Archives for category: Accountability

Andy Smarick, a partner at Bellweather Associates, a senior fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a former deputy commissioner of education in New Jersey for Governor Christie, and a man with a long list of other affiliations with conservative groups and politicians, loves charter schools. he sees them as the wave of the future, replacing “failing” public schools in urban and suburban areas and bringing everyone the excellence that thus far has been elusive.

Smarick sees two conversations going on today about charter schools. To one side are those like himself who are trying to figure out the new paradigm of schooling, in which privately-managed charter schools are a permanent part of the landscape. This conversation deals with finance, governance, how to get it right. It assumes that charter schools are a permanent part of the landscape and the question to be solved is one of tinkering.

On the other side are people who worry about whether charter schools are a blight that damages public education and should be closely scrutinized for their finances, their boasts, and their policies governing admissions and suspensions. This side refers to hedge fund managers, privateers, and exorbitant executive salaries, and makes big headlines out of what Smarick considers the extraordinary miscreant.

One could match anecdote with anecdote, but more important are questions about deregulation, about exclusion of students with disabilities and English language learners, lack of transparency, and lack of accountability by charter schools that refuse to tell the state or even their own boards how public money is spent. Will American education improve if more public money is shifted to non-educators who hire uncertified teachers and whose use of public money is not disclosed?

One of the most corrupt states in the nation, in relation to charter schools, is Ohio, where the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is legally headquartered and authorizes charter schools (none of its charter schools have been implicated in the major scandals.) the governor and the legislature receive handsome contributions from the charter industry. A recent article in the Columbus Dispatch written by Denis Smith, former overseer of charter schools for the Ohio State Department of Education, makes a valuable counterpoint to Smarick’s complaint about charter critics. Denis Smith writes about 19 Gulen-associated schools now under investigation.

Smith writes:

“At a State Board of Education meeting this week, four former charter-school teachers testified on alleged unlawful conduct at Horizon Science Academy Dayton High School, including what The Dispatch described as “test cheating, attendance tampering, sexual misconduct and other misdeeds…….”

What the State Board heard from the teachers helped to shed light on a chain of 19 schools in Ohio managed by an out-of-state operation that staffs these buildings in part by employing Turkish citizens holding H-1B visas.

But what the board didn’t hear is that these same schools are governed by a group of individuals, nearly all men, who may not be “qualified voters” — in other words, American citizens. Or that some of the schools were raided by the FBI last month. Or that the inspiration for these schools is a mysterious exiled Turkish cleric named Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and leads a religious and political movement that seeks to destabilize the government of his native land.

As bizarre as this situation is, the very idea that the Gulen chain are public schools is illustrative of what ails the charter-school industry in Ohio.

Consider these glaring legal loopholes:

• Charter-school administrators are not required to hold any professional licenses or meet even minimal educational requirements.

• Charter-school board members aren’t elected by or responsible to the voters. Some are hand-picked by for-profit management companies runing schools.

• Charter-school board members do not have to be “qualified voters” (citizens) who are registered with the secretary of state’s office in recognition of their status as members of a public board.

• With hand-picked, unelected boards, charter-school administrators can pay themselves exorbitant salaries that can match those of local superintendents responsible for the education of thousands of students in multiple locations.

• Many charter schools employ highly paid administrators but compensate their teachers well below those in other public schools, leading to constant staff turnover.

• The for-profit management companies that operate many charter schools think that their mission and vision (read: profit) supersede the legitimate interests and aspirations of the public.

• Charter schools are exempt from more than 150 provisions of state law that otherwise are applicable to school districts, including a requirement to annually report the names, salaries and credentials of licensed employees to the State Board.

• There are no restrictions on the payment of public funds for recruitment of students, advertising or payment for celebrity endorsements; there is no ban on using public funds earmarked for charter schools for political campaign donations.

The issue confronting this state is not about any individual charter-school chain. It’s that the legislature has created an unregulated, incoherent nightmare that allows for-profit management companies, entrepreneurs, national charter-school chains and ill-prepared developers to operate in a murky industry that ill-serves young people.

