Archives for category: Privatization

Education advocates blasted Governor Andrew Cuomo for vowing to “bust the public school monopoly” by creating more privately managed charters.

Will he bust the “police monopoly” or the “firefighters” monopoly? Will he privatize other essential public services as he now threatens to privatize our public schools?

The Alliance for Quality Education and other groups said:

ALBANY (October 28, 2014) – AQE, local school superintendents and leaders of the state’s major community organizations issued the following statement in response to Gov. Cuomo’s vow to break the public schools “public monopolies” and replace them with more privately-run charter schools.

“Gov. Cuomo has laid clear plans to expand his frontal assault on our public schools through high stakes testing, starving our public schools and privatization,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “It’s not that shocking when you look at the enormous pile of cash he has raked in from the Wall Street billionaires who are investing in charter schools. He is rewarding his financial backers at a devastating cost to our children.”

“Governor Cuomo’s public school bashing hurts students and families, especially in low-income immigrant communities hardest hit by the inequality that has grown under his tenure. Instead of addressing overcrowding, the loss of vital resources, high dropout rates among Latinos, or record-high inequality between school districts, he’s stuck on tired talking points that are divisive and benefit a small few,” said Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road Action Fund.

“New York State’s graduation rates for black and Latinos ranks at the bottom of all states nationally. It has also been established that NYS clearly discriminates against those same children when it comes to equal distribution state education aid. If you are white and/or rich in New York, you get the best of all state aid worlds. If you are poor and/or black or Latino, you get the short end of the education aid stick,” said Kenneth Eastwood, Superintendent of Schools of the Middletown Enlarged City School District. “So lets redirect the real issue of education in New York State to the evaluation of teachers using data from a failed common core test that the Governor admits is so bad that the same data should not be used to evaluate students for the next five years. Political hyperbole at the expense of fair funding and opportunities for all students in New York State only results in greater sales of smoke and mirrors and larger numbers of disenfranchised poor and minority students in New York. Stop running for President and do what’s right for New York’s poor and minority students.”

“The Governor’s words demonstrate that he really doesn’t understand the important role of public education in the continuing re-tooling and development of the American economy,” said Robert Libby, the Cohoes City School District’s Superintendent of Schools.

“It is outrageous that Mr. Cuomo calls our public school system a ‘monopoly.’ While the governor calls for school competition, what he’s really pushing is a ‘survival of the fittest’ charter school model,” said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change.“What the governor should be doing is complying with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s decision to fully fund our schools and pay the $2.5 billion New York City public schools are owed. Every child in New York City should have access to good schools and we will be in Albany next year to make sure this happens.”

“New York’s leaders need to stop blaming everyone else and instead address the real problem with our education system: the state’s chronic under-funding of schools,” said Karen Scharff, executive director with Citizen Action of New York. “Declaring war on teachers is just an excuse for the budget cuts that are undermining our kids’ opportunity for success.”

“The Governor’s assertion that competition is an adequate substitute for equity should be an affront to New Yorker’s sensibilities,” Schenectady City School District’s Superintendent of Schools Laurence Spring said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo promised, in a meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board, to “bust” the public school monopoly.

 

 

Vowing to break “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” Gov. Cuomo on Monday said he’ll push for a new round of teacher evaluation standards if re-elected.

Cuomo, during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, said better teachers and competition from charter schools are the best ways to revamp an underachieving and entrenched public education system.

“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

He said the key is to put “real performance measures with some competition, which is why I like charter schools.”

Cuomo said he will push a plan that includes more incentives — and sanctions — that “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.”

Cuomo expects fierce opposition from the state’s teachers, who are already upset with him and have refused to endorse his re-election bid.

“The teachers don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations — I get it,” Cuomo said. “I feel exactly opposite.”

 

Cuomo sounds more and more like Scott Walker of Wisconsin every day. Bust the unions. Humble the teachers. Crush public schools and introduce free market competition.

Carl Paladino, a multimillionaire in Buffalo who ran on the Republican ticket for governor against Andrew Cuomo in the last election, got elected to the Buffalo, New York, school board.

 

He supports charter schools. He also invests in them.  He makes money investing in charter schools. “If I didn’t, I’d be a frigging idiot,” he said.

 

Conflict of interest?

 

PS: Sorry to say that the Buffalo newspaper removed this story from the Internet, although it still appears on Google.

This comes from “In the Public Interest,” an organization that reports on outsourcing and privatization, which is usually NOT in the public interest.

Donald Cohen writes:

As we approach Election Day, a number of governors in tight races are finding that privatizing public services isn’t good politics. But it may be good for campaign fundraisers seeking donations from corporations that want government contracts.

