prospect.org — There are a few ready talking points when discussing the student-loan crisis: the collective $1 trillion burden of debt, how student debt is now larger than credit card debt in this country, the fact that the 90-day delinquency rate spiked to 11 percent last year, meaning over one in ten borrowers are behind on their payments—all facts that don’t give much hope to those with loans, or those trying to resolve the financial crisis. Another widely repeated belief is that student loans are completely nondischargeable in bankruptcy, a statement that a quick fact-check proves to be rated “pants on fire” and one that is causing tens of thousands of borrowers to suffer for no reason, for years.
alternet.org — The teachers are rising up again—and this time, they’re going after standardized tests. In Seattle, a boycott against the national Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) tests is spreading across high schools. At Garfield High School, where the boycott began, 19 teachers called a press conference to announce that they would refuse to give the tests because they are a waste of time and resources for the students. The test scores do not affect the students’ grades or ability to graduate, and the test’s material itself has nothing to do with the students’ classes or curriculum—meaning that students rarely take the tests seriously. Despite this irrelevance, however, teachers in the Seattle school district learned that this year, the MAP test scores would be used to measure their teacher evaluations—spurring frustration and anger
prospect.org — The watchword of austerity, “there is no alternative,” connotes painful cuts and layoffs adopted by fiscally shot local governments. In practice, though, this is a contradiction in terms: the politics of austerity are also a politics of imaginative restructuring, in which fiscal crisis is a cover for what Clintonites called “reinventing government” or, as partisans of Naomi Klein might prefer, “shock therapy.” The lie is starkest in the realm of education policy, where the Obama administration prescribes a slate of options for impoverished communities receiving federal School Improvement Grants. These range from “turnarounds,” which replace the principal and at least half of school staff, to charterization or outright closure. The catch with turnarounds and closings? Urban schools affected by them house more students of color than those left alone. As such, a growing national movement argues, the implementation of these policies systematically violates Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits race-based discrimination in federally funded programs.
alternet.org — The "ivory tower" of academia has become overshadowed by a new edifice on campus that is reaching ridiculous heights: the tower of mammon. As public universities have been driven by budget-whacking lawmakers to seek ever-more private funding, schools that once prided themselves as being centers of free thinking are increasingly dominated by corporate-think, turning their institutions into sales centers. "A lot of schools are taking a much more corporate approach," exulted a PRexecutive who works with top university administrators, marveling that "a CMO didn't even exist on most campuses 10 years ago." A what? A chief marketing officer, whose job is to peddle the place like it's a new model of car or line of cosmetics. Forget intellectual pursuits, we're talking about pursuing buyers, in the brave new academic marketplace. This results in colleges resorting to the same kind of ridiculous come-ons that hawkers of consumer products often barf-up.
epi.org — Michelle Rhee and her misnamed school privatization organization, StudentsFirst, recently issued a report card on the nation’s schools that has been roundly criticized, and rightly so. Rhee ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia by how closely they hew to her vision of school “reform,” which involves high stakes testing, maximizing the number of charter schools, expanding voucher programs that use tax dollars to pay for private schools, and eliminating teacher tenure and pension plans. Rhee’s right-wing agenda of privatization, de-unionization, and the funneling of public tax dollars into corporate coffers is becoming clearer to the public—and perhaps even to her own staff. Coupled with her recent stumble over the shootings at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., her reluctance to oppose a Michigan bill to allow concealed weapons in schools, and the PBS Frontline exposé about cheating scandals during her tenure as chancellor in D.C., Rhee and her agenda may be losing their glitz and appeal. We can only hope so.
propublica.org — It's been a year of eye-popping records for student debt. Outstanding student loan debt surpassed credit card debt, with one government estimate pegging total student loan debt at more than $1 trillion. Such staggering figures drew renewed attention to the fact that rising higher education costs and falling government support for state colleges and universities has burdened individual students and their families with immense debt — all at a time when new graduates face anemic prospects for getting a decent job. Increasingly, the debt burden falls on parents, not just students.
thenation.com — 10. A Roof Over Every Student’s Head. 9. School Breakfast and Lunch for All Eligible Students. 8. Expanded Access to Quality Pre-kindergarten. 7. Elimination of Waiting Lists for Child Care Subsidies. 6. Affordable physical, mental and dental medical care. 5. Expanded learning time that delivers enriching after-school experiences. 4. Experienced, qualified teachers in appropriately sized classes. 3. Fully-resourced schools. 2. An enriching, holistic curriculum. 1. National policies that enable parents, families, and communities to provide children with what they need to thrive educationally.
alternet.org — Quick - when you hear "public housing," what picture jumps into your mind? Or "public hospital"? All around us, our public institutions are disintegrating, and the most important public institution of all – our public education system – is the next to be ghettoized. Despite several progressive victories this Election Day, there was one significant defeat in Georgia, as voters approved of Constitutional Amendment 1 , which changes Georgia’s Constitution to give Republicans in that state the power to create charter schools as part of Georgia’s public education system. The result will be crucial taxpayer dollars being funneled away from free public schools and directed toward brand new, sometimes for-profit, privately-run charter schools. This is a major shot in the multigenerational war on public education part of our commons.