Larry Miller is an editor at Rethinking Schools. He taught in the Milwaukee Public Schools for 17 years. He was elected to the Milwaukee school board in 2009.

Governor Scott Walker is doing his best to eliminate public education in Milwaukee by expanding vouchers and charters, even though the public schools are more successful than either of the privatized alternatives.

In this entertaining post, Miller cites some of Donald Trump’s most outrageous statements. He notes that Alberta Darling, who is Governor Walker’s ally in seeking to destroy public education, is support the “racist buffoon” candidate for the Presidency.

Troy LaRaviere took the job as principal of Blaine Elementary School, which was already a respected and successful school, and promised to make it the #1 rated neighborhood school in the city within six years. He did it. He also courted trouble by publicly criticizing Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his harmful education policy that favored charters over public schools. And he courted more trouble by endorsing Bernie Sanders and becoming a Sanders delegate at the Democratic National Convention. But his greatest transgressions were his repeated critiques of the high-level mismanagement of the school system under mayoral control.

In this post, he announces his resignation, explains the methods he used at Blaine to achieve success, and once again blasts Rahm.

Troy, I know you have a great future ahead of you. I hope another big district is wise enough to hire you.

If Rahm Emanuel were wise, he would ask you to become Superintendent of Schools and help every elementary school in the city.

Phi Delta Kappa released its annual poll today. Nothing new except that Gallup is no longer the polling company. No headlines. The only obvious conclusion: the American public is confused about why we have schools and what they should be doing and whether they are doing it well.

The public doesn’t agree on what the purpose of public schools is. 45% says it is to teach academics. About a quarter think they should teach career readiness. Another quarter think they should prepare students for citizenship.

Just to be clear, the reason that public schools were first established and treated as a community responsibility was to prepare good citizens to sustain our society into the future. There are many subdivisions under the goal of preparing to be good citizens, which would include the academic skills needed to read, write, think critically, be informed about issues in science and history, and be in good health. Somehow, the central purpose has been lowered in status. When people lose sight of the central purpose of education, then they fall prey to bogus claims about choice, charters, and vouchers, about which sector can do a better job of teaching academic skills or career skills. We have public schools as a public responsibility to teach young people to become active and informed citizens. All the rest follows.

In reading through the inconclusive public opinion on almost every subject, one question caught my attention because of its wording:

Q. Charter schools are public schools that are run without many of the state regulations placed on other public schools. Do you think it’s better for charter schools to meet the same educational standards as other public schools or to set their own educational standards?

The answer was a split decision. 48% said meet the same standards, 46% said no.

The question assumes that charter schools are public schools.

But charter schools are NOT public schools. Whenever charter operators are sued, their defense is that they are not public schools. They are privately managed schools that receive public funding. As the NLRB ruled last week, and as federal courts have ruled, charter schools are not held to the same standards as public schools because they are NOT “state actors.” Public schools are state actors. Charters themselves plead that they are not public schools. In 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a charter operator in Arizona ran a private nonprofit corporation, not an agency of the state, in response to a lawsuit by a former teacher. In 2011, the staff at the New Media Technology Charter School wanted to form a union. They appealed to state law. The charter owner, however, said the school was not public and was not governed by state law; he said it was a private school subject to the NLRB. In the same year, teachers at the Chicago Math & Science Academy also wanted to form a union. There, too, the charter operator rebuffed them by saying the school was a “private” entity, not a public school, and was not subject to state law. (See pp. 163-164 of Reign of Error). Charter schools are run by private entities that receive government contracts. The receipt of public funds does not make an entity public. If it did, then every major defense contractor would be public, not private.

The answer is troubling as well as the question. If nearly half of the respondents think that charter schools do not have to meet the same standards as public schools, what is it they believe? Do they believe that charter schools should not be held accountable for student test scores? Do they think that charter schools should be judged by some other metric?

I have been reading PDK polls for years. I learned nothing new from this one, other than that the public has lost sight of why we have public schools. That may be the consequence of propaganda from the privatizers. If there is no agreement on why we pay taxes to support public schools, then any alternative will do, including schools run by churches and schools run by foreign nationals.

Tim Slekar, dean of education at Edgewood College in Wisconsin, alerted me to an important decision by the National Labor Relations Board.

