Archives for the month of: February, 2020

The Hechinger Report invited two eminent scholars to write about how public schools might respond if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs in the Espinoza v. Montana case. In this case, rightwing libertarians seek to eliminate Montana’s constitutional prohibition on spending public money for tuition in religious schools. In effect, they want to eliminate the line separating church and state. The Trump-enhanced Supreme Court has already ruled that it is permissible to discriminate on religious grounds against same-sex couples in a Colorado case where a baker refused to bake a cake for two men. Homophobia is okay if it is based on deep religious convictions.

The Hehinger Report asked Bruce Baker of Rutgers, an expert on school finance, Preston Green III of the University of Connecticut, a constitutional lawyer, to consider the ramifications of this case if the Court favors the plaintiffs.

They wrote the article, then discovered that Corey DeAngelis of the libertarian Reason Foundation and the CATO Foundation (founded by the Koch brothers) objected to their views, basing his objection on an entry in Wikipedia. He insisted that an earlier Supreme Court decision forbade private schools from discriminating on the basis of race. Professor Green said DeAngelis was wrong.

Instead of inviting DeAngelis to write a letter to the editor or post a dissenting comment, which is customary, the Hechinger Report inserted an editor’s note inside the article.

This is the paragraph with the editor’s note responding DeAngelis’ complaint. By the time you read this, the “editor’s note” may have been deleted. I was informed by an editor that the publication had decided to delete it.

Let’s assume that there exist state legislatures that would prefer not to have taxpayer dollars used to support religious schooling. Perhaps they are concerned with supporting schools that might discriminate in admissions or other treatment on the basis of sexual orientation of children or parents, or even race. (Editor’s note: Current Federal law does not permit private schools to discriminate on the basis of race.)

Preston Greene III wrote the following response as a warning to others: The Hechinger Report puts Wikipedia on the same level as scholarship. (DeAngelis received a Ph.D. in education policy from the Walton-funded Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, which holds a single point of view on school choice, and he regularly trolls anyone who disagrees with choice ideology on Twitter).

My own note: Fred Hechinger, for whom the Hechinger Report was named, was born in Germany and came to New York in 1936 at the age of 16. He graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City and the City College of New York, at that time a free public college. He and his wife Grace were personal friends of mine. He opposed public funding of religious schools. He supported free and universal public schools. This is how the Hechinger Report describes the man whose name it bears: “Fred M. Hechinger was education editor of The New York Times, an author of several books and an advocate for public education. The Hechinger Report continues his efforts to produce and promote high-quality education coverage.”

Preston C. Green III

I am writing this post to alert my fellow professors about a situation I recently encountered after publishing a piece with the Hechinger Institute. This organization approached Bruce Baker and me to write an op-ed explaining the possible consequences of the Espinoza v. Montana State Department of Revenue case. In this case, the Supreme Court is considering whether states can prohibit parochial schools from participating in a tax-credit scholarship program. It is generally expected that the Court will hold that states cannot act in this manner.

In this op-ed, we explained that states might respond to this potential decision by placing curricular restrictions on participating schools or even refusing to fund private education altogether. We even posited that states might respond to the Court’s expected decision by dramatically reducing their investment in charter schools.

We did not get much pushback for these points in the op-ed. However, Corey DeAngelis, adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and the Director of School Choice at the Reason Foundation, claimed on Twitter that we were wrong to suggest that parochial school participants in school voucher programs might even consider discrimination on the basis of race. He supported this assertion by citing a Supreme Court case, Runyon v. McCrary. DeAngelis posted a screenshot of the purported holding, which he got from Wikipedia. According to this summation, Runyon held that “[f]ederal law prohibits private schools from discriminating on the basis of race.” On the basis of this “evidence,” DeAngelis demanded that Hechinger correct this alleged error.

I responded on Twitter by posting a screenshot of the pertinent part of the actual case, which included the following statement (italics added):

It is worth noting at the outset some of the questions that these cases do not present. They do not present any question of the right of a private social organization to limit its membership on racial or any other grounds. They do not present any question of the right of a private school to limit its student body to boys, to girls, or to adherents of a particular religious faith, since 42 U.S.C. § 1981 is in no way addressed to such categories of selectivity. They do not even present the application of § 1981 to private sectarian schools that practice Racial Exclusion on religious grounds. Rather, these cases present only two basic questions: whether § 1981 prohibits private, commercially operated, nonsectarian schools from denying admission to prospective students because they are Negroes, and, if so, whether that federal law is constitutional as so applied.

The italicized section clearly established that the Court in Runyon did not address the question of whether § 1981 prohibited sectarian schools from racially discriminating on the basis of religious belief.

