Archives for category: Corporate Reformers

Paul Rosenberg writes on Salon about the well-honed Fox-News style tactic of “crying wolf,” “the sky is falling,” we are in an “unprecedented crisis” to achieve political ends, in the present case, the privatization and monetization of public education. In urban districts, the privatization is gobbling up public schools and turning them over to private corporations–both for-profit and non-profit. In suburban districts, which are not prepared to relinquish their community public schools to charter chains, the gold rush is on to panic these districts into buying edu-schlock and paying consultants to train teachers to meet the federal government’s latest mandate.

What Rosenberg describes is what I earlier called the deliberate use of FUD–fear, uncertainty, and doubt–by the well-paid PR machine of the Status Quo privatizers.

Here is a small sample of Rosenberg’s comprehensive review of scare tactics and whom they benefit:

“In September 2012, for example, economist Jeff Faux, principal founder of the Economic Policy Institute, wrote an article, “Education Profiteering; Wall Street’s Next Big Thing?” which first noted, “It is well known, although rarely acknowledged in the press, that the [education] reform movement has been financed and led by the corporate class,” but then went on to note a crucial change:

In recent years, hedge fund operators, leverage-buy-out artists and investment bankers have joined the crusade. They finance schools, sit on the boards of their associations and the management companies that run them, and — most important — have made support of charter schools one of the criteria for campaign giving in the post-Citizens United era. Since most Republicans are already on board for privatization, the political pressure has been mostly directed at Democrats….

“What’s more, Faux noted, there was less money for Wall Street to play with from the sources they had burned, but the money-making opportunities in education were proliferating like never before:

“You start to see entire ecosystems of investment opportunity lining up,” Rob Lytle, a business consultant, earlier this year told a meeting of private equity investors interested in for-profit education companies….

“This is the context in which Andrew Cuomo hooked up with Wall Street, as the New York Times reported in May 2010. Cuomo’s ticket to Wall Street came courtesy of Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, a PAC that “advances what has become a favorite cause of many of the wealthy founders of New York hedge funds: charter schools.” Members who met with Cuomo included “the founders of funds like Anchorage Capital Partners, with $8 billion under management; Greenlight Capital, with $6.8 billion; and Pershing Square Capital Management, with $5.5 billion.” But in retrospect, 2010 was nothing. As already noted, Cuomo has raised $800,000 from Wall Street charter school supporters — roughly half that total from Moskowitz supporters alone.

“The Philanthropic Dimension

“Money may be all the motivation Wall Street needs, but there’s more. Philanthropy has always been a means for the wealthy to extend their influence over society beyond the marketplace, to serve a multitude of functions. Northern philanthropists spent an enormous amount of money bringing education to Southern blacks after the Civil War, for example. This brought them into prolonged and complex conflicts with both Southern elites, who resisted virtually all education efforts, and with blacks who resisted the Northern philanthropists’ focus on industrial education (epitomized by the Tuskegee model), as well as their broader pattern of trying to appease Southern white racism. (See, for example,”The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935.”) Although highly conflicted and complicated, these efforts eventually synergized with blacks’ own broader civil rights struggles to bring about the integration of public education in the South — at which time, Southerners’ first response was the policy of massive resistance, including the creation of private academies, and the closing of public schools.

“Amazingly, three decades later, the education panic reform movement began the process of recycling the racist Southern resistance strategies as general solutions for the purported failure of public education. Another three decades further on, those very same anti-civil rights strategies are now being touted as the key to civil rights. The reasons are at least partly psychological. After the financial crises decimated the economy, Wall Street elites and their 1 percenter allies were profoundly defensive, as seen most shockingly in remarks comparing their critics to Nazi Germany. But the “productive” manifestation of this same acute status anxiety was arguably much more destructive — that is, the intense desire to re-create themselves as moral leaders, not lepers, by recasting public education as a locus of evil, and portraying its destruction as “the civil rights struggle of our time” — which they, of course, would be only too happy to lead.”

The corporate style reformers–the cheerleaders for charters, vouchers-and high-stakes testing–like to claim that they are leading the civil rights movement of their day. They imagine themselves locked arm-in-arm with Martin Luther King, Jr., in their efforts to end collective bargaining rights, to eliminate teacher due process rights, and to privatize public education.

