Archives for category: Charter Schools

You probably don’t remember the claims made by charter advocates when they were starting this dual system of schools; they said they could get better results for less money, which would be a huge cost savings for taxpayers.

 

As we have seen in state after state, charters usually get worse results than public schools, except when they cherry pick the students they want and kick out the ones with low scores.

 

Better results for less money? Forget about it.

 

Charter operators in New York are suing for more money, saying that it is not fair that public schools get more money. The parent plaintiffs are from Buffalo and Rochester. You would think that with their capacity to tap hedge fund managers for millions, they would be satisfied to let public schools–which have larger proportions of students with disabilities and English language learners–get the money they need for the students they enroll.

 

Ed Justice Newsblast – Charter Operators Want More Money in New York

 

 

CHARTER OPERATORS WANT MORE MONEY IN NEW YORK
September 22, 2014
Similar Lawsuits Expected in Other States

 

On September 15, 2014, the Northeast Charter Schools Network (NECSN) and charter parents filed a lawsuit against the State of New York, seeking more taxpayer support for charter schools, specifically for facilities.

The lawsuit, Brown v. New York, which was filed in Buffalo, claims the funding system used by the State to allocate money to charter schools violates the state constitution. The plaintiffs argue that the state funding formula denies children enrolled in charter schools access to a “sound basic education,” as required by the New York State Constitution. Additionally, they allege that the funding scheme has a disproportionate and discriminatory impact on minority students.

The parent plaintiffs are from Buffalo and Rochester and are represented by Herrick, Feinstein LLP, Park Avenue, New York, NY.

As reported in the Rochester City Newspaper, the Alliance for Quality Education, a statewide group that advocates for high quality public education for all New York students, issued a statement calling the suit a “deceptive PR stunt.” “Despite the fact that public schools are severely underfunded, Wall Street-backed charter school groups continue to use aggressive propaganda to win more public school dollars,” the statement asserts.

The plaintiffs ask the court to issue an injunction and a declaratory judgment that the State’s funding scheme violates the Equal Protection and Education Clauses of the New York Constitution and discriminates on the basis of race.

As reported in the Hartford Courant, one of the co-founders of NECSN, Michael Sharpe, falsified his academic credentials, resigned from leadership of a charter school organization, and was convicted of embezzling public funds years earlier.

In North Carolina and Washington, DC, charter school organizations filed cases seeking additional public funding. And, Connecticut, because NECSN is active there, could anticipate a similar suit. It bears watching to see if charter organizations take similar actions in other states.

 

Related Stories:
Charters and “Choice” Increase Segregation and Reduce Achievement for Students in North Carolina

 
Education Justice Press Contact:
Molly A. Hunter, Esq.
Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x19
http://www.edlawcenter.org
http://www.educationjustice.org

Copyright © 2014 Education Law Center. All Rights Reserved.

Talk about “no excuses”!

Blogger and retired teacher Norm Scott broke the story that Girls Prep Charter School in New York City posted a warning to parents about the dire consequences of arriving late to pick up their children. If the parent did not arrive by 3:45, the child would be taken to the local police precinct. Repeated failure to pick up on time would lead to a report to the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.

Referral to ACS might trigger an investigation of the parent and family. Chalkbeat picked up Scott’s report, based on an anonymous tip. ““You’re almost criminalizing parents. You’re calling them neglectful,” said Ocynthia Williams, an advocate with the Coalition for Educational Justice. “The bottom line is it’s a terrible policy for parent engagement at that school.”

Officials told Chalkbeat’s Geoffrey Decker that it was probably an idle threat. Girls Prep earlier came under criticism for offering $100 for referring students who remained enrolled at least three months.

Norm Scott ran another exposé of the same charter, posting a letter from a disgruntled parent, who claimed that the school was a “boot camp” that was training children in robotic behavior.

Egged on by Governor Chris Christie, the privatization movement has targeted Camden, Néw Jersey.

