Archives for category: Michigan

Yesterday, we remarked on the candid remarks of the StudentsFirst executive director in Ohio, who said that most charters in his state “stink” and should be closed down. That was a hopeful sign that at some part of the reform movement might be willing to bend on its anti-teacher pro-privatization agenda.

But today we learn from Eclectablog in Michigan that StudentsFirst has fired an ex-state legislator who was recalled by voters. He is, says Eclectablog, known for his homophobic remarks. When he was recalled, he was chair of the House Education Committee, and StudentsFirst gave him a campaign contribution of $73,000.

Eclectablog writes:

“Given their long history together, it’s not too surprising that StudentsFirst, which spends much of its time attacking teachers, trying to destroy public schools, and promoting for-profit charter schools across the country, would hire Paul Scott. Because, hey, nothing says “students first” like hiring an extremist homophobe who rails about the evils of teaching children about contraception while impregnating an staffer to whom you aren’t married.”

Possibly in response to the Detroit Free Press’s expose of charter schools’ lack of transparency and accountability, a majority in most recent poll (73%) want a moratorium on new charter schools until the Legislature and the State Department of Education has reviewed charter legislation.

 

Having learned from the 8-day series of articles that charters get $1 billion without oversight, the public might want some regulation of how their dollars are spent.

Jack Martin, the emergency manager for Detroitpublic schools, has canceled his proposal to cut teachers’ salaries by 10% and to increase class sizes to as many as 43. This is great news for the children and teachers of Detroit!

“In place of the pay cuts, Jack Martin will ask state education officials to extend the district’s five-year deficit elimination plan to seven years, consider layoffs for non-school employees and look to revenue increases from future property sales and possible student enrollment increases.

“Facing a fierce backlash from teachers, parents and even the state school superintendent, Martin announced the reversal of the planned cuts as part of the district’s plan to eliminate its $127 million deficit.

“The district’s deficit elimination plan, submitted to the Michigan Department of Education and approved last week, was intended to make up for the loss of a projected $18.5 million in revenue from a countywide school tax that voters rejected Aug. 5.

“Detroit Public Schools’ sole focus is and must remain providing the highest quality education possible to the children of Detroit,” Martin said during a news conference.”

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140826/SCHOOLS/308260087#ixzz3BWxXkqaf

Governor Rick Snyder long ago made it clear that the state of Michigan has no intention of saving public education in Detroit or anywhere else. The city’s emergency manager announced a 10% pay cut for teachers, larger class size, and the closing of 24 schools. The schools have a deficit of $127 million. The wage concessions by teachers will save $13.3 million.

“Parents, educators and community stakeholders met Wednesday morning in front of Ludington Middle School to denounce the cuts, as well as the district’s previously announced plans to increase class sizes.

“Brian Kindle has two children beginning Head Start in the fall, and a 15-year-old at Cody High School. He said he’s worried about how pay cuts will impact his kids.

“I say hands off first responders, kids and teachers,” he said. “I’m here to support parents and their children, and to ask Gov. Snyder not to vote for the proposal.”

“Kindle said he fears additional cuts will result in further neglect of students in the classroom.

“We should have classrooms on every corner, instead of liquor stores,” he said. “That would be great, but we don’t have a society that encourages it. But I will remain on the forefront supporting our children.”

Dr. Thomas Pedroni of the Detroit Data and Democracy Project contends that the cuts to classroom instruction are NOT necessary. He shows in this analysis that the emergency manager has allowed other categories of spending to grow, while cutting the single service that matters most: classroom instruction.

As we learned from the Detroit Free Press series on the state’s charter industry, it collects $1 billion from taxpayers without producing better results than public schools for the state’s neediest children.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan acted to warn the authorizers of the state’s lowest performing charters that he was warning them they were “At Risk of Suspension.” This warning applied to 11 of the state’s 40 authorizers.

He said:

““We want all public schools to provide a quality education for Michigan’s kids,” Flanagan said. “I am using the authority provided me in state law to push for greater quality, transparency, and accountability for those who aren’t measuring up as charter authorizers.”

“The authorizers on the At Risk of Suspension list are being given until October 22 to remediate those deficiencies before Flanagan makes his final determination in November to suspend the authorizer’s chartering ability.

“If an authorizer were to be suspended, it would not be a death sentence, and we’re not closing down their existing charter schools,” Flanagan said. “They wouldn’t be out-of-business. They just won’t be able to open any new charters until their deficiencies are fixed and the academic outcomes of their schools are improved.”

So he won’t close down their failing schools, he just won’t let them open new ones.

Here are the authorizers:

“The charter school authorizers At Risk of Suspension are:

Detroit Public Schools
Eastern Michigan University
Education Achievement Authority
Ferris State University
Grand Valley State University
Highland Park Schools
Kellogg Community College
Lake Superior State University
Macomb Intermediate School District
Muskegon Heights Public Schools
Northern Michigan University

“Each of the named authorizer’s charter school portfolio; that is, all of its charters schools considered as a whole, is in the Bottom 10 percent of the state’s academic Top to Bottom list. They, likewise, have deficiencies in their contract and transparency requirements.”

The Michigan State Board of Education passed a resolution calling for reform of the state’s charter law. The vote was along party lines; the state board is dominated by Democrats but the legislature is not.

The resolution was passed following a series in the Detroit Free Press showing that the state spends nearly $1 billion each year on charters, which are neither transparent nor accountable.

“Among the recommendations: The board wants the Legislature to require private management companies that run charter schools to post online the same kind of information that traditional public schools must post, bar management companies from also being a charter school’s landlord, require lease agreements to reflect fair market values, set clear standards for who can open charters and hold charter authorizers accountable for the academic performance of their schools.