If we are to have charter schools in Ohio, their legal basis must be that they exist in similar fashion with public schools, be subject to the same requirements and not be favored by so many questionable exemptions. Chapter 3314 of the Ohio Revised Code that governs the creation and operation of these schools must be scrapped in its entirety.

For these “schools of choice,” we have no other choice.”

In addition to Mr. Smith’s concerns, Ohio and other states should investigate the extraordinary salaries paid to charter CEOs, some of whom are not educators, yet are paid $400,000 or more. And inquire about the lobbyists hired by charter chains to obtain special privileges, or to obtain exemption from accountability. They might ask why charter boards in states like Ohio must sue the charter operator to get financial information. They might be vigilant about the for-profit entrepreneurs who have become multi-millionaires with money intended by taxpayers for schools, not investors. They might ask sharper questions about community public schools that lose resources to shady entrepreneurs and ultimately close.

So long as the charter industry buys favoritism from state legislatures, as long as amateurs win public dollars to run inferior schools, as long as virtual charter schools get rich while supplying poor results, there will continue to be critics–and should be.

PS: read Peter Greene on this issue.

Jon Pelto reports that New London, Connecticut, is about to award a lucrative contract as superintendent to a “reformer” who has called himself “Dr.” without having earned a doctorate. Pelto commends Hartford Courant reporter Jon Lender for digging up the story.

Pelto writes:

“For more than eight years, “Dr.” Terrence Carter, the incoming New London superintendent of schools and self-described education reform expert, bragged that he had a Ph.D.

“At one point, Carter’s bio materials claimed that he had a doctorate from Stanford University.

“In another article his doctorate came from a joint program between Stanford and Oxford.

“And more recently he claimed his doctorate was from Lesley University.

“But it was all a lie.

“Interestingly he also claimed that he was hand-picked to be an education reform leader by none-other than the Arne Duncan, President Obama’s anti-teacher, anti-public education, pro-Common Core Secretary of Education.

“In a breaking news story written by the Hartford Courant’s investigative reporter Jon Lender, we now learn that the incoming New London superintendent of schools is an expert —- an expert at falsifying his resume.

“And just watch how the Malloy administration, Commissioner Stefan Pryor, and Special Master Steven Adamowski try to explain this embarrassment.

“After reading the Courant article, one thing is clear.

“The New London Board of Education is scheduled to vote on “Dr.” Terrence Carter’s lucrative contract on Monday night.

“Before that meeting, Malloy and Pryor need to make sure that Carter withdraws his name from consideration.

“And if Malloy and Pryor fail to do that, then the New London Board needs to reject Carter and re-open the search.”

I did not write the following post. It was written by a high-level official at the New York City Department of Education who–for obvious reasons–requires anonymity. The story he tells is instructive. It is about how “reformers” claim victory by manipulating statistics. This is not an accusation directed at the de Blasio administration, but at their predecessors who regularly boasted that the new small high schools got better graduation rates that the large schools they replaced. The Gates Foundation bought this lie and has lauded its “success” in New York City.

 

 

 

 

Reformers Caught Lying. Again. This Time About Graduation Stats.

 

High school graduations are upon us. This is the time of year when parents, students, families, educators and communities celebrate the accomplishments of our high school seniors. It is a time to honor the work the graduates have done and to collectively share their hopes and dreams for the future.

 

At the same time, certain players in the world of education attempt to co-opt this time of year to propagandize for their favored reform policies. The latest example of this is a story about Frank McCourt High School, a small high school in New York City that “will send 97 percent of its first graduating class to college.” The story goes on to note that this school, along with 3 others, replaced a larger high school “which suffered from dismal academic and attendance records.” The reader is asked to believe one little and one big lie.

