Archives for category: Education Industry

Many wealthy families want to leave a legacy, something to remind the world of their beneficence and power. Andrew Carnegie covered the land with free public libraries. Others have endowed museums, public parks, zoos, and many other monuments that the public would enjoy long after the family had gone.

The Kramer family of Minneapolis will leave as its legacy the destruction of public education in that city. They have devoted their considerable energy and power to building public support for charter schools and cutting away public support for public schools. Because of their role as advocates for charter schools, Minneapolis this year has 34,000 students, while the surging charter sector has 20,000. This year, the public schools expected enrollment growth of 900, but only two new students appeared. Meanwhile, the Board of Education bickers about “market share” and forgets their primary mission as stewards of a public trust, as Peter Greene explained.

What have the Kramers to do with the sinking fortunes of public education? EduShyster documented their leadership of the privatization movement in Minneapolis. She writes, in her cheeky fashion:

“Readers: meet the Minneapolis Kramers. Father Joel is the former publisher of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and took home $8 million when the paper was sold to McClatchy. These days he presides over Minnpost.com and a brood of young rephormers. Son Matt is the president of Teach for America, in charge of TFA’s “overall performance, operations, and effectiveness.” Son Eli, another former TFAer, is the executive director of Hiawatha Academies, a mini charter empire in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, daughter-in-law Katie Barrett-Kramer is a former TFAer who now serves as director of academic excellence at Charter School Partners, a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the number of charters in Minneapolis, including the ones her brother-in-law runs.

“Now I have acquired a deep thirst just writing about the Kramer siblings and their dedication to the civil right$ i$$ue of our time. But there’s still more. Matt, who with his brother attended the tony Breck School (which I suspect is likely not a ‘no excuses’ school), also sits on numerous rephorm boards. Matt is the chair of the board of 50Can and a member of the board of Students for Education Reform.

“And did I mention that the Kramers are avid supporters of young TFA school board candidate and life-long educator Josh Reimnitz, who moved to Minneapolis in May, and received an undisclosed amount of money from TFA’s political phund???

But what about Père Kramer? Has he no role in this touching rephorm tableau? Phear not reader. Papa Kramer’s online publication, MinnPost, serves as an influential booster for all of the Kramers’ assorted kauses, including Hiawatha Academies. There is nothing the slightest bit conflict-of-interest-ish about this as evidenced by this, perhaps the kraziest quote from an actual publication that I have ever encountered:

“And here we must pause for Learning’s Curve’s lengthiest Kramer Disclaimer yet: [Charter School Partners] employs Katie Barrett-Kramer, wife of Teach for America President Matt Kramer and daughter-in-law of MinnPost founder and Editor Joel Kramer and Chief Revenue Officer Laurie Kramer.”

It is difficult to think that any family in the U.S. wants to be remembered as the family that destroyed and privatized public education. But that is how the Kramer family of Minneapolis will be remembered. How very sad.

Alan Singer sees a pattern:

Andrew Cuomo gets large campaign contributions from hedge fund managers, and Andrew Cuomo becomes a charter cheerleader. This, despite the fact that charters enroll only 3% of New York state’s children. At the beginning of his term as Governor, he promised to be the students’ lobbyist. Who knew that he intended to be the lobbyist for the 3% while ignoring the vast majority of children, who are enrolled in public schools?

Singer notes some fascinating details about Cuomo’s support for charter schools:

“It is probably just a coincidence. Could charter school dollars pouring into Andrew Cuomo’s reelection campaign at the same time that new charter agreements are approved by New York State really be “Quid Pro Cuomo”? Readers and voters have to decide for themselves.

“One month before Election Day, the State University of New York Charter School Committee gave its approval for seventeen new charter schools in New York City, including fourteen new Success Academy charter schools. This will eventually give the politically connected network headed by its contentious chief executive, Eva Moskowitz, a total of fifty charter schools in the city with over 16,000 students. Three new charter schools were also approved for a group called Achievement First.

“According to Joseph Belluck, the committee chairman, “parents in the communities where these schools are do not care about the politics of this issue. They want their kids to have good schools, and they want their kids to have a good education.” That may be true. However, it is Belluck’s job to know about the political issues, especially about the influence of political contributions, and take them into account before these decisions are made. But again, maybe he did.

