Archives for category: Privatization

The Los Angeles Times tells us what we should already know: The higher the stakes on exams, the more bad consequences will follow.

In India, there are crucial exams, and cheating is a persistent problem. Ingenious students us their ingenuity not to answer the questions, but to find ways to get the right answer, either electronically by remote device or by sneaking in old-fashioned crib sheets.

In the United States, we have seen numerous examples of cheating by administrators and teachers, as in El Paso, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. We have also seen narrowing of the curriculum to make time for more test preparation and loss of the arts, libraries, physical education, and even recess. We have seen teaching to the test, a practice once considered unprofessional. We have seen states game the system, dropping the pass score to artificially boost the passing rate.

The story in the L.A. Times describes a business that sells electronic devices to text exam questions to someone outside who responds with the correct answer. Officials are aware of the problem:

“At a test center in northern India’s Bareilly district, state-appointed inspectors making a surprise visit last month found school staff members writing answers to a Hindi exam on the blackboard. When the inspectors arrived, the staff members tried to throw the evidence out the window.

“Sometimes the stories are horrifying. A 10th-grader in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state, accused his principal last month of allowing students to cheat if they each paid about $100. The student’s impoverished family could barely manage half the bribe. Distraught, he doused himself with kerosene and set himself on fire in the family kitchen. He died the next day.

“At the well-regarded Balmohan Vidyamandir school in central Mumbai, 10th-grade teacher Shubhada Nigudkar didn’t notice the math formulas written on the wall in the back of the classroom in a neat, tiny script until days after the exams concluded.
“There is nothing we can do at that point,” the matronly, bespectacled English teacher said. “I can’t prove anything. So we move on.”

“The problems have prompted education officials to take preventive measures that at first blush might seem worthy of a minimum-security prison. Some schools installed closed-circuit cameras to monitor testing rooms. Others posted armed police officers at entrances or employed jamming devices to block the use of cellphones to trade answers.”

The problem is high-stakes testing. Our own officials in the United States can’t get enough.

The best antidote would be to require them to take the exams they mandate. If they can’t pass them, they should resign.

Someday, in the not distant future, when the history of this era is recorded, No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top will be recalled among the biggest policy failures of our times. They will be remembered as policies that undermined the quality of education, demoralized educators, promoted the privatization of schools, and destroyed children’s love of learning.

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-c1-india-cheating-20140416-dto,0,165573.htmlstory#ixzz2z3whGNKt

Our friend Edward Berger returned from a long period of rest, reading, and reflection, and he is back in fine form.

He wrote a letter to President Obama and the First Lady to warn of the damage their education policies are inflicting on the nation’s children, teachers, and schools.

He writes:

“Prior to your administration, with few exceptions, public schools were not created as sources of investment income or profit. Schools were run by democratically elected boards under state supervision. Schools were accountable for financial management and academic achievement. A proven (if not100%s effective) means of teacher accountability and school effectiveness was in place and functioning well in areas where great poverty and futility were not generated by our failed economic system.

“Prior to your administration, the tax dollars Americans pay for public education could not be accessed by profiteers or religious groups and cults. No taxpayer was forced to support a religion, ideology, or partial school with their education tax dollars.

“Sadly, strengthened by your administration, an unproven and false use of testing replaced the tests used by educators to understand student needs and to teach effectively. Data generated by wrong and unproven means is causing great harm to students and teachers throughout America. The only known beneficiaries of this drive for data are the corporations creating the tests, and the egos of billionaires who use their wealth to force their “hunches” on our schools.

“Your administration supports those who can buy access to schools and thus children’s minds. Your administration accepts the whims of billionaires who have no certification, little or no contact with professional educators, no concept of the history of American education and how education is delivered, and most devastating, they have very little concern for our children. Almost all send their children to separate schools that do not follow the rules your administration is instigating.”

And much more.

Rocketship Charters are planning to open in Nashville and Memphis, but there have been a few problems along the way.

Lisa Fingeroot of the Nashville Ledger writes that the for-profit corporation,which relies on computers to cut costs, has experienced a dramatic decline in its test scores in the past few years. Once hailed as the “next big thing” because of its high scores, that reputation has melted away, as this article shows.

