Welcome to our new members. We are two months old, and we are still
growing. We have made our first endorsement, of teacher Monica
Ratliff for the LA School Board. We have also added several new
items to our activist Toolkit
-- at great place to find ideas for how you can get organized and
make a difference. You have a role to play, and we are doing our best
to give you tools and information to help you get involved. Thanks
for joining us on this journey.
Note from Julian
Obama Plagiarizing Bush?
Our note of the week today comes
from Julian Vasquez-Heilig, who serves on the NPE's Board of
I recently had a discussion with several faculty members
about suspect plagiarism in their courses. They were very concerned
with term papers that were bought online and that ideas were not
attributed to their original authors. That's when it dawned on me; we
are facing the same issue in the current educational policy
The Democrats' current approach to educational policy is a sure case
of plagiarism. What you're about to read are all direct excerpts from
George Bush's 1992 Republican Platform (except of course where I
replace Republican with Democrat and Bush with Obama. I also took out
the word liberal before "special interest" so not to give
away the ruse). Does it sound familiar?
The Democratic strategy is based on sound principle. Parents have the
right to choose the best school for their children...we should
increase flexibility from federal regulation. We should explore a new
generation of break-the-mold New American Schools.
Too many government and union rules have burdened our schools.We also
believe that powerful unions and special interest groups should not
be the driving force in education reform.
Alternative certification can bring desperately needed new people
into the teaching profession. We support efforts to open the teaching
profession by reforming the certification system now barring many
talented men and women from the classroom.
We have an uncompromising commitment to improve public
education-which means assuring that our schools produce
well-educated, responsible citizens-not the maintenance of a
government monopoly over the means of educating. America needs
public, private, and parochial schools.
Parents... should have the right not only to participate in their
child's education, but to choose for their children among the
broadest array of educational choices, without regard to their
income. The President has shown unprecedented leadership for the most
important education goal of all: helping middle and low income
families enjoy the same choice of schools-public, private, or
religious-that families with more resources already have.
Accountability, Assessments and Standards
Standards and assessments should be raised, not reduced to a lowest
common denominator. We have seen real progress. Perhaps most
important, though, is that President Obama has fostered a national
debate on education that has challenged every American to get
involved... New and tougher standards and assessments are being
established for what our children should know. The critical public
mission in education is to set tough, clear standards of achievement
and ensure that those who educate our children are accountable for
meeting them. This is not just a matter of plans or dollars. Competency
testing and merit pay for teachers are essential elements of such
Why has Obama not created "change" in
education? Why has NCLB been left alone- even enhanced via
"waivers"? I suspect because President Obama's ideas (and
Arne Duncan's) are eerily similar to the Republican's ideas of the
1990s. He should at least give them credit so they can't be accused
What are you
(we) going to do about this?
NPE's First Endorsement: Monica Ratliff
candidate in Los Angeles School Board race
Endorsement: Monica Ratliff, a Teacher, for Los Angeles School Board
The Board of
Directors of NPE has voted to endorse Monica Ratliff in her runoff
election for Los Angeles school board. The election will happen on
We asked both
Ratliff and her opponent, Antonio Sanchez, to complete a detailed
candidate questionnaire. Monica Ratliff's responses revealed someone
who is a working 5th grade teacher, well acquainted with the
challenges faced by the schools of Los Angeles. Sanchez did not
understands that testing has gotten way out of control. She told us:
constantly check for understanding. LAUSD spends too much money
on periodic assessments and other tests that waste money and, more
importantly, precious instructional time. We need less purchased
standardized testing. One standardized test at the end of the year is
acceptable - depending upon its use. "
merit pay based on test scores, and the sharing of student data
without explicit parental permission.
Antonio Sanchez, has received the full backing of corporate
reformers, including donations from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg,
and billionaire Eli Broad. According to the Los Angeles Times, which
endorsed Ratliff, Sanchez "lacks educational expertise and
his positions are unclear. He tends to speak in political
platitudes about key issues rather than offering specifics."
Students of Los
Angeles need school board members who are independent of the
corporate reform machines. They need people who understand education
issues in depth, and that is why we are endorsing Monica
Diane Ravitch endorsed Ratliff last week, writing:
will be overwhelmingly outspent. She can win if friends of public
education turn out to vote.
She needs our help.
If everyone who
loves teachers sends Monica a gift of any size, she would be the
best-funded candidate in the race. Send whatever you can
It is of vital importance that we elect independent
candidates like Ratliff. Please visit and donate what you can to her campaign
NPE Hosts Dynamic Student Leaders
Gives Advice on Organizing
week the Network for Public Education continued its series of
webinars focused on giving grassroots activists tools and
opportunities to connect with others. We heard from student leaders
from around the country, who shared their experiences in organizing
on their campuses. Stephanie Rivera, one of the founders of Students
United for Public Education, spoke about the value of social networks
and blogging. Sarah Smith, a veteran of the Wisconsin war on
teachers, talked about starting small and building from where you
are. And Chicago high school student Israel Muñoz shared some of the
challenges and triumphs of the work to save schools in his city.
you click on the link, a small application will download, which you
may need to click to activate. You also may need to download the
latest version of Java.
Many Ways to Connect with NPE
Facebook, Website and Twitter, all growing
been working to build our communication channels in several ways --
and people are noticing!
Ken Derstine has
created a successful news source, the NPE Newsbriefs,
which offers frequent updates of news and analysis from around the
country. This is a great place to catch up on all the things going on
in our movement.
The NPE web site ,
built by Rhode Island teacher Rob Perry, offers grassroots reports
and activist toolkits, as well as a map showing the more than one
hundred groups from around the nation that have signed up as our
Our Facebook page has
attracted more than 4000 likes, and is a great place to go to find
out what is being shared and discussed.
And NPE has
become a presence on Twitter as well, so please follow us,
and keep up with the latest news.
Parents Organize in Douglas County,
If they can make it here, they can make it anywhere...
in Douglas County, Colorado, are organizing to take their school
board back from members aligned with ALEC. They tell us:
short span of 3 years, we have seen an erosion in the Douglas County
School District while an agenda is being enforced. You may recognize
the themes of this agenda: a voucher program which is currently
tied up in litigation; demoralization of teachers as they are
subjected to ambiguous evaluations and bizarre market-based pay
programs; severe budget cuts despite a growing general fund
balance; increased class sizes; major increase in the number of charter
schools; the list goes on.."