“Belluck, a partner in the Manhattan law firm, was appointed to the SUNY Board of Trustees in June 2010. Before founding his law firm in 2002 he was counsel to the New York State Attorney General. Belluck is a major Democratic Party contributor. According to the website Little Sis, between 2004 and 2012 he gave $134,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign and about $200,000 to other Democratic Party candidates and committees.

“According to at least one website, in 2010, Belluck donated over $50,000 to Cuomo’s successful gubernatorial campaign. New York Press reported that Belluck donated $21,900 to Cuomo in 2008, $34,000 in 2009, and $60,000 in 2012. The Albany-Times Union called Belluck Cuomo’s second largest donor. Belluck is so politically connected that his law firm includes Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson. Sampson, by the way, was indicted in 2013 by a federal grand jury. He pleaded not guilty to charges that he stole money from the sale of foreclosed homes. The charges are still pending.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that KIPP plans to double its enrollment in Los Angeles over the next six years.

 

KIPP has received many millions in gifts from the U.S. Department of Education, the Walton Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and others committed to privatizing the public schools.

 

“KIPP LA currently operates 11 schools that serve about 4,000 students; by 2020, the organization wants to grow to 9,000 students in 20 schools.”

 

In the second-largest district in the nation, 9,000 is not a significant number, but the ripple effect will cause the closure of public schools in the district.

 

 

 

 

This may seem unthinkable, but Pearson–the mega-giant British publisher of tests and textbooks–might lose its $500 million dollar testing contract for the state of Texas. So says the British publication,
The Telegraph. The entrepreneurs and profiteers of education are worried about the future. How sad. Will they buy each other up? Will they make money or lose money? So many problems when you live or die by profit margins. So many lobbyists to hire. So many campaign contributions to make. Welcome to the new and tawdry world of the education industry.

 

 

Katherine Rushton writes:

 

Most people have, at some point in their lives, felt a bout of nerves as they awaited a crucial set of exam results. Pearson’s chief executive, John Fallon, could be forgiven for having the same feeling.
Next month, the London-listed education giant will face its own version of this peculiar kind of torture, as it learns whether Texas plans to renew its contract for Pearson to provide testing in schools. The deal is a valuable one, worth around $500m (£310m) over five years. It is also a matter of particular strategic importance.
Texas is amongst America’s biggest and most influential states when it comes to education spending – the linchpin in the North American market, which accounts for 59pc of Pearson’s revenues and 66pc of its profits. And it has a long history of doing business with the British company, whose chief executive cut his teeth in the US textbook market, and whose former boss, Dame Marjorie Scardino, is herself American.
If the educational testing business were an election, this would count as Pearson’s safe seat. Yet there are signs Pearson may be about to lose its grip on its traditional stronghold. An audit of the Texas Education Agency recently found problems with the way the Pearson contract was tendered and managed.

 

Pearson has had other setbacks, like the loss of the Apple-Pearson iPad deal in Los Angeles.

 

The e-industry is facing difficulties, says Rushton:

 

“In this transition from print to digital, we don’t have all the infrastructure, but directionally things are moving the right way,” a Pearson spokesman said.
“There are short-term headwinds and long-term opportunities. It is not going to be a clear, straight path. It’s hard work. It’s a case of trial and error as you innovate. The question is, ‘How quickly do you learn?’”….

 