 

Fingeroot writes:

 

Rocketship opened its first elementary school in California in 2008 and earned a national reputation for success with a “blended” learning model in which students spend a part of the day learning online while supervised by an aide instead of a certified teacher. The rest of the students’ day takes place in a traditional classroom.
The online learning program allows a 50-to-one student-teacher ratio, has come under fire from educators and has contributed to a drop in test scores for Rocketship students, documents show.
Even though California-based Rocketship will abandon the online program, Kristoffer Haines, senior vice president of growth and development, is accusing critics of distorting company goals by wrongly claiming the online program was designed simply to cut costs so more money could be syphoned from each individual school and used to fuel company expansion into more states.
Rocketship’s learning model has found support among many of the nation’s education reform spokesmen, including former Florida Gov. and potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who promote the use of computers as a method to individualize student instruction.
But Rocketship took a public relations hit earlier this year when the California Department of Education released test scores showing a steady decline in student test scores between the 2008-09 and 2012-13 school years. During that period, the company grew from one to seven schools and also implemented the higher student-teacher ratio pilot.
The test scores, calculated at the request of Education Week, a national trade magazine for educators, show a correlation between growth of the company and incremental drops in test scores.
But Rocketship officials downplay the scores and blame the drop on the online pilot program, which they say will be nixed before the Nashville school opens for the 2014-15 school year.

 

The company spokesmen boast of “phenomenal results,” but “the results calculated by California officials for Education Week show the percentage of Rocketship students who scored proficient or better in English/language arts dropped by 30 percentage points in five years, and the number scoring that well in math dropped by more than 14 percentage points.”

 

In another article, Fingeroot disclosed that Rocketship had been siphoning funds from charters in one state to finance the opening of new charters in other states.

 

She writes:

 

A national charter school group tapped to open schools in both Nashville and Memphis is dumping plans to syphon money from its schools here and in California to finance expansion into other states, a company official says.

The plan by Rocketship Education to use tax dollars collected in one state to finance the opening of schools in another state has elected officials and charter school observers questioning whether the move is legal.

But that plan has been scrapped and will be replaced in May with a similar business model that shows money will not be moved from state to state, says Kristoffer Haines, senior vice president of growth and development.

Revenues generated at a Nashville school, however, could be used to help jumpstart another Rocketship school in Nashville, he adds.

Even that kind of money movement isn’t winning points from Metro Nashville school board member Will Pinkston, a vocal opponent of unrestricted charter school growth.

“Any charter operator needs to be keeping those dollars in the school and not using them to fund growth inside or outside the community,” Pinkston says.

The Metro school board has approved one Rocketship charter school, but the company has plans to ask for at least one more in Nashville.

Rocketship does not need local approval, though, because it has state approval to take over failing schools in both Nashville and Memphis through the Achievement School District established to improve Tennessee schools performing in the bottom five percent of all schools.

The Rocketship plan to fuel growth through local schools called for cutting staff to save money, and taking an additional $200,000 per year from each of the company’s existing schools to use as seed money.

“It’s called ‘cross subsidization,’ and whether it is legal or not is very questionable,” says Gary Miron, an education professor at Western Michigan University whose research includes the monitoring of more than 300 charter schools around the United States.

“Why would taxpayers in Tennessee want to pay for schools in another state,” he asks.

The plan was first found on the company’s website, but was removed when it became ammunition in a California neighborhood fight over whether Rocketship would be allowed to open a second school in the community.

Haines accuses critics of distorting the information and called the plan “outdated” because much of it was based on an old 2010 plan that was meant only for California schools and only to fund additional California schools, he explains.

In yet a third article, Fingeroot shows how “nonprofit” charter chains are very profitable through real estate transactions and high salaries.

She writes:

 

 

Even though a plan to allow for-profit charter school management companies in Tennessee is dead for the current legislative session, the “Educational Industrial Complex” is still cranking out profits, says the professor who coined the phrase.

 

“There’s not much difference in profit and nonprofits,” says Gary Miron, an education professor at Western Michigan University and a member of the National Education Policy Center in Colorado who studies and monitors charter schools.
“At the end of the year they can clear profits by putting it into salaries and bonuses for executives,’’ he explains.