 

I am not sure if they actually believe this or if they think they can pull the wool over the eyes of the media and the public.

 

In this fascinating interview, Josh Eidelson of Salon puts the question to Linda Darling-Hammond: Would you agree or disagree that the Vergara case–which would end teachers’ job protections–is an extension of the civll rights movement, as its proponents claim?

 

My guess is that Linda either fell off her chair laughing, or was momentarily dumbstruck by the absurdity of the idea.

 

She responded:

 

“I can’t understand why anyone would agree. To me, it’s completely unrelated to the agenda from Brown, which was about getting equal access to educational opportunities for students — you know, initially through desegregation, but the heritage of Brown is also a large number of school finance reform lawsuits that have been trying to advocate for equitable resource distribution between districts and schools. And Vergara has nothing to do with that …

 

“Even if you got rid of teachers’ due process rights for evaluation, you would do nothing to remedy the inequalities in funding and access that students have. And in fact you might exacerbate the problem.”

 

See, Linda remembers that the Brown decision was about equity, equitable resources for schools, and desegregation, and today’s self-proclaimed reformers avoid discussing things like that. They say that poverty is an excuse for bad teachers. Martin Luther King Jr. would never have said that. They certainly don’t care about desegregation. As the UCLA Civil Rights Project and as researcher Iris Rotberg have documented, charter schools exacerbate segregation. Indeed. the so-called reformers like to boast about all-black schools that get high test scores; segregation just is not an issue for them. They don’t see any reason to reduce class size–Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg think it should be increased. If pressed, they say that we are spending too much on education already. Things like desegregation, equitable resources, and class size are not on their agenda.

 

Eidelson asks whether the plaintiffs are right in saying that it should be easier to fire bad teachers, and Linda responds:

 

First of all, just to be clear: It is extremely easy to get rid of teachers. You can dismiss a teacher for no reason at all in the first two years of their employment. And so there is no reason for a district ever to tenure a “grossly ineffective” teacher — as the language of the lawsuit goes — because you know if a teacher is grossly ineffective pretty quickly, and it’s negligence on the part of the school district if they continue to employ somebody who falls into that classification when they have no barriers to [firing them]. And districts that are well-run, and have good teacher evaluation systems in place, can get rid of veteran teachers that don’t meet a standard and [don’t] improve after that point.

 

But in fact, the ability to keep teachers and develop them into excellent teachers is the more important goal and strategy for getting a high-quality teaching force. Because if what you’re really running is a churn factory, where you’re just bringing people in and, you know, firing them, good people don’t want to work in a place like that. So it’s going to be hard for you to recruit. Second of all, you’re likely not paying enough attention to developing good teachers into great teachers, and reasonable teachers into good teachers.

 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t get rid of a bad teacher if you get one. But you ought to be very careful about hiring and development – that makes that a rare occurrence.

 

When Eidelson asks Linda what should be done to fulfill the promise of the Brown decision, she responds:

 

First of all, we have a dramatically unequal allocation of wealth in the society, which is getting much worse … We need another War on Poverty … Because we have a quarter of our kids in the country, and more than half in the public schools of California, living in poverty.

 

And so that’s No. 1: We need to do what other developed nations do, which is ensure that kids have healthcare, housing and a context in which they can grow up healthy – in communities which still have the kinds of recreation facilities, public libraries and other supports, [including] early childhood education, that would continue to allow children to come to school ready to learn.

 

Then we need schools that are equitably funded, with more money going to the students who have the greatest needs. I’m proud to say that in California, we’ve just passed a school funding law that is probably the most progressive in the nation, and that will actually, over the next years, allocate more money to each child that is living in poverty, is an English learner, or is in foster care than to other children. And we will begin to redress some of the profound inequalities that exist today … Cities in California typically are spending much less right now – before this kicks in — than affluent districts. That’s the real thing — if we were litigating the successes of Brown — that’s the real thing that would be first on the agenda to correct.

 

And then beyond that, I think we have to be sure that the state builds a high-quality teaching force, well-prepared for all candidates. If we were a highly developed nation that is high-achieving, we would be offering free teacher education to everyone that wants to teach, in high-quality [preparatory programs] … and getting rid of the [programs] that can’t meet the bar, so that everyone comes in ready and competent.

 

Wait a minute, that’s not what Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, and other leaders of the Status Quo want!

