Archives for the month of: September, 2018

Another Yale classmate has come forward to say that Brett Kavanaugh had a drinking problem at college, but he might not be interviewed by the FBI as the White House and the Senate are limiting the investigation to only the four people who were allegedly at the party where Dr. Blasey Ford says she was assaulted by Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge. Two other classmates have come forward to say that Kavanaugh was “belligerent and aggressive” when he drank too much, which apparently was not a rare occurrence. They are not on the list to be interviewed. Nor are his roommates, who said that he frequently puked in their bathroom because of his drunkenness. (Kavanaugh said at the hearing that he has a sensitive stomach.)

The New York Times reports:

WASHINGTON — A Yale classmate of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s accused him on Sunday of a “blatant mischaracterization” of his drinking while in college, saying that he often saw Judge Kavanaugh “staggering from alcohol consumption.”

The classmate, Chad Ludington, who said he frequently socialized with Judge Kavanaugh as a student, said in a statement that the judge had been untruthful in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee when he had denied any possibility that he had ever blacked out from drinking.

Mr. Ludington said that Judge Kavanaugh had played down “the degree and frequency” of his drinking, and that the judge had often become “belligerent and aggressive” while intoxicated. Other former classmates have made similar claims.

“It is truth that is at stake, and I believe that the ability to speak the truth, even when it does not reflect well upon oneself, is a paramount quality we seek in our nation’s most powerful judges,” Mr. Ludington said, adding that he planned to “take my information to the F.B.I.”

Mr. Ludington, a professor at North Carolina State University who appears to have made small political contributions to Democratic candidates, said to The New York Times on Sunday that he had been told by the F.B.I.’s Washington, D.C., field office that he should go to the bureau’s Raleigh, N.C., office on Monday morning. He said he intended to do that, so he could “tell the full details of my story.”

It is illegal to lie to Congress. But it was unclear whether the F.B.I. would add Mr. Ludington’s accusations to the newly reopened background investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh, which has been limited in scope and time by the White House and Senate Republicans.

The White House had no immediate comment about Mr. Ludington’s accusations.

Even before Mr. Ludington’s statement, Democrats in Washington reacted with anger on Sunday as the narrow scope of the new F.B.I. background inquiry became clear, warning that it threatened to become a sham…

Democrats have cast the initial list of those to be interviewed as falling short of a full examination of the allegations. The four witnesses are Mark Judge and P.J. Smyth, high school friends of Judge Kavanaugh’s; Leland Keyser, a high school friend of one of Judge Kavanaugh’s accusers, Christine Blasey Ford; and Deborah Ramirez, another of the judge’s accusers.

A lawyer for Dr. Blasey, who riveted the nation on Thursday as she recounted before the Judiciary Committee what she said was a rape attempt by a drunken Judge Kavanaugh when they were in high school, said on Sunday that she had not been contacted by the F.B.I.

“We have not heard from the F.B.I. despite repeated efforts to speak with them,” Debra S. Katz, the lawyer, said in a brief telephone interview Sunday morning.

The New York Times reports that the White House is limiting the scope of the FBI investigation of Brett Kavanaugh.

“WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Saturday that the F.B.I. will have “free rein” to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, but the emerging contours of the inquiry showed its limited scope.

“Four witnesses will be questioned in coming days about aspects of the assault accusations against Judge Kavanaugh, according to two people familiar with the matter. Left off the list were former classmates who have contradicted Judge Kavanaugh’s congressional testimony about his drinking and partying as a student.

“The White House will decide the breadth of the inquiry, though presidential advisers were working in concert with Senate Republicans, said the two people, one a senior administration official, who both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive investigation.

“The White House can order investigators to further examine the allegations if their findings from the four witness interviews open new avenues of inquiry, and Mr. Trump seemed to stress that part of the plan in a tweet late on Saturday.”

The credible witnesses to Kavanaugh’s drunken behavior at Yale will not be interviewed.

Vanity Fair interviewed several women who attended Holton Arms at the same time as Christened Blasey Ford.

It was and is an elite prep school.

