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Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…


‘National Parents Union’ to Challenge Political Influence of Teachers Groups

Quote from Article:

Two Latina mothers from opposite sides of the country have joined forces to form their own union to disrupt an education agenda they say is pushing out parents like them and, more importantly, leaving behind poor students and students of color.

With high-profile advisers, foundation funding and bona fide union credentials of their own, Keri Rodrigues and Alma Marquez are set to officially launch the National Parents Union on Jan. 16, when they’ll hold an inaugural summit in New Orleans with 125 delegates from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Over the course of two days, the group plans to evaluate, vote and adopt various education platforms that will form the basis of the union’s bylaws, which will be drafted by a former president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association – now a supporter of the burgeoning effort.


“This is going to be a very intersectional movement where we are not just going to have the district parent or charter parent kind of fight,” Rodrigues says. “We are building a broad tapestry of parents – urban, rural, suburban, parochial, private, home school, parents who like vouchers, parents who do not like vouchers – you name it, they will be at the table with us.”

“It’s not for me or Alma to parachute into anyone’s community and tell them how to run things,” she says. “People are going to have different ideas and we should have different ideas.”

Rodrigues, the founder of Massachusetts Parents United and formerly a labor organizer for the Service Employees International Union, and Marquez, co-founder of the Los Angeles Parents Union who also worked for Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school network, have built inroads with parent groups across the country for the last two years, slowly mounting a reform-friendly coalition that they hope will reframe the debate over K-12 education.


They insist that challenging teachers unions isn’t the goal.

“We are not anti-union as some of the reformers have been,” Marquez says. “We believe in the power of working class people coming together. Who we are is a big part of the story and I think why some folks are afraid of us. We know the book. We’ve helped write the book in our respective states. We are respected in our respective states and across the country. Because of that, people in education circles – they don’t know what to do with us. We can’t be accused of being anti-union.”


“I have said to Keri that the teachers unions should be their allies,” Stern says. “Not that they’re going to agree on everything, but they have certainly a stated belief that kids of color and poor kids need a quality education and they believe that parents are important. This is a chance for everyone to show they mean that.”

“For poor kids and kids of color, someone better disrupt the system,” he continues. “And the system is not teachers unions. It’s a whole infrastructure of school boards and administrations and think tanks. The problem is that for all the work that has gone on, the results for kids of color and kids in poor communities are mediocre. Not having those voices of parents at the table just hurts the entire system.”

As insistent as Rodrigues and Marquez are that the National Parents Union isn’t trying to present a direct challenge to the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the reality is that the formation of the group is specifically designed to disrupt the state of K-12 politics, which, as it stands, is largely controlled by the two national teachers unions. And their millions of members have notched major victories in rolling back the education reform movement of the last decade, striking and protesting in dozens of state capitals and cities across the country to oppose the expansion of charter schools, high-stakes testing and new ways to evaluate and pay teachers – the very policies that the National Parents Union will consider this week, among others.


The two national teachers unions have a veritable stranglehold over the majority of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls who have, to varying degrees, rolled out education platforms that mirror the unions’ agenda in an arms race to nab powerful endorsements. The NEA and its 3.2 million members and the AFT and its 1.7 million members are primed to flex their political muscle and open their purses this election cycle.

In addition to their boots-on-the-ground power, the two national teachers unions made $64 million in combined contributions to candidates, political parties, 527 committees and outside spending groups during the 2016 election cycle, according to Open Secrets, a nonprofit tracker of money in politics.


Rodrigues and Marquez acknowledge that they won’t be able to play on that same level when the National Parents Union launches later this month, though they are planning to launch “an aggressive, rapid response ground campaign” in a handful of early primary and swing states where “a ripe policy environment conducive to education reform efforts” exists.

“The teachers unions have about 50 years on us and they have an unrelenting, insurmountable resource model that we will never be able to compete against,” Rodrigues says. “It’s unreasonable to expect that the parents union will be immediately up and able to launch an army. But what we do not have in monetary resources we have in community resources and political power.”


“The real battle is who is going to shape the education policies within the Democratic Party,” he says. “Essentially they wish to unionize parents as a counterforce to educational unions to influence policy in the Democratic Party. They’re not functioning as parents, per se. They’re making it look like a grassroots, community organization, but they’re really fronting for dark money billionaires who wish to shape education policy in America.”

Rodrigues refutes that narrative, underscoring that she doesn’t have the benefit of a dues-backed funding model like the teachers unions and that she relies instead on grants from philanthropies.

“I’m a single mom of three little boys and I shop at Walmart almost every single week,” she says. “I’m a Walmart shopper. The parents I represent are Walmart shoppers. They do a lot of business in our communities and they should be giving back. I’m proud they support us and I hope they continue supporting us in the future.”