DeAngelis insisted that a retraction was in order reposting the Wikipedia screenshot and claiming that parochial schools would never discriminate because they might lose their tax-exempt status. Other people joined in on Twitter claiming that we were fearmongering because no school would ever consider discriminating on the basis of race for religious reasons – the stakes were too high.

Although I would like to believe we are past the time that schools would not overtly try to discriminate on the basis of race, I do not share this rosy view. My parents received part of their education in racially segregated public schools in Virginia. And although I did not attend a racially segregated school, I also experienced several incidents of overt discrimination.

The Hechinger editor asked Bruce Baker and me over email about the Twitter avalanche from DeAngelis and his supporters. I explained that DeAngelis’s understanding of Runyon was incorrect. The Court’s decision expressly did not address the legality of parochial schools claiming racial discrimination on the basis of religious belief. I even cited cases in which parochial schools attempted to exploit this loophole in Runyon (the courts rejected this assertion on the ground that the discrimination was not based on sincere religious belief).

Two days later, our editor emailed Bruce Baker and me again, explaining that her superiors wanted to place a note after the offending sentence to the effect that racial discrimination violated federal law. We responded by explaining that this statement was overly broad. It was true that parochial schools that discriminated on the basis of race ran the risk of losing their tax-exempt status. It was also true that a parochial school that discriminated on the basis of race ran the risk of losing its federal funding (if it received such aid). However, it was false to assert that federal law explicitly prohibited parochial schools from racially discriminating in their admissions. To summarize our position: While it was unlikely that a parochial school would discriminate on the basis of race in its admissions policy, federal law did not explicitly prohibit it.

Our editor then responded by suggesting an editors’ note that federal law made it unlikely for a parochial school to discriminate on the basis of race. I agreed to that parenthetical statement.

To our surprise, the following day, we received an email from the editor telling us that her superiors had overruled her. The overly broad editors’ note was back in. We were also told that there was nothing we could do about it. We have yet to hear any convincing explanation why Hechinger rejected our reasoning regarding this legal issue.

I am disappointed and, frankly, outraged, that Hechinger acted in this manner. When DeAngelis challenged our assertions, we cogently explained why we believed he was wrong. Yet Hechinger did not support the well-reasoned legal opinion of two scholars in the field it had specifically asked to research this issue. Instead, it bowed to online pressure even after we had spent more time providing additional background and case law. Other professors should consider our experience if Hechinger approaches them for an op-ed.

This article by Leslie T. Fenwick, dean emeritus at Howard University, was published in Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog in 2013, yet it remains even relevant today. I was in Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago and was astonished to see the dramatic gentrification of the city. My son was in New Orleans, having left a week before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and he was astonished by the pace of gentrification. More than 200,000 African Americans have left Chicago since 2000. Is the transformation of America’s urban districts, with high-rise condos that sell for more than $1 million and Starbucks and gourmet shops merely a coincidence?

Dean Fenwick prophesied what she saw and was remarkably prescient:

The truth can be used to tell a lie. The truth is that black parents’ frustration with the quality of public schools is at an all time righteous high. Though black and white parents’ commitment to their child’s schooling is comparable, more black parents report dissatisfaction with the school their child attends. Approximately 90 percent of black and white parents report attending parent teacher association meetings and nearly 80 percent of black and white parents report attending teacher conferences. Despite these similarities, fewer black parents (47 percent) than white parents (64 percent) report being very satisfied with the school their child attends. This dissatisfaction among black parents is so whether these parents are college-educated, high income, or poor.

The lie is that schemes like Teach For America, charter schools backed by venture capitalists, education management organizations (EMOs), and Broad Foundation-prepared superintendents address black parents concerns about the quality of public schools for their children. These schemes are not designed to cure what ails under-performing schools. They are designed to shift tax dollars away from schools serving black and poor students; displace authentic black educational leadership; and erode national commitment to the ideal of public education.

Consider these facts: With a median household income of nearly $75,000, Prince George’s County is the wealthiest majority black county in the United States. Nearly 55 percent of the county’s businesses are black-owned and almost 70 percent of residents own homes, according to the U.S. Census.  One of Prince George’s County’s easternmost borders is a mere six minutes from Washington, D.C., which houses the largest population of college-educated blacks in the nation. In the United States, a general rule of thumb is that communities with higher family incomes and parental levels of education have better public schools. So, why is it that black parents living in the upscale Woodmore or Fairwood estates of Prince George’s County or the tony Garden District homes up 16th Street in Washington D.C. struggle to find quality public schools for their children just like black parents in Syphax Gardens, the southwest D.C. public housing community?

The answer is this: Whether they are solidly middle- or upper-income or poor, neither group of blacks controls the critical economic levers shaping school reform. And, this is because urban school reform is not about schools or reform. It is about land development.

