Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Friday, June 6, 2014

Missouri State Politicians are destroying all public schools, to be replaced with inferior private charter schools operating solely for profit

"Missouri Politicians Dismantle Public School Districts"2014-06-06 by Jim Hays [http://socialistorganizer.org/missouri-politicians-dismantle-public-school-districts]:
All the employees in the Normandy School District in North St. Louis County, Missouri, will be terminated on June 31. They will lose their tenure, salary, and benefits. Only a few may be hired back in the fall when the state-appointed “Normandy School Collaborative” takes over and abolishes the whole school district along with its elected school board.
The Missouri State School Board in recent years has begun to take over and dismantle local school boards in St. Louis and Kansas City because they have low test scores and are being declared “unaccredited.” Welston, St. Louis City (SLPS), Riverview Gardens, Normandy, and Kansas City are the main targets. All are in areas of poverty, and the majority there are people of color.
Last year a state law allowed thousands of students in “unaccredited” districts to be a part of a new “transfer” program. The students are bused to “better” wealthier, mostly white suburban school districts. The schools are sometimes very far from the students’ homes. This law has now become a huge mess, with the home districts going into financial ruin. The home districts are charged the full cost of transportation and also pay a higher annual tuition cost to the receiving districts.
The Special Administrative Board appointed by politicians took over the St. Louis Public Schools in 2007 and has just had its powers extended by two years. The SLPS-elected board still exists, but with no power. The SLPS superintendent (who trained in the New Orleans charter school system) has recently come out with a “Transformation Plan” that would put 18 individual schools under probation. If they fail again this coming year, they will be turned over to “private” management, and all their teachers will have their employment contacts torn up.
There has been a widespread outcry against these events by parents, teachers, clergy and community groups — including a walkout at one Normandy middle school and protests at the closing of Cole Elementary neighborhood school.
However, community leaders and the two Missouri teachers’ unions that are directly affected (NEA and AFT) have not organized large united-front meetings or actions to defend public education.
Schools, especially in impoverished communities, need more funding than what can be raised from local real-estate taxes. Mass community meetings and united protests in St. Louis and Kansas City are needed urgently to demand full state funding to cover all the costs of public education. Missouri is one of lowest-ranking states in the country in terms of funding public education and Medicaid.
It is also essential to restore all elected school boards to power. The State Board of Education in Jefferson City — as well as the Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — should be directly elected by Missouri voters.
In addition, all voucher plans and new charter schools must be opposed. These plans are supported by Democratic Party politicians like St. Louis Mayor Slay, by “progressive” Black Caucus senators     like Maria Chapel Nidal, and by Republicans and right-wing political action funds.
In response to these increased attacks on teachers and public education, there is growing local and national resistance to the collaborationist policies of the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers. The union officials only meekly oppose the attacks on public education; in fact, they go along with such management schemes as the  St. Louis Plan and the Newark (NJ) teacher evaluation policy.
In St. Louis city, a group of younger but experienced teachers ran a full slate of officers headed by   Sheria Hughley against the Local 420 President in the May union election. Though they did not win on their first bid to challenge the incumbent slate, they obtained about one third of the votes.
Below are some upcoming events in the St. Louis area and nationally that should be of interest to union and community activists who defend public education:
* June 21 — Peter Downs, former president of the elected St. Louis Board of Education and author of a book about the defense of public education in St. Louis, will speak on “The Billionaires’ War on Public Education” — 12 p.m. at 1924 South 12th Street near Soulard in St. Louis.
* July 13 — The AFT Peace and Justice Caucus will have a panel discussion about attacks on K-12 public education throughout the United States at the AFT national convention in Los Angles.
* August 1-2 — A meeting of rank-and-file activists in the teachers’ unions will gather in Chicago to form closer collaboration among teacher union activists.

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