El Camino Real Charter High School used to be a public school. It was always a good school. But now it’s embroiled in a financial scandal because its principal used the school credit card to charge lavish indulgences, including first class air travel, meals, hotels, and other items connected to his other job as a talent scout for a major basketball team.

The teachers are not happy.

Taxpayers should be picketing too.

http://www.dailynews.com/social-affairs/20160928/el-camino-real-teachers-stage-silent-protest-over-credit-card-spending-controversy

Jack Hassard is a Professor Emeritus of Science Education at Georgia State University. A former high school teacher, he usually blogs about science education. But he has seen through the hoax of the Governor Deal’s constitutional amendment this November. The ballot asks voters whether the state should have the authority to intervene to help failing schools, yes or no. Readers of this blog know that this is a hoax, intended to deceive voters. The real purpose is to creat a special non-contiguous district consisting of the state’s lowest performing schools. They will be removed from their district and handed over to state control. The state will then transfer them to charter chains.

Every so-called opportunity school district has failed. This is a hoax and a fraud. The governor must know this. Since when were conservative politicians concerned about “saving” poor kids? Note that this reform is a substitute for reducing the poverty that blights children’s lives.

This is an ALEC-inspired program to erode local control and expand privatization.

Hassard explains that Governor Deal is taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s horrendous Citizens United decision that removed limits on political contributions. In this post, he describes the twisted trail of big-money that’s behind Governor Deal’s push to privatize public schools, which will create a money pot for entrepreneurs. Deal is pulling the wool over the eyes of the public.

Wendy Lecker, civil rights attorney, explains here how disappointing the recent Connecticut funding decision is.

“As noted in my previous column, CCJEF trial judge Thomas Moukawsher refused to order the state to ensure adequate resources in schools, though determining constitutional adequacy was his responsibility. By contrast, the judge freely issued sweeping directives regarding educational policy.

“The judge issued far-reaching orders involving elementary and high school education and teacher evaluations. He also aired abhorrent views toward children with disabilities, which several commentators already addressed.

“This column addresses his orders regarding elementary education. I will address the others in subsequent columns.
Moukawsher observed that the educational disparities in secondary school begin in elementary school. (He actually acknowledged that they begin before elementary school, but declined to rule that preschool is essential.)

Moukawsher’s “fix” for elementary school was to order the state to define elementary education as being “primarily related to developing basic literacy and numeracy skills needed for secondary school.”

“Most of us understand that to thrive in secondary school, children must develop skills beyond basic numeracy and literacy. From an early age, children must develop the ability to think critically, creatively and independently.
There is no real division among brain functions — cognitive, social and motor — so they all must be developed in concert. As neuroscientist Adele Diamond observed, “a human being is not just an intellect or just a body … we ignore any of those dimensions at our peril in … educating children.”

“However, Moukawsher ruled that elementary school should concern itself with basic literacy and numeracy skills. Moreover, he demanded that this definition have “force,” “substantial consequences” and be “verifiable” — code for high-stakes statewide standardized elementary school exit exams.

“The judge’s myopic focus was emphasized by his suggestion for giving the required definition “force.” He declared that the state definition “might gain some heft, for example, if the rest of school stopped for students who leave third grade without basic literacy skills. School for them might be focused solely on acquiring those skills. Eighth-grade testing would have to show they have acquired those skills before they move on to secondary school. This would give the schools four school years to fix the problem for most children.”

Many children who do not score well on standardized tests are poor and experience stress in their lives that inhibits learning. Others are just learning English. Others have disabilities. Any lag in reading does not mean a child cannot think at grade level or beyond. Moreover, many low-income children have limited exposure to the wide variety of experiences their more affluent peers enjoy. Yet Moukawsher’s prescription for “fixing” them is to limit their education to reading instruction. No art, music, physical education, social studies, science, drama, or field trips. This “solution” will leave our neediest children further behind developmentally.

Moukawsher’s proposal not only threatens to hinder development for our neediest children. It is not even an effective way to teach reading.”

Read the rest of her analysis. This is the same decision that the New York Times treated as historic. Apparently, no one at the Times actually read the decision.

Plaintiffs in Arkansas sued to block the state takeover of Little Rock public schools. Plaintiffs argued that the expansion of charters was racially discriminatory because the public schools are predominantly black, and the charters are predominantly white. The judge rejected their request.

“The plaintiffs, led by civil rights lawyer John Walker, had sought to reverse both the takeover of the LRSD and the granting of permission to Little Rock charter schools to expand their student populations. The suit named as defendants the state Board of Education (which gave final authorization to the takeover and the charter expansions), Education Commissioner Johnny Key and the Arkansas Department of Education. Marshall said the plaintiffs had failed to make a case against the state, though the school district itself must still face a trial on the merits of a complaint about unfairness in facilities.”

The plaintiffs didn’t prove that the plan was intended to cause segregation, even though it did.

