Archives for the month of: July, 2018

Frank Bruni of the New York Times reviewed a new biography of Mike Pence.

Who is he? A religious zealot.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Like his friend Betsy DeVos, he is on a mission from God.

He writes:

“Trade Trump for Pence and you go from kleptocracy to theocracy.

“That’s the takeaway from a forthcoming book by the journalists Michael D’Antonio, who previously wrote “The Truth About Trump,” and Peter Eisner. It’s titled “The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence,” it will be published on Aug. 28 and it’s the most thorough examination of the vice president’s background to date…

“The book persuasively illustrates what an ineffectual congressman he was, apart from cozying up to the Koch brothers, Betsy DeVos and other rich Republican donors; the clumsiness and vanity of his one term as governor of Indiana, for which he did something that predecessors hadn’t and “ordered up a collection of custom-embroidered clothes — dress shirts, polo shirts, and vests and jackets — decorated with his name and the words Governor of Indiana”; the strong possibility that he wouldn’t have won re-election; his luck in being spared that humiliation by the summons from Trump, who needed an outwardly bland, intensely religious character witness to muffle his madness and launder his sins; and the alacrity with which he says whatever Trump needs him to regardless of the truth.

“In Pence’s view, any bite marks in his tongue are divinely ordained. Trump wouldn’t be president if God didn’t want that; Pence wouldn’t be vice president if he weren’t supposed to sanctify Trump. And his obsequiousness is his own best route to the Oval Office, which may very well be God’s grand plan…

“So it’s time to look harder at Pence. “The Shadow President” does. It lays out his disregard for science, evident in his onetime insistence that smoking doesn’t cause cancer and a belief that alarms about climate change were “a secret effort to increase government control over people’s lives for some unstated diabolical purpose,” according to the book.

“It suggests callousness at best toward African-Americans. As governor, Pence refused to pardon a black man who had spent almost a decade in prison for a crime that he clearly hadn’t committed. He also ignored a crisis — similar to the one in Flint, Mich. — in which people in a poor, largely black Indiana city were exposed to dangerously high levels of lead. D’Antonio told me: “I think he’s just as driven by prejudice as Trump is…”

“You can thank Pence for DeVos. They are longtime allies, going back decades, who bonded over such shared passions as making it O.K. for students to use government money, in the form of vouchers, at religious schools. Pence cast the tiebreaking vote in the Senate to confirm her as education secretary. It was the first time in history that a vice president had done that for a cabinet nominee.

Fiercely opposed to abortion, Pence once spoke positively on the House floor about historical figures who “actually placed it beyond doubt that the offense of abortion was a capital offense, punishable even by death.” He seemed to back federal funds for anti-gay conversion therapy. He promoted a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

“He is absolutely certain that his moral view should govern public policy,” D’Antonio told me.”

Somehow I missed this article when it was published in January 2017. It is well worth reading because it explains how the mainstream of the Democratic Party paved the way for the radical rightwing DeVos agenda.

Unless the Democrats regain their pro-public education values, they will cede a significant part of their base. They cheered striking teachers in the spring of 2018, but they long ago abandoned them and their schools.

It is time for Democrats to once again be the party that fights for the common good, the party that supports public schools, not school choice, which is a mighty hoax. Charter schools are partial privatization that lack oversight or accountability, this opening possibilities of waste, fraud and abuse. On average, they don’t get better test scores than public schools. Those that do choose their students and skew the demographics. Voucher schools get worse results and are free of any civil rights laws.

Hartman could have named many more Democrats who abandoned public schools, starting with DFER. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut. Andrew Cuomo of New York. Please feel free to add to the list..

Hartman wrote last year:

“American public schools have some very serious problems. Spend time in the crumbling public schools on the south side of Chicago and then venture over to the plush public schools in the leafy Chicago suburbs, and you’ll experience alternative universes. Schools all over the greater Chicagoland are filled with committed and professional teachers, some quite excellent. But the students who attend the city schools arrive at school with stark disadvantages, unlike their better-off suburban peers. Discrepancies in school funding only exacerbate such class deficits.

