Students cannot pass a basic citizenship exam: A shameful indictment of our education system

Nicholas Giordano: Instead, many will write how they never actually read the U.S. Constitution, which is horrifying given the number of years they have attended school prior to taking my course. Others will reference Article 7 where it explains “…guaranteed minimum wages and salaries shall be established, state support ensured to the family, maternity, paternity … Continue reading Students cannot pass a basic citizenship exam: A shameful indictment of our education system

Civics: The Court, like the U.S. Constitution, was designed to be a limit on the excesses of democracy. Roe denied, not upheld, the rights of citizens to decide democratically

Glenn Greenwald: Every time there is a controversy regarding a Supreme Court ruling, the same set of radical fallacies emerges regarding the role of the Court, the Constitution and how the American republic is designed to function. Each time the Court invalidates a democratically elected law on the ground that it violates a constitutional guarantee … Continue reading Civics: The Court, like the U.S. Constitution, was designed to be a limit on the excesses of democracy. Roe denied, not upheld, the rights of citizens to decide democratically

Civics: How Democracies Spy on Their Citizens

Ronan Farrow: Solé’s phone had been infected with Pegasus, a spyware technology designed by NSO Group, an Israeli firm, which can extract the contents of a phone, giving access to its texts and photographs, or activate its camera and microphone to provide real-time surveillance—exposing, say, confidential meetings. Pegasus is useful for law enforcement seeking criminals, … Continue reading Civics: How Democracies Spy on Their Citizens

Showing up to dress down school boards over their dereliction of duty isn’t a crime. It’s good parenting and good citizenship.

Maud Maron: I am a mother of four, a criminal defense attorney and a lifelong liberal who is deeply concerned about the direction of New York City’s public schools. I’ve been outspoken about my views, along with an untold number of frustrated parents. For that, the FBI is considering using the PATRIOT Act against me.  … Continue reading Showing up to dress down school boards over their dereliction of duty isn’t a crime. It’s good parenting and good citizenship.

“Action Civics” Replaces Citizenship with Partisanship

Stanley Kurtz: Advocates of “Action Civics” are poised to press a novel practice on every state education system in the Union. Bills mandating Action civics will soon be introduced in state legislatures across the country; it is already required in Massachusetts and Illinois. The Biden administration is likely to support that effort with federal carrots … Continue reading “Action Civics” Replaces Citizenship with Partisanship

Civics: The FBI Seized Heirlooms, Coins, and Cash From Hundreds of Safe Deposit Boxes in Beverly Hills, Despite Knowing ‘Some’ Belonged to ‘Honest Citizens’

Eric Boehm: The FBI and federal prosecutors have “no authority to continue holding the possessions of some 800 bystanders who are not alleged to have been involved in whatever USPV may have done wrong,” Benjamin Gluck, a California attorney who is representing several of the people caught up in the FBI’s raid of U.S. Private … Continue reading Civics: The FBI Seized Heirlooms, Coins, and Cash From Hundreds of Safe Deposit Boxes in Beverly Hills, Despite Knowing ‘Some’ Belonged to ‘Honest Citizens’

Civics: US can kill its own citizens without review when state secrets are involved, DOJ lawyer argues

Debra Cassens Weiss: A U.S. Department of Justice lawyer argued Monday that the United States can kill its own citizens without judicial review when litigation would reveal state secrets. The argument drew alarm among judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Courthouse News Service reports. Judge Patricia Millett characterized … Continue reading Civics: US can kill its own citizens without review when state secrets are involved, DOJ lawyer argues

Judge Branick writes letter to citizens explaining mask order

Judge Branick: Eighty years ago, the greatest generation planted victory gardens, collected tin, rubber and steel, had food ration books and endured black outs, all to support the war effort. Their sacrifices were significantly more weighty than the inconvenience the present order requires. I want to thank a fellow county judge for reminding me of … Continue reading Judge Branick writes letter to citizens explaining mask order

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Mckenna Kohlenberg: For in cities like Madison, reputationally progressive jewel of the state that denied Dred Scott his citizenship and citizen rights nearly two centuries ago, so too does the racialized illiteracy crisis lawfully disparage young Black men to non-citizen subjects and deny their access to democratic society to- day. If this academic year mirrors … Continue reading Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Civics: DHS wants to expand airport face recognition scans to include US citizens

Zack Whittaker: Homeland Security wants to expand facial recognition checks for travelers arriving to and departing from the U.S. to also include citizens, which had previously been exempt from the mandatory checks. In a filing, the department has proposed that all travelers, and not just foreign nationals or visitors, will have to complete a facial … Continue reading Civics: DHS wants to expand airport face recognition scans to include US citizens

Do Citizens Have A Right To See The Algorithms Used By Publicly-Funded Software?

Gkyn Moody: In 2009, the Spanish government brought in a law requiring electricity bill subsidies for some five million poor households in the country. The so-called Bono Social de Electricidad, or BOSCO, was not popular with energy companies, which fought against it in the courts. Following a 2016 ruling, the Spanish authorities introduced new, more … Continue reading Do Citizens Have A Right To See The Algorithms Used By Publicly-Funded Software?

Trump’s Citizenship Question Isn’t Controversial. Obama Deleting It Should’ve Been.

Ian Miles Cheongon: Obama’s own efforts to not ask the question was limited to the 2010 Census. From 2009 to 2016, the former president’s Census Bureau had no problem asking anyone if they were Americans on all eight of his annual ACSs (American Community Survey), which targeted smaller demographics key to the success of the … Continue reading Trump’s Citizenship Question Isn’t Controversial. Obama Deleting It Should’ve Been.

