Archives for category: Charter Schools

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.”

Gary Rubinstein deconstructed the claim made by the NYC charter industry that 143,000 students are “trapped in failing schools.”

As Rubinstein shows, a billionaire-backed group called “Families for Excellent Schools” decided arbitrarily that any school where less than 10% passed the new Common Core test was a “failing school.” He points out that only 30% “passed” the Common Core tests (including charter schools, which had the same pass rate as public schools). If Families for Excellent Schools had used a 20% pass rate instead of 10%, he notes, then FES could have bemoaned the “Forgotten Three-Quarters.”

Rubinstein discovered that 90% of the parents in the 371 schools arbitrarily labeled “failing” would recommend their school to other parents. Obviously, the parents don’t believe their children are “trapped.”

The claim about “children trapped in failung schools” comes from a “report” by the Walton Family-funded “Families for Excellent Schools.” This is the same group that hastily raised and spent $5-6 million last year to stop Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to charge rent to charter schools using public space. With money spent so freely on the airwaves and in Albany, Governor Cuomo adopted charter schools as his cause (only 3% of the state’s students attend charter schools). With his support, the Legislature passed a bill requiring NYC to provide free space in public schools to charters and to pay their rent if they located in private space.

The National Education Policy Center regularly reviews reports from think tanks and advocacy groups. In this report, its scholars review an effort by charter school advocates to defend charter schools against critics. The conclusion: charters promote privatization and segregation.

“National Charter School Report Misleading and Superficial, Review Finds”

Contact:
Gary Miron, (269) 599-7965, gary.miron@wmich.edu
Daniel Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 23, 2015) — A report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) attempted to “separate fact from fiction” about charter schools. The report addressed 21 “myths” regarding charter schools, which were quickly rejected. However, an academic review of the report finds that it perpetuated its own myths and fictions about charter schools rather than adding to the discourse surrounding school choice.

The report, Separating Fact and Fiction: What You Need to Know about Charter Schools, was assembled by NAPCS with no author identified. Gary Miron, Western Michigan University, William J. Mathis, University of Colorado Boulder, and Kevin G. Welner, University of Colorado Boulder, reviewed the report for the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Succinctly, the original report addressed various claims about charter schools in such areas as financial equality of charter schools, lower teacher qualifications, student selection demographics, academic outcomes, segregation, and innovation.

Yet, the reviewers found that the report’s main purpose appears to be the “repetition or ‘spinning’ of claims voiced by advocacy groups and think tanks that promote privatization and school choice.” Furthermore, the reviewers found that it relied almost exclusively on advocacy documents rather than more careful and balanced empirical research, and provides only a superficial examination of any “criticisms” regarding charter schools.l

The review is organized in a format that lists each of the criticisms identified, and then provides a short commentary based on the extant research literature. Where the original document overlooked research evidence, the reviewers provide readers with a valuable tool to examine charter school criticisms.

Additionally, the reviewers find that the report fails to redirect the sector toward its original ideals, “Charter schools were originally designed to be a new form of public school. They were supposed to be small, locally run, innovative and highly accountable. They were supposed to be open to all and were expected to provide new freedoms to teachers to creatively innovate and serve their communities.”

Instead, the reviewers point out the most disappointing non-myth that comes out of the research: “In reality, the main outcomes of charter schools have been to promote privatization and accelerated the stratification and re-segregation of schools.”

The reviewers conclude, this report is unlikely to be of any use to “the discerning policy-maker” and fails to engage the important underlying issues.

Read the full review at:

http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find Separating Fact and Fiction on the web:

http://www.publiccharters.org/publications/separating-fact-fiction-public-charter-schools/

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The review can also be found on the NEPC website:

http://nepc.colorado.edu

Chalkbeat uses state data to report on high suspension rates at many charters, where strict discipline is prized.

“New York City charter schools suspended students at almost three times the rate of traditional public schools during the 2011-12 school year, according to a Chalkbeat analysis, though some charter schools have since begun to reduce the use of suspensions for minor infractions.
Overall, charter schools suspended at least 11 percent of their students that year, while district schools suspended 4.2 percent of their students. The charter-school suspension rate is likely an underestimate because charter schools don’t have to report suspensions that students serve in school.

“Not all schools had high suspension rates. One-third of charter schools reported suspending fewer than 5 percent of their students, and many schools said they did not give out any out-of-school suspensions. But 11 charter schools suspended more than 30 percent of their students — a figure likely to draw added scrutiny amid a nationwide push to reduce suspensions and a debate over allowing more charter schools to open statewide.”

http://www.brettdickerson.net/blogs-are-critical-to-re-establishing-public-schools/

I am writing today from another country. I am allegedly on vacation. I have a tech glitch. I upgraded my iPad to the latest software, and now it won’t insert links into posts. Instead it pastes old links. So I am posting the link upfront.

This is a terrific post from Oklahoma that contrasts the agenda of the two major media outlets, owned by billionaires, with the agenda of bloggers, who are not billionaires.

It is very informative. I hope you will read it. One of those billionaires is Phillip Anschutz, who lives in Colorado, not Oklahoma. One of his many corporations produced “Waiting for Superman” and “Won’t Back Down.” Another owns Regal Cinemas, the nation’s largest theater chain (2500 screens). Another is a major fracking operation. Among his political activities: fighting gay rights in Colorado and California. That only skims the surface of Anschutz’s commercial and political activism.

