A judge in Guilford County, North Carolina, ruled that the district and Wake County do not have to comply with a state law intended to take away tenure.

It’s not yet clear whether e the ruling applies statewide or only to the districts that opposed the law.

But for now, teachers view it as vindication of their claim that the law violates the state constitution.

Districts were supposed to offer $500 a year for the top 25% of their teachers if they abandoned due process rights.

“RALEIGH, N.C. — A Guilford County judge on Wednesday halted a requirement that North Carolina school districts offer a quarter of their teachers multi-year contracts as an enticement for them to give up their so-called “career status” protections.

“Special Superior Court Judge Richard Doughton issued an injunction that allows Guilford County Schools to evade the requirement, which lawmakers passed last year as part of the state budget.

“Durham Public Schools last month joined a lawsuit filed by the Guilford County school district, and more than a quarter of the 115 school districts statewide have expressed opposition to contract requirement.

“Under career status, commonly referred to as tenure, veteran teachers are given extra due process rights, including the right to a hearing if they are disciplined or fired.

“Lawmakers asked school districts to identify the top 25 percent of their teachers and offer them new four-year contracts with $500 annual salary increases. In exchange, those teachers would lose their tenure rights. The provision aims to move North Carolina to a performance-based system for paying teachers instead of one based on longevity.

“A spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who initially crafted the tenure elimination proposal, said legislative leaders plan to seek an appeal of Doughton’s injunction.

“It is hard to fathom why a single judge and a small group of government bureaucrats would try to deny top-performing teachers from receiving a well-deserved pay raise,” Amy Auth said in an email. “We will appeal this legal roadblock and continue to fight for pay increases for our best teachers.”

Because if low pay and the legislsture’s attacks on teachers, North Carolina has experienced unprecedented resignations among veteran teachers. The legislature, for example, abolished the respected five-year NC Teaching Fellows program while allotting $5 million to TFA.

When the union-busting Wall Street crowd gathers with Governor Cuomo at their pretentious “Camp Philos,” there won’t be any public. School parents or teachers there. The few willing and able to fork over $1,000 were told they were not welcome. So Cuomo and his buddies want to “reform” public schools without the voices of those who matter most: Students, patents, and teachers.

The New York State United Teachers plans to picket their exclusive gabfest. Message: our public schools are not for sale.

« View Resources

Picket in the Pines! Put the PUBLIC back in public education!

Sunday, May 4, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Lake Placid, NY.
Register online: http://www.cvent.com/d/h4qslh
RSVP via Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/234136926786807

WHY:

Education Reform Now, a union-bashing “reform” group run by Wall Street hedge fund managers, is hosting a retreat at Lake Placid May 4-6. The hedge-funders’ deep-pocket Political Action Committee – Democrats for Education Reform – also will hobnob at the $1,000-a-head “Camp Philos.”

These groups promote non-union charter schools, overreliance on standardized tests and Common Core, student-data collection, vouchers, merit pay, test-based teacher evaluations, privatization, and removing teacher unions from almost any role in shaping curriculum or determining working conditions.

ACT:

Picket in the pines to put the “public” back in public education! For too long, so-called “reformers” have drowned out the voices of parents and teachers. These hedge-fund propagandists have contributed to New York State’s Common Core mess, the (failed) In-Bloom push for student data, and the spread of corporate charters that undermine public schools serving all kids.

WHEN:

Sunday, May 4, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE:

Meet at the Comfort Inn
2125 Saranac Ave
Lake Placid, N.Y. 12946

REGISTER ONLINE:

Register online at http://www.cvent.com/d/h4qslh.

The deadline to register is Wednesday, April 30.

Based on participation and need, buses from NYSUT Regional Offices will be made available.

SPREAD THE WORD:

Promote via Twitter. Use the hashtag #picketinthepines.

RSVP via the official Facebook event – and share with your friends!

TENTATIVE PROGRAM:

1-2 p.m.
Lunch

2-3:30 p.m.
Presentation by Sabrina Stevens of Integrity in Education

3-4 p.m.
Picket Sign-In and Sign Making

4-5 p.m.
Picketing at the Whiteface Lodge where Education Reform Now and DFER are meeting

See you there!

