Archives for category: Charter Schools

Conservatives are supposed to conserve. however, these days conservatives are intent on smashing their community’s public schools and substituting a market-based system. this is Wall Street, not Main Street.

From a parent activist in Indiana:

“When it comes to public education, Indiana Republicans have been good at one thing – the deception of their own base of voters.

“Republicans lawmakers found themselves torn this year between traditional Hoosier conservatives and corporate sponsors who finance their campaigns. Conservative voters protested Federal overreach in education. Demanding Indiana maintain local decision-making for their schools, Hoosiers asked lawmakers to abandon the Common Core State Standards. However, the corporate ownership of the Common Core is pervasive.

“Republicans needed to quell conservative voter outrage at a Federal initiative taking away local control and costing taxpayers millions in compliance. Yet, they also needed to appease the big businesses that not only funded the Common Core, but funded their election campaigns as well. What were Indiana Republicans to do?

“Deceive us Hoosier Conservatives.

“Remaining loyal to their corporate sponsors, Republicans devised a scheme – rebrand the Common Core State Standards as the new Indiana College and Career Ready Standards. Confident they had cornered the voting booth, they stuck a new sticker over the Common Core and sold us out.

“State Republicans continue to deceive the public with their education platform of “supporting high state-based standards”. In fact, much of the Republican platform on education is written in deceptive terminology.

“The ancient Chinese general, Sun Tzu, said, “All warfare is based on deception.” The Republican Platform on education is nothing more than a declaration of war on our public schools. Unfortunately, Hoosier students are their casualties.”

Sarah Lahm has written an important article about an infusion of corporate reform campaign money for a school board seat in Minneapolis.

Do corporate reformers see Minneapolis as the next Néw Orleans, the next city where they can privatize the public schools?

She writes:

“In the aftermath of a failed 2013 bid for mayor, former Minneapolis city council member Don Samuels is running for a spot on the school board. If he wins, he will undoubtedly be able to thank the extensive financing and canvassing support he’s received from several well-heeled national organizations, such as the Washington, D.C.-based 50CAN, an offshoot of Education Reform Now called Students for Education Reform (SFER), and various people associated with Teach for America, which has been called a “political powerhouse” for its growing influence in policy and politics beyond the classroom.

“These groups often project an image of grassroots advocacy but are in fact very well-funded, often through the support of extremely wealthy hedge fund managers and large philanthropic foundations. Together, they and like-minded “education reform” proponents have dramatically, but not necessarily democratically, altered how public education works throughout the United States.

“While August campaign finance reports show Samuels out-raising his main competitor, incumbent Rebecca Gagnon, by almost 4 to 1 through local donations, they also show that Samuels is getting tremendous support from outside of Minnesota. The D.C.-based 50CAN Action Fund filed a campaign finance report in Minnesota showing that it was devoting $14,350 in financial resources to the Minneapolis school board race, as well as in-kind donations valued in the thousands of dollars. Since 50CAN Action Fund is a 501(c)(4), its reports do not have to disclose which candidates it is supporting, but 50CAN Action Fund’s Minnesota chair Daniel Sellers told a reporter in July that the group had spent money on Samuels.”

According to the Bluff City blogger, Memphis parents and teachers have reached the boiling point. They are angry about the annual ritual of takeovers of their public schools. Things are not going well for the Achievement School District (ASD). It absorbed the state’s lowest performing schools and promised they would become high-performing schools within five years. The clock is ticking. Now parents, teachers, school officials and communities say they don’t want to lose their public schools. They are tired of empty promises. Even some charter operators have backed off, aware of public outrage. The blogger says it is a true revolt. Outsiders rearranging their lives and their schools, without listening to the community. Enough is enough. People don’t like pointless disruption of their communities.