Mike Klonsky reports that Chicago suburban districts have thus far been able to block charters from moving in.

These are not affluent districts.

“Chicago Heights is a south-of-the-city suburb with a high concentration of poverty and a rapidly-growing Mexican immigrant population. District #170 schools have in many ways borne the brunt of an eroding tax base, loss of manufacturing jobs and the recession of the past decade. While the schools struggle to implement the district’s reform plan, including a new middle-grade STEM academy, and prepare at the same time, for the next round of PARCC tests, progress remains slow. Test scores remain the carte du jour for judging schools and teachers, leaving districts like the Heights vulnerable to interventions by the state.

“Gov. Rauner now threatens even more draconian cuts to school budgets and health and social services that will negatively impact the schools and communities in Chicago’s inner-ring suburbs. He’s proposing that suburbs’ income tax revenue be cut in half

“Towns like Chicago Heights have become the new target areas for poorly-regulated, expanding networks of privately-run charter schools which have already saturated the inner-city market. Recently, District #149 in Dolton/Calumet City was able to beat back a charter takeover attempt by over-hyped Urban Prep.

“Nearby South Holland also rejected an assault on their district by a company called LIFE Academy Charters. Their board also voted unanimously in September 2013 to reject a charter proposal by Urban Prep.”

The charter chains are eying the suburban districts. Governor Rauner loves charters. Will he override the will of the local school board?

Paul Thomas of Furman University writes that he has a new perspective about social media. He used to get into heated debates on Twitter with “reformers,” arguing about their ideas and practices. But now he says he won’t do it anymore. He believes that when you debate a proposition, you legitimate the other side. If someone says “poverty doesn’t matter,” why debate such a silly statement?

 

Peter Greene disagrees with Thomas; he says we must engage because the public needs to be informed. He is unwilling to let error and misguided opinion shape public policy about public education.

 

Thomas writes that public policy in education has been dominated in recent years by non-educators:

 

Historically and significantly during the last three decades, U.S. public education policy and public discourse have been dominated by politicians, political appointees, billionaire hobbyists, pundits, and self-appointed entrepreneurs—most of whom having no or little experience or expertise in the field of education or education scholarship….

 

Over about two years of blogging at my own site and engaging regularly on Twitter and other social media platforms, I have gradually adopted a stance that I do not truck with those who are disproportionately dominating the field of and public discourse about education.

 

Yes, I have done my share of calling out, discrediting, and arguing with, but except on rare occasions, I am done with that. Those who have tried to include me in the “@” wars on Twitter may have noticed my silence when the other side is added.

 

Each time we invoke their names, their flawed ideas, or their policies, we are joining the tables they have set….

 

Peter Greene says, this is our house, and we should not let the entrepreneurs set the table or own it.

 

I agree with Peter. We cannot allow public education policy to be shaped without regard to facts, evidence, or experience. Peter gives the example of Common Core: for a long time, reformers claimed that CC was written by teachers. That claim was so thoroughly and frequently debunked that one seldom hears it anymore (now we hear that it was written by the narion’s governors…as if).

Like Paul, I have argued with “reformers” on Twitter. Almost always, it is a fruitless exercise. I can’t convince them, they can’t convince me, not with 140 characters, not with essays or even books. Yes, we must build solidarity.

But I am still a believer in the value of marshaling facts and evidence to prove that the test-based accountability, the teacher-bashing, and privatization schemes now promoted by leading foundations and the U.S. Department of Education are harmful to our children and our society.

 

What do you think?

 

 

 

Denis Smith, formerly a state official in charge of charter schools, here reviews Governor Kasich’s penchant for colorful and inaccurate statements.

Smith writes:

“According to the Columbus Dispatch, the governor said “We need more superintendents who are educators, and less superintendents who are politicians.”

Evidently, Kasich doesn’t know that Ohio law requires its superintendents to be highly professional:

“State law directs that the head of an Ohio school district must hold a professional school administrator license to serve as a superintendent. According to the Ohio Department of Education website, a superintendent must “Earn a master’s degree from an accredited university; Complete an approved preparation program; Receive a recommendation from the dean or head of teacher education at the institution where he or she completed the preparation program; Complete the Ohio Assessment for Educators licensure exam #015, Educational Leadership, prescribed by the State Board of Education.”

“In addition to all of these requirements, Ohio professional administrator licensure requires that a school superintendent “must have three years of successful experience in a position requiring a principal or administrative specialist license.”

Contrast this with the lack of requirements to lead a charter school:

“Under Ohio law, there are no education or professional requirements for an individual to serve as a public charter school superintendent or principal. None. As Woody Allen might have put it, if 80% of success in life is just showing up, you’ve got a good chance of becoming the top administrator of a charter school just by showing up, with a new start-up school proposal in hand, at the offices of a charter school sponsor.

“And yes, governor, let’s say it again: there are absolutely no administrative licensure requirements in charterdom. You don’t even have to be an educator in order to open and become a superintendent of a “public” charter school.”

As for politicians, no requirements there either.

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