 

Funds also can be moved or paid into a web of for-profit sister companies that have contracts with the nonprofit charter school.
“It’s really a scam,” Miron says of the many different scenarios that can be used. “To really follow the money, you would have to really understand the facilities companies.”
Miron is particularly wary of the real estate deals like those currently being seen in Nashville and Memphis.

 

In Nashville, the new Rocketship Education school building on Dickerson Pike is being built by a hedge fund company owned by tennis star Andre Agassi. Investors in the company provide financing for construction, and the company acts as a mortgage holder.

 

Each Rocketship school pays between 12 and 20 percent of its budget to the main Rocketship company for a facilities fee. The money is then used for the mortgage payment, says Kristoffer Haines, senior vice president of growth and development.

 

For the company’s California schools, the fee is about 18 percent. He anticipates a facilities fee in the high teens for the new Nashville school.

 

In the end, Rocketship will own the building and “the taxpayer’s interest is not protected,” Miron says. If the charter school closes, the building is still owned by the company, even though it was paid for with tax dollars via facilities fees.

 

“We’re seeing more and more of this,” Miron adds.

 

Nationally, the charter school failure rate is estimated to be about 15 percent.

 

For investing in a school project, investors are given tax credits as high as 39 percent, which allows them to double their money within seven years, says Metro Nashville school board member Amy Frogge, an active opponent of for-profit charter schools.

 

It’s an attractive enticement for hedge fund managers, who have begun flocking to Memphis charter schools to get their share, she adds.

 

The question is whether taxpayers expect their tax money to reduce class size and pay for art teachers, social workers, school nurses, and other kinds of direct school enrichment, or whether they know they are enriching hedge fund managers, investors, and executives of charter chains.

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony Cody here describes teachers as “reluctant warriors,” as men and women who chose a profession because they wanted to teach, not to engage in political battles over their basic rights as professionals.

 

The profession is under attack, as everyone now knows. Pensions are under attack. The right to due process is under attack. The policymakers want inexperienced, inexpensive teachers who won’t talk back, who won’t collect a pension, who will turn over rapidly:

 

In years past we formed unions and professional organizations to get fair pay, so women would get the same pay as men. We got due process so we could not be fired at an administrator’s whim. We got pensions so we could retire after many years of service.

But career teachers are not convenient or necessary any more. We cost too much. We expect our hard-won expertise to be recognized with respect and autonomy. We talk back at staff meetings, and object when we are told we must follow mindless scripts, and prepare for tests that have little value to our students.

No need for teachers to think for themselves, to design unique challenges to engage their students. The educational devices will be the new source of innovation. The tests will measure which devices work best, and the market will make sure they improve every year. Teachers are guides on the side, making sure the children and devices are plugged in properly to their sockets.

 

First, the privatizers came for the schools of the poor, because their parents and communities were powerless and were easy marks for privatization. Then they came for the union and the teachers:

 

Schools of the poor were the first targets. It was easy to stigmatize schools attended by African Americans and Latinos, by English learners and the children of the disempowered. Use test scores to label them failures, dropout factories, close them down, turn them over to privatizers. But this was just the beginning. And now, as Arne Duncan made clear with his dismissal of “white suburban moms,” they want all the schools, and are prepared to use poor performance on the Common Core tests to fuel the “schools are failing” narrative.

 

Teacher unions are under ruthless attack by billionaires, who conveniently own the media, and provide the very “facts” to guide public discourse. Due process is maligned and destroyed under the guise of “increasing professionalism.” Democratic control of local schools is undermined by mayoral control and the expansion of privately managed charter schools.

 

Congress and state legislatures have been purchased wholesale through bribes legalized by the Supreme Court, which has given superhuman power to corporate “citizens.”

 

Teachers, by our nature cooperators respectful of authority, are slow to react. Can the destruction of public education truly be anyone’s goal? The people responsible for this erosion rarely state their intentions. With smiles and praise for teachers, they remove our autonomy and make our jobs depend on test scores. With calls for choice and civil rights, they re-segregate our schools, and institute zero-tolerance discipline policies in their no-excuses charter schools. They push for larger classes in public schools but send their own children to schools with no more than 16 students in a room. Corporate philanthropies anoint teacher “leaders” who are willing to echo reform themes – sometimes even endorsed by our national teacher unions.

