Wait Until The Hammer Falls?

by EdwardBerger on October 20, 2015

Will our community be able to save our public schools? The election for a bond, and override funding is November 3. I could wait until the results are in, but here are the issues. Citizens be aware:

The overwhelming majority of parents want their children in public schools. Not charter schools, partial schools, religious schools, or schools which keep out parents, destroy the joys of childhood, and use force as motivation. Parents have choice and they have chosen. Over 85% of Arizona parents have chosen public schools.

The overwhelming majority of parents want their child exposed to many disciplines as well as math and reading. They want their children exposed to art, humanities, science, social studies, history , government, health, physical education, and languages. They want their child to love learning and love their learning community. Parents want their children prepared as interdisciplinary, self-directed learners ready for the future.

They want childhood’s magic honored with time to play and explore and do the things children must do to develop into healthy adults. They want pre-K through great K-12 programs.

Parents know that childhood is a critical developmental time for their child. They like and support the way public school classrooms and the curricula are developmentally appropriate. They know that foundation skills are acquired at different times for each child and that forcing learning to pass standardized tests or other inappropriate measurements damages children.

They want full services for their child. School safety. Safe transportation. A school nurse. Counselors and mentors. A good lunch program and breakfast and snacks for kids who would otherwise go hungry. They want school clubs, newspaper staff, annual staff, business clubs, science club and science fairs, and dance. They want field trips, assemblies, and Americanization.

They demand trained and certified teachers. Most parents know that today’s certified and experienced teachers are many times more effective than teachers in the past. The education profession is advancing and very effective. If there is a learning conflict, they have choice within the system.

The overwhelming number of parents and community members understand that the community has built and provided safe and well-maintained buildings – well-maintained that is until tax dollars they pay for schools have been taken away by a small handful of ideologues who are robbing our communities. In every community, these destructive people always vote NO to damage the opportunities of others.

If you agree with the list of things children need – and parents and citizens demand – note that few are provided by the charter or partial schools. For example, qualified, experienced certified faculty and administrators. Publicly elected school boards. Financial accountability and academic accountability. All of the above are an integral part of our public schools.

IF the great majority of citizens do not want their tax dollars directed away from our students and schools why are they ignored?

BECAUSE those who want to destroy public education or rob kids to profit from our tax dollars have used their power in the Legislature and government to create a system where every charter or other partial school supported by our tax dollars must duplicate what the citizens are already paying for in public schools. Charters must use state dollars that follow the child to duplicate facilities, accounting, utilities, support staffing, libraries, computes, classrooms and physical education resources. The citizens end up paying twice for the same services. The money that citizens intend for children is not there for the majority of kids, teachers, building maintenance, books and supplies or the things children need. The irony is that as few as 10% of the students are enrolled in these partial schools, but they wreak havoc and have the potential to destroy quality education for the majority of students. This is not an accidental consequence. It is being done intentionally.

Finally, know that two main forces are killing our public schools:
1) Access to the tax dollars citizens pay for education. This access to our tax dollars is usually for profit-making schemes and individual greed.

2) Ideology as professed openly by Koch-ALEC-and right-wing organizations that have written intent to kill public schools, privatize prisons, and destroy worker representation. These so-called reformers have run Arizona education for over 20 years. What they have put in place does not work. By every measure, they have succeeded in harming public schools, children, teachers, and families. They have damaged communities, forbidden academic and elected accountability for experimental schools of choice, and they have misspent hundreds of millions of dollars that taxpayers paid for public schools. They are the reason we have this financial crisis.

This coming vote won’t stop these American Dream busters, but it may show that people are now aware of the threat and ready to organize and take back their schools and country. SOS is real. It deserves a YES – YES vote.

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Splintering And Shattering Our Communities

by EdwardBerger on September 3, 2015

There are forces at work that are so destructive they can shatter the hopes and dreams of our citizens and splinter our communities. Our communities serve the needs of citizens via good schools, good medical facilities, good policing, good and great services in almost every area. However, there are forces of greed and power that have come back to haunt us from the Industrial Age and The Age of Robber Barons when individuals – responsible to no one – ground fellow human beings into dust. Their control of America became a license to rape, rip, and run.

