Archives for category: Charter Schools

It now turns out that the lead applicant for the new Rochester, NewYork, charter school has no degrees, or none that can be verified. He did not graduate from Rochester’s School Without Walls. He did not obtain a bachelor’s degree from online Western Governors University. He did not obtain a master’s or a doctorate from Concordia University.

But the charter school will open anyway. The head of the Board of Regents disclaims any responsibility. The review is conducted by the State Education Department, she says. Who runs the SED? Dr. Tisch selected the State Education Commissioner, Dr. John King, her classmate at Teachers College. Maybe he is responsible? But who is accountable? Anyone?

Dr. King is fast to hold teachers and principals accountable. Will anyone be held accountable for granting a charter and a guaranteed stream of public money to a young man with no experience or education credentials.

The Greater Works Charter School will open in September. As Dr. Tisch says, board members come and go. So do charter schools. No problem. The demolition of public education continues.

Zephyr Teachout, who ran against Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary and won 1/3 of the vote despite no money and no name recognition, has written a brilliant column in The Daily Beast, warning that the millionaires and billionaires who bought the State Senate now are aiming to take over public schools.

She compares their strategy to “The Hunger Games.”

“The same hedge-fund managers who bought the New York State Senate now want to take over public education in the state and strip it bare, while they celebrate excessive wealth in high style. They’re pushing for a special session in Albany this December to cement the takeover of education policy….”

“In New York’s Hunger Games, just like in the books and movies, those in the Capitol live in a very different reality than the rest of us. In our Capitol, Albany lawmakers enjoy a flood of money, personal accounts, and protection for incumbents against attacks. In the Districts—the cities and towns of New York—the reality is bleaker. Citizens must work to survive and make do with the limited resources afforded to them by the Capitol….”

“Like President Snow, who starves the Districts, tests the residents with the Hunger Games competition, and then sets out to destroy them, the hedge-funders want to take over our schools with the same three steps: Starve, Test, Destroy. Budgets are cut severely, tests reveal “poor performance,” and then public schools, having been thus gutted, are replaced by privately managed charters.

First, the starvation: The state of New York is being sued again for funding public schools below constitutional levels. Cuomo’s budgets have stripped grade schools of art, music, sports, and counselors. Without money, classrooms grow so large no teacher can manage them, and kids can’t learn. Billionaires benefit as the money “saved” by not funding schools goes to tax breaks for the rich….”

“Second, the testing: Children are subject to a ridiculous battery of tests that lead to huge profits by corporations like the testing company Pearson but does little to improve the lives of the children. We’re talking about high-stakes, high-stress testing, including testing of the controversial Common Core. These tests prod and poke the children, creating lots of anxiety and taking away from the joy of learning.”

“Third, the destruction: These hedge-fund managers want to eliminate all limits and oversight of charter schools. They want to take control of New York City schools away from Mayor Bill de Blasio and let privatization run rampant. And they want billions in new funding from taxpayers to build new charter schools everywhere across the state, taking even more resources away from hard-pressed public schools.”

Read it all. It is amazingly insightful.

Ted Morris, Jr., resigned his post as leader of the newly authorized charter school called “Greater Works Charter School,” after numerous revelations about discrepancies in his resume. The charter board still plans to open the school in September 2015.

 

Peter Greene reviews the accumulation of new details about the young man, age 22, who was granted a charter by the New York State Board of Regents and has a question: If he and other bloggers and one reporter were able to determine in only 24 hours of Internet searching that this young man did not graduate from the Rochester high school that he claimed on his resume, that it was uncertain whether he had earned a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree or a doctorate, why didn’t the New York State Board of Regents know these things before handing out a charter to someone who had never taught or run a school?

 

Mercedes Schneider wonders too about the vetting process of the New York State Board of Regents. Do the Regents care about the experience of qualifications of those who are granted a charter to run a school with public funds?

 

She writes:

 

The short of it: This guy is lying about his credentials, and NY Regents just approved him to run a NY charter school at $12,340 per student for the life of the charter (see page 56 of 2014 application), with 96 students approved for 2015-16. Morris admits in the second D&C article seeking his charter board “through posts on Craigslist, Linkedin, and websites for nonprofits” and has used their credentials to help dress up what is an impressive charter operation on paper.

D&C could not reach either of two NY Regents members for comment on Morris’ application approval.

If NY Regents really has students’ best interests in mind, it would seem that thorough checks on the references of charter applicants would be in order.

