Archives for category: Charters

Here are the legislative changes recently enacted in Nevada, designed to implement charters, vouchers, test-based teacher evaluations, merit pay, and almost every other idea in the ALEC bucket list of how-to-create-chaos-in-public-schools-and-encourage-privatization.

This post was written by “Nevada Succeeds,” a corporate reform group.
Friends,

Below my email signature is our weekly Implementation Update; we hope this serves as a useful tool for the community as we continue to monitor the progress made on implementation and regulation of key policies that have come out of the 2015 Legislative Session. Every week, we will adjust the list to put the bills that have undergone recent changes at the top.

In this issue, we have categorized each bill into a one of five main areas of focus which will provide more clarity as to how each piece of legislation relates to the broader agenda.. Below you will see a key highlighting the color that indicates these new groupings:

Blue: Charter
Green: Teacher Pipeline
Red: Targeted Funding
Orange: Private Choice
Purple: Other Education Changes

We are trying to get all of the information right, so if there are any corrections or additions, then please send us an email at seth@nevadasucceeds.org.

Best,

Seth Rau
Policy Director, Nevada Succeeds
P: (702) 483-7096
E: seth@nevadasucceeds.org
Education Savings Accounts (SB 302)

This bill is being regulated by the Treasurer’s Office. There was a hearing earlier today (Friday July 17th) to make two modifications to the rule that requires students to be fully enrolled in a district or charter school for at least 100 days before gaining the ESA. First, they are going to say that even though the program does not begin until January 4, 2016, students who were enrolled in public schools for at least 100 days in the 2014-15 school year and switch to a non-public option for the 2015-16 school year are eligible for the program. Additionally, the proposed regulations would say that a student only needs to take at least one course at a public school for 100 days to become eligible. The proposed regulations were supported by a majority of the speakers aside from the teachers union and Educate Nevada Now.

On Thursday July 9th, the Treasurer’s Office announced that the payment of the ESA will occur in the first week after the end of a quarter. Therefore, the first ESA payments will be at the beginning of April for the first quarter of 2016. In August or September, they will have a broader public hearing discussing reimbursement options (debit cards as in Arizona or expense reports as in Florida) and other regulatory matters. Those additional regulatory matters will have a hearing in August or September.
Teacher Evaluation (AB 447)

The Department of Education and the Teachers and Leaders Council will be working on the rules and regulations around this bill. One aspect of this bill included a tweak to the language, lowering the percentage that student test scores count in a teacher’s evaluation from 50% to 40% since our state and local tests were not yet ready. At the July 23rd State Board of Education meeting, there will be a discussion around the board’s role with this bill. The next TLC meeting is on August 26th and there should be a regulatory workshop scheduled by the Department in the near future.
Read by 3rd Grade (SB 391)

The Department of Education is in charge of setting up these regulations. At the July 23rd State Board of Education meeting, there will be action around creating the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the program’s assessment tool along with guidelines around learning strategists and professional development. It’s unclear if there will be one or multiple approved assessments. Apparently, the Department is going to recommend the use of an adaptive assessment as it will help students prepare for the Smarter Balanced Exams. There is also a regulatory workshop
Collective Bargaining Changes (SB 241)

The largest changes here are to school administrators. The employees who makes over 120K per year are now excluded from the bargaining unit but it’s unclear if they will be able to retain their health care benefits. It’s also unclear when the 5 year at-will cycles will start for each employee. That must be clarified in the coming months. Additionally, this bill ended the evergreen clause, which should favor management in labor negotiations.

While changes resulting from this bill have been seen outside of the education arena, it has become a major issue in CCSD contract negotiations. On Thursday July 16th, CCSD management used this bill as one of the main reasons for not allowing for step and columns increases to occur as scheduled since a new collective bargaining agreement had not been signed. Needless to say, teachers were not exactly pleased with this rationale and protested in large numbers at the July 16th board meeting.
School Construction (SB 119, SB 207)

These bills passed the legislature fairly early in the legislative session allowing for a ten-year bond rollover for school districts with bonding capacity. At this time, CCSD appears to be the only district in the state to take advantage of the program. At the CCSD Bond Oversight Committee meeting on Thursday July 16th, CCSD now says that only 6 schools will open in 2017 and 6 will open in 2018. Now, Rex Bell Elementary School appears to be the only school that will go under a full replacement. That should be ready in 2017.
Data Privacy (SB 463, AB 221)