 

Let’s first take a look at the little lie. Does this school, in fact, have a 97% graduation/college going rate? The truth is that, on any reasonable calculation, it does not. According to the New York State data the cohort started with 100 freshmen. By sophomore year only 88 students remained. By junior year only 80. And by senior year only 69. Of these 69 survivors 67 are graduating. Seems more like a twisted version of the Hunger Games than a school for all students. One wonders: Where did the other 33 students go? Why does the media publicize such meaningless numbers without giving the full story? By now this trick should be well-known. A school that removes large numbers of students from its cohort should not be celebrated for its test scores or graduation rate. It is an artifact of arithmetic. If a school kicks out students with low test scores, it will have high test scores among the surviving students. If a school culls the students not on track to graduate it will have a high graduation rate among the surviving students.

 

Let’s move on to the big lie. Does this school, in fact, show that the reform strategy of closing large schools and replacing them with other smaller schools works? The full range of data show that it does not, as a number of facts pop-out.

 

There are 4 high schools co-located in the building that used to house Brandeis High School. One school, Innovation Diploma Plus (a “second-chance” school), had a 50.8% graduation rate last year. Another school, the Global Learning Collaborative, had a 52.7% graduation rate last year. Yet another school, the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers had a 39.8% graduation rate last year. We have already examined the claimed 97% graduation rate of the Frank McCourt High School, which also happens to screen its students before admissions.

 

The schools with the lower graduation rates retain almost all of their students. Unlike the school that boasts of its 97% graduation rate, the other three schools stay committed to all their students. Why do reformers refuse to evaluate schools based on their sticking with all their students? We know the answer. It is because charter schools and “miracle” schools will then be publicly exposed as largely frauds. So the metrics used to evaluate schools are deliberately constructed in ways that do not capture cohort retention in order to keep the myth alive. And the media agrees to overlook the tremendously high attrition rates at charter schools and other so-called “miracle” schools.

 

It may come as little surprise that the school with the lowest graduation rate has over 22% more English Language Learners, over 14% more students entering high school already overage, and over 40% more Black/Hispanic students than the school with the highest graduation rate.[i] This sheds some light on another reformer strategy. They like to tout free-market principles as they destroy community schools and create choice systems where students end up sorted into schools based on demographic characteristics and prior academic performance. This is not a solution. It does not improve education for all students. All it does is stick students in different containers, isolated from one another, thereby perpetuating a system of haves and have-nots. It is shocking that the reformers, who proclaim education the civil rights issue of our time, would support such an inequitable approach.

 

The total enrollment of all the high schools in the Brandeis High School building is 1,350 students. The shuttered school, Brandeis High School, had over 2,000 students. Where did the missing 600 students go? We know the answer. The missing 600 students were the more challenging students and students who did not get accepted to one of the small choice-in high schools. These students were deliberately sent to a specific group of, usually large, high schools that were then labeled “failures” too and shuttered. The Gates Foundation, an organization that has yet to meet a free-market education reform strategy it doesn’t like, has admitted that the national small school initiative was largely a failure. Despite this, MDRC, a research group in New York City, continues to publish Gates Foundation funded reports claiming that the small schools in New York City work.[ii]

 

It is now clear what New York City was doing during the Bloomberg era. Given the humungous size of the district they were able to play a shell game with students by passing the buck. Instead of figuring out how to reach the most challenging students and helping them succeed, the students were passed from school to school. This inevitably led to a domino effect of school closures. A shell game like this can be played in a district with almost 500 high schools, over two and half times as many as the next largest school district. Since there is a very long chain of dominos the “bad apple” students can be isolated into a specific group of schools making the remaining schools, which don’t accept those students, look good. But, as smaller districts have found out, it is not a workable long-term strategy when there is not an endless supply of schools to be used as sacrificial lambs.

 

Sooner or later the lies about numbers that reformers tell will catch up to them. Educators need to continue to advocate for approaches that are equitable and genuinely seek to improve the educational experience of all students. This includes developing curricula personalized for different students and improving wraparound services that extend beyond school walls. Ultimately, when the accounting fraud that is behind so many education reform initiatives collapses upon itself

 

[i] Frank McCourt has 55% Black/Hispanic students, 1% ELL students, 20.4% IEP students and .7% overage students. Global Learning has 90.3% Black/Hispanic students, 14.7% ELL students, 23% IEP students and 8.5% overage students. Green Careers has 95.6% Black/Hispanic students, 23.6% ELL students, 23.8 IEP students, and 15.15% overage students.

