Category Archives: Education

Who is raising our children? Liberating tweens from corporate tentacles

Consider the harmful, grasping tentacles by corporations around the bodies and minds of youngsters through relentless direct marketing that bypasses parental authority. Now comes my sister Claire Nader’s new book You Are Your Own Best Teacher! Sparking the Curiosity, Imagination and Intellect of Tweens. Continue reading

Community schools can revitalize the neighborhoods around them

The transformative approach to school improvement is a catalyst for community revival.

When Darlene Kamine tells the story about Oyler School in Cincinnati, Ohio, she also likes to tell the story about the house across the street from the school. Continue reading

Should we let scam-artists ‘educate’ our young people?

We’ve been doing just that—with our tax dollars.

Just over 200,000 young American men and women—all students defrauded by a now defunct for-profit trade school—received some welcome news earlier this week on their student loans. The Biden administration has just erased the $3.9 billion these students owe the U.S. Department of Education. Continue reading

Are community schools the last, best shot at addressing education inequity?

A district in the Washington, D.C., suburbs may foretell whether a transformative approach to school improvement can address longstanding opportunity gaps in education.

When Tiffany Allen and her husband first moved to a house in Montgomery County, Maryland, their plan was not to stay in the neighborhood for very long because the school their two young children would eventually be assigned to attend was Wheaton Woods Elementary. The school had a mixed reputation among parents in the neighborhood, she told Our Schools. It was designated a Title I status by the federal government, meaning its enrollment was mostly for students who struggle the most in schools—namely, children from low-income households. The school’s students were mostly Hispanic, and many of the children come from homes where the parents don’t speak English, according to Allen. The school had a middling summary rating of 6 out of 10 stars on Great Schools, the school rating site many parents rely on for choosing schools, and the test scores of Wheaton Woods were no better than the state average, according to the site. Even her husband, a school teacher in neighboring Howard County, was skeptical about the quality of education that would be provided by the school. Continue reading

Can community schools rescue a ‘troubled’ district?

A contentious contract negotiation between teachers and a district in the Washington D.C. suburbs could foretell whether a transformative strategy for school improvement can dislodge entrenched leadership practices.

“Why are we still fighting for basic needs?” asked Karen Guzman, a parent and community organizer for the local teachers’ union in Prince George’s County, Maryland, a suburban sprawl of communities that lie just to the east of Washington D.C., Guzman’s union, the Prince George’s County Educators Association (PGCEA), is currently embroiled in contract negotiations with the district administration, and the negotiations are not going particularly well, according to her assessment. “Almost everything we’re asking for is being rejected,” she said. Continue reading

Teachers: We will defend nation’s schools against right-wing authoritarianism

CHICAGO —Becky Pringle and Kim Anderson have sharp messages for the nation’s right-wingers who despise public school teachers, their students and everyone who doesn’t genuflect to the rightists’ mantras: We, the teachers, will defend our students and our schools against your threats and authoritarianism—and come after you at the ballot box. Continue reading

Why Michigan public school parents might be too strong of a match for Betsy DeVos and her privatization agenda

Parents in DeVos’s backyard tell right-wing radicals, “No thank you to divisive, partisan agendas in schools.”

Culture war issues dressed as serious K-12 classroom concerns, such as trumped-up battles over critical race theory and gender identity, have become useful campaign fodder for the GOP in several key states. Continue reading

Community schools were working in Oakland, but the district is shutting them down anyway

The school district was at the forefront of a public education model that is gaining national popularity—but its decision undercuts what the community appreciates about each school’s custom offerings that put students first.

The Oakland, California, school district touts itself as the nation’s first full-service community schools district, committing to a model of school improvement that, according to the model’s most prominent proponents, provides students with “well-rounded educational opportunities” and the “supports” they need to be successful. Community schools attend to the basic needs of the communities they serve, which often entails, according to news reports, such things as access to health and dental care, nutritious food, arts programs, sports and recreation, or after-school activities. But in February 2022, Oakland, despite its commitment to its districtwide reform plan, announced it is shutting down several of its community schools. Continue reading

Student loan forgiveness: Don’t confuse policy with politics

A mismatch between the title and subtitle to Matt Lewis’s April 18 column at The Daily Beast—“Canceling Student Loan Debt Only Leaves a Broken System in Place,” and “Democrats are delusional if they think student loan debt forgiveness is going to save them and Biden at the ballot box”—perfectly illustrates the fallacy of mistaking bad policy for bad politics. Continue reading

How big tech sees big profits in social-emotional learning at school

Digital products that monitor students’ online behavior raise concerns about how companies use that data for profit.