 

PARENT ADVOCATES CALL ON LEGISLATURE TO HALT UNPRECEDENTED EXPANSION OF UNACCOUNTABLE CHARTER CHAINS IN CAMDEN

 

 

NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney is poised to pass S2264, legislation that amends the 2013 Urban Hope Act in order to accommodate illegally approved renaissance charter schools in Camden. Senator Sweeney is bringing this legislation to a full Senate vote on Monday, September 22, without first introducing it in committee. This legislation was already snuck through the Legislature once in late June.

“The handwriting is on the wall,” said Susan Cauldwell, Executive Director of Save Our Schools NJ Community Organizing.

“If the legislature allows this undemocratic transfer of Camden public education to private control, district schools will be forced to close, and the education of Camden schoolchildren and the oversight of hundreds of millions of our tax dollars will be in the hands of entities that are unaccountable to New Jersey families and taxpayers.”

“The people of New Jersey deserve more transparency and accountability from their elected officials, especially when our children’s futures are at stake,” Ms. Cauldwell added.

Last spring, Commissioner of Education David Hespe approved renaissance school proposals submitted by out-of-state charter chains, Mastery and Uncommon, knowing they did not comply with the current Urban Hope Act law.

Save Our Schools NJ objected to the illegal Mastery and Uncommon approvals in three letters to the Commissioner. In what appears to be an acknowledgment of the validity of these objections, a bill amending the Urban Hope Act to allow some of Mastery and Uncommon’s illegal activity, was quickly passed through the Legislature in late June. That bill was vetoed by the Governor.

In August, after Senator Sweeney indicated that he would support a reintroduction of this legislation, Save Our Schools NJ and the Education Law Center sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto calling on him to reject the new UHA legislation. The two organizations recently sent the same letter to all State Legislators (please see below).

“The Camden school district currently turns over $72 million, or 26% of its budget, to charters, because of the new KIPP, Mastery and Uncommon schools that have opened this year. That number will continue to grow,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “We urge Legislators to oppose any expansion of the Urban Hope Act. The purpose of the act was to encourage construction of new school buildings in Camden, not to privatize public education in the district.”

LETTER TO LEGISLATORS

Dear Senator,

We urge you to vote no on Senate Bill 2264, scheduled for a full Senate vote on Monday, September 22!

This legislation extends by one year the Urban Hope program, which allows up to four private, non-profit organizations to open and operate multiple schools in Camden. This legislation also allows these organizations to open schools in temporary facilities, expanding the Urban Hope Act far beyond its intended scope of authorizing only “newly constructed” renaissance school projects.

We strongly oppose this bill because it expedites and further facilitates an unprecedented and unaccountable transfer of public education in Camden from public to private control, under the Urban Hope Act.

Governor Chris Christie’s administration has approved, behind closed doors, three renaissance projects for out-of-state charter chains over the last year. These approvals have set in motion dramatic changes that will result in the hyper-segregation of Camden students; the closing of many of Camden’s district and “homegrown” charter schools; and a near complete absence of accountability for hundreds of millions of New Jersey tax dollars.

1) Transfer of Public Education to Out-Of-State Private Charter Chains

In early July, the Commissioner of Education approved applications for renaissance schools from the Mastery and Uncommon charter chains. Mastery is based in Philadelphia, and Uncommon in New York. The Commissioner authorized these chains to open 11 schools serving 6,194 Camden students. In 2013, the former Commissioner authorized the KIPP charter chain, also based in New York, to open 5 schools serving 2,300 students.

Thus, under the Urban Hope Act, the Christie Administration has given the green light to three charter chains – KIPP, Master and Uncommon – to open 16 schools serving 9,214 Camden students over the next several years. This constitutes 62% of the approximately 15,000 students that attended Camden’s 26 district-operated neighborhood and magnet schools and 13 “locally-grown” charter schools during the 2013-14 academic year.

2) Hyper-Segregation of the Camden Student Population

These charter chains have a poor track record of serving very low-income students, English language learners, students with disabilities, and students at-risk of failure and with other special needs. As a result, the district would be left to educate, with a severely diminished budget, the most academically challenged students, whom the charters chains are either unwilling or unable to serve.

3) Closing of Camden’s District and Charter Schools

As Mastery, KIPP and Uncommon open schools and increase enrollment, the State-operated district will close many, if not most, of the 26 schools currently in operation. The State in recent months closed two charter schools. It is likely that more of these “homegrown” charters also will be closed.

