensive immigration reform.

http://www.ufw.org/

AILA Votes to Boycott Arizona After Signing of Anti-Immigrant Law

AILA Votes to Boycott Arizona After Signing of Anti-Immigrant Law
Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 10042331 (posted Apr. 23, 2010)"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, April 23, 2010
CONTACTS:
George Tzamaras or Jenny Levy
202-507-7649
202-507-7628
gtzamaras@aila.org
jlevy@aila.org

Washington, D.C. – The Board of Governors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), moments after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law the harshest anti-immigration bill passed in the U.S. in more than a decade, instructed its Executive Committee to move the Association’s fall 2010 conference, previously scheduled for Arizona, to another state.

AILA President Bernie Wolfsdorf explained, “We cannot in good conscience spend association dollars in a state that dehumanizes the people we represent and fight for. What Governor Brewer has done by signing this bill into law is to validate all of the irrational fears by people who are not willing to acknowledge the economic and cultural benefits of immigration to our country.”

“If Arizonans are serious about ending illegal immigration, they should be the first in line at the United States Capitol to urge Congress to the do the right thing and pass comprehensive immigration reform,” Wolfsdorf concluded.

###

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

CPLC Vows to Push for Federal Immigration Reform: Organization Outraged Over Governor Brewer Signing SB 1070

We all need to be equally outraged by this travesty. This IS Mexicans' Star of David.
This is tantamount to illegal search and seizure, a constitutional protection. This is the clearest manifestation of the rise of fascism in our country. Folks really need to read Noam Chomsky's piece on "Remembering Fascism." We must all oppose and seek ways to oppose Governor Brewer's decision to sign SB 1070, this racist, fascist and unconstitutional policy.


-Dr. Valenzuela


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 23, 2010

Phoenix – Arizona’s leading community development is deeply disappointed and outraged over Governor Brewer’s decision today to sign Senate Bill 1070, the most hateful piece of legislation in recent history.

Senate Bill 1070 mandates racial profiling by requiring police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they have a “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in the United States illegally. This law does not have any exemption for children, who would not typically carry identification, making our young people especially vulnerable. This is only one of the several violations of civil rights contained in this bill that concern Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC).

The Governor’s action has reaffirmed CPLC’s commitment to push for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.

“Our state’s leadership has let us down tremendously, but they have not broken our spirit of determination. We will now focus our efforts on urging our nationally elected leaders to fix our broken immigration system,” said CPLC President and CEO Edmundo Hidalgo.

CPLC has a 41-year history of empowering citizens around the state of Arizona through programs and services that promote sustainable economic development. The group vows to unite with other leaders in the community to push for comprehensive national immigration reform, the only solution for our nation to move forward.

CPLC will be joining U.S. Congressmen Raul Grijalva and Luis Gutierrez at the State Capital Sunday as they begin a dialogue on how Arizona and the nation will move forward in the face of this new law.

ABOUT CPLC: Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC) is a statewide community development corporation committed to building stronger, healthier communities as a lead advocate, coalition builder and direct service provider. The organization promotes positive change and self-sufficiency to enhance the quality of life for the benefit of those we serve.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Senators request deportation of "Dream Act" Activists

Dear friends,

Gaby, Carlos, Juan and Felipe need your help.
These four brave students have been walking from
Miami to Washington, D.C. to call for solutions
to our failed immigration system, and for an end
to deportations of students like them who would
qualify under the DREAM Act.

Now, two U.S. Senators have come out with a
letter urging the Obama administration to halt
all deportations of undocumented "DREAM"
students. It's a critical moment.

As the walkers approach their final destination
in Washington, DC, we need to show President
Obama that there is a wave of support behind this
effort to stop student deportations - a first
step toward real change in our immigration
system. I have added my voice of solidarity with
them. Will you add your voice and stand with them
also? Peace, Carlos

http://trail2010.org/action/?ref_by=1850-29008
--

Dr. Carlos Muñoz, Jr.
Professor Emeritus
Department of Ethnic Studies
510-642-9134
http://ethnicstudies.berkeley.edu/faculty/munoz/

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Prop 227 was a mistake: New Research Shows that Prop 227 was a Mistake

Stephen Krashen | Capitol Weekly (Sacramento, CA), April 18, 2010

Two studies have just appeared that show that children in bilingual programs

learn about as much English as do children in English-only programs.


One study, headed by Robert Slavin of Johns Hopkins University, compared English

learners in five states over five years who had the same program of instruction,

except that one group was taught entirely in Spanish in kindergarten, with more

English gradually introduced until the program was entirely in English by grade

three. The researchers found only very small differences between the groups on

English tests given in grades three and four. The second study, done by

Christopher Jepsen of the University of Kentucky, looked at children in

California: Those who had bilingual education did just as well as similar

children who did not on tests of English in grades four and five.


Both studies show that the children in the bilingual programs made the same

progress as comparisons in English literacy despite having less exposure to

English. This means that the time spent in Spanish made a real contribution to

English language development.


These two studies are only the most recent showing that bilingual education

works. In most of the previous research, in fact, children in bilingual

education did better on tests of English reading than comparison students did.


