Archives for category: ALEC

Some investigative journalist is going to win major prizes for breaking open the story about the money and the motives of those promoting privatization of public education.

Motoko Rich drops tantalizing hints in her story in the New York Times. We learn that the charter referendum in Georgia was funded by “out-of-state donors, including Alice Walton, the daughter of the founder of Walmart, Sam Walton; Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party group founded by the billionaire Koch brothers; and several companies that manage charter schools. Supporters of the amendment outspent opponents by about 15 to 1.”

The Georgia amendment was based on ALEC model legislation.

In Washington state, “Donors included Ms. Walton, the Bezos foundation, and Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the co-founders of Microsoft. They raised millions of dollars to promote the ballot initiative…”
Also involved, we learned, was Democrats for Education Reform, the Wall Street hedge fund managers organization, and Stand for Children, which stands for equity investors.

Who coordinates these fund-raisers? Who else is involved? How do they manage to present themselves as liberals and supporters of “the civil rights issue of our era” in alliance with far-right groups? And why are they so intent on privatization when the evidence is clear that charters don’t produce better education than public schools?

And how can the Obama administration support a movement tied to the far-right that worked to defeat him?

I received the following news release from the National Alliance for Charter Schools.

They of course were crowing about the passage of the ALEC-inspired initiative in Georgia, where the governor will be free to open charter schools everywhere across the state without consulting any local school board.

I knew Nina Rees when I worked in the George H.W. Bush administration. She is smart and personable and very, very conservative in her education views. She subsequently worked for the Milken brothers, who own K12, the for-profit virtual charter corporation.

Then she worked as Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation in the George W. Bush administration.

She was co-chair of the education policy committee for the Romney campaign, whose agenda was a flat-out privatization program for education.

And now she is praising President Obama for his leadership in the charter movement!

 
From: Nina Rees <Nina@publiccharters.org>
Subject: Public Charter Schools Win Big in Election

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Dear charter school supporter,The 2012 election is an important moment in the public charter schools movement.In two states, voters sent a clear message that they want public school options that are unique partnerships between teachers, parents, and students and that respond to the specific needs of their communities.Voters in Georgia rejected the status quo and created conditions that support the growth of high-quality public charter schools that are accountable for student achievement. Now, charter applicants who are rejected by school districts will have access to a fair appeals process.In Washington state, where votes are still being counted, voters are on the verge of making their state the 42nd with a public charter school law. If the results hold up, families and children in Washington will have the chance to attend schools that are as innovative as the companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing that drive the state’s economy forward.In addition, the re-election of President Obama maintains leadership for charter schools at the national level. In his first term, President Obama created an environment where charter schools could thrive through the incentives in Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, Promise Neighborhoods, and other reform programs. Over the past three years, almost half of states have revised their charter school laws to support growth and quality. Over the past four years, enrollment in public charter schools has risen by almost 1 million students. Today, more than 2 million students attend these unique public schools that serve the needs of students and their parents.

With the support of voters in Georgia, Washington and other states, and with the leadership from elected officials in state houses and Washington, D.C., the best days are ahead for the public charter school community.

Regards,

Nina Rees
President & CEO

© Copyright 2006 – 2012, The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
1101 Fifteenth Street, NW, Suite 1010. Washington, DC 20005.
(202) 289-2700

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was rebuked by voters yesterday as they repealed the law that gave dictatorial powers to emergency managers appointed by the governor to control fiscally distressed districts.

Public Act 4 of 2011 was rejected by a vote of 52-48.

Snyder installed emergency managers to take control of public education in Detroit, Highland Park, and Muskegon Heights. The managers in the two small districts abolished public education and handed the students to for-profit charter chains to run. The Detroit emergency manager imposed a drastic plan to lay off teachers, privatize many schools, and increase class sizes.

The law enabled the governor to suspend democracy and impose one-man rule. It also allowed him to evade the state’s responsibility to provide public schools on every district in the state and to deal with fiscal crises with draconian measures.

The most important education vote yesterday occurred in Indiana.

As the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette pointed out in its editorial, this election has national implications.

Tony Bennett had become the face of rightwing reform in America.

His mission was to bring the ALEC agenda to life in the Hoosier State.

He was head of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change, the group of state superintendents that were most eager to privatize public education, expand charters and vouchers, turn children over to for-profit corporations, and reduce the status of teachers.

He was honored by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute as the “reformiest” state superintendent in the nation.

The Wall Street hedge fund managers and assorted billionaires pumped $1.5 million into his campaign for re-election.

He was soundly defeated by veteran teacher Glenda Ritz.

Ritz raised $325,000 for her campaign to restore public education in Indiana.

Ritz won over Bennett by a comfortable margin of 53-47.

She got 1.3 million votes, almost 100,000 more votes than Mike Pence, the Republican running for governor, who barely eked out a victory.

Make no mistake: The people of Indiana said “no” to Tony Bennett’s radical plans to turn public education into a free-market of choice and competition, based on high-stakes testing.

The people of Indiana elected Glenda Ritz to rebuild their public school system and to wipe away the misguided, mean-spirited “reforms” imposed by Bennett.

This is a victory for the parents, citizens and educators of Indiana.

Most important, it is a victory for the children of the state of Indiana.

Now, they will have a chance to have a good education, not to be consumers in a vast shopping mall of test-based choices, not to be data points for corporations bent on turning a profit.

With half the vote counted, Georgia voters are likely to pass an amendment to the state constitution re charters. The governor will be able to create a commission to approve charters, giving charters a way to bypass local school boards.

Since the governor is a strong advocate of charters, his commission will likely be a rubber stamp for charter proposals.

This idea to gut local control is an ALEC priority.

Since all money for charters is deducted from public schools, the latter can anticipate layoffs and budget cuts.