The districts and the State Charter Authority are designing their data security plans that will need to be approved by the Nevada Department of Education. On Wednesday July 15th, the P20W Council met for the first time in two years and announced that the statewide longitudinal data system will be ready for use by schools, NSHE, DTER, and researchers by the end of the month.
Alternate School Framework (SB 460)

All schools under the State Charter Authority are beginning to update their contracts to reflect the changes coming from this law around closure and possible qualification for an alternate school performance framework. A regulatory hearing on this bill is scheduled for Tuesday September 15th.
Charter Reforms (SB 509)

The Charter Authority issued a new charter application on June 22nd, which requires applicants to file a Letter of Intent by August 14th and a full application by the end of August. The earliest the Authority will award a charter for the 2016-17 school year is in the fall. CMOs will not be able to gain a charter until January 2016 since not all of SB509 goes in effect until then. All schools under the State Charter Authority are beginning to update their contracts to reflect the changes coming from this law.
Non-Citizen Teachers (AB 27)

The Department of Education has begun accepting teacher licensure applications from non-citizens in Clark County. The first applications have been processed successfully.
Zoom Schools (SB 405)

On Thursday July 16th, CCSD approved the following 29 schools to be Zoom Schools in the 2015-16 school year: Arturo Cambeiro, Manuel J. Cortez, Lois Craig, Jack Dailey, Ollie Detwiler, Ruben P. Diaz, Ira J. Earl, Elbert Edwards, Fay Herron, Halle Hewetson, Robert Lunt, Ann Lynch, Reynaldo Martinez, William K. Moore, Paradise Professional Development, Dean Petersen, Vail Pittman, Bertha Ronzone, Lewis E. Rowe, C.P. Squires, Stanford, Myrtle Tate, Twin Lakes, Gene Ward, Rose Warren, and Tom Williams. The following three secondary schools will be Zoom Schools for the 2015-2016 school year: William E. Orr Middle School, Del H. Robison Middle School, and Global Community High School at Morris Hall. Additionally, the Department of Education will be administering the funds for the rural districts and the charter schools. We are still waiting to hear the new Zoom Schools from Washoe County.

At the July 23rd meeting of the State Board of Education, they will discuss recruitment and retention incentives for these schools.
Opportunity Scholarships (AB 165)

The temporary regulations for this program were created at the end of June. Groups such as Students First, the American Federation for Children, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and ourselves advocated for a preference for students whose families are at/or below 185% of the poverty line and for a preference for students currently enrolled in public schools. After much fighting from the private schools in the state, the Department of Education decided to solely make decisions based on the income levels of students. Therefore, the program is pretty much first-come, first-serve. There is a tiebreaker on the day when the scholarship organization runs out of funds to prioritize siblings and students zoned for lower star schools. The scholarship students must take nationally-normed referenced tests to measure student outcomes but are not required (or even expected) to take the Smarter Balanced exams. These temporary regulations were approved on Thursday June 25th. After the program’s first enrollment period, there will be a review in the fall for more permanent regulations.

On July 1st, both scholarships organizations and private schools could begin to sign up for the program. So far, only AAA Scholarships has been approved by the Nevada Department of Education and they are currently raising funds for their organization. 20 private schools have signed up so far as eligible recipients of the funds. Parents should be able to apply to AAA (and possibly other scholarship granting organizations) by early August. The permanent regulations will begin to be drafted at a hearing on Thursday August 13th.
School Performance Plans (AB 30)

There will be a number of updates to the School Performance Plans coming from the Nevada Department of Education with a focus on literacy rates, especially among ELLs.
Charter School Police Officers (AB 321)

We will be tracking if any charter schools enter into policing agreements as a result of this bill.
Expanded Charter School Bonding (AB 351)

We will be tracking if any 3 star charter schools go to the Board of Examiners and are able to get approval for state facility bonds.
Washoe County School Construction Tax Committee (SB 411)

The Washoe County School Board has approved the selection process for committee members. The full committee should be unveiled by Wednesday July 22nd, and they will begin to meet soon afterwards. This committee is tasked with coming up with a possible revenue raising measure for capital projects in Washoe County to be put forward to the voters in 2016.
Great Teaching and Leading Fund (SB 474)

