Trump’s anti-education DeVos and United States teachers

This satiric video from the USA says about itself:

10 February 2017

Jimmy [Fallon] speaks with new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about her plans for America’s public schools, including getting rid of textbooks.

By Nancy Hanover in the USA:

“If you don’t have an education, you don’t have a life”

Teachers speak out on the schools crisis and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

23 February 2017

New US Education Secretary billionaire Betsy DeVos has lost no time in making known her ideological opposition to public education, contempt for educators and hostility to democratic rights.

Her installation has evoked strong opposition to teachers, who rightly see DeVos as the spearhead of a ramped up attack at all levels on public education.

Following her narrow Cabinet confirmation, DeVos’ first appearance was a brief visit to a public school, Washington DC’s Jefferson Middle School Academy, on February 10. Her arrival was greeted with protests by parents and teachers, temporarily preventing her from entering into the school.

Speaking to the press after the visit, DeVos insulted the teachers, haughtily characterized them as in “receive mode” … “waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child.” She has routinely referred to public schools as a “dead end”.

In a subsequent interview with the right-wing news site Townhall, DeVos alleged the protests were “not genuine”. “We’ve seen enough written that they want to make my life a living hell”, she added. …

DeVos has now made the highly unusual and expensive demand that she be accompanied by US federal marshals for the foreseeable future. No Cabinet-level secretary has requested a similar level of protection since at least 2009.

The secretary is not just fearful of protesting teachers, she also issued a not-so-veiled threat that any Education Department employees who try to “subvert the mission” (her pro-privatization agenda) would be attended to “swiftly and surely”, according to Townhall.

For his part, President Trump reiterated his support for privatization at a White House “listening session” with a handpicked group of parents on February 14. Trump, with DeVos at his side, described charter schools as “fantastic”, “amazing” and “unbelievable”. He has pledged $20 billion of federal dollars for school vouchers through block grants to the states or a federally funded scholarship tax credit program written into the tax code.

In an interview with Axios published February 17, DeVos stated that she would “be fine” with the abolition of the Department of Education and predicted the flowering of all types of schools except public ones. “I expect there will be more public charter schools. I expect there will be more private schools. I expect there will be more virtual schools. I expect there will be more schools of any kind that haven’t even been invented yet.”

Teachers spoke to the WSWS describing their reactions to the Trump administration’s privatization policies, DeVos, the threat to close nearly half of Detroit’s public schools, the failure of the teachers’ unions to stand up for educators and the broader political issues involved in defending democratic rights and public education. …

In the city of Detroit, the DeVos family’s policies have resulted in a wide battery of pro-privatization legislation and the control of 80 percent of charters by for-profit businesses. The growth of charter schools and edubusinesses in DeVos’ home state of Michigan, as elsewhere, proliferated under the Obama administration’s Race to the Top.

A young first-year teacher in a Detroit public schools said, “I am not originally from Michigan so I didn’t know much about Betsy DeVos before now. Working in Detroit schools and talking with other educators, I see the effects of her policies already.

“They are trying to shut between 8-10 of the Education Achievement Authority schools and dozens of Detroit Public School Community District schools, some this year and some next.

“From what I heard, the charter districts are already looking to buy these schools. That’s how underhanded things are already. Charters have had a terrible effect on Detroit. With DeVos in office, what I’ve seen will happen all around the nation.

“In my district, the neighborhood is the worst of the worst. The homes are abandoned; there are fires everywhere. These are ‘forgotten’ neighborhoods, those in poverty.

“We’re got seven-year-olds at pre-K reading levels. Seeing children two years behind is common. Our school is severely underfunded with computers. My children get no time with computers, but they need to because the tests are all online. The computer testing starts in kindergarten.

“Then bonuses are paid to the teachers based on the test scores and if there has been ‘student growth’. Attendance is a big problem. Often kids are gone for six or seven days, then in school for two. It’s really hard to make gains like that.”

The elementary teacher added her strong opposition to the administration’s attacks on immigrants. “As an undergraduate, I studied Spanish and my parents suggested I become an ICE officer. I wouldn’t because I didn’t want to send anyone back. It’s so deplorable. No one is a native here, unless you are Native American, and we see how they are treated.

“The claims that immigrants are taking jobs are just used to fuel the fire. They want to use this hot button issue to change what people are focusing on, like cutting the EPA, women’s rights or the national parks. Deporting people goes against basic fundamental human rights and even how our country was founded. I can’t even believe this is happening in 2017.”

Beverly, a Detroit Community Public Schools District teacher, said: “I am in one of the priority schools but it’s not on the list for closure. I try to speak out and be positive.

“What a lot of people fail to understand about the school closures is that it is not just academics which can put a school on the list, but also attendance. If the children don’t come to school for whatever reason—their transportation breaks down, their parent has to go to work—the school can be put on the list and the school be closed.

“A school can have most of the children improving, say 90 percent, but if that other 10 percent falls, this will pull the scores down. That can be another reason the school is judged not to meet Annual Yearly Progress.

“If there is no education and people don’t have financial means, a sociological change takes place. They can turn to stealing to find food. I try to be positive, but the powers-that-be, the political people in charge, are more concerned with their riches.

