Over 1,000 Educators Urge Biden to Pick Kumashiro for Education​

December 4, 2020

December 4, 2020

Institute for Public Accuracy
980 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045accuracy.org * ipa@accuracy.org
@accuracy * ipaccuracy

Over 1,000 Educators Urge Biden to Pick Kumashiro for EducationAs an increasing number of progressives call Biden’s first rounds of appointments a “betrayal” of their support to get him elected, educators offer ideas for rolling back many of the actions of the Trump-Betsy DeVos administration.

Anticipation and advocacy is building around Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Education and whether his policies will significantly depart from past decades.

Building on Biden’s reference to Franklin D. Roosevelt, over 1,000 educators and organizations have sent a letter to Biden urging the appointment of leaders who bring a bold, research-based vision for education that parallels FDR’s New Deal. The letter suggests one such candidate is Kevin Kumashiro, who calls for an “Education New Deal” in his latest book, Surrendered: Why Progressives are Losing the Biggest Battles in Education. Among the signers of the letter available for interviews:
CHRISTINE SLEETER, csleeter@gmail.com@csleeter
Sleeter is professor emerita at the California State University Monterey Bay, past vice president of the American Educational Research Association, and member of the National Academy of Education. She said today, “At the federal level, education is treated too much as an afterthought, as something to think about and resource after other things, such as the military, have been taken care of. I expect the Biden administration to give more substantive attention to education than previous administrations, mainly because of Dr. Jill Biden’s work and commitment to education. I think that much in Biden’s education platform, such as supporting teacher unions, cutting back on test-driven teaching, and making college more affordable, is important. But there are some areas in which I would like to push the administration.
  “First, education needs to be seen as a critical national resource for a vibrant participatory democracy. Over the last four years, we have witnessed so many citizens’ inability to discern fact from fiction, to talk across differences, and to value the right of everyone to be heard. Education tends to be viewed as preparation for jobs. It needs to be treated as vital to building the participatory democracy we aspire to.

  “Second, the majority of students in K-12 public schools now are students of color. Students of color still tend to be framed in terms of deficits (such as around efforts to close the achievement gap) or ignored entirely. Yet, there is much exciting work that has centered students and teachers of color, work that can enable a shift in how we think about education in this country. We need leadership at the national level who are willing to immerse themselves in such work (work such as the ethnic studies movement, or movements for teachers of color), and take seriously the implications of such work for transforming education for a diverse democracy.”
KEVIN WELNER, kevin.welner@gmail.com
  Welner is professor and director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, fellow of the American Educational Research Association, and co-author of the research brief, “What’s Next for PreK-12 Funding?

  He said today that Biden’s “initial appointments have evidenced a strong desire to draw upon expertise developed during the Obama administration. The appointees know the ropes and will be able to immediately embark on the difficult work of responding to the pandemic and economic crisis, as well as reversing four years of damage.

  “But experience is not always a good thing. Specifically, past experience is not beneficial in a policy area like education, where the President-elect has promised to set a new course. The Obama-era Department of Education, led by Arne Duncan and then John King, had largely continued the test-based accountability and charter-school policies of the George W. Bush administration. These policies are rooted in beliefs that educators and students lack sufficient motivation to work hard, to demand universal excellence, or to efficiently use existing resources.

  “Candidate Biden and the Democratic Party Platform promised to shift education policy away from this old thinking — and to instead focus on closing resource gaps and opportunity gaps. While Duncan and, particularly, King took some positive steps in the area of civil rights, their overall approach was inconsistent with the direction the President-elect has promised. Their experience, and the experience of their deputies and lieutenants, comes with far too much baggage.

  “If experience were truly crucial, then President-elect Biden should choose the person currently leading the Department: Betsy DeVos. That suggestion is absurd. … The effectiveness of the nominee will depend on experience as well as a host of other characteristics: honesty, vision, leadership, communication skills, connections with the larger community, intellect, etc. But effectiveness is only valuable if the goal is valuable.

