Archives for category: Broad Foundation

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.”

Karen Wolfe is a public school parent in Los Angeles. a friend of hers received what sounds like a “push poll.” A push poll is a telephone call that begins by asking innocent questions but then turns into advocacy for an issue or a candidate. You assume it is a poll, but it is actually an effort to shape your opinion.

Wolfe writes:

“Are pollsters calling Los Angeles residents to shape opinion about Eli Broad’s Privatization Plan?

“It sounds that way. One teacher, I’ll call her Ms. R, asked yesterday in a facebook group, “Did anyone else in the LA County area get that ‘research gathering’ call about charter schools?”

“Ms. R gave me permission to share the details of the call.

“She was asked which of 12 issues was most pressing to her.

Ms. R answered ‘infrastructure’ because, she said “I live downtown and the roads need a lot of work. Then BOOM, a question about my opinion of Eli Broad.”

Then about the union.

She then listened to several misleading statements like, “Charter schools with donors like Eli Broad will be able to raise money for charter schools so students have more access to arts programs which are being cut from public schools,” and was asked, “After listening to these opinions about charter schools, are you more likely or less likely to support the increase of charter schools in LA County?”

“I actually told the lady these questions offended me. But it was designed to get me to say I would be more likely to support the charter school increase. ‘I think they are info gathering in order to justify the push.’”

“At least 5 statements, I was so pissed I said something about it out loud to the woman. There was one point where she typed why I was against charters word for word. She read it back to me and kept messing up where I had to correct her a few times to make it make sense.”

Ms R finished,“AND I was told the session may be recorded for quality purposes.”

Whose quality?”

Cynthia Liu, blogging for the Progressive, reviews the Eli Broad plan to put half the students in Los Angeles into privately managed charter schools.

She describes Eli Broad as a master of “philanthrocapitalism,” gifts that benefit the giver.

Eli Broad is the city’s chief benefactor for numerous charities; his wealth comes from decades of real estate developments in the Midwest, Southern California, and from the insurance industry. He has particular interests in expanding charter schools in Los Angeles and nationwide. He appears to invest a lot in the city of Los Angeles but when you look more closely, his giving defunds the public sector and Broad ends up with the better part of the deal. For example: originally, Broad wanted to lease the expensive downtown Los Angeles parcel the Museum sits on for $1 a year over 99 years. Said one county supervisor, “Instead of a project that generates sales and property taxes, we’ll now have an art museum that generates no property or sales taxes and Mr. Broad will get the land for free.” It’s now leased for $7.7 million a year for 99 years, and the 501c3 Broad Foundation housed inside the museum still doesn’t put much by way of revenue back into the city ….

She points out that Eli Broad selected John Deasy as superintendent, then paid the salaries of his top aides. Why were they not on the public payroll? Whose interests were they serving?

Not only public education is at risk, but so is our democracy. Do billionaires really have the right to privatize half of an entire large urban school district? When do the people get to vote? Who will hold accountable the hundreds of charters that get public money without public oversight? It is time for the public to rally against this corporate assault on public education.

– See more at: http://www.progressive.org/news/2015/09/188330/weaponized-generosity-how-las-1-disrupt-democracy-and-dismantle-public-school#sthash.LDhUmSBJ.dpuf

Billionaire Eli Broad has proposed a plan to privatize the schooling of 50% of the students in Los Angeles. He plans to pool $490 million from fellow billionaires to achieve his goal. If he succeeds, the remaining 50% of the children in LAUSD will have fewer resources, fewer teachers, larger classes. This is a short-sighted approach, to say the least. Surely, Eli doesn’t want his legacy to be: HE DESTROYED PUBLIC EDUCATION IN AMERICA.

Here is a genuine crisis that he could easily address. LAUSD cannot afford arts education in every school. It currently spends $25 million a year on arts education. It needs $75 million a year to supply the teachers of the arts to every school. Eli Broad just opened a fine new arts museum, which cost him $200 million. The children in LAUSD will not be able to visit the Broad Museum because there is no money for field trips.

Some schools have arts resources but no arts teachers. Some have neither arts resources nor arts teachers.

Instead of funding a parallel privatized system to compete with the public schools, further impoverishing public schools, Eli Broad could build a model public education system, where every child has a full education in the arts.

Mr. Broad, what do you say? If you care about children, if you care about the arts, will you supply the $50 million needed to enable every child to act, paint, sing and participate in all the arts?

Big surprise. A study funded by the Broad Foundation and the Walton Foundation recommends more charters for the District of Columbia.

The report, “A Tale of Two Systems: Education Reform in Washington D.C.,” was funded by the Walton Family Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The Washington-based Progressive Policy Institute promotes market-based solutions to public policy issues. It appears that the long-term goal is to turn the entire district into a charter district, although a few public schools might remain open to enroll the students the charters don’t want.

The new study looks at the history of education reform in the city and includes research showing greater academic improvements in charter schools. It compares District and national test scores that show bigger gains for charter schools, particularly among African American and poor students.

It notes that comparisons are difficult because charter and traditional schools serve different demographics. Charter schools serve families who actively choose their schools, which can indicate a higher level of family commitment to education. D.C. Public Schools serve more students in crisis, who are are homeless or returning from jail, experts say. Also, charter schools don’t accept students after a certain month of the year or grade level, so they tend to serve a more stable group of students.

But the report argues that the governance model is the most important difference in the larger gains.

“It creates an environment in which the extraordinary measures necessary to effectively educate poor, minority children are not only easier to implement, they are virtually required if schools are to survive,” the report says.

In an interview, Osborne predicted that in 30 to 50 years, most urban districts will have mostly charter schools or other types of schools that are given more autonomy and expected to perform or be closed. “The magic is not in the word ‘charter,’ it’s in that arms-length relationship with the system,” he said.

So, even though most research shows that charters do not outperform ordinary public schools on average, D.C. should push for more and more charters. The report acknowledges that the remanning public schools serve children with greater needs than the charters, but so what. The charters get higher test scores because they don’t have the kids who have severe disabilities, the ELLs, the homeless, the students in crisis, and those returning from jail.

It must be the autonomy that makes the charters so terrific, not the fact that they exclude the kids who are most challenging and most expensive to educate.

Why don’t the Broads and Waltons come up with another pastime?

Why should the nation abandon public education because they like the free market that made them billionaires?

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