Archives for category: Charter Schools

The Network for Public Education has endorsed Bennett Kayser for re-election to the Los Angeles school board. Kayser is a retired educator. He is a strong supporter of public education. He has fought for reduced class sizes. He opposes efforts to deny due process to teachers. He opposes privatization of public education.

He is enemy number one to the California Charter Schools Association Advocates, the political action arm of the wealthy charter industry.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the charter lobby has far outspent Kayser in its effort to defeat him with a pro-charter candidate.

The charter association has distributed malicious flyers falsely implying that Kayser is a racist and anti-Latino. The flyers feature a picture of Governor Jerry Brown, falsely implying that the popular governor endorsed their candidate (he did not). Their TV ads have ridiculed Kayser’s disability (he has Parkinson’s). The anti-Kayser campaign has been scurrilous and shameful.

The LA Times says:

“Through Wednesday’s campaign filings, the charter group had spent $699,688 to support [its candidate] Rodriguez. UTLA had spent $384,109 for Kayser. Those totals far surpass donations directly to the candidates as well as the spending totals for the other contested board races.

“Since September, the donors to the charter PAC include Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings ($1.5 million), former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ($450,000), Jim Walton of the Wal-Mart founding family ($250,000) and local philanthropist Eli Broad ($155,000). All are longtime charter school backers with a broad interest in education.”

These billionaires have a specific interest in education: they want to replace public schools with charter schools, and in the case of Walton, with vouchers. They also believe in disruption as a strategy for change. Disruption is not good for children or education.

Billionaire Reed Hastings told the charter association that he looks forward to the day when local school boards are gone and almost all schools are charters.

Bennett Kayser wants to improve the public schools, not replace or destroy them. Every high-performing nation in the world has a public school system, not a system of privately managed schools.

That is why the Network for Public Education endorses Bennett Kayser for re-election to the Los Angeles school board.

Mike Klonsky wrote about the resistance to charters in the suburbs of Chicago. But not every suburb repelled charters, according to this reader:

“There is a charter in the south suburbs; specifically Rich Township H.S. District 227. It was ok’d by the state as part of Race to the Top. The effects have been devastating to our district. More than $8 million (actual figure–I’m one of our union negotiators) dollars of our already diminished general state aid goes straight to the charter because it is a public institution serving students from our district. We have had our school day shortened from 7 periods to 6, This, of course resulted in fewer choices for our students, particularly in the areas of electives, and massive lay-offs in both our certified and classified staff groups.

“As for their results: they graduated their first class last May. Of the original 125 in the class, only 71 remained by graduation. They of course claimed huge success because all 71 were accepted into some kind of post secondary education. Not many people thought to ask about the other 54 students who came back to us.”

Over the past few years, we have seen countless charter scams and frauds. This should not be surprising. When you deregulate a public service and give public money to non-educators to run schools without supervision or accountability, this is what you get.

Here is a prime example, one which I wrote about recently. This post was written and sent to me by Dr. Mitchell Robinson.

An optometrist in Michigan decided he had a new method of learning, which he called “Integrative Visual Learning.”

Robinson writes:

“What’s lost here is any discussion of Dr. Ingersoll’s “innovative” approach to learning, “Integrated Visual Learning,” which has to do with rapid eye movements. Here’s a teacher’s account of IVL, and how it was used in Dr. Ingersoll’s school:

“His claims were/are at best a novelty in my opinion. If I recall correctly, students were initially given a screener to see how their eyes tracked on a page of text. This was done with a special machine and a pair of glasses hooked up to the machine. If their eyes didn’t track from left to right (as in how a person reads a page of text) and from one line to the next in the correct “zig zag” pattern during reading, then they were considered to need “therapy.” Therapy was expensive and rarely covered by insurance.”

“What’s missing here is any description of how children learn. How does this “test” help teachers adapt instruction? What happens when a child’s eyes don’t zig zag? Are they taught differently, or just not admitted to the school?

“Um, not so much…according to another teacher:

“There was NO room in the school specifically for IVL testing. There may have been equipment, but kids were never observed for vision. The IVL methods were taught to all kids, because Ingersoll made the staff do it; middle school and high school as well. Even the Special Education teachers had to teach it. which meant critical standards were not met.”
(http://www.upnorthprogressive.com/2015/01/13/teachers-speak-out-about-integrated-visual-learning-the-continuing-story-of-dr-steve-ingersoll/)

“So while we don’t know if Dr. Ingersoll knows anything about children, or learning, or schools, here’s what we do know:

“1. He stole our money.
2. He subjected our children to radical, untested teaching methods.
3. People like this should not be permitted to set foot in our schools, much less run them.”