On Tuesday July 7th, the Department of Education released the application for the Great Teaching and Leading Fund for FY16. They announced that $2 million will go towards implementing the Next Generation Science Standards, $1 million for the Nevada Educator Performance Framework, $1 million for teacher recruitment, development, and retention, and $900,000 for leadership development. Eligible applicants include the RPDPs, school districts, charter schools, the Charter School Authority, NSHE, the educator associations and nonprofits. The application window closes on Friday July 31st. The fund winners for FY16 will be announced at the State Board of Education meeting on Thursday September 3rd.
SAGE Commission (AB 421)

It has been announced that the Governor’s Business Roundtable on Education Reform will be combined with the SAGE (Spending and Government Efficiency) Commission. Nevada Succeeds backed that measure during the session. The Department of Education will staff the commission. The members and the first meeting date have yet to be announced.
Multicultural Education (AB 234)

The regulations for this bill will be handled by the Commission on Professional Standards. Their next meeting is on Wednesday July 29th.
Achievement School District (AB 448)

On July 1st, the website for the Achievement School District (ASD) launched. This month, the Department of Education is actively seeking charter management organizations to apply to take over struggling district schools for the 2016-17 school year. The application window closes on Friday July 31st.

A national search firm has been hired to conduct the Executive Director search, and their goal is to hire an ED by the end of September. The initial staff of the ASD will only be an ED, a program officer, and a secretary. All positions will be based in Las Vegas. There will be a rulemaking hearing on Thursday August 27th at the Department of Education.
Victory Schools (SB 432)

Before the end of the session, the state created the list of Victory Schools. Each school must file a letter of intent by August 15th and a full implementation plan for FY16 by September 15th. With the exception of schools in the Turnaround Zone, CCSD is creating a new zone for Victory Schools. At the July 23rd meeting of the State Board of Education, they will discuss recruitment and retention incentives for these schools.
Charter Harbormaster (SB 491)

The Department of Education is expected to issue an RFP for the harbormaster by September 1st. Once the RFP window closes, the Board of Examiners will make a decision on which organization will become the state-funded harbormaster.
Teacher Performance Pay (AB 483)

This bill does not go into effect until the 2016-17 school year. In 2016, the districts will have to submit their plans on how they will comply with the bill to the Department of Education.
New Teacher Bonuses (SB 511)

Each district in the state has already submitted a plan to the Department of Education on how they want to administer the new bonuses. For example, CCSD requested $9.5 million of the available $10 million for FY16 to pay the maximum $5000 bonus to a teacher at every eligible school (behavior schools are not eligible for the program since they do not receive Title I funds-much to the dismay of the districts). CCSD plans to pay the $5000 in 20 segments of $250 over the course of the year. Some districts are paying the entire bonus up front and others are doing half at the beginning of the year and the other half at the end of the year. Due to PERS, all bonuses will be stipends. On July 23rd, the State Board of Education will make a decision on the district allocation.

On the university scholarship side of this bill, funds will not be available for the program until January. There is currently a lack of clarification of exactly who is and who is not eligible for the program due to the start of funding. Programs will apply to the Department of Education for funding and then the program will distribute the funds.
New Nevada Plan (SB 508)

A regulatory hearing on this bill is scheduled for Tuesday August 25th to discuss the Special Education funding weight along with other possible topics. The Department of Education is required to produce an update on base and weighted funding formula over the interim.

A regulatory hearing on this bill is scheduled for Thursday August 27th. In related news, 15 CCEA teachers are sueing CCSD over the changes to post-probationary status and that court case will likely affect this bill.
Teacher Supply Reimbursement (SB 133)

The districts will set up their own systems for teacher supply reimbursement and the Department of Education will send each district and charter school their share of the funds ($5 million over the biennium).
Peer Assistance and Review (SB 332)

The Department of Administration will send $1 million each year of the biennium to CCSD to ensure that the program is funded. We will continue to monitor this program in the Turnaround Zone to ensure that it is effective and a good use of taxpayer money.
CCSD Deconsolidation (AB 394)

In the fall, the Legislative Commission will appoint the 9 members (2 members from each caucus from Clark County along with an additional Republic) of the main Committee that will meet over the course of 2016.

Paul Farhi, a veteran reporter at the Washington Post, wrote an article recently about Campbell Brown’s new “news site” called “The 74,” which is a vehicle for her ongoing campaign against teachers’ unions and tenure and for charters and vouchers. Brown, who has no experience as a teacher, scholar, or researcher, who attended a private high school (her own children attend a private religious school), has become the new face of the corporate reform movement since Michelle Rhee stepped out of the limelight. Last year, Farhi wrote about Brown’s transition from TV talking head to advocate for vouchers, charters, and the elimination of teacher tenure. (You will notice in the earlier article that Brown takes great umbrage to my having described her as telegenic and pretty; well, she IS telegenic and pretty, and I would be happy if anyone said that about me! I consider it a compliment.)