In June 2021, as students and teachers were finishing up a difficult school year, Priscilla Chan, wife of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, made a live virtual appearance on the “Today” show, announcing that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), along with its “partner” Gradient Learning, was launching Along, a new digital tool to help students and teachers create meaningful connections in the aftermath of the pandemic. Continue reading

After race history, the far-right is coming after World War II history

The Trump-led Republican Party has used its opposition to teaching the actual racial history of the United States in public schools to capture political power in Virginia and school boards across the nation. Using as a weapon the convenient but erroneous label of “critical race theory,” a niche college post-graduate level course not taught in any public school, the far-right is not stopping at banning outright or altering the teaching of European genocide of Native Americans; the Underground Railroad Emancipation, post-Civil War Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation laws, and the modern civil rights movement; and the era of McCarthyism. The right is also targeting the history of World War II and the almost universally-accepted justification for going to war against Nazi Germany. What the far-right is accomplishing with increased success is historical negationism, denialism, falsification, and revisionism. Legitimate educational institutions find themselves, quite needlessly, on the defensive. That has to change and fast. The right is not entitled to alter the historical record for its own racist, religious, and fascist purposes. Neither does the right possess license to promulgate nonsensical and easily debunked “alternate facts,” as Trump White House official Kellyanne Conway once put it to an astonished public. Continue reading

How student debt is sabotaging America

Ronald Reagan knew that an educated populace was more progressive and more Democratic, and he was determined to stop the explosion of college educated Americans caused by both the 1944 GI Bill and free tuition at the University of California. Continue reading

How community schools are helping a hard-hit city dig out of tough times

Rocked by vanishing industries and charter school expansions, Erie public schools are fighting back with a “transformative” education approach.

Days after the GE Transportation plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, announced a round of crippling layoffs in 2013, an employee was found hanging from a crane in “Building 20,” according to the Erie Times-News. The image of a dead worker dangling from a crane in a dying factory seemed symbolic of a city going ever deeper into the depths of despair. Continue reading

Nazifying American education

In school board meetings from the battleground county of Loudoun in Virginia to Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, and other states the far-right is targeting public education in furtherance of a Nazification of school curricula. We have also seen the first moves to traditional de-legitimize institutions of higher learning in favor of universities and colleges, some only recently formed, that teach only far-right propaganda. Continue reading

Opponents of critical analysis of history want students taught Qanon anti-history

Republicans have placed the critical and factual teaching of history on the ballot of the Virginia gubernatorial race between Republican Glenn Youngkin, a Trump-supporter and former CEO of the sinister Carlyle Group, and Democratic former Governor Terry McAuliffe. Youngkin has vowed to eliminate the teaching of “critical race theory” (CRT) in Virginia schools. However, Virginia does not and never has taught the theory, which is found only in the graduate curriculum of select universities and colleges around the country. Emulating Senator Joe McCarthy, Youngkin has transformed the non-issue of CRT in Virginia schools into a rallying cry for Donald Trump’s base of ranting and raving whites across the commonwealth. Continue reading

Adventures in American education

General Secretary Xi Jinping’s congratulatory statement above was directed to the People’s Education Press-Publishing House (PEP). PEP is responsible for pushing out much of the educational texts produced in China. It describes itself in this way: “PEP is under the direct leadership of the Ministry of Education (MOE) of the People’s Republic of China. The People’s Publishing House, found on September 1st, 1921, and re-established on December 1st, 1950, is the important publisher of the Party and state in the politics sector since the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the country’s first large publishing agency specializing in philosophy and social science publications. Chairman Mao wrote the title inscription for the “People’s Publishing House”. The logo was then extensively used on all publications put out by “People’s Publishing Houses” at both the state and provincial levels…” Continue reading

Teach youngsters about corporatism’s harms

If you think elementary, middle, and high school students know too little history, geography, and government, try asking them about the corporations that command so many hours of their day, their attention, what they consume, and their personal horizons. Continue reading

As our children head back to school, partisan politics threatens their learning and their safety

My granddaughter will go to school next week. So may your child or grandchild. For many, it will be their first time back in classrooms in a year and a half. Continue reading

Dial down the panic over ‘Critical Race Theory’

Wildly inaccurate accusations are flying all over the place right now. Don’t get sucked in—do this instead.

If you are worried about critical race theory in schools, here is some advice from someone who actually teaches it. Continue reading

School privatization zealot Betsy DeVos reportedly urging career education staff to obstruct Biden agenda

One House Democrat said he can't wait for January 20, "when this disgrace is pushed out the door and her bags are dropped at the curb."