Retired teacher and blogger Norm Scott (EdNotes Online) has a creative idea, though time is short. Why not brings hundreds of thousands (or millions) of students to Albany on March 4 to get a “civics lesson” and to remind legislators that 97% of the state’s children attend public schools, not charters.

He writes:

Help this teacher sell this class trip.

“Norm, just stumbled upon you. I tried selling our BOE on the same idea that I just read on your blog (Time for Massive Civics Lesson on March 4). Super didn’t know if we could do that with our public school buses. I teach Elem.Spec.Ed.- do you know if there are any generic “field trip civics lesson plans” out there to expedite my push to make this legit? People won’t get off their asses and take action; all we get is “write your legislators”. Actions speak.”

Norm writes:

“I proposed this weeks ago right after Eva announced she was closing schools on UFT lobby day, March 4, to take them up to Albany. Why not get hundreds of NYC classes to take a field trip to Albany for a civics lesson on how public money can be misused to get away with just about anything. Note how the teacher gets it about the business as usual without imagination UFT plan. Even though March 4 is the day after my 70th birthday I would go along just to get video of a lone teacher making a stand.”

A reader says that Eva Moskowitz’s plan to close her Success Academy charter schools and take 9,000 students to a political rally in Albany is illegal. The question is whether her schools are public schools or private schools. If they are private schools, they are not subject to Chancellor’s Regulations. But, if they are private schools, why did the Legislature give them free space in public buildings and require the city to pay their rent in private buildings?

He writes:

“As stated in Chancellor’s Regulations: D-130

“Personnel may not be involved in any activities, including fundraising, on behalf of any candidate, candidates, slate of candidates or political organization/committee during working hours.”

“Families For Excellent Schools is a political organization. This is completely illegal.

http://schools.nyc.gov/…/4A351970-792D-48E1…/0/D130.pdf”

Jeannie Kaplan, who was elected to two terms on the Denver school board, explains here that reform has not worked despite a lavish PR campaign to boast of “results.”

She begins:

“I have been suffering from DPS and “reform” fatigue, hence my recent silence. But several things have occurred that have catapulted me back to my computer: multiple emails from Superintendent Tom Boasberg touting DPS’ success; newspaper stories telling the truth about public education; conversations with real “boots on the ground” DPS educators and parents; and former DPS superintendent, current U.S. Senator Michael Bennet’s somewhat over the top introduction of his childhood friend and current DPS superintendent Tom Boasberg’s appearance at a No Child Left Behind re-authorization panel where the Senator reiterated the DPS success myth. When Senator Bennet finished, committee chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said, “I think that boils down to ‘he [Boasberg] cleaned up after you left.’” To which Senator Bennet responded, “You can’t even know half of the truth.”

Kaplan proceeds to tell the whole truth, not less than half the truth. After ten years of high-stakes testing and charters, achievement gains have been meager. Denver schools are increasingly segregated. The achievement gap has increased. Pension costs have grown, along with debt. Teacher turnover has increased. And local control has been sacrificed as out-of-state money pours in from wealthy individuals and national groups like Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform to elect reformers to the school board.

Read her post to learn the truth that neither Senator Bennett nor Superintendent Boasberg mentioned at the NCLB hearings.

Want proof that charter schools are not public schools? Public school principals would be fired if they closed their schools for the day and put the children on buses to the state Capitol to lobby for more funding. Imagine if NYC principals brought 1 million students to Albany to demand money for smaller classes, libraries, and the arts. It will never happen because it is illegal.

But next week, Eva Moskowitz will close her NYC charter schools and bring 9,000 children (mostly elementary ages) to lobby for more charters. http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/01/30/success-academys-albany-rally-set-to-compete-with-uft-lobbying-day/#.VOyb4WS9Kc0

She may bring their parents as well. Certainly not to lobby for the children. They already attend a charter school. They can’t attend more than one.

The charters have chosen to lobby in the same day as the UFT. The UFT won’t produce their students; it would be illegal.

it is offensive to see children so callously used to promote “adult interests.”

Private schools can close their doors to lobby. Public schools can’t. The best private schools, however, would not use their students as political props. Their parents would never allow it.

