Archives for category: Privatization

Leading Democrats have announced the creation of a new organization called Democrats for Public Education.

It will be led by Ted Strickland, former governor of Ohio, and Donna Brazile, political consultant.

Its name is a swipe at Democrats for Education Reform, which is dominated by hedge fund managers, and which funds candidates who support charter schools, Teach for America, and any other group that is antagonistic to public education.

Last year, the California Democratic Party passed a resolution calling on DFER to cease using the name “Democrats,” since their program is a front for the Republican and corporate agenda.

Paul Bucheit writes about five aspects of corporate education reform.

1. Privatization takes from the poor and gives to the rich.

2. Testing doesn’t work.

3. The arts make better scientists.

4. Privatization means unequal opportunity for all.

5. Reformers are primarily business people, not educators.

To read his explanation, open the link.

John Stocks, the executive director of the NEA, voiced the anger and frustration that so many of the members are feeling. He gave a rip-roaring speech. But, sadly, he did not mention the perfidy of the Obama administration or the duplicitous role of the Gates Foundation in undermining the teaching profession.

Here is a high point:

“We’re frustrated by the barrage of bad ideas from so-called education “reformers” ….

We’re worried by the assaults on our individual rights … and our collective rights to organize.

And we’re angry because many of the people behind these attacks are questioning our integrity and our commitment to our students.

Our opponents want to do more than just wear us down. They want to destroy and dismantle our public schools.

You might be wondering… why in the world would they want to do that?

Why would they want to tear down the institution that built the economic engine of the world?

Why would they slam-shut “the door to opportunity” for millions and millions of Americans?

Why destroy an institution that created the middle class in our country?

… that gave Americans from all walks of life a sense of common purpose and destiny ….

These are big questions…. And, frankly, they all have a simple answer: money.

That’s right — money.

WE look at public education as an investment in our children and our country … a down payment on a brighter future.

But THEY see the dollars that are spent on public education, and they wonder how they can grab a fistful.

It’s not hard to connect the dots when you look at all the ways they reap their profits:

Testing and more testing

Privatizing food… custodial… and transportation services

Vouchers that siphon resources from public schools to private ones, and

For-profit companies that are privatizing our schools and threatening the greatest higher education system in the world.

So, yes, some people have a very clear financial motive for wanting to dismantle public education.

But it’s not just their motives that make me angry…. It’s the fact that their policies are BAD for students… and BAD for educators.

Policies that prioritize testing over teaching… that label and punish … and that completely disregard the important role that experience plays in effective teaching and learning.”

Whose policies “prioritize testing over teaching?” NCLB and Race to the Top. But he didn’t say that.

Whose policies demand that teachers be labeled and punished if their students don’t get higher scores? The Obama administration. Whose money funds the economists who claim that test scores are the true measure of education? Bill Gates.

But he didn’t say that.

When you dare not say the name of your oppressor, you show weakness and fear at a time when courage and fortitude are needed.

John Stocks has it in him to say and do the right thing. He knows. Let him lead.

Defend a brave teacher! Defend students! Sign the petition to reinstate Gus Morales!

Gus Morales was elected head of his school union in Holyoke, Massachusetts, as an outspoken opponent of high-stakes testing and privatization. Children’s test scores were posted in a data wall. Morales objected.

Only weeks after his election, he was fired.

“As I started speaking out, I was targeted with negative observations. One can infer that the negative observation was meant to quiet me. As long as I kept my mouth shut, everything was good, and then when I started speaking about what was happening to my students, I was let go,” says Morales, one of only a handful of Puerto Rican teachers in a school district that is nearly 80 percent Hispanic.

“Morales’ anti-privatization platform also called for a revitalization of the teachers’ union. “In the past, the union had defended its teachers, but it did so in a way that was not out in public. I want to be a teacher advocate where I attend school committees and speak on behalf of teachers,” he says….”

“A key factor in Morales’ decision to run was the massive expansion of high-stakes testing in the classroom. “My kids spend between 25 and 28 days per year just doing tests. The administration is obsessed with increasing reading and math scores, so their answer to that is to increase instruction time in those areas,” he argues.

“As a result, he says, local students are losing valuable learning opportunities in non-tested areas. “The effect is that kids in the suburbs where test scores are higher are getting a well-rounded education, and kids in Holyoke are not,” he says.”

Barbara Madeloni, the new president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association promised to fight for Morales.

Please support Gus Morales by signing this MoveOn petition.