 

Now, he says, as the truth gets out about the privatization movement and its bipartisan support, teachers are starting to fight back. They are joining the BATs, they are joining the Network for Public Education, they are speaking out, they are (as in Seattle) refusing to give the tests, they are organizing (as in New York City) to protest the low quality of the tests.

 

Join in the fight against high-stakes testing, which is a central element in the privatization movement. They use the data to target teachers, principals, and public schools. They use the data to destroy public education. Don’t cooperate. Join the reluctant warriors. One person alone will be hammered. Do it with your colleagues, stand together, and be strong.

 

 

 

 

In Dallas, billionaire John Arnold is supporting an initiative to turn the whole district into a “home rule district” or a “charter district.”

 

The organization that is collecting signatures has a typical reformer name: “Support Our Public Schools.” When today’s reformers say they want to “support our public schools,” it usually means the opposite. Buyer beware.

 

But what is a home rule district?

 

Wade Crowder, a veteran Dallas teacher, explains that the goal is to remove the elected school board and replace it with an unaccountable appointed board. As is usual with today’s corporate reforms, the prelude to a sweeping plan for deregulation is claims of failure, failure, failure.

 

Actually, the supporters of the home rule district have been vague about their goals.

 

But Julian Vasquez Heilig says that what is happening is a “hostile corporate takeover.”

 

If you open the link in Julian’s blog, you will see the names of the extremely wealthy people who are behind “Support Our Public Schools.”

 

None of them has a record for having supported public schools in the past.

 

They have contributed to school board races, but not to Carla Ranger, who is the most outspoken supporter of public schools on the Dallas school board.

 

Early indications are that voters are suspicious of the motives of the monied clan that wants to control the public schools their children attend.

 

Julian writes:

 

“Home Rule is an emerging story currently flying under the radar in the national and statewide Texas media. Millionaires and billionaire(s) are quietly funding a “Home Rule” hostile takeover attempt of all public schools in Dallas, Texas. Yes, that’s right… ALL OF THEM.”

 

And he adds:

 

Who is Support our Public Schools?
Who are the behind-the-scenes players in the Home Rule takeover proposal?
Who is John Arnold?
What are the steps to the Home Rule takeover in state code?
What “rules” will Dallas not be “free” from as a Home Rule Charter District?
What “rules” will Dallas be “free” from after a Home Rule takeover?
Is the Home Rule takeover really necessary?
Is a charter district takeover more democracy and local control or less?
Have a politically appointed school board and mayoral control been a successful approach?
Have charters outperformed traditional public schools across Texas?
How does the Texas and Dallas investment in education compared to peers?
If not Home Rule, what reforms should DISD and SOPS commit to?
Some of the questions addressed in the brief are more specific to the Dallas community. However, several have import for the state of Texas and public education nationally such as: Who is John Arnold? and… Have a politically appointed school board and mayoral control been a successful approach?

 

Keeping up with the billionaires and millionaires’ education privatization hobby is a lot of work. Maybe we could suggest to them that they get a regular hobby like N-scale model trains or do more snow skiing?”

 

 

I am late posting this article because it appeared about the time I started dealing with health issues (a bad fall that took out the ACL in my left knee).

It deserves wide reading because it is an accurate portrait of the money and power behind the charter school movement. I commend the writers, Javier C. Hernandez and Susanne Craig for getting the story that took place behind closed doors in Albany and executive suites in Manhattan. It is the best investigative report that I have seen in the “New York Times” on the money fueling the charter movement.

it answers a few basic questions? Why did Governor Cuomo take the lead in fighting to “save” charter schools after Mayor Bill de Blasio approved 14 out of 17 new charters? How did it happen that Eva Moskowitz bused thousands of students and parents to Albany on the very same day that Mayor de Blasio had scheduled a rally to support pre-kindergarten funding? Which billionaires and millionaires put up more than $5 million to create and air attack ads on television against de Blasio? Who masterminded the deal that gave charter schools preferred status over public schools in New York City? Who arranged that they could not be charged rent, that they could expand and push public school kids out of their buildings, and that the city had to pay their rent if they opened in private space?