4) Absence of Fiscal and Educational Accountability

The system created by the Urban Hope Act is shockingly lacking in accountability. It relegates the State-operated Camden district solely to the task of transferring enormous amounts of school funding to Mastery, KIPP and Uncommon Schools. In fact, the district’s 2014-15 budget already shows a nearly 30% projected increase in payments to charter schools, from $55.5 million to $72 million, as a result of the opening of the first KIPP, Mastery and Uncommon schools. This amount equals approximately 26% of the Camden district’s FY15 budget and will only increase in the coming years.

Aside from a cursory review by the Commissioner of Education every two years, the renaissance chains also are exempt from the State accountability and oversight requirements applicable to district and charter schools. Instead, responsibility for the education of Camden’s children and the effective and efficient use of hundreds of millions in New Jersey tax dollars would shift to the boards of trustees of the private charter chains. The Urban Hope legislation does not indicate how these organizations would be held accountable for providing a “thorough and efficient” education not just for some, but for the majority of Camden’s schoolchildren.

The Urban Hope Act has been used in Camden to serve a purpose far beyond its intent of creating four newly constructed school projects. Rather, it has been used to remake public education, shifting governance and control over the city’s schools to private organizations based outside New Jersey. This has occurred with almost no information about the specifics of the State’s plans, no meaningful opportunity for parent and community input, and no assurance of accountability going forward.

For these reasons, we oppose any further expansion or extension of the Urban Hope Act. We also urge the Joint Committee on the Public Schools to conduct investigative hearings into the Commissioners’ decisions allowing the Mastery, Uncommon and KIPP chains to, in effect, take over public education in Camden and to determine if any steps can now be taken to address the impact of these decisions on students and schools in the State-operated district.

Sincerely,

David Sciarra
Executive Director
Education Law Center

Susan Cauldwell
Executive Director
Save Our Schools
NJ Community Organizing

Jumoke Academy, once the star charter school of Governor Malloy and State Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, paid over $1 million to the husband of an executive for renovations, according to the Hartford Courant.

“HARTFORD — The Jumoke Academy charter school organization, now facing a state probe into allegations of nepotism, directed more than a million dollars in construction work to the husband of one of its executives, a Courant investigation has found.

“Jumoke’s payments to HSK Home Improvements included at least $85,000 in state grant money used to renovate a Victorian mansion and convert its second floor into an apartment later occupied by the charter group’s longtime leader, Michael M. Sharpe. The apartment, built in 2012 to Sharpe’s specifications, featured a new $12,000 master bathroom with a custom glass shower door.

“State records show HSK Home Improvements is owned by Kenneth Hollis and operated out of his East Hartford home. His wife, Anette Hollis, served as Jumoke’s facilities director and later became chief operating officer of Family Urban Schools of Excellence, the charter management group that ran Jumoke’s schools after Sharpe founded FUSE in 2012.

“Anette Hollis, who lost her job when FUSE collapsed this summer, said in August that she had no role in any of the work her husband performed for Jumoke, “because it was obviously a conflict of interest.”

“But Jumoke financial records show more than $26,000 in purchase orders for HSK that bear her name; among them, a $1,615 job in July 2011 that included painting her office. Anette Hollis did not respond to a subsequent request for comment.

“Kenneth Hollis was most active at Jumoke in 2012 and 2013, when his company received about $540,000 from the state-funded charter operation. But records obtained from Jumoke through a Freedom of Information request show that HSK has performed work for the organization dating back to at least 2000 and has been paid more than $1 million in total.”

This note of alarm comes from Denis Smith, a retired consultant in the Ohio Department of Education’s charter school office:

 

 
On Tuesday, September 23, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments in the notorious White Hat Management case, where the boards of 10 charter schools operated by White Hat Management have sued the operator to assert their right to control the physical assets of the schools. White Hat says that since it is the operator, all tangible property (student and office furniture, equipment, books and supplies) belongs to the company, while the boards maintain that the assets belong to the individual schools.