Farhi reports the funding behind “The 74″:

As it happens, Brown raised the funds for the Seventy Four from some of the biggest and wealthiest advocates of the restructuring that the Seventy Four appears to be espousing. The funders include the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, all of which have opposed teachers unions and supported various school-privatization initiatives. (Her co-founder, Romy Drucker, was an education adviser to billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.)

This would be just another garden-variety profile of a controversial figure, but blogger Alexander Russo blasted Farhi as biased against Brown. Although Farhi does not quote another corporate reformer, he quotes Brown herself extensively. Russo questioned Farhi’s objectivity as a journalist. He complained that there was no outside voice supporting Brown, and that Farhi ended the article with skeptical quotes from Washington insider Jack Jennings and AFT President Randi Weingarten. Russo says that Farhi should have allowed Brown to respond to the critics, and he should have found “another outside voice — a journalist, academic, or education leader of some kind — to express support” for Brown. He also wrote that “the overview was inaccurate or misleading” by stating that Brown’s views are supported by conservative politicians and business interests.

In an earlier post, Russo candidly disclosed that he had hoped to join Campbell Brown’s “team,” but didn’t make the cut:

Disclosures: This blog is funded in part by Education Post, which shares several funders with The Seventy-Four. Last summer and Fall, I spoke with Brown and others on the team about partnering with them but nothing came of it.

The curious aspect of this particular flap is that Russo’s blog is jointly funded by the American Federation of Teachers and Education Post (which is funded by the Broad Foundation, the Bloomberg Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation).

Randi Weingarten tweeted:

Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten)
7/26/15, 1:14 PM
Russo’s criticism of Farhi is off base. Farhi’s piece is smart, effective journalism: washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/styl…

Also:

Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten)
7/26/15, 3:27 PM
@alexanderrusso do u really believe Campbell Brown is no longer ideological or are u acting this way b/c of funding washingtonmonthly.com/the-grade/2015…

EduShyster interviewed Seth Rau, a prominent young reformer in Nevada, about the Silver State’s “universal choice” or “Education Savings Account” program, which gives every student $5,700 to spend in the school of their choice.

Rau is policy director for the reform organization “Nevada Succeeds.” He is an alum of Teach for America; he taught for two years in a charter school. The conservative Thomas B. Fordham named him the “Wisest Wonk” in the nation for a paper in which he said that schools should be regulated lightly, like brothels in Nevada.

Despite his sterling reform bona fides, Rau is not your typical reformer. He does not celebrate the great successes of charters and vouchers. He is honest about the flaws of both, including the ESA that was recently adopted in Nevada.

EduShyster asked where should a student with a backpack full of $5,700 go to school.

He answered that the charters in Nevada were nothing to brag about:

In Nevada, the miracle of the high-performing seats that you’re so familiar with in Massachusetts never happened. For the most part our district charter schools are strongly underperforming. There’s also been a heavy reliance on virtual charter schools. More than a quarter of the students who attend charters attend virtual schools, which have been a disaster for many kids. For example, Nevada Virtual Academy was the largest charter school in the state and had a 32.5% graduation rate in 2011-2012.

The charter sector is growing, he said, especially in suburbs where students are high-performing. The charter scores are rising because “they’re not serving students who are actually in poverty.”

When EduShyster asks about access to private schools, Rau says that those schools are for the children of the 1%. So who will benefit from the ESA-style vouchers?

Rau answers:

I’ve heard people extolling Education Savings Accounts, saying that this is going to be the great solution to poverty, but equity is not the goal of the ESA. This bill will benefit middle class and upper middle class constituencies….That’s going to be the majority of people who use the ESA program. They’ll come from our limited middle class or upper middle class who are dissatisfied with the school district or with charters for one reason or another.

I am not ready to nominate Rau to the honor roll yet, as I save that honor for champions of public education, but I happily name him the “Wisest Wonk” of the reform movement for his willingness to tell the truth about the poor performance of charters and to admit that the ESA (vouchers) won’t help the majority of poor kids. If other reformers owned up to basic facts as Rau does, we would have a different conversation about education in this country.