America’s Most Educated, Engaged Citizens Are Making Politics Worse

David French: It turns out that most Americans have fundamentally mistaken notions about their political opponents, consistently believing that they are substantially more extreme than they really are. For example, Democrats are far less likely to support open borders, far more likely to support private ownership of firearms, and far more friendly to police than … Continue reading America’s Most Educated, Engaged Citizens Are Making Politics Worse

Civics: Jihadi brides and the meaning of citizenship

Royal Khalaf: There’s at least one for every country. They have names like Shamima, Mathilde and Hoda. Some are barely adults; others are now nearing middle-age. Some are repenting their sins; others remain defiant. These are the western women lured to Syria and Iraq to marry Isis fighters. Just a few years ago, they were … Continue reading Civics: Jihadi brides and the meaning of citizenship

China Plans to Blacklist Citizens for Misusing Social Security

Yang Ziyu: Chinese authorities plan to introduce a blacklist system by the end of the year that specifically targets those who pocket social security benefits, China News reported Tuesday. Under the new rule, individuals or companies involved in social insurance misconduct — such as refusing to pay insurance fees and benefits, forging certification materials, and … Continue reading China Plans to Blacklist Citizens for Misusing Social Security

China’s Government Has Ordered a Million Citizens to Occupy Uighur Homes. Here’s What They Think They’re Doing.

Darren Byler: Often, the big brothers and sisters arrived dressed in hiking gear. They appeared in the villages in groups, their backpacks bulging, their luggage crammed with electric water-kettles, rice-cookers, and other useful gifts for their hosts. They were far from home and plainly a bit uncomfortable, reluctant to “rough it” such a long way … Continue reading China’s Government Has Ordered a Million Citizens to Occupy Uighur Homes. Here’s What They Think They’re Doing.

China is building a digital dictatorship to exert control over its 1.4 billion citizens. For some, “social credit” will bring privileges — for others, punishment.

Matthew Carney: A vast network of 200 million CCTV cameras across China ensures there’s no dark corner in which to hide. Every step she takes, every one of her actions big or small — even what she thinks — can be tracked and judged. And Dandan says that’s fine with her. What may sound like … Continue reading China is building a digital dictatorship to exert control over its 1.4 billion citizens. For some, “social credit” will bring privileges — for others, punishment.

VOA: Authorities Force Chinese Citizens to Renounce Belief in Christianity

VOA: In recent years, the authorities across China have stepped up their efforts to suppress religious activities that are not officially permitted. Their actions have included the forced demolition of churches or the removal of church crosses, harassment and attacks on religious gatherings, and arrests of church missionaries and church members. In addition, there have … Continue reading VOA: Authorities Force Chinese Citizens to Renounce Belief in Christianity

Palantir Knows Everything About You Peter Thiel’s data-mining company is using War on Terror tools to track American citizens. The scary thing? Palantir is desperate for new customers.

Peter Waldman, Lizette Chapman, and Jordan Robertson: It all ended when the bank’s senior executives learned that they, too, were being watched, and what began as a promising marriage of masters of big data and global finance descended into a spying scandal. The misadventure, which has never been reported, also marked an ominous turn for … Continue reading Palantir Knows Everything About You Peter Thiel’s data-mining company is using War on Terror tools to track American citizens. The scary thing? Palantir is desperate for new customers.

Civics: Bi-partisan concern that government is tracking U.S. citizens

Monmouth University (PDF): A majority of the American public believe that the U.S. government engages in widespread monitoring of its own citizens and worry that the U.S. government could be invading their own privacy. The Monmouth University Poll also finds a large bipartisan majority who feel that national policy is being manipulated or directed by … Continue reading Civics: Bi-partisan concern that government is tracking U.S. citizens

America Is Not a Democracy How the United States lost the faith of its citizens—and what it can do to win them back

Yascha Mounk: Outlets from The Washington Post to Breitbart News cited this explosive finding as evidence of what overeager headline writers called American oligarchy. Subsequent studies critiqued some of the authors’ assumptions and questioned whether the political system is quite as insulated from the views of ordinary people as Gilens and Page found. The most … Continue reading America Is Not a Democracy How the United States lost the faith of its citizens—and what it can do to win them back

Sweden Accidentally Leaks Personal Details of Nearly All Citizens

Swati Khandelwal: This time sensitive and personal data of millions of transporters in Sweden, along with the nation’s military secrets, have been exposed, putting every individual’s as well as national security at risk. Who exposed the sensitive data? The Swedish government itself. Swedish media is reporting of a massive data breach in the Swedish Transport … Continue reading Sweden Accidentally Leaks Personal Details of Nearly All Citizens

America, Meet America: Getting Past Our Toxic Partisanship Bringing back U.S. exchange programs could help remind citizens what we all have in common

Amanda Ripley: Seventy years ago, almost to the day, a group of American ambulance drivers, disgusted by the waste and carnage they’d seen in the World Wars in Europe, started up a cultural exchange program between Europe and the U.S. The idea was simple: If people knew each other—really knew each other—they would be more … Continue reading America, Meet America: Getting Past Our Toxic Partisanship Bringing back U.S. exchange programs could help remind citizens what we all have in common

China’s All-Seeing Surveillance State Is Reading Its Citizens’ Faces

Josh Chin and Liza Lin: Gan Liping pumped her bike across a busy street, racing to beat a crossing light before it turned red. She didn’t make it. Immediately, her face popped up on two video screens above the street. “Jaywalkers will be captured using facial-recognition technology,” the screens said. Facial-recognition technology, once a specter … Continue reading China’s All-Seeing Surveillance State Is Reading Its Citizens’ Faces

Proposed Federal Tax Changes May Increase High Tax State Citizens Burden

Reid Wilson: President Trump’s plan to overhaul the federal tax code threatens to fall disproportionately on residents of liberal-leaning states, a short-term boost for state governments that could turn into a long-term drag. Most states have tied their tax codes closely to the federal code. Since the federal income tax was first levied in 1913, … Continue reading Proposed Federal Tax Changes May Increase High Tax State Citizens Burden

Civics: Life and death: Anti-Japanese order devastated S.F. citizens

Peter Hartlaub: The directives started in late December 1941, with a command for San Francisco citizens of Japanese ancestry to surrender their cameras and short-wave radios to the nearest police station. In just a few months, federal authorities would forcibly expel a racial demographic from the city — using euphemisms like “relocation” while threatening severe … Continue reading Civics: Life and death: Anti-Japanese order devastated S.F. citizens