This study was released this morning by Rutgers University researchers Julia Sass Rubin and Mark Weber:

New Jersey Charter and District Schools Educating Very Different Populations of Students, Finds Study by Rutgers Researchers

Charter schools across New Jersey educate a very different population of students by income, language proficiency, special needs, race and even gender than their sending district public schools, finds a report released Wednesday by two Rutgers University researchers.

The report documents that New Jersey charter schools educate significantly smaller percentages of economically disadvantaged students, English Language Learners, and special education students than do the public school districts from which the charter schools draw their students. The special education students who enroll in charter schools also tend to have less costly disabilities.

The report’s authors, Rutgers doctoral student Mark Weber and Associate Professor Julia Sass Rubin, point out that the lower rates of economically disadvantaged, Limited English Proficient, and special education students in charter schools result in those students being concentrated at higher rates within the host district schools. This increases segregation and impacts the quality of education that districts can provide and the financial resources available to pay for that education.

The severity of demographic differences between charter and district schools varies. Hoboken’s district schools, for example, educate almost five times the percentage of economically disadvantaged students as Hoboken’s charter schools (49% vs. 10%) while Paterson’s district schools educate approximately twice the percentage as Paterson’s charter schools (90% vs. 46%).

Demographic differences between district and charter school students also are evident in the suburbs. For example, 19% to 27% of the students who attend Teaneck’s seven district schools come from families with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty line, versus only 3% of the students at Teaneck Community Charter School.

Some of the most dramatic demographic differences between district and charter schools are in the percentage of English Language Learners, who make up approximately 2% of charter school students statewide but close to 10% of sending district student populations.

Weber and Rubin point out that the New Jersey Supreme Court has consistently held that the New Jersey Commissioner of Education, who authorizes charter schools, must consider the demographic and financial impact of any authorizing decision on the host district and must use the full powers of that office to avoid segregation. The report’s findings suggest the Commissioner is not sufficiently meeting this legal obligation.

Weber and Rubin make a number of recommendations for bringing the population of New Jersey charter schools in line with the demographic composition of their host districts.

These include:

Have the NJ Department of Education conduct the lottery process for all charter schools, with one application deadline, to increase lottery and waiting list transparency and to make it easier for economically disadvantaged and Limited English Proficient families to apply

Use weighted lotteries to make it feasible for charter schools to admit higher percentages of economically disadvantaged, Limited English Proficient, and special education students

Require charter schools to replace any students who leave and, whenever possible, to do so from comparable demographic categories in terms of economic disadvantage, Limited English Proficiency and special education.

Tie demographic parity in terms of economic disadvantage, Limited English Proficiency, and special education to a charter school’s funding, so that charter schools that fail to match at least 90% of their host district’s demographic composition on these variables would receive a lower reimbursement rate per student
The report, the first of three in-depth examinations of charter and host district public schools, was made possible by a grant from the Daniel Tanner Foundation. The two forthcoming reports will evaluate staffing and financial issues, and examine student outcomes. The authors base their analysis on publicly-available data, making it feasible for other researchers to validate the results.

The report was released in conjunction with the grassroots, pro-public education organization Save Our Schools NJ. The report and additional demographic information for individual charter schools and their host districts are available on the Save Our Schools NJ website

http://www.saveourschoolsnj.org/nj-charter-school-data/

Iris Rotberg, Research Professor of Education Policy at George Washington Policy, critiques the endless search for the silver bullet that will close the test score gaps among children from low-income and high-income groups.

In 2009, a study claimed that attendance at a charter school in New York Cityfor several years would virtually close that gap. We now know, Rotberg shows, that this was an exaggeration and in fact, based on the latest state tests, untrue.

She predicts that Common Core will turn out to be yet another distraction.

“The supporters and opponents of the Common Core are now engaged in an escalating debate about whether the Common Core will strengthen U.S. education or, instead, become a dangerous intrusion by the federal government to control the content of the curriculum. Most likely, as in the case of previous reforms of curriculum standards, it will turn out to be irrelevant to any real change in the opportunities available to low-income students, and it is certainly unlikely to become the silver bullet that narrows the achievement gap.