Spoiler alert:

The deal in the legislature “gave New York City charter schools some of the most sweeping protections in the nation, including a right to space inside public buildings. And interviews with state and city officials as well as education leaders make it clear that far from being a mere cheerleader, the governor was a potent force at every turn, seizing on missteps by the mayor, a fellow Democrat, and driving legislation from start to finish.”

Money was always a potent factor in the backroom dealings:

“A lot was riding on the debate for Mr. Cuomo. A number of his largest financial backers, some of the biggest names on Wall Street, also happened to be staunch supporters of charter schools. According to campaign finance records, Mr. Cuomo’s re-election campaign has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from charter school supporters, including William A. Ackman, Carl C. Icahn, Bruce Kovner and Daniel Nir.

Kenneth G. Langone, a founder of Home Depot who sits on a prominent charter school board, gave $50,000 to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign last year. He said that when the governor asked him to lead a group of Republicans supporting his re-election, he agreed because of Mr. Cuomo’s support for charter schools.

“Every time I am with the governor, I talk to him about charter schools,” Mr. Langone said in an interview. “He gets it.”

And more is on the way, not only for Cuomo, who not only delivered for the billionaires who love charters, but for Eva Moskowitz, who will not only get a 8 new charters–not just the 5 that de Blasio originally approved–but lots of extra money, which will not be used to pay rent:

“Daniel S. Loeb, the founder of the hedge fund Third Point and the chairman of Success Academy’s board, began leaning on Wall Street executives for donations. Later this month, he will host a fund-raiser for Success Academy at Cipriani in Midtown Manhattan; tickets run as high as $100,000 a table.”

Moskowitz claims that her schools don’t spend any more than real public schools, so it remains to be seen how she pans to spend the millions that Dan Loeb will raise for her schools in a single night.

And the sweetest part of the deal for Moskowitz’s Success Academy 4 in Harlem is that her elementary school can now expand to a middle school and take more space away from PS 149, which was once considered the host school. First, she can evict the kids with severe disabilities (her own charter has none), then, thanks to Governor Cuomo, she can evict all the other students and take the entire school away, if she wishes. Sort of like a parasite that grows and grows.

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!

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State  Legislature passed a budget bill that allows charters to have free space inside public schools, even though the charters are private corporations. Not only that, the charters that are already located inside public schools may expand as much as they want, pushing public school children out of their buildings. In some cases, the charters will push out programs for students with profound disabilities to make way for a larger, highly privileged charter school.  If the charters rent private space, the city is obliged to pay their rent. All this, despite the fact that many charters have billionaires on their private boards of directors. Today, leaders of New York City parent organizations and community councils rallied on the steps of the New York Public Library, then marched to the office of Governor Cuomo.

 

The Governor should remember–this being an election year–that there are 1.1 million children in New York City who attend public schools. There are 60,000 children who attend charter schools. Parents will remember in August what Governor Cuomo did in April.

 

 
For immediate release
April 10, 2014

Noah E. Gotbaum: 917-658-3213; noah@gotbaum.com
Rashidah White: 646-229-1610; white.rashidah@gmail.com
Electeds and Parent Leaders Representing 1.5M NYC Public School Parents Say “All NYC Kids Matter”
Rally Against the Governor’s Giveaway of Public Space To Hedge-fund Backed Charters
This afternoon, in an unprecedented show of unity, elected officials, including State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman of Manhattan and Council Member Danny Dromm, chair of the Council Education Committee, Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP NY State Conference, and hundreds of parents and children from across the five boroughs filled the steps of the New York Public Library to say that all kids matter, and that the privileged few who attend charter schools should not be allowed to hijack space in our already overcrowded public schools. Then they marched to Governor Cuomo’s office where children present his representative with a large signed post-card, with counterfeit dollar bills attached, to symbolize how he has enabled his wealthy contributors in the charter lobby to engineer a hostile takeover of our public schools, over the needs of NYC’s 1.1 million public school children.

 
Said Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, “It would be a mistake for Albany to force the City to provide public space for all charters or else require the DOE to pay charter rent for private space. Our City doesn’t benefit from Albany’s meddling; it can only breed resentment and the vast majority of New Yorkers will not stand for it. If Albany truly wanted to be helpful, it would make funding available to alleviate overcrowding and support class size reduction. In too many Manhattan school districts, pre-k seats have been eliminated to make room for kindergarten seats; and, year after year, class sizes continue to rise. New York City must have the ability to determine best uses for our public school buildings without intervention from Albany.”