Executive Summary of a report by the National Association of Scholars January 2017 The full 523-page report is available at www.nas.org/makingcitizens MAKING CITIZENS: HOW AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES TEACH CIVICS

National Association of Scholars (PDF): A new movement in American higher education aims to transform the teaching of civics . This report is a study of what that movement is, where it came from, and why Americans should be concerned . What we call the “New Civics” redefines civics as progressive political activism . Rooted … Continue reading Executive Summary of a report by the National Association of Scholars January 2017 The full 523-page report is available at www.nas.org/makingcitizens MAKING CITIZENS: HOW AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES TEACH CIVICS

Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens

g, The State University of New York: Who is this class for: We are thrilled to make this course available for anybody who is interested in learning how to evaluate the quality of news and journalism in order to judge the reliability of information and make informed judgment. It is an online version of the … Continue reading Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens

Sub-Saharan Africa and Emerging Asia lead the pack over an 8-year term in improving its citizens lives, while Western Europe remains at the top of the current index

Josh Robinson: The SEDA, or Sustainable Economic Development Assessment ranks more than 160 countries across 10 areas including economic stability, health, governance and environment. It uses two measures, the first a current score taking into the most recent data and a rolling score that assesses how countries can convert economic growth into well-being over an … Continue reading Sub-Saharan Africa and Emerging Asia lead the pack over an 8-year term in improving its citizens lives, while Western Europe remains at the top of the current index

Paris calls all willing citizens to become reservists

AFP: French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Saturday called on citizens to become reservists and help boost security forces in the wake of the country’s latest terror attack. France’s “operational reservists” include French citizens with or without military experience as well as former soldiers. “I want to call on all French patriots who wish to … Continue reading Paris calls all willing citizens to become reservists

Proposal: replace Algebra II and Calculus with “Statistics for Citizenship”

Cory Doctorow: Andrew Hacker, a professor of both mathematics and political science at Queens University has a new book out, The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions, which makes the case that the inclusion of algebra and calculus in high school curriculum discourages students from learning mathematics, and displaces much more practical mathematical instruction about … Continue reading Proposal: replace Algebra II and Calculus with “Statistics for Citizenship”

We should be teaching our kids to be better citizens through personal responsibility, not by the example of blame.

nymag: Where do we stand now, economically? Well, we are right back at it: trying to stimulate growth through easy money. It hasn’t worked, but it’s the only tool the Fed’s got. Meanwhile, the Fed’s policies widen the wealth gap, which feeds political extremism, forcing gridlock in Washington. It seems the world is headed toward … Continue reading We should be teaching our kids to be better citizens through personal responsibility, not by the example of blame.

China prepares to rank its citizens on ‘social credit’

Julie Makinen: Internet users in America voiced outrage this fall over the imminent launch of a Yelp-style app intended to let anyone post public reviews of their friends, acquaintances and yes, enemies — with no opt-out option. The outbursts prompted the creators of the app, Peeple, to reconsider. But in China, government authorities are hard … Continue reading China prepares to rank its citizens on ‘social credit’

Release of China’s draft security law sparks fears of further erosion of citizens’ freedoms

Verna Yu: The newly released draft of China’s national security law, which covers a range of topics including stressing the preservation of the Communist Party’s political regime, has stoked fears citizens’ freedoms will be further eroded under the pretext of state security. The full text of the sweeping draft law, which underwent its second reading … Continue reading Release of China’s draft security law sparks fears of further erosion of citizens’ freedoms

Addressing the dismal state of civics education: Require citizenship test in schools

USA Today: Jay Leno’s old Tonight Show man-on-the-street quizzes were particularly hilarious — and depressing — when he tested Americans’ knowledge of their own government. One woman thought the colonies won their independence from Greece; a college instructor guessed that U.S. independence was won in 1922; and a man said the general who led our … Continue reading Addressing the dismal state of civics education: Require citizenship test in schools

Citizenship 101: Too many Americans are ignorant of the basics of democracy

Los Angeles Times: But a growing number of critics charge that education in good citizenship is being shortchanged by an American educational system that is focused on other “core competencies.” The result is that too many products of that system are ignorant of the basics of how American democracy functions, and lack the knowledge to … Continue reading Citizenship 101: Too many Americans are ignorant of the basics of democracy

Schools and Citizens

Robin West:

It is no surprise, given the stakes, that education reform is now one of the major battles in American politics. Particularly at the municipal and state levels–from Washington, D.C. to Boston to Chicago–it has created upheaval not only in schools, but also in elections, as Democrats and unions have parted ways and new pressure groups have emerged to funnel cash toward candidates who espouse the reform movement’s vision.
All of this leaves Diane Ravitch, a historian and assistant secretary of education under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, troubled. In her new book Reign of Error, she mounts a well-documented and generally compelling case against the agenda of the “corporate school reform movement” of the last twenty-five years. She takes on its advocacy of testing and accountability as a means of raising the quality of low-performing schools; its promotion of for-profit, nonprofit, and cyber charter schools; its urge to replace professional educators with inexperienced college graduates and swap school board members, superintendents, and principals for corporate executives.
These are familiar complaints. Ravitch’s particular contribution is to unpack the philosophical assumptions guiding the reform movement. Reformers’ goals–higher test scores for all students and a reduced gap in achievement between affluent and poor, white and nonwhite–seem admirable. But Ravitch argues that their achievement comes at the cost of replacing both the ideal and the experience of education as a public good–provided by publicly financed, publicly controlled institutions that aspire to educate future citizens for their public responsibilities and adult lives–with an understanding of education as a private commodity chosen by parents. This commodity, like others, would be produced by rival corporations motivated by profit. Corporations would seek to educate not for the responsibilities of citizenship but for success in competitive markets. The philosophical and ideological commitment to the corporate over the public, Ravitch contends, threatens real damage not only to the education of mostly low-income children, but, more broadly, to our republic and the social compact and civil society on which it rests.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: States and localities owe far, far more than their citizens know.