Picket in the Pines:

According to the first filing of spending in the Newark race for Mayor, the hedge fund managers’ group Education Reform Now has given $850,000 to Shavar Jeffries, a charter school supporter.

Jeffries’ spending is about triple the spending of his chief opponent Ras Baraka, and the gap is expected to grow given the deep pockets of Jeffries’ supporters on Wall Street.

The Network for Public Education has endorsed Ras Baraka for mayor, in light of his opposition to closing public schools. He is a high school principal and a member of the City Council of Newark.

 

 

 

 

Alex Pareene does a demolition job on almost the entire staff of the New York Times’ opinion page.

That page is the most valuable space in American journalism today, yet several of the regulars seem to have grown stale and lazy, recycling opinions based on little more than gossip they heard at the latest high-powered cocktail party or something that Bill Gates–who knows everything–may have said in the last few weeks or months.

Pareene singles out David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, and Thomas Friedman for his special scorn.

I must say I appreciate Paul Krugman, a Nobel-prize winning economist who pays close attention to the growing inequality in our nation.

And Charles Blow often has original contributions.

But Pareene’s beef is that the columnists he singles out have grown stale and boring.

Opinion columnists are expected to have an opinion on everything, even topics about which they are woefully uninformed.

Since they write so often, they don’t have time to do research and they are too self-confident to check with other knowledgeable sources, so they just echo conventional wisdom.

Not a one of the columnists singled out by Pareene has even the slightest understanding of American education or the issues that are now creating upheaval and chaos in our nation’s schools.

Maybe they just don’t care.

It is not as if education is an unimportant issue. It’s just that to the Times’ opinion writers, it doesn’t matter, even though it will have a huge impact on our future.

No one can know everything about everything. The Times should eliminate tenure for their opinion writers and recycle them, perhaps with Write for America temps.

At least, they would have some fresh ideas and opinions. And in a few months, or a year, they would be gone.

 

A report released by Representative James R. Roebuck, chair of the House Education Committee, found that one of every six charters in the state is “high-performing.

None of the state’s cyber charters is high-performing.

Pennsylvania has 162 brick-and-mortar charters, with 86 in Philadelphia. It has 14 cyber charters.

Representative Roebuck recommended that public schools might learn from the practices of the state’s 28 high-performing charters.

Public schools outperform charter schools. Cyber charters perform worst of all schools. Charter schools, with a few exceptions, do not improve their performance over time. The report says:

 

“In terms of school performance, in 2013 the state changed how it measures academic performance of schools from Adequate Yearly progress to a School Performance Score on the new School Performance Profiles. Although the measures have changed on average, charter schools, particularly cyber charter schools, still perform academically worse than other traditional public schools. For 2012-2013, based on a scale of 100, the average SPP score for traditional public schools was 77.1, for charter schools 66.4 and for cyber charter schools 46.8. None of the 14 cyber charter schools had SPP scores over 70, considered the minimal level of academic success and 8 cyber charter schools had SPP scores below 50.

These results mirror results in both the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school year where traditional public schools performed better than charter schools and significantly better than cyber charter schools in terms of achieving Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the federal school performance standard established under the federal No Child Left Behind law. AYP is determined by student academic performance on state reading and math assessments (PSSAs).

For 2010-11, while 94% of school districts met AYP, 75% of public schools met AYP. In contrast, only 61% of charter schools met AYP and only two of the 12 cyber charter schools met AYP.

The percentage of students performing at grade level in Math and Reading in order for a school to achieve AYP increased from 67% of students in Math in 2010-2011 to 78% in 2011-2012 and increased from 72% in Reading in 2010-2011 to 81% in 2011-2012. This resulted in reducing the percentage of all public schools achieving AYP in 2011-12 with larger declines for charter and cyber charter schools.

For 2011-12, while 61% of school districts met AYP, 50% of public schools met AYP. In stark contrast, only 29% of charter schools met AYP and none of the 12 cyber charter schools met AYP.

