This Week in Education Organizing - June 22, 2018

Grading the States

On Thursday, the Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation for Public Education released a new report, Grading the States: A Report Card on Our Nation's Commitment to Public Schools that evaluates the extent to which each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia are funneling public money away from public schools to privately run schools. The report also measures the consequences of school privatization on students’ civil rights and taxpayers’ rights to know how their dollars are spent.

It also includes state by state measurement of whether each state’s charter schools and voucher-funded private schools protect student civil rights and guard taxpayers from fraud and the misuse of public funds.

The laws and regulations of each state were graded according to five key criteria based on objective, measurable factors:

  1. Types and Extent of School Privatization
  2. Civil Rights Protections for Students in Voucher and Charter Programs
  3. Accountability, Regulations and Oversight
  4. Transparency of Voucher and Charter Programs
  5. Other Factors Related to Charter School Accountability.

Three states (Nebraska, North Dakota and West Virginia) received an “A+” while 17 states received a grade of “F.” Check out this awesome interactive map to find out how your state was graded!

Parents and Community Protest Unregulated Charter Expansion in Los Angeles

The call for charter school accountability is growing louder in Los Angeles, as parents and community members targeted a board member from Excelencia Charter Academy on Wednesday. Excelencia is about to open a new school, yet has admitted violating the state’s open meetings law by preventing public access to its meetings.

The protest accompanied the release of a new report, called “Whose Schools? Community Representation and Transparency in Charter School Governance in Los Angeles.” The report looks at the makeup of charter governing boards at 224 Los Angeles charter schools. Among the findings:

* Charter schools with fewer students in poverty have greater parent representation on governing boards

* 10 out of 12 charter schools with majorities of African American students have no parental representation on governing boards.

* Corporations have a disproportionate influence on charter school governance, with 31% of board members identified as corporate professionals. Half of those come from the financial sector. 

In addition, the report documents challenges in public access to board meetings, including cookie-cutter meetings at one network of schools where representative “boards” are dominated by corporate officials, governing meetings for Los Angeles charter schools that take place in Oakland, and board members who don’t even live in California, let alone in Los Angeles. The report makes a number of policy recommendations to enhance representation and access and strengthen the voice of parents and the community members.

The report comes as LA’s charter sector is under fire for the significant financial drain it places on the public district. In addition, LA has been beset with scandals including an FBI raid on the Celerity charter chain, and conflict-of-interest charges against LAUSD School Board member Ref Rodriquez, the founder of the PUC charter chain. The call for charter accountability in Los Angeles is growing louder. Read the full report here.

Over 23,000 Submit Complaint Regarding the Separation of Families on the Mexico Border

Thousands of individuals and organizations, including AROS, signed a petition this week, urging the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to take action against the separation of families seeking refuge on the U.S.-Mexico border. The letter cited violations of the UN Convention Against Torture, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Civil and Human Rights documents.

The complaint was noted in the Huffington Post. The American Federation of Teachers helped organize the letter, and noted, “we know our work is far from over to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and families seeking refuge in the U.S.. [The] announcement from the Trump Administration does not address family separation. The executive order is more political theater that has severe consequences for children and families fleeing persecution and seeking asylum in the U.S.. We will continue to fight in the halls of congress, in the courts and in the streets along side of you while we wait for action from the U.N..  

See the full list of signatories, and the letter accompanying the complaint HERE.  (Photo via NBC Chicago)

Transforming and Connecting Communities Through Radical Listening and Vulnerability

Boston-based Youth on Board is spreading the news of their special project called Listening Works. The 2-day training has been created in response to the hate and division of the current political climate. This project is designed to support and train community leaders and organizers to use proven healing and support strategies to strengthen social movements, particularly in this moment.

Youth on Board has been developing this practice for over a decade. Their work is based on the perspective that all humans are born and capable of good, that people need to be listened to in order to listen, and that we must welcome and engage divergent perspectives to solve the problems we face today.  YOB puts these perspectives into practice by training leaders to listen and communicate deeply, to process their feelings and to understand the effects of oppression on all people. They have seen the results: meaningful relationships that support and nourish, addresses and resolve conflict, and build movements across differences.

You can learn more and register for a training through THIS LINK. The training is free, and meals are provided. Some subsidies will be available for travel and lodging. Sign up for a national webinar to find out more! The webinar will be on Thursday, June 28th. RSVP HERE.


UPCOMING EVENTS

Listening Works – National Webinar. Thursday, June 28th.  (see above).  Register HERE.  


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