“Most of the problems with the public schools, in other words, are outgrowths of a deeply unequal society. Yet the solution to this problem — the redistribution of wealth — is inimical to the interests of billionaires like DeVos. The fact that she will soon be in charge of the nation’s schools is a sick joke. Make no mistake: DeVos is a serious threat to public education and should be treated accordingly.

“Unfortunately, many Democrats have long supported the same so-called education reform measures that DeVos backs. Often wrapping these measures in civil rights language, Democratic education reformers have provided cover for some of the worst types of reforms, including promoting the spread of charter schools — the preferred liberal mechanism for fulfilling the “choice” agenda. (Charter schools operate with public money, but without much public oversight, and are therefore often vehicles for pet pedagogical projects of billionaire educational philanthropists like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.)

“DeVos will not have to completely reverse the Department of Education’s course in order to fulfill her agenda. Obama’s “Race to the Top” policy — the brainchild of former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, past CEO of Chicago Public Schools — allocates scarce federal resources to those states most aggressively implementing education reform measures, particularly around charter schools.

“Perhaps the most effective advocate of school choice is New Jersey senator Cory Booker, who many Democrats are touting as the party’s savior in the post-Obama era. Liberals swooned when Booker opposed his Senate colleague Jeff Sessions, the right-wing racist Trump tapped to be the next attorney general. But however laudable, Booker’s actions didn’t take much in the way of courage.

“Booker’s funders — hedge-fund managers and pharmaceutical barons — don’t care about such theatrics. They’re more concerned that he vote Big Pharma’s way and keep up his role as a leading member of Democrats for Education Reform, a pro-privatization group. They want to make sure he continues attacking teachers’ unions, the strongest bulwark against privatization.

“Their aim is to undercut public schools and foster union-free charter schools, freeing the rich from having to pay teachers as unionized public servants with pensions.

“So in the fight against Trump and DeVos, we can’t give Booker and his anti-union ilk a pass. As enablers of DeVos’s privatization agenda, they too must be delegitimized.

“Public education depends on it. The beautiful school where I send my children depends on it.“

David Gamberg is an experienced educator who marches to a different drummer, not to federal mandates or the lure of Reformer money. He has a clear vision of what is best for students, teachers, staff, families, and the community. He does not worship at the shrine of test scores. He is superintendent of two small, contiguous districts on Long Island in New York. He understands the organic relation between communities and schools and knows that neither stands alone.

He wrote about his philosophy in Education Week.

Forget the title. This article is about what education should be, if only we had leaders with thoughtfulness, mindfulness, love of children, love of learning, and vision. Such people exist. Gamberg is one of them.


I am convinced that the foundation of a good education is about the concept of building—building a school, building a community, building relationships, and building a sense of self. School works for many students to provide a pathway into the future. It offers a foundation of rich experiences that inspire and form the basis of students’ life stories. Education and schools, however, can never be fully responsible for the outcomes that our students achieve. We cannot blame schools and teachers for the very complex mix of factors that result in any one person’s success in life.

I’ve been thinking recently about how we can alter the school experience for students and staff to better meet the needs of our learning communities. Some of the very structures and experiences that harken back to an earlier era in education may in fact be part of the future of teaching and learning. While it may be counterintuitive in our sophisticated high-tech world, building, manipulating, and creating inside the physical spaces of our school environment are essential in future learning….

1) Create a culture and environment that attends to the authentic learning experiences of the students.

There are many ways to engage students and teachers in authentic learning experiences. Tending a garden offers students a chance to shape their environment and participate in the natural transformation of seed to plant. Putting on a theater production shapes their experience of others, turning the audience into an integral part of learning. Students might create a gallery or museum display in a real process of honoring history and art. They might build a robot, which encompasses a wide range of design and scientific principles. The list of possibilities for school communities to come together and build something is as universal as it is unlimited.

2) Focus on building community; it matters more than raising test scores.

Our students face a growing list of pressures both real and imagined. School boards and superintendents, in particular, should take note of mental-health and substance-abuse issues and concerns. These are reaching crisis levels across the country. Students of all ages need a compelling experience that engages them in their respective learning communities. Sorting students by test scores will never answer the call for safer and healthier learning communities. Establishing deep and abiding personal relationships and building a sense of community will, and it’s urgently needed.

