Monday, September 14, 2015

The Children Shall Lead Us

I read about this case (article below) that Texas Student's filed on behalf of their own education. And this was after reading the most self serving pathetic article in the New York Times  about some poor sad white male executive and his struggle to open his very pretentious charter school in New York.  I thought had he put that much time and effort into his children's school that he complained was not educating them properly he would have found way more bang for his buck.

The sad dismissal of public education and Teachers by the elite make me laugh.  There are private schools so go there and just walk away, making a fake public/private school serves only those whom you "pick and choose" and that in and of itself is not public.

Texas students ask state Supreme Court to force adequate funding of public schools

By Valerie Strauss
Washington Post
 September 13 2015

Two Texas teenagers representing a group of students in the Houston Independent School District have taken an unusual action: They wrote and submitted to the Texas Supreme Court a 35-page brief siding with more than 600 school districts suing the state for underfunding public education in violation of the Texas constitution.

The court justices recently held a hearing about the suit, which the state is seeking to have dropped. The school districts — about two-thirds of the total in Texas — are arguing that state authorities rely on an outdated funding mechanism that does not provide schools with enough resources to meet the needs of the growing number of high-needs students in the state and provide an adequate education as required by the constitution.

The suit was originally filed in 2011 after the state legislature cut nearly $5.5 billion from public education, and though most of it has since been restored, the districts still say they are being underfunded. A year ago, a Texas district judge agreed and threw out the state school funding system as unconstitutional.

The two students who filed the brief  on behalf of the HISD Student Congress, an organization that represents about 215,000 students in the district, are Zaakir Tameez, a member of the 2015 class of Carnegie Vanguard High School, and Amy Fan, a member of the 2016 class of Bellaire High School.

Their brief explores the ways that many schools for students who live in poverty are inadequately funded and details the consequences, noting that students have a unique view of the case:

Many adults base their knowledge of public education on what they see on paper. Oftentimes, these adults don’t have kids who attend public schools and don’t really know what’s going on. As high school teenagers, we have a unique perspective. While we don’t always understand the political, economic, and legal origins of what we witness as students, we really know the issues inside the school and classroom; we experience them every day.

And here’s what they say they are experiencing:

School districts lack the necessary resources to correct the deficiencies in education that we face. With more funding, our schools would be able to provide their students with adequate resources, decrease class sizes, enhance enrichment programs, improve teacher quality, and innovate college and career readiness programs. Many consider these educational inputs “extras”, but we argue that these five objectives are vitally necessary in Texas, especially for our classmates who are English Language Learners or in poverty. In the following pages, we demonstrate why.

The entire brief is below, but here is one of the descriptions of what some districts are facing in Texas regarding funding:

Robert E. Lee High School is located at the cross streets of Richmond Ave. and Beverly Hill Blvd. in Southwest Houston. The surrounding neighborhood consists of dense enclaves of low income apartments, convenience stores, Mexican and Halal groceries, food trucks, and bus stops. The service industry dominates this part of Houston. There is high demand for unskilled labor and high availability of low cost apartments. Combined with Houston’s position as a primary destination for immigrants to the United States, this neighborhood and many others attract large numbers of immigrants and their families who often speak solely their native language.

A. As students, we know that class sizes matter.

In the 2013-14 school year, Lee was about 75% Hispanic and nearly 100% economically disadvantaged. One-third of the approximately 1,400 students were English Language Learners[3]. Many students were recent immigrants and did not speak English at all. Presented with these extra challenges, Lee did not receive the funding it needed to provide its students the chance they need to succeed in America. We spoke with Principal Jonathan Trinh about the struggles Lee High School faces as a consequence of the Texas formula funding that does not provide ELL students with sufficient resources:

“Our ELL students need more support in term of smaller class size to have more interaction and face time with their teachers. They need even more time in English classes with double and triple blocks requiring additional ESL trained English Language Arts, Reading, and Intervention teachers. [All of this requires funding.]”

Decreasing class sizes is especially important for our ELL peers, because language classes require much more individualized attention, and for ELL students, every class feels like a language class.

B. As Texans, our naïve lack of appreciation for enrichment programs is both morally wrong and economically impractical.

In order to provide students extra assistance in English, Principal Trinh has had to cut language, art, and extracurricular programs at Lee. The school only offers Spanish because a large proportion of their students can test out, meaning he can hire fewer teachers. The principal would love to offer Mandarin, Hindi, or French, but there simply isn’t enough money for these languages, increasingly important in the 21st century economy to be part of the curriculum. Lee doesn’t have a band, orchestra or any sort of other musical outlet for students. Many students at Lee in fact have a passion for music yet have no way to express this passion, as the school can’t afford the instruments or the extra teacher. Others would love to become a mathlete or chess aficionado, but again, the money isn’t there. As a result, many funnel their boredom, frustration, and stress into alcohol, drugs, and gangs.

All high school students possess ambition, optimism, creativity, and grit. But at Lee, their aspirations are stunted due to lack of funding. ELL students not only lack the opportunity to participate in enrichment programs but also often a serious chance at learning English and avoiding exploitation in the workforce after graduation. While Lee is working hard and concentrating its limited budget on providing what it can for its ELL students, these same students still have difficulty overcoming the language barrier because of large class sizes, a lack of enrichment programs, and a limited teacher hiring pool. Committed to providing ESL assistance to ELL students in all subjects, in 2014 Lee began hiring only ESL certified teachers. Unfortunately, these teachers are hard to find even right here in Texas.