In his decision, the judge wrote:

“And there’s no real question about disproportionate effect: more than 65 percent of LRSD students are black; a majority of the dissolved Board was black; and the students at the growing charter schools in Little Rock are (to generalize) whiter and wealthier than LRSD’s students. But the settled precedent is clear; discriminatory effects alone are insufficient to show discriminatory intentions.

“What’s missing are pleaded facts that show the intention to discriminate based on race, that show foul thoughts becoming harmful actions.”

So much for “saving poor kids from failing schools.” How about “opening segregation academies with state funding for affluent white kids?”

Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education and experienced educator, traveled Calofornia to learn about charter schools. What she discovered was an industry that is growing by leaps and bounds, powered by billionaires’ dough, but rife with fraudulent practices that cheat students and taxpayers.

Although Arizona was once called the “Wid West” of the unregulated charter industry, California now appears to have captured that title. Big payoffs for the adults, poor education for students.

Carol’s article appears on Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog at the Washington Post. After I read her introduction, I urged her to remember that the very worst states in relation to charters are scandal-ridden Ohio, Arizona (where nepotism and conflicts of interest are fine for charters, and for-profit charters don’t have to open their books to the public), and Michigan (where 80% of the charters operate for-profit).

This article is the second in a four-part series.

Jeb Bush has been advocating everything related to corporate reform for many years. As Governor of Florida, he imposed high-stakes testing, charters, simplistic accountability measures, letter grades for schools, and did whatever he could dream up to promote competition and choice. He tried to get vouchers, but was only able to get vouchers for special education (a program once described in a prize-winning article as a “cottage industry for graft”). He sought a constitutional amendment to make vouchers possible, and Michelle Rhee joined him to promote vouchers. But in 2012, voters said no by 58-42.

This fall, this hater of public schools will teach at the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance, which is supervised by voucher advocate Paul Peyerson. Students will no doubt learn that public schools must be replaced by a free market. They will learn that choice will create Mira Les. They will learn that families should schools just as they choose milk in the grocery store: whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk. No one will tell Jeb about Sweden and Chile.

Saddest of all is that he is giving the annual Godkin Lecture, an honor once reserved for distinguished scholars.

As the evidence piles up that choice is no panacea, do you think he will apologize for the schools and communities he has disrupted?

On MSNBC, Chris Mathews asked Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, who was his favorite world leader. He was silent. Asked again, any country, any continent, he couldn’t think of one. Johnson said, “I’m having another Aleppo moment.”

Sad. Why is this man running for President?

John King awards $245M to charters incl $8M to the Uncommon Schools charter chain, a chain he previously ran that is known for outrageously high suspension rates. Jersey Jazzman called him the King of Student Suspensions. (His own children never attended a no-excuses charter school; when he lived in New York, they were enrolled in a Montessori school.)

http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2015/10/john-king-new-seced-is-king-of-student.html?m=1

Research accumulates that charters don’t necessarily outperform public schools. That they drain resources from public schools, thus harming the great majority of children who attend public schools. That they fail to be accountable or transparent. That their sponsors and advocates are funded by billionaires and hedge fund managers. That even the best of them, according to a new study by Dobbie and Fryer, have no long-term effects. That they open and close with alarming frequency. That many are abject failures.

Yet John King is using his brief tenure to hand over hundreds of millions to continue the Public School Demolition Derby.

http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-awards-245-million-support-high-quality-public-charter-schools

This post is a profile of Doris Fisher, the California billionaire who wants to privatize public schools and open corporate-run charters with no ties to the local community.

“As co-founder of the Gap, San Francisco-based business leader and philanthropist Doris Fisher boasts a net worth of $2.6 billion, making her the country’s third richest self-made woman, according to Forbes. And she’s focused much of her wealth and resources on building charter schools. She and her late husband Donald donated more than $70 million to the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and helped to personally build the operation into the largest network of charter schools in the country, with 200 schools serving 80,000 students in 20 states. Doris’ son John serves as the chairman of KIPP’s board of directors, and she sits on the board herself.

“Doris’ passion for charter schools also fuels her political donations. While not as well-known as other deep-pocketed charter school advocates like Eli Broad and the Walton family (heirs to the Walmart fortune), Fisher and her family have quietly become among the largest political funders of charter school efforts in the country. Having contributed $5.6 million to state political campaigns since 2013, Fisher was recently listed as the second largest political donor in California by the Sacramento Bee – and nearly all of her money now goes to promoting pro-charter school candidates and organizations. While often labelled a Republican, she gives to Democrats and Republicans alike, just as long as they’re supportive of the charter school movement. According to campaign finance reports, so far this election cycle she’s spent more than $3.3 million on the political action committees of charter school advocacy groups EdVoice and the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), as well as pro-charter candidates. (Christopher Nelson, managing director of the Fishers’ philanthropic organization, sits on the board of CCSA, which, along with EdVoice, declined to comment for this article.)