“I regard this contest as one to determine who shall rule this free country—the people through their governmental agents, or a few ruthless and domineering men whose wealth makes them peculiarly formidable because they hide behind the breastworks of corporate organization.”
—Theodore Roosevelt (1907)

The cycle is repeating. We see it fracturing our own community as school and community college funding has been systematically cut off. The facts are clear. Our really outstanding schools have been driven into deep financial trouble. These problems are not caused by bad education or bad anything the schools have done. Certainly, the schools need and will always need to keep working to evolve and get better, but that is not why they are in trouble. The majority of parents enroll their children in district schools that have the wide range of expertise, services, and programs they need. If you are a parent of a child in school, you should be outraged and fighting like a wounded mother bear for your child’s school and education future. Our community schools suffer because a political agenda – an ideology – is attempting to starve and destroy them.

The reality is that the forces that control how our tax dollars are distributed have attacked and wounded our community schools. At this time, we cannot expect those who have coordinated these attacks on America’s future to adequately fund public schools. If we are to save our schools and our free society, our Prescott community must commit to adequate funding and insist on quality education for our children. That requires that We The People dig deeper into our pockets and pass the upcoming bond issue and override. If we do not do this, our community will never recover. Area schools will not survive. Our children will be irreparably damaged. We already see the impact of funding cuts and school closures as dollars and students have been siphoned away from public education and the District is being forced to close schools.

What hurts communities the most is the spawned divisiveness that has grouped people around planted lies and destructive ideologies. In our past, people, regardless of religion, political beliefs, or limited understanding, worked together to build local government and collectively provide the services the community needs. There were always disagreements, but they were resolved. There were always fringe individuals and groups that screamed “No New Taxes,” but as demands for more and better services increase and more people are served, every reasonable person knows that these services are necessary and really a great deal.

The major recession/depression we are suffering though was brought on by the greed and avarice of a few. Shades of the world order according to Rockefeller and the Robber Barons. A great majority of Americans lost economic and social position. Families and children suffer. They clutch at what they hope is some tattered semblance of the American Dream. The communities feel the dead hand of those who are fighting to take over the State and the Nation. Fear is cloaked in hate. Their neighbors are the bad guys. Teachers are at fault. The community leaders are the enemies. The other political party is to blame. Giving women rights is wrong. Associations that oppose the billionaire class have to be destroyed. Scared and confused people group together and refuse to listen to the opinions of others or even to allow a non-member to address their group. We are experiencing this splintering today and it is keeping us divided.

The attacks on public schools and educated people are increasing in force. An inculcated belief that public education must be killed because it cannot be fixed has become a common mantra. Other schools were formed – partial schools, charter schools – a few developed exemplary programs. All took funds away from the district schools. Hundreds of millions of dollars remain unaccounted for and the entire public education system is weakened and severely damaged. A large percentage of this money went to duplicate facilities and services the public is already providing. Rather than merge new and effective programs into the existing system, as was the original plan, the alternative schools are encouraged to define the district public schools as wrong.

Corporate raiders use the Press to convince American parents that the American education system has failed, in spite of massive evidence to the contrary. They base this presumed failure on skewed test scores. They ignore what schools actually do. As they spin these lies continually, people without crap detectors begin to believe them. Those who have taken power use it to bypass or infiltrate elected school boards, privatize schools, and open new schools without public accountability so they can steal money that taxpayers think goes for kids. They use their power to take over elected bodies and financially attack and starve excellent public schools and community programs – kill them – and steal the tax dollars. They use ill-gained political power to allow school operators to build Real Estate empires while supporting Legislators who stop calls for accountability. They call this privatization.