Bilingual programs also help children develop their first language, which is

beneficial to the individual as well as society: Bilinguals do better than

monolinguals on several kinds of tests of intelligence, and bilingualism appears

to reduce some of the negative effects of aging. Also bilingualism is an obvious

asset to business as well as national security.


In light of these findings, it is clear that approving Proposition 227, which

dismantled bilingual education in California 1997 was a mistake. The use of the

first language in school can help English language development, and at the same

time provides the advantages of bilingualism.

Dallas students get look at 9 schools focusing on career pathways

By TAWNELL D. HOBBS / The Dallas Morning News
January 31, 2010

It was a smorgasbord of career choices at an event Saturday that showcased several redesigned Dallas high schools.

Parents and students who attended the event, targeted at eighth-graders, received information on current and new "career pathway" offerings at nine high schools. The magnet-like programs include a performing arts academy at Woodrow Wilson High School to a public safety academy at Madison High School.

"We're talking about having pockets of excellence in a school system," said Jose Torres, DISD's executive director of parent services and school choice.

The Dallas Independent School District came up with the idea to redesign the campuses as a way to provide parents and students with more educational options. Typically, Dallas students who wanted to focus on a career while attending high school had to compete for a spot at the district's coveted magnet campuses.

"It just gives you more choices and more alternatives," said Lavina Durman, who attended Saturday's event at Woodrow Wilson with her daughter, Michaela Durman.

District officials hope even more students take advantage of the program next year, when it will expand to nine campuses from the current seven.

Last year, the district enrolled 263 applicants in the program, said Carroll Morgan, DISD's coordinator for parental public choice.

Students interested in entering one of the career programs at their home campus can do so without applying, unless the program is grant-financed, Morgan said. Campuses have been agreeable to providing at least 5 percent of their space to outside enrollees, she said.

District officials said that space in the programs is limited and that a lottery system will be used if needed. The application period for students entering the ninth grade in the 2010-11 school year runs Monday through Feb. 26.

The district plans to add more schools to the program each year until all 22 high schools have the classes, Morgan said.

Transportation will not be provided by the district, which some parents took into consideration Saturday.

"When you're short on time, you really want it to come down to location, and you want your school to be close," parent Kimmy Wright said.

At some of the campuses participating in Saturday's showcase students were already taking part in the career classes.

Conrad High School students Misty Ramirez and Jordan Prasifka were at the event to discuss why they like their school's career offerings. Ramirez talked about the school's culinary program and student-managed restaurant. Prasifka, who is in Conrad's science, technology, engineering and mathematics program, demonstrated the use of a robot that reacts by sound.

"It's a really good choice, a good beginning," Prasifka said of the career program. "I see it opening up a lot of opportunity."

Arizona’s Effort to Bolster Local Immigration Authority Divides Law Enforcement

Here's the original news on this: Arizona lawmakers OK controversial immigration bill Deeply concerning....

Angela


April 21, 2010
Arizona’s Effort to Bolster Local Immigration Authority Divides Law Enforcement
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD



PHOENIX — A bill the Arizona Legislature passed this week that would hand the state and local police broad powers to enforce immigration law has split police groups and sown confusion over how the law would be applied.

While Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, has yet to say whether she will sign the bill into law, on Wednesday a national police group condemned it as likely to lead to racial and ethnic profiling and to threaten public safety if immigrants did not report crime or did not cooperate with the authorities out of fear of being deported.

The police group joined a growing list of organizations and religious and political leaders far from the state’s borders urging Ms. Brewer to veto the bill. Her spokesman said that of the 15,011 calls and letters her office had received on the bill, more than 85 percent opposed it.

The law would require the police “when practicable” to detain people they reasonably suspected were in the country without authorization. It would also allow the police to charge immigrants with a state crime for not carrying immigration documents. And it allows residents to sue cities if they believe the law is not being enforced.

Members of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative, a group of police leaders pressing for a federal overhaul of immigration law, said they worried that other states would copy Arizona, despite the likelihood that the law will be challenged in federal court.

“Just because it is in Arizona doesn’t mean it’s likely to remain there,” said George Gascón, the chief of the San Francisco Police Department and a former chief in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb. “We are very concerned about what could happen to public safety.”

The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police and several sheriffs have also come out against the bill, calling it burdensome and an intrusion into a federal matter.

Most police agencies or jails here already check the immigration status of people charged with a crime, in consultation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but the new law would expand that power and allows the police to stop people on the suspicion of being in the country without documents.

The Mexican Embassy released a statement expressing concern that the law would lead to racial profiling and damage cross-border relations.

But some of the largest rank-and-file police groups have come out strongly in favor of the bill.

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, the city police department’s largest union, has promoted the bill as a “common sense proactive step in the right direction in the continuing battle on illegal immigration.”

The Fraternal Order of Police, which represents 6,500 officers statewide, endorsed the bill but said it had reservations over the potential costs to departments and the lack of training for local officers to identify who might be in the country illegally.

Bryan Soller, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said if officers ended up arresting large numbers of illegal immigrants, that could add to already crowded jails and costs. Mr. Soller also said departments were worried about the expense of defending any lawsuits by people contending that the law was not being enforced.

But he said he thought many concerns were overblown. His group initially opposed the bill but endorsed it after language was included that he and sponsors believe give officers discretion to use it, in part to ward off federal civil rights claims.

