Archives for category: Stand for Children

Jeannie Kaplan, who was elected to two terms on the Denver school board, explains here that reform has not worked despite a lavish PR campaign to boast of “results.”

She begins:

“I have been suffering from DPS and “reform” fatigue, hence my recent silence. But several things have occurred that have catapulted me back to my computer: multiple emails from Superintendent Tom Boasberg touting DPS’ success; newspaper stories telling the truth about public education; conversations with real “boots on the ground” DPS educators and parents; and former DPS superintendent, current U.S. Senator Michael Bennet’s somewhat over the top introduction of his childhood friend and current DPS superintendent Tom Boasberg’s appearance at a No Child Left Behind re-authorization panel where the Senator reiterated the DPS success myth. When Senator Bennet finished, committee chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said, “I think that boils down to ‘he [Boasberg] cleaned up after you left.’” To which Senator Bennet responded, “You can’t even know half of the truth.”

Kaplan proceeds to tell the whole truth, not less than half the truth. After ten years of high-stakes testing and charters, achievement gains have been meager. Denver schools are increasingly segregated. The achievement gap has increased. Pension costs have grown, along with debt. Teacher turnover has increased. And local control has been sacrificed as out-of-state money pours in from wealthy individuals and national groups like Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform to elect reformers to the school board.

Read her post to learn the truth that neither Senator Bennett nor Superintendent Boasberg mentioned at the NCLB hearings.

The most contentious issue in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently named No Child Left Behind) will be the federal role in mandating annual testing. The latest polls show that it is opposed by a majority of parents and educators, but Secretary Duncan has staunchly insisted it is necessary; 19 civil rights groups endorsed his position, even though the children they represent all too often are negativrly afrcted by such tests. Since minority children, English learners, and children with disabilities are disproportionately stigmatized by standardized tests, it is bizarre to assert that standardized tests are guarantors of civil rights.

So here comes an interesting debate in the conservative National Review. Michael Petrilli of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Rick Hess of the conservative American Enterprise Institute take issue with Jonah Edelman of the corporate reform Stand for Children.

Stand for Children is an active and politically savvy opponent of teachers and teachers’ unions. A few years ago, Jonah Edelman boasted at an Aspen Ideas Festival about his role in buying up all the best lobbyists in Illinois so he could ram hostile legislation down the throats of teachers across the state and make it near impossible for the Chicago Teachers Union to go on strike. He was wrong about the latter, because the CTU garnered overwhelming support for a strike and followed through in 2012. Edelman pulled a similar stunt in Massachusetts, having collected millions of dollars from hedge fund manager to make war on teachers and their benefits and job security.

In the present case, Petrilli and Finn chastise Edelman for supporting an expansive federal role in education.

They write:

“In the piece, Edelman denounces efforts to shed some of No Child Left Behind’s more onerous and unworkable provisions as a “threat” to “your kids’ future.” He then recounts a parade of horribles from the last century. “Linda Brown was denied the opportunity to attend a nearby public school because she was black,” he reminds us. “Black students were denied access to a public high school by segregationist Governor Orval Faubus.” And states and districts weren’t meeting the “special needs” of students with disabilities.

“This is a shopworn parlor trick — equating conservatives concerned about federal micromanagement of schooling in 2015 with the “states’ rights” segregationists of two or three generations past (who, for what it’s worth, were overwhelmingly Democratic)….

“But this sort of rhetorical sleight-of-hand has not held up particularly well. Debating whether the federal government should tell states how to label, manage, and “improve” schools (all on the basis of reading and math scores) is a far cry from debates over whether states should be allowed to deny black students access to elementary and secondary schools. Moreover, those who, like Edelman, celebrate Uncle Sam’s expertise and the effectiveness of federal bureaucrats fail to acknowledge how often federal bureaucrats have gotten it wrong — and put in place laws and regulations that have gotten in the way of smart, promising reforms at the state and local level.