 

[ii] It is worth noting that the combined graduation rate of the 4 schools in the Brandies Building is 58.5% which is lower than the city-wide average of 72%.

Media Advisory: BBA to Hold Press Call on Real vs. Claimed Achievement Trends among DCPS Students

Washington, DC | Jul 8, 2014

On Thursday, July 10 at 11:00 am ET, the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education (BBA) will hold a press call to discuss a new BBA memorandum that assesses achievement trends of District of Columbia Public (DCPS) students. Elaine Weiss, national coordinator of the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education, will provide an in-depth analysis of DCPS/OSSE claims that the percentage of students who are “proficient” and “advanced” by the standards of the DC Comprehensive Assessment System (DC-CAS), the district’s standardized achievement test, has steadily grown. Using both publicly available and non-available DC-CAS data, as well as data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Weiss will show that the true pattern over recent years has been one of little actual progress and substantially widening achievement gaps. Weiss will also highlight important data to look for when DCPS releases the new student scores, and provide key questions to ask. This memo builds on last year’s Market-Oriented Reforms’ Rhetoric Trumps Reality, and will be followed by a full report after 2014 DC-CAS scores are released later this month.

For the past several years, the Office of the State Superintendent for the District of Columbia (OSSE), has released new numbers on the percentage of students who are “proficient” and “advanced” by the standards of the DC Comprehensive Assessment System (DC-CAS), the district’s standardized achievement test. Only selected numbers are released, and DCPS uses them to claim gains in proficiency and progress in closing large achievement gaps. However, the DC-CAS scores are manipulated in ways that make it impossible to understand how raw scores—the number of correct answers on the tests—are translated into scale and “cut” scores—levels of Basic, Proficient, and Advanced – and thus what and how much students are actually learning. Moreover, many key data points and other information are concealed to avoid any bad news.

This memo will illustrate, via an example in a high-profile district, the types of conflicts and problems that inevitably arise when undue pressure is put on student standardized tests. Our hope is that shedding light on the consequences of poorly conceived federal policies, misguided philanthropic contributions, and other pressure will spur a balanced and thoughtful discussion of more effective strategies that would boost all students and their communities, rather than sustaining and exacerbating existing disparities.

To RSVP, email Donte Donald at ddonald@epi.org.

What: Press call on real vs. claimed achievement trends among DCPS students
Who: Elaine Weiss, national coordinator of the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education
When: Thursday, July 10th at 11:00 a.m. ET
Call-in number: 1-800-311-9403
Passcode: 960316

###

ABOUT EPI

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is an independent, nonprofit think tank that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the United States.

Economic Policy Institute
Media Relations Department
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Suite 300, East Tower
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CONTACT

Bob Shepherd posted this reading list on testing.

The list was compiled by Alfie Kohn.

I have a few additions:

Todd Farley, Making the Grades

Banesh Hoffman, The Tyranny of Testing

Phil Harris, The Myth of Standardized Testing

Jim Horn and Denise Wilburn, The Mismeasure of Education

Daniel Koretz, Measuring Up

Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education

Richard Rothstein, Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right

For a short online version of the Rothstein critique that is very powerful, read “Holding Accountability to Account

Here is Alfie Kohn’s list:

The “five fatal flaws” of the Tougher Standards movement are adapted from Alfie Kohn’s book THE SCHOOLS OUR CHILDREN DESERVE, from which a shorter book called THE CASE AGAINST STANDARDIZED TESTING has been spun off.

You may also be interested in a list of essays about standards and testing available on this website.

Other resources:

Two books on standards: WILL STANDARDS SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION?, a short essay by Deborah Meier followed by comments from other thinkers, published by Beacon Press;

ONE SIZE FITS FEW: The Folly of Educational Standards, by Susan Ohanian, published by Heinemann.