Performance of Charter Schools Based on How Long They Have Existed

In looking at the performance of just brick-and-mortar charter schools, their results do not significantly improve the longer that a charter school has been open. Fifty percent of brick-and-mortar charter schools have now been open for ten years or more. Unfortunately, for 2012-2013, a majority, 51%, of the charter school open 10 years or more have SPP scores below 70. While this is better than those charter schools opened within the last 3 years, where 85% have SPP scores below 70, these results are not encouraging and it raises concerns about renewing many charters with poor performance over so many years.

Charter schools in the Philadelphia school district do slightly better that charter schools located outside Philadelphia the longer that they have been opened, with 52% of charters open 10 years or more in Philadelphia having SPP scores above 70. In contrast, none of the 10 Philadelphia charters open 3 years or less has an SPP score above 70.

For cyber charter schools, no cyber school, no matter how long they have been open has an SPP score above 70.

 

The report recommends that the state’s 28 high-performing charters might serve as a model. It says:

“Twenty-eight of the 163 charter schools had SPP scores of 80 or above. When examining the characteristics of these high performing charter schools there are certain common characteristics amongst the 28 charter schools. What is most common is that they offer innovative education programs with most of them focused on a specific approach to education instruction or a specific academic area of instructional focus. Three offer the Montessori approach to instruction, many offer longer school days and more days of schools and many offer more individualized education programs. These charter schools also tend to be smaller with less than 1,000 students in part because more of them are elementary schools. Only seven out of the 28 had enrollments more than 1,000 students and only two of the 28 schools serve only a high school population, though there are five charter schools that serve K-12 grades.

“These charter schools also serve significantly fewer special education students than traditional students. Only two of these 28 high performing charter schools have a special education student population greater than the 15% average of traditional public schools. Further, as noted in the 2013 Special Education Funding Commission report, charter school enroll significantly less special education students with severe disabilities than traditional public schools.”

Half of the 28 high-performing charter schools enroll 10% or fewer students with disabilities.

Two interesting findings emerge from this report. One, it echoes the 2009 CREDO report that found that only one of every six charters was high-performing. Two, it echoed previous studies that found that cyber charters get abysmal academic results. It also found that a significant number of students in cyber charters were previously home schooling, meaning that money is siphoned out of the districts’ budgets to pay the sponsors of the cyber charter for their low-quality services to homeschooled students.

Representative Roebuck recommends that the state’s schools can learn from the examples of the 28 high-performing charters. One lesson: accept small numbers of students with disabilities (nothing is said about the nature of disabilities, as many charters do not accept those children with the most challenging disabilities). Given the large proportion of low-performing charter schools, it would have seemed apt to recommend that the charter sector might learn from high-performing public schools. One lesson from high-performing public schools: it is better to have 100% of your teachers certified, not 75%.

Susan Ochshorn is an advocate for early childhood education who keeps track of the good and bad developments affecting young children. She is, needless to say, appalled by the increasing emphasis on academic activities and testing in the early years.

So this is the reason she nearly dropped her iPhone. She opened her phone screen one day recently and discovered an article in Forbes magazine extolling the virtues of PLAY. You read that right. Forbes, the self-proclaimed capitalist tool, published an article on the value of play as a generative force for creativity and entrepreneurship.

John Converse Townsend, the media manager for Ashoka, wrote that: “In order for our global society to develop solutions to pressing problems in an increasingly technology-driven and constantly changing world, we need to re-train our workforce to do what machines can’t: to be enterprising, independent and strategic thinkers—to be purposeful creators.”

He concludes: “If we want a better, smarter planet, we need to change the way the next generation children are taught. Allowing more students to grow up without those prosocial, exploratory skills, leaving them unable to reach their potential, would be criminal.

“Play can deliver.

“What are we waiting for?”

No wonder Susan nearly dropped her iPhone.

The Miami Herald reports that the U.S. Department of Education’s Inspector General is reviewing the business practices of the Academica charter chain, a for-profit and highly profitable charter chain.