3) Reshape schools; don’t seek to reform them…

4) Engage stakeholders in re-envisioning the schoolhouse.

If the future is ever more unpredictable, then is keeping things basically the same still an option? Whether it is the students, teachers, policymakers, or families in any learning community, we must look at which tools we keep and which tools we should discard to help us build our schools…

Schools of the future may require a new vision for how they are structured, built, and financed. Let us not forget that no matter how schools are set up, it is the relationship between child and adult that stands at its center. From that center, we can work together to impart lessons, build understanding, and build capacity.

5) Don’t see school improvement as a technological fix.

We can have Smart Boards in every room but fail to update the pedagogy used 30 years ago. This is not a criticism of how we engaged our students in the past. In fact, I would argue that a way to engage students that is more than 2,400 years old still applies—even more so today. I am referring, of course, to the Socratic method…

Let’s make the process of learning and what takes place in school so compelling that it cannot be replaced by an algorithm. Let us ensure that our students continue to be great problem-solvers, fearless learners, courageous citizens, and creative thinkers who contribute greatly to the world around them.

If students become engaged in solving real-world problems, then wouldn’t they be better prepared to build their future? If they had permission to alter the physical space in their school, wouldn’t they alter their view of school in the process? I believe that with each passing generation, we inherit a space, with a covenant to uphold the values and principles of those who have come before us. We have an opportunity to build on their contributions while we forge our own. Is it not true that at all times we stand on the shoulders of others? Let us work together to build on the opportunity that has been given to us.

Mark Green is a fearless political leader who has strong progressive values and plenty of smarts. He was Punlic Advocate in NYC. worked with Ralph Nader, ran for Mayor Against Bloomberg, and is currently organizing against Trump. He created a Twitter group called the Shadow Cabinet, which tweets at @ShadowingTrump. I am the Shadow Secretary of Education.

Mark wrote this article about the rhetoric of Democrats and how they need to ramp up who they are and what they stand for.

Trump rules the airwaves with unabashed lies and demonizing.

“Yet Democrats have some clear advantages too. On most major issues — guns, choice, Dreamers, immigration, the tax code, climate, “privatization” of Social Security — polling indicates that the party in exile does represent a progressive majority, indeed at times a super-majority, which is why Trump is at a record low in modern polling for a President at this point — with his approval rating underwater by 20 points, according to Quinnipiac.

“Still, are Democrats properly exploiting his weaknesses and their advantages? Not nearly enough. Where, for example, are those voices that understand the power of metaphor and narrative to keep Trump in the hole he dug for himself?

“Words, images and concepts are what shape and win political debates: like William Jennings Bryan saying “Americans won’t be crucified on a cross of gold” (well, he lost on that one), Teddy Roosevelt’s “malefactors of great wealth,” Barack Obama’s “Yes we can,” Ronald Reagan’s (albeit composite) “welfare queen”; Occupy’s “We are the 99%.”

“The Democratic Party, however, continues to fight the war with deeply outmoded rhetorical weaponry.

“Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, for example, are obviously skillful legislators. But their slogan “A Better Way” was a well-researched dud that no one remembers. Their new version for the fall — “For the People” — is better, yet still so vague as to be largely meh.

“And it’s undermined by their apologies after Rep. Maxine Waters suggested confronting 45’s cabinet members in public spaces about the administration’s family separation policy. In this skins-shirts moment, it’s pathetic to spend any time on defense, certainly not when the issue is incivility versus inhumanity.

“The proper way to respond to GOP scandals, failures and “twistifications” (Jefferson’s coinage) is not with boring, overthought Beltway taglines, or mealymouthed words like “concerning,” “problematic” and “inappropriate.”

“Major Democrats and progressive advocates must re-educate themselves in order to vividly, unapologetically expose the most reactionary, dishonest, incompetent, erratic, corrupt, nasty narcissist ever to be President. And then, they must champion policies, aligned with their rhetoric, that relentlessly remind voters what Democrats stand for.