A new report released by the Center for Media and Democracy highlights the intensive efforts of governors seeking re-election to privatize important public services to private firms. Time after time, outsourcing has gone awry, generating worse outcomes for the public, scandals, lawsuits, and scorching headlines that are impacting the campaigns. The report includes examples from Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, and Wisconsin.

Here are examples from the report:

• In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder outsourced prison food service to Aramark after the company spent half a million dollars on lobbying. The contract has been plagued by scandals, including maggots, employees smuggling drugs and having sex with inmates, and even murder-for-hire allegations.


• In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett has outsourced millions in legal contracts to major campaign contributors to defend ALEC-style voter ID legislation and other policies. The governor also attempted to privatize liquor sales, which would have benefited another set of deep-pocketed contributors like retail giant Walmart.
 Walmart donated $33,500 to Corbett’s campaign.

• In Florida, Governor Rick Scott has overseen a massive expansion of for-profit online schooling to companies that spent millions on lobbying. Scott signed a bill requiring every student to take online courses and tests benefiting firms like K12 Inc.

The outcomes of these races could very well be an important referendum on outsourcing and privatization. We’ll be watching.
Sincerely,

Donald Cohen
Executive Director
In the Public Interest

Marshall Tuck, running against educator Tom Torlakson, got a late infusion of huge campaign contributions.

Former Mayor Michael Blomberg sent $250,000.

Eli Broad sent two checks totaling $1,000,000.

Alice L. Walton of the Walmart family sent two gifts totaling $450,000.

Carrie Penner (of the same Walton family) sent $500,000.

Doris Fisher of the family that owns The Gap sent two gifts totaling $950,000.

Arthur Rock, a member of TFA’s board, sent $250,000.

Laurene Powell Jobs sent two checks totaling $500,000.

There are many other very large contributions, plus earlier contributions made by many of the same people.

The reformers really, really, really want to elect Tuck.

Think of the expansion of privatization!

Think of having a charter advocate running the State Department of Education. Their guy!!

Do the voters know about this? Are they informed? Will they allow the billionaires to buy this job?

 

Joseph A. Ricciotti, a former professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, wrote the following post:

 

One of the most alarming reports concerning the corporate education reform movement and the growth of Common Core in the country was published by Lee Fang in the Nation magazine. Fang’s report highlights how public education is now considered as the last “honeypot” for venture capitalists and Wall Street investors. Investors’ interest in public education as a money making venture was made crystal clear by attendance at the recent annual investment conference in Scottsdale, Arizona which skyrocketed from 370 people the previous year to over 2000 this year. Likewise, the number of companies presenting at the conference increased from 70 to 390, mostly technology companies. It is also no surprise that Jeb Bush, one of the leading advocates of Common Core in the country, was the keynote speaker at the conference. According to Fang, venture capitalists and for-profit education firms “are salivating over the potential 788 billion dollar K-12 education market.”

More and more politicians are learning that, based on the type of corporate reform education policies that they are espousing, these policies will more than likely also impact and lessen their chances of reelection. Take, for example, Governor Dannel Malloy in Connecticut and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago, two Democrats who will be seeking reelection in the near future. Both of these political leaders have chosen to advocate typical corporate education reform policies that are basically anti-teacher in nature and have implemented education policies such as advocating charter schools over traditional public schools. Not surprisingly, we may be in for some stunning upsets in the upcoming elections.

In Connecticut, Governor Malloy chose Stefan Pryor as his Commissioner of Education who is not an educator and who has had a history as a charter school advocate. Hence, as a result, we have seen in Connecticut an unprecedented growth of Charter Schools over the past four years with dismal results as well as scandals involving some of their leaders. The appointment of Paul Vallas in Bridgeport as superintendent was another fiasco.

 

Pryor’s abrupt resignation with no appointment of a replacement in the cards until after the election does not bode well for any indication of change in Malloy’s corporate education policies. Moreover, Malloy may have dug himself into a hole based on the most recent poles and could face extinction come the November election.

Rahm Emmanuel’s actions in closing fifty of Chicago’s public schools has been the catalyst in generating numerous protests from parents and teachers. His battles with the head of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Karen Lewis, may have resulted in a challenge emanating from the CTU against Rahm Emmanuel for the mayoral seat in the next election. The many protests in Chicago are conveying a message to Rahm Emmanuel that, although he is the mayor, he is not really the leader of the people in Chicago as the protestors themselves are the real leaders. As Naomi Klein has said as an outgrowth of the recent climate change march in New York City, when the leaders refuse to take the appropriate action, the people will become the leaders and take whatever action is needed to bring about necessary change.