Sherm Koons left this comment. Check out Sherm’s blog, Tales from the Classroom. He is a veteran high school English teacher in Ohio.

 

Down the Rabbit Hole with PARCC.

It’s taken me a while to begin to wrap my head around what’s really going on with PARCC and what makes it so absolutely wrong, but standing in the hall after school today talking to some fellow teachers I think got a glimpse. As we discussed the inappropriateness of the exams for our students, it occurred to me that actually it all makes perfect sense if your goal is to generate the most data that you possibly can. If you believe that, given enough data, you can predict human behavior, environmental, societal and other factors, and all the infinite variables of existence to a degree that mimics reality, of course you would want the most data that you could get. And you become obsessed with data. And eventually you lose track of what you initially were hoping to measure. It becomes data for data’s sake. And soon it has absolutely nothing to do with education, students, or anything human. And as you disappear further and further down the rabbit hole, you can’t understand why nobody gets it but you. The reason we don’t “get it” is that IT MAKES NO SENSE. You have become lost in your never-ending quest for data. You are delusional. And you must be stopped.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio was being hammered by $5 million of emotional attack ads accusing him of “evicting” 194children from one of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy schools in Harlem, the Mayor called Paul Tudor Jones to plead for a truce.

Paul Tudor Jones is a billionaire hedge fund manager who is heavily invested in privately-managed charter schools. He manages $13 billion in his business. Being so very rich and successful, he decided to fix poverty. He created the RobinHood Foundation to raise money from his rich buddies, and it has done some good work. It raises $80 million in a single night at its nnual dinner.

Jones now has a big goal. He wants to save public education.

Never having been a teacher nor a public school parent (not clear if he ever attended a public school), he nonetheless feels fully qualified to redesign American education based on the same principles he learned as a successful hedge fund manager.

The money of Jones and his friends is now used to destroy a basic democratic institution, which they don’t like. Their money supports schools that cherry-pick students who are winners, just as they manage their investments. The idea of equal opportunity has no role in his world.

That may be why the negative TV commercials about de Blasio never explained that no students were being evicted from charter schools; they wanted more space to grow a middle school in PS 149 in Harlem, which meant the actual eviction of students with severe disabilities.

But in the world of Paul Tudor Jones, students with disabilities don’t count. They are not winners. They must be evicted to make more room for kids with high scores.

Aren’t we lucky to have Paul Tudor Jones to redesign American education? To tell us how to train teachers?

Charter schools regularly mobilize students and parents, put them on buses, and ship them to legislative hearings dressed in identical tee-shirts to lobby for more charter schools or more funding. This works to the benefit of the billionaire hedge fund managers who control these charters, as it expands their power to create even more racially segregated schools while boasting of their leadership in “civil rights” activism. These tactics also demonstrate that charter schools are not public schools. No state would allow a superintendent or a principal to bus their students and parents to demand more funding. This is nothing more than a cynical use of children as political pawns.

The article included a graph showing the rapid growth of charter schools, which was abetted by the Obama administration’s Race to the Top. States had to lift their cap on charters to be eligible for RTTT’s $4.3 billion in funding. To show how bipartisan this effort is to create more segregated schools, note that the CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Nina Rees, previously worked as a senior education advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney.

The hearings occur with this backdrop: top officials at UNO, Chicago’s largest charter chain, resigned after disclosure of alleged nepotism and conflicts of interest in spending $98 million of state funds for new construction; the Chicago Sun-Times published a study showing that charters do not outperform district public schools; the Noble Network of charter schools, financed by some of the city’s wealthiest citizens, collected $400,000 in fines for minor disciplinary infractions from low-income families.

This story appeared in the Wall Street Journal:

Charter-School Fight Flares Up in Illinois

Protesters Rally at Capitol to Denounce Bills That Would Curb Growth of the Public Schools

By STEPHANIE BANCHERO
April 8, 2014 9:16 p.m. ET

Hundreds of protesters filled the rotunda of the Illinois State Capitol on Tuesday denouncing nearly a dozen bills that would curb the growth of charter schools—the latest scuffle over expansion of the independently run public schools, which are spreading nationwide.

The Illinois legislature is considering 11 bills that would, among other things, limit where charter schools can be located, ban them from marketing themselves to students, and abolish a commission that has the power to overrule local school boards and grant charter licenses. The skirmish follows recent charter flare-ups in Massachusetts, Tennessee and New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio got into a standoff over the schools.