Governor Dannel Malloy and Commissioner Stefan Pryor love charter schools, but now they have egg all over their faces after the revelations about the Jumoke/FUSE leadership. Michael Sharpe, the CEO of FUSE resigned after revelations of his criminal record and his false claims of having a doctorate. The fact that Governor Malloy chose Stefan Pryor as his state commissioner of education is the first tip-off to the favoritism that charters have enjoyed in the Malloy administration. Pryor, who is not an educator, was a co-founder of the charter chain Achievement First, which has enjoyed the state’s largesse. Why the love of charter schools? Could it be their connection to the wealthy hedge fund managers and equity investors in Connecticut who give campaign contributions?

 

Charter schools are allowed to have only 30% of their staff with state certification. That means that 7,000 children in the state are permitted by the state to attend “schools” where most of the “educators” have no certification. In some cases, the people running the school are not educators.

 

The Booker T. Washington school was supposed to be managed by FUSE, but severed the relationship. The school is headed by a pastor and his wife.

 

The state Board of Education voted Monday to hire a special investigator to look into the finances, governance, familial relationships, properties, and operations of the Family Urban School of Excellence (FUSE) — the charter school organization that oversaw Jumoke Academy and Hartford’s Milner Elementary School. The group also has a contract to manage Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School and had planned to manage New Haven’s Booker T. Washington Academy, which is scheduled to open in the fall.

 

The Booker T. Washington Academy’s board of directors met Sunday and voted to sever ties with the embattled management group, leaving the state Board of Education with more questions than answers Monday.

 

Board members wanted to know if the decision means the school will still open this fall or if the 225 students will have to find a spot in the public schools.

 

The decision to sever ties with the embattled charter school management group “shows strong leadership and good judgment,” Morgan Barth, division director of the Education Department’s Turnaround Department, said Monday. “Booker T. Washington understands the urgency of presenting a plan to have a school up and running in the fall.”

 

Barth said that plan will be scrutinized with a “great deal of rigor” and the state Board of Education will have another opportunity to vote on the plan presented during a special meeting this summer.

 

Charles Jaskiewicz III, a board member from Norwich, said that he would rather delay the opening of Booker T. Washington Academy, “so we have prosperity, instead of more angst as we move forward.”

 

Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said they have discussed with the Booker T. Washington Academy a one-year delay, but Pastor Eldren Morrison requested an opportunity to present a new plan to the board without delay….

 

Maria Pereira, a former Bridgeport School Board member, said FUSE earned about $435,000 in management fees for its involvement with Bridgeport’s Dunbar School.

 

When she was a member of the Bridgeport school board, Pereira said she voted against allowing the charter school management company to come in to town because she had done her research on the group’s involvement with Hartford’s Milner School. She said their test scores went down after FUSE took over management of the school.

 

Pereira said the state Board of Education is responsible for allowing this charter management group to take over these schools and needs to be held accountable.

 

She said Sharpe took over Jumoke Academy from his mother in 2003 and FUSE was created as a management group in 2012.

 

“Are you telling me his mother didn’t know he had a federal conviction for embezzlement and that he served two-and-a-half years in a federal prison?” Pereira said.

 

The revelations about Sharpe prompted the state Board of Education Monday to move forward with background checks for all charter school and charter management employees.

 

Here are a few relevant comments by Linda from Connecticut, posted this morning, citing comments from the above-linked article:

 

Commissioner Pryor, the State Board of Education, the legislators, and, perhaps, the Governor should re-read the laws they passed regarding charter schools and the Commissioner’s Network. There is no way that the Booker T. Washington state charter can “go forward” (not that it ever should have been approved!)—the Reverend and his wife (?nepotism?) do not appear to have education degrees—what gives them the right to open a school? The legislation Stefan Pryor and Governor Malloy were so anxious to pass (with the spineless complicity of the state legislature) outlines in some detail the process for opening a charter school. After submitting the application, the Commissioner and State Board of Education are supposed to read and evaluate it—and its clauses about Lead Partnerships, terminations, legal proceedings, etc. It is utterly ridiculous for Turnaround Specialist (and former Achievement First principal) Morgan Barth to call severing the partnership with FUSE an example of “strong leadership”—too bad it’s not legal. I would recommend that the State Board of Education, the Commissioner, the Governor, and the legislators take a long look at what they are doing to children (no background checks? only 30% certified teachers? no curriculum, as at Milner?). To view the Booker T. Washington charter school application and its lengthy sections explaining the “Jumoke philosophy” is to realize, first of all, that this is a fantasy world in which facts, such as the dire situation of children at Milner must be suppressed, and second, that the Rev. Morrison swallowed the Sharpe sales pitch as easily as Pryor and the SBE did.