Steven Malanga:

Maria Pappas, the treasurer of Cook County, Illinois, got tired of being asked why local taxes kept rising. Betting that the answer involved the debt that state and local governments were accumulating, she began a quest to figure out how much county residents owed. It wasn’t easy. In some jurisdictions, officials said that they didn’t know; in others, they stonewalled. Pappas’s first report, issued in 2010, estimated the total state and local debt at $56 billion for the county’s 5.6 million residents. Two years later, after further investigation, the figure had risen to a frightening $140 billion, shocking residents and officials alike. “Nobody knew the numbers because local governments don’t like to show how badly they are doing,” Pappas observed.
Since Pappas began her project to tally Cook County’s hidden debt, she has found lots of company. Across America, elected officials, taxpayer groups, and other researchers have launched a forensic accounting of state and municipal debt, and their fact-finding mission is rewriting the country’s balance sheet. Just a few years ago, most experts estimated that state and local governments owed about $2.5 trillion, mostly in the form of municipal bonds and other debt securities. But late last year, the States Project, a joint venture of Harvard’s Institute of Politics and the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government, projected that if you also count promises made to retired government workers and money borrowed without taxpayer approval, the figure might be higher than $7 trillion.

Citizens Against Corporate Collusion in Education (CACCE)

As American parents, students, educators, and concerned citizens, we are united in opposition to the agenda of those corporate, foundation, and government interests that seek to influence local district boards of education, state boards of education, state governments, governors, and the Office of the Secretary of Education. This agenda calls for standardization of national curricula in the form of the Common Core Standards mandated in the Federal initiative “Race to the Top,” data-driven assessments of students and teachers, and the creation and implementation of standardized discrete item testing to measure compliance to the Common Core Standards. The president of the College Board’s recent announcement that a new SAT will be created to measure Common Core Standards skills proficiency also alarms us. In addition, the Secretary of Education’s former press secretary has recently used the “revolving door” of public office to acquire a job with a company that is related to Pearson LLC.
We demand transparency and public accountability for decisions that are being made on the above issues without open hearings or public debate on the influence of corporate lobbying and marketing at local, state, and federal levels. We strongly suspect the existence of quid pro quo understandings between the current Secretary of Education and Bill Gates, The Bill and Melina Gates Foundation, The College Board and David Coleman, The Educational Testing Service (ETS), and Pearson Education LLC that amount to collusion between a Federal Public servant(s) and corporate interests that appear to be working together to limit competition in an open marketplace.
We therefore resolve:
1) That State Attorneys General investigate possible quid pro quo agreements between the above parties and members of state boards of education and commissioners,
2) That State Attorneys General investigate lobbying of the above parties to determine whether bribery laws have been violated,
3) That all state governments conduct investigations of the contributions of Pearson LLC, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Students First Foundation to local school board elections and the elections or appointments of state education commissioners and state boards of education,
4) And that each state file a complaint with the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice in Washington preliminary to discovery of evidence of possible collusion of the above parties.
5) We call for a Joint House-Senate Committee to be formed to investigate possible collusion and influence peddling between the above parties.
6) We call for the Attorney General of the United States to select an independent prosecutor to investigate the possibility of quid pro quo dealings and collusion between the parties above.
7) We understand that the Tunney Act does not apply to this case and we argue that is precisely why collusion is involved, to avoid merger or the appearance of merger that would trigger a court hearing.
8) We strongly recommend that the Special Prosecutor (6) investigate all contracts let by the Department of Education to Pearson Education LLC.
9) We strongly recommend that all State Attorneys General investigate all state contracts let by Pearson LLC.
Read more, here.
Paul Horton
State Liaison
Illinois Council for History Education
History Instructor
University High School
The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
773-702-0588
phorton@ucls.uchicago.edu
www.ucls.uchicago.edu

Students & Citizens

Tatiana Pina via a kind reader’s email:

The House Chamber and State House corridors filled up Monday with 150 students from Providence schools who came to pitch ideas for making their city a better place to live.
The ideas included tackling environmental safety, gang violence, prostitution, NECAP testing and teenage obesity.
The presentations were part of school partnerships with Generation Citizen, a program founded in 2008 by Scott Warren, then a Brown University senior. Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, Mayor Angel Taveras, Rep. David N. Cicilline and Warren attended the event.

Angel Taveras

While I have been mayor of Providence over the last 15 months, our city has made tough choices to position Providence for progress and improve our city’s economic, educational and political outlook.
We have taken the difficult steps to make structural reforms to our pension system that protect the system for current workers and our retirees. We have taken significant strides to improve our public schools, and have convened a Children and Youth Cabinet that has made concrete and strategic suggestions for reform.

Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Christian Science Monitor:

In order to become a US citizen, immigrants must pass the Naturalization Test. American citizenship bestows the right to vote, improves the likelihood of family members living in other countries to come and live in the US, gives eligibility for federal jobs, and can be a way to demonstrate loyalty to the US. Applicants must get 6 answers out of 10 in an oral exam to pass the test. According to US Citizenship and Immigration services, 92 percent of applicants pass this test.

Public Schools Create Citizens In A Democratic Society

Jeffrey Mirel:

How do you get people who hate each other learn to resolve their differences democratically? How do you get them to believe in ballots not bullets?
What if the answer is “public schools” and the evidence for it is in our own history during the first half of the twentieth century?
In the years spanning about 1890-1930, two institutions–public schools and the foreign language press–helped generate this trust among the massive wave of eastern and southern European immigrants who came to the U.S. during that time. This is not a traditional “melting pot” story but rather an examination of a dynamic educational process.
The majority of these immigrants were dramatically different from the native born Americans they encountered here. Most immigrants knew no English, worshipped at synagogues or Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches, and had little knowledge of democracy. Many native born Americans viewed this “invasion of immigrants” as akin to the onslaught of the barbarians who destroyed Rome. Indeed, some argued that these newcomers were genetically incapable of becoming Americans.