There is much talk in Ohio about accountability for charters, but here is the real deal: the governor’s budget has more funding for charters, while half the state’s public school districts get budget cuts. Here is the latest from the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy:

“All charter schools get a funding increase while half of the school districts are cut

The Legislative Service Commission, a non-partisan office controlled by the legislature, has determined that all charter schools will receive an increase under the Governor’s budget proposal, while half of the school districts will be cut.

An article in the February 18 Columbus Dispatch indicates that Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) will receive 11% of all charter school funds by FY 2017. Of course, the ECOT operator contributes extremely large sums to the political campaigns of those in control of the Statehouse.

Kasich budget plan increases funding to all charter schools
Gov. John Kasich

THE DAILY BRIEFING

By Jim Siegel The Columbus Dispatch Wednesday February 18, 2015 5:52 AM

Charter-school funding in Ohio could exceed $1 billion by 2017 under Gov. John Kasich’s proposed two-year budget, which provides increases to every school.

Most of the attention thus far has focused on the charter-school accountability and transparency provisions included in Kasich’s budget. Lawmakers more recently got a look at the breakdown in charter-school funding.

About half of traditional public schools would see funding cuts over the next two years under Kasich’s education funding plan, though it spends $459 million more. The non-partisan Legislative Service Commission calculated that charter-school funding will rise 5.4 percent over two years, with no schools facing a cut.

The commission estimates total charter-school funding of $990 million by 2017, though that figure does not assume any growth in enrollment over the next two years. It also does not include the additional $25 million in facilities money that Kasich would allow top-performing charter sponsors to use.

In 2017, about 11 percent of all charter-school funding would go to the online Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, better known as ECOT. With more than 15,000 students who take classes from home, it is by far the largest in the state. Nearly one-third of all charter-school students in Ohio take classes at an online school.

Innovation Ohio, a liberal research group and frequent charter-school critic, questions the fairness of the charter-school funding while so many traditional districts face cuts.

“With school funding levels not keeping pace with inflation, Gov. Kasich’s plan makes matters worse by funding charter schools at the expense of local school districts,” said Keary McCarthy, president of Innovation Ohio.

Very little of the increased charter-school funding, McCarthy said, is going to districts with a performance index score above the state average.

Greg Harris, state director of StudentsFirst Ohio, a supporter of school choice, disagrees that charter-school funding is hurting traditional schools.

“We want to move more towards a system of school funding where parents are empowered over the state to determine what’s best for their children,” he said. “We don’t think public charter schools ‘rob’ traditional public schools.”

But StudentsFirst Ohio and Innovation Ohio largely agree on the charter-school oversight provisions in Kasich’s budget, including requirements that fiscal officers be independent of sponsors and operators, and that every sponsor be approved by the state Department of Education. Sponsors would be prohibited from selling services to their schools.

“We support quality school choice, not crappy school choice,” Harris said. Under the budget and a priority House bill that includes other charter-oversight provisions, “sponsors with bad track records will increasingly find Ohio a hostile state to conduct business,” he said.

Innovation Ohio and the Ohio Education Association also argued for some additional concepts, such as a process for closing failing charter schools faster, a requirement on following state public-records laws, and funding that ensures that traditional schools are not financially penalized.

“If parents want to send their kids elsewhere, there should be a viable choice,” said spokesman David Williams of the OEA, the state’s largest teachers union. “Unfortunately, there are too many charter schools that are underperforming the local public schools, so there is no real choice in a situation like that.”

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

Ohio E & A | 100 S. 3rd Street | Columbus | OH | 43215

Every so often, I run into someone who says that he or she cannot take seriously the claim that there is such a thing as a “privatization” movement. They think that charter schools are public schools (I do not) and they scoff at any concern about for-profit schools. They say things like, “There have always been for-profit businesses in education, selling tests, textbooks, supplies, etc., why does it matter if some corporations run schools for profit?” In their eyes, corporate reform is innovative and risky, and no one—not even the for-profit corporations—is trying to privatize public education.

 

To anyone who questions the existence of the privatization movement, I recommend Doug Martin’s “Hoosier School Heist.” Martin is a blogger who holds a Ph.D. in nineteenth century American literature. He is a native of Indiana who is deeply versed in that state’s school politics and its major (and minor) players. His book is eye-opening; actually, his book is eye-popping. It is a no-holds-barred critique of Indiana’s politically and financially powerful privatization movement.

 

Martin’s critique shows the linkages among the free-marketeers, the Religious Right, and the greedy.