“This is yet another politically savvy move,” she says. “When you can’t out organize us, you attack our revenue sources to try to dilute the power of parents. We are not going away. You can say we are too stupid to think for ourselves and that I’m handed a piece of paper from the Walton Family Foundation and given my marching orders. Anyone who knows me knows that’s not how I operate.”


“By hooking up with parent and progressive groups that are already operating in key cities and states and building alliances with them where they are, they’re operating like a front organization,” Henig says. “It’s almost like, and this should be in quotes, ‘hiring’ or ‘bringing on to contract’ existing parent and progressive groups, so that they can have something more resembling a genuine link to a genuine community-based, grassroots set of organizations.”

“To the critics of privatization and to the supporters of the teachers unions, this is still disingenuous, this is still superficial and it’s still buying support,” he continues. “But it’s a little bit harder to make this case when these are folks who have been active at the local level and credible at the local level for a long time. The real test is whether these groups are setting the agenda with support from these national organizations or are they carrying the water for these national organizations. And that’s where opinions would be sharply divided.”

District Deeds Synopsis:

District Deeds has always been a strong supporter of unions.  We were a member of a manufacturing trade union.  Our father was a member of a manufacturing trade union for over 30 years.  Our brothers were members of the Teachers union in both Michigan and Florida.

We have also been a strong supporter of independent parent organizations that had aspirations to become a San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Parent Union.   As the article describes, the most difficult issue with Parent Unions is funding by donors who try and use the parent organization as a front for their own political agenda.  District Deeds has a record of resigning from parent organizations that caved to that operational pressure due to the need for donor financial contributions.

The real test for any parent union is as the article describes:

The real test is whether these groups are setting the agenda with support from these national organizations or are they carrying the water for these national organizations.

District Deeds will investigate this organization and see if it has the capacity to set the operational agenda independent of donor influence and report our findings back to our readers…Stay Tuned!!!

Garland ISD launches Spanish Spelling Bee

Quote from Article:

Garland ISD recently launched a new spelling bee, and for the first time in the district’s history they hosted a Spanish Spelling Bee in addition to the English Spelling Bee Tuesday.

The Spanish Spelling Bee offers Spanish-speaking students the opportunity to compete in a bee conducted in their native language. There were 31 participants from 22 campuses from third to eighth grade, and five Rowlett-based campus winners competed at the district level Tuesday.


According to the district, Garland ISD is implementing dual language, which has a goal of developing every child in the program into bi-literate and empowered bilingual individuals.

Soon after Gina Paniagua, coordinator of bilingual/ESL, joined GISD, she approached her colleagues about having a Spanish Spelling Bee after finding out GISD didn’t have one at the time.

“Our goal for these kids is that by the time they get to fifth grade that they can master both languages because it opens more doors for them – opportunities in jobs, scholarships,” she said. “Spanish is one of the most spoken languages around the world, and since we are pushing for this global citizen, that is one of the things that a global citizen should have – speak more than one language.”


There are three segments to the Spanish Spelling Bee – a third-grade competition, fourth- and fifth-grade competition and sixth- to eighth-grade competition; whereas with the English Spelling Bee third- through eighth-graders compete against each other.

The competitors have to know the language rules such accents and names of symbols and special characters in the Spanish language.

District Deeds Synopsis:

What a great idea from the Garland Independent School District (ISD) in Texas!!!

According to a report delivered to the American Federation of Teacher’s QuEST Conference:

It is particularly important to recognize the role that phonological awareness plays as children with limited English proficiency (LEP) learn to read, both in their native language (L1) and in their second language (L2). Characteristically, these children exhibit both unique strengths and unique deficiencies in this area.

Recent research has shown that, for English language learners, phonological awareness in the native language (L1) predicts successful literacy acquisition in both L1 and a second language (L2) (August & Hakuta, 1997; Durgunoglu, Nagy, & Hancin-Bhatt, 1993; Gottardo, 2002; Quiroga, Lemos-Britton, Mostafapour, Abbott, & Berninger, 2001). In other words, phonological awareness skills developed in L1 transfer to L2 and facilitate L2 literacy development.

Creating a spelling bee in the students native language not only improves and promotes literacy but also builds self esteem and confidence in some of the most marginalized student segments.

