I troll various sites during the week to find topics for my blog. This week I found several I wanted to write about – some good news and some bad news. I decided to post a few (with links if you want to read more).
~At its annual meeting in Chicago, the American Medical Association came out strongly for a ban on assault weapons, and made a firm stance against arming teachers as a way to fight what they say is a “growing health crisis” (AP News). They agreed to:
Support any bans on the purchase or possession of guns and ammunition by people under 21.
Back laws that would require licensing and safety courses for gun owners and registration of all firearms.
Press for legislation that would allow relatives of suicidal people or those who have threatened imminent violence to seek court-ordered removal of guns from the home.
Encourage better training for physicians in how to recognize patients at risk for suicide.
Push to eliminate loopholes in laws preventing the purchase or possession of guns by people found guilty of domestic violence, including expanding such measures to cover convicted stalkers (AP News).
~Michigan State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck (R) this week proposed changes in what is taught in social studies in the state. Colbeck’s proposed curriculum removes all references to gay rights, Roe v. Wade and climate change (CBSlocal.com). It also slashes the word “democratic” and replaces it with “republic” and reduces references to the Klu Klux Klan.
Colbeck claims these changes were brought on by concerns that, “…some standards are not politically neutral or factually accurate, and to ensure students are “exposed to multiple points of view” (CBSlocal.com). Crowds of people have gathered at the state capitol to protest these changes. **In researching for this story, I found an article titled “11 Most Ridiculous Things Done By State Senator Patrick Colbeck” Changes to the Social Studies curriculum in Michigan seem to be on par with some of his other decisions. In other news, Colbeck seems to be behind in the polls in the race for governor.
~Cynthia Nixon, gubernatorial candidate for governor of New York outlined her education policy this week, promising to “tackle what she called the ‘unholy trinity’ of racial segregation, underfunding, and over-policing in schools (chalkbeat.org). Nixon said, “We have two different education systems in our state – one that sends wealthy white children to college, and another that sends poor children of color to prison (chalkbeat.org).
A spokesperson for current Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke against Nixon and her education policy, saying she was acting as a front for parent advocacy groups. As Diane Ravitch said, “Cuomo’s education policies are controlled by hedge fund managers, billionaires, and Wall Street advocacy groups.”
~The California Teachers Association is calling for support AB 276, which would set the standards for charter schools across the state. “AB 276 requires all charter schools to be transparent and accountable to parents and to disclose how they spend taxpayer money, including budgets and contracts. It prohibits charter school board members and their families from profiting from their schools and requires charter schools to comply with California’s open meetings, open records and conflict of interest laws (CTA.org).
~Former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) was not able to seat a state board of education because he couldn’t get his appointees approved. The new governor, Mike Parson (R), has already seated his board. The bad news is the board immediately renewed the charters for several under-performing schools in St. Louis and Kansas City despite their weak performance. The good news is the new president of the board, Charlie Shields said that it was time to review charter school laws.
Shields argued the charters in question “do not convincingly outperform St. Louis Public Schools. He said the state Legislature allowed charter schools to operate in Missouri on the premise that charter schools would be easy to open, but poor-performing charter schools should be easy to close” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
~In a huge defeat to charters in New York, this week a judge ruled against allowing certain schools to certify their teachers. The ruling ends Success Academy’s plan to hire teachers at their discretion and removing the master’s degree requirement. Success Academy is the largest charter chain in New York.
“The regulations, approved by the State University of New York in October 2017, were designed to give charter schools more discretion over how they hired teachers. They eliminated the requirement that teachers earn master’s degrees and allowed charter schools authorized by SUNY to certify their teachers with as little as a month of classroom instruction and 40 hours of practice teaching (Chalkbeat.org).
~The Seattle Education Association voted this week for moratorium on standardized testing. This movement began in 2013 when high school teachers refused to administer MAP tests. The superintendent threatened teachers with a 10-day suspension without pay, but teachers would not back down. “At the end of the year, because of the overwhelming solidarity from parents, teachers, and students around the country, not only were no teachers disciplined, but the superintendent announced that the MAP test would no longer be required for Seattle’s high schools (Iamaneducator.com).
The movement in Washington has continued. In 2015, Nathan Hale High School had a 100% opt out rate on the test given to all high school juniors. As many as 60,000 families opted their children out of common core testing as well.
~To end on a positive note, here’s an inspiring graduation speech. Dr. Louis Profeta, MD, an emergency room doctor who spoke at his alma mater, North Central High School in Indianapolis of his failure in schools, only to become a successful doctor.
These are my reflections for today.
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