C. Many teachers in Texas are alternatively certified in their subject, and lack the academic experience necessary to be truly qualified to teach us.

Mr. Edgardo Figueroa teaches English for Newcomers at Lee. All of Mr. Figueroa’s students come to him having never spoken English, and some unable to read or write in their native language. He accommodates them as much as he can, but with 220 students and about 32 per class, there’s only so much he can do. What has helped, he says, is the training he received through his ESL certification program. ESL trained teachers employ strategies such as the use of pictures to help students connect key words or concepts in English to their native language, in addition to many others. Teacher certification, however, is expensive and grossly underfunded in Texas.

D. All students should have the opportunity to succeed via higher education or vocational schooling.

Students’ struggles are not for lack of trying. In our conversation with Mr. Edgardo Figueroa, we learned a story of his to illustrate this point:

“In one class I had a Mexican student and a Chinese student who became very good friends. In order to communicate with each other they had to use the little English they had learned, always practicing the skills they learned in class. When they didn’t know English words for what they had to say, they used Google Translate.”

These students deserve to dream big and have a fighting chance. Although some may not be the best academically, often due to English skills and difficult home lives, all should have access to vocational and technical schooling. Those who are capable of college-level work should be encouraged to apply and be assisted in the application process by college readiness programs. Many of our peers, who did not grow up in stable family environments and lacked access to quality counseling, were never introduced to four year residential colleges, two year associates degree programs, or even summer internships and academic camps. Texas children are being deprived of this information because of the State’s dismal effort in providing school districts the funding to build quality college and career readiness programs. These programs are essential in building an educated citizenry for the preservation of freedom and democracy as the Texas constitution prescribes[4].
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This case is massively different when the front group of Venture Capitalists under the name Students Matter  funded the Vergara vs. California suit which was primarily to bust unions with a focus on tenure as their reasoning education was impeded.  Yet this brief praises their Teachers but acknowledges it is a lack of training and the cost of said training that impedes their education. No mention of unions or tenure.

I wonder who funded the kids as the brief submitted is here and it is submitted pro se but it is not illegal to receive assistance from an Attorney or Paralegal to draft a brief which I suspect happened here.

Funny in every state that has found itself being challenged in their Supreme Court, the issue was funding by the state and the failure of the legislature to do so appropriately with regards to the imperatives in their existing States constitution.

When Venture Capital speaks usually legislatures listen and for over 30 years education has been sorely underfunded. One due to immense tax breaks and cuts to draw industry and when the jobs and businesses did not actually materialize then we see a slight problem with regards to a tax base and revenue so then the cuts began. Social services and that includes education has been the wood that got the axe to the detriment of society as an educated workforce is employable one. So more toadying an genuflecting by the great electorate to the great funders of campaigns and they were told it was the wrong type of Education and that it must be work based so STEM became the mantra. Funny how the computer industry was built without any such curriculum and that for decades that workforce was trained and the same industry blossomed and yet still no workers from American schools were good enough so we must import workers from schools that we have no idea how they are educated or trained but we do know they will do the work for less so that is all that matters.

In the Texas suit it is even mentioned how foreign students could not communicate so they used Google translate yet how many times are we told that our own students cannot write nor demonstrate appropriate communication skills to be effective on the job so hence Bill Gates arrives with a large check and the Common Core pedagogy in which to teach children how to write three facts not opinions when reading well opinions as well that is what most writing is. But also doing so by keeping writing to a 150 or so character slot as who has time for reading with all that work that needs to be done.

The charter schools here in Washington State had to demand the legislature have a special session to resolve our current Supreme Courts decision that Charters are in violation of the Constitution and the Governor refused but demanded that a commission be dedicated to resolve the other issue our Court decided the lack of funding via the McCleary decision.

This is partially the issue in the strike here and the idea that we are asking teachers to do more with less. The needs of kids regardless of their level of learning and capabilities should be funded appropriately and yes discriminatory, as some kids just need more but that doesn't mean they are worth less.

I would teach a kid if they brought him in an iron lung to a class as for that brief moment in time that child can belong, feel normal, be a member of a community. And to the haters of which I speak of daily (my laundromat man is one) they cannot understand why they must be in school.  Well clearly you were and we failed there so lets see if we can get one right this time.

This man was much like the nut fuck I had coffee with who screamed about these same children and the point of it all - and my laundromat man said the same.  He asked after the kids can no longer go to schools where do they go? I told them many do get into programs, homes and have families that care for them. Some do not make it and I suspect that is some of those we see in the streets.  And then he proceeded to say if an autistic kid was screaming at him or acting odd when he had a gun on him he was not responsible for killing him.    All of this while we watched a fire crew, EMT and ambulance come to pick up another of our many casualties who had passed out in the parking lot.   It was all sad and frustrating and a daily occurrence.  And he had nothing good to say about that and "those" people who are ruining our lives and costing money and they do nothing for society. He did not mention killing them off.  But like the garbage I had coffee with a few weeks ago I did not need to ask him what was his "final solution."  He actually wants Donald Trump to be elected as he thinks then our allies yes our allies will nuke Washington D.C. as that is the final solution for the government and its idiocy. Okay then.

Yes I live in Seattle and these are the idiots I speak to.  I will never speak to him again and if I do it will be brief.  I have never had any more loathing for an individual in my life.  And for the record I don't believe a word of it but I suspect many hear that same kind of bullshit  from people and then they see and hear differently one day.  I don't wan to be one of those people.   Its just another reason for me to get the fuck out of here.

My hope is that there are more children like those in Texas and they shall lead us.



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