Part of the strategy of misdirection was to denigrate, defame, and discount teachers and professional educators; to blame them for the supposed failure of our schools. If teachers would only produce more widgets, faster, at a lower wage, efficiency and profit margins would increase. But children are not products being brought to market. The answer to public education’s problems is not privatization and the diversion of public resources to private pockets. These ideologies and acts have devastating effects on every community in America. In our hearts, we know these are lies, but we have let the lies go unchallenged.

Negative and destructive energy can only last so long before people begin to see through to reality. That is happening now in many communities. People have been encouraged to ignore the warnings and information about the demise of public education offered by their superintendents and elected boards, teachers, and community leaders. People begin to seek answers and the truth. Where so many partial school promoters sold parents tales of woe and incompetence, the truth has emerged: They lie. Community members who know little about their community education programs begin to attend meetings and ask questions. In our community, this is taking place now. The damage funding cuts have done to proven and effective programs, to our children, to the longevity of the teaching staff, and to the maintenance of our facilities, is real and unacceptable.

The State has cut back the funds to support public education programs. There is no evidence that the State taxes we pay for education will be returned to our communities. Our public schools and community college are severely damaged and cannot deliver comprehensive services without more community support.

This is the time when local control has real meaning. A time when responsible citizens dig deeper into their pockets to support the education of our community’s children. Our schools need our help. If we each shoulder a bit of the burden, we will heal our community and ensure a bright future for children and all of us.

“When you wage war on the public schools, you’re attacking the mortar that holds the community together. You’re not a conservative, you’re a vandal.”
Garrison Keillor


Getting Our Heads Out Of The Morass

June 11, 2015

Edward R. Murrow once said: “I am in a financial morass from which I am unable to extricate myself.” Many States are in a political morass as a result of a planned assault on America. The question is, how do we extricate ourselves? In Arizona, one of the most corrupt states, leaders are emerging who […]

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June 3, 2015

Why us? Why attack education? Why hurt kids and deprive them of the tools they need to be productive citizens? Why attack educators and those who work to make America better? Why work to destroy a profession? Why split and destroy communities? Why hurt families? Why support corporations that force testing and curricula on states […]

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Ruminations*: Reformer Plans For Athletics

March 22, 2015

The powerful education reform movement is well underway. Taxpayers must be pleased with the progress so far. Legislators have turned the distribution of public tax dollars collected for public schools over to irresponsible hedge fund billionaires, profit-driven companies like Pearson PLC, foundations run by proven ‘winners’ like Eli Broad, Billy Gates, and the Waltons, and […]

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Saving Community Schools

January 18, 2015

“We did not declare this war, but we have to win it.” Diane Ravitch 1. Define what is worth saving Parents across America are fighting for quality education. There are many options, but only one addresses the needs of the complete child: Comprehensive Education. What is that? It is a well-balanced curriculum like the curricula […]

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BARBERISM Raises Its Head

January 1, 2015

Let’s agree to use simple terms to describe complex matters. Think of a sieve used for separating coarse, from fine parts of matter. Now imagine people who believe that running students through a sieve built of data will allow them to correct or remove unacceptable thinking – like getting rid of individuality, and those who […]

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Charter Schools are Set-up To Fail

December 18, 2014

For many years, I have written about the charter school movement. As you know, I label the majority of these schools “Partial Schools,” because they deprive students of a comprehensive, interdisciplinary curriculum. They discount the need for teacher certification and experience, and they duplicate many services and programs the taxpayers are already providing. What happened […]

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Arizona Ethics? The Most Corrupt State? How Corruption Affects Arizona Schools

December 8, 2014

According to researchers at the Harvard University, Edmond J. Safra Center For Ethics, I live in a State that is home to the most political corruption in America. I am 75-years old and have been an educator all my life. I have taught, mentored, pioneered, and researched. I am a leader in experiential education. I […]

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We Need To Know … We Don’t Want To Know

November 23, 2014

IS EDUCATION REALLY ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO All CHILDREN? If so, where are the follow-up studies of those dropped on their heads by the schools? We don’t have information – at least not in any district or charter schools I know of – about the kids pushed out of schools. We like to call them […]

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