A collection of essays about the destructive effects of (and dubious intentions behind) NCLB: MANY CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND (Beacon Press), with contributions by Meier and Kohn as well as Ted Sizer, Linda Darling-Hammond, George Wood, Stan Karp, and Monty Neill of FairTest.

Also on NCLB: WHEN SCHOOL REFORM GOES WRONG by Nel Noddings (Teachers College Press); and ENGLISH LEARNERS LEFT BEHIND: Standardized Testing as Language Policy by Kate Menken (Multilingual Matters).

Also see NoChildLeft.com and this excellent summary of the law and its effects.

Other books about testing:

- Phillip Harris et al., The Myths of Standardized Tests (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011)

- Sharon L. Nichols & David C. Berliner, Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools (Harvard Education Press)

- Sherman Dorn, Accountability Frankenstein: Understanding & Taming the Monster (Information Age, 2007)

- M. Gail Jones et al., The Unintended Consequences of High-Stakes Testing (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003)

- Linda McNeil, Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing (Routledge, 2000)
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Marita Moll, ed., Passing the Test: The False Promises of Standardized Testing (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2004)

- Kathy Swope and Barbara Miner, eds., Failing Our Kids: Why the Testing Craze Won’t Fix Our Schools (Rethinking Schools, 2000)
-

Gary Orfield and Mindy L. Kornhaber, ed., Raising Standards or Raising Barriers?: Inequality and High-Stakes Testing in Public Education (Century Foundation Press, 2001)

- Peter Sacks, Standardized Minds (Perseus, 1999)

- W. James Popham, Testing! Testing!: What Every Parent Should Know About School Tests (Allyn and Bacon, 2000)

- Gerald Bracey, Put to the Test: An Educator’s and Consumer’s Guide to Standardized Testing (Phi Delta Kappa, 1998).

A book about Nebraska’s recently aborted attempt to build assessment from the classroom up, thereby challenging the top-down premise not only of NCLB but of the whole “accountability” movement of which it’s a part: Chris W. Gallagher, Reclaiming Assessment: A Better Alternative to the Accountability Agenda (Heinemann, 2007)

Information from and about FairTest, the leading national organization offering a critical perspective on standardized testing. Its website, http://www.fairtest.org, includes an evaluation of every state’s testing policy and links to a listserv called the Assessment Reform Network. A related group, the Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education (CARE), which opposes the new testing program in Massachusetts, has drafted an alternative assessment proposal — a very useful document for anyone who wonders (or is asked), “If not standardized tests, then what?” For a more recent answer to that question, see Ken Jones’s article “A Balanced School Accountability Model: An Alternative to High-Stakes Testing” in the April 2004 issue of Phi Delta Kappan.

A remarkable collection of examples of, and essays about, the destructive effects of standardized testing and related policies at http://www.susanohanian.org.

A list of state and national websites devoted to challenging the tests can be found about halfway down the page devoted to practical strategies. Note in particular a new (2011) group called “United Opt Out National,” with a website and Facebook page, devoted to organizing people to refuse to take the tests.

Audio- and videotapes of presentations by Alfie Kohn on these topics: http://www.alfiekohn.org/tapesdvd.htm

A powerful study that finds no evidence of improvement on national exams (such as the NAEP and the SAT) for states that use high-stakes testing. Rising scores on state tests appear to reflect only training to do well on those particular tests; indeed, by some measures, students in high-stakes states actually fare worse on independent measures of achievement.

Beardsley and Berliner on “High-Stakes Testing, Uncertainty, and Student Learning” http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/297/423

A devastating analysis, based on the high-stakes TAAS test in Texas, of how efforts to raise scores effectively undermine the quality of teaching and learning — and how this effect is most pronounced in schools that serve poor and minority students. This chapter, by Linda McNeil and Angela Valenzuela, is included in the book mentioned above, Raising Standards or Raising Barriers?. For the most comprehensive analysis of the effects of testing in Texas, click here to be linked to a lengthy article by Walt Haney.