 

If White Hat wins, this means that upon the closure of any of these charter schools, the operator can sell or auction off this property and maintain the proceeds rather than returning the funds to the state through the normal liquidation process for public proerty.

 

What is disgraceful is that Ohio’s chief legal officer, Attorney General Mike DeWine, has failed to file an amicus brief on behalf of the Ohio Department of Education, and therefore has decided not to join the argument that the property, bought with state funds, belongs to the public rather than the company.

 

But what is even more disgraceful is that only the Ohio School Boards Association has filed an amicus brief in the case, supporting the schools’ contention that the company has no right to these physical assets purchased with state tax funds.

 

So the questions are:
Where is the Ohio Education Association in this case?
Where is the Ohio Federation of Teachers in this case?
Where is the Buckeye Association of School Administrators?
Where is the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators?
Where is the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators?
Where is the Ohio Association of School Business Officials?
Where is Ohio ASCD?
If you belong to any of these organizations, would you consider calling them tomorrow or contacting them TODAY via email to find out why they are AWOL in this case that affects the very future of public education?

 

When I found out about all of these organizations being AWOL after being on the road for two weeks, I was outraged. I hope you might be as well. Needless to say, White Hat has the support of several charter school organizations in this case, but public education organizations, save the Ohio School Boards Association, are absent.

 

This is absolutely shameful.

 

What are professional dues for? What is the reason these organizations exist?

 

If you’re not outraged about this, you haven’t been paying attention. To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of all of us in the education community.

 

http://www.dispatch.com/content/blogs/the-daily-briefing/2014/08/08.25.2014-animus-about-amicus.html

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/09/09/Pepper_on_charter_schools.html

It is not bad enough that Governor Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania legislature are starving the Philadelphia public schools of basic necessities. Here comes the charter lobby to launch an expensive media campaign to persuade parents to pull their kids out of the public schools and put them into charters.

Politico reports:

“SCHOOL CHOICE HITS THE AIRWAVES: Proponents of school choice have launched a major PR blitz in Philadelphia. For the next four weeks, they’ll saturate both morning TV and the evening news, on all four major channels, with 30-second spots featuring parents talking about why their kids are thriving in charter schools. Similar messages will pop up on Twitter and in web ads, and organizers are considering adding radio, too. The goal: Prod civic leaders and school officials to open up the system by making it easier for students to transfer among district-run schools – and, above all, by authorizing more privately-run charters. The campaign is organized by Choice Media, a nonprofit news service that focuses heavily on school choice. Executive director Bob Bowdon won’t name his funders; he told Morning Education that he wants to keep the focus on parents and students, not the money behind the (decidedly pricey) campaign. Watch the ads:http://bit.ly/1s9H2rw and http://bit.ly/1pkXhKG”

Bob Bowdon is a choice zealot. in 2009, he produced a movie called “The Cartel,” mostly about public education in New Jersey. He portrayed the teachers’ union as akin to a mafia-type organization and the public schools as rife with corruption. His solution: vouchers and charters. He surely won’t mention the 18 Philadelphia charter schools that were the subject of federal investigation for financial mis dealing.

Another Douglas County group–the Douglas County Parents– objects to the local school board’s proposals.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

++++++++++++++++

September 15, 2014

Today, Douglas County Parents (DCP) announced their concerns regarding the resolution passed by the Board of Education (BOE) on September 2, 2014, authorizing the submission of Innovation Waiver requests to the State Board of Education (SBE).

Grounded in the Innovation Schools Act of 2008, which gives local schools the ability to apply for a waiver from the SBE to opt out of state mandated standardized tests, this resolution could also transform the Douglas County School District into a “District of Innovation.”

Harmful consequences of becoming a “District of Innovation” include:

The Douglas County BOE would have the power to terminate non-core teachers and staff at will, and to waive teacher licensing requirements.

The Douglas County BOE would have the ability to dictate curriculum.

Innovation schools would have the same autonomies as charter schools, without the full responsibilities for operations and human resources that charter schools have. This would drive the demand for charter school enrollment down, potentially hurting the charter school communities in Douglas County.