Teachers unions often oppose charters—funded by taxpayers but run by independent groups—because they typically hire nonunion workers and, labor leaders argue, drain money from struggling traditional public schools. Proponents say charter schools offer parents a choice and are free to adopt innovations such as instituting a longer school day and year, or laying off teachers based strictly on performance.

Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, said this year’s legislative session is the “worst session for charter schools in the history of Illinois” and said passage of the bills could be the “death knell” for charter expansion. “These bills…weaken the communities that charter schools serve, which, in Illinois, are mainly African-American and Latino.”

Others say the bills, many of which are being pushed by teachers unions, are necessary to boost accountability and provide a check on charter-school growth. Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, said charters exacerbate inequality and segregation in schools by “skimming off” more advantaged students. She also noted data showing Chicago charters, on average, have higher suspension and expulsion rates than other city schools.

“Charters are being used to destroy traditional public schools and, in this budgetary climate, we see no reason to open more of them,” she said.

In the past decade, the number of charter schools more than doubled to 6,440 nationwide and student enrollment more than tripled to an estimated 2.6 million, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a nonprofit that advocates for charters. Still, that is only about 5% of total public-school K-12 enrollment in the U.S., according to the group.

Nina Rees, the group’s president, said charters’ rapid growth makes them a prime target for opponents, and she worries that a “union win” in Illinois could “embolden” those in other states. “It could send a message that if they [unions] gather enough momentum and coalesce, they can win,” she said.

Ms. Rees and others also are concerned that the recent skirmishes highlight a political divide among Democrats, who had been seen as increasingly supportive of charters. Both Mr. de Blasio, who sought to rein in charters, and Mr. Cuomo, who wants to see them flourish, are Democrats. The governor eventually negotiated a budget deal mandating that the city provide charters space inside traditional school buildings, but also included money for expansion of regular public-school pre-K programs, which the mayor wanted.

In Chicago, shrinking public-school enrollment and the budget deficit prompted Mayor Rahm Emanuel to close about 50 schools last year. But the board of education, appointed by the mayor, this year approved opening seven new charters, incensing the teachers union and many community activists. A few months later, the state launched an investigation into spending at one of the city’s largest charter organizations.

Charter tensions, which had been largely confined to Chicago, moved to the suburbs when a group tried to open an online charter school last spring that would draw students—and revenue—from 18 communities. Local school boards voted it down, but the group appealed to a new state commission with the power to overrule the local bodies. State lawmakers enacted a moratorium on virtual schools so the issue became moot.

But Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, a Democrat who represents some of the suburban districts, said the specter of a commission trumping local wishes prompted her to file a bill to eliminate it, only a few years after she voted to create it. Ms. Chapa LaVia said she didn’t realize at the time the group would have “so much power” and said she opposes “an outside authorizer who can overrule a school board.”

Lucy Reese, who attended Tuesday’s rally and is the mother of two charter-school students, said parents should have the right to choose the best school for their children. “I am not going to get a lot of second opportunities when it comes to educating my kids,” she said.

Write to Stephanie Banchero at stephanie.banchero@wsj.com

John Thompson, teacher and historian, here reviews the testimony in the Vergara trial of economists Raj Chetty and Tom Kane. They are believers in economic models for judging teacher quality. Thompson concludes they are seriously out of touch with the real world of teachers.

Thompson reviews their testimony and writes:

“Chetty, Kane, and other expert witnesses are assisting in an all-out assault on teachers’ most basic rights. I disagree with them, but I can see why they would believe that their research is relevant to 3rd through 8th graders in math and, to a lesser degree, elementary reading classes. But, even though they have not studied high schools, they are participating in an effort to also destroy the rights of high school teachers.

“And, nothing in their research could possibly support the opinion that once current laws are stricken that data-driven evaluations in non-tested subjects would likely benefit students in those classes. Up to 80% of students are in classes that remain virtually unstudied by value-added researchers. Yet, they are so confident in their opinions – based on their goal of addressing the bottom 5% of teachers – that they are helping a legal campaign (based almost completely on the opinions of some like-minded persons) to strike down duly enacted laws.