“After public revulsion over the kidnapping of 3,000 children and the betrayal in Helsinki — plus a Supreme Court nominee who would likely be the vote overturning Roe v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act — can Democrats finally rhetorically rise to this historic challenge?”

Angie Sullivan teaches in a high-poverty public school in Clark County, Nevada. She writes letters to every legislator. Here is her latest:

This is who we should laugh at the hardest:

Current Nevada Legislative Leadership with hands directly on charter garbage: Nevada Senator Hammond, Nevada Assemblywoman Bilbray Axel Rod, Nevada Senator Denis, and Nevada Senator Woodhouse.

Tell Democratic Majority Leader Aaron Ford his degree in charter schools did not work.

Tell Harry Reid his relationships especially with Gulen and the airforce base charter did not work.

Tell Adam Laxalt in the Attorney General’s Office to stop protecting failing charters. Close them.

Tell former Assemblyman Pat Hickey his hands in the mess just makes him messy too.

Tell Canavero, Jana and Rebecca of NVDOE to take the charter junk science out of Nevada. Paid huge sums to create trash.

Tell the Nevada State Charter Authority to get a handle on this NOW!

Everyone laughs at Nevada.

Especially reformers who are for school choice.

For good reason.

Not responsible or accountable.

Shame on elected policy makers who took money or are involved in this garbage.

$350 million down the toilet.

Folks better be asking real teachers how to get this education job done because turning it over to a Billionaire Casino Manager Elaine Wynn or Tennis Player Andre Agassi has not and does not work. Stacking the Nevada State School Board with business folks, neoliberals, and TFA has produced garbage. No one questions any of this noticeable criminal type behavior?

Legislators better fix this during the next session. Nevada simply can not afford this.

Do you know how many Magnet Public Schools could be supported with $350 million?

This is your education legacy.

Bottom of the bottom. And then even lower.

Both sides of the aisle should own this. And the legislative session is coming up. Stop turning public schools into gutter dwelling charters. Offer unsuspecting students and parents a worse choice – is not “choice”.

Everyone should be laughing at Nevada Charters.

They are a terrifying and horrific joke.

https://dianeravitch.net/2018/07/09/nevada-time-to-close-down-the-worst-least-accountable-charter-schools-in-america/

Kevin Lee is an editor at Lagniappe and a native of Alabama. He recently visited the National Lynching Memorial (formally called the National Memorial for Peace and Justice) in Montgomery and explored Mobile’s history in that awful story.

He tracked the history of each victim of this brutality in Mobile, and the cumulative effect is powerful in reminding us of the depths of human depravity, the ultimate expression of racism, and man’s bottomless capacity for pure evil.

As the world learns again and again, then forgets, it is easy to overlook the deaths of hundreds or thousands or millions, yet impossible to turn away from the fate of individuals.

Blogger Michael Deshotels (Louisiana Educator) compares state test scores to NAEP scores. The state scores are up, the NAEP scores are flat. What’s going on?

He writes:

School reform in Louisiana was supposed to eliminate social promotion and the awarding of worthless high school diplomas.
Superintendent John White has staked his entire career as an education reformer on improving state standardized test scores of Louisiana students. To reformers like White, test scores are everything. In their philosophy of education, you can’t trust teachers to tell us and parents whether students are learning and progressing and are going to be ready for college or careers when they graduate. Reformers believe that Louisiana needs an objective way of finding out if our students are getting diplomas that indicate that they are ready to compete with students from other countries for the best jobs in the world economy.

John White was selected by former Governor Jindal to be our State Superintendent at the beginning of 2012 with the mission of implementing new laws that would evaluate, reward and fire teachers based on student test scores and to implement the replacement of many public schools with independent charter schools. The charter schools would live and die based on the attainment of high student test scores.

From the very beginning of our Louisiana education reforms, the reformers announced that they wanted to eliminate diploma mills that turned out graduates that had no real education and were not going to be fit for the job market or college. Corporate education reform was no longer going to allow diplomas to be awarded to functionally illiterate young people. Reformers believed that it was time to eliminate social promotion, whereby children were automatically promoted to the next grade even though they had not achieved satisfactory results on their math and ELA courses. The gate keepers would be cut scores on state tests that would indicate proficiency or failure.