Some analysts argue that Dame Marjorie carefully timed her exit at the end of 2012. Pearson expanded enormously under her tenure, using a series of acquisitions to develop digital products and expand in emerging markets, notably China.
Mr Fallon, these analysts argue, is now unfairly having to grapple with a ragtag bag of companies, shouldering the blame for a combination of changing market dynamics and decisions taken by his predecessor.
Others claim Dame Marjorie is the one being scapegoated. They argue that the FTSE 100 business she led for 16 years is wobbling because of much more recent decisions, and that Fallon has lost key staff and contracts because of a reduction of investment in digital projects.
Whichever interpretation one adopts it is clear that Pearson’s troubles are not all of its own making. Its current turbulence started at a time when the tectonic plates of the education industry were already shifting rapidly. Part of this is down to a redrawing of the battle lines between established rivals. In America, McGraw-Hill Education has lately sharpened its focus on digital products under new chief executive David Levin, the former boss of UBM.
News Corp’s education division has also upped its game, under the guidance of Joel Klein, the former New York City schools chancellor.
But there are also a number of new rivals bearing down on the sector: Some of these are start-ups. We are in the midst of an unparalleled splurge in investment in new digital education businesses. In 2008, venture capital firms ploughed just $200m into the sector. This year, that sum is on course for $1bn.
Meanwhile, established technology giants like Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung are all making inroads into the industry, in the hope that they will build loyal audiences to sell other products to down the line. “We’ve handed education to the big software and hardware providers,” says a senior industry figure. “Google is slated to have 20m teachers working on Google apps, and it’s all free. The margins are different because the motivations are different. Google can give away education because it is securing customers for the future.”
At the moment, the big technology companies tend to partner with the traditional players – Apple was supposed to provide the iPads for LA’s $1bn digital project, for example, but Pearson was responsible for the content. However, we have already seen this story play out in other industries. It is only a matter of time before these technology giants start producing their own content, and try to disintermediate the traditional publishers altogether.
“Partnering with one of these guys is like going to bed with a serial rapist,” one senior source says. “It is only a matter of time.”
He identifies Amazon as the biggest single threat. Its motivation is clear. The more educational content it provides, the more likely it is users will become dependent on its ecosystem and use it for future purchases.
Organisations that are not trying to make money arguably pose an even greater challenge, however. In 2011, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla, ring-fenced between $1.5bn and $2.5bn to fund education projects. The endowment, informally dubbed the Zuckerberg fund, is a relatively low-key operation at the moment, but industry figures speculate that he will end up tackling education, in much the same way as Microsoft founder Bill Gates established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve world health.
Those sorts of initiatives should only ever be welcomed, but they do not make life easier for traditional education companies.
One former Pearson executive argues that “for-profit” organisations in education are “seriously under threat”, and could end up losing their footing altogether.
But the Pearson’s spokesman feels differently. “The private sector has a pivotal role to play,” they say.
Either way, Pearson has reached a crucial moment in its trajectory. Fallon has to whip the ragtag bag of businesses he inherited into a smart, digital company. Otherwise, the venture capital firms could soon start circling and pick-pick-pick it away.

 

Three incumbents on the Indianapolis school board have collectively raised about $6,000.

Their opponents have raised over $100,000 from corporate reformers who want to bring more charters to the district. Follow the money.

 

The challengers are heavily funded by groups like anti-teacher, anti-union, pro-privatization Stand for Children, the Chamber of Commerce, and big contributors from across the nation. Clearly, the corporate reformers want to hasten the pace of privatization.

 

Stand for Children has sponsored anti-teacher, anti-union legislation in Illinois and in Massachusetts.

 

Will voters in Indianpolis allow the corporate reformers to buy control of their public schools and turn them into privately managed charters? If you live in Indianapolis, defend your community’s public schools. Tell the corporate reformers they are not for sale.

 

Here is Fairtest’s weekly report on the anti-testing movement, which grows daily. Major national organizations recognized the resistance and proclaimed they want to reduce the overdose of testing. Hmmm.

 

 

Bob Schaeffer of Fairtest writes:

Top national policy-makers finally took notice of the growing testing resistance and reform movement this week. The Council of Chief State School Officers (aka state superintendents) and the Council of the Great City Schools (urban supers) published a report admitting that standardized exam overkill was rampant across the country. In response, both U.S. Secretary of Arne Duncan and President Barack Obama issued statements of concern.

But none of these long-time defenders of test misuse and overuse has spelled out how to address what they concede are serious problems. That’s why grassroots activists — parents, students, teachers, administrators, community leaders, school board members, etc. — need to keep ratcheting up the pressure !

School Standardized Testing Is Under Growing Attack: Leaders Pledge Changes

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/school-standardized-testing-is-under-growing-attack-leaders-pledge-changes/2014/10/15/bd1201b8-549b-11e4-ba4b-f6333e2c0453_story.html

As Over-Testing Outcry Grows, Exam Promoters Pull Back Slightly

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2014/1016/As-overtesting-outcry-grows-education-leaders-pull-back-on-standardized-tests

Poll Finds Coloradans Concerned About Too Much Testing

http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/10/20/union-poll-finds-negative-public-attitudes-on-testing/#.VEZxCnvvdBw

Pearson Scoring Error Delays Release of New Test Results

http://www.9news.com/story/news/education/2014/10/16/state-delays-release-new-tests/17356299/

Delaware School Board Will Support Families Who Opt Out of Tests

http://delaware.newszap.com/centraldelaware/135877-70/standardized-test-opt-out-gets-show-of-support-from-capital-board