“Ford’s story ignited a national news cycle. More locally, it lit up the Holton alumnae network almost immediately, in part because the community is so tightly knit: each class is made up of about 65 young women, many of whom are still in touch, some of whom still live in the area. Many of the 1,800-odd members of the private Holton alumnae Facebook group immediately rallied behind their fellow classmate, whose story has dominated the national discourse—even as it spurs an equally crucial dialogue in the suburb she once called home.

“To many Holton students, Ford’s description of the party she attended in 1982 felt familiar. Beginning in middle school, there were parties with young men from surrounding schools like Georgetown Prep, Landon, and St. Albans every Friday and Saturday night, at big houses set back from winding, dimly lit streets. There was money to get alcohol. Parents were absent. The homes had pools and movie theaters and sweeping yards. They were teenagers in a candy store. “It was a highly professional culture of parents, many of whom self-selected those schools to be a big babysitter . . . a lot of them just parked the kids and left,” one 1980s Landon alum who socialized with Ford in high school told me. A woman who graduated from Holton in 1988, and lived down the street from Ford, recalled students from the boys’ schools pulling up to parties with duffel bags full of alcohol. “I never went to a party where there wasn’t alcohol; it was a drunk fest,” she said. “You’re living in a bubble where a lot of the families are exceedingly wealthy, a lot of parents are not tuned in to their kids, and, a lot of times, parents were away and the mice would play.””

Meet your friends and allies from across the country at the Network for Public Education fifth annual conference in Indianapolis on October 20-21.

There is an all-star cast of speakers and panels.

Join us!

The school board of Antioch Unified School District in California had an extended discussion about whether to approve two new charter schools. The discussion was often heated. The district made the decision knowing that the two charters will draw away $25 million from its own public schools. The board staff urged the board to reject the charters.

It makes for interesting reading.

The lead petitioner stressed the district’s low test scores and the urgency of change.

On Wednesday, the Antioch Unified School District approved charter petitions for East Bay Tech Middle School Academy and High School Academy on 3-2 votes in a meeting that lasted more than 5-hours.

As a result, District staff anticipate losing $25 million in revenue over the next several years.

In favor was Debra Vinson, Chrystal Sawyer-White and Walter Ruehlig. Opposed were Gary Hack and Diane Gibson-Gray.

The vote came after staff recommended the Board deny the petition based on an analysis by legal council in which numerous deficiencies were identified in the petition along with concerns related to the petition and the proposed Charter School’s operations. HE also stated that that more than one of the legal grounds for denial were met. Specifically, the petition does not provide a reasonably comprehensive description of several essential charter elements and the petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the proposed education program.

The Clayton Valley Charter High School was audited, and the results were appalling. Actually, they were what you would expect when a private organization gets public funds and is unsupervised and when the state law ignores conflicts of interest and nepotism.

The article appears in the Mercury News Behind a paywall. It begins like this:

CLAYTON — The married top leaders of Clayton Valley Charter High School raked in almost $850,000 in less than two years before leaving the school last spring, a county investigation found.

The probe also revealed that the couple misused school funds, hired people in secret and created positions without the school board’s approval.

An audit report released Friday evening as part of the agenda for the Contra Costa County Board of Education’s Oct. 3 meeting states that the charter school “has not been following best practices” when it comes to “management hiring practices, vendor service contracts, legal fees and credit card purchases.”

The report expresses “concern” over former executive director David Linzey’s salary and benefits and states that his contract was vulnerable to potential “manipulation.”

Signed by a school board member, Linzey’s contract included a base salary of $23,986 per month, plus 10 “floating” work days at $1,115 per month, for an annual package of $301,212. According to the audit, an amendment in 2015 eliminated payments for health benefits and a car allowance and instead added that money to the salary base, which would have potentially increased pension benefits upon retirement.

An annual salary increase of 3 percent a year and a clause that ensured Linzey would get a raise whenever employee unions got them were also worked into the contract, the audit says. Linzey’s compensation between July 1, 2016 and May 5, 2018 totaled $555,109, and while a provision in his contract called for board “evaluations” of his performance, there is no record that ever happened, according to the audit.