Douglas County, Colorado school voucher hearings wrap up; What happens when citizens lose faith in government? 2011 Madison School District Open Enrollment Data (4.73% Leave)

Elbert County News:

Closing arguments in the case challenging the Douglas County School District’s voucher program ended three days of hearings that could halt the program in its infancy.
A standing-room-only crowd listened in Denver District Court while a legal team from the American Civil Liberties Union faced off against a team that included the Colorado Attorney General’s Office to decide the fate of the district’s school choice scholarship program.
Both sides agreed that any decision from Denver District Court Judge Michael Martinez will likely face an appeal, regardless of the ruling.
“There will be an appeal either way,” said Michael McCarthy, a plaintiff attorney representing the Taxpayers for Public Education. “What (the school district has) done is press the envelope as far as they can. For those interested in preserving public education in this state, they have got in their face as far as they can.”

More from the Wall Street Journal: Wall Street Journal:

In a bold bid to revamp public education, a suburban district south of Denver has begun handing out vouchers that use public money to help its largely affluent residents send their children to private and church-based schools. The Douglas County School District experiment is noteworthy because nearly all voucher programs nationally aim to help children who are poor, have special needs or are trapped in failing public schools. Douglas County, by contrast, is one of the most affluent in the U.S., with household income nearly double the national median, and has schools ranked among the best in Colorado. What do you think? Should vouchers only be used with lower-income students? Should they never be used? Do they violate the constitution?

Chrystia Freeland:

One answer comes from Ivan Krastev, a Bulgarian political scientist. One of Mr. Krastev’s special interests is in the resilience of authoritarian regimes in the 21st century. To understand why they endure, Mr. Krastev has turned to the thinking of the economist Albert O. Hirschman, who was born in Berlin in 1915 and eventually became one of America’s seminal thinkers.
In 1970, while at Harvard, Mr. Hirschman wrote an influential meditation on how people respond to the decline of firms, organizations and states. He concluded that there are two options: exit — stop shopping at the store, quit your job, leave your country; and voice — speak to the manager, complain to your boss, or join the political opposition.
For Mr. Krastev, this idea — the trade-off between exit and voice — is the key to understanding what he describes as the “perverse” stability of Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia. For all the prime minister’s bare-chested public displays of machismo, his version of authoritarianism, in Mr. Krastev’s view, is “vegetarian.”
“It is fair to say that most Russians today are freer than in any other period of their history,” he wrote in an essay published this spring. But Mr. Krastev argues that it is precisely this “user-friendly” character of Mr. Putin’s authoritarianism that makes Russia stable. That is because Russia’s relatively porous dictatorship effectively encourages those people who dislike the regime most, and have the most capacity to resist it, to leave the country. They choose exit rather than voice, and the result is the death of political opposition: “Leaving the country in which they live is easier than reforming it.”

Related:
Madison School District May, 2011 Strategic Plan Update with Action Plans 1.8MB PDF

California voters want public employees to help ease state’s financial troubles; York Citizens for Responsible Government

Shane Goldmacher:

California voters want government employees to give up some retirement benefits to help ease the state’s financial problems, favoring a cap on pensions and a later age for collecting them, according to a new poll.
Voter support for rolling back benefits available to few outside the public sector comes as Gov. Jerry Brown and Republicans in the Legislature haggle over changes to the pension system as part of state budget negotiations. Such benefits have been a flashpoint of national debate this year, and the poll shows that Californians are among those who perceive public retirement plans to be too costly.
Voters appear ready to embrace changes not just for future hires but also for current employees who have been promised the benefits under contract.
Seventy percent of respondents said they supported a cap on pensions for current and future public employees. Nearly as many, 68%, approved of raising the amount of money government workers should be required to contribute to their retirement. Increasing the age at which government employees may collect pensions was favored by 52%.

Jennfer Levitz: Tea Party Heads to School
Activists Fight Property-Tax Increases in Bid to Curb Education Spend
:


Trying to plug a $3.8 million budget gap, the York Suburban School District, in the rolling hills of southern Pennsylvania, is seeking to raise property taxes by 1.4%.
No way, says Nick Pandelidis, founder of the York Suburban Citizens for Responsible Government, a tea-party offshoot, of the plan that would boost the tax on a median-priced home of $157,685 by $44 a year to $3,225.
“No more property-tax increases!” the 52-year-old orthopedic surgeon implored as the group met recently at a local hospital’s community room. “If you don’t starve the system, you won’t make it change.”
Fresh from victories on the national stage last year, many local tea-party activist groups took their passion for limited government and less spending back to their hometowns, and to showdowns with teacher unions over pay in some cases. Now, amid school-board elections and local budgeting, they are starting to see results–and resistance.

From the York Suburban Citizens for Responsible Government website:

Higher Spending and Lower Scores: From 2000 to 2009, spending per student (in constant dollars) increased from $11,413 to $15,291 – a 34% increase. Meanwhile 11th grade PSSA reading proficiency remained steady at 71% while math fell from 69% to 62%. This means 29% of students are below acceptable reading levels and 38% are not proficient in math! The York Suburban experience mirrors the national trend where increased spending in the public education system has not resulted in improved student outcomes.

Plain Talk: We’re failing the citizenship test

Dave Zweifel:

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has been busy the past several months speaking about her pet peeve — the sad state of teaching civics in our public schools.
“Civics education has been all but removed from our schools,” she often remarks. “Too many people do not understand how our political system works. We are currently failing in that endeavor.”
O’Connor cites examples in which Americans could name a judge on “American Idol,” but couldn’t name a single justice on the Supreme Court or the three branches of government.
She’s calling attention to an extremely important problem in the U.S. All too many American citizens don’t understand the country’s democratic system and why it’s crucial to the future of that democracy to stay informed and participate. The Founding Fathers, after all, counted on the citizenry to be the republic’s caretaker and that’s a major reason why they felt so strongly about education.
Unfortunately, schools over the years have been saddled with teaching just about everything but civics, history and the arts. The heralded No Child Left Behind Act, for instance, has forced schools to drop meaningful civics classes so that teachers can “teach to the test,” consisting primarily of math and reading. And now that the Obama administration wants to tie teachers’ pay and promotions to those tests, classes on citizenship will continue to get the short end of the stick.

