Monday, November 19, 2018

School Scope , Nov. 16. 2018 - Norm in The WAVE

Published in The WAVE (page 11) Nov. 16, 2018

School Scope:  Brooklyn High School Students Walk Out to Protest Mark Zuckerberg Learning Platform
By Norm Scott

I broke the story on my blog ( and it was picked up by education reporter Sue Edelman of the NY Post, Business Insider and NY Magazine so far.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, like so many billionaires (i.e. Bill Gates, Reed Hastings of Netflix, Laurene Jobs of Apple), think they have all the answers for our schools. Zuckerberg and Chan created a platform called Summit Learning which basically plants the student in front of a computer and turns the teacher into a manager who introduces a lesson and then supervises the students. Students at the Secondary School for Journalism (SSJ) on the John Jay campus in Park Slope had enough and a hundred of them walked out of class on Monday. This just may be the first student revolt against  and hi-tech assaults on education. That it was led by kids of color makes it special, especially when we hear of recent events where wealthier parents are controlling some of the tech infringements on their children, while poorer communities are getting computer programs like Summit Learning pushed down their throats. Teacher expertise is minimized and allows for the hiring of cheaper inexperienced teachers. But what else is new? The student leaders have been in touch and they are writing a letter to Zuckerberg asking for a meeting to explore their objections.

Are Democrats Finally Turning Against Charters?
One thing Democrats and Republicans have agreed on is support for charters. DFER, Democrats for Education Reform was set up by billionaires to make sure charters had the backing of both parties. Clinton, Bush, and Obama had pretty much the same education policies of phony reforms that put the blame on teachers and make tests the end-all and be-all. (Trump of course with the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary has gone beyond even them in trying to privatize the public school system.) Underlying the reforms was anti-unionism from both parties. Non-union teachers without union protections are the reason charters have so much teacher churn.

I've always maintained that our own union, city, state and national - the UFT/NYSUT/AFT - weakness on opposing charters over their first two decades was a major reason so many Democrats fell into the charter trap. And the charter movement began to grow by leaps and bounds as education deform (deform) geared up into this century. Trump seems to have helped the worm turn as charters have moved from bi-partisan to Republican, like so many other issues. (At one point global warming also had bi-partisan support until Republicans weaponized the issue.)

Articles in the NY Times and Newsday addressed this issue, especially since the NY State Senate has turned. I recommend these two articles if you are interested.
New York Times: After Long Romance, Democrats Turning Against Charter Schools: The Backlash

Newsday: With loss of GOP Senate majority, charter school movement loses clout

UFT Contract
I reported last week that the occupational, physical therapists, nurses chapter had rejected the new contract by a 70% vote against. Some have been in touch and I will post some of their reasons next week.

You can find links to all of the above at Norm’s blog,

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