The audit also notes that the school board approved the hiring of Linzey’s wife, Eileen Linzey, as chief program officer without posting the open position or holding interviews. Her income from February 2017 through May 2018 totaled $296,047. The Linzeys’ household income from July 1, 2016 to May 15, 2018 totaled $849,776.

In addition, according to the audit, there was no record of the board creating the assistant superintendent position that Concord City Council member Ron Leone took in December 2017 and held during the first half of 2018 for $681 a day while running for county superintendent of schools. After failing to win the seat in this year’s primary, Leone resigned from the position in the same month.

Linzey signed Leone’s employment contract in November 2017 — when hiring was supposed to be approved by the school’s governing board — and no interviews were held or job listings posted. There was no record of the board approving the hire, the report found.

The audit also discovered that of the school’s five listed management positions — operations director, fiscal director, admissions officer, SIS coordinator and human resources director — all except the admissions officer were paid more than the salary schedule’s “highest range.” The management salary schedule was also not recorded as having been approved by the board.

The auditing firm hired by the county, Christy White Associates, recommends that the charter school requires board approval of new positions, hiring and terminations, as well as salary changes. It also urges the school to be more transparent about salaries and more competitive in its hiring process.

The Contra Costa County Office of Education hired the firm last May to audit the charter school’s financial and hiring practices, just as news broke that the Linzeys had left amid long-running criticisms from parents and school staff over questionable spending.

At the time, the school declined to state the nature of the Linzeys’ departure, but the audit report states the couple “resigned” in June.

The report also reveals that upward of $40,000 in school money was used to pay lawyers who helped create a new charter school in Antioch — East Bay Tech Academy.

The audit also found that the charter’s California Credit Union credit cards incurred $610,000 in expenses between July 1, 2016 and May 15, 2018, despite an annual group limit of $50,000. And, the report found, school staff bought supplies without submitting receipts and purchased gift cards without identifying recipients. Receipts for meals were not itemized to show whether alcohol was purchased.

In response to the audit, a letter from the Clayton Valley Charter High School board of directors notes that some of its recommendations have been followed — including implementing a public and competitive hiring process for management and ensuring the board approves all hires — and it is addressing the others. The letter says school officials will publish a new management salary schedule and remove the executive director’s ability to pay more than the amounts listed.

The school board in its letter also said it is working with the newly formed board of the East Bay Tech Academy to “codify in writing” a plan to reimburse Clayton Valley for the legal fees it paid to set up the new school.

If you live in District 19 in Ohio, I urge you to vote for Louise Valentine.

She is running against Andrew Brenner, chair of the Senate Education Committee, who despises public schools. Under Brenner’s malign leadership, Ohio has supported corrupted charter operators and ineffective vouchers, which drain money from public schools that belong to the community. With Brennan in charge, Ohio’s taxpayers have been bilked of billions of dollars that should have gone to public schools but ended up in the pockets of profiteers.

Louise Valentine has pledged to support high-quality public schools and to insist on charter school accountability.

Vote for her, volunteer to help her, send her money.

Ivy Prep Gwinnett Charter School is not reopening. It was once held up as an example by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal as proof of the charter school success story. Charters come and go like day lilies.

“Ivy Preparatory Academy, a once-esteemed Gwinnett County charter school, will not reopen next year, and signs point to permanent closure.

“In a unanimous vote on August 16, 2018, the school board reluctantly decided to end all planning efforts to reopen,” says a statement from a spokesman.

“The decision was reached after “an exhaustive” review of the financial situation that led the charter school’s board to conclude that reopening next year, as a former director and the board had previously told parents would happen, is not “a viable option.”

“The decision marked a sharp turnaround from early in the decade, when the all-girl school became a symbol of the charter school movement. Girls, in their iconic green blazers, filled the halls of the state Capitol to lobby lawmakers.

“In 2012, Gov. Nathan Deal used the school in his argument for passage of a constitutional amendment for charter schools, writing in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was “a great example” of superior performance relative to traditional public schools.

