Archives for category: Education Industry

Anthony Cody writes that the corporate reformers have decided that it’s time to shift the narrative. Having spent the past few years ginning up a crisis climate about our “failing schools” and the need to fire “bad” teachers, the reformers realize the public is tuning them out. There’s an old line about npt wanting to listen to a broken record but there aren’t too many people left who remember what a record is (you know, the vinyl discs that were either 78, 45, or 33 rpm; if they got a scratch, the needle would get stuck in a groove, and the same notes would play over and over, to the point of tedium).

Cody says that Gates is now funding “success” stories. We all love success stories. But what we really need is honest, objective reporting about how testing and choice are working and how they affect children and the quality of education.

Cody writes:

“In 2010, a stark image was broadcast around the nation. It showed a child seated at a school desk surrounded by absolute devastation and ruin. That image was used promote the movie, “Waiting For Superman.” The movie was boosted with a $2 million advertising grant from the Gates Foundation, and was further promoted on Oprah and NBC’s Education Nation – also underwritten by the Gates Foundation. The clarion call was “public schools are broken and bad teachers cannot be fired

“But that is not what we hear now, for some reason. Now, we have stories of success popping up in the media – strangely sponsored by some of the same people who were shouting warnings of calamity just a few years ago.

“How and why has the prevailing story advanced by sponsors of education reform shifted over the past four years from one of failure and doom to one of success? And how is our media cooperating with the crafting of these dominant narratives?”

Well, it is not all happy talk. We still have the Vergara attack on teachers’ due process; we still have loopy efforts to judge teachers by test scores; we still have Pearson buying up every organization that measures American education; we still have Arne Duncan with his snide comments about parents, students, and schools.

I would settle for objective reporting about our schools, better informed and more of it.

WOW! Read this!

The revolution is beginning. The reformers are in trouble. People are waking up and catching on.

“Dad Gone Wild” writes about how he loved Punk Rock. He thought he was the only one. No one understood. That was back in 1977.

Now he found himself wondering about education reform. It didn’t feel right to him. He started looking, and he discovered he was not alone.

He writes:

“Then a crazy thing happened. Slowly but surely punk rock began to creep into the mainstream. I can remember the first time I heard the familiar chorus of the Ramones blasting from a car commercial. Iggy Pop music was being used in Carnival Cruise ads. New bands were being formed that sited the forefathers as instrumental in their formation. The truth was beginning to reach people and they were embracing it. It was all very magical and validating.

“I see a similar thing taking place in the world of education. A few years ago when I first started paying attention to education policy it was all about the power of Teach for America, Charter Schools and Choice. These were tenets that never felt right to me but the voices of support were so great I felt like I was missing something. After all Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, Wendy Kopp, David Levin and Mike Feinberg are all highly educated individuals who have studied education policy extensively. How could they possibly be wrong? Then I discovered Diane Ravitch.

“Discovering Diane was a feeling akin to the first time I heard a Clash record. Wait a minute there are people that feel like I do who can help formulate these feelings and give them voice? It was awe inspiring and I wanted more. So instead of hanging around record stores I started hanging around Twitter and other social media sites. Instead of discovering the Ramones, Undertones, Replacements and Husker Du, I began to discover Bruce Baker, Gary Rubenstein, Anthony Cody, Edushyster, Crazy Crawfish and Julian Vasquez Heilig. I read, and still do, everything they wrote. I followed the people they followed and my mind once again just began to expand.”

And he joined with other parents and they started fighting for their schools, and they started pushing back against legislation that would hurt their public schools.

“These days it seems everywhere I look there is a parent group or community group pushing back against the reform agenda. People are starting to realize that our schools may need work but they don’t need scrapping. They need us all to get in together and work to improve them. There is realization that schools are a cornerstone of our community and a healthy school translates to a healthy community. They are starting to realize that poverty in America is very real and fighting it is essential to improving our schools. I can not express to you how much it makes my heart sing to see this uprising. If it continues, not only will we improve our schools but we’ll improve our communities.”

WOW! The wheel is turning, the revolution is underway.

