Archives for category: Broad Foundation

Howard  Blume writes in the LA Times that the LAUSD school board will make a decision on billionaire Eli Broad’s plan to put half the district’s children into privately managed charter schools, including national chains. You might say it is the Walmartization of public education in Los Angeles.

This is is not an easy decision because the state law was written when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger controlled the state board, filling it with charter advocates. The law gives a blank check to anyone who wants to open a charter.

“Until now, school board members have not been forced to take a position on the Broad proposal, though some have expressed concerns about charters draining money and higher-performing students from traditional schools. The union is hoping to lock in school board opposition early as it campaigns against the charter expansion.

“But officially joining the opposition also poses risks for school board members and the district. State law requires school systems to approve new charters regardless of the financial impact on the district. The Los Angeles Unified School District faces lawsuits if it rejects charters without cause. Moreover, a vote would force board members to take sides — and face the political consequences.

“At one level, the debate is a continuation of the last school board election, in which charters and unions, the major funders, battled to a split outcome. The result was not just about the candidates but about which approach to improving schools would lead the way in the nation’s second-largest system.
“Supporters see independently operated, publicly funded charters, most of which are nonunion, as a better alternative to regular schools. Unions and other charter critics would prefer to see more investment in existing campuses. L.A. has the most charter schools of any city.”

Would it it be just cause to say that the Broad plan is not in the public interest and that it would deny resources and equal opportunity to the other 50% in the public schools?

Can the school board approve a plan to destroy the system they were elected to support and improve? Should they neglect the needs of the other 50%? Isn’t it undemocratic on its face to allow a billionaire to buy as much as he wants of the public school system? Once it’s gone, it will be difficult if not impossible to restore.

Who who will hold Eli Broad accountable for his theft of a public institution?

As we have read, Eli Broad is underwriting education coverage in the Los Angeles Times. His support came about the same time that the billionaire announced his plan to provide 260 new charters for half the students in LAUSD at a cost of near $500 million, which he and friends would assemble. Public education in the district would suffer a loss of students and resources and would be collateral damage.

To those those concerned about Broad’s plan for mass privatization, the LA Times has advice: “Stop whining.”

Good investment, Eli.

Last year, Camp Philos had its first meeting in a remote area of the Adirondacks of New York. Governor Cuomo was the keynote speaker at this gathering of philosophers who strategize about replacing public schools with private management and opening up the secure flow of government funding to private investors.

This year, the philosophers’ camp convened in Martha’s Vineyard, an equally inaccessible and very expensive location. It was in late October. Some of the stars of privatization were there, plus a few new faces.

The event was sponsored by the Broad Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and ConnCAN. The usual lineup of billionaires paid for this strategy session on how to steal democracy from the public, how to promote the ALEC agenda while calling yourself a Democrat.

The Los Angeles Times reports that arts education has been shortchanged in the Los Angeles Unified School District in recent years, even as the district leadership was pouring millions of dollars into testing, test-prep, and technology. Former superintendent John Deasy was willing to allocate $1.3 Billion to buy iPads for Common Core testing, but at the same time, many schools across the district had no arts teachers.

Under the philosophy that test scores are the only measure that matters, that low scores lead to school closures, the district neglected the arts.

Normandie Avenue Elementary Principal Gustavo Ortiz worries that he can’t provide arts classes for most of the 900 students at his South Los Angeles school.

Not a single art or music class was offered until this year at Curtiss Middle School in Carson.

At Carlos Santana Arts Academy in North Hills, a campus abuzz with visual and performing arts, the principal has gone outside the school district for help. A former professional dancer, she has tapped industry connections and persuaded friends to teach ballroom dancing and other classes without pay until she could reimburse them.

Budget cuts and a narrow focus on subjects that are measured on standardized tests have contributed to a vast reduction of public school arts programs across the country. The deterioration has been particularly jarring in Los Angeles, the epicenter of the entertainment industry.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is discovering the extent of those cuts as it seeks to regain the vibrancy that once made it a leader in arts education. For the first time, L.A. Unified in September completed a detailed accounting of arts programs at its campuses that shows stark disparities in class offerings, the number of teachers and help provided by outside groups.

Arts programs at a vast majority of schools are inadequate, according to district data. Classrooms lack basic supplies. Some orchestra classes don’t have enough instruments. And thousands of elementary and middle school children are not getting any arts instruction.