 
“Governor Cuomo’s education budget is unfair to New York City schools,” said NYC Council Education Chairperson Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). “Giving privately operated charter school students preference for space and more per pupil public funding than public school students if the city is forced to pay their rent is totally unjust. Forcing co-locations in favor of privately run charter schools and forcing out public schools creates a logistical nightmare that begs the question about where will our public school students go. We stand united against gubernatorial control of our schools.”
“Despite school leaders’ best efforts and the best intentions of the Department of Education, a co-location disadvantages students from both schools by forcing them to share already-overburdened resources,” said Assemblymember Aravella Simotas of Queens. “I applaud the dedicated efforts of community parents, teachers, and students in working towards a vision that will benefit every New York student with fair and equal access to a quality education.”

 
John Fielder of Community Education Council in District 7 in the Bronx said, “The new charter law is absolutely disgraceful. Our public schools are losing classrooms and programs right and left because of co-locations. PS 162 in District 7 had one of the best music programs in the Bronx; now with the charter school being forced into the building it may lose that program. I say, let charters pay for their own buildings because they can afford it, instead of hurting the education of our public school kids.’

 
According to Lisa Donlan, President of the Community Education Council in District 1 in Manhattan, “Parents, educators, students and community members are coming together to send a strong message to Governor Cuomo: these are our public schools , and we will not allow the Governor to bully us and hijack them to satisfy private interests. The Governor needs to improve opportunities for ALL students, not for the small number who are already protected by wealthy special interests. He could start by addressing the fact that makes our state’s schools the most segregated in the country, with NYC charter schools the most segregated of all.”

 
“Perhaps we should thank Gov. Cuomo for finally uniting 1.1 million families across all five boroughs. To minimize co-locations in New York City’s public schools, we stand as many…we stand as one,” said Deborah Alexander, a member of Community Education Council in District 30 in Queens.

 
Miriam Aristy-Farer, President of Community Education Council 6 in Upper Manhattan said, “To ignore what the state owes the public school children from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit was wrong. To further fuel the divide in our city by giving more funding and power to charters was not only short sighted but foolish. To then allow these same charter lobbyists to flood parents’ mailboxes with propaganda, saying we should thank the Governor, is particularly outrageous.”

 
“Traditional public schools will now suffer even greater financial strains, thanks to the NY legislature and Governor Cuomo mandating NYC pay rent for all charter schools. I appreciate charter schools and the competition they create for better schools. I just wish we had more safeguards in place to ensure charters retain all students, especially those with disabilities. Far too many charters counsel students out of the school. The charters “cream” the high performing and less costly students while the local zoned public schools absorb the costs of providing services to the students with the most needs,” pointed out Mike Reilly, Community Education Council member from District 31 on Staten Island.

 
Noah E. Gotbaum, Vice President of Community Education Council District 3 in Harlem and the Upper West side said, “12,000 New York City public school students have traded classrooms for rat-infested trailers, almost half a million of our children sit in schools above capacity, and all 1.1 million face class sizes at levels not seen in decades. So why have Governor Cuomo and the Senate Coalition leadership given unregulated expansion rights to all new and existing charters, and handed over control of our public school buildings to the charter school lobby, while defunding the 94% of kids in public schools? Because the hedge fund-driven charter lobby told them to.”

 
“During the Bloomberg years, our communities had a difficult time communicating the educational needs of our schools to the disconnected educrats in Tweed. Now the people making decisions are in Albany and even more removed from direct input from the stakeholders. What does a state charter school authorizer know about my Brooklyn neighborhood!? NOTHING! And now these folks are in charge! Is this any way to run a school system? As we say in Brooklyn, you bet it ain’t!” said David Goldsmith, President of the Community Education Council 13 in Brooklyn.

 
Andy Lachman of Parent Leaders of the Upper East Side said: “For the majority of NYC public school children this budget spells D-O-O-M. It dooms public education and puts control of education in the hands of private citizens and corporations. It will mean less funding for public schools and larger class sizes in an already overcrowded system. It will mean fewer essential services, and less space for art and physical education, already lacking in too many schools.”