 

Ironically, at the same time, the charter-friendly Florida legislature is considering legislation that would weaken district oversight of charter school corporations. The charter industry makes substantial campaign contributions to political candidates, and Academica has family members elected to important positions in the legislature. Academic controls a real estate portfolio estimated to be worth more than $100 million. The rapper Pitbull’s new charter is part of the Academica chain.

 

The Education Department’s Inspector General Office is auditing the South Miami-based Academica Corp. as part of a broader examination of school management companies nationwide. The audit will be complete this summer, department spokeswoman Catherine Grant said.

 

A preliminary audit report obtained by the Herald/Times identified potential conflicts of interest between the for-profit company Academica and the Mater Academy charter schools it manages. One example the auditors cited was the transfer of money from Mater Academy to its private support organization, which shares the same board of directors.

 

Asked about the potential conflicts of interest raised in the report, Academica attorney Marcos Daniel Jiménez, in an email to the Herald/Times, touted the charter-school network’s academic record and commitment to its students….

 

Under current law, school districts have the authority to negotiate contracts with new charter schools. HB 7083 would mandate the use of a standardized contract, meaning school districts would give up most of their leverage…..

 

Academica oversees almost 100 charter and virtual charter schools in Florida, according to its website. It also manages schools in Texas, Nevada, Utah, California and Washington, D.C.

 

The preliminary audit report homes in on the Mater Academy family of schools in Miami-Dade County.

 

Academica President Fernando Zulueta founded the original Mater Academy in 1998, and was a member of its governing board until September 2004, auditors wrote.

 

The auditors found that three of the schools in the Mater network — Mater Academy, Mater High and Mater East — entered into leases with development companies tied to the Zulueta family. Two of the leases were executed while Zulueta sat on the Mater board.

 

In addition, Mater Academy hired an architectural firm from 2007 through 2012 that employs Fernando Zulueta’s brother-in-law, state Rep. Erik Fresen, the report said.

 

“We identified four related-party transactions, two of which indicated, at a minimum, the appearance of conflicts of interest between Mater Academy and its CMO [charter-management company],” the Mater Academy in Hialeah Gardens and its nonprofit support organization, Mater Academy Foundation.

“Mater Academy shares the same board of directors with the foundation and based on our review of the board of directors meeting minutes at Mater Academy, there is evidence of Mater Academy’s board of directors transferring public funds to the foundation,” the auditors noted….

 

Charter-school critics said the inspector general’s findings were a reason to push back on HB 7083, the bill that could weaken the power of school districts over new charter schools….

 

Jeff Wright, of the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers’ union, agreed. “If an audit like this is going on, the Legislature should not give charter schools more opportunities to game the system,” he said.

 

But Rep. Manny Diaz, the Hialeah Republican sponsoring the bill, said his proposal would not open the door to questionable business practices.

 

“This is not about opening up the Wild Wild West,” said Diaz, who left his job with the Miami-Dade school district last year to become dean of an Academica-managed private college. “We want there to be controls [over charter schools]. We just want to make sure the controls are uniform and transparent.”

 

The bill, which also would require school systems to share underutilized facilities with charter schools, is scheduled to be heard on the House floor Monday. The Senate version (SB 1512) has been watered down, and now does little more than clarify that military commanders can help establish charter schools on their bases.

 

 

 

ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) is an organization founded in 1973 to promote free-market ideas throughout society. ALEC has about 2,000 members who belong to state legislatures. It is funded by major corporations. Its purpose is to write model legislation that members can bring back to their state, to spread the gospel of ALEC. It supports charters, vouchers, online charters–all forms of privatization. It opposes collective bargaining. It does not believe in due process rights for teachers or any form of job security for public employees. It does not support local control, as it promotes laws that allow state commissions to override decisions by local school boards if they deny charters to private groups.

Among its proposals is the third grade reading guarantee, in which children are flunked if they don’t pass the third grade reading test. What this has to do with free-market capitalism is beyond my understanding. It is punitive towards little children, putting more faith in a test than in teachers’ judgement. There is no research to support this policy, but we know already that zealots are unimpressed by research or evidence.

Here is a comment by faithful reader Chiara Duggan of Zohio:

“This is the ALEC model bill on high stakes testing in third grade.