Jeb Bush created the “Foundation for Educational Excellence” with two goals in mind. First, to burnish his credentials as a “reformer.” Second, to serve as a vehicle for advocating vouchers, charters, online learning, and high-stakes accountability.

Peter Greene writes that we now know who contributed large sums to Jeb’s FEE. We may safely assume that they shared Jeb’s policy goals.

He writes:

It is not an exact list in that donors are organized by ranges. So we know that Bloomberg donated somewhere between $1.2 million and $2.4 million, which is quite a margin of error. But it’s still a chunk of change, either way.

Joining Bloomberg Philanthropies in the Over a Cool Million Club are these folks, a completely unsurprising list:

Walton Family Foundation (between $3.5 mill and over $6 mill)
B&M Gates (between $3 mill and over $5 mill)
Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation (between $1.6 mill and $3.25 mill)
News Corporation (between $1.5 mill and $3 mill)
GE Foundation (between $2.5 mill and over $3 mill)
Helmsley Trust (at least $2 mill)

The Might Have Hit a Million Club includes

The Broad Foundation
Jacqueline Hume Foundation
Robertson Foundation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Kovner Foundation
The Arnold Foundation

Beyond those, we find Florida businesses and a fair sampling of folks who have a stake in the FEE mission, like McGraw Hill and Renaissance Learning.

For the most part, it is a familiar list of billionaires and mere multimillionaires. What Greene notes is that there is no evidence of a grassroots base for Jeb’s activities. It is the same old, same old super-rich people–the 1%, if you will–fattening one of their favorites spokesmen.

Or, as he writes:

The truth about FEE is a reminder– for the gazillionth time– that we have yet to see an actual hard-core full-on grass roots movement in support of reformster policies. It’s also a reminder that if education issues were being decided on merit, or if all the Rich Person money just dried up tomorrow, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Ed reform is a big delicate rosebush in the middle of the desert, and money is the water that keeps it alive. Shut off the water, and it’s done.

Since there have been no positive results for any of the billionaires’ favorite Big Ideas, there is always the chance they will get bored. Never underestimate the power of boredom among the glitterati.

This is quite a remarkable admission. Nicholas Kristof writes today in the New York Times that the “reform” efforts have “peaked.” I read that and the rest of the column to mean that they have failed to make a difference. Think of it: Bill Gates, the Walton family, Eli Broad, Wendy Kopp, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Florida Governor Rick Scott, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, Michelle Rhee, Campbell Brown, and a host of other luminaries have been singing the same song for the past 15 years: Our schools are broken, and we can fix them with charters, vouchers, high-stakes testing, merit pay, elimination of unions, elimination of tenure, and rigorous efforts to remove teachers who can’t produce ever-rising test scores.

Despite the billions of dollars that the federal government, the states, and philanthropies have poured into this formula, it hasn’t worked, says Kristof. It is time to admit it and to focus instead on the early years from birth to kindergarten.

He writes:

For the last dozen years, waves of idealistic Americans have campaigned to reform and improve K-12 education.

Armies of college graduates joined Teach for America. Zillionaires invested in charter schools. Liberals and conservatives, holding their noses and agreeing on nothing else, cooperated to proclaim education the civil rights issue of our time.

Yet I wonder if the education reform movement hasn’t peaked.

The zillionaires are bruised. The idealists are dispirited. The number of young people applying for Teach for America, after 15 years of growth, has droppedfor the last two years. The Common Core curriculum is now an orphan, with politicians vigorously denying paternity.

K-12 education is an exhausted, bloodsoaked battlefield. It’s Agincourt, the day after. So a suggestion: Refocus some reformist passions on early childhood.

Wow! That is exactly what I wrote in “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools,” along with recommendations for reduced class sizes, a full curriculum, a de-emphasis on high-stakes testing, a revival of public policies to reduce poverty and segregation, and a recommitment to the importance of public education.

When I look at the Tea Party legislature in North Carolina or the hard-right politicians in the Midwest or the new for-profit education industry, I don’t think of them as idealistic but as ideologues. Aside from that, I think that Kristof gives hope to all those parents and teachers who have been working for years to stop these ideologues from destroying public education. Yes, it should be improved, it must be improved. There should be a good public school in every neighborhood, regardless of zip code. But that won’t happen unless our leaders dedicate themselves to changing the conditions in which families and children live so that all may have equal opportunity in education and in life.

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