A Los Angeles Times analysis that used L.A. Unified’s data to assign letter grades to arts programs shows that only 35 out of more than 700 schools would get an “A.” Those high-performing schools offered additional instruction through community donations, had more teachers and a greater variety of arts programs than most of the district’s campuses.

State policy is strong in support of arts education, but LAUSD doesn’t have the money to support the arts. Instead, the money has been spent on testing and implementing the Common Core.

Eight out of every 10 elementary schools does not meet state standards in the arts. The students least likely to engage in the arts are in the high-needs, low-income schools. In schools where there are parents with resources and contacts, they are able to supplement what the school does not provide.

Only four elementary schools — West Vernon, Magnolia, Bonita Street and 49th Street Elementary — had an arts teacher five days a week, according to district data.

“I feel real guilty because my kids go to schools where an art teacher and a music teacher are there five days a week,” said Ortiz, who pointed to Normandie’s limited budget. “I come here and I can’t give the kids what my own kids get. It just tears me up. It’s such an inequity.”

Arts education was not meant to be a luxury in California.

State law requires that schools provide music, art, theater and dance at every grade level. But few districts across the state live up to the requirement.

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal today, the state has allocated $4.8 Billion to the implementation of the Common Core standards and testing. This is a matter of priorities: What matters most: The joy of learning or standardized test scores?

It is ironic that billionaire Eli Broad, who just opened a new museum to house his own collection, wants to spend $490 million to open 260 new charter schools, but can’t find it in his heart to subsidize the arts in the schools of his adopted city.

Which will matter more to these children? The joy of performance, the discipline of practice, the love of engagement promoted by the arts or taking the Common Core tests that most will fail again and again?

You decide.

Conflict of interest? How could it not be?

Billionaire Eli Broad is underwriting education coverage at the Los Angeles Times.

Eli Broad wants 50% of the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District to be enrolled charter schools. He intends to pool $490 million to create 260 new charters.

The LA Times wrote an editorial endorsing Broad’s plan to privatize a huge part of public education.

One man wants his way. Eli Broad does not believe in democracy.

Eli Broad has recruited Paul Pastorek, former state superintendent in Louisiana, to lead his effort to privatize the schools of 50% of the children now in public schools in Los Angeles.

Pastorek oversaw the elimination of public education in Néw Orleans. He was also a member of Jeb Bush’s far-right “Chiefs for Change,” a group dedicated to high-stakes testing and privatization.

In his new post, he will press for the elimination of many public schools.

“Few issues have roiled the LA Unified community more than the foundation’s plan to expand the number of charter schools in the district. An early report by the foundation said the goal is to serve as many as half the students in the district in 230 newly-created charter schools within the next eight years, an effort that would cost nearly half a billion dollars.

“It’s also a plan that district officials have said would eviscerate public education as it is now delivered by LA Unified. The LA teachers union, UTLA, has also attacked the plan as part of the Broads’ latest effort to “privatize” public education at the cost of union teaching jobs.”

Eli Broad already announced his intention to privatize the schools of half the children in the Los Angeles public schools. He will gather $490 million from his billionaire friends to open 260 new charters. Some of these will presumably be housed in empty public schools.

The Broad coalition of Broad-funded organizations has already demanded a role in vetting the new superintendent.

The elected school board has made clear that it wants to hear from many communities, not just the Broad coalition.

But who do you think is in charge of community outreach for the school board? A certified insider in the corporate reform movement!

As Karen Wolfe, a parent activist, details here, Beth Doctor Gibbons has a sparkling “reformster” resume. She was a lobbyist for Michelle Rhee’s anti-teacher, anti-union StudentsFirst for three years; she is an alumna of TFA; she taught in Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy chain; she worked for Educators for Excellence (E4E), the Gates-funded group that opposes due process rights for teachers. What a resume!

Wolfe notes:

“Now at LAUSD
Since January, 2015, Gibbons has been an external affairs and legislative liaison in LAUSD’s Office of Government Relations, according to her LinkedIn profile. That’s before the new board convened; certainly before new board member Scott Schmerelson vowed not to let Eli Broad bully the school board, before Steve Zimmer was board president, and before he said that Broad’s plan was a “gross perversion” of charters in an NBC television interview.”