“Some will go out and use it a lot,” Mr. Soller said. “But you are not going to see them doing things much different from what they do now.”

All sides agree that a federal overhaul to better control immigration would help, and advocacy groups, pointing to the Arizona bill, are pushing lawmakers to act soon. But several people involved in the negotiations in Washington said a federal bill was not close to being ready.

Julia Preston contributed reporting from New York.

HISD Begins Preparations for STAAR Replacing TAKS

Proposed Schedule
Implementation Plan
Frequently Asked Questions

New state laws focus on end-of-course exams
February 11, 2010

As required by two new state laws, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) will replace the eight-year-old Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) as the state’s official student-assessment system in the 2011–2012 school year.

To promote a smooth and successful transition at that time, HISD is taking immediate steps to:

* inform students, parents, and teachers about the major change ahead, and
* prepare students to perform well on the STAAR system’s more-difficult end-of-course exams at the high-school level.

The end-of-course exams are a key component of the STAAR system, which is designed to help students meet college-readiness standards. These new exams are course-specific, more rigorous than the TAKS, and administered online (not with pencil and paper).

Texas Education Agency (TEA) STAAR Schedule

* Students in the graduating Class of 2015, who are currently in the seventh grade, will be the first students who will have to meet the new end-of-course testing requirements.
* Starting with the high-school freshmen of 2011–2012, students will have to pass certain end-of-course STAAR tests as well as their classes to graduate from high school. The exams will also, at that time, be included as part of a student’s final grade as dictated by the new law.
* The TEA will issue its last TAKS-based school accountability ratings in 2011. Ratings will be suspended in 2012 while TEA develops a new accountability system based on the new state tests, and the agency will start using the new rating system in 2013.

Courses Affected

The STAAR end-of-course assessments will ultimately be used for the 12 high-school courses in the four core subject areas (math, science, language, social studies) that Senate Bill 1031 mandated in 2007. The 12 courses are:

MATH SCIENCE LANGUAGE SOCIAL STUDIES
Algebra I Biology English I U.S. History
Algebra II Chemistry English II World Geography
Geometry Physics English III World History

The state has finalized only seven of the new tests at this point: Algebra I, Geometry, Biology, Chemistry, U.S. History, Physics, and World Geography. Those are the ones HISD will begin giving in May in every high school and selected middle schools.

Starting in 2011–2012, the STAAR tests will also be used for the new grades 3–8 assessments mandated by House Bill 1 in the 2009 session of the Texas Legislature. By law, the STAAR reading and math tests for grades 3–8 must be linked from grade to grade to performance expectations for the English III and Algebra II end-of-course exams.

What HISD Is Doing to Prepare

To give students experience with taking the new tests, HISD will begin administering the state-developed end-of-course exams to high-school students in May, 2010—two years before students will be required to pass certain exams for graduation. The results of these early tests won’t count officially toward student graduation or on HISD teachers’ value-added records for ASPIRE Award performance pay at this time, but they will be used for diagnostic purposes to see how our students are performing on these more-rigorous assessments.

HISD’s goals are to:

* Make students familiar with and accustomed to the new end-of-course tests, which 1) will be significantly more difficult than the TAKS, 2) will measure specific course content, and 3) must be taken online.
* Determine students’ strengths and weaknesses and develop improvement strategies.
* Inform students, parents, and teachers about the upcoming tests and their requirements.
* Make sure HISD’s curriculum and professional development are aligned with the next generation of state-mandated achievement tests to ensure that teachers have the tools that they need to ensure student success.
* Prepare the district’s technology infrastructure for a large-scale online assessment program.

HISD is being proactive to prepare all stakeholders for the new assessment system through the administration of these early tests and other initiatives.

The district is working with the TEA as it develops the guidelines for the new STAAR system, specifically with regard to the online end-of-course assessments.

A committee of principals has been looking at ways to assure a smooth transition and successful implementation of these end-of-course exams prior to their being mandated with a high-stakes outcome in 2011–2012.

In addition, the district is developing a communications plan to give students, teachers, and the public more information about the new STAAR system as soon as TEA releases further details. These plans include a page on the HISDConnect Web site and ongoing communications with all stakeholders.

Struggling Through the Cuts

by Lydia Lum, February 3, 2010

Born and raised in San Jose, Calif., Betty Duong began translating for her immigrant parents from the time she could speak in complete sentences.

Doing so helped her family navigate daily necessities like reading and paying utility bills. Through her, they also dealt with English-speaking bureaucrats at hospitals, social service agencies, and courts. Family friends and neighbors often tapped Duong's bilingual skills as well.

But the duties made Duong burn out, rather than engage, in school throughout her K-12 years. It was not until a community college class unexpectedly engrossed her that she realized the benefits education could usher into the life of herself and others.

As long as it remains accessible and affordable, that is.

Today, Duong is among thousands of California students worried about vanishing college affordability and access, especially for historically under-represented and marginalized populations.

Students and faculty throughout California are grappling with the effects of draconian state cuts to postsecondary education that have topped more than $1 billion in the last year.

As the state's fiscal crisis has deepened, its three major higher education institutions - the University of California, The California State University, and California Community Colleges - have cut faculty pay, laid off staff, and reduced the number of course offerings. The unavailability of courses is forcing some students to take longer than expected to graduate. Coinciding with the belt-tightening, officials have raised mandatory student fees again, causing students to mount protests and occupy campus buildings.

Ever-soaring costs alongside ever-shrinking classes and services lead observers to fear that uncertainties may become norms, permanently denigrating higher education in the nation's most populous state.

Says Dr. Sandra Graham, a University of California, Los Angeles professor of psychological studies in education: "It has become a sham."

Misleading by Example

Dr. Ming-Tung "Mike" Lee, vice provost of California State University, Sacramento, believes the outcome of state-budget battles can influence what happens elsewhere. "Whatever we develop, other states will try convincing their legislatures to do the same. It's unfortunately sending the message that, by continuing to cut at the state level, then we will continue to cut at the campus level and just deal with it."

The leaders of the three-tiered education system have urged legislators to restore public appropriations to their schools in the next budget cycle, and they appear to have Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as an ally for increased funding.

"It takes decades to create great universities," UC President Mark Yudof said at a legislative hearing in December. "But they can be destroyed in a relatively short amount of time."

Faculty jobs have also fallen to the budget ax. Last fall, the Cal State system employed 2,133 fewer lecturers - or 16 percent less - than it did in fall 2008, according to the California Faculty Association. Seven of Cal State's 23 campuses lost 20 percent or more of their lecturers.

Although typically not on the tenure track, lecturers comprise about 55 percent of all Cal State faculty as recently as 2008. Some are Ph.D.s; others are not. Hired for their expertise in a particular field, lecturers teach but usually are not obligated to research or publish.

For the remaining Cal State faculty, mandatory furloughs have accompanied pay cuts. Dr. Robert McNamara and his colleagues are required to specify days and times in which they won't hold class - even if class is regularly scheduled that day - or office hours or attend department meetings or campus events.

A Sonoma State University political science professor, McNamara notices "my students aren't doing as well, and their research isn't very deep because we have less contact with each other."

He periodically tells students to cross out topics on the course syllabus that he covered in years past but no longer does, because of reduced class time. "I want them to see what they're missing."

McNamara and others agree the harried climate has cornered them into using multiple-choice exams more often.

Meanwhile, administrators at all campuses have cancelled countless courses before the start of a term, only to reinstate some of the courses at the last minute, sending instructors and students scrambling.

Such frustration and low morale push many faculty to scout out-of-state jobs or consider pitches from peer institutions eager to pluck "superstar" professors, especially if they are Black or Latino because of the scarcity of them at top-tier research universities. UC officials, for instance, say a "brain drain" has not yet occurred, although they are aware of ongoing courtships.

Unlike Cal State, most UC faculty have not trimmed instruction time, but Graham observes, "If anything, I'm working harder, hustling."

She has crafted a multiyear grant proposal for nonuniversity funds to support her graduate students. She worries that continued UCLA cuts will strand students crucial in conducting her research, which examines peer relations and racial tolerance among youth.

The Minority Report

Educators are already seeing the state's budget problems squeezing a disproportionate share of students of color. As an example, the University of California, Santa Cruz designates one complex of dorms and apartments for ethnic-themed housing. Minorities regularly fill about 45 percent of those 600 beds as they do university enrollment.

Because of contract cancellations, the complex had 73 vacancies between the fall and winter quarters - five times the usual rate. Officials say nearly all those cancellations came from minorities who, because of job layoffs in their families or other financial strain, sought cheaper housing or dropped out of school.

University of California, Davis student Damonde Hatfield, however, wants to move on campus. He has applied for a resident adviser job in a dorm because it would entitle him to free room and board.

A junior majoring in sociology and African-American studies, Hatfield struggles to stay afloat financially despite sharing an apartment with three roommates. He works at the campus activities and recreation center to supplement his loans and grants.

His grandmother is paying his midyear fee hike of $585 because it's beyond the means of his mother, who does office work, and his father, a construction laborer. The undergraduate fee increase, the eighth since 2002, is part of a 32-percent spike being phased in at UC.

By fall, mandatory systemwide UC fees for in-state undergraduates will run $10,302, excluding housing or books. The price is less than the retail cost of many academically selective public universities nationally. However, Californians are upset because the California Master Plan for Higher Education, which in 1960 articulated the missions of higher education institutions, calls for a tuition-free system charging only nominal fees for sports and other non-instructional offerings.

Meanwhile, California State University, Stanislaus student Brittany Graham's fees have skyrocketed 53 percent from her freshman year to $4,840.

Brittany studies nursing. The national dearth of nurses convinced the fifth-year senior to stay the course. "At least I'll have a job at the end."

Dr. Lorelle Espinosa, director of policy and strategic initiatives at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Higher Education Policy, says because the California Master Plan became a model for so many other states in shaping school systems, close attention is being paid nationally to what occurs in California in the coming months. "The rising costs are telling students and families on society's margins that they don't have a place in California higher education. That is the message being sent to the general public all over the country," Espinosa says.

Costs aside, Californians face additional difficulties gaining entrance into UC and Cal State in the near future and perhaps beyond.

UC officials plan to turn over 2,200 student slots for this fall to out-of-state and international students, who pay much higher fees than in-state residents, unless state allocations dramatically improve soon. UC enrolls 14,000 in-state students for whom it receives no state support. Meanwhile, Cal State officials plan to enroll 40,000 fewer students over the next two years.

For his part, Schwarzenegger says he wants to reverse the damage being wrought by budget cuts on California's higher education system.

"We can no longer afford to cut higher education," Schwarzenegger said last month during his State of the State address. "The priorities have become out of whack over the years."

"Thirty years ago 10 percent of the general fund went to higher education and 3 percent went to prisons. Today almost 11 percent goes to prisons and only 7.5 percent goes to higher education. Spending 45 percent more on prisons than universities is no way to proceed into the future," he said, adding that he wants to lower prison spending through privatization.

Schwarzenegger proposed limiting prison spending to 7 percent of the state's general fund while spending no less than 10 percent on higher education.

"Choosing universities over prisons," Schwarzenegger said, "this is a historic and transforming realignment of California's priorities."
> Still, there's no guarantee Schwarzenegger, a lame-duck governor, will succeed in winning over lawmakers. If he doesn't, he has proposed that the matter be put to voters.
> That means immediate relief for higher education is nowhere in sight. The cost-cutting measures and their impact on minority students trouble Duong, now a third-year UC Davis law student.
> To afford college, she has worked as a make-up artist and trimmed expenses by living with family friends during some semesters. She supplements her law school loans with jobs as a UC Davis research assistant and teaching assistant in Asian-American studies.
> She credits higher education with giving her career prospects and a sense of self-assurance and belonging that eluded her in childhood.
> Duong earned a bachelor's in Asian-American studies from the University of California, Berkeley. "Getting my education has empowered me, made me feel privileged."
> But she cannot ignore the fact that hardly any of her low- and moderate-income peers in San Jose hold a degree from any of the 10 UC campuses. It doesn't take her long, either, to count the few who attended, much less graduated, from Cal State.
> And considering the opposite directions that costs and accessibility appear to be heading, Duong surmises that even fewer young people of future generations may have those opportunities.
> "I really don't know how new students are going to be able to manage this burden."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

CSCOPE controversy continues [in Llano, Tx]

Check out this CSCOPE-related chat at: http://texas.teachers.net/chatboard/topic14796/6.17.10.10.49.11.html

The Llano News

CSCOPE controversy continues
by John Hallowell
April 21, 2010

Monday night’s school board included honors for state Color Guard competitors and a number of routine business items, but the main event was a spirited continuation of the debate on the CSCOPE curriculum.

The meeting opened with a presentation to Felicia Patterson (who took first place in the state color guard Rifle Solo competition) and Gwen Popejoy, who placed second in Sabre Solo). Dustin Riley, of Owner’s Building Resource in Austin, reported on progress at Llano Elementary (work on the old cafeteria is complete; furniture should arrive next week) and at Yellow Jacket Stadium (painting continues on the bleachers as the weather allows, to be followed by aluminum installation). CFO Jo Ann Williams reported that tax collections are $130,000 above budget, but the net effect will be “pretty much zero” because of increased “Robin Hood” payments and decreased state aid.

The debate began with the “audience participation” of junior high school coach and history teacher Ricky Newman, whose contract has not been renewed for next year. He told how he had been recruited for the job based on previous successes, but how he became increasingly concerned by the flaws in CSCOPE and its implementation here in the Llano ISD. He told how some of his students were woefully unprepared for the lessons mandated by CSCOPE and how 80% of his class had failed a test on European history, how he had reverted to his previous “lecture” method to go back over the material (instead of using the “completely student-oriented” CSCOPE lessons) and how “the kids came through beautifully” on the essay test which followed. He felt that because of his objections to CSCOPE, administrators “watched me closely,” and he was written up twice for minor infractions before learning that his contract would not be renewed. Coach Newman used up his allotted five-minute speaking time before he finished making his case, but his frustration with administration and CSCOPE was very clear.

Local veterinarian Dr. Jim Jenkins was the next speaker, and he calmly outlined a number of objections to the curriculum and its implementation. He told the board that a number of his friends are teachers. “I think you just heard from Coach Newman the frustration that many or most of the teachers share,” he told the board, “but most are afraid to talk for fear of losing their jobs or hurting their resumes.” “CSCOPE is running a lot of good teachers out of Llano,” he continued, singling out the implementation of the curriculum for critcism. “We need flexibility; we’ve got to do something to retain teachers and encourage kids.” Karen Phillips thanked the board for taking time to look into the problems, but seconded many of Dr. Jenkins’ concerns. Letitia McCasland mentioned a scheduled meeting of administrators, and asked Superintendent Dennis Hill to “give us some insight into Friday’s meeting.”

Before Superintendent Hill’s response, Board President Ronnie Rudd expressed regrets for the time constraints, and asked audience members to send emails or letters if they had further concerns. Superintendent Hill told the audience that he agreed with Dr. Jenkins “on a number of points,” and reminded them that he and his wife had experienced some frustration with their son’s homework during CSCOPE’s introduction. He pointed out, however, that the administration was “on the horns of a dilemma,” and asked, “What kind of a curriculum can we use to give kids a reasonable chance to succeed” (in an era of increasingly rigorous standards)? “We must do everything we can to prepare these kids for what I know is coming.” He told the audience that administrators had held a 3-hour meeting with even “some tears shed in this room” last Friday; that he has written and distributed a summary, and is waiting for feedback before making it public. He told teachers present in the meeting room, “I hope to lower your level of concern, but keep a sense of urgency.”

Addressing specific concerns, Hill explained that he monitors programs to see if they are working, and has no plans to stop. “I don’t evaluate teachers,” he said. He accepted blame for any problems with implementation of the program, stressing that the board and his administrative team have done their jobs well, and adding that the results have been generally good. Almost across the board, test results are showing a positive trend; Llan1o ISD is ahead of the state and area averages, and has improved on its own performance over the last two years.

Superintendent Hill was followed by a series of principals and teachers voicing their enthusiastic support for CSCOPE, and reporting positive results from its implementation. Several praised the “5E Model” of teaching (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate), another recent innovation at Llano ISD which Superintendent Hill believes is a source for some of the angst surrounding CSCOPE. “If we want to improve student performance,” he said, “we can change curriculum (what we teach) and instructional style (how we teach it). We’re trying to change both at once.” The 5E model is basically learning by doing. “It’s “the antithesis of the old ‘sit and git’ method of instruction,” Hill says. “It’s very hands-on and engaging. It’s also different from what most teachers are used to.”

High school principal James Scott spoke in support of the new method. “I don’t recall a single worksheet or lecture from 5th grade,” he said, telling of an interactive lesson on electricity that he still remembers clearly. He also pointed out that textbooks could not keep up with the rapid changes in subjects and standards, and said, “I like the idea of a curriculum that covers everything my kids need to learn.”

Annette Moresco, of Packsaddle Elementary, was accompanied by a group of teachers who told of positive results from CSCOPE and 5E. Their presentation was supplemented by a Power Point presentation which highlighted some of the successes of the new program. They reported that kids are very interested in the new “hands-on” lessons. “You can see lights come on,” one teacher said. Another reported that CSCOPE made it possible to provide a math lesson in Spanish for a student who did not yet speak English; another noted that her feedback from last year had led to changes in this year’s curriculum. “You can’t do that with a textbook,” she said.

Three more teachers accompanied junior high principal Nicole Smith, who told the audience that there are “a lot of people loving what’s going on.” She introduced an 8th-grade science teacher who praised the flexibility of CSCOPE’s lesson plans. “It’s like a skeleton,” she said. “You can’t take any of the bones out, but you can add as much meat as you want.” That flexibility makes CSCOPE challenging for even her gifted students, while she can actually go back to previous levels to pull lessons for students who have fallen behind. Another teacher explained that, while teaching in Austin before CSCOPE was introduced, she had planned to home school her daughter. Now she has changed her plans. “I can’t do any better than CSCOPE math,” she explained, “and CSCOPE science is awesome,” with labs twice a week. And another teacher told the crowd that “We have meaningful learning” with CSCOPE. “We’re not just teaching them how to take tests,” she said. “We’re teaching them how to think.”

Junior high principal Nicole Smith reported that attendance at her school has risen to 96 percent, and that now “they want to come to school.”

Board president Ronnie Rudd acknowledged that CSCOPE had been hurriedly implemented, but said that the administration was “tweaking” the curriculum and would continue to do so. “We don’t have a viable alternative,” he said. “We have to play by the rules, and each year, standards get ratcheted up. We didn’t create the textbook problem.” He told the audience that the district cannot afford the “terrible consequences” of an “Unacceptable” rating. He pointed out that the board monitors teacher turnover (“We don’t like to lose anyone,” he said), and contrary to some rumors, Llano’s turnover is lower than the state average.

Board member Gerald Kaspar told how worried his wife had been, as a third grade teacher, about CSCOPE, and how happy she had been at the students’ response. She was delighted one day to overhear a boy saying to his friend, “Wasn’t math fun today?” Board secretary Becky Robinson closed out the debate by saying, “I think we’re very lucky to have administrators and teachers who are so passionate about what they are doing.”

In the final minutes of the meeting, the board approved a new copier lease which will save $200 per month, approved textbooks recommended by a special committee, and hired three new teachers for the junior high school. They are teacher/coaches Kyle Chance Vineyard and Ryan Maney, and art teacher Amanda Burchett.

Copyright 2010 The Llano News
E-mail: thenews@verizon.net • Phone: (325) 247-4433 • Fax: (325) 247-3338

New Research Shows that Prop 227 was a Mistake.

New Research Shows that Prop 227 was a Mistake.

Sent to the Capitol Weekly (Sacramento, CA), April 18, 2010

Two studies have just appeared that show that children in bilingual
programs learn about as much English as do children in English-only
programs.

One study, headed by Robert Slavin of Johns Hopkins University,
compared English learners in five states over five years who had the
same program of instruction, except that one group was taught entirely
in Spanish in kindergarten, with more English gradually introduced
until the program was entirely in English by grade three. The
researchers found only very small differences between the groups on
English tests given in grades three and four. The second study, done
by Christopher Jepsen of the University of Kentucky, looked at
children in California: Those who had bilingual education did just as
well as similar children who did not on tests of English in grades
four and five.

Both studies show that the children in the bilingual programs made the
same progress as comparisons in English literacy despite having less
exposure to English. This means that the time spent in Spanish made a
real contribution to English language development.

These two studies are only the most recent showing that bilingual
education works. In most of the previous research, in fact, children
in bilingual education did better on tests of English reading than
comparison students did.

Bilingual programs also help children develop their first language,
which is beneficial to the individual as well as society: Bilinguals
do better than monolinguals on several kinds of tests of intelligence,
and bilingualism appears to reduce some of the negative effects of
aging. Also bilingualism is an obvious asset to business as well as
national security.

In light of these findings, it is clear that approving Proposition
227, which dismantled bilingual education in California 1997 was a
mistake. The use of the first language in school can help English
language development, and at the same time provides the advantages of
bilingualism.

Stephen Krashen

What the NFL Draft Can Teach School Reformers

Excellent article! Makes you really think about how many gems slip through the gashing holes our current system has created. Thanks for another thoughtful piece, Sam.

-Patricia


Sam Chaltain, National Director of the Forum for Education and Democracy | Huffington Post
Posted: April 20, 2010

This Thursday marks the prime-time return of the NFL Draft -- an annual smorgasbord of possibility when each team fills out its roster with the best talent the college ranks have to offer.

I'm a huge football fan, so I'll be tuning in to see which players my beloved San Diego Chargers select to fill our current holes at running back and defensive tackle. I'm also a huge public education fan, so I confess that I wish the leading voices in my field -- from Arne Duncan to Michelle Rhee to Joel Klein -- would also tune in, and heed some of the most relevant lessons to be learned from the NFL.

In particular, I wish they'd pay attention to three truisms:

1. Don't Fall in Love with 40 Times - A generation ago, the draft was a low key, information-poor event. Today, it unfolds as prime-time drama in which every aspect of a player's performance -- from game tape to vertical jump to 40-yard dash times -- is intensely scrutinized and available to even the casual fan. The good news about this is that NFL teams are now data-rich when making decisions that can make or break a franchise. The bad news is that many teams lack insightfulness and use their information poorly, thus, they are just as likely to ignore the less easily quantifiable factors that make certain players great.

Case in point: Jerry Rice, the greatest wide receiver ever to play the game, was undervalued by most NFL teams coming out of college because his 40 time (4.71 seconds) was considered too slow for a receiver at the professional level. But one team, the San Francisco 49ers, paid attention to what really mattered -- how he performed in game situations, and aggressively moved up in the 1985 draft to take him. This August, he'll be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Unlike the 49ers of the 1980s, too many of today's reformers have fallen in love with the educational equivalent of a good (or bad) 40 time.

We judge a school's or a program's or a teacher's efforts based on a single, easily quantifiable measure: basic-skills test scores in reading and math. And we ignore or undervalue just about everything else.
In a previous Huffington Post column, I suggested a better way to evaluate success. But any sports fan can instantly see the illogic of the idea. After all, it's one thing to make a mistake on a single player on draft day. It's another to offer performance bonuses to every player on your team based on how fast they run during games. It would never happen. So why do we tolerate the illusion that tying teacher performance to a single measure of student success is any less foolish?

2. Know What You Don't Know - Although some NFL leaders refuse to adjust their long-held beliefs with new realities on the ground -- the Oakland Raiders' Al Davis comes to mind -- the majority of teams realize that all the data in the world can't create a foolproof system of evaluation. Take the uncomfortably high percentage of highly drafted quarterbacks who fail to become stars -- and the surprisingly high number of quarterbacks, like the New England Patriot's Tom Brady, who go on to lead Hall-of-Fame careers despite being lowly regarded out of college.

School principals face the same challenge as NFL executives. As Malcolm Gladwell has written, "There are certain jobs where almost nothing you can learn about candidates before they start predicts how they'll do once they're hired. So how do we know whom to choose in cases like that? In recent years, a number of fields have begun to wrestle with this problem, but none with such profound social consequences as the profession of teaching."

Our current national attention on the teacher, and on teaching, is a huge development since so many of our past approaches - from evaluation to professional support to defining teacher effectiveness - have been insufficient at best. But why do some of the field's leading voices seem believe they've already figured it out? Last week, for example, on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said, "We know how to do this" -- referring to systemic school reform -- moments after listing a number of examples of cities where students' 40 times - I mean test scores - had gone up.

Don't get me wrong: helping students improve their literacy and numeracy is important, just as helping NFL players run faster is important. But to cite a single metric while confidently stating you know how to do something as complex as education reform? That's a brand of hubris that's not just misguided -- it's dangerous.

3. Grow Your Own Talent -- Despite the growth of free agency, the most successful franchises develop and deepen their rosters gradually, and over time, via the draft.

Look at last year's Super Bowl champion, the New Orleans Saints. Their best player (quarterback Drew Brees) was a high-profile free agent pick up. The bulk of the remaining roster -- from Reggie Bush to Marques Colston to the anchors along the defensive line -- were homegrown draft choices who developed in the Saints system over time.

The logic behind this strategy is simple -- drafting good players and developing them yourself costs less than acquiring other teams' players at their peak. But there's another reason to build through the draft: developing players from within helps establish an organizational culture, identity, and clarity that can provide a sustainable competitive advantage.