Senegalese children learn about birds

This 2010 German language video is about birds in the Djoudj National Park in Senegal.

From BirdLife:

Children taught to identify and count birds in Senegal

By Blandine Melis, 1 Feb 2017

Studies have shown that children learn to love and connect much more easily with nature than adults because they naturally explore and learn through social engagements.

In an effort to get children interested in bird conservation and provide practical and sustainable solutions that will benefit nature and people in the future, BirdLife International experts and other conservation stakeholders in Senegal have given kids the opportunity to develop a lasting interest in bird science.

On 15 January 2017, during events marking the International Waterbird Count Day in Senegal, ornithologists invited 16 students to participate and connect with nature. The children were selected from four schools in the Kalissaye Ornithological Nature Reserve in southern Senegal and they accompanied rangers to the field where they identified and counted birds in the Casamance area.

“The young people, accompanied by a Life and Earth Science teacher from Hillol Middle School were quick to grasp the skills and became ‘budding scientists’. They learned very quickly how to use binoculars, recognize criteria of bird identification and complete an observation collection protocol adapted to their capacity,” explained Blandine Mélis, BirdLife’s Conservation and Migratory Birds (CMB) Project Communications Officer for West Africa.

The children benefitted from the expertise of members of a potential BirdLife partner organisation in Senegal, the Association Nature-Communautés Développement supported by BirdLife’s CMB team in West Africa.

After the bird count exercise on the boat, a drawing competition took place on the beach where the children made very creative and high quality drawings inspired by their curiosity.

Through the CMB project, BirdLife international has strengthened networks and promoted the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats along the west coast of Africa. The Casamance event was part of a bigger environmental education program within the project, expected to last for a period of about two years in the protected site.

The BirdLife CMB project partnership with the Association Nature-Communautés Développement, has committed to facilitate the discovery of the territory in the Kalissaye Reserve and ensure that young people are properly involved in the management of the Reserve.

The project has developed a sustainable plan to ensure that these young people participate in several other practical activities in the future. These activities will include the “I don’t like garbage day”, which is a day set aside for waste collection to keep the environment clean. The children will also take part in reforestation activities and establish tree nurseries, as well as other actions that promote the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats along the west coast of Africa.

Wildlife clubs will also be created in schools outside the protected area to raise awareness and educate many more children on the importance of conserving birds and their habitats. Through these clubs, the school children will be encouraged to compete with their mates in different domains that can boost their curiosity and make them more resourceful. These competitions will guide the children to draw, write poems, sing and develop short sketches for conservation of nature and biodiversity, and protection of the ecosystem services.

British pro-badger children, ‘terrorists’?

This video from England is called Chester Badger Cull Protest March 10th Dec 2016 filmed by Diane Bartlett.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Ofsted puts pressure on teachers to report kids

Thursday 2nd February 2017

CHILDREN are being referred to the government’s anti-terror programme Prevent by teachers who fear their schools will be marked down by Ofsted, MPs heard yesterday.

The warning came from Tory MP Lucy Allan, also a school governor, who led a Westminster Hall debate on the implementation of the government’s Prevent strategy, which has been condemned as racist.

For focusing on Muslims, while letting white supremacists off the hook. Somewhat like Donald Trump’s new plans on ‘terrorism’ in the USA.

She said teachers are dreaming up scenarios which might justify referring a pupil as schools now have a legal duty to prevent children being drawn into terrorism.

Children who have been taken on anti-badger-cull marches or Fathers4Justice demonstrations are being suggested for referral, Ms Allan warned.

She said it is clear the government’s flagship anti-terror strategy “is not working” and felt to be intrusive by the communities affected.

Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi said Prevent is a waste of money and time, and is stigmatising communities.

Washington, USA protest against Trump, Betsy DeVos

This video from the USA says about itself:

19 January 2017

TYT Politics Reporter Nomiki Konst Visits Anne Beer Elementary [school] in Washington, D.C as Teachers Host A Day Of Action Protest to Reject the Nomination [by Donald Trump of] Betsy DeVos.

Speaker At Group Supported By Betsy DeVos Says Hitler Was Good At Reaching Children: here.

9 Teachers On Why They Oppose Betsy DeVos As Education Secretary: here.

TWO REPUBLICAN SENATORS WILL VOTE AGAINST BETSY DEVOS’ CONFIRMATION FOR EDUCATION SECRETARY Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) announced they will not be voting for the controversial education secretary pick. Only one more “no” vote is needed for her nomination to be thwarted — which would only be the second time in history a first-time president’s Cabinet nomination had been rejected. [HuffPost]

Betsy DeVos Ekes Out Confirmation As VP Casts First Tie-Breaker For Cabinet Post. Two Republicans joined the Senate’s 48 Democrats in opposing the secretary of education: here.

25,000 Hit The Streets In Massive New York City Anti-Trump Rally Hours Before Inauguration Day. Michael Moore, Robert De Niro and several other high-profile figures spoke at the peaceful demonstration Thursday night: here.

TRUMP MAY SHUTTER NATIONAL ENDOWMENT OF THE ARTS AND THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES Arts groups are calling the potential move a sign of the “new Dark Ages.” Public broadcasting funds are also in jeopardy. [HuffPost]