Florida Teachers Fed Up With Volume of Testing

http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/marion-county-teachers-fed-amount-testing-kinderga/nhjHs/

Revolt Against Testing Spreads Across Florida

http://www.tallahassee.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/10/15/kathleen-oropeza-revolt-testing-begun/17326837/

Florida Fights With Feds Over Testing English Language Learners

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/state-federal-government-wrestle-over-testing-for-students-learning-english/2202760

Time for Georgians to Rise Up Against Student Testing Regime

http://onlineathens.com/opinion/2014-10-18/blackmon-time-rise-against-student-testing-regimen

Indiana School Grade Gaming Earns Failing Results

http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20141017/EDIT07/310179995/1147/EDIT07

Maryland Educators Seek Delay in Common Core Testing Requirements

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/blog/bs-md-graduation-requirements-20141016-story.html#page=1

Mississippi School Grading Change Leaves Schools Confused, Frustrated

http://www.sunherald.com/2014/10/16/5859825/districts-caught-in-transition.html

Suspend New Jersey Exit Exam Requirement During Transition to PARCC

http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/10/14/commentary-make-exit-exam-optional-parcc-changes/17247379/

New Mexico State Senator Seeks Moratorium on Test Score Consequences

http://www.abqjournal.com/480653/news/nm-senator-calls-for-moratorium-on-using-test-scores.html

Testing Policy A Contentious Issue in New Mexico Race for Governor

http://www.abqjournal.com/482493/news/gov-candidates-offer-different-policy-visions.html

New York Rethinks Rush to Computerized Testing: Plans Multi-Year Phase-In

http://www.nyssba.org/news/2014/10/10/on-board-online-october-13-2014/sed-rethinks-computerized-testing-plans-phase-in-over-several-years/

Opt-Out Movement Builds Across New York State

http://www.recordonline.com/article/20141019/NEWS/141019385

Ohio School Superintendents Label Added Common Core Testing an “Abomination”

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/10/test_mania_local_superintenden.html

Grades From Spring 2015 Ohio Common Core Tests May Not Be Available Until 2016

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/10/grades_from_spring_common_core_tests_may_not_be_available_until_2016.html

Ohio School Board Candidate: Test-Centric Education Cannot Replace for Effective Learning

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/2014/10/14/column-test-centric-education-replacement-effective-learning/17278543/

Oklahoma Plays Test Vendor “Musical Chairs” Firing One Company and Hiring Another

http://oklahomawatch.org/2014/10/17/oklahoma-to-consider-new-testing-contract-replacing-mcgraw-hill/

Portland Oregon Schools Refuse to Be Judged By Common Core Tests

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/10/portland_public_schools_wont_f.html

Too Much Testing in Texas Schools

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20141017-failing-grade-for-testing.ece

Former Utah Teacher of the Year, Now NEA President, Says Don’t Punish Educators With Test Scores

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58530434-78/eskelsen-utah-garcia-education.html.csp

Powerful Video Short: “Refuse the Tests”

Testing Mania and Uncle Sam’s Clumsy (Over)Reach

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rick_hess_straight_up/2014/10/testing_mania_and_uncle_sams_clumsy_reach.html

New Research: Grade Retention, Even in Kindergarten, Is Harmful to Children

http://educationbythenumbers.org/content/new-research-failing-students_2034/

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468
web- http://www.fairtest.org

The blog has its own poet, who signs as “Some DAM Poet—Devalue Added Model.” Here is his or her poem for Imagine charters in Ohio:

“”Imagine” (sincere apologies to John Lennon)

Imagine no regulation
It’s easy if you try
No tax below us
Above us only $ky

Imagine all the charters
Living for today

Imagine there’s no oversight
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to sweat or lie for
And no inspections, too

Imagine all the charters
Living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the charters will cheat as one

Imagine no prosecutions
I wonder if you can
No need for lawyers and trials
A brotherhood of scams

Imagine all the charters
Ruling all the world

You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the charters will rule as one

Where have the state watchdogs been while Imagine Charters have profited handsomely with taxpayer dollars?

Where has the media been!

The Toledo Blade reports:

“The charter school Imagine School for the Arts is paying rent of nearly $1 million a year on a downtown building with the education funding it gets from the state, prompting criticism from a progressive advocacy group that studied charter-school finances around the state.

“The complicated financial arrangement also involves a school-affiliated trust company spending more than $7 million last year to buy a building valued at less than $2 million.