In most urban centers like Washington D.C. and Prince George’s County, black political leadership does not have independent access to the capital that drives land development. These resources are still controlled by white male economic elites. Additionally, black elected local officials by necessity must interact with state and national officials. The overwhelming majority of these officials are white males who often enact policies and create funding streams benefiting their interests and not the local black community’s interests.

The authors of “The Color of School Reform” affirm this assertion in their study of school reform in Baltimore, Detroit and Atlanta. They found:

Many key figures promoting broad efficiency-oriented reform initiatives [for urban schools] were whites who either lived in the suburbs or sent their children to private schools (Henig et al, 2001).

Local control of public schools (through elected school boards) is supposed to empower parents and community residents. This rarely happens in school districts serving black and poor students. Too often people intent on exploiting schools for their own personal gain short circuit the work of deep and lasting school and community uplift. Mayoral control, Teach for America, education management organizations and venture capital-funded charter schools have not garnered much grassroots support or enthusiasm among lower- and middle-income black parents whose children attend urban schools because these parents often view these schemes as uninformed by their community and disconnected from the best interest of their children.

In the most recent cases of Washington D.C. and Chicago, black parents and other community members point to school closings as verification of their distrust of school “reform” efforts. Indeed, mayoral control has been linked to an emerging pattern of closing and disinvesting in schools that serve black poor students and reopening them as charters operated by education management organizations and backed by venture capitalists. While mayoral control proposes to expand educational opportunities for black and poor students, more-often-than-not new schools are placed in upper-income, gentrifying white areas of town, while more schools are closed and fewer new schools are opened in lower-income, black areas thus increasing the level of educational inequity. Black inner-city residents are suspicious of school reform (particularly when it is attached to neighborhood revitalization) which they view as an imposition from external white elites who are exclusively committed to using schools to recalculate urban land values at the expense of black children, parents and communities.

So, what is the answer to improving schools for black children? Elected officials must advocate for equalizing state funding formula so that urban school districts garner more financial resources to hire credentialed and committed teachers and stabilize principal and superintendent leadership. Funding makes a difference. Black students who attend schools where 50 percent of more of the children are on free/reduced lunch are 70 percent more likely to have an uncertified teacher (or one without a college major or minor in the subject area) teaching them four subjects: math, science, social studies and English. How can the nation continue to raise the bar on what we expect students to know and demonstrate on standardized tests and lower the bar on who teaches them?

As the nation’s inner cities are dotted with coffee shop chains, boutique furniture stores, and the skyline changes from public housing to high-rise condominium buildings, listen to the refrain about school reform sung by some intimidated elected officials and submissive superintendents. That refrain is really about exporting the urban poor, reclaiming inner city land, and using schools to recalculate urban land value. This kind of school reform is not about children, it’s about the business elite gaining access to the nearly $600 billion that supports the nation’s public schools. It’s about money.

 

Dean Fenwick gave the Benjamin E. Mays Lecture at Georgia State University in 2018.
She comes on at about the 15:00 minute mark, and she goes into detail about the education “reform” movement and its failure to help black and brown children. She calls it “Looking Behind the Veil of School Reform.”

The House Subcommittee on Appropriations for Labor, Health, Human Services and Education opened hearings this morning, with Secretary DeVos as witness to testify about the Trump administration’s budget proposal. She. Wants to combine the funding for 29 programs and send the money to states as a block grant, to be used as they wish, she wants deep cuts in overall spending but a new $5 billion federal voucher program, which she calls “education freedom scholarships.” Charter school advocates were stunned to learn that the federal Charter Schools Program was one of the 29 that would disappear into a block grant.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro opened the hearing with this statement.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 27, 2020

CONTACT:

Will Serio: 202-225-3661

Chairwoman DeLauro Opening Remarks for House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Hearing with Secretary DeVos on the President’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Request

(As prepared for delivery)

Good morning, Secretary Devos. Welcome to the Subcommittee. It is our second budget hearing of the year. It is your fourth budget hearing with us. Today, we are examining the President’s Department of Education budget request for fiscal year 2021.

As I was reviewing the budget materials, Madame Secretary, this much was clear to me. You are seeking to privatize public education. But, I believe that is the wrong direction for our students and our country. Instead, we need to be moving towards expanding public policies like early childhood education that we know help students to succeed. We see this in other countries around the globe. They are not shrinking public support; they are expanding it.

I will get more into the consequences of the cuts that you are proposing. But, I want to start by examining your privatization philosophy, the false premise on which it is built, and the research it ignores.

Contrary to your claims, the nation’s public education system, which 90 percent of our children attend, has witnessed significant progress for all groups of students over the last 30 years. Average mathematics scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have improved for 4th graders (by 13 percent) and 8th graders (by 7 percent). While overall reading improvements have been more modest, Black 4th graders’ scores improved by 6 percent and 8th graders’ by 3 percent. Hispanic 4th graders’ scores improved by 6 percent and 8th graