Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Why Some White Liberals Will Probably Vote For Donald Trump

In a study of “dog-whistle politics” involving hundreds of white people by Brown and Stanford University professors, respectively, Rachel Wetts and Robb Willer, they found that Donald Trump’s racism appears to be particularly effective with self-identified liberals that harbor racial resentment.  These are the whites who voted for Trump after having voted for Obama in the previous election (this article references several studies since 2016 that corroborate this).
That is, the overtly racist messages do not impact as powerfully as the implicit ones, particularly for resentful whites that perceive a loss of centrality in society.  As we know well, however, whites still pretty much dominate the upper-echelons of society, but they are vulnerable to manipulation which is what Trump is all about.  He himself is in power and sees himself and “his people” as “victims.”
This is a preemptive political strike from within via dog-whistles, or coded language, that amounts to yet another ploy to suppress the voices, perspectives, and needs of diverse communities. 

-Angela Valenzuela

Why Some White Liberals Will Probably

Vote For Donald Trump

A new study demonstrates that racist dog whistles work.
by Arthur Delany | Huffington Post 8.20.19

Reporters often describe President Donald Trump’s
racism as a strategy to excite Republican voters,
may actually work better on certain self-identified
liberals. That’s the conclusion a pair of academic
researchers reached after conducting an experiment
with hundreds of white Americans earlier this year.
Continue reading here.

KIPP and IDEA Have Launched an Attack on San Antonio Public Schools: Why would we ever support an agenda to eliminate structures about which we have a vote?


According to this message by Diane Ravitch that she just posted to her blog, the public writ large should be deeply concerned about this attack on public education—specifically, in San Antonio public schools.  This is an aggressive move to not only enrichen their corporate pockets, but to simultaneously disenfranchise our community.  If this were otherwise, then why are they planning to have a charter schools in nearly every neighborhood in San Antonio, including, if not especially, in more affluent neighborhoods such as those located on the North side?

Plus, it speaks volumes that IDEA and KIPP have to circumvent the popular vote by working closely with the neoliberal Betsy DeVos to secure their largest grant ever, overriding public, open, deliberative processes to get this done.  Moreover, according to this recent report (March 20, 2019), they're also circumenting trends related to a slowing of charter school growth!

Por favor, mi gente...this is a money grab.  A power grab.  A corporate grab.  A land grab.  Accumulation by dispossession.

To educate yourself further, please read this massively important document titled, "Increase the Transparency and Efficiency of Charter Schools in Texas," that many of Texas' state-level organizations signed onto that tell the awful truths about charter schools and their undue impact on public schools.

I only hope that the citizens of San Antonio contest this, even if on a school-by-school basis.  Don't attend these schools.  Support public education.  Join the movement!

Remember, these are our hard-earned tax dollars that are paying for all of this.  Yet these structures that are getting built eliminate school boards and as a consequence, governance and democracy.  Why would we ever support an agenda to eliminate structures about which we have a vote?

-Angela Valenzuela

Betsy DeVos Funds IDEA and Kipp to Saturate San Antonio with Charter Schools

By diane ravitchAugust 17, 2019

Texas Public Radio describes Betsy Devos’s audacious plan to overwhelm San Antonio with charters created by two corporate chains: IDEA and KIPP.
Some of the new charters will open in middle-class areas with good public schools.
Apparently, DeVos just wants to torpedo public schools in a major Texas city.
Camille Phillips of TPR reports:
San Antonio’s largest charter school network is gearing up for a fast-paced expansion over the next three years. IDEA Public Schools plans to add 15 schools in Bexar County by 2022, doubling its local enrollment to nearly 24,000 students.
It is part of an ambitious larger plan by the Rio Grande Valley-based charter network plan to add 120 schools in Texas, Louisiana and Florida by 2024. IDEA has gotten a big boost to help make that plan happen: four federal grants in five years worth more than $211 million combined.
This year, the U.S. Department of Education awarded IDEA its largest grant yet: $117 million to expand classrooms and launch new charter schools.
“We cast a vision for our growth plan, and then it has to be paid for somehow. So this just gives us confidence that what we envision in terms of growth will actually become a reality,” IDEA regional director Rolando Posada said.
When Posada came to San Antonio seven years ago, he said he made it his goal to have an IDEA school less than 10 minutes away from every family.
“We realized that this was one of the biggest cities in the country with one of the biggest needs. And so my vision was to put a school everywhere on the map of the city of San Antonio,” he said….
Several of IDEA’s new schools will likely be located in the Northside school district, one of the region’s wealthier and higher performing districts.
Northside Superintendent Brian Woods said he finds it interesting that charter schools are no longer limiting themselves to areas where the traditional public schools are struggling.
“If you have an area that’s being served extremely well, why would you need to introduce a duplicative service?” Woods asked.
DeVos gave KIPP $88 million, and it too plans to expand its presence in Texas.
Mark Larson, chief external officer for KIPP Texas, said KIPP is creating a growth plan to determine where to expand next in the state, but “a sizeable chunk” of the $88 million awarded to the national KIPP Foundation is reserved for Texas.
“We have full intention to continue to grow and continue to grow in the San Antonio market,” Larson said.
DeVos gave $15 million to another charter network to open new schools in Texas.
One of our readers, who identifies herself as Chiara, recently explained why charters rely on federal funding to expand.
She says they know they would never be funded by popular vote as public schools are. The purpose of the federal funding is not only to help charter schools (like KIPP, funded by billionaires like the Waltons), but to bypass democracy.
She wrote:
The second of 20 San Antonio IDEA Public School campuses is headed to the South Side and and is scheduled to open in fall 2019.
”The new campus — which has yet to be named — will be built on an eight-acre plot of land on the corner of South Flores Street and West Harding Boulevard.”
If IDEA had to go to the public and ask for facilities financing to build and operate each of 20 new public schools, the public would reject all or some of the new schools, because they would (rightfully) ask why they’re replicating a system they already have. There would be a long public debate on public investment. They would have to scale back plans or scrap them completely.
Charters know this, so they use federal and private financing. If they used local facilities funding they would have to get the consent of the public.
When ed reformers say they want local facilities funding remember that if they had local facilities funding the approval process would have to go thru the public, and the public would object to funding 20 new school buildings that replicate schools they already have. That would make it impossible to plunk down 20 new charter schools.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Jose Angel Gutierrez recipient, 2019 United States Hispanic Hero Award

View this and get inspired.  

This is a wonderful video about Dr. José Ángel Gutierrez,
recipient of the 2019 United States Hispanic Hero Award by the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute that also
provides good historical context for the Mexican American
Civil Rights movement.

Congratulations, José Ángel!  We are deeply indebted to all
that you and the activistas of your generation have done to provide us with the self-awareness, critical knowledge and tools, and cultural pride that are needed to carry forward a movement for social justice.

And this was back in the day when there were "only" 2.3 million million Mexican Americans identified as "persons of Spanish surname" in the 1970 U.S. Census, accounting for 4.5 percent of the total population (U.S. Census, 1970-2050).  Compare this to today where the approximately 58.9 million Hispanic people in the United States comprise 18.1 percent of the total U.S. population.

If they had the audacity to hope for a better world despite their relatively small numbers, what's impeding us right now?

If there is anything I have learned, it is that our work is never done even as we benefit from the continuing struggles and sacrifices of our political antepasados, our elders in the movement. 

In a July 14, 2012 post to this blog titled, "A Reflection on Age and Generation: Last Weekend’s Raza Unida Party Reunion in Austin," I lend support to the notion advanced in this video that the Raza Unida Party generation was indeed a singular one, changing the course of history.  My message to that generation was, and continues to be:

We needed you then.  We need you now.

Sí se puede!  Yes we can!

-Angela Valenzuela

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Testing Craze Is Fading in U.S. Schools. Good. Here’s What’s Next.

Project-based learning and project-based assessments are the way to go together with other reforms, such a recruiting a diverse teacher workforce, structuring time in the day for  curriculum development, and better working  conditions, overall. 

Andrea Gabor points appropriately to the New York State Performance Standards Consortium as the way to go.  I've visited several of the schools in this network in New York City over the years.

They're great small schools where young people have much more autonomy than in most public schools where they can even provide direct input into the school curriculum through thematic units across the curriculum of their choosing.  Plus, they hardly administer high-stakes, standardized test (in New York, their is the Regents exam). 

This helps keep these schools interesting and relevant and children and families happy and satisfied because their children are learning.

-Angela Valenzuela

Testing Craze Is Fading in U.S. Schools. Good. Here’s What’s Next.

New ways to measure student progress are gaining ground. Wind turbines, anyone?