After spending much of her nearly four-year tenure in government attacking public schools and pushing privatization schemes, outgoing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is now reportedly encouraging career staffers at her department to obstruct President-elect Joe Biden’s policy agenda. Continue reading

Trump’s executive order to manipulate the minds of US schoolchildren

On November 2, Trump signed an executive order that aims to manipulate the minds of young children. Continue reading

Betsy DeVos’ deadly plan to reopen schools

Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is heading the administration’s effort to force schools to reopen in the fall for in-person instruction. What’s her plan to reopen safely? She doesn’t have one. Continue reading

Florida teachers sue state to stop unsafe school reopening plan

MIAMI—Saying Florida’s mandate to reopen brick-and-mortar schools despite the coronavirus pandemic endangers students, teachers, and everybody else, the state’s teachers’ union is suing the GOP-run government to stop Florida’s unsafe school reopening plan. Continue reading

As COVID-19 takes toll, DeVos denounced for new ‘craven’ public school privatization scheme

‘With our country dealing with a pandemic, an economic recession, and structural racism, she's spied an opening to exploit this crisis to resuscitate her failed agenda.’

With the Trump administration planning to demand that Congress devote a large chunk of the state and local education funding in the next COVID-19 relief package to a new grant program for private and religious schools, the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers on Thursday accused Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of attempting to exploit the pandemic to advance her privatization agenda. Continue reading

‘Attacking the very foundations’ of church-state separation, SCOTUS delivers ‘seismic shock’ ruling on religious schools

‘Today's ruling is perverse,’ Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a ruling civil liberties advocates warned could make taxpayers “underwrite religious education”—opening a massive crack in the bedrock principle of church and state separation. Continue reading

Betsy DeVos wants to rob poor school districts

Times of great adversity not only bring out the best and worst in society, but they also flush out some of the stinkiest and slimiest creatures. Think of war profiteers, hucksters who prey on poor hurricane victims, or Betsy DeVos. Continue reading

Cuomo announces partnership with Bill Gates to ‘revolutionize’ NY schools in wake of coronavirus

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he will use the COVID-19 virus as an opportunity to ‘revolutionize’ the state’s school system, inviting Bill Gates to implement his controversial ideas about education.

Taking time off from mismanaging a pandemic and turning lifesaving masks sent from all over the country into an art installation, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared yesterday that he would use the deadly COVID-19 virus as an opportunity to “revolutionize” the state’s school system, inviting Microsoft founder Bill Gates to implement his controversial ideas about education statewide. Cuomo did not divulge many details of what his imagined education revolution would look like but did mention virtual education and remote learning. However, Gates is best known for one thing in education: charter schools. Continue reading

COVID-19 “CARES Act” bankrolls AI post-human education

DeVos, Thiel, Phase 2 of Project BEST

In 1982, former Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement for the US Department of Education, Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, blew the whistle on the Reagan Administration’s Project BEST (Better Education Skills through Technology): a techno-fascist plan to privatize the American school system by selling it out to Big Tech corporations that deliver B. F. Skinner’s operant-conditioning method of “programmed instruction” through computerized “teaching machines.” Almost thirty years later, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act” is primed to pump a flood of federal education funds into online charter school corporations, such as K12 Inc., KIPP, and Connections Academy, which deploy “adaptive learning” software that replace human teachers with artificial-intelligence courseware programmed with “Skinner-box” cognitive-behavioral algorithms geared to condition students for workforce training. Continue reading

Community schools are not the antidote to charter schools

How community schools and charter schools are both public-private partnerships that medicalize workforce training through socioemotional learning

Democratic presidential candidates, such as Elizabeth Warren, have pledged to fix the American education system by replacing privatized charter schools with “community schools” that incorporate “socioemotional-learning (SEL)” programs. These “Democratic” community schools, which teach “social skills” and “emotional competencies,” might sound like “liberal” or “leftwing” education reforms. But don’t be fooled by the pathos of such leftist “social justice” rhetoric. The Democrats’ socioemotional community-learning centers are no more “progressive” than corporate-fascist charter schools. Continue reading

America’s education system: Teaching the price of everything and the value of nothing

I am a substitute teacher (grades K-12) in a public school system located in Virginia, a state on the eastern seaboard of the United States. For many years prior to becoming a substitute teacher, I also taught at a private school in Virginia. Tuition and fees at the private school are approximately $42,000 (USD), the public schools are, of course, tuition free. Continue reading

To think or to work? that is the question

On both sides of the political aisle, workforce-training reforms are being touted as the be-all, end-all of America’s public education system. Right-wing “school choice” proponents, such as President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, push corporate charter school programs with workforce-training curriculums. Left-wing “community schooling” advocates, such as Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Julián Castro, push “lifelong-learning” programs with school-to-work curriculums. Both “conservatives” and “liberals” concur: the purpose of public education is workforce development. Continue reading

After Education Secretary Betsy DeVos flouts 2018 ruling, judge reminds her of consequences—including jail time

‘I'm not sending anyone to jail yet, but it's good to know I have that ability.’

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday was told in no uncertain terms that her refusal to abide by a 2018 order stopping her department from collecting on student loans made to predatory for-profit Corinthian College had the potential to land her in jail, though Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim made clear that was, for now, an unlikely outcome. Continue reading