“It is often assumed that the Common Core’s emphasis on reasoning will make it difficult to cram for and, therefore, test preparation will no longer be useful. That is the claim initially made by the College Board when cram courses were first used to prepare for university entrance exams (College Entrance Examination Board, 1965). The SAT, GRE, LSAT, and MCAT all emphasize inductive and deductive reasoning, yet affluent families figured out how to cope: They spent thousands of dollars on their children’s cram courses or tutors because they saw that the preparation was effective in raising test scores. If we continue to reward and punish teachers based on the test scores of their students—even if these scores are based on Common Core tests—educators in low-income communities will continue to have little choice but to narrow the curriculum to give more time for test preparation. Rather than reducing the achievement gap, the risk is that the Common Core test, like those that preceded it, will lead to fewer opportunities for children in high-poverty communities. And the rhetoric surrounding it will continue to detract attention from the policies needed to address the societal inequities that have led to the achievement gap.”

She concludes:

“It has been argued that to critique current policies is equivalent to saying that nothing can be done for low-income children. Just the opposite: we know that economic, social, and educational policies in areas of employment and wages, taxation, housing, health, school integration, school finance, and access to higher education can be effective in addressing the fundamental problems of poverty. Meanwhile, however, we can work to ensure that our current policies do not make matters worse for the most vulnerable students.”

Laurel M. Sturt, education activist, explains here why she is voting for the Green Party this November. In New York, where she lives, the two major parties have become indistinguishable.

She writes:

“In the last decade, the Democratic party has become increasingly indistinct from the Republican, both parties in virtually impervious thrall to the siren of money. As exacerbated by the Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court decisions, the–for all intents and purposes–wholesale prostitution of both parties to special interests has forced the true agenda of today’s elected officials into the light: the sacred civic duty supposedly embodied in a position called, after all, “public service,” has been exposed to be less motivational than the perks and influence inherent in a position of power. While we watch, haplessly marginalized on the sidelines of integrity, these unworthies blithely ply their incompetence–via obstructionism (McConnell), corruption (Rangel), or any number of ignominious affronts to decency, or democracy. This laser-focused drive to maintain a privileged position, moreover, comes with the most flagrant, arrogant dismissal of accountability. We came very close, after all, to electing a president with the hubris to trumpet the slogan “Country First” while simultaneously exposing us to the possibility of governance by Sarah Palin–and Rod Serling wasn’t even in the room when that decision was made! Indeed, her very choice as a running mate was a perfectly indicting metaphor for a system whose morality has gone AWOL, in a scenario increasingly where an elected official is not a bonafide public servant but simply playing one on tv. As such, our national script has abandoned the dignified legacy of John Adams, alas, in favor of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

“The convergence of the two political parties in a shared embrace to protect the power status quo–enabled by money overriding principle–has been nowhere more evident than in the attack on public education. No Child Left Behind, despite its feel-good soundbite of education as a civil right, has been revealed to be a privatizing agenda from conservatives not compassionate but impassioned, in fact, by the prospect of public dollars pouring into private coffers. Indeed, the tools for this, among them a pervasive culture of high-stakes testing, have had the added bonus of busting teacher unions, the last inhibition to fully exploiting the education cash cow, a trillion dollar business opportunity here and abroad. Yet far from coming to the rescue of public education, Obama and likeminded Democrats such as New York’s Governor Cuomo have taken up their own torch and pitchfork with alarming alacrity: Race to the Top, and its proponents, have seized on the malevolent premise–and promise–of NCLB, simply ramping it up with steroids. Between the Common Core and other elements designed to privatize a public good, our education system is on the verge of devastation; incredibly, both parties have proven to be equal opportunity plunderers not just of any resource but that most precious of all, our children, the very future of our nation. We could use a Patriot Act, alright, one expressly for education.”