 

The Perdido Street Blogger reports that the young entrepreneur has resigned from the board of the charter school that he was supposed to lead, and asks the logical question:

 

Now comes the work of holding the Board of Regents accountable for giving approval to this fraud’s charter school and using this fiasco as Exhibit A when Cuomo, King and Tisch look to raise or eliminate the charter cap in New York State.

If Dr Ted Morris Jr, huckster extraordinaire, could get a charter in New York State now before the cap is lifted or eliminated, just wait and see what happens after the cap is increased or ended completely.

 

Chancellor Merryl Tisch has admitted that she hopes to spread charters across the state, and Commissioner John King is a charter school founder from a “no-excuses” charter school with the highest suspension rate in Massachusetts.

 

A sign of coming attractions: Jonathan Pelto has sent a request to state and city officials in New York asking for a formal investigation of Steve Perry’s recently approved charter school in New York City. Pelto writes that Perry, an employee of the Hartford, Connecticut, public schools, is planning to use copyrighted material for the benefit of his private charter company:

 

Either the Commissioner, staff and Regent’s Committee were unaware that Mr. Perry and his fellow charter school applicants do not own the concepts, materials or intellectual property that they claim or the Commissioner, staff and Committee was aware of this issue and are intentionally engaging in what appear to be Mr, Perry’s criminal violation of copyrighted material owned by the Hartford, Connecticut Board of Education…

 

Throughout the application, and in the hearings, meetings and communications associated with his attempt to get garner approval from the New York Board of Regents for his Harlem charter school application, Mr. Perry consistently claimed that he and his company own the concepts, materials and intellectual property associated with the Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford and have the legal right to “replicate” that school in New York using materials created for the Connecticut public school.

 

However, neither Steve Perry nor his private company has any legal right to those concepts, materials or intellectual property.

 

Since Steve Perry and his associates are full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education, the copyright laws are extremely clear. Concepts, materials and intellectual property created by employees of a school district are the sole property of the school district….

 

Mr. Perry and his company are seeking to use copyrighted materials for personal gain, which of course, is an extremely serious and potentially criminal offense. According to federal law, “A commercially motivated infringer can receive up to a five-year federal prison term and $250,000 in fines. (17 U.S.C. § 506(a)), 18 U.S.C. § 2319)

 

Mr. Perry’s application to open a charter school in Harlem contains numerous claims that he is basing his work plan on concepts, materials and intellectual property that he does not own or have the right to utilize.

 

Someone at the New York State Board of Regents should take note and pay attention to due diligence.

 

 

 

 

 

In a shocking decision, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the state has no legal responsibility to provide a quality education to every child. The case centered on the Highland Park school district, where achievement was lagging; the state turned the entire district over to a for-profit charter operator that had no track record of improving low-performng schools. The American Civil Liberties Union had filed the suit.

 

In a blow to schoolchildren statewide, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on Nov. 7 the State of Michigan has no legal obligation to provide a quality public education to students in the struggling Highland Park School District.
A 2-1 decision reversed an earlier circuit court ruling that there is a “broad compelling state interest in the provision of an education to all children.” The appellate court said the state has no constitutional requirement to ensure schoolchildren actually learn fundamental skills such as reading — but rather is obligated only to establish and finance a public education system, regardless of quality. Waving off decades of historic judicial impact on educational reform, the majority opinion also contends that “judges are not equipped to decide educational policy.”

 

“This ruling should outrage anyone who cares about our public education system,” said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties of Michigan. “The court washes its hands and absolves the state of any responsibility in a district that has failed and continues to fail its children.”

 

The decision dismisses an unprecedented “right-to-read” lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Michigan in July 2012 on behalf of eight students of nearly 1,000 children attending K-12 public schools in Highland Park, Mich. The suit, which named as defendants the State of Michigan, its agencies charged with overseeing public education and the Highland Park School District, maintained that the state failed to take effective steps to ensure that students are reading at grade level.

 

“Let’s remember it was the state that turned the entire district over to a for-profit charter management company with no track record of success with low performing schools,” said Moss. “It is the state that has not enforced the law that requires literacy intervention to children not reading at grade level. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure and maintain a system of education that serves all children.”

 

In a dissenting opinion, appellate court judge Douglas Shapiro accused the court of “abandonment of our essential judicial roles, that of enforcement of the rule of law even where the defendants are governmental entities, and of protecting the rights of all who live within Michigan’s borders, particularly those, like children, who do not have a voice in the political process.”