“Fisher’s philanthropic and political efforts are not as straightforward as simply promoting education, however. Recent investigations have found that she’s used dark-money networks to funnel funds into California campaign initiatives that many say targeted teachers and undermined public education. It’s why many education activists worry about the impact her money is having on California politics – and on California schoolchildren.”

What is less well known than her passion for privatization is that spends millions in “dark money” to harm the state’s public schools.

“Even if some of the charter schools Fisher champions have been a success, she’s secretly supported efforts that critics regard as undermining the success of the public school system and teachers. A recent investigation by California Hedge Clippers, a coalition of community groups and unions, found that Fisher was one of a number of wealthy Californians who in 2012 used a dark money network involving out-of-state organizations linked to the conservative Koch brothers to shield their donations to controversial campaign efforts that year. The money was used to oppose Proposition 30, a tax on high-income Californians to fund public schools and public safety, and support Proposition 32, which, among other things, would have severely limited the ability of organized labor, including teachers unions, to raise money for state and local races.

“At the time of the campaign, none of these donations were public. In fact, fellow charter-school advocate Eli Broad publically endorsed Proposition 30 while secretly donating $500,000 to the dark money fund dedicated to defeating it. And Fisher herself had close ties to Governor Jerry Brown, a key proponent of Proposition 30. Brown’s wife Anne Gust Brown worked as chief administrative officer at the Gap until 2005 and is credited with helping to improve the company’s labor standards, and the Fishers were major financial supporters of Brown’s 2014 campaign to pass Proposition 1, the water bond, and Proposition 2, the “rainy day budget” stabilization act.

“I would imagine that it caused some domestic strife,” says Karen Wolfe, a California parent and founder of PSconnect, a community group that advocates for traditional public schools. “[Anne likely] thought she had the Fishers’ support on her husband’s crowning achievement, a tax to finally balance California’s budget and bring the state out of functional bankruptcy. This was absolutely his highest priority.”

“In total, according to the Hedge Clippers investigation, Fisher and her sons donated more than $18 million to the dark money group. It wasn’t the only time the Fisher family has worked with political organizations known for concealing their financial supporters. In 2006, current KIPP chairman John Fisher gave $85,000 to All Children Matter, a school-privatization political action group in Ohio that was slapped with a record-setting $5.2 million fine for illegally funneling contributions through out-of-state dark money networks. Instead of paying the fine, All Children Matter shut down and one of its conservative founders launched a new group: the Alliance for School Choice, which in 2011 listed John Fisher as its secretary. And last year, Doris Fisher contributed $750,000 to California Charter School Association Advocates, which funneled such donations to a local committee. The names of individual donors wouldn’t be disclosed until after the election.”

How sad that a woman worth more than $2 billion would secretly fund campaigns to block funding of the public schools that enroll 90% of children in California. What is she thinking?

Mercedes Schneider describes here the billionaire-funded plan to disrupt and privatize public education in Los Angeles, while deceiving the public and hiding the men behind the curtain.

Mercedes uses her superb investigative talents to follow the money and show the tight collaboration be tween the faux-Democrat Eli Broad and the far-right, union-hating Waltons of Arkansas.

She writes:

“It seems that the Walton-funded writing on the Los Angeles wall might well entail expanding charters as the answer to making all Los Angeles schools better. It also believes in bringing traditional school districts around to its market-driven-reform thinking via corporate-reform-group infiltration. Too, it seems that the Walton Foundation believes that grass roots support for its effort is a matter of getting the public mind in line with the Walton charter expansion priorities.

“The Walton intentions in incubating and expanding corporate reform fit hand-in-glove with the Broad intentions for Los Angeles. On its website, the Broad Foundation generously tosses around the term “public schools” even as it features KIPP, Success Academies, and Teach for America among its handful of “key grantees.” Furthermore, the Broad listing of current grantees is for the most part a corporate reform festival:

4.0 Schools
Achievement First
Achievement School District
Bellwether Education Partners
Bright Star Schools
Broad Center for the Management of School Systems
Building Excellent Schools
Center for American Progress
Central Michigan University Foundation
Charter School Growth Fund
Common Sense Media
Education Reform Now
Education Week
EXED, LLC
Great Public Schools Now
Green Dot Public Schools
Harvard University
IDEA Public Schools
Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)
Leadership for Educational Equity
Michigan Education Excellence Foundation
Michigan State University – College of Education
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
National Center on Education and the Economy
National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)
Noble Network of Charter Schools
Orange County Public Schools
Partnership for Los Angeles Schools
Policy Innovators in Education Network
Progressive Policy Institute
Results in Education (RIE) Foundation
Scholarship Management Services
School of Visual and Performing Arts
Silicon Schools Fund, Inc.
Success Academy Charter Schools
Teach For America

“Note that Broad is currently funding ExED, and that Great Public Schools Now has two ExED reps on its board/team: William Siart and Anita Landecker. What this illustrates is the all-too-common corporate reform funding incest. (According to the Walton 2013 tax form, Walton has also given ExED $50,000, and the Waltons loaned ExED $5 million for Los Angeles charter school facility financing.)”