I’m glad Dave Zweifel raised this issue. I hope he remains active on curricular issues, which, in my view are not simply driven by No Child Left Behind.

E. D. Hirsch’s Curriculum for Democracy
A content-rich pedagogy makes better citizens and smarter kids.

Sol Stern:

At his Senate confirmation hearing in February, Arne Duncan succinctly summarized the Obama administration’s approach to education reform: “We must build upon what works. We must stop doing what doesn’t work.” Since becoming education secretary, Duncan has launched a $4.3 billion federal “Race to the Top” initiative that encourages states to experiment with various accountability reforms. Yet he has ignored one state reform that has proven to work, as well as the education thinker whose ideas inspired it. The state is Massachusetts, and the education thinker is E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
The “Massachusetts miracle,” in which Bay State students’ soaring test scores broke records, was the direct consequence of the state legislature’s passage of the 1993 Education Reform Act, which established knowledge-based standards for all grades and a rigorous testing system linked to the new standards. And those standards, Massachusetts reformers have acknowledged, are Hirsch’s legacy. If the Obama administration truly wants to have a positive impact on American education, it should embrace Hirsch’s ideas and urge other states to do the same.
Hirsch draws his insights from well outside traditional education scholarship. He started out studying chemistry at Cornell University but, mesmerized by Nabokov’s lectures on Russian literature, switched his major to English. Hirsch did his graduate studies at Yale, one of the citadels in the 1950s of the New Criticism, which argued that the intent of an author, the reader’s subjective response, and the text’s historical background were largely irrelevant to a critical analysis of the text itself. But by the time Hirsch wrote his doctoral dissertation–on Wordsworth–he was already breaking with the New Critics. “I came to see that the text alone is not enough,” Hirsch said to me recently at his Charlottesville, Virginia, home. “The unspoken–that is, relevant background knowledge–is absolutely crucial in reading a text.” Hirsch’s big work of literary theory in his early academic career, Validity in Interpretation, reflected this shift in thinking. After publishing several more well-received scholarly books and articles, he received an endowed professorship and became chairman of the English department at the University of Virginia.

MMSD Budget Proposal Documents: Active Citizens for Education

2007/2008 Budget Reallocation Topics Parameters for Studying Health Insurance Achieving Health Insurance Cost Savings Community Service Fund 80 Overview Fund 80 Audit Request Cost Analysis Proposal for all MMSD Services Extra-curricular Activities Funding Proposal 2004 / 2005 Budget Proposal

Citizens ask District to Spare School Programs

The Madison School Board held a public hearing last night on the Distirct’s proposed 332.9M+ 06/07 budget last night. Maggie Rossiter Peterman: Sean Storch pleaded with members of the Madison School Board on Tuesday night not to cut teachers in the district’s four high school alternative education programs. Storch, 28, and another teacher work with … Continue reading Citizens ask District to Spare School Programs

The Madison Community – Students, Parents, Professionals, Citizens – Can Help Elementary Strings: Here’s How

The community CAN HELP elementary strings and fine arts education in MMSD. Please write the School Board – comments@madison.k12.wi.us – ask them a) to establish a community fine arts education advisory committee beginning with a small community working group to put together a plan for this, b) develop a multi-year strategic and education plan for … Continue reading The Madison Community – Students, Parents, Professionals, Citizens – Can Help Elementary Strings: Here’s How

Citizens offer advice on long-range school planning

Bill Livick: The two-hour meeting was organized by Vandewalle & Associates and the UW Applied Population Lab. The organizations are doing research to determine potential future school sites and predict space needs. Their findings will be part of a long-range facilities and enrollment report. District officials believe the report will help guide decisions about where … Continue reading Citizens offer advice on long-range school planning

Citizens swing ax at school budget

A story by Sandy Cullen in the Wisconsin State Journal reports on two groups that tried the $100 budget exercise: The State Journal asked 10 people to participate in the exercise led by Superintendent Art Rainwater and his assistant superintendent for business services, Roger Price. District administrators will lead additional sessions of the exercise at … Continue reading Citizens swing ax at school budget

Ed Blume’s Ideas and a Citizens’ BOE

The National School Boards Association has written a Key Work of School Boards guidebook, detailing 8 key areas describing what School Boards should be doing, how they should be doing it, with action items, etc. This is a wonderful site! Their ideas and the details well frames the issues and points in directions which many … Continue reading Ed Blume’s Ideas and a Citizens’ BOE

Citizens Advocating Responsible Education C.A.R.E

Click to view the charts in further detail After an eight year absence from analyzing data from the Madison School District, C.A.R.E., Citizens Advocating Responsible Education, has returned to the local scene with updates to the data profiles which it prepared through 1997. Current reports include a Ten Year Profile, 1994 through 2004, of MMSD’s … Continue reading Citizens Advocating Responsible Education C.A.R.E

Elementary Strings is Academic Music Education – Parents and Madison Citizens Need to Ask School Board Why Supt. Is Not Supporting an Academic Curriculum with Direct Postive Benefits on Student Achievement

Madison parents and citizens need to ask the School Board a) why they continue to allow the Superintendent to treat elementary strings separate from the music education curriculum, b) why there is a continued delay in getting a committee together for fine arts, c) why the delay in seeking federal funding for fine arts for … Continue reading Elementary Strings is Academic Music Education – Parents and Madison Citizens Need to Ask School Board Why Supt. Is Not Supporting an Academic Curriculum with Direct Postive Benefits on Student Achievement

Diary of an Advisory Committee: the Long Range Planning Committee of the Madison School Board Reaches Out to Citizens

In the late spring of 2004, I had the idea that inviting a group of citizens to work with the Long Range Planning Committee of the Madison School Board might help the Committee ask better questions of the administration and explore more options during the next year. In 2004-05, the Committee will consider the possibility … Continue reading Diary of an Advisory Committee: the Long Range Planning Committee of the Madison School Board Reaches Out to Citizens

Taxpayer supported Madison School District’s open records non responses

Scott Girard: In May, Wisconsin Transparency Project president and founder Tom Kamenick wrote in an email to the Cap Times that he has “received more complaints about MMSD than any other government agency.” “I’m frequently seeing lengthy delays, exorbitant fees, and downright illegal denials from the district,” Kamenick wrote. “The district seems to make transparency … Continue reading Taxpayer supported Madison School District’s open records non responses

China just announced a new social credit law. Here’s what it means.