Let’s face it. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t like public schools. He sneers at teachers. If he is re-elected, expect the attacks on public education and teachers to escalate.

Don’t vote for the lesser of two evils. In this race, there is no lesser.

Vote Green.

California blogger “RedQueeninLA” reviews the contest between Marshall Tuck and Tom Torlakson for state superintendent and concludes that Tuck is unfit for the office.

Tuck is the candidate of the power elite, the billionaires who cynically employ fake rhetoric about “it’s all for the kids,” when their real goal is to demonize teachers and invest in technology. They have zero commitment to public education as a civic responsibility.

Tuck comes from the world of investment banking. His education experience at Green Dot Charter Schools and at former Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa’s takeover schools was a failure. On that ground alone–his dismal experience–he should be disqualified.

But his greatest liability is his contempt for public education. With him at the helm, public school students would have no advocate in Sacramento. But the oligarchs would.

On behalf of the power elite, Marshall Tuck is running a:

“professionally organized, PR-driven, fact- and experience-free, 1%-obsessed campaign. With relentless repetition their agenda is focused on issues to degrade the influence of organized labour and drive the market predominance of high technology. The challenger, Marshall Tuck, simply blusters through one Big Lie after another, disingenuously claiming to be all about “the children” when in fact this is seemingly the opposite of his agenda. Marshall Tuck’s resume offers no evidence to suggest children’s best interests are the focus of his attention. What all these billionaire-backed candidates – whether Sanchez I v Kayser, Anderson v Zimmer, Sanchez II v Ratliff, or Johnson v McKenna – is about, is the corporate interests of their paymasters.”

Will the 1% buy the state superintendents’ job in California? Will Tuck–the puppet of the oligarchs–win despite his record of failure? Will the public ignore his contempt for public schools and their teachers?

Or will they see through the mask of power politics and reject his deceptive and divisive rhetoric?

I hope that the voters choose Tom Torlakson, a veteran educator who will truly fight for the kids, their teachers, and their public schools.

The race in California is a test of democracy? Can the voters be hoodwinked by Big Lies and Big Money?

Governor Andrew Cuomo promised, in a meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board, to “bust” the public school monopoly.

 

 

Vowing to break “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” Gov. Cuomo on Monday said he’ll push for a new round of teacher evaluation standards if re-elected.

Cuomo, during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, said better teachers and competition from charter schools are the best ways to revamp an underachieving and entrenched public education system.

“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

He said the key is to put “real performance measures with some competition, which is why I like charter schools.”

Cuomo said he will push a plan that includes more incentives — and sanctions — that “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.”

Cuomo expects fierce opposition from the state’s teachers, who are already upset with him and have refused to endorse his re-election bid.

“The teachers don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations — I get it,” Cuomo said. “I feel exactly opposite.”

 

Cuomo sounds more and more like Scott Walker of Wisconsin every day. Bust the unions. Humble the teachers. Crush public schools and introduce free market competition.

Carl Paladino, a multimillionaire in Buffalo who ran on the Republican ticket for governor against Andrew Cuomo in the last election, got elected to the Buffalo, New York, school board.

 

He supports charter schools. He also invests in them.  He makes money investing in charter schools. “If I didn’t, I’d be a frigging idiot,” he said.

 

Conflict of interest?

 

PS: Sorry to say that the Buffalo newspaper removed this story from the Internet, although it still appears on Google.

Jaime Franchi of the Long Island Press provides here a succinct and accurate summary of the first ever Public Education Nation. The event was held on October 11 at the Brooklyn New School, a public school where 80% of the students opted out of state testing.

 

The discussions were lively and included people who were watching on live stream. This is the first of what we hope to make an annual event. We is the Network for Public Education.

 

Go to the website and  you can join (oops, I see it has not been updated to include links to the panels yet). Keep watching and you will be able to see our great presenters.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 114,359 other followers