“It’s nearly identical to Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee:

“C) Beginning with the 20XX-20XY school year, if the student’s reading deficiency, as identified in paragraph (a), is not remedied by the end of grade 3, as demonstrated by scoring at Level 2 or higher on the state annual accountability assessment in reading for grade 3, the student must be retained.

“Just shameful that adult lawmakers were purchased by this lobbying group, and third graders will be paying the price.

http://www.alec.org/model-legislation/the-a-plus-literacy-act/”

Wendy Davis is running for Governor of Texas. She is going after the testing industry, which spends big-time for lobbyists to make sure that no child is left untested, even children in pre-school.

From: Wendy Davis for Governor
Date: April 22, 2014 at 8:34:08 AM
Subject: Davis Campaign Files Open Records Request on Abbott and Testing Industry
Reply-To: press@wendydavistexas.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2014
Contact: Rebecca Acuña: (956) 206-5853
Wendy R. Davis for Governor Campaign

Davis Campaign Files Open Records Request on Abbott and Testing Industry

“Greg Abbott’s so-called education plan is nothing but a big wet kiss to Texas’ standardized testing industry,” said communications director Zac Petkanas.

Fort Worth, TX: Greg Abbott’s education plan calls for imposing high-stakes standardized tests onto four year olds in pre-K and ties those test results to education funding. The Wendy Davis Campaign yesterday filed an open records request seeking any communication between the Office of the Attorney General and companies tied to the standardized testing industry.

The open records request asked for the prompt production of the following information (regardless of physical form and including but not limited to invoices, receipts, billing statements, e-mails, letters, memoranda, agendas, calendars, schedules, faxes, fax cover sheets, phone calls, phone messages, etc..) held by the Office of the Attorney General:

1. Any and all communications between Attorney General Greg Abbott and /or the Office of the Attorney General and agents NCS Pearson, Inc., Pearson, Inc. or Pearson Education

2. Any and all TPIA requests and responsive documents mentioning “NCS Pearson, Inc.”, “Pearson, Inc.”, or “Pearson Education” since January 2013.”

“Greg Abbott’s so-called education plan is nothing but a big wet kiss to Texas’ standardized testing industry,” said communications director Zac Petkanas. “His plan imposes standardized tests onto four year olds in order to pick and choose who gets access to a quality education and who does not. In the interest of transparency, Greg Abbott should make all communication between his office and representatives of the standardized testing industry public. Texans deserve to know how the testing industry is influencing Greg Abbott’s controversial pre-k plan.”

Here’s what the Texas press corps has said about Greg Abbott’s plan to impose standardized testing onto 4 year olds:
“The $118 million Abbott plan calls for lawmakers to require school districts with preK programs to administer assessments at the beginning and end of the school year in an effort to measure the quality of such programs. One of those assessments referenced in Abbott’s plan is standardized testing.” –Corpus Christi Caller-Times

“One of the candidates’ biggest slug-fests over Pre-K has focused on Abbott’s call for assessing what these four-year olds have learned and how that would be done. A paragraph in Abbott’s 22- page plan says standardized testing is one way of doing that.” — KERA

“Abbott also proposes that school districts meet a “gold standard” as an incentive for funding. That involves measurement, which is another way of saying testing” – Corpus Christi Caller-Times

“That would include testing and other measurements to ensure that instruction in those classes is effective.” –Dallas Morning News
“Sabo also cautioned against placing too much emphasis on testing for such young children.’ The last thing Texas needs is Baby STAAR.’”– Austin American Statesman

“Districts being funded by the state would also be required to test each pre-K student for benchmarks.” – Texas Public Radio

“Abbott’s plan would grant an additional $1500 per pre-k student in districts that agree to meet new “gold” standards, a determination that would be made through testing and other assessments.” – KUT

###

EduShyster visited the University of Chicago Lab School, where Arne Duncan was a student from K-12, thirteen years.

She met his favorite teacher, who has been teaching for 49 years.

She searched for the secret sauce that makes him tick.

She would have been better off searching for whatever ingredient led him to look upon public schools with such disdain.

Perhaps she found it. It is just a stone’s throw away.

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