“Of course, I would also like to understand why a few corporate reformers are so convinced in the righteous of their opinions that they have initiated this assault on teachers. But, I’ve already gone too far down the path of trying to speculate on why they engage in such overreach. I just hope the Vergara judge has the inclination to look deeply into both the testimony of expert witnesses and how it is very different than the evidence and logic they have presented in written documents.”

Dr.Yohuru Williams and Maria Kilfoyle, NBCT, have a message for the corporate reformers: We will never surrender.

They write:

“Public education… is the cornerstone of democracy. It helps students acquire civic knowledge so that they can become participants in their democracy. It also requires students and communities to reflect on a continuous basis, through school board meetings, referendums and countless other exercises of local politics, on the nature of the democratic process. Public education further requires parents, teachers, and communities to work in partnership to solve problems on behalf of the public good. If we were to sit passively by and allow unscrupulous politicians and corporations to auction public education off to the highest bidder, we would also be complicit in its demise, but we, and scores of others do not intend to allow that to happen. For the future of our kids and these democratic ideals, we will fight.”

The corporate reformers claim the sky is falling, play on public fears, and advance “solutions” that have not a shred of evidence behind them.

They write:

“Even though democracy has been frustrated and many communities have fallen under the sway of the harmful machinery of Corporate Education Reform, we will not tire or retreat. We will stand and fight the deformers in the town hall meetings, in the governors’ offices and on the floors of state legislatures, on the local school boards, on the campuses of the nation’s colleges and universities, we will even fight at the gates of the White House and on the steps of Capitol Hill; we will never surrender.

“We will never surrender because the real issue that hinders education for children, poverty, needs to be addressed not ignored. The sound bites of education disaster that deformers thrust upon the public never mention child poverty. In fact, they go out of their way to marginalize it and ignore it. We will force the public and governments, at both the federal and state level, to address this.

“We will never surrender because the very social inequalities that deformers like Gates, Duncan, Rhee, and Broad are using to claim their agenda for public education are full of lies, a lack of research, and an alternate agenda that isn’t about equality or justice; it is about the dollar and continued oppression of the poor. Nothing they have presented as an agenda for education will cure child poverty or social injustice. We will never surrender until this lie is exposed and destroyed. Finally, yet importantly, we will never surrender because principle, morality, democracy, and justice are on our side. Our hearts are not bought by The Gates Foundation or The Broad Foundation – Our hearts belong to the children we teach, and the communities we invest in. For that, we will never surrender.”

A reader sent a brief summary of a story in today’s Chicago Tribune. I was unable to read more than the first paragraph because it is behind a paywall. Anyone who wishes to supply greater detail about the story, please send your summary or details. I have read elsewhere that the chain collects hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines every year from poor families for minor infractions.

This is the network with which gubernatorial candidate and hedge fund zillionaire Bruce Rauner is affiliated. If I remember correctly, there is a charter named for him and others named for other wealthy benefactors, like Hyatt heiress Penny Pritzker, one of Obama’s fund-raisers and now Secretary of Commerce. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_Pritzker); (http://reclaimreform.com/2013/06/09/penny-pritzker-destroys-public-education/).

The reader, Will Dix, writes:

“Today’s Chicago Tribune has a front page story about the Noble Network of Charter Schools, which controls every aspect of its students’ behavior, down to forbidding Cheetos, mandating sitting up straight, or being one minute late for school. Fines are collected after a certain number of infractions, with some students’ (mostly low-income) families paying up to $200 a year to cover them. Obsessive monitoring is justified by the school administration as necessary for good order, but it means there’s no room for just behaving…The priorities seem to be discipline, obedience, and control, which sounds remarkably like prison. In appropriate doses, these qualities make sense, but it seems you can’t turn around at a Noble school without getting fined for something.

“Teachers don’t have much discretion, either, it appears, since they are penalized for lax enforcement. The Trib reports that Noble kicks out well over the charter average of 61 students/thousand each year for disciplinary infractions, which is already way above the CPS average of 5 students/thousand.

“Here’s a link to the full story:
http://eedition.chicagotribune.com/Olive/ODE/ChicagoTribune2/”

For the past decade or more, a bevy of very powerful people have savaged our nation’s public schools while calling themselves “reformers.” It is perfectly clear that they have no desire to “reform” our public schools but to privatize and monetize them. The Bush-Obama era of “measure and punish” has not reformed our public schools but has plunged them into unending disruption, demoralization, and upheaval.

