Every Child Deserves a Great Education

Archive for May, 2012

We are UPSET — photo diary 0

Posted on May 13, 2012 by dmayer

This is the mission statement of UPSET, the newly formed activist education organization in Portland, Oregon, but it could well apply to many as school districts across the country deal with the austerity posed by shrinking funds available for education.

We are a school community in crisis – we no longer believe that the State of Oregon can deliver the resources needed to facilitate a proper educational environment in our schools. We are teachers, parents, and students who have decided to take action directly and together as a community. We will not stand by and silently let any more resources be taken from our schools; resources our communities’ youth so desperately need to give, thrive, find fulfillment, and lead in the 21st century.


According to the Statesman Journal:

Portland Public Schools official Matt Shelby commented on the march: “We understand that people are frustrated. Certainly, we’re frustrated. At the end of day, school funding goes downhill, decisions made at the state level translate into a budget gap at the district level and that translates to the building level. Decisions made in Salem have a real impact on teachers and parents.”

Shelby said that the district is working to try to curb cuts. The district is facing a $27 million shortfall in next year’s budget. He said a tentative agreement has been reached that would use $5 million from Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ pledge toward Portland Public Schools. The Portland School District has also pledged $2.65 million from salary reductions for administrators and another $2.65 million from teachers who are delaying a salary increase by six months in the agreement. All of that is meant to save 110 teaching jobs and cover $10.3 million in staffing cuts.

UPSET (Underfunded Parents Students and Educators Together) rallied May 11th in Pioneer Courthouse Square to protest PPS budget cuts. The protest began at the Rose Quarter where over 800 people met to march to the city center.

We are UPSET:




Once at Pioneer Courthouse Square, the U.P.S.E.T. rally begins. Students and parents comment on the effects of 20+ years of education funding cuts in Oregon (with a musical interlude provided by students from Atkinson, Buckman and Sunnyside elementary students).

Saving the best for last… Three PPS students present spoken word pieces, Grant High School history teacher Don Gavitte gives his closing remarks. Stick around until the end for the poetry slam. The impassioned words and delivery of three young high school girls is awe inspiring.

The momentum is building to fund our public schools adequately. Oregon Save Our Schools is calling for a statewide May 31st Action Day to demand that government officials provide an excellent education to all Oregon students. Are you listening Governor Kitzhaber?



“The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman” Is Online! 0

Posted on May 11, 2012 by dmayer

What has happened in New York City over the past decade is indicative of what is happening across the country. Although it has taken a while to reach us in the northwest, there are striking similarities to Mayor Bloomberg’s plan for New York City and Governor Kitzhaber’s plan for the entire state of Oregon. The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman was produced by a group of New York City teachers and parents in response to the propaganda piece Waiting for Superman to showcase their frustration with education reformers who are intent on privatizing public schools.

For the past year it has been available only on DVD. Today is has been released on Youtube. Please watch and share widely. Make no mistake about it, this is the future of education if we let the 1% overtake our public schools.

By Real Reform Studios. This film refutes the claims of the billionaire hedge fund propaganda film Waiting For Superman.

The elites are trying to privatize schools to funnel more money to the top.

Go to Grassroots Education Movement to make a donation.

Visit Facebook. The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman

Not Waiting for Superman was initiated by Rethinking Schools to talk back to the original film and support efforts by teachers, students, and parents to improve and preserve public education.

The ALEC — Stand for Children — Teach for America connection 0

Posted on May 07, 2012 by dmayer

It’s no secret that ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council, has an education agenda. The templates for policy can be accessed at ALEC EXPOSED. However, transforming a template to policy doesn’t happen instantaneously. How does the ideology translate into law? Could it be with a little help from Teach for America? Bear with me while I connect the dots.

Last summer, quite by accident, I met a group of about six young adults on the MAX here in Portland who were traveling from the airport to train for their new jobs. They were talking about having just finished their teaching jobs and how happy they were to be done with it. Being an unemployed teacher myself, I listened for a while and then struck up a conversation. They identified themselves as Teach for America corps members who had just completed their obligatory two year stints in the classroom. They were headed to the Stand for Children offices to be trained in writing education policy. Most had been hired to work as legislative assistants in state houses around the country. I asked a few probing questions about their education expertise, especially in policy. Turns our none of them had any education credentials. Some had worked on their masters degrees during teaching, but none had studied education or education policy. They really didn’t get my point. The arrogance was palpable. I finally asked one of them point blank, “Don’t you think you should have some education and experience before writing education policy?” They assured me that over the next two weeks (I think, anyway, short time) they would be trained to do it.

I hadn’t thought about that encounter much since. But when I read Diane Ravitch’s latest article in the Answer Sheet, Ravitch: A Primer on the Group Driving School Reform, it occurred to me that Stand for Children could be the conduit to the uniformity in education legislation using Teach for America “leaders” as the delivery system. Last summer ALEC was barely a blip on my radar so I hadn’t make a connection back then.

Could Stand for Children be training former Teach for America corps members to write ALEC policy for state legislatures? I know Oregon legislators aren’t savvy enough to develop language and coordinate ideas that mesh with those in other states, but their Teach for America, Stand for Children trained assistants may well be. With a little help from a persistent friend, this is what I found out.

Leadership for Education Equity (LEE) is the political leg of Teach for America.

Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) is a 501(c) (4) nonprofit organization that was launched in 2007 to inspire, train and support Teach For America alumni and corps members to pursue public leadership by providing or connecting them to high impact volunteer and career opportunities in politics, policy, advocacy, and elected office. Over the years, Teach For America alumni and corps members expressed a growing desire to engage more with the policy and political contexts that so impacted what they saw happening at the school and classroom level. Recognizing that Teach For America’s ability to engage in or to support advocacy and political work is quite limited as a traditional 501(c)(3) organization, LEE was born.

Translation: Legally, Teach for America can’t write or influence education policy, but by creating a faux nonprofit, it can.

On the LEE home page, a job posting for ALEC is listed.

Featured Job
Education Task Force Director

Company: American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
Type of Position: Full-time; Non-Profit
Location: Washington, DC

After an exhaustive search no financial records for this organization were found. Funding sources are also scarce.

Teach for America’s influence reaches far beyond the damage its recruits do in the classroom. It produces “leaders” whose mission is to privatize public education under the guise of astroturf organizations like LEE and many others that only give lip service to education equity. Through this seemingly innocuous network, TFA has been able to infiltrate every facet of education by placing former corps members in positions of power. With an infrastructure like that, it’s no that wonder ALEC has been so successful in moving its education agenda forward.