Stephen Dyer, education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio, has analyzed the latest state report cards. The state’s Governor, John Kasich, is pro-charter, pro-voucher, and pro-market forces. He is no friend to public education. The legislature is the same. They want more schools that are privately managed. As we saw in a post yesterday, Ohio has a parent trigger law, and (as I posted yesterday) the State Education Department has hired StudentsFirst (founded by Michelle Rhee) to inform parents in Columbus about their right to convert their low-performing public school to a charter or hand it over to a charter management organization. Given the statistics in this post, the odds are that the parents will turn their low-performing public school into an even lower-performing charter school, with no hope of escape.

 

Yet when the state report cards came out, public schools overwhelmingly received higher grades than charter schools. Dyer explains in this post that “The Ohio Report Cards are now all out, and the news is worse for Ohio’s embattled Charter Schools than it was last year. Charter Schools received more Fs than As, Bs and Cs combined. Their percentage of Fs went up from about 41% last year to nearly 44% this year.” Think of it, nearly half the charters in the state earned an F grade, yet the state wants MORE of them.

 

Dyer also found that the public schools in the Big 8–Ohio’s urban districts–face more challenges than charters, yet still outperform the urban charters. He writes:

 

In further analyzing the Ohio Report Card data released today, schools in Ohio’s Big 8 urban centers (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown) scored higher on their performance index score (the closest thing Ohio has to an overall performance assessment at this point) than Charter Schools, despite having substantially higher percentages of children who were economically disadvantaged. A staggering 51% of Big 8 urban buildings have more than 95% of their students designated as economically disadvantaged (the Ohio Department of Education only says buildings have “>95.0″ if their economic disadvantaged number is higher than 95%).

 

So, despite having more than half their buildings with, for all intents and purposes, all their kids economically disadvantaged, Ohio’s Big 8 urban buildings actually perform better, on average, than Ohio’s Charter Schools, which were originally intended to “save” children from “failing” urban buildings.

 

Dyer also notes that “Of the top 200 PI [Performance Index] scores, 10 are Charters, 190 are districts. Of the bottom 200 PI scores, 21 are districts and 179 are Charters.”

 

When Dyer looked at Value-Added Measures for districts, the public school districts still outperformed charters, showing more test score growth than charters.

 

The puzzle in these results is why Ohio policymakers–the Governor and the Legislature–want more charters. The answer, as we have observed again and again, is that sponsors and advocates for charters make large political contributions to elected officials. They have become a potent special interest group. This is a case where results don’t matter.

 

The question is, who will save poor children from failing charter schools? Or will Ohio recklessly continue to authorize more charter schools without regard to the performance of the charter sector?

 

I should point out here, as I have in the past, that I think school report cards with a single letter grade, is one of the stupidest public policy ideas in the “reform” bag of tricks. There is no way that a letter grade can accurately reflect the work of a complex institution or the many people in it. Think of a single child coming home from school with a report card that contained only one letter, and it gives some notion of what a simplistic idea it is to grade an entire school in this way. Nonetheless, this is the system now in use in many states (pioneered by the master of ersatz reform, Jeb Bush), so I report what the state reports.

 

 

 

 

A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives Louisiana high marks on providing choice but low marks for academics. It should be noted that Louisiana has higher levels of child poverty than other states, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does not go into that.

“A new U.S. Chamber of Commerce report gives Louisiana’s public education system very low marks on academic achievement, international competitiveness, workforce preparation and bang for the buck. It flunked Louisiana in five of 11 categories, with a D+ in the sixth.

“The state’s low academic standing has been widely documented. However, the chamber says its report has a particular focus on the 21st century workforce.

“Louisiana did see some gains. Scores went up on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2013, especially for low-income and minority students. But compared to other states, Louisiana was still at the bottom. The state’s 2013 Advanced Placement pass rate was worse than any state except Mississippi.

“Pass rates were even lower in subjects that the chamber considers important for the 21st century economy: only 30 in 10,000 students passed a foreign language AP test, and 4 in 10,000 passed the AP computer science test.

“When measured against an international exam, the Programme for International Student Assessment, fewer than 20 percent of Louisiana students met the global standard in reading and mathematics.

“The chamber gave Louisiana a failing grade on “return on investment.” After controlling for the cost of living, the chamber’s report says, “student achievement in Louisiana is very low relative to state spending,” which is about at the national median.