 

A few examples of his snappy style:

 

“Academic progress is irrelevant to voucher supporters, for the goal is not to improve schools through competition, as they claim, but to completely dismantle traditional public schools altogether. In fact, those calling for school privatization don’t want to hold anyone with profit motives accountable, as Florida has proven.”

 

He recognizes that vouchers and charters drain funding from public schools, leaving the latter with fewer teachers, fewer aides, fewer programs—“so for-profit education management companies can take them over with temporary teachers or justify starting charter schools by deeming the neighborhood schools as ‘failing.’”

 

He sees why Wall Street is involved in the charter industry. “Making money from disasters is a Wall Street specialty, and investors have jumped on the opportunity for school privatization. Besides generating tax-exempt bonds, stocks, and other shady financial gimmicks, school privatization allows big bank CEOs, private equity firm honchos, and hedge fund managers to collect interest on loans to non-unionized charter schools which employ a temporary teacher workforce….Unlike traditional public school boards, charter school boards are unelected, undemocratic, and cloaked in mystery. Their conflicts of interest enable schemes like high rent to waste public education money.”

 

Martin challenges the corporate-sponsored claims that the public schools are failing to produce a good workforce. He says that Indiana’s newspapers and TV stations “advertise corporate school talking points, portray front group spokespeople as ‘experts,’ and seldom, if ever, question that profit motives and rigged research behind the corporate-sponsored statements that our schools are failing.”

 

The Republican-dominated legislature has taken steps to cripple the funding of public schools. “To sneak more politically connected for-profit charter schools into Indiana, in 2010 legislators cut $300 million annually from the public school budget and mandated tax caps to purposely ensure the destruction of public schools….Since the state controls the purse strings, Republican lawmakers have purposely bolted in place everything needed to start closing down Indiana schools and expanding for-profit charter schools.”

 

Martin shows how the overuse of standardized testing has benefited corporate politicians like Mitch Daniels. Not only do they stifle the critical thinking skills needed in a democratic society, not only do they send millions to testing corporations, but they demoralize and drive out good teachers. This too sets public schools up for failure.

 

One of the valuable aspects of Doug Martin’s book is his careful dissection of the sponsors of corporate reform in Indiana. A key player is called the Mind Trust, which Martin cites as an exemplar of “crony capitalism.” Martin writes:

 

“The Mind Trust typifies America’s counterfeit political Left. Mouthing the rhetoric of class warfare, civil rights, and female empowerment, the mock liberals at Education Sector, the Center for American Progress, and the New America Foundation, all supportive of the Mind Trust specifically or school privatization in general (and most bringing home six-figure salaries), attack teachers unions and public schools and connive to mount in place a school system based on corporate profit, one which disenfranchises the female teachers and minority and poor students they claim to be helping.”

 

Martin calls out the enablers of the school privatization movement, such as Eli Lilly and the Lilly Endowment, reliable funders of privatization activities, and of Teach for America and the New Teacher Project, which will recruit the temporary teachers needed for the charters. He cites the power of ALEC in the Indiana legislature, whose members pushed to evaluate teachers by their students’ test scores and to judge colleges of education by the test scores of students taught by their graduates. He provides overviews of the anti-teacher, anti-union, privatization agenda of Stand for Children, DFER (Democrats for Education Reform), the Christian right, the Bradley Foundation, the DeVos family of Michigan, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), which promotes charters and vouchers.

 

Martin doesn’t offer any suggestions about how to combat the well-funded, interconnected organizations that are advancing the privatization agenda. His book contains valuable information about the privatization movement, its goals, its major players, and its strategies. He leaves it to voters to figure out how to save public education in Indiana.

 

Whether or not you live in Indiana, you should read this book. The major players like DFER and BAEO operate nationally. The activities in Indiana follow a script that is being enacted in many states, probably including yours.

 

Hoosier School Heist is listed on amazon.com, or you can obtain a copy by going to the website http://www.hoosierschoolheist.com.

Bloomberg News reports that Néw York City’s public employees’ pension fund is considering an investment in a hedge fund managed by one of Eva Moskowitz’s key backers.

“The board of the $54 billion pension for civil employees, including lunchroom workers and other school aides, plans a vote Tuesday on whether to invest in Joel Greenblatt’s Gotham Asset Management LLC, according to a copy of the executive agenda. Greenblatt is co-founder of Success Academy, New York’s biggest charter-school network. Its director, Eva Moskowitz, a former city councilwoman, helped block Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bid to cut aid to charter schools.”

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