This is the person who will lead community discussions of Eli Broad’s hostile takeover and privatization of LA schools. What a clever man he is!

Will the board go along with Eli’s silent coup or will they choose someone to represent the public interest?

Steve Zimmer? Time to stand up and be counted.

John Thompson, historian and teacher, here analyzes Eli Broad’s plan to add 260 charters for Los Angeles, so that charters enroll half the students in the LAUSD. One of our regular readers, Jack Covey, commented on the blog that the “anonymous” plan was actually authored by former LAUSD superintendent John Deasy, but I can’t confirm that.

The largely pro-reform LA School Report and the Los Angeles Times have already published powerful analyses of the Broad Foundation’s once-secret plan to turn half of the Los Angeles Public School System into charters. But the 44-page anonymously authored proposal is jammed-packed with even more dubious claims. And, it provides more insight into the corporate reformers’ mindset.

The Broad Foundation did not respond to the LA School Report’s critique of its methodology and its exaggerated claims of success. The School Report’s Craig Clough parsed the actual data and concluded:

But when all factors are considered, there is little conclusive evidence in the report outlining the expansion plans that shows big investments in charters always — or evenly routinely — achieve consistent academic improvements, raising an important question: Just what can Broad and other foundations promise for an investment of nearly half a billion dollars in an expansion effort that would dramatically change the nation’s second-largest school district?

The reporting by the LA Times Howard Blume also provides a solid overview. LA charters serve student populations that are somewhere in between the ones served by LA magnet schools and traditional public schools. And, their outcomes are somewhere in between those posted by the city’s magnets and neighborhood schools. The Broad paper gives no reason to believe that LA charters could be scaled up and still perform better than the city’s high-poverty traditional public schools.

Turning to the actual Broad proposal, which it now calls a “preliminary discussion draft,” it cites the data (contradictory as it is) from three high-performing charter school chains as evidence that 260 new charters could be established by 2023, and that they would greatly increase student performance. It makes a big deal out of the 52% of charters receiving an API score of 800 and greater, but it doesn’t attempt to identify how many of them are high-poverty.

Broad brags about the average charter API of 811 and contrasts it with the 80% low-income LAUSD’s average API of 745. But, two of the featured charter chains have an average APIs of 762 and 714, respectively. And, they run 34 of the 43 charter schools that supposedly are the model that will save Los Angeles. In other words, even with the charters in the chains showcased by Broad, only about 1/5th of them produce above-average scores. (Moreover, those schools are run by KIPP, and they don’t come close to serving the “same” students as high-poverty neighborhood schools.)

The bottom line is that the Broad claim that 260 high-quality charter schools can be created in eight years is basically based on the results from nine schools in a chain known for its high attrition rate.

Broad also ignores Blume on how “many parents apply to both magnets and charters before making a choice,” and pretends that the numbers on those lists are not inflated by those multiple applications. It then assumes that waiting lists will grow by 10,000 students a year.

Using equally flimsy logic and evidence, Broad projects that charters will have 130,000 students by 2023. This claim assumes that “Great Public Schools Now” schools will grow their student population by 7% per year even though they don’t yet exist, have no students, and are merely a “preliminary discussion draft.” The report admits that it the charter teachers will be paid less, making teacher recruitment more difficult. It acknowledges that solving the problem of recruiting principals is nonnegotiable, so it warns that that issue must be addressed immediately. In other words, it seems unlikely that Broad bothered to ask whether it was physically possible to even slap that many schools together in such a time frame.

Of course, the key issue is whether charters are capable of learning how to serve their share of students with special education disabilities and English Language Learners, as well as children who have endured extreme trauma. The Broad paper is silent on that crucial question, as it changes the subject to marketing. It produces a multicolored map of clusters of low-performing schools, while pretending that it doesn’t undermine their case. The graphic supposedly shows, “These areas are especially ripe for charter expansion.” But, it doesn’t explain why today’s charters haven’t already tried to tackle those challenges, or why they would be successful if they tried. In other words, Broad doesn’t see complicated real world problems to be solved; it sees market opportunities.

