Monthly Archives: June 2017

This is Disarm Hate week

from Shira Goodman, director, CeaseFirePA, 6/14/17

This is Disarm Hate week, a week that began with the one year anniversary of the horrific Pulse shooting and that ends with the two year anniversary of the tragic shooting at the AME Church in Charleston. Two mass shootings memorialized in the same week should be enough, but today we learned of another shooting, this time in Virginia, targeting U.S. Representatives and their staff. Once again, we are reminded that no one is immune from gun violence — this problem touches all of us, no matter who we are or where we live.

We deserve to be safe where we live, work, pray, learn, and play. We deserve to be free from fear and worry when we are out living our lives. That we are not, in America in 2017, should be our great shame.

We know the problem — easy access to guns by those who should not have them, easy access to powerful weapons by those intent on doing harm. We know how to solve the problem. Disarming hate is what will make us safer.

What we lack is leaders with the will and courage to take action. Let’s change that.

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Filed under Guns, violence, crime

Rep. Steve Scalise on guns

Hmm, “bill to restore Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia”…?

If Mr. Scalise and company really believe guns make them safer, why don’t they allow guns into the Capitol building?

from Rep. Scalise’s web site

“A strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Scalise has sponsored and cosponsored legislation protecting citizens’ right to keep and bear arms. In the 112th Congress, Scalise introduced H.R. 58, the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, which improves law-abiding citizens’ ability to purchase firearms. The bills Scalise has recently cosponsored include H.R.645, a bill to restore Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia and the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, H.R.822, which would ensure national reciprocity for concealed carry permit holders. Congressman Scalise’s pro-gun stance has earned him an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. A member of the Congressional Second Amendment Task Force, Congressman Steve Scalise will continue fighting to protect every citizen’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”

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Filed under Guns, violence, crime

The Network for Public Education Issues its Position Statement on Charter Schools

Network for Public Education, 5/31/17

The Network for Public Education believes that public education is the pillar of our democracy. We believe in the common school envisioned by Horace Mann. A common school is a public institution, which nurtures and teaches all who live within its boundaries, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, sexual preference or learning ability. All may enroll–regardless of when they seek to enter the school or where they were educated before.

We believe that taxpayers bear the responsibility for funding those schools and that funding should be ample and equitable to address the needs of the served community. We also believe that taxpayers have the right to examine how schools use tax dollars to educate children.

Most importantly, we believe that such schools should be accountable to the community they serve, and that community residents have the right and responsibility to elect those who govern the school. Citizens also have the right to insist that schooling be done in a manner that best serves the needs of all children.

By definition, a charter school is not a public school. Charter schools are formed when a private organization contracts with a government authorizer to open and run a school. Charters are managed by private boards, often with no connection to the community they serve. The boards of many leading charter chains are populated by billionaires who often live far away from the schools they govern.

Through lotteries, recruitment and restrictive entrance policies, charters do not serve all children. The public cannot review income and expenditures in detail. Many are for profit entities or non-profits that farm out management to for-profit corporations that operate behind a wall of secrecy. This results in scandal, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer funds. The news is replete with stories of self-dealing, conflicts of interest, and theft occurring in charter schools [1].

We have learned during the 25 years in which charters have been in existence that the overall academic performance of students in charter schools is no better, and often worse, than the performance of students in public schools. And yet charter schools are seen as the remedy when public schools are closed based on unfair letter-based grading schemes.

By means of school closures and failed takeover practices like the Achievement School District, disadvantaged communities lose their public schools to charter schools. Not only do such communities lose the school, but they also lose their voice in school governance.

There is little that is innovative or new that charter schools offer. Because of their “freedom” from regulations, allegedly to promote innovation, scandals involving the finances and governance of charter schools occur on a weekly basis. Charter schools can and have closed at will, leaving families stranded. Profiteers with no educational expertise have seized the opportunity to open charter schools and use those schools for self-enrichment. States with weak charter laws encourage nepotism, profiteering by politicians, and worse.

For all of the reasons above and more, the Network for Public Education regards charter schools as a failed experiment that our organization cannot support. If the strength of charter schools is the freedom to innovate, then that same freedom can be offered to public schools by the district or the state.

At the same time, we recognize that many families have come to depend on charter schools and that many charter school teachers are dedicated professionals who serve their students well. It is also true that some charter schools are successful. We do not, therefore, call for the immediate closure of all charter schools, but rather we advocate for their eventual absorption into the public school system. We look forward to the day when charter schools are governed not by private boards, but by those elected by the community, at the district, city or county level.

Until that time, we support all legislation and regulation that will make charters better learning environments for students and more accountable to the taxpayers who fund them. Such legislation would include the following:

An immediate moratorium on the creation of new charter schools, including no replication or expansion of existing charter schools
The transformation of for-profit charters to non-profit charters
The transformation of for-profit management organizations to non-profit management organizations
All due process rights for charter students that are afforded public school students, in all matters of discipline
Required certification of all school teaching and administrative staff
Complete transparency in all expenditures and income
Requirements that student bodies reflect the demographics of the served community
Open meetings of the board of directors, posted at least 2 weeks prior on the charter’s website
Annual audits available to the public
Requirements to following bidding laws and regulations
Requirements that all properties owned by the charter school become the property of the local public school if the charter closes
Requirements that all charter facilities meet building codes
Requirements that charters offer free or reduced priced lunch programs for students
Full compensation from the state for all expenditures incurred when a student leaves the public school to attend a charter
Authorization, oversight and renewal of charters transferred to the local district in which they are located
A rejection of all ALEC legislation regarding charter schools that advocates for less transparency, less accountability, and the removal of requirements for teacher certification.

Until charter schools become true public schools, the Network for Public Education will continue to consider them to be private schools that take public funding.

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Filed under Education and schools

One branch falls

(except that states, counties, and municipalities will continue their work against global warming)

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Filed under Uncategorized