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Sacramento: poised to become ground zero of privatization

Sacramento: poised to become ground zero of privatization

See the report below from Kate Lenox of the Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education, a new affiliate of Parents Across America.

Sacramento parents and concerned citizens, please join their Facebook page, or email Kate for more info at

The Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education is a group of parents, teachers, and community members that has been fighting the privatization of public education here in Sacramento for eight years. We formed when the board of Sacramento City Unified School District voted to close Sacramento High School, the second oldest public high school west of the Mississippi, and give it to a charter operator to run.

That charter operator is St. HOPE, an organization formed by former NBA star Kevin Johnson, who is now our mayor and is engaged to Michelle Rhee. We believe that Sacramento is poised to become the ground zero of the privatization movement. Michelle Rhee is setting up her lobbying group Students First here in town. Democrats for Education Reform has set up a chapter here in California with Gloria Romero, failed candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction has the public face of the organization.

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools
By Joanne Barkan

The cost of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy—where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision—investing in education yields great bang for the buck.

Hundreds of private philanthropies together spend almost $4 billion annually to support or transform K–12 education, most of it directed to schools that serve low-income children (only religious organizations receive more money). But three funders—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad (rhymes with road) Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation—working in sync, command the field. Whatever nuances differentiate the motivations of the Big Three, their market-based goals for overhauling public education coincide: choice, competition, deregulation, accountability, and data-based decision-making. And they fund the same vehicles to achieve their goals: charter schools, high-stakes standardized testing for students, merit pay for teachers whose students improve their test scores, firing teachers and closing schools when scores don’t rise adequately, and longitudinal data collection on the performance of every student and teacher. Other foundations—Ford, Hewlett, Annenberg, Milken, to name just a few—often join in funding one project or another, but the education reform movement’s success so far has depended on the size and clout of the Gates-Broad-Walton triumvirate.

Why I Am Not A Defender Of The 'Status Quo' In Education

Sue Peters
Co-editor of the Seattle Education 2010 blog & founding member of Parents Across America
Posted, Huffington Post: February 4, 2011 10:11 AM

The current crowd of education reformers like to dismiss any of us who disagree with their agenda as "defenders of the status quo."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am not a defender of the status quo in public education because the status quo is currently No Child Left Behind and its insidious spin-off Race to the Top.

In fact, I decry the state of public education in this country right now because a beleaguered, underfunded system has been disparaged and ravaged even further this last decade by damaging policies based on failed concepts pushed by those who want to privatize our public schools.

I do not support the status quo because the status quo is teacher bashing. I don't support the demonizing of teachers and belittling or weakening of the profession.

The status quo is standardization and high-stakes testing which narrows curriculum and kills all creativity and joy for learning and teaching.

It is "merit pay" which lashes teacher evaluations to student test scores, and which repeated studies and common sense show doesn't work.

It is data manipulation to create the illusion of education reform "success." (See: "Standards Raised, More Students Fail Tests.")

The Root: The McEducation of Charter Students

The Root: The McEducation of Charter Students
January 6, 2011

Natalie Hopkinson is a fellow of the Interactivity Foundation and the co-author of Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation.

Something wasn't right at the high school that Darwin Bridgers' son attends, so he sat in on the class to see for himself. All morning long, the instructor at the Washington, D.C. charter school pointed to a list of ground rules, a detailed list of rewards and punishments posted on a wall near the front of the class filled with black and Latino students.

Then the students filled out worksheets. That's how it went: rewards and punishments, then worksheets. No instruction, just worksheets. At the end of the class, Bridgers, who works as an exterminator, pulled aside the teacher, a young white male and recent graduate.

"I wanted to know when he was going to do some, you know, teaching," Bridgers explained to me recently. "You know, like, how we used to have in school? She would stand in front of the class … "

Sacramento instructors share state Teacher of the Year honors
Published Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010

Two of five teachers named Friday as California Teachers of the Year work in Sacramento schools, and both say they're driven by a deep belief that every student can learn.

Fifth-grade teacher Shannan Brown of Thomas Edison Elementary School in the San Juan Unified School District and math teacher Kadhir Rajagopal of Grant High School in the Twin Rivers district were among five educators statewide selected for the honor.

Brown and Rajagopal, who each teach at high-poverty schools, said two keys to their success are developing relationships with students to create education-friendly environments and reaching out to parents for support.

"If kids see that I care more than just about how they do academically, then they feel safe and are motivated to do better," Brown, 37, said.

Rajagopal, 28, said he identifies a parent, grandparent, coach or relative who will help keep each student on track. He puts their phone numbers in his cell phone and calls often.

In a prepared statement released Friday, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said of the five Teachers of the Year: "They each have unique ways of teaching and thinking that inspire their students to love learning."


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