Research demonstrating that when teachers are held accountable for raising standards and test scores, they tend to become so controlling in their teaching style that the quality of students’ performance actually declines:
Flink et al., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 59, 1990: 916-24.
Deci et al., Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 74, 1982: 852-59.
Pelletier et al., Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 94, 2002: 186-96.

Copyright © 2007 by Alfie Kohn. This article may be downloaded, reproduced, and distributed without permission as long as each copy includes this notice along with the author’s name. Permission must be obtained in order to reprint this article in a published work or in order to offer it for sale in any form. Please write to the address indicated on the Contact page at http://www.alfiekohn.org.

This comment came from a reader who signs as “NY Teacher”:

 

 

They can’t prove it because they are all barking up the wrong tree.
In fact their entire premise is wrong. The weakest link in the learning/achievement chain is rarely the teacher.

I have one hundred students this year. I teach a subject that is new to all of them. This puts all of my 14 year old students on an equal footing as far as course content goes. After a year of instruction, a few of them have been incredibly successful. Some have done quite well. Most have done ok, just not setting the academic world on fire, And a few have been abysmal failures. If student achievement rests solely (or even mostly) on the teacher, how can this be explained?

The premise behind the teacher bashing movement is based on the surrealistic notion that virtually all students are willing participants in the learning process. If all my students are eager to learn, attentive, inquisitive, organized, conscientious, and hard working (and had the necessary parental support), I will gladly take the blame for student failure. In school districts where this is largely the case, it is amazing just how highly effective teachers seem to be.

We are looking for reasons why students don’t learn, and the only rock we have not looked under is the only rock worth exploring.

Zephyr Teachout is running for governor in the Democratic primary against Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo has collected more than $30 million for his campaign, much of it from Wall Street titans. At the convention of the Working Families Party last month, Cuomo won over the union leaders, who delivered the WFP endorsement to him over Teachout. She must gather 15,000 signatures on petitions by July 7 from across the state to place her on the ballot for the Democratic primary ballot on September 9.

Among other things, she wants to change the way political campaigns are funded. She says:

“Right now, the campaign funding system leads to politicians basically being beggars at the feet of oligarchs. It’s what the progressives of another era called the invisible government: the private power that sits behind public power. Politicians are not making decisions based on what they think their constituents want or even what they think is best for their constituents. They’re making decisions based on who is giving them $60,000; that’s more money than any middle-class person can afford.”

In this interview, Teachout explains why she is running and why she thinks she has a possibility of upsetting Cuomo. Her basic issues are public corruption, about which she is an expert; the environment (she opposes fracking and favors alternative sources of energy); economic development; jobs; a higher minimum wage; and education. Everyone who runs for office in New York promises to “clean up” the ethical swamp in Albany. Teachout means it.

Tom Scarice, superintendent of schools in Madison, Connecticut, here speaks out and names the criminal corruption of education into a test-taking industry that has no goal other than test scores. He knows that as the stakes go higher, people succumb to the pressure to teach to the test or even to cheat. Campbell’s Law is relentless. The same things happen in other fields, when the goal of profit becomes more important than the endeavor itself.

Scarice compares present practices to those that destroyed Enron. He writes:

“Without question, measures, qualitative and quantitative, representing a variety of indicators that mark the values of an organization, are necessary fuel for the engine of continuous improvement. High-quality tests, specifically used for the purposes for which they were designed, can and should play a productive role in this process. But, measures are not goals. Regrettably, just as Lay and Skilling did in bringing a multibillion dollar corporation to its knees, in this era, the shallowest of thinkers have passively accepted the paradigm that measures are goals.

“And finally, we are left with the greatest crime committed against the professional practice of education as a result of the corrosive effect of the high-stakes testing era. In an effort to thrive, and perhaps, just to survive, in a redefined world of quality education, a soft, though sometimes harsh, distortion of pedagogy, has perniciously spread to classrooms, just as the Enron executives distorted sound accounting practices to meet high-stakes targets. This will indeed be our greatest regret.”