 

And if we’re looking at family relationships in hiring, don’t forget an examination of the Rev. Moales in Bridgeport and his family’s daycares and pre-schools.

 

Here is another:

 

One more, same article:

 

posted by: Parent and educator | July 1, 2014 11:29am

 

State Rep. and Ed. Commission member Andy Fleischmann and other officials show themselves to be woefully misinformed when they say that Sharpe has been “tremendously successful”—based on what? how many students were at Jumoke then? Is it possible to find this out? also, I think the curriculum, student numbers (at the beginning of the year and again at the end), test scores, all need to be examined for each year of Jumoke’s existence. When they were discussing the Achievement First Hartford high school in 2012, and how it would automatically admit Jumoke 8th graders, that year there were 42 graduating 8th graders! and that was after years of Adamowski’s bolstering charters and increasing funding by means of his “money follows the child”.
Also, how can SBE member Estela Lopez say she didn’t know about the problems at Milner, when last year’s CMTs were published and were shown to be falling? Why is she saying that, having rubber-stamped Pryor’s orders, she didn’t know what she had signed and voted for? She probably pays more attention to her cell phone plan than to legislation affecting hundreds, even thousands (7000 attend charter schools in CT) of children in CT.

 

Shouldn’t the citizens of Connecticut file an ethics complaint against the SBE? for dereliction of duty and gross malfeasance? This board is all about accountability and teacher evals, student rigor, yada yada, and look at what a bunch of toadies they are! The state legislature is not much better, by the way; witness Fleischmann’s “unknowingness” and embrace of policies he would never inflict on the affluent schools of West Hartford.

 

And another:

 

Please see this article as well and I will cut and paste two very important comments posted by an informed parent.

 

posted by: Parent and educator | June 30, 2014 6:42pm

 

The State Board of Education and the Commissioner have demonstrated a very serious dereliction of duty with regard to FUSE, and, by extension, all charter schools. Now we find out that the SBE never verified the credentials of Michael Sharpe? Never cared that his daughter Michelle, his brother or relation Joseph Dickerson, his niece (as named in a previous article) have all been employed by the charters? Not to mention the daughter of Andrea Comer, who, until Thursday last, was COO of FUSE! Background checks for those who work with children are somehow optional? SBE members today demonstrated a callous disregard for the law in claiming that they did not realize the true situation with FUSE (there were warning flags about Jumoke/Milner, by the way—and many members of the public have requested information about that partnership)—yet the SBE renewed their contract and gave them more schools! Jumoke is a pipeline for the new Achievement First high school that opened shortly after Stefan Pryor resigned from that charter school management organization he helped to found in order to be the State Commissioner of Education! In addition (and any journalist can find more egregious info about this, if they are willing to look and listen), Stefan Pryor hand-picked Jumoke/Fuse to present a workshop on the Commissioner’s Network Turnaround process—with the implication that having the newly incorporated FUSE as “lead partner” would fast-track an application to the Commissioner’s Network—which was obviously the case with Dunbar and now Booker T. Washington—a plan that simply cannot go forward, as per CT law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are living in an era when the very idea of public education is under attack, as are teachers’ unions and the teaching profession. Let’s be clear: these attacks and the power amassed behind them are unprecedented in American history. Sure, there have always been critics of public schools, of teachers, and of unions. But never before has there been a serious and sustained effort to defund public education, to turn public money over to unaccountable private hands, and to weaken and eliminate collective bargaining wherever it still exists. And this effort is not only well-coordinated but funded by billionaires who have grown wealthy in a free market and can’t see any need for regulation or unions or public schools.

In the past, Democratic administrations and Democratic members of Congress could be counted on to support public education and to fight privatization. In the past, Democrats supported unions, which they saw as a dependable and significant part of their base.

This is no longer the case. Congress is about to pass legislation to expand funding of charter schools, despite the fact that they get no better results than public schools and despite the scandalous misuse of public funds by charter operators in many states.