“Voters were convinced, and that November they changed the constitution to create the State Charter Schools Commission.

“For a time, the future looked bright, as Ivy Prep expanded to DeKalb County, opening a second campus. Then, last year, the AJC revealed problems at the Gwinnett campus, where the academics were slipping, enrollment was plummeting and costs were outpacing revenue.”

The students were abandoned and left to find another choice.

This is an excerpt from a longer article fact-checking Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying. Should a man who lies be elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Excessive Drinking

Judge Kavanaugh portrayed himself in his testimony as enjoying a beer or two as a high school and college student, but not as someone who often drank to excess during those years. “I drank beer with my friends,” he said. “Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out,” he said.

This is disputed.

His statements are at odds with how some of his classmates remembered him. In interviews before his testimony, nearly a dozen college classmates of Judge Kavanaugh’s said they recalled him indulging in heavy drinking, some saying it went beyond normal consumption. (To be sure, a smaller number of classmates said his drinking was unexceptional.)

Reached after the hearing, Lynne Brookes, an undergraduate classmate of Judge Kavanaugh’s at Yale University, said she believed he had “grossly misrepresented and mischaracterized his drinking.”

“He frequently drank to excess,” she said. “I know because I frequently drank to excess with him.”

Ms. Brookes was roommates with Deborah Ramirez, who told The New Yorker that Judge Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drinking game while they were students.

Like Judge Kavanaugh, Ms. Brookes, a Republican, was an athlete who went to a prestigious graduate school after Yale. She disputed the implication in his testimony that he could not have overindulged because he was too busy studying and competing in athletics. “It is completely possible to do both,” she said.

Another Yale classmate, Elizabeth Swisher, now a Seattle physician, said: “I drank a lot. Brett drank more.”

“I definitely saw him on multiple occasions stumbling drunk where he could not have rational control over his actions or clear recollection of them,” said Daniel Lavan, who lived in Mr. Kavanaugh’s dorm freshman year. “His depiction of himself is inaccurate.”

Judge Kavanaugh disputed such accounts, saying they did not point to specific instances. But his own recollections have offered clues about his drinking. His high school yearbook, for example, refers to him as the treasurer of the Keg City Club, noting “100 Kegs or Bust.” Multiple high school classmates, in interviews, described Judge Kavanaugh as a heavy and frequent drinker.

As an undergrad, he was affiliated with two organizations known for hard partying, including the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon.

He also recounted his own drinking exploits in speeches. In a 2014 address to Yale Law students, he recalled a night of “group chugs” in Boston that ended with his group “falling out of the bus onto the front steps of Yale Law School at about 4:45 a.m.”

A Display of Affection

A substantial portion of Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony was devoted to discussing his 1983 senior yearbook. In one entry, he described himself as a “Renate Alumnius,” referring to Renate Schroeder, now Renate Dolphin, who attended a nearby Catholic school. A number of his football teammates had similar entries. Judge Kavanagh said: “That yearbook reference was clumsily intended to show affection, and that she was one of us. But in this circus, the media’s interpreted the term is related to sex. It was not related to sex.”

This is disputed.

Four of Judge Kavanaugh’s former schoolmates, including Sean Hagan, said the notion that the phrase was meant affectionately did not ring true. They said that Judge Kavanaugh and his friends often made disrespectful sexual comments about Ms. Dolphin, and that the understanding at the time was that the many yearbook references to her were boasts about sexual conquests.

On Monday, Judge Kavanaugh’s lawyer told The Times that the “Renate Alumnius” note referred to a school event that he and Ms. Dolphin attended, after which they “shared a brief kiss good night.” Ms. Dolphin responded that they had never kissed.

On Thursday, Judge Kavanaugh steered away from the idea that the yearbook reference had any sexual connotations. “We never had any sexual interaction,” he said.

After his testimony ended, Mr. Hagan wrote on Facebook: “So angry. So disgusted. So sad. Integrity? Character? Honesty?”