July 29, 2019, 8:00 AM CDT

America’s decades-long infatuation with standardized testing is finally waning, and for good reasons. Despite years of training students to do better on tests, the performance of 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s report card, has flatlined. At the same time, the focus on testing produced unintended consequences, including inattention to important educational priorities and growing teacher shortages.

That’s in part because test performance became a goal in many districts instead of a means to an end and, thus, a prime example of Campbell’s Law, which points to the corrupting influence of using a single measurement as a target, thus ensuring that “it ceases to be a good measure."

The federal “No Child Left Behind” initiative introduced by President George W. Bush imposed a battery of high-stakes testing mandates, which continued under President Barack Obama. If children failed to meet proficiency goals for math and English, schools faced closure, teachers were shamed and fired and children were held back. Consequently, many schools and districts focused on test prep, often sacrificing untested but important subjects like civics and neglecting the classroom give-and-take that nurtures critical thinking and creativity.

At the peak of testing mania in the 2014-2015 school year, the average U.S. student was taking 112 standardized tests in the course of a K-12 education, many of which were redundant or pointless.

Now states from Arizona to Wyoming are retreating from high-stakes testing. The announcement last month that New York’s education commissioner, a testing proponent, will resign in August, signals another reversal.

It might be easy to say good riddance, but schools still need ways to measure student progress. The accountability movement that pushed testing was a response to a genuine need to improve K-12 education. Since the 1983 publication of “A Nation at Risk,” a bipartisan report by a commission appointed by President Ronald Reagan, business leaders have warned that schools weren’t developing the knowledge workers modern industry needs, and progressive educators have criticized traditional factory-style schools for not fostering an engaged and informed citizenry.
So schools need to find new ways to show accountability advocates that test retrenchment won’t weaken standards, and this presents an opportunity to develop more robust assessments and better education.
The country’s best under-the-radar experiments are a useful guide. Chief among these is the New York State Performance Standards Consortium, a decades-old effort led by progressive educators and involving 38 high schools, which won exemptions from all standardized tests except English. Instead, students complete ambitious projects known as performance-based assessments — think mini theses with lots of research, writing and real-world projects in everything from social studies to physics, which students present to expert panels, including teachers (often from different schools) and community members.

Since launching in the 1990s, the consortium has racked up far higher graduation rates and college matriculation rates for its schools than New York’s traditional public schools.

The consortium prevailed even as New York became Exhibit A for the nation’s testing follies. New York adopted “Common Core-aligned” tests before the standards were completed, and introduced new tests almost every year — making it difficult to track student progress.

Testing excesses even prompted soul searching among leading accountability champions like Arne Duncan, who blogged while he was education secretary in 2014, “I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools.”

New York is the latest state to rethink long-held education policies. At its July meeting, the state’s supervisory Board of Regents considered scrapping the subject-by-subject Regents exams — one of the oldest tests of its kind — as a high-school graduation requirement, and formed a commission to examine whether the tests improve “student achievement, graduation rates and college readiness.” Close to 20 percent of New York’s children sit out certain assessment tests at their parents’ discretion, one of the nation’s highest opt-out rates. MaryEllen Elia, the departing education commissioner, angered the Regents, who recently have been visiting consortium schools, by continuing to put schools with high opt-out rates on a watch list

In 2015, New Hampshire won a waiver under a federal pilot program that opened the door to alternative assessment programs, and is introducing performance-based projects like New York’s that are designed almost entirely by teachers.

Developing high-quality alternative assessments is time consuming and costly, and the federal pilot program offers no funding. But educators committed to the model say it’s worth it. At the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, a consortium school where nine in 10 students are members of minority groups and 70 percent are economically disadvantaged, one group of 11th graders completed a science assessment that involved a yearlong study of climate change and alternative energy sources. The students developed the physics- and earth science-related questions they wanted to answer and researched, wrote up and presented their findings. They also built wind turbines.

“It was the most rigorous academic work I have ever seen done in a high school setting,” wrote Lori Ungemah, a former New York City teacher who now teaches at a Community College.

One challenge is that project-based assessments would demand greater confidence in the ability of teachers and schools to judge their students’ progress, and would require striking a better balance between local autonomy and the kind of state and federal oversight that favors standardized curricula and testing. One way to encourage parents and citizens to trust local schools more might be to begin with networks of the schools most interested in project-based learning and let them serve as models, instead of trying to change the whole system all at once.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Andrea Gabor at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jonathan Landman at