The Obama administration strongly supports privatization via charters; one condition of Race to the Top was that states had to increase the number of charters. The administration is no friend of teachers or of teacher unions. Secretary Duncan applauded the lamentable Vergara decision, as he has applauded privatization and evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students. There are never too many tests for this administration. Although the President recently talked about the importance of unions, he has done nothing to support them when they are under attack. Former members of his administration are leading the war against teachers and their unions. Think Rahm Emanuel, who apparently wants to be known as the mayor who privatized Chicago and broke the teachers’ union. Or think Robert Gibbs, the former White House press secretary who is now leading the public relations campaign against teachers’ due process rights.

The National Education Association is meeting now in Denver at its annual conference. The American Federation of Teachers holds its annual convention in Los Angeles in another week or so. Both must take seriously the threat to the survival of public education: not only privatization but austerity and over-testing. These are not different threats. They are connected. Austerity and over-testing set public schools up to fail. They are precursors to privatization. They are intended to make public schools weak and to destroy public confidence in democratically controlled schools. What is needed at this hour is a strong, militant response to these attacks on teachers, public schools, and–where they exist–unions.

For sure, unions have their faults. But they are the only collective voice that teachers have. Now is the time to use that voice. The battle for the future of public education is not over. Supporters of public education must rally and stand together and elect a President in 2016 who supports public schools. This is a time to get informed, to organize, to strategize, and to mobilize. If you are not angry, you have not been paying attention.

Paul Bruno, a science teacher in California, assembled a few charts to show that there is no “crisis” in American education.

What we have today was aptly named “a manufactured crisis” by David Berliner and Bruce Biddle, in their book “The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America’s Public Schools” in the mid-1990s.

Last year, my book “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools” showed how the phony “crisis” rhetoric is cynically used to undermine public support for public schools and advance privatization through charters, vouchers, and virtual charters.

Chris Lubienski and Sarah Lubienski published “The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools.”

David Berliner and Gene Glass recently published “50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education.”

John Kuhn published “Fear and Learning in America: Bad Data, Good Teachers, and the Attack on Public Education.”

Mercedes Schneider published “A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education.”

So, if you want evidence that the “crisis” in American education is a cynical fiction, that it is used to divert attention from the true social and economic crises of inequality, poverty, and segregation, you have quite a selection of books to read. Arm yourself. Read them.

Veteran educator Val Flores pulled off a stunning upset when she beat a well-funded candidate for a seat on the state board. No one thought it could happen.

Val spent $20,000. Her opponent spent $135,000. Val won by a margin of 59-41.

Jeanne Kaplan, a former member of the Denver school board, explains what happened.

You will find this publication of great interest at this time. It is titled “Race to the Bottom: How Outsourcing Public Services Rewards Corporations and Punishes the Middle Class.” It was written by a group called “In the Public Interest.”

The full PDF file is available for free.

Here is the executive summary:

“As state and local governments outsource important public functions to for-profit and other private entities, what happens to the quality of life for the workers who provide these services, and the communities in which they live? A growing body of evidence and industry wage data suggest an alarming trend: outsourcing public services sets off a downward spiral in which reduced worker wages and benefits can hurt the local economy and overall stability of middle and
working class communities. By paying family-supporting wages
and providing important benefits such as health insurance and
sick leave, governments historically created intentional “ladders
of opportunity” to allow workers and their families to reach the middle class. This is especially true for women and African Americans for whom the public sector has been a source of stable middle-class careers. Low-road government contracts reverse this dynamic. While corporations rake in increasing profits through taxpayer dollars and CEO compensation continues to soar, numerous examples in this report show that workers employed by state and local government contractors receive low wages and few benefits.”

EduShyster here interviews Ken Zeichner of the University of Washington about teacher education.

They talk about the NCTQ report, whose findings were predetermined by its political agenda (I.e., university-based teacher preparation bad, alternative preparation good).

Zeichner says that no other country–certainly no high-performing country–has gone full-throttle for alternative teacher preparation.

He describes a phenomenon that he calls “knowledge ventriloquism:”

“Basically what you have is an echo chamber effect where think tanks and other advocacy groups just keep repeating each other’s claims until they become true. There’s a research component too, except that the research isn’t independent. In fact, you can usually predict what the findings are going to be be based on who is doing the research. Cherry picking is another essential component of *knowledge ventriloquism.* Advocates a particular position or program will selectively choose certain findings and ignore others. The problem is that by the time any of this reaches the mainstream media and the headlines, any nuance or complexity is lost.”

In another era, this was known as the Big Lie, repeated again and again in authoritative circles until the public assumed it must be true despite the lack of evidence.

Zeichner and colleagues recently published a study of the movement to privatize teacher education. The NCTQ ratings are a part of that movement.

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