Yearbook Lingo

Judge Kavanaugh’s yearbook page included the entries “Judge — Have You Boofed Yet?” and “Devil’s Triangle.” On Thursday, he said that “boofed” meant “flatulence” and that “Devil’s Triangle” was a drinking game in which three glasses were arranged in a triangle.

This is disputed.

“Boofed” in the 1980s was a term that often referred to anal sex, and that is how Judge Kavanaugh’s classmates said they interpreted his comment. They said they had never heard it used to refer to flatulence.

Similarly, they said that they had never heard of a drinking game called Devil’s Triangle, but that the phrase was regularly used to describe sex between two men and a woman. “The explanation of Devil’s Triangle does not hold water for me,” said William Fishburne, who managed the football team during Judge Kavanaugh’s senior year.

“Our senior yearbook pages were a place to have a little bit of fun with commemorating inside jokes,” said Bill Barbot, who overlapped with Judge Kavanaugh at Georgetown Prep, an all-boys Catholic school. “However, the spin that Brett was putting on it was a complete overstatement of the innocence with which they were intended.”

His Social Circle

Asked about the intersection of his and Ms. Blasey’s friend groups, Judge Kavanaugh said: “When my friends and I spent time together at parties on weekends, it was usually with friends from nearby Catholic all-girls high schools — Stone Ridge, Holy Child, Visitation, Immaculata, Holy Cross. Dr. Blasey did not attend one of those schools. She attended an independent private school named Holton-Arms, and she was a year behind me.”

This is disputed.

Judge Kavanaugh’s implication is that students at Holton-Arms, an all-girls school, didn’t mingle much those who attended Georgetown Prep. Two of Judge Kavanaugh’s former schoolmates said on Friday that this was not true and that Holton-Arms students were routinely present at parties with Georgetown Prep boys.

“Holton-Arms was definitely part of our social scene,” Mr. Barbot said. Another Georgetown Prep alumnus who was in Judge Kavanaugh’s class said, “Holton was as much a sister school as the others.”

Tom Ultican, retired teacher of advanced math and physics, has been reporting on the aggressive plans and spectacular failures of the Destroy Public Education Movement.

In this post, he details the explosion of funding to increase privatization of public assets in Texas, most notably carried out by the IDEA charter chain.

He begins:

“First it was KIPP, then it was YES Prep and now IDEA has become the point of the destroy public education (DPE) spear in Texas. KIPP flourished because GAP founders Don and Doris Fisher gave them big money. YES Prep so excited Oprah that she presented them with a million dollar check during a TV interview. Now, John Arnold has given IDEA $10 million to expand into Houston and the El Paso based Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development has pledged another $10 million for IDEA to expand into El Paso.

“The oddest DPE inspired plan of all comes from Austin, Texas. In 2016, the Austin American Statesman reported that the relatively small KLE foundation is committing $16 million to IDEA. Odd because that represents more than half of the foundation’s assets and is 20 times greater than any previous grant. The Statesman article says, “The financial gift … will more than double IDEA Austin’s previous expansion plans by 2022, and the charter school says the donation will help it boost enrollment to 20,000 students, more than 12 times as many as it has now.”

“A recent article in the Santa Fe New Mexican says about the IDEA growth initiative, “Those plans include expanding to 173 pre-K, elementary, middle and high schools from Texas to Louisiana and Florida by 2022 — a goal of serving 100,000 students compared to 35,595 today.”

“YES Prep, KIPP and IDEA have many similarities. All three charter school systems were started by Teach for America (TFA) alums. None of the founders had more than three years experience teaching, nor did they have any education training other than a five week TFA summer course. It is perplexing when industry leaders like Walton, Fisher, Broad and Gates lavish inexperienced and untrained school founders with millions of dollars.”

The IDEA chain won $29 Million from Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top.

Ultican reviews the research about IDEA, which features boasting, high attrition rates, and careful selection of students.

He details the finances of the IDEA chain, which includes a bevy of high-paid executives and a staggering asset value.

He writes:

“At the end of 2016, IDEA’s asset value climbed to $680,172,540 and their year’s income was $332,775,059.”

This is big business. It has mastered the art of gaming the system. It is leading the march to Destroy Public Education in Texas.