“The chamber released the report card Thursday. The research was conducted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

“Given Louisiana’s poor national and international standing, the chamber found the state’s internal testing results dubious and lacking in credibility. In 2011, pass rates for Louisiana’s LEAP and iLEAP tests were much higher than the national rates. That gave an inaccurately rosy picture of student performance, said the chamber, which awarded a D-plus for “truth in advertising.”

The state got an A for parental choice. As we have seen in numerous earlier reports, many children use state vouchers to attend schools with no curriculum and uncertified teachers. Maybe all that choice is dragging down academic outcomes. But “even some of the better grades were lower than in the chamber’s previous report. In 2007, chamber researchers gave Louisiana an A for teaching, a C for the credibility of its own test pass rates and an A for data collection. It gave the state a B for the rigor of its academic standards, praising its English benchmarks and graduation exit exam.” Under John White, the state is losing ground.

Hmm, I seem to recall that Louisiana was the state that was #1 on StudentsFirst report card, probably because of vouchers and charters.

State superintendent John White thinks that Common Core and its hard tests is the cure-all for low performance. Rigor. Harder tests. That’ll raise performance. Kind of like an athlete who can’t jump a 4-ft bar. Raise it to 6 feet. That’ll do it.

The New York City Parents Blog compiled the many complaints of parents and teachers about Daniel Bergner’s article about Eva Moskowitz. Bergner interviewed many critics, but he quoted only two: me and Michael Mulgrew of the UFT.

Unlike the magazine article, the post explains that the main reason Mayor de Blasio rejected Moskowitz’s efforts to expand within PS 149 was that it would cause the displacement of children with special needs, some of whom are severely disabled. It was ironic that the $5-6 million TV ad campaign that Eva’s Wall Street backers ran on her behalf last spring claimed that the Mayor was forcing SA children out of their schools by denying them space, when the reverse was true: Moskowitz wanted to increase the size of her school at the expense of children with disabilities.

The ad campaign paid off for Moskowitz. Many of the same Wall Street tycoons who backed Eva also funded Cuomo’s campaign, so of course Cuomo supported Eva and cut the ground out from under the Mayor’s feet, with the help of the legislature. Eva got free rent, the right to expand in public space, and other privileges. But this was not what you saw in the New York Times article.

For further information contact:

Clovis Gallon, 717-487-2530, clo95@hotmail.com
Lauri Rakoff, 717-577-8327, lrakoff@psea.org
YORK CITIZENS TO SCHOOL BOARD: STOP THE CORPORATE TAKEOVER OF OUR SCHOOLS
Community members will march outside School Board, Community Education Council meetings
York, Pa. (Sept. 12, 2014) – Parents, educators, and members of the York community are calling on York City School Board members to reject the bids of two out-of-state charter corporations competing to take over the city’s public schools.
The School Board is reviewing proposals from Charter Schools USA and Mosaica Education, Inc. to take over every one of the city’s public schools. This would be a first-of-its-kind experiment in Pennsylvania public education, allowing a private corporation to profit from the education of York schoolchildren.
“No other school district in Pennsylvania has handed over every one of its public schools to a for-profit charter corporation,” said Clovis Gallon, a teacher and member of the York City Education Association. “York students should not be treated like guinea pigs in some grand experiment.”
Parents, educators, and members of the York community will march outside of the York City School Board meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 17 and a Charter School Presentation for the Community Education Council on Wednesday, Sept. 24.
The details of both events are below. Media coverage is encouraged.
What: York City School Board Meeting

Where: York City Schools Administration Building

When: Wed., Sept. 17, 5:30-6:30 p.m. (School Board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.)

Details: The march will occur outside the Administration Building. Participants will then attend the School Board meeting.

What: Community Charter School Presentation

Where: Hannah Penn K-8 School

When: Wed., Sept. 24, 5:30-6:30 p.m. (Community Education Council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.)

Details: The march will occur outside the school cafeteria. Participants will then attend the Community Education Council meeting and Charter School Presentation.

The corporate takeover experiment is being pushed by the York City School District’s chief recovery officer, an appointee of Gov. Tom Corbett, who falsely claims this is the district’s only hope in the face of financial challenges.