“What are the issues that have Edelman so worked up? Republicans on Capitol Hill make no secret that they envision a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind that will significantly reduce the strings attached to federal education dollars. Among the possible actions: Allowing states to test students every few years rather than annually; getting the federal government out of the business of telling states how to design school-accountability systems or address low-performing schools; and making clear that (contrary to the Obama administration’s designs) the federal government should have no role in dictating state reading and math standards.

“Casual followers of the education debate might notice that these changes seem both modest and sensible. Yet Edelman insists that if Congress dares to go down this path, “disadvantaged students will lose out, and millions of young people who could have become hard-working taxpayers will end up jobless, in prison, or worse.” (Worse?)….

“The deeper problem is that Edelman and his allies fail to grapple with the very real harm that federal education policy has caused, especially in the past decade. This is baffling, given his own admission that No Child Left Behind is “deeply flawed” and that “federal interventions don’t always work as intended.” But his solution — to simply update the law more regularly — indicates a misunderstanding of the realities of the legislative process (Congress updates laws when it will, not on the schedule of us pundits) and of the root problem. The real issue is not just that specific provisions of NCLB are problematic (though they are); it’s that the federal government is destined to mess up whatever it touches in education. That’s because it’s three steps removed from actual schools, with states and local districts sitting between its good intentions and its ability to ensure good results.

“All the federal government can do is pass laws telling federal bureaucrats to write rules for the states, whose bureaucrats then write more rules for school districts, which in turn give marching orders to principals. By the time this game of telephone is done, educators are stuck in a stifling, rule-driven culture that undermines the kind of practical discretion that characterizes good schools.

“During the Obama years, this problem has only grown worse. Convinced of their own righteousness and brilliance, Obama’s education officials have pushed all manner of half-baked ideas on the country (especially the demand that states evaluate teachers largely on the basis of test scores); helped turn potentially promising ideas into political hot potatoes (see Common Core); and embarked on ideological, deeply harmful crusades (using legal threats, for example, to discourage schools from disciplining minority students)….”

What Secretary Duncan has achieved in his six years in office is to persuade many liberals and conservatives that the U.S. Department of Education has abandoned any sense of federalism and has assumed far too much control. While liberals are uneasy about trusting either state or local government with the future of education, they are just as wary (or warier) of the heavy-handed power of the federal government. Duncan himself has become a symbol for many of the federal government’s abandonment of public schools and its commitment to privatize public schools “with all deliberate speed.” Duncan’s demand for annual testing and his determination to evaluate teachers based on students’ test scores–practices not found in high-performing nations–has put him on the wrong side of history. He simply ignores the failure of his pet policies, as well as the protests of parents and educators. His self-righteousness is no substitute for evidence and democratic governance.

Jeannie Kaplan, who was an elected member of the Denver school board, has done an amazing job of investigative research on the money that Denver lavishes on two charter chains: Denver School of Science and Technology and Strive. These two chains get the lion’s share of charter funding. Their charters get the best space; other charters are poor relations.

These two chains together have 20 of Denver’s 57 charters. Denver is very generous to its charters, paying their rent and virtually all their costs. The elected school board never approved the arrangement, but that’s a moot point since privatizers now control 6 of the board’s 7 seats.

How cozy is Denver’s power structure with the privatization movement? Very. Consider this:

“So, there you have it. Equal and more equal. A “Compact” intended to “level the playing field” for charters. But as we can see some charters are more equal than others. And as the numbers of charters increases, connections among various Colorado government officials, “reformers” and the Denver Public Schools become even more important and relevant. Just last month the Mayor’s Chief of Children’s Affairs left the city to become – drumroll, please – the Chief of External Outreach for Strive charter schools. Her previous “reform” job was as Colorado’s first statewide Director of Stand for Children. She is following the former DPS Chief of Staff into Denver’s education “reform” world, the latter of whom left the District to become Colorado’s executive director for Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). Denver’s former Manager of Safety is now the DPS General Counsel, followed by the former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives who this month started as the Chief Financial Officer for Denver Public Schools. The former Speaker just happened to be the deciding vote moving “teacher effectiveness” legislation, SB-191, out of committee in 2009. Legislators and voters beware. All the players are in place for a Denver Public Schools lead legislative agenda which will undoubtedly try to further this national “education reform” model. And when you add in a 6-1 nationally financed Board of Education, who needs actual mayoral control of your school board? It will be interesting to follow these new careers as more and more taxpayer money goes to “equal” and “more equal” charters. What would the animals think?”