“The liberal advocacy group ProgressOhio attacked the size of the rent payments at charter schools operated in Toledo and other Ohio cities by Imagine Schools Monday as excessive. Imagine is a national for-profit educational management company.

“According to ProgressOhio, Imagine’s subsidiary, Schoolhouse Finance, collected at least $14.4 million in public money last year for the company’s 17 Ohio schools. Of that, $8.9 million covered rent for long-term leases to Schoolhouse Finance. The $5.5 million balance went to pay “indirect costs” to Imagine to provide management services.

“The state of Ohio and its oversight have been asleep at the wheel. If you look at the Imagine schools and the annual rents, they are outrageous,” said Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio in Columbus. “These for-profit management corporations have become profiteers, and they are taking this money to enrich themselves.”

The story says ProgressOhio receives union funding, as though that changes the facts. No, it does not. If the state won’t investigate, then welcome to anyone who does.

“According to ProgressOhio, Imagine Schools pays annual rent of $301,320 for the Clay Avenue Community School building, $175,464 for the Hill Avenue Environmental School, and $942,549 for the Madison Avenue School for the Arts.

“In addition, all three pay a management fee to Imagine: $483,852 for Clay Avenue, $124,646 for Hill Avenue, and $608,020 for Madison Avenue.

“All three had a performance index grade of D in the most recent statewide report card. The district in which those schools are located, Toledo Public Schools, had an overall performance index grade of D.”

Imagine buys the building, then leases it to itself at inflated rentals. That’s the business plan.

Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Education/2014/10/14/Charter-school-rent-stirs-debate.html#c7BTQOGG4UQjbbxI.99

Governor John Kasich has been charter-friendly, to say the least. Ohio is home to some of the nation’s most profitable charter operators. Think ECOT. Think White Hat. These charters gove generously to friendly politicians (think Kasich and the Ohio Republican Party). But now Imagine charters had some embarrassing publicity about some of their lucrative sale-leaseback deals, and even charter champions are calling them “crony capitalists.”

So ProgressOhio has called for an investigation of Imagine.

““Our ‘fiscally conservative’ governor needs to explain why he’s allowed all this money to be wasted and all these kids to be hurt. And his charter school watchdog needs to go,” said Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio.

“Rothenberg asked why David Hansen, who heads the state Department of Education’s charter-school accountability office, has ignored the problem, noting that he formerly served on the board of an Imagine school in Columbus and should have known about its lease arrangement.

“Hansen, husband of Kasich’s chief of staff, was on Imagine Academy of Columbus’ board and among those recommending that the school be closed because of poor academic performance. The school closed but reopened weeks later as a new Imagine school with the same lease, which directs more than half of its state aid to rent.”

And more:

“The Dispatch reported on Sunday that five Imagine schools in Franklin County received a combined $20.2 million in per-pupil state aid in the 2012-13 school year. A quarter of that money — more than $5.1 million — was spent on rent, all under long-term leases with Schoolhouse Finance, an Imagine subsidiary.

“A sixth school, Imagine Integrity Academy, spent 81 percent of its $440,009 in state aid on rent in the 2011-12 school year, the most recent audit available.”

High profit margin, no?

“Research by ProgressOhio showed that, despite Imagine’s poor academic performance, Imagine and Schoolhouse Finance collected at least $14.4 million in public money last year for their 17 Ohio schools, according to records from the schools and state auditor.

“More than half — $8.9 million — covered rent for long-term leases to Schoolhouse Finance. The $5.5 million balance went to pay “indirect costs’’ to Imagine to provide management services.

“Rothenberg said the arrangement leaves little money for classroom instruction, and administrators for some of the schools complain that low teacher salaries have caused high staff turnover, which further undermines student achievement.”

Crony capitalism? Yes. Ripoff of public funds intended for children? What do you think?

Jersey Jazzman warns of a very serious malady found in the charter industry: Charter cheerleading.

 

He says it is perfectly normal to be proud of your school and its accomplishments. It is normal to want the world to know that your teachers and kids are terrific.

 

But charter cheerleaders go beyond the bounds of normal pride. Their schools are far, far better than yours. They quote statistics that ignore the reality of skimming and cherry-picking. They even boast when their school has not been open long enough to have produced any statistics. The simple fact of being a “charter” makes them say that they are better than any public school.

 

These people need help.

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 113,706 other followers