The so-called reformers have honed their PR message well. They couldn’t very well go to the public and say “with the help of some Wall Street billionaires and foundations run by billionaires, we have come to demolish your community’s schools and hand them over to corporations.” That wouldn’t play well. So they sold their goals as “reform,” even as they used the power of the federal government through No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top to close community public schools, to demean the teaching profession, and to make pie-in-the-sky promises about the wonders of choice. George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, and other segregationists of their generation–the 1950s and 1960s–must be laughing in their graves to hear our “reformers”–even our Secretary of Education proclaiming the glories of school choice.

What should we call these people who want to destroy public education as a civic responsibility? The Status Quo. They control the U.S. Department of Education and most state education departments; they control federal policy. They control our nation’s biggest foundations–Gates, Walton, Broad, Dell, Arnold and others. They have the support of media moguls like Rupert Murdoch, Mortimer Zuckerman, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos, as well as the editorial boards of major newspapers. They own NBC’s Education Nation. They ARE the Status Quo.

What do we call the millions of parents and teachers, principals, superintendents, school board members, and researchers who fight for democratic control of education? The Resistance.

We cannot be bought off or intimidated. We know that the strategies and mandates of the Status Quo have failed wherever they were tried. We fight for our children. We fight for democracy. We oppose segregation, budget cuts, high-stakes testing, closing public schools, rating teachers by student test scores, and labeling children by test scores. We will resist their bad ideas. We will resist their efforts to destroy public education. We will resist privatization. We will fight for a better future for all the children of our nation. We will not allow the Status Quo to monetize what belongs to all of us.

Some districts, thinking that they have latched on to new thinking, have adopted the idea of a portfolio model.

This means that they pretend that their community’s public schools are akin to a stock portfolio. They keep the winners and “dump the losers.”

This is truly a dumb idea. It turns out that the “loser” schools are the ones serving the children with the highest needs, who get the lowest test scores.

 

Closing their school doesn’t help anyone learn to read, doesn’t help immigrants learn English, doesn’t help children with disabilities.

 

But some exceptionally thoughtless district leaders have adopted this as the newest, most indispensable fad.

 

As it happens, there was a discussion at AERA about the portfolio model

 

One of the panelists explained what it was, and another–who has the ear of the district’s power brokers–endorsed the idea of “dumping the loser schools.” 

 

Mark Gleason, CEO of the Philadelphia Partnership Schools, said  it was time to dump the “loser schools.”

 

And that is what his organization advocates. It has said nothing about the massive budget cuts that the Philadelphia schools have absorbed.

 

It has been silent about the systematic stripping of the public schools by Governor Corbett and the legislature. It has thrown its weight behind the idea of charter schools and stripping teachers of due process. Then policies of the PSP are no different from those of the extremist rightwing ALEC.

 

“You keep dumping the losers and over time you create a higher bar for what we expect of our schools,” Gleason said Friday while speaking on a panel at the American Educational Research Association conference, which has been held in Philadelphia over the last week.

 

Last year, Philadelphia closed 24 schools in the wake of massive state budget cuts and the rapid expansion of charter schools.
Parents United for Public Education leader Helen Gym said that Gleason held “extremist” views on public education.

 

“Mark Gleason is not an educator, and I think that’s one thing that should be pretty clear. He has been a relentless promoter of questionable reform models that have really wreaked havoc in other places. And he has unprecedented access to the Mayor’s Office of Education, to the School District, to push his agenda,” she told City Paper.

 

PSP, which issues large grants to schools that it wants to see expanded and lobbies policymakers, has become a lightning rod for criticism by public-education advocates since its 2010 founding. The group backs the expansion of charter schools and frequently opposes the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. It has quickly become a major force in city education politics, thanks to millions of dollars of funding from The William Penn Foundation. Controversially, PSP’s board includes conservative figures Janine Yass, the wife of voucher-advocate and investment-fund manager Jeffrey Yass, and Republican powerbroker Chris Bravacos.

 

Someday, our policymakers will look at ideas like portfolio districts and review the havoc they have created. They are hurting children. They are destroying communities. They should stop calling themselves “reformers.” They are destroyers of the lives of children, families, and communities. Mark Gleason, I mean you. Have you no shame?

 

 

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