Let’s face it. If Arne resigned, as the delegates to the NEA convention recommended in Denver, teachers would be thrilled to see one of the worst Secretaries of Education go away, but would we get someone worse? Would it be Ted Mitchell, who makes no bones about his love of privatization and for-profits? Would it be the teachers’ nemesis Michelle Rhee? Most reformers make too much money to step down to a cabinet job, so maybe it would be one of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change, like Deborah Gist of Rhode Island or Hanna Skandera of New Mexico or John White of Louisiana? What does it say about Obama that his likely choice would have to be acceptable to DFER, Stand on Children, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the other reformers?

One thing we would not miss: Arne Duncan’s affinity for the term “game changer.” Here is parent Matt Farmer of Chicago, remarking on how frequently Arne sees some phenomena as a game changer.

Farmer wrote in 2013:

“Let’s go back to 2010.

That February, Duncan called a proposal for increased funding of student loans “a real game-changer.”

By mid-July, he deemed “shared standards for college-readiness…an absolute game changer.”

His thinking had obviously evolved by the end of July, when he concluded that “the big game-changer is to start measuring individual student growth rather than proficiency.”

August, however, brought another epiphany. Duncan realized that the “big game-changer…revolves around the issue of teacher quality.”

In September, he concluded that the “new [Race to the Top] tests will be an absolute game-changer in public education.”

And Duncan, like a lanky philanthropist filling the tin cups of educational panhandlers, continued doling out change in 2010.

In November, he hit Paris to address the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Arne changed the game so often during that speech his UNESCO audience needed copies of “According To Hoyle” just to keep up with him.

After noting that in “the knowledge economy, education is the new game-changer,” Duncan assured the crowd that the sweeping adoption of “common college-ready standards that are internationally benchmarked . . . is an absolute game-changer.”

The secretary of education then called a “new generation of assessments aligned with the states’ Common Core standards” a “second game-changer,” even though it was actually the third “game-changer” Duncan had offered the assembled UNESCO masses during that difficult-to-diagram, five-minute rhetorical stretch.”

If Arne left, would it be a game changer or would President Obama go back to DFER to get their pock?

The Billionaire Boys Club and their allies are dumping campaign cash into races in Illinois.

Money is arriving from the hedge fund managers and other super-rich who take a keen interest in privatization and in removing any due process from teachers. Democrats for a education Reform and Stand for Children, both with strong ties to the privatization movement, are very interested in picking the winners in Illinois.

Broad-trained Dallas Superintendent Mike
Miles is in big trouble.
He is under investigation for
interfering with bidding for contracts and with internal audits;
several of his top staff have quit; DISD teachers are quitting in
large numbers; Miles’ family moved away from Dallas. But he has
good news: Miles’ special assistant is running for a seat on the
school board. Miguel Solis is not only running for the board, where
he can protect his unpopular and tyrannical boss, he is the Dallas
director of Stand on Children. Stand is a national organization
that was once grassroots but now reflects the interests of wealthy
investors in privatization and high-stakes testing. It will be
interesting to see if he has a credible opponent who cares about
public education. Of course, Stand will provide ample campaign
funds to keep the board committed to its program.

The corporate reform group, Stand on Children, dumped $500,000 into the Boston’s Mayor Race, and selected their candidate, City Councilor John R. Connolly.

It is prepared to spend even more, dwarfing the spending of other candidates.

This follows the pattern of the infusion of large outside money by corporate reformers in races in Louisiana, Colorado, California, and elsewhere.

After reviewing a large field, Stand on Children decided that Connolly was their man, the one who is likeliest to push hardest for privatization of public schools and to emphasize test scores as the highest goal of public education.