When test scores on standardized tests take precedence over the larger humanistic and aesthetic goals of education, over the needs of children, over creativity and ingenuity, then education itself becomes a cheapened enterprise.

This is a terrific article by Steve Nelson. I wish I could republish it in full but that is not allowed.

He actually says that what is called reform is “a national delusion.”

He writes:

“As I watch the education “debate” in America I wonder if we have simply lost our minds. In the cacophony of reform chatter — online programs, charter schools, vouchers, testing, more testing, accountability, Common Core, value-added assessments, blaming teachers, blaming tenure, blaming unions, blaming parents — one can barely hear the children crying out: “Pay attention to us!”

“None of the things on the partial list above will have the slightest effect on the so-called achievement gap or the supposed decline in America’s international education rankings. Every bit of education reform — every think tank remedy proposed by wet-behind-the-ears MBAs, every piece of legislation, every one of these things — is an excuse to continue the unconscionable neglect of our children.”

Read it!

His conclusion:

“Doing meaningful education with the most advantaged kids and ample resources is challenging enough with classes of 20. Doing meaningful work with children in communities we have decimated through greed and neglect might require classes of 10 or fewer. When will Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan and other education reformers recommend that?

“No, that’s not forthcoming. Their solution is more iPads and trying to fatten up little Hansel and Gretel by weighing them more often. Pearson will make the scales.

“Only in contemporary America can a humanitarian crisis be just another way to make a buck.”

After a year-long investigation, the Detroit Free Press published a scathing report on the state’s thriving charter sector.

Charter schools receive $1 billion in taxpayer funding with virtually no accountability.

They get worse results than traditional public schools.

140,000 children attend charter schools in Michigan.

Michigan has more for-profit charters than any other state. The for-profit organizations are secretive about their finances because they are private.

“In reviewing two decades of charter school records, the Free Press found:

“Wasteful spending and double-dipping. Board members, school founders and employees steering lucrative deals to themselves or insiders. Schools allowed to operate for years despite poor academic records. No state standards for who operates charter schools or how to oversee them.”

““People should get a fair return on their investment,” said former state schools Superintendent Tom Watkins, a longtime charter advocate who has argued for higher standards for all schools. “But it has to come after the bottom line of meeting the educational needs of the children. And in a number of cases, people are making a boatload of money, and the kids aren’t getting educated.”

“According to the Free Press’ review, 38% of charter schools that received state academic rankings during the 2012-13 school year fell below the 25th percentile, meaning at least 75% of all schools in the state performed better. Only 23% of traditional public schools fell below the 25th percentile.

“Advocates argue that charter schools have a much higher percentage of children in poverty compared with traditional schools. But traditional schools, on average, perform slightly better on standardized tests even when poverty levels are taken into account.”

Some examples of charter abuses of the public trust:

“Michigan’s laws are either nonexistent or so lenient that there are often no consequences for abuses or poor academics. Taxpayers and parents are left clueless about how charter schools spend the public’s money, and lawmakers have resisted measures to close schools down for poor academic performance year after year.

“The Free Press found that questionable decisions, excessive spending and misuse of taxpayer dollars run the gamut:

■ A Sault Ste. Marie charter school board gave its administrator a severance package worth $520,000 in taxpayer money.

■ A Bedford Township charter school spent more than $1 million on swampland.

■ A mostly online charter school in Charlotte spent $263,000 on a Dale Carnegie confidence-building class, $100,000 more than it spent on laptops and iPads.

■ Two board members who challenged their Romulus school’s management company over finances and transparency were ousted when the length of their terms was summarily reduced by Grand Valley State University.

■ National Heritage Academies, the state’s largest for-profit school management company, charges 14 of its Michigan schools $1 million or more in rent — which many real estate experts say is excessive.

■ A charter school in Pittsfield Township gave jobs and millions of dollars in business to multiple members of the founder’s family.

■ Charter authorizers have allowed management companies to open multiple schools without a proven track record of success.”

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