Zeyi Yang: It’s easier to talk about what China’s social credit system isn’t than what it is. Ever since 2014, when China announced a six-year plan to build a system to reward actions that build trust in society and penalize the opposite, it has been one of the most misunderstood things about China in Western discourse. Now, with new documents … Continue reading China just announced a new social credit law. Here’s what it means.

Teacher union$ and $chool Board Governance: Californian edition

Mine Antonucci: The California Teachers Association spent heavily on school board races in the state, distributing $1.8 million to 125 local affiliates, which were required by union policy to add almost $1 million more to the total. That investment seems to have mostly paid off. California election results take weeks to finalize, but union-backed candidates are leading … Continue reading Teacher union$ and $chool Board Governance: Californian edition

2023 Madison Mayoral election: School governance makes a rare appearance?

Scott Girard: As mayor, she would not have unilateral authority to put officers in schools. The school resource officer program, originally begun in the 1990s, operated on a contract between the city of Madison and the Madison Metropolitan School District. Both sides voted to terminate it in summer 2020 amid nationwide and local protests over police brutality of … Continue reading 2023 Madison Mayoral election: School governance makes a rare appearance?

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: “record-high spending” in Madison

Allison Garfield: On top of the record-high spending proposed in the original budget — like $21.6 million to reconstruct John Nolen Drive and $23 million in federal funding to secure a fully electric, 46-bus fleet — the council also: The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: “record-high spending” in Madison

“But Dr. Copeland decided to do something different. He put the needs of the students first. He made the decision to place someone that was qualified in front of the students,”

Olivia Herken: Others agreed, saying Copeland was known for “speaking plainly.” “As an educator, when I’ve had the opportunity to speak and interact with Dr. Copeland, I can say that he’s always had respect for me and my interests, as well as my culture,” said Marlene Patiño. She’s a bilingual dual-language seventh-grade science teacher, whose … Continue reading “But Dr. Copeland decided to do something different. He put the needs of the students first. He made the decision to place someone that was qualified in front of the students,”

Civics: Taxpayer Funded Warrantless Spying: Android edition

Jessica Lyons Hardcastle: At least two dozen other states also developed COVID-19 apps using Google APIs, but they used community outreach to encourage residents to voluntarily download the apps and opt-in for contact tracing, the court documents say.  Massachusetts, they allege “is the only state to surreptitiously embed the Contact Tracing App on mobile devices … Continue reading Civics: Taxpayer Funded Warrantless Spying: Android edition

Fifty-eight educators say ‘Sold a Story’ podcast series sells incomplete story about reading instruction

Posted at the Hechinger Report: Re “A company has made millions selling books on reading instruction rooted in bad science” (Nov. 10, 2022) We are educators who have devoted our lives to the cause of helping children read and write with power. We’re dismayed that at this moment in our history, when all of us … Continue reading Fifty-eight educators say ‘Sold a Story’ podcast series sells incomplete story about reading instruction

Civics: Schumer: We Need Amnesty for Illegals Because Americans Aren’t Reproducing Like They Used To

Stacey Matthews: During the same presser, Schumer suggested that a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants must be established ASAP, imploring ten GOP Senators to come on board in the lame-duck session because our country is allegedly “short of workers” and is not “reproducing on its own with the same level that it used to”: “Now more … Continue reading Civics: Schumer: We Need Amnesty for Illegals Because Americans Aren’t Reproducing Like They Used To

Wisconsin DPI veracity: 84% exceed expectations

Rory Linane: Milwaukee Public Schools was among 84 school districts that received a lower star-rating than last year. Giving two stars, DPI said the district “meets few expectations.” Last year, the DPI gave the district three stars and said it met expectations. Most school districts, about 270, were given the same star rating they got … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI veracity: 84% exceed expectations

“So Now What? The Path Ahead for Education in Wisconsin and the Nation.” November 17, 2022 Event

Marquette Law School: Please join us on Thursday, November 17, for a program, “So Now What? The Path Ahead for Education in Wisconsin and the Nation.” In Wisconsin, the outcome of the November elections, particularly for governor, will be an important marker in setting the course of education policy going forward, as a new state … Continue reading “So Now What? The Path Ahead for Education in Wisconsin and the Nation.” November 17, 2022 Event

Commentary on the 2023 Madison School Board elections (2 seats). Achievement?

Scott Girard Vander Meulen has faced an opponent in each of her two previous campaigns. In 2017, Ed Hughes was on the ballot but dropped out of the race following a health issue in his family and in 2020, the late Wayne Strong ran against her, but suspended his campaign amid his own health issues before returning … Continue reading Commentary on the 2023 Madison School Board elections (2 seats). Achievement?

“I’ll just note here in passing that traditionalists believe that the ability to communicate is an important skill for a teacher”

Dave Cieslewicz: To which I think I can safely say that I share a widespread reaction among Madisonians: Huh? Again, we could use a whole lot more context here and it would be useful if Copeland would speak to reporters to clarity just exactly what was going on. But from what’s currently on the record … Continue reading “I’ll just note here in passing that traditionalists believe that the ability to communicate is an important skill for a teacher”

Taxpayer supported Madison K-12 Governance climate: “could barely communicate with me” and that “they’re just giving people damn jobs.”