“The resolution, which was rejected by the two lone Republican members of the eight-member elected board, came after more than an hour of debate. Eileen Weiser, R-Ann Arbor, argued the board should delay voting because she believes some of the recommendations are already covered in state law.

“And then we can have a conversation that’s different than what we’re having now,” Weiser said.

“She and Richard Zeile, R-Dearborn, developed an alternate report…..

“The “State of Charter Schools” series showed that Michigan charters receive nearly $1 billion per year in taxpayer money from the state, often with little accountability, transparency or academic achievement. No state superintendent has ever suspended an authorizer since the charter law was adopted in the mid-1990s.”

Lori Higgins reported in the Detroit Free Press on Monday that the State Board of Education was debating new rules to make charter schools more transparent and accountable. Most charters in the state operate for profit and don’t believe in opening up their operations to prying eyes. We will see how this turns out.

She wrote:

“The State Board of Education on Tuesday is set to debate a proposal to call on the Legislature to adopt comprehensive changes to the state’s charter school law that addresses transparency, accountability and educational quality.

Among the recommendations:

■ Require management companies that run charter schools to make public the same information traditional public schools must make public — including salaries, benefits and contracts.

■ Bar a company from serving as both a charter school’s management company and landlord
.

■ Require an open bidding process for contracted services.

■ Prohibit authorizers from unilaterally removing charter board members.

■ Reinstitute a “cap” that allows high-performing charter schools and operators to replicate and expand, while precluding poor-performing charters from replicating and expanding.

■ Hold authorizers accountable for the academic performance of their charters.

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo won the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 8th House District. The Network for Public Education endorsed her because of her strong stand against over-testing and privatization. She is a former middle school teacher. Gay-Dagnogo also supports Congressional Hearings on the cost and misuse of testing.

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo’s victory is a big win for students and public education in Michigan. Her victory sends a strong message to candidates nationwide that siding with the over-testing zealots isn’t just bad policy, it’s bad politics. Seat by seat, in legislatures, in the gubernatorial races, in Congress, we will fight to elect friends of public education, who defend children and sound education.

Never forget: no matter how much money the privatizers spend, we are many, and they are few. A victory for public education is a victory for democracy.

Congratulations, Sherry!

Allie Gross arrived to teach in Detroit as a Teach for America recruit. Her three years in a charter school opened her eyes. She saw classrooms without supplies, children promoted who were not ready and did not get the intervention they needed, she saw feckless leadership promoted to larger roles. And she saw the growth of an industry. In this article, she describes what she learned about “the charter school profiteers.”

Here is a sample of a fascinating and disturbing portrait of what is happening in Detroit:

“In charter-heavy Detroit, permissive regulations have created an environment ripe for mismanagement.

“According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Detroit ranks number two nationally for charter enrollment. The city is right behind New Orleans, with over half of its school-aged students attending a charter school in the 2012-2013 school year. That number will no doubt rise now that Michigan has lifted its cap on charter schools. Even more pernicious, the majority of them are run by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs). According to a report by the National Education Policy Center, Michigan has the highest proportion of for-profit EMOS running their charter schools — 79 percent of the total.

“Privatization and limited oversight have conspired to produce a new figure: the education entrepreneur. In the chaos of the Detroit school system, education entrepreneurs see an opportunity for experimentation, innovation, and venture capital. And the decentralized nature of charter schools works to their advantage. With little coherence across schools, the issue of serial education entrepreneurs emerges. Those with limited track records of success are able to wedge their ways into school after school, with nobody checking up on past performance.”

The Network for Public Education endorses Sherry Gay-Dagnogo

The Network for Public Education is proud to endorse Sherry Gay-Dagnogo
for Michigan State Representative in House Distrtct 8.

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo was a middle school science teacher for 7 years. She has worked in city government and as a community organizer.

Here’s what Gay-Dagnogo has to say on testing:

“Our children are over tested in America. We are not allowing our children to learn through exploration and discovery. Rigid test requirements limits authentic learning and causes competition, cheating, and other compromising behavior by adults.”

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo is opposed to using merit pay tied to student test scores.

Merit pay “unjustly penalizes teachers within districts with student’s that have high rates of absence, transient population, and students with learning challenges that have not been properly supported and addressed by their individualized academic plans.”

Gay-Dagnogo wants Congress to hold Hearings on Testing

“I wholeheartedly support Congressional Hearings on the adverse impact of testing, the irreparable harm to children and the culture of cheating it fosters.”

Sherry is a first generation high school and college graduate. As a teacher, she advocated for increased parent involvement. Her son is a graduate of DPS. Endorsements include Mayor Mike Dugan and the Michigan Education Association. She says, “”Providing all children a great education has become increasingly difficult with a national agenda which seeks to privatize education for profit. Education has become very politicized and decisions are made by people who lack the insight needed to truly advance academic achievement which really places students first.”

Sherry understands that Michigan schools need to improve. Her proposals to protect and improve public education are based on proven strategies–

Make greater investments in early childhood;

Empower and properly train and support great teachers;

Increase parent engagement;

Class size reduction.

Two things you can do to support Sherry Gay-Dagnogo:

Today, donate “$8 for HD8″ at dagnogo4detroit.com

Tuesday, Vote for Sherry Gay-Dagnogo

The Network for Public Education joins parents and teachers and community leaders throughout LD 8 who know Sherry Gay-Dagnogo is the best candidate for the job. Please support Sherry on Tuesday!

http://networkforpubliceducation.org

The Network For Public Education | P.O. Box 44200 | Tucson | AZ | 85733

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