 

MEAP test results from 2012 painted a bleak picture for Highland Park students and parents. In the 2013-14 year, no fewer than 78.9 percent of current fourth graders and 73 percent of current seventh graders will require the special intervention mandated by statute. By contrast, 65 percent of then-fourth graders and 75 percent of then-seventh graders required statutory intervention entering the 2012-13 school year.

 

At the time the state of Michigan decided to privatize the Highland Park schools and turn them over to the Leona Group, some saw it as a last-ditch effort to save the district from its debt. 

 

The Wall Street Journal wrote in 2012:

 

Phoenix-based Leona will receive $7,110 per pupil in state funding, plus an as-yet-undetermined amount of federal funds for low-income and special education students. In addition, the Highland Park district will pay Leona a $780,000 annual management fee.

 

Unions have been sidelined after the district’s entire professional staff was laid off, as allowed by the state emergency law, but teachers can apply for jobs with Leona. Leona has budgeted about $36,000 a year for Highland Park teachers on average, the company said—compared with almost $65,000 a year the teachers received in the 2010-11 school year.

 

In a typical school it takes over, Leona has hired back about 70% of the teachers, the company said. Leona also will lease the Highland Park district’s buildings.

 

Under the five-year contract with Leona, the new city charter board will monitor the company’s progress in improving student performance.

 

Leona runs 54 schools in five states. Students in almost half of them fail state academic benchmarks. But of its 22 Michigan schools, 19 meet the mark, Leona officials said.

 

Leona Chief Executive William Coats said the company had no incentive to cut corners in Highland Park. “As we build equity, we give that back to the schools,” he said during Wednesday’s meeting when an audience member raised doubts about the for-profit approach. “We’re trying to manage this so you [the district] stay in business.”

 

Highland Park is where Henry Ford opened his first assembly line and Chrysler Corp. built its original headquarters. It has suffered the same ills as Detroit, its larger neighbor: an exodus of auto jobs, depressed housing stock and a surge in crime.

 

The city, which spreads across three square miles, lost nearly 30% of its population from 2000 to 2010, according to the latest U.S. Census. Nearly half of the 11,776 residents live below the poverty line.

 

Students and parents complain of dirty classrooms, exposed wiring in the schools, rationed textbook and swimming pools—once used by powerhouse swim teams—that now sit drained of water.

 

John Holloway, the school board president, said the problems became a “runaway train that we could not stop.”

 

As the situation worsened, the state gave the district a $4 million loan in July 2011 and advanced it $450,000 more earlier this year just to meet its payroll.

 

A union-backed initiative that could go to voters statewide in November seeks to repeal the emergency-manager law under which Ms. Parker was appointed to run the district. The law had been strengthened in 2011 by the governor.

 

Glenda McDonald, a Highland Park resident and laid-off teacher, said that the problem was not entirely the fault of the community. “The disinvestment in our communities led to the disinvestment in our schools, and that’s why people left,” she said. “We had nothing to offer them.”

 

After Leona took over, things did not go well. Enrollment dropped sharply. The company closed the district’s high school. It agreed to waive its fee for one year because of a lingering deficit.

 

 

The 22-year-old who received a charter from the New York Board of Regents said he graduated Rochester’s School Without Walls when he was 16, received an online bachelor’s degree at 18, then earned a master’s and doctorate in four years.

The following email just arrived:

Hi Diane.

I was the principal of Rochester, New York’s School Without Walls from 1987 to 2010. Ted Morris, the young man awarded permission to open a charter school in Rochester, NY, and claiming to be a graduate of School Without Walls in 2008, attended SWW for less than a year and then voluntarily left to be home schooled. He never graduated nor received a diploma from School Without Walls.

Dan Drmacich

It was surprising to learn that the Néw York Board of Regents awarded a charter to a 22-year-old prodigy with no educational experience. Peter Greene did some research and found that the young man and his supporters first applied for a charter when he was only 18 and had just won his bachelor’s degree online. He went on to receive a master’s and a doctorate in the next four years, subject not specified, possibly online but not clear. Peter thinkshe may also be an ordained cyber minister.

The question is, why did the Regents refuse to grant him a charter when he was 18? Andre Agassi has lots of charters, and he is a high school dropout. Like, what’s the standard here? Age, money, charisma, experience, or what?

Bill Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy fears that Governor John Kasich plans to privatize the public schools of Youngstown:

Bill Phillis writes:

According to a November 20 Youngstown Vindicator article, the state representative-elect from Youngstown said the Governor told her he would like to shut down Youngstown City Schools and replace the district with a great charter school. Could this happen? That scheme already exists in New Orleans. Look for it in the state budget bill to be unveiled by the Governor in February 2015.