  “The Biden team is fortunate to be able to choose any of a number of highly qualified progressive educators for Secretary of Education and other top Department of Education posts, including Dr. Kevin Kumashiro — who has been endorsed already by more than 1,000 educators and organizations.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167


UNDER the TREE, a seminar on freedom, Podcast, Episode #16

December 2, 2020

The work of the world

Joblessness is sky-rocketing, unnecessary suffering on the rise, even as we see plainly that there’s an endless amount of real work to be done: repairing the infrastructure, creating livable housing, improving the parks and public spaces, caring for the children and the elders, cleaning the environment, growing our food, and more. The “jobs economy” enthrones profit as it disconnects work from basic human needs—it’s called capitalism. Our guest today is the preeminent labor organizer, trade unionist, racial and economic justice activist Bill Fletcher, Jr., author of “They’re Bank­rupt­ing Us” and Twenty Other Myths about Unions.


December 2, 2020

Rise up for a Secretary of Education who believes in public schools as a human right and a community responsibility, and someone who understands teaching from the inside. The top two names for DoE that are out there are Kevin Kumashiro and Gloria Ladson-Billings—send them both and clean up the mess.

Brother Fred again:

The insidious Betsy and Dick DeVos.Departing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos blasted student debt forgiveness in what was likely her last major policy speech, calling proposals like free college and the cancellation of student loan debt “truly insidious.”

“We’ve heard shrill calls to cancel, to forgive, to make it all free. Any innocuous label out there can’t obfuscate what it really is: wrong.”DeVos called it, “The truly insidious notion of government gift giving.”

Well, she would know something about government gift giving. CNBC reported:Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her family are among the groups that have seen an income boon of millions through their own investments since Trump’s tax reform plan was signed, according to her latest annual financial disclosure report.In 2018, DeVos’ total income had a valuation of at least $33 million through assets listed on her most recent public filing. The valuation of those assets was between about $200 million and $600 million. All while she was Secretary of Education.

But where do the Democrats stand on student debt forgiveness?

Everywhere and all over the place.

Some prefer canceling student loans up to $10,000 or only for people from certain income brackets, while others prefer free college be specifically for community college enrollment and not extend to four-year public colleges and universities. Biden, for example, has proposed eliminating the cost of tuition and fees at community colleges and erasing $10,000 in student debt for all borrowers. He’s also pitched establishing an income-contingent repayment plan capped at 5% of a person’s income, and, for those seeking public service careers, he’d proposed forgiving $10,000 of student debt for every year of service, up to five years.Compare that to Warren, whose preference is to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities as well as erase student loan debt for 95% of borrowers.

Progressives in the Democratic Party and many economists believe that the broadest possible student debt forgiveness plan would be a huge boost to the post-pandemic economy.

But unless the Democrats get it together, Betsy has nothing to worry about.And that is what is insidious.


Gloria Ladson-Billings and Kevin Kumashiro for DoE

December 1, 2020

Arne Duncan tweeted out a series of questions about schools and justice yesterday, and Fred Klonsky offered this masterful response:
Waiting for the Secretary of Education.by Fred Klonsky
Arne Duncan tweets like he never had the job.It was disturbing to read the Arne Duncan tweet yesterday.
Although it was classic Arne, including words like “rigor” and “successful teachers,” without ever having to define what that all means.
When Arne was Obama’s Secretary of Education it was all about accountability as a race to the top, measured by test scores.
Federal funding was distributed on the basis of how students performed on standardized tests.
Test scores defined the successful teacher.
In Illinois, in order to even apply for a Race to the Top federal grant, laws were passed by the state legislature that tied teacher evaluation to individual student test scores.
Innovative teaching became the enemy of a good teacher performance review.
Then came Betsy DeVos. Her four year tenure as Secretary of Education was a full on assault on public schools and public school teachers. It went way beyond testing.
Now, with the departure of Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, we are waiting to hear who Joe Biden will pick.
Corporatist Democrats like Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) are pushing for Duncan redux.
“Our primary goal is to persuade Biden to support — and to appoint a Secretary of Education who supports — innovation, public-school choice, and accountability,” DFER’s president Shavar Jeffries is quoted in Chalkbeat.
This is the language of Duncan.
For Duncan innovation didn’t start with the teacher in the classroom, but in a prescriptive common core.
Choice was all about the destruction of neighborhood schools.
Accountability was code for a torrent of testing.
We need a Secretary of Education who not only reversees the destructive four years of Betsy DeVos. We need a Secretary of Education who can have the federal government support a public school revival in the post pandemic era, unfettered by Duncan-like constraints.