If you live in one of the battleground states, I urge you to vote to re-elect President Obama.

Though many of us oppose his Race to the Top, please vote for him for other reasons.

We can’t allow a reactionary, backward-looking Republican Party to take charge of this nation’s future. We can’t allow a rightwing administration to shape the Supreme Court.

I urge you to vote for President Obama. Once he is re-elected, we will continue to pressure him to strengthen our nation’s essential public education system. He might hear us. Romney won’t.

If you live in Washington State, vote NO on 1240 and show the billionaires that you won’t let them start the process of privatization.

If you live in Georgia, vote against the ALEC initiative and preserve local control.

If you live in Bridgeport, Connecticut, vote against the Mayor’s attempt to take away your right to elect the school board.

If you live in Los Angeles, vote for Robert Skeels for LAUSD school board.

If you live in Ohio, vote for Maureen Reedy for the legislature.

If you live in Minneapolis, vote for Patty Wycoff for school board.

If you live in Idaho, vote NO on Props 1, 2, 3: Repeal the Luna laws.

If you live in New Jersey, vote for Marie Corfield.

If you are in Perth Amboy, NJ, vote the “New Visions” slate: Nina Perkins Nieves, Benny Salerno, Jeanette Gonzalez and Maria Garcia for Board of Education.

If you live in Pennsylvania, vote for Richard Flarend.

If you live in California, vote yes on 30 to support public education and no on 32, meant to hobble unions.

Wherever you are, support the candidates who believe in democratically controlled public schools.

Wherever you live, oppose privatization and diversion of public funds to private hands.

Strengthen our democracy by supporting public education.

Support the schools whose doors are open to all.

Support the candidates who will fight for equality of educational opportunity.

The people of Michigan have received the report of the “Oxford Foundation” on the future of education in that state.

The authors of the report have nothing to do with Oxford University or Britain.

They are not part of a foundation.

They are Republican operatives carrying out the wishes of Governor Rick Snyder to destroy public education in Michigan.

The ideas the report advances are Governor Snyder’s plan to make education “any place, any time, any where, any how, any which way but up or down.”

The basic plan is that anyone can supply education. It is not a public responsibility.

What we now call public education will disappear, if Rick Snyder and the “Oxford Foundation” has its way.

It’s into the free market, with spoils and riches for all!

Good education for those who can afford it.

Boot camps for the rest.

 

A reader just raised an interesting question offline.

He lives in New Jersey, where the state constitution requires that the state provide a “thorough and efficient” public education.

New Jersey officials today are doing their best to dismantle and privatize the state’s public education system.

Are they violating their oath of office?

What does it say in other state constitutions where the privatizers are busy dismantling the public system for fun, power, profit and ideology?

An article in a Nashville paper describes the discussions about vouchers in Tennessee and generally quotes voucher supporters.

Given that the Governor is a conservative Republican, given that the Legislature is Republican, given that the Legislature often passes ALEC legislation without changing a word, and given that the state has a TFA Commissioner of Education, it seems likely that Tennessee will endorse vouchers for low-income students. In time, as we saw in Wisconsin, the income limits will be lifted.

There is only one important fact missing from the discussion of vouchers in this article: Vouchers have no record of improving test scores wherever they have been tried. Not in Milwaukee, not in the District of Columbia, and not in Cleveland.

It is simply choice for the sake of choice, choice for the sake of privatization.

These past few years, some of us have been trying to awaken the public to the goals and strategy of the privatization movement.

First, they demand high-stakes testing, and they claim they want to “reduce the achievement gap” or “it’s all for the kids.”

Second, they use the scores to give grades to schools and to declare that those with the lowest scores are “failing schools” (purposely ignoring that those with low scores are almost always located in the poorest neighborhoods and enroll high proportions of children of color)

Third, somewhere along the way, they strip teachers of every job protection so they can’t complain and do not have a seat at the table when the budget is slashed

Fourth, they welcome private management, and freely hand out public dollars to entrepreneurs, amateurs, and assorted corporations (don’t forget, “it’s all for the kids,” because “kids first,” “children first,” “students first.”)

In Texas, as the letter below shows, the Democrats are beginning to see what is happening.

The Texas legislature cut over $5 billion from the public schools’ budget but somehow managed to find a measly $500 million for Pearson’s testing regime. Pearson must have super lobbyists, like the guy who was the architect of No Child Left Behind.

Now the next legislature is likely to expand charters and vouchers.

Getting ready to finish off public education.

This letter is from Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party:

Dear Democrat,

There’s a reason that the Texas Republican platform is opposed to teaching critical thinking skills. Anyone with the ability to think can look at what Republicans are doing to our schools and realize that it’s insanity!

Last year, Republicans cut five billion dollars from public education. But they won’t be happy until they fully end public education as we know it. There’s a war against teaching and schools going on in our State, and we won’t sit by and let this happen!

 

Republican Senator Dan Patrick was recently appointed Chair of the Senate Education Committee. We know what that means for the next legislative session, because he’s already told us.

 

“This is the session for us to be bold. This is the session for us to reform public education,” Patrick has announced.

 

“Reform” is code for defund and destroy.

 

Patrick is partnering with Perry and Dewhurst to further defund our schools in a dramatic way.  They want to take money from our children’s futures and pass it to their cronies. Republicans call it vouchers, but it’s clear that their goal is not to provide better educational opportunities. Those who truly champion our children would not start by cutting over five billion dollars of support for their education.

 

It is absolutely insane and objectionable that Texas Republicans see the education of our children as a political tool and as a way to give more money to their rich buddies.

 

Every Democrat in this State needs to get out there and vote like the future depends on it because IT DOES. At the Texas Democratic Party we’re fighting against this insanity. But we need you to fight with us.

 

Yours,
Gilberto Hinojosa 

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