The NLRB ruled that charter schools are private schools, not public schools. This echoes several previous rulings by the courts and the NLRB, which concluded that charter schools are private corporations that contract with government and are not “state actors.” Public schools are “state actors.” Charter schools are not.

The ruling was reported by a blog for the Albany Times-Union:

Here’s an interesting item that touches on the semantics as well as labor issues surrounding New York’s charter school movement.

A recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), concludes that charter schools are private and efforts to start teachers unions in them should fall under their purview, rather than the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) which oversees the public sector.

The decision stemmed from efforts by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) to unionize teachers at the Hyde Leadership charter school in Brooklyn.

PERB had asserted jurisdiction over the school, but the union ended up arguing that organizing efforts should be overseen by the NLRB which administers labor law in the private sector.

The NLRB in its decision, concluded that “Hyde was not established by a state or local government, and is not itself a public school.”

I describe previous rulings by federal courts and the NLRB that charter schools are “not state actors” in Reign of Error. In a criminal case in California a few years ago, the California Charter School Association entered an amicus brief in defense of charter operators accused of fraud and claimed that charter schools are not subject to the same laws as public schools. They are not state actors.

The appropriate analogy would be a corporation like Boeing, which works for the government, is funded by the government, but is not a state actor. It is private.

Leonie Haimson, parent activist in New York City, crusader for reduced class size and student privacy, lays waste to the charter privateers in this hilarious post!

First came the devastating resolution passed by the national convention of the NAACP, calling for a charter moratorium.

Then came the attack on charters by Black Lives Matter.

And the topper was John Oliver’s funny and accurate portrayal of charter school graft.

But the privateers (or privatizers, as I usually say) continue their assault on public education with propaganda and lies.

In Massachusetts, they claim that expanding charter schools will “improve public education,” when in fact it will drain money from neighborhood public schools and take away local control.

In Georgia, a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November authorizes the creation of a state district that will eliminate local control, like the failed Tennessee ASD, yet says it will empower communities.

This is Orwellian. That means when you say one thing but mean the opposite. Another word for lying. Like saying “reform” when you mean “privatization.”

On Sunday, I attended a fund-raising event for Hillary Clinton.

I have met her on several occasions in the past, beginning in 1984, when I stayed overnight at the Governor’s mansion in Little Rock while visiting the state to give a lecture. Although she has met many tens or hundreds of thousands of people over the years, she always remembers me (as does Bill).

I had a few minutes to talk to her privately. I gave her my “elevator speech” about the disaster of the privatization and testing policies of the past 15 years, and the need for a revival of support for public schools.

If you look at the photos, you will see the progression of our meeting. She recognizes me; we hug; I give her my views. And then the great shot, all taken from my cell phone by one of her staff.

After she did the meet and greet, she spoke for about 25 minutes to the 50 or so people there.

She spoke about the importance of working across party lines to get important work done that benefits all Americans. She talked about building better relationships with our allies. She said that she would work closely with Senator Sanders to develop a realistic plan to make college tuition-free for those below a certain income level and to reduce the cost of public college overall. She spoke of the need to elect Democrats to the Senate and the House and to reverse the Citizens United decision. She spoke of defeating the gun lobby, which represents not gun owners but gun manufacturers. She was especially eloquent on the subject of guns. She said that hunters should keep their guns; collectors should keep their guns. But there should be careful screening of all gun purchasers. The fact that Congress refuses to ban sales of guns to people on the terrorist watch list is madness. When asked what she would do about the millions of guns already in circulation, she said she was not sure, but would look into the gun buyback program that Australia used. She spoke eloquently about protecting and bettering the lives of all Americans.

She is knowledgable. She is experienced. She speaks with wisdom, judgment, and clarity. She has the stamina of a person of 30 (this was her fourth event of the day, and she never sat down, not once. And she had two more similar events to go that day.) Don’t believe the Trump nonsense about her health. She looked and sounded great. She is informed, and she is ready.

#Iamwithher

For the education reformers of our day, Hurricane Katrina created an opportunity for disruption and privatization.

A chance to get rid of public education.

A chance to get rid of the union.

A chance to fire all the teachers, most of whom were African Americans.

A chance for education reform.

Mike Klonsky remembers and puts it into context.