“Gov. Corbett has starved York’s public schools of needed resources, and now his appointed chief recovery officer is blaming the city’s schools for not providing children with a rich enough educational diet,” said Gallon. “What York schools really need is for state lawmakers to reverse the Corbett funding cuts.”

York community members look forward to sending a message to school officials that they support their community schools and strongly oppose a corporate takeover by an out-of-state charter operator.

“Local taxpayers and elected officials should be making decisions about the education of York’s children – not an out-of-state corporation with its eye on the bottom line,” said Gallon.

Bill Phillis founded the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition, which advocates for public schools and exposes for-profit scams.

He writes here:

Imagine Schools, Inc.: For-profit, out- of- state business operation took $44.9 million of Ohio school districts’ funds last school year

Imagine Schools, Inc., based in Arlington, VA, has 18 Ohio business centers, authorized by eight different charter school sponsors. During the 2013-2014 school year, this for-profit company enrolled 6,235 students at a cost of $45 million to Ohio school districts.

Each of these 18 charter schools has a sponsor and a board of directors. The Ohio Department of Education and Ohio charter school sponsors typically provide limited monitoring and oversight. The boards of the Imagine Schools, Inc. appear to be mere rubber stamps of company decisions. (A company internal memo surfaced in which charter school principals were admonished to keep boards in line with company decisions because the schools belonged to the company.)

Since the financial operation of this school district-funded enterprise is hidden from public view, the amount of tax money that is converted to profits is a secret.

My resident school district had a deduction of $3,702,897.67 for Imagine Schools, Inc. last school year. As a taxpayer and supporter of my school district, board of education, administration and district employees, I object to a portion of the school district tax money being taken from my school district and handed to entities that have little or no transparency or accountability. I, along with other school district residents, have no access to the unaccountable financial operation of Imagine Schools, Inc. School districts’ finances, on the other hand, are available to citizens.

The Ohio Department of Education deducted $15,570,134.09 from my resident school district for students going to charter schools. These funds went to 66 charter schools, most of which had a lower state report card rating than the district.

State officials should eliminate the for-profit companies from the Ohio charter school industry.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A
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Bertis Downs, a member of the board of directors of the Network for Public Education, lives in Georgia. He sent the following comment, which gives hope that the citizens of Georgia will support their local public schools and vote for a Governor who wants to improve them. An earlier post described Governor Nathan Deal’s desire to create a statewide district modeled on the failed RSD in New Orleans (failed because most of the charters are rated D or F by the state and the district as a whole is one of the lowest performing in the state).

 

Bertis writes:

 

 

Some narrative-shifting appears to be going on here in GA I am happy to report (but not resting on any laurels as we are up against the Big Money snake oil nonsense like everywhere else of course)

But some examples:

–from Savannah Morning News, this is good to see, a clear and direct report on the effects of budget cuts over time–

http://bit.ly/1ux1Sjs

–from middle Georgia, Macon’s Telegraph had a recent editorial on education and poverty with a key paragraph:

“During this political season, there is no better question to ask the candidates, particularly those running for state school superintendent and governor, what they plan to do to support the state’s K-12 education system. Then, whoever is elected, will have to be held accountable if they don’t keep their word.”

http://bit.ly/1wt1LaA

–and in Athens news, check out this editorial on our school board and superintendent pushing back about the absurdities of the new testing heavy statewide teacher evaluation system– the Athens Banner-Herald supporting the position of our local educators is a good thing:

http://bit.ly/1q2NpFo
http://bit.ly/1tB14Hp

–finally, here is an interesting piece on the GO PUBLIC film recently screened in Athens:

http://bit.ly/1tQU1dN

Jason Carter has built his campaign on public education issues and slowly but surely the word is getting out that if we want to truly support public schools and teachers in Georgia, Jason Carter is the right candidate for governor. And with the incumbent faltering by the day, his talking points now featuring unabashed support for Jindal-style reform gimmicks like RSD, it’s no wonder the polls are tied and Jason has a serious chance of winning by attracting moderate Republican and independent education voters. Nobody, Republican, Democrat or Independent, nobody likes to see their local schools diminished and weakened, good teachers leaving teaching, and their children’s love of learning sapped away by the high-stakes overtesting being done these days in the name of “reform.” People are realizing the fact that under the current state leadership, that’s what Georgia will continue to get– if Deal gets another term.