Our research of the Garland ISD shows that the disrtict has 56,459 students…a little over half the size of the SDUSD.  The SDUSD has 26.5% English Language Learners with the vast majority having Spanish as their primary language at home.  Hispanic students make up 46.5% of the SDUSD student population.  It makes sense that the huge SDUSD would have a Spanish Spelling Bee somewhere its 141 elementary or middle schools so we did a search…

As usual with the SDUSD, our search “yielded no results”…kind of like the propaganda fueled Vision 2020 (and equally ridiculous Vision 2030)…no good results.

What more could we expect from Elementary School Superintendent Cindy Marten and her central office White Woman Mafia?

We were unable to research the curriculums of each of the 141 SDUSD elementary or middle schools so if a multilingual Spelling Bee is currently being deployed in one or more SDUSD schools independent of incompetent central office leadership support, please send us your story and we will spread the word…and keep up the great work!!!

Number Of Social Workers Growing In Chicago Public Schools

Quote from Article:

Chicago Public Schools has almost 90 more social workers on staff compared to last year at this time, according to the school district.

These numbers come just months after the school district committed in the teachers contract to employing 680 school social workers by June 2023. Currently, it has 508 positions and 428 of them are filled.

The goal is to staff each of the 500-plus schools with at least one social worker, with large or high-needs schools hiring more than one. The Chicago Teachers Union made this a central demand because for years social workers have been forced to cover more than one school and had little time to work with students outside those in special education.


Chicago needs a lot of social workers, the union argued, because students living in poverty and experiencing violence need extra support. Mayor Lori Lightfoot (and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel the year before) had pledged to hire more social workers before the October strike, but the union demanded a commitment written in the teachers contract.

The school district has had greater success hiring social workers than with nurses, which it also promised to increase in the teachers contract. Matt Lyons, CPS’ chief talent officer, said there is not a pronounced shortage of school social workers, as there is in nursing.


Some are seeing an increase of social workers interested in getting the extra credential to work in schools. Micheal Kelly, who runs the school social work program at Loyola University’s School of Social Work, said this year 50 people are in the program compared to 30 most years.

He said the teachers strike is making social workers more interested in working in Chicago Public Schools.

“The appeal of what has happened with the strike and the context of the strike, which was about things like having a librarian in every school, having a school social worker in every school, having a nurse in every school and having all those people willing to get in the streets and say these things matter to us, that has been noticed by my students,” he said.


But Kelly said the next step is for the school district to change the role of social workers.

Kelly said social workers would like to be more involved in working with the entire student body to make the school a better place to learn.

He said social workers tell him, “I would love to start parent groups and I would love to be doing whole school change work.” But, in order for that to happen, CPS has to make some changes, he said.

Kelly notes having more social workers on staff at CPS makes some of these other roles more possible.

District Deeds Synopsis:

When we read this article we realized that we had never heard of a full time social worker being hired and assigned by the SDUSD or any demands for school site social workers made by the San Diego Education Association (SDEA – the teachers union) in over 20 years of our advocacy in SDUSD schools.

We have heard of Social Services support by outside organizations (like CPS-Child Protective Services) but no SDUSD employees hired as Social Workers.

To be sure we hadn’t missed anything we searched both the SDUSD and the SDEA websites for “Social Worker”:

In the SDUSD website we only got one link that referred SDUSD Stakeholders to a Child Abuse and Neglect “hotline” social worker…nothing about SDUSD employees as Social Workers like the Chicago Public Schools.

We then searched the current SDEA contract (Link: SDEA-Complete-Contract-2017-2020_FINAL) and found only one irrelevant description in “3.03 NON-TEACHING EXPERIENCE”…not a word about INSISTING that a Social Worker should be assigned to each school as part of their contract.

It is outrageous that neither the SDUSD nor the SDEA have any concern that no on-site Social Worker support is provided at any SDUSD school in a district that has 59% of its students in or near poverty on Free or Reduced Lunch!!!

Meanwhile that school site social worker need hasn’t prevented incompetent ESS Marten from enthusiastically accepting a huge pay raise every year or the SDEA to ignore in their contract the guaranteed support of social workers in every school and push that “social services” responsibility on the dues paying teachers every single day in every single school. 

Just the disgraceful status quo in the corrupt SDUSD where morally bankrupt 2020 and 2030 Vision empty platitudes are the ONLY thing that is really “for the kids”.  

Now for our Quote of the Week:

“PLATITUDE, n. The fundamental element and special glory of popular literature. A thought that snores in words that smoke. The wisdom of a million fools in the diction of a dullard. A fossil sentiment in artificial rock. A moral without the fable. All that is mortal of a departed truth. A demi-tasse of milk-and-mortality. The Pope’s-nose of a featherless peacock. A jelly-fish withering on the shore of the sea of thought. The cackle surviving the egg. A desiccated epigram.” ― Ambrose Bierce

Have a great week!!!



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