Jonathan Pelto warns residents of Connecticut that their children will be forced to take the “new” SAT despite serious charges that the test is ill-designed and invalid.

The spark that set off this latest controversy about the SAT is a devastating critique by Manuel Alfaro, who until recently was Executive Director for Assessment at the College Board, which is responsible for the SAT. The SAT was redesigned at the direction of David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core standards. Alfaro became angered by what he saw and he became a whistle blower. Just last week, the FBI raided his home in search of evidence that he might have been the person who leaked 400 SAT questions.

Alfaro has been writing on Linked In, and he posted these statements on August 28.

The first is an Open Letter to David Coleman, letting him know that Alfaro is defiant and will see him in court. He accuses Coleman of perpetrating a “global fraud.”

Alfaro wrote to Coleman and said (in part):

You have done an excellent job discrediting me so far. You have stopped news organizations from investigating my statements and allegations of the global fraud you have committed against millions of students and their families, College Board members, state governments, and the federal government. You have convinced the heads of the Department of Education using the SAT for accountability that—to use the words of your Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel—I’m “a disgruntled former employee who has expressed anger at the college Board in a very public way. Though his employment ended over a year ago, he has not “moved on.”” However, even with all your resources, I feel that you are still at a disadvantage. So, I’m going to show you one of my cards: in order to properly defend myself against any charges you level against me, criminal or otherwise, a court will have to grant my legal team access to College Board records.

I’ve tried to get help from parents, Senators, House Representatives, the White House, and the heads of the Department of Education of the states using the SAT for accountability without success. Thanks to you and the FBI, I will soon have a path to the College Board records I so desperately need to prove the global fraud you have committed.

The second denounces heads of state education departments for using the new SAT without telling the public that it is invalid.

It begins like this:


Residents of CO, CT, DE, IL, ME, MI, and NH, the heads of the Department of Education of your states have failed to protect the best interests of your students and your families, opting instead to protect their own interests and the interests of the College Board.

As these officials are elected (or appointed by an elected official), you can demand their immediate resignation or you can vote to replace them immediately to ensure that the department of Education in your state is headed by an individual willing to put the interests of your students and your family first.

In the paragraphs that follow, I will describe how the current heads of the Department of Education have failed you and why they lack the judgment (and common sense) to protect the best interests of your children.

On May 7, 2016, I wrote a letter to the heads of the Department of Education in CO, CT, DE, IL, ME, MI, and NH to let them know that the College Board has committed global fraud against their states and the federal government. In that letter, I offered to meet with their legal teams to expose the fraud. Instead of meeting with me (or asking me for additional information), they approached the College Board about my statements and allegations. According to a Reuter’s story, published on Friday August 26, 2016, here is what some of the states had to say about my statements and allegations:

A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education, Bill DiSessa, said the state “checked with the College Board” and decided not to look into Alfaro’s claims. Jeremy Meyer of the Colorado Department of Education said the state discussed Alfaro’s email with the College Board and was “satisfied with the response we received.”

Kelly Donnelly, spokesperson for the Connecticut State Department of Education, said the state considered Alfaro’s email to be “replete with hyperbole, but scant on actual facts. We did not take further action.” Donnelly said the state hadn’t reviewed Alfaro’s detailed posts on LinkedIn.

Although I have not seen any of the explanations the College Board may have provided, I can assure you that none included the following critical fact: The College Board, ETS, and the Content Advisory Committee did not have time to review all the items prior to pretesting, as the College Board has repeatedly claimed they do.

It is very hard to be a whistle blower. It is difficult to walk away from a lucrative job. Manuel Alfaro did it. I name him to the blog’s honor roll for his courage and integrity.

I accidentally put the wrong date on a post that is supposed to run tomorrow at 9 am.

It tells the story of my meeting last night with Hillary.

I took it down and will repost tomorrow.

Carl Petersen, an education activist in Los Angeles, attended the school board meeting in Los Angeles where the plight of El Camino Real Charter High School and its ethics-challenged leaders was discussed. Peterson is running to defeat Monica Garcia, a charter cheerleader, in the next school board elections.

It is astonishing. Several defenders of the charter school spoke, and they said the board was picking on the school. No defense of the extravagant charges to the school’s credit car. Just attack the board for daring to investigate this school.

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