Peter Greene has been following the conversation at EducationPost, the blog funded by Broad, Walton, Bloomberg et al for $12 million, he says that the new spin from reformsters is that education is too politicized. He agrees but asks how it got that way. Who took the decision making power away from educators and gave it to legislatures, governors, the President, and Comgress? Not educators.

Peter Greene knows who did it:

“As it turns out, I think I have an answer for this one. Asking why the Common Core are wrapped up in politics is like asking why human beings are so involved with blood.

“The Common Core were birthed in politics. They were weaned on politics. And every time they have looked tired and in trouble, they have been revived with a fresh transfusion of politics.

“When David Coleman and Gene Wilhoit decided they wanted to standardize American education, they did not come up with a plan to sell such a program on its education merits. They called on Bill Gates to use his money and power to convince state governments to legislate systemic changes to education.

“The states signed on to a Memo of Understanding (a political tool for out-politicking politics) and many of them did it before there were even any standards to look at. This was a political move, using the political power of legislatures and governors’ offices to impose rules on educational systems– in many cases, before educators in particular states even knew that such a systemic overhaul was being considered.

“Common Core’s Pappy, No Child Left Behind, was a creature of politics, right down to its spin-ready title. It was created to put a glossy shine on bipartisan action for the kids. Educators (and other people with rudimentary math skills) pointed out early on that the NCLB end game of 100% above average was ridiculously improbable, but the political shininess plus the political notion that future politicians would find a political solution drowned out good sense. Because, politics.”

He concludes:

“At no point in all this reformy baloney have we seen the spectacle of bottom-up reform, a reform movement driven by teachers and other educators saying, “Hey, we have some ideas that are so revolutionary and so great that they are spreading like wildfire strictly on their educational merits!”

“No– Common Core and its attendant test-driven high stakes data-glomming VAMboozling baloney have come from the top down, by politicians using political power to impose educational solutions through the political tools applied to the political structure of government. Why do people get the idea that all these reformy ideas are linked? Because they all come from the same place– the linkage is the political power that imposed them all on the American public education system.

“Look. We live in the real world and politics play a part in many things. But for some reformsters to offer wide eyes and shocked dismay and clutched pearls as they cry, “Oh, but why does it have to be so political!” is the height of hypocrisy. It’s political because you folks made it political, every step of the way, and it’s not humanly possible for you to be too dumb to know that (particularly at a site like Education Post that is larded with career political operatives). So if you want to have a serious conversation about any of this, Step One is top stop lying, badly, directly to our faces. I can’t hear you when my bullshit detector alarm is screaming in my ear.”

The Palm Beach County Commission allocated $20 million to enable a new charter school to borrow money for school construction. Some members of the commission opposed it, but the majority thought it was just another business that needed public funding.

 

The County Commission voted in favor of allowing Renaissance Charter School at Cypress on Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach to borrow money by accessing tax-exempt bonds. Those bonds can help the charter school pay for the cost of buying land, constructing the new building, adding equipment and other educational expenses.

While the money comes from private investors, those bonds are supposed to get paid back by school revenues. Those revenues include the portion of school tax dollars that go toward charter schools.

Palm Beach County shouldn’t be enabling charter school companies to profit from the bond deals, said County Commissioner Paulette Burdick.

“It’s not about educating children. It’s about making money,” said Burdick, a former school board member….

 

Charter schools are billed as a way to provide parents more educational alternatives for their children. Private companies, nonprofit groups and other organizations can use public funds to start charter schools, which can operate without many of the regulations of traditional schools.

But a proliferation of charter schools has sparked concerns that they are poorly regulated and too often fail to deliver on promised educational improvements. Critics say charter schools are taking too many tax dollars away from educational efforts at existing public schools.

The Palm Beach County League of Women Voters on Tuesday opposed approving a bond deal for the Renaissance Charter School.

Charter school companies are using public financing help to profit off land deals and the county shouldn’t help, according to Elaine Goodman, of the League of Women Voters.

“What is happening to our traditional public schools?” Goodman asked. “Where are our priorities?”

 

Despite the critics, the commission approved the deal by a vote of 5-2.

 

 

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