 
Rashidah White of Community Education Council in District 5 in Central Harlem said, “In the national competition to “Race to the Top”, Albany legislatures have not only neglected to provide standard state regulated learning environments for some of our country’s most needy public school children, but their decision last week leaves them ill equipped to even enter the race at all. The parceling off of NY State’s constitutional obligation to provide equitable education to all students and the funneling off of public resources to corporate backed charters is wholly unconstitutional and must be reexamined.”

 
Kemala Karmen of the group NYCpublic said, “The voters of New York City gave Bill de Blasio an overwhelming mandate to charge charter schools rent. Now Andrew Cuomo, who seems to take his marching orders from the wealthy hedge-funders who donate to his campaign, has reversed that popular mandate to make the city pay charter rent. This is outrageous and undemocratic. Every single public school child in New York City is a potential victim of this budget. Lock up your teachers and your guidance counselors, because the city may have to lay them off to pay for the leases of well-financed charters.”

 
Ellen McHugh, member of the Citywide Council on Special Education said, “Please Governor Cuomo, be a Governor for every child. If you want to be a champion of education, see to it that the Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement is implemented. Don’t abandon the most vulnerable 109 students with special needs at PS 811, who will be evicted by the charter school for the sake of a favored few. Where will these students go? To a Success Academy, which refuses to enroll disabled children? I don’t think so.”

 
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters said, “ While the Governor claims he is the ‘students lobbyist’ his new budget favors the pet charter schools of his contributors while cheating 1.1 million public school children out of space and resources, at a time when our schools are already hugely overcrowded and our class sizes the largest in fifteen years. Kudos to our elected officials and the parents elected to serve on Community Education Councils, for speaking out against this unfair and damaging mandate, and insisting that all NYC kids matter, not just a privileged few.”
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Responding to the extremist group Americans for Prosperity, funded by the Koch brothers, the Kansas state legislature enacted legislation that strips teachers of due process and expands “school choice” (aka privatization of public schools and their funding). In the future, teachers may be fired without a hearing.

The legislature used the pretext of a court ruling to equalize funding to enact proposals that align with the far-right ALEC organization.

Destroying due process is called “reform.” Teachers may be unjustly accused and fired without a hearing. They may be fired because they taught both sides of a controversial issue or expressed a controversial view. They may be fired because the principal doesn’t like the way they look or doesn’t like their race or religion. No reason is needed because there will be no hearing.

Without any right to a fair hearing, you can be sure that the word “evolution” will never be heard in many districts, nor any reference to global warming. Nor will many classics of American literature be taught. Books like “Huckleberry Finn,” “Invisible Man,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” are risky and controversial. Now is exactly when the children of Kansas and the U.S. should be reading “1984″ and “Brave New World.”

“The bill is potentially a big victory for conservative Republicans because it gives them some educational reforms they have sought while putting more money into schools.

The reforms would:

• Foster school choice by allowing corporations to make tax-deductible contributions to scholarship funds so children with special needs or who come from low-income households could attend private school.

• Make it easier to fire teachers by eliminating their due-process rights.

• Relax teacher licensing when hiring instructors with professional experience in areas including math, science, finance and technical education.

“As the final bill was negotiated, lawmakers jettisoned an idea to block funding for Common Core academic standards.

“They also shed a plan that would have provided property tax relief for parents who home-school their children or send them to private schools. Lawmakers questioned whether the property tax break was constitutional and whether they knew its real cost.

“Urged on by conservative special interests such as Americans for Prosperity, Republican leaders pressed hard to eliminate due process rights for teachers.

“They say the proposal is intended to ensure that school administrators are free from regulations that would keep them from firing substandard teachers.

“If you talk to administrators, they want this,” said Sen. Julia Lynn, an Olathe Republican. “They want really good teachers to thrive. They don’t want to be in a position to protect those teachers who are under-performing.”

“State law had required administrators to document conduct and provide a hearing for teachers they want to fire after three years on the job.

“The bill means terminated teachers would no longer be able to request a hearing.”

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2014/04/06/4941974/kansas-lawmakers-pass-school-finance.html#storylink=cpy

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