Even when it gets to the political marketing at which it excels, the Broad logic falls short. Corporate reformers forget the repudiation of their client, former LA Superintendent John Deasy. Their paper asserts, “The recent Board elections also moved in a positive direction, although there is still not a pro-charter majority.” It counts one of the races as a victory, admitting that one was a defeat, but claiming that “many are hopeful that the victor in that race, Scott Schmerelson, will take a reasonable position toward charter expansion.

Or should I say the reformers pretend to forget their educational and political defeats? Perhaps they can blow off the failure of their expensive and risky school improvement experiments, but it doesn’t seem like they can shake off rejection at the polls. Why else would Broad draft a school reform plan that ignores education evidence while focusing on conquering education markets and defeating opponents?

Concluding a proposal that ignores social science research and fails to articulate a scenario where students would benefit from mass charterization, Broad instead tallies the troops on both sides of the battle it is about to launch. It argues “the number of parents with children on charter waitlists now exceeds the number of UTLA members.”

Broad thus forgets that parents who sign up for multiple waitlists can’t vote multiple times in the same election.

But, that is not the key point. It should now be clear that successful efforts to improve schools must be done with educators, not to them. Broad’s
inclusion of that insulting graphic makes it clear that it sees teachers as the enemy. The corporate reforms are obviously focused on Broad’s personal enemies – educators, unions, and public schools controlled by the patrons, and not his minions. They continue to ignore the real enemy – the poverty that undermines learning.

And that bring us back to the LA School Report’s Clough and his question of what does Broad actually promise. It promises more assaults on teachers, unions, and patrons who disagree with them. The Broad plan promises more reward and punish, but not a policy that is likely to do more good than harm to children. It certainly does not promise improved schools for entire neighborhoods with intense concentrations of generational poverty and children who have survived extreme trauma.

Instead, Broad promises a fight to the finish between the two halves of the city’s schools. It thus promises more test, sort, winners and losers, and the pushing out of children whose test scores make it more difficult for adults to defeat their opponents. It promises an ultimate battle over who controls public education.

Perhaps most importantly, it promises retribution to educators across the nation if they try to resist Eli Broad and the Billionaires Boys’ Club.

Los Angeles parent activist Karen Wolfe went to a meeting of the Associsted Administrators of Los Angeles, which was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels. As she listened to LAUSD members speak, she thought she heard a faint rumble, growing louder by the minute. She wondered if she really was hearing them speak truth to power, unafraid of the biggest bully in the city.

Is it possible?

As reported before, billionaire Eli Broad plans to bundle $490 million to open 260 new charter schools for half the public school students in Los Angeles.

But according to the usually pro-charter LA School Report, Broad’s current charter schools have a mixed record.

“The Broad plan points to three of LA Unified’s largest charter operators that have received Broad largess — Green Dot Public Schools, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools and KIPP Public Charter Schools — and says, “These organizations have turned our investments into significant academic gains for students.”
In some cases, the gains are clear, but in others they are not. One category shows a regression in test scores, and others that demonstrate only marginal gains….

“Over five years, proficiency rates for Green Dot students in English language arts actually decreased by 3 percent, while math rates at Alliance middle schools improved a total of 1 percent and English rates at the Alliance middle schools improved a total of 5 percent over five years.
Other areas are impressive — a 20 percent gain in English proficiency for KIPP schools over four years and a 13 percent increase in math for Green Dot schools, but the report does not discuss or examine the negative and minimal gains.

“The recent Smarter Balanced statewide tests, which this year replaced the STAR exams after two years without any statewide tests, also show impressive results for the three organizations, but they also raised questions. (The Broad report did not include any analysis of the Smarter Balanced tests.)

“Key in any analysis is the number of English learners and low-income students — two groups that have proven to be among the most challenging to educate — and these numbers never match up quite evenly between charters and traditional schools.

“An analysis by LA School Report shows Alliance schools had 45.4 percent of its students meeting or exceeding the English standards on the Smarter Balanced tests, compared with 33 percent at LA Unified’s schools.
However, Alliance has far fewer English learners. According to its website data, 18.83 percent of its students are English learners, compared with 26 percent for LA Unified. And Alliance students actually scored worse in math, with 23.5 percent meeting or exceeding standards compared with 25 percent for the district. In fairness to Alliance, its schools have 93 percent of its students qualifying for free or reduced price lunch, compared with 77 percent for the district.”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 163,103 other followers