Well, that didn’t work.

Everything in the White administration revolves around increasing student test scores. The school rating system installed by White and his TFA cronies applies maximum pressure on school administrators and teachers to do almost nothing but attempt to raise student test scores.

Louisiana state law requires that our state tests be compatible with the National NAEP test so that our student performance can be compared to other states.
The education reform laws also required that the new Louisiana standardized state tests must be compatible to nationally recognized tests including the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In other words, a student rating of proficient on the state tests should be the same as proficient on the NAEP test. It was decided that a rating of Mastery on the state tests should be equivalent to a rating of Proficient on the NAEP.

So how reliable are our state LEAP and End-of-Course tests, compared to the NAEP? Does the progress of our students from year to year on LEAP match the progress measured by NAEP? Are we finally moving our students to proficiency and awarding them diplomas that future employers can trust are indications of real academic skills? Since the legislature had decided at the beginning of the reforms that we couldn’t trust the teachers to tell us whether a student was worthy of getting a diploma, did they also insist on a check-up system to see if we could trust the State Department of Education and their standardized tests to certify that a student was worthy of a diploma?

Oops, it looks like the legislature forgot to set up an independent check on our Department of Education to see if they were faithfully holding up their end of the bargain to end social promotion and grant real diplomas. There is no one officially checking to see if the LDOE tests are really measuring proficiency as comparable to the NAEP tests. But there is a way of checking the validity of our state tests compared to NAEP. There just is no law requiring anyone to make the comparison. So here is my effort to provide a legitimate comparison of the two testing systems.

On the state tests, students made dramatic improvements. On NAEP, no dice. No gains, some decline.

According to state testing, John White is a big success. Louisiana’s public school students are improving dramatically, and are well on their way to achieving Mastery or Proficiency by 2025. But according to national testing, achievement scores have barely improved in three areas and have dropped in 8thgrade math. Louisiana is near the bottom of the NAEP rankings. Most independent agencies now rate Louisiana as the lowest performer out of all the states in the measures of school performance.

Common core standards may be not be teachable for at least half of our students.
My opinion, which I can’t prove, is that the lack of progress in student proficiency is really a result of implementing the common cores standards which are basically unteachable for at least half of our students.

Louisiana is allowing the same abuses that have resulted in charges of fraud in the reported graduation rate of the Washington D.C. school system.
Now, not only are Louisiana students being promoted who demonstrated unsatisfactory test performance, but schools are allowed to waive the attendance requirement for promotion and graduation. Now students in high school who missed much more than the allowed absences and who failed their state tests, often still get a diploma by just taking a few hours of credit recovery courses. For example, students can now pass their Algebra I EOC test by scoring only 23.5% correct answers. This is exactly the same situation that caused the graduation rate in the Washington DC schools to be declared fraudulent. But here in Louisiana, no one in an official position is blowing the whistle.

So if you think there were illiterate students getting diplomas in the old days, that’s nothing compared to the rampant awarding of diplomas to anyone with a pulse today. I certainly do not believe that the state tests are valid enough to be used as the promotion standard. I have much more faith in the judgement of teachers. Unfortunately the law that is supposed to prevent the pressuring of teachers on promotion decisions is also being ignored in the push to boost the graduation rate at all costs.

As Arne Duncan used to say, again and again, they are lying to our children.

Dear Readers,

Most of you have been faithful readers of this blog since I started it in 2012.

I consider you my friends, even when we disagree. You have tolerated (and even corrected) my typos and errors because you know that everything I write here is written by me, not by a staff. I am the only staff.

You know that I worked for President George H.W. Bush from 1991-1993. I served on the NAEP board for seven years (appointed by Bill Clinton and Secretary Riley). I was a conservative on education issues until about 2007 or so, when the realization hit me that NCLB was a failure. Obama’s Race to the Top was more of the same test-and-punish regime. I experienced a political conversion. I publicly renounced my support for testing and choice in a book called “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education,” and followed up with “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.” I support public schools, students, unions, teachers, and parents. I fight for a real education, one that encourages young people to think and question, one that endows them with a love of learning. I recognize the role of poverty and racism in harming children, families, and communities. I oppose high-stakes testing and privatization in all its forms.