Ohio law provides that charters are privately-operated entities with near zero accountability and transparency. A charterized Youngstown School system would signal that a private, non-transparent, unaccountable system is superior to a publicly-controlled, accountable, transparent system. It would signal that privatization is superior to democracy. It would tell the world that democracy has failed in Youngstown Ohio. What is next? A privatized city council for Youngstown?

Ohioans better wake up to the erosion of democracy via the charter school scheme. If the complete privatization of pubic K-12 education happens, democracy will be history.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

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

Jonathan Prlto blows the whistle on Steve Perry’s expansion plans, which Pelto says are illegal under Connecticut law.

Perry is principal of Capital Prep Magey School in Hartford. He has received permission from the state Board of Education to open a charter in Bridgeport and from Néw York’s Board of Regents to open a charter in Harlem. He will remain principal of the public magnet school in Hartford and will use materials and personnel from the public school for the charters.

Pelto writes:

“The proposals for both schools openly admitted that the plans were based on Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, that the materials used will be the same as those used at Capital Prep Magnet School and the management team that will run the Bridgeport and Harlem charter schools will be the same group of senior administrators and teachers that are presently running Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford.

“The proposals even included many of the written materials that can be found on Capital Prep Magnet School’s present website.

“But of course, Steve Perry and his team know perfectly well that such a move is blatantly illegal.

“The law is very clear, materials and concepts developed by public employees during the course of their work belong to their employer – the government that pays them and its citizens.”

Pelto says:

“Perry will collect $2.5 million per year for the first five years as a charter operator.”

We know that states have granted charters to rappers (Pitbull in Florida) and to Andre Agassi, a high-school dropout), but this is the first instance where a state approved a charter led by a 22-year-old man. Given his resume, it appears that he has never taught or run a school. Perhaps he will prove that no experience is necessary to run a charter school.

 

It was only six years ago that he graduated from School Without Walls at age 16. Now, at 22, he’s armed with a freshly minted doctorate degree in education and permission from the state Board of Regents to open a charter high school in Rochester in 2015.

 

“I remember being in school and feeling I was a bit more advanced and (not having enough options),” he said. “I wanted to grow up and open a school that’s predicated on each student’s needs and interests. … I did it sooner than I expected.”

 

It will be called Greater Works Charter School, accepting about 100 ninth-graders in its first year and eventually expanding to about 400 students in grades 9-12.

 

One of the key tenets will be extensive use of online learning. Each class will have two certified teachers, or one teacher and one teacher’s assistant; at any given time, each of them will be working with a third of the students and the remaining third — in particular, the more advanced students — will be working on computers….

 

After graduating from School Without Walls in 2008, Morris got a bachelor’s degree at age 18 from Western Governors University, an online college based in Salt Lake City. He then received master’s and doctoral degrees from Concordia University near Chicago.

 

Morris has an educational consulting firm and said he has worked with the Rochester Prep schools, among others. He also helped start three non-profit organizations, he said: Sparq Rochester, a youth arts outfit; Greater Works Education Network, a fledgling statewide charter advocacy group; and Victory Living Christian Faith Center.

A report by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice finds that charter schools in Boston suspend students at much higher rates than public schools.

“Of the 10 school systems in Massachusetts with the highest out-of-school suspension rates, all but one were charter schools and nearly all of them were in Boston, according to the report, which examined the rates for the 2012-2013 school year. The report was released by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, a nonpartisan legal organization in Boston.”

“Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Boston was by far the most apt to suspend, subjecting nearly 60 percent of its students to out-of-school suspensions during the 2012-2013 school year. City on a Hill Charter School in Boston came in second with a rate of 41percent; followed by the now-closed Spirit of Knowledge Charter School in Worcester with 27 percent, and UP Academy Boston with 26 percent.”

The charter schools said their suspensions kept their schools safe and orderly.

“The report found that 72 percent of the time charter and traditional schools were punishing students with suspensions for nonviolent, noncriminal, or non-drug-related incidents. Those acts can include violating dress codes, being tardy frequently, or cursing.

“The report also raised concerns about disparities in disciplining students of different demographics. Disabled students were more likely to be disciplined than non-disabled peers, while black and Latino students were at least three times more likely to be disciplined than white and Asian peers.

“About 5 percent of the state’s schools accounted for half of the disciplinary actions in the 2012-2013 school year.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 116,756 other followers