Archive for trial

Decades of research show that teachers are not the problem. #Vergara got it wrong.

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Vergara
I’ve covered the Vergara trial pretty extensively, thanks to and with the help of my contacts who attended. But unfortunately, there's a sad ending: The judge sided with the billionaires over the public school teachers.

For those of us who paid attention to the trial, it was pretty clear that this was never about how to improve education. If it were, they would have focused on trivial little things that actually matter to, you know, student outcomes and achievement.

Nowhere in the decision does the judge mention important matters like poverty, segregation, unequal funding or the consequences of high-stakes testing. The decision actually reads like like it was written by, you should excuse the expression, a Michelle Rhee-ish "reformer."

What’s amazing is that there was evidence presented by the best education experts that said the “reformers” are wrong. Stanford’s Linda Darling-Hammond and Harvard’s Susan Moore Johnson are considered the best in the field of education. The judge completely ignored what they had to say. Berkeley’s Jesse Rothstein completely refuted Chetty and Kane, noting that using student test scores to judge teachers just doesn’t work.

AFT president Randi Weingarten really got it right. Here's her this statement:

"It's surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children.  We must lift up solutions that speak to these factors—solutions like wraparound services, early childhood education and project-based learning.”

BUT... there are some rays of hope. First, this was only a superior court judge. Which means it will be appealed. And this is a pretty darned thin decision without much reasoning. Why, it's almost as if the judge said “I don’t like teachers unions, so I’m going to side with the other guys.”

Even one ed reformer pointed out that there are problems with this decision. So let's keep our fingers and toes crossed that this will be overturned on appeal.

Second, CA Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson came out against the decision. He’s doing a fantastic job, which is why hedge funds and ed deformers are funding his challenger, Marshall Tuck, a guy who has never taught.

"All children deserve great teachers. Attracting, training, and nurturing talented and dedicated educators are among the most important tasks facing every school district, tasks that require the right mix of tools, resources, and expertise. Today's ruling may inadvertently make this critical work even more challenging than it already is.

"While I have no direct jurisdiction over the statutes challenged in this case, I am always ready to assist the Legislature and Governor in their work to provide high-quality teachers for all of our students. Teachers are not the problem in our schools, they are the solution."

For those of us who really care about crazy things like equity and preserving a public education system that serves all kids, regardless of their zip code, the take away should be this: the privatizers will do anything to create headlines that pits teachers against students.

That is sad.  We have to continue to show that teachers and students are on the same side. When you attack a teacher, you hurt a student. I know that, having taught in public schools for years. Attacks like Vergara must stop.

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LGBT educators can be fired for being gay: Vergara v CA

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Here is today's installment of Public schools vs billionaires: Vergara v California, with the emphasis on LGBT educators and discrimination in the workplace this time around. Please go here for the back story and previous posts. My sources have been keeping me updated, so please feel free to share a story that deserves more attention. Also, please note that there is a new Vergara Trial website here.

So. Should a teacher be fired for being gay? No. But does it happen? Oh yes. Yes it does.

One of the horrible realities of the Vergara trial is that if the plaintiffs are successful in eliminating due process, it takes away protections for LGBT educators.

David Atkins has a really important piece about teachers who have been fired without due process: Gay teachers who have been fired for being gay. Here are the opening and closing sentences of his post, but what he wrote in between the two is a must-read:

One of the more insidious aspects of the billionaire assault on teachers is the effort to make public teaching an "at will" occupation in which a teacher can be fired at any time. [...]

This is what will happen to public schools in California and eventually across the nation if Vergara goes the wrong way. All so a few billionaires can get even richer by turning students into commodities.

You see, without tenure, if a teacher irritates an administrator, or many parents complain in a community that happens to be homophobic, that teacher could be let go. They don't have to give a reason, just "We're not renewing your contract."

It has happened in California. And it could happen in our public schools if they are successful.

On Thursday, Shannan Brown, a former Teacher of the Year from San Juan School District, told a compelling story about the need for due process.

She said, "When I was a newer teacher in the district, before I had received tenure, I had shared with my colleagues that I am gay. And they told me not to tell the administrator and to not announce that because it could affect my - the employment decisions regarding me."

This teacher had to stay in the closet. If she had been dismissed because of a homophobic administrator, she would have never been teacher or the year and students would have missed out on having such great teacher.

It's the bigots who need to be educated.

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Bradley Manning Sentenced To 35 Years In Military Prison

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Bradley Manning

They're covering it right now on MSNBC. He is eligible for parole, good conduct & time served. He was knocked down a rank (why would this matter?), dishonorably discharged and loses all military pay, pension etc.

Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of secret government documents, was sentenced by a military judge Wednesday to 35 years in prison.

The sentence was imposed by Army Col. Denise Lind. Manning will be eligible for parole.

Manning, 25, has said he was disillusioned by an American foreign policy bent on “killing and capturing people” when he released the documents, including battlefield reports and diplomatic cables, to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks in 2010.

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Cartoons of the Day- Conversations on Race

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Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett

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John Cole

Injecting Race

Adam Zyglis

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Signe Wilkinson

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Quickie- Ohio Pro-Gun Group Raising Money To Buy George Zimmerman A New Weapon

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Because GOD KNOWS we wouldn't want this guy to go around unarmed.

A pro-gun group from Ohio launched a fundraising effort over the weekend to buy George Zimmerman a new gun.

On the heels of reports that the Justice Department is placing a hold on all evidence in the case, including the Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm pistol Zimmerman used to kill unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation announced that it is raising money to buy the former neighborhood watch captain a new gun.

"This is about more than mere principle. Zimmerman and his family now face daily threats on their lives," the group said in a post announcing the "Zimmerman Second Amendment Fund." "More than ever, he has a right to defend himself against those who would seek to do him harm. Gun owners must stand together and refuse to allow an injustice like this to go unanswered. If we choose to sit idly by while the full force and weight of the federal government descends upon a free man, it will embolden others to take liberties with our rights."

The group said it is accepting any donations supporters can afford in order to provide Zimmerman, who has no current source of income, "with the funds he needs to replace his firearm, holster, and other gear."

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Cartoons of the Day- Aftermath of the Zimmerman Trial

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Jeff Parker

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John Cole

Free At Last

Rob Rogers

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Jimmy Margulies

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Video- The Daily Show: Acquitted Development

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