This is what is happening today with accountability- based reform or a better term is corporate education reform. These policies throughout the country and especially with the less affluent children in urban schools where the Common Core State Standards are being implemented we find that parents are seething with discontent as they observe and witness the massive failure rate of their children on Common Core tests. As more and more Common Core tests are administered with massive numbers of children failing these tests, there will be a revolution that may serve as the catalyst for change.

Unfortunately, teachers cannot be a part of the Common Core revolt as any dissatisfaction or criticism on their part could be construed as insubordination with possible loss of employment. Hence, the parents of students in public schools will have to be the ones leading the revolt. We have in public education today many non-educators with leadership positions who place the interests of Wall Street and the Corporate sector above the interests of students. And, unfortunately, the corporate reform industry has a stronghold in Connecticut as an outgrowth of Governor Malloy and Stefan Pryor’s corporate reform policies. However, according to Diane Ravitch, author of best selling “Reign of Error,” the corporate education reformists may have all the money but we have the teachers and parents and “we will win” the battle for public education.

Jaime Franchi of the Long Island Press provides here a succinct and accurate summary of the first ever Public Education Nation. The event was held on October 11 at the Brooklyn New School, a public school where 80% of the students opted out of state testing.

 

The discussions were lively and included people who were watching on live stream. This is the first of what we hope to make an annual event. We is the Network for Public Education.

 

Go to the website and  you can join (oops, I see it has not been updated to include links to the panels yet). Keep watching and you will be able to see our great presenters.

This just in from Atlanta.

 

Federal Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr., has appointed a special receiver to operate the “business” of Mosaica, which, according to the complaint and motion filed by its creditor, Tatonka Capital, has $20 million in unpaid debt and $10 million in operating losses in the last year. The receiver will be responsible for the continued operations of all the charter schools now being run by Mosaica.

 

This is the riskiness of the charter business. Mosaica is a “for-profit” charter business that is not making a profit and is instead deep in debt.

 

It is amazing the children are turned over to for-profit corporations for their education.

 

This is one of the dangers of “reform,” in which the motivating goal is profit, not education.

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.

 

 

 

 

Warren Simmons, president of the Annenberg Institute, here releases a set of rules for the operation of charter schools intended to make them transparent and accountable. The question he raises is whether charters can become not only more transparent and accountable, but can they operate without damaging public schools.

 

The report recognizes that some charters have no interest in accountability or transparency. Indeed, there are so many well-documented cases of fraud and abuse that it is hard to be sure that this industry can be regulated, especially when it has often made sizable campaign contributions to legislators in a position to write regulations.

 

The Annenberg report begins:

 

In the last two decades, charter schools have grown into a national industry with 2.5 million students, more than 6,000 schools, and a burgeoning market of management services, vendors, policy shops, and advocacy organizations. State laws and charter authorizing standards have not kept up with this explosive growth.

Although most charter operators work hard to meet the needs of their students, the lack of effective oversight means no guarantee of academic innovation or excellence, too many cases of fraud and abuse, and too little attention to equity. The standards and policy recommendations in this report aim to ensure that there is a level playing field between traditional public schools and public charter schools and that charters are fully transparent and accountable to the communities they serve.

 

Frankly, we can’t even be sure that the majority of charter operators are in the business for themselves or for their students. Many of the small one-off charters have been replaced by charter chains that operate as chains usually do: with a commitment to the bottom line. I don’t think that White Hat in Ohio or Imagine or K12 Inc. or Academica in Florida will change their operations in response to this report.

 

Here is a summary of their recommendations: Read the full report for the detailed recommendations:

 

Traditional school districts and charter schools should collaborate to ensure a coordinated approach that serves all children

School governance should be representative and transparent

Charter schools should ensure equal access to interested students and prohibit practices that discourage enrollment or disproportionately push-out enrolled students

Charter school discipline policy should be fair and transparent

All students deserve equitable and adequate school facilities. Districts and charter schools should collaborate to ensure facility arrangements do not disadvantage students in either sector

Online charter schools should be better regulated for quality, transparency and the protection of student data

Monitoring and oversight of charter schools are critical to protect the public interest; they should be strong and fully state funded

 

Meanwhile, Peter Greene has a test to tell whether or not a charter school is a public school. It must meet four criteria.

 

It must be financially transparent.

 

It must be accountable to the voters.

 

It must “play by the rules,” for example, hiring accredited teachers.

 

It must serve the entire population, not just those it wants to serve.

 

How many charters would pass this test?

 

 

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