These past few years have been challenging, because the blog is supposed to be about education, not about national politics.

In 2016, I made clear that I would endorse whoever was nominated by the Democrats, because the Republican party had taken a strong stand in favor of privatizing our nation’s public schools, attacking teachers’ unions, and undermining the teaching profession. I would have supported Clinton or Sanders, even though neither was perfect on education issues. Clinton won the nomination and I supported her.

Since the election, I have come to see Trump as the charlatan that he has always been, but more ignorant and more dangerous to our democracy than I assumed. His policies–like withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, attacking Roe v. Wade, demonizing immigrants, and relinquishing public lands for drilling and privatization of everything–are appalling. He knows nothing of foreign or domestic policy. He has no values or beliefs other than personal ego and self-enrichment. He undermines our standing in the world by attacking other democratic nations and acting obsequious towards tyrants. He is a racist, a misogynist, a xenophobe. He sees no difference between white nationalists (KKK) and those who stand up to them. His boasting, his narcissism, and self-love know no limits.

I have tried to keep national politics out of my blog, but it has proved to be impossible because I think our nation is in crisis due to its dangerous and ignorant leader. The Republicans are rushing Trump’s judicial nominations through the Senate, stacking the federal bench with people who share Trump’s biases and who are receiving lifetime appointments. Trump’s legacy will remain in the courts for decades to come, thanks to his Republican enablers.

I cannot remain silent. I cannot pretend that education and national politics are separate domains. They are not.

The blog will continue to be an education blog. If we allow grifters and for-profit corporations to open their own schools, we forfeit the future. If we divert funding from public schools to subsidize privately-run unaccountable charters and unregulated religious schools, we harm our children while subtracting money from regulated, transparent, and accountable public schools.

As many of you know, I am writing a book about the Corporate Reform movement and the Resistance. I am excited about the book.

I am writing it as I continue to post comments and blogs. I am about half-way through the book.

Bear with me.

If you like Trump, you won’t like what I post. I consider him to be a menace, a clear and present danger to our nation and the world. Read or don’t read. It’s your choice.

If you share my fears for our future as a nation, stay with me.

If you care about the future of public education, stay with me.

Thank you.

Diane

Jeff Bryant has paid close attention to the ongoing torrent of scandals surrounding charter schools, so of course he was astonished to see New York Times’ writer David Leonhardt acclaiming the “miracle” in New Orleans.

Bryant suspects this is but another example of Democratic centrists selling out those to their left, arguing for a DeVos’ style market-driven reform that disempowers ordinary people whose only power is their vote.

Leonhardt disdains elected school boards, like his fellow Reformers. He likes the market. But he claims that he is fact-based, when he ignores the facts that don’t fit his narrative. Leonhardt, he suggests, is a garden-variety neoliberal, willing to see a community robbed of its votes so that white kids can get the best schools and black kids get the D- and F-rated schools.

Bryant writes:

Ironically, the very next day after Leonhardt’s piece ran, an enormous charter school scandal came crashing to the ground on the opposite coast.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, an operator of a charter school chain in the city, who also served on the district’s school board, had to resign after pleading guilty to using his publicly funded charter school, including its employees (even the low-wage custodians), as a source of funding for his school board campaign, and then lying about it.

The day after, in Pennsylvania, a former head of an online charter school in the state was sentenced to serve 20 months in prison for conspiring to defraud the IRS, siphoning $8 million from the charter school he created to spend on houses, a plane, and other luxuries.

Revelations of these legal and ethical violations on the part of charter school operators are a near daily occurrence.

Yet proponents of charter schools refuse to acknowledge any problems posed by having publicly funded school operations left completely unregulated, bereft of transparency, and accountable only to the very narrow range of test scores they can mangage to produce by using intensive test prep and selective enrollment and pushing out of low performers.