Stand began its life in Oregon as a civil rights group, but then discovered that there was a brighter future representing the interests of equity investors and Wall Street.

Subsequently, many of its original members left, but the budget greatly expanded, allowing them to be a major presence in states like Illinois and Massachusetts, where they promote charter schools and the removal of teacher tenure.

In Illinois, they bought up all the best lobbyists and got passed a law that made it illegal for the Chicago teachers to strike unless they got a 75% approval vote.

The Chicago Teachers Union got more than 90% and went on strike, much to the surprise of the big-money funders who thought they had crippled the union.

Edelman boasted at the Aspen Institute Festival about how he had “outfoxed” the teachers’ union by working with the state’s wealthiest hedge fund managers, buying up lobbyists, and winning anti-union legislation.

Stand pretends to be a “progressive” organization. It is, in fact, as Edelman boasts on the Aspen video, a mouthpiece for the 1%: Pro-privatization, anti-union, anti-public education.

The session title was, “If It Can Happen in Illinois, It Can Happen Anywhere.”


Rightwing groups have targeted Tennessee as ripe for privatization on next year’s election.

Last election, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst pumped more than $200,000 into Tennessee races, mostly to Republicans but also to a pro-voucher Democratic legislator.

The pro-privatization groups Democrats for Education Reform and Stand on Children are also likely to add funding to candidates who oppose public education.

These groups want to solidify the control of far-right Governor Haslam and a legislature that is hostile to public schools and professional teachers.

Big corporate and rightwing money can be defeated by an informed public.

The state of Pennsylvania, the School Reform Commission, Governor Corbett, and the Legislature have decided to strip bare the publuc schools of Philadelphia. They are doing to these students what they would never do to their own. They are vandals.

This morning, i received this poem written by a student, Siduri Beckmann. Why is Siduri less deserving of a full education than the children of the city and state’s leaders?

“This poem has brought tears to many eyes in Philadelphia in the last twenty-four hours!

“Siduri Beckman is a ninth-grader at Julia R. Masterman School. She is the city of Philadelphia’s first Youth Poet Laureate. She “felt like it was part of my job and my duty as a Masterman student to write a poem protesting the school budget cuts.”

A Word from the Cripples

I’ve got something

to say.

It won’t take long

Just as long as it took you

to snatch everything away

One fourth of the body is

the leg

You have crippled us

Cursing us to hobble

all of our lives.

I cannot run


on just

one leg.

Rip song

off of our tongues

to find songs are not Velcro but flesh

Snap the bows of the violins

in case the students could ever get the idea

that music

is alive

Because then you would have blood on your hands.

God forbid.

You see us as a problem

the classic class problem

INNER CITY streaked like mud across our faces

they’re all on the street anyway.

But leeches don’t suck out the disease

just the lifeblood.

I am angry

But I will not stoop

and hurt you

As you have hurt me

Thrusting fear

into our hearts

Why make us feel

so small


Forgotten by the people

whose duty it is to remember

Turn your back on your city

that chose not to choose


Because they feared

and now do all fears dawn true.

Bust the beehive

We will come out

In droves of wasps

We sting and live

to sting again

We will show ourselves to be

as formidable a foe

as all of those frackers

who you refuse to tax.

But you have also forgot

all of those ink marks slashed

with no faces or hopes or dreams or blood or flesh

Dismiss us

We cannot vote.

But in this country

we can speak.

It is clear by now that there is a very small number of very wealthy people who just don’t like public education. They don’t like teachers who work in public schools and want to strip them of any and every right, privilege, and status. They want to treat them like fast-food workers or salesmen who work on commission.

Given the chance, they would take the public’s money and give it to voucher schools, religious schools, entrepreneurs, to anyone who wants to start a school or an online business, regardless of their experience or qualifications. No one can take seriously their claim that they want to improve education or that they are “doing it for the kids” or they “put kids first” or they want to make kids “globally competitive.”

None of this is true.

Here Mike Deshotels explains who the haters are. They need do do some rethinking about the damage they are doing to our students, our teachers, and our nation.


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