I realize there isn't a teacher draft (although I have imagined what it would look like), but the same principle holds true for schools, which require a clear organizational identity, sustained support, and strong leadership to be successful at helping children learn. Why is it, then, that when we talk about teachers these days, it's as though there are only two types: the charismatic master teacher, or the union-protected laggard?

To be sure, both types exist, but of all the teachers in this country, I'd only attribute 5 percent or so to each category. That leaves the remaining 90 percent of our country's teachers, each of whom has the potential to slide up or down the effectiveness continuum, depending on how well -- or poorly -- s/he is evaluated, supported and challenged.

If we really want to see schools improve for the long haul, we should stop emulating the Washington Redskins -- who bring in high-profile free agents and coaches year after year, and then wonder why they can't seem to establish an organizational identity -- and start learning from the Indianapolis Colts, who have won twelve or more games each year for the past decade, and who consistently draft overachieving, undervalued players each April -- and then keep them for the duration of their careers.

To sustain success in schools the way Colts have sustained success in the NFL, we'd need to place less emphasis on scorched earth policies like firing every teacher in a school, and more on helping current and future teachers improve the quality of their professional practice. We'd need to devalue test score data and the illusion of certainty it provides. And we'd need to stop assuming we already have the answers to all of the current questions, and start figuring out how to more strategically question all of the current answers.

Now that would be an effort worthy of prime time.

Privatization or Public-ization?

This is a great piece by Sam. Don't forget to pick up his book "American Schools: The Art of Creating a Democratic Learning Community"

-Patricia

Sam Chaltain, National Director of the Forum for Education and Democracy | Huffington Post
April 7, 2010

There's a lot of talk these days about the growing support for a privatization of America's public school system, and what it augurs over the long haul.

Typically, that's as far as the conversation gets before breaking down into myopic talking points that force people to pledge allegiance to one of two camps: these days you're either pro or anti-charter, pro or anti-union, or -- the most insulting -- pro-adult or pro-kid.

I can't predict how it's all going to play out, but I can see that these binary frames are misleading distractions that work great as sound bites, and prevent us from addressing the primary challenges we face as a nation. I can also suggest an illustrative tale worth paying attention to, on from the other side of the globe where the exact opposite push -- a public-ization of the school system -- is taking place.

The place is Australia, where I recently spent a week as the guest of an organization called the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), and where, as FYA Research Director Lucas Walsh put it, "the promise of public education as a democratic project remains unfulfilled." As Walsh explained, "Across schooling in Australia students are increasingly segregated on the basis of educational achievement and family economic and cultural assets. Governance and funding are inconsistent, fragmented, and inhibited by policy scope that is limited through short-term political convenience."

Sound familiar? Yet Australia's school system differs mightily from ours in one major way: nearly one-third of its students attend private schools, which, remarkably, are eligible for public dollars.

The result of this system? A lionization of the individual right to choose which school your child will attend - alongside a deepening societal chasm between the haves and the have-nots; a rate of investment in private schools that is three times that of public schools -- alongside a disproportionate number of low-income and Aboriginal children who remain in the underfunded public option; and an ongoing celebration of the Australian notion that everyone deserves a fair go -- alongside the gradual development of a two-tiered, publicly funded education system that a growing number of educators and families refer to as "de facto apartheid."

In response, FYA and others are trying to engender a renewed commitment to the public-ization of Australia's school system. New funding formulas are being proposed, new efforts are underway to make financial and school performance data more transparent and readily available, and new campaigns are being launched to re-prioritize the unique role public schools play in a democratic society. As FYA Board member Ellen Koshland puts it, "More than ever, we need a whole of community commitment to education if Australia is going to lift its game internationally and prepare all of its wonderful young people for success in an uncertain future. The structure of government can either aid this or continue to inhibit it."

It was with these ideas and challenges in mind that I returned from Australia to the States, and re-entered the current climate in which we celebrate the limitless promise of charter schools -- schools that are released from bureaucratic regulation in order to experiment and innovate to find new ways to educate children -- while ignoring the limited opportunities for innovation that exist throughout the rest of the public education system. And I re-entered a climate where the current push is to use federal policy to pit schools and states against one another in a competitive contest that identifies a small number of winners, instead of mandating that all federal funding come with a requirement that any public school (charter or otherwise) share its most promising practices with an eye towards improving the entire system.

In this atmosphere, it's almost heresy to suggest that there's anything wrong with the three C's; charters, choice and competition. But before you categorize me too quickly (Is he a reformer or a status-quo-er? Is he for or against choice?), let me be clear: I love the fact that the charter movement has created new space for innovation, experimentation, and increased choices for low-income families. I love the fact that the Obama administration has stated unequivocally that a high quality public education is a civil right. And I love the fact that we now pay attention to the achievement gap between groups of students that was previously hidden in state and district reports.

I also worry about our refusal to ask some tough questions: How do we create space for innovation without unintentionally creating a two-tiered system of schooling that may serve more children, but still leaves too many behind? If authority becomes more and more centralized - via mayoral control, private management of schools, and the eradication of school boards, how will we ensure that families and community members are engaged, valued, and involved in meaningful decision-making? And what do we need to do now, so we don't find ourselves, a generation out, wondering how to reclaim the public purpose of public education?

Look to our friends Down Under to get a sense of what might happen if those questions remain unasked.