Bryant adds:

In a ten-year retrospective on the New Orleans school reform model, Emma Brown wrote for The Washington Post, “Many community members feel that the city schools are worse off in ways that can’t be captured in data or graphs, arguing that parents have less voice than they once did and that the new system puts some of the neediest children at a disadvantage, especially those with disabilities or who are learning English as a second language.”

Today, over 20,000 children in New Orleans remain in D- and F-rated schools, based on state rankings, and schools are on a three-year slide, dropping 65 percent from 2014 to 2017. Most of the top-ranked schools are more than 50 percent white, and black students are far less likely to be taught by credentialed teachers, to attend schools ranked A or B, and to have access to advanced courses.

So evidence that charter schools have yielded academic gains in New Orleans or anywhere else are muddled at best. Nevertheless, establishment Democrats like Leonhardt argue charter school skeptics are the ones driven by ideology and twisting of facts.

There’s a reason for the desperate arguments promoted by Leonhardt and other charter school proponents.

Just as the general public supports progressive proposals for universal health care and minimum wage, surveys find that Americans have increased confidence in public schools while support for charter schools has dropped by double digit percentages among Democrats and Republicans.

Now there’s some facts for you.

If charters were as beneficent as Leonhardt says, we would expect to see dramatic charter gains in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee. But that hasn’t happened.

The Guardian reports here on the collapse of a privatization program in England supported by both the Labor and Conservative parties. The idea sounds very much like our corporate charter chains. If a school was scoring poorly, hand it over to a private “trust” that renames it an academy and takes control of the school.

“Multi-academy trusts” are government-funded, run by private entities, and the schools are no longer locally controlled.

Lots of potential for graft and scandal.

“Wakefield City Academies Trust was in 2015 named a “top-performing” academy sponsor by Nicky Morgan, then education secretary, and handed a £500,000 slice of a £5m fund to improve schools in the north of England. Since then, things have gone awry. The trust has sunk to the bottom of the league tables to become one of the lowest-performing academy chains in the country. And it has been plagued by question marks over its finances.

“In July 2016, the Education Funding Agency investigated the trust. Its draft report, leaked to the TES, found that its interim chief executive, the businessman Mike Ramsay, had paid himself £82,000 over a three-month period. It concluded that the trust was in an “extremely vulnerable position as a result of inadequate governance, leadership and overall financial management”. Later that year, it was reported that the trust had paid almost £440,000 to IT and admin companies owned by Ramsay and his daughter.

“The trust was nevertheless allowed to carry on. Then, in September last year, it suddenly announced it would be looking for new sponsors for all 21 of its schools – but not before it had transferred more than £1.5m of reserves from its schools to its central coffers, entirely permissible in the current system. Some of this was funds raised by parents. It’s not clear whether any of this money will be left when the trust winds up, or whether those schools will see it again.

“The collapse of Wakefield City Academies Trust has sent shockwaves through our area,” says the local Labour MP Jon Trickett, who has for months been seeking answers from the government. “For many parents, it has been disturbing to find that their children’s futures could be threatened by the recklessness of people with very limited educational experience.”

“Wakefield City is one in a series of high-profile failures of trusts forced to give up all their schools. The magazine Schools Week reported just last week that Bright Tribe, the trust with the lowest-performing secondary schools in the country, would also be closing and handing back its 10 schools.

“Are these failures the inevitable consequence of a quasi-market system, predicated on the idea of takeovers? Or a sign of something deeply rotten at the heart of the government’s flagship education policy?

“Academies have been a jewel in the education policy crown for both Labour and Conservative governments in the past 25 years. According to Professor Becky Francis, director of the Institute of Education at University College London, Labour’s academies programme was “focused on the revitalisation of schooling as an engine of social mobility in deprived areas”. She says the idea of bringing in business and philanthropic sponsors – including big names such as the London-based French financier Arpad Busson – “not just for money but for expertise” was controversial from the start.”

We and the Brits have this in common. Both nations have eagerly abandoned responsibility for the quality of education and thrown the schools to the vagaries of the marketplace.