Chris Rickert: Attempts to reach Copeland Thursday night were not successful. Copeland filed a grievance seeking to recover his job on Oct. 12. Attempts to reach his attorney in that matter also were not successful. Many Sennett parents and staff were dismayed by Copeland’s sudden firing. During a School Board meeting shortly after he was … Continue reading Taxpayer supported Madison K-12 Governance climate: “could barely communicate with me” and that “they’re just giving people damn jobs.”

The Supreme Court takes up a case of a $2.72 million fine for a taxpayer’s error.

Travis Nix and Tyler Martinez: Alexandru Bittner, a Romanian-American dual citizen, nonwillfully failed to file five foreign bank account reports, or FBARs, with the IRS while living in Romania between 2007 and 2011. Taxpayers fill out annual FBAR forms if they have “foreign financial accounts exceeding $10,000.” When Mr. Bittner moved back to the U.S., … Continue reading The Supreme Court takes up a case of a $2.72 million fine for a taxpayer’s error.

Madison K-12 Governance & School Safety

David Blaska: Because our Woke school boss confuses correlation with causation. Like all good critical race theorists, he’s big on disproportionality. If A doesn’t equal B, he goes all Al Sharpton.  Today’s subject is time outs in an empty room for troublemakers or, rarely, restraint. Restraint being just holding back a kid so he doesn’t bust another … Continue reading Madison K-12 Governance & School Safety

Wisconsin drops from 200 to 186, 2nd worst in Reading (NAEP, African American Students)

Students of all backgrounds are having academic success in Mississippi. Our state is in the top of the nation in 4th grade reading gains for black students! Thank you to our teachers, parents, and students for working so hard to get us here. pic.twitter.com/7Jw3wkj47H — Governor Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) November 4, 2022 The data clearly indicate … Continue reading Wisconsin drops from 200 to 186, 2nd worst in Reading (NAEP, African American Students)

Madison East’s April van Buren shares passion for high school journalism

Scott Girard: A St. Louis-area native, van Buren spent five years teaching there and five more in New Mexico before she arrived in Madison and began working at La Follette. Her jobs have included a mix of teaching English, being a school librarian and now teaching a mix of design and technology classes. At all … Continue reading Madison East’s April van Buren shares passion for high school journalism

Commentary on status quo K-12 governance in Wisconsin

Molly Beck: “The proposal appears to be largely more of the same with some targeted funds at special education,” Bender said of Evers’ proposal. “After surprisingly vetoing bills on reading improvement last year, a bit unexpected that there are not more resources aimed at improving not only the low proficiency rates, but the nation’s worst … Continue reading Commentary on status quo K-12 governance in Wisconsin

School climate: 2022 election edition

“Perhaps the gravest injustice of our time is the imprisonment of minority kids in substandard public schools… The real culprits are union collective-bargaining agreements and state laws that put teachers unions’ interests ahead of students’.”https://t.co/P2Qj2XTUA6 — Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVos) November 1, 2022 The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for … Continue reading School climate: 2022 election edition

$pending a lot more for Madison’s k-12 school district

Scott Girard: The new budget totals $597.9 million in spending, up from the $515.7 million spent in 2021-22 and the $482.9 million the year prior. It’s also up from the June preliminary budget, which called for $561.3 million in spending. The tax rate, however, is down to $9.97 per $100,000 of property value from the … Continue reading $pending a lot more for Madison’s k-12 school district

Madison West high school fight: 25 students and a strong-arm robbery in which police recovered marijuana, fake IDs, fake currency and a spent shell casing.

Chris Rickert: Officers searching the vehicle the suspects arrived in found the marijuana and other items, the blog said. Lisko said that while no charges have been filed, a detective has been assigned to the matter. Principal Dan Kigeya said in an email home to parents Thursday afternoon that “staff responded to the incident quickly, … Continue reading Madison West high school fight: 25 students and a strong-arm robbery in which police recovered marijuana, fake IDs, fake currency and a spent shell casing.

Priorities amidst long term, disastrous reading results: Madison’s Jefferson Middle School renaming committee restarts work

Scott Girard After stalling out earlier this year, a Madison School Board ad hoc committee considering a new name for Jefferson Middle School reconvened Tuesday evening. The School Board originally appointed the committee in March after then-Jefferson principal Sue Abplanalp made a renaming request to the board Feb. 28. The district received 42 proposals for new … Continue reading Priorities amidst long term, disastrous reading results: Madison’s Jefferson Middle School renaming committee restarts work

Tell parents truth: Enough with the happy talk

Joanne Jacobs: Tell parents the unpleasant truth about learning loss, writes Andrew Rotherham in a story on the state NAEP scores in the The 74. “The disaster and inequity of pandemic policies is now in clear focus,” he writes. Despite a few outliers — Department of Defense and Catholic schools — “it’s an across-the-board disaster … Continue reading Tell parents truth: Enough with the happy talk

Eliminating Advanced Courses in Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 Schools, Redux. ““The problem is most of the parents are not that much involved, and they don’t even know what’s going on,” he said.”

Olivia Herken: “Historically, the concept of advanced learning and honors has served to segregate students based on race, socioeconomic status and special education status,” School Board member Savion Castro said. And when these students do access the advanced classes, they often report feeling “isolated, feeling tokenized and experiencing a white-washed curriculum.” “I think we all … Continue reading Eliminating Advanced Courses in Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 Schools, Redux. ““The problem is most of the parents are not that much involved, and they don’t even know what’s going on,” he said.”

Wisconsin falls from a tie for 18th to 32nd in fourth grade reading when demographics are accounted for.

Will Flanders: Recently, results from the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) have caused shockwaves around the country. At least partially-related to teachers’ union-led shutdowns that kept schools closed well past when it was reasonable to do so,[i] decades of progress in scores were erased over the course of three years.[ii]   Despite declining scores across the … Continue reading Wisconsin falls from a tie for 18th to 32nd in fourth grade reading when demographics are accounted for.