DCSD would join “turnaround” districts such as Denver, Pueblo and Kit Carson, whose innovation schools have failed to achieve the intended goals of the program. DCSD would no longer be compared with districts such as Cherry Creek, Boulder, Littleton and JeffCo.

High schools would no longer be eligible to compete for “top lists” which are measured by state standardized tests.

Millions of public tax dollars would be spent to create yet another new system to comply with state and federal accountability measures.

As mandated by the Innovation Schools Act, “it is required that the prospective innovation school receives majority support from teachers, administrators and School Accountability Committee (SAC) members; as well as a statement of the level of support from classified school staff, parents, students and the surrounding community.” Because this resolution was passed without public community input, DCP believes that this majority of support was not sought, received, or proven.

“We firmly believe that the parents, teachers, staff and community of Douglas County have the right to choose whether or not they want this designation for our district,” said Cristin Patterson, spokesperson for DCP. “There are grave, irreversible consequences for choosing this path, and we implore the district to hold a public discussion on what this would mean for our schools and community. Upcoming state legislation may provide changes in state testing procedures, so we do not understand why district leaders would risk so much when the state is already pursuing a viable solution.”

About Douglas County Parents:

DCP is a growing local advocacy group made up of over 1,350 parent, teacher, student, and community member volunteers of all political affiliations, ages and professions who are concerned about the policies that the Douglas County Board of Education and district administration have forced upon our community. DCP’s community outreach efforts include sharing facts backed by documentation garnered through the school district and Colorado Department of Education websites and publications, Colorado Open Record Requests, and attending a variety of meetings. Please contact spokesperson, Cristin Patterson, at cristin@douglascountyparents.com for updates and statements relating to DCSD issues. You may also find more information at DouglasCountyParents.com.

Thank you for your time,

~ Cristin Patterson ~
Douglas County Parents
Spokesperson/Media Contact
cristin@douglascountyparents.com
http://www.DouglasCountyParents.com

Ken Previti alerted me to the appearance of this story in Harper’s, called “PBS Self-Destructs.” Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall, so you will either have to subscribe or run out and buy a copy.

Aside from Bill Moyers, PBS has paid little attention to the astonishing, destructive, breath-taking assaults on the very principle of public education. Nor, with the exception of an occasional piece by John Merrow, has PBS devoted air time to the outrageous attacks on the teaching profession and the very idea of collective bargaining. Now is the time for hard-hitting journalism to exposé the outrageous profiteering by tech companies and the testing industry, and the capture of education by economists who think that whatever can’t be measured doesn’t count. Where is the Public Broadcasting System when public education is under siege?

Rocketship had planned to open 8 new charters in Milwaukee, but, according to this report from the Milwaukee Teachers’ Union, the expansion has been scaled back dramatically due to low enrollment. The company’s financial plan shows only one charter school in the year 2019. Teachers opposed the introduction of 8 Rocketship charters because they would drain more resources from the public schools, and because it relies heavily on computer instruction, has no art or music classes, and relies on non-certified teachers.

A post in the Tennessee Parents blog complains about the “Rocketship Charter School Nightmare in Tennessee.” Parents say that anyone who attended an informational session about the Rocketship Charter School discovered that their child’s records were pulled and moved to Rocketship. When they went to their zoned school, they were told that they had enrolled in Rocketship, even though they had not.

 

A parent wrote:

 

“Apparently ANY family that went to an info session about the new Rocketship Charter Schools had their records pulled without permission. So students and parents showed up the first day of school only to find out that they were not registered at their zoned school. Their children were registered at Rocketship without their permission.

So they went to Rocketship to get their children switched back to their zoned school, and it was like walking into a high-pressure timeshare sales job. Rocketship pressured them to stick around and try it. It was a nightmare to get Rocketship to release their child’s records to re-enroll in their zoned school. This happened to over 100 families. A bait-and-switch nightmare with their children’s school placement.

Rocketship also confused ELL and immigrant families by misleading them to believe that they were supposed to go to charters. It is a mess. Strangely, the media isn’t picking up on it. There is a lot of hush-hush. Some are wondering if they are trying to keep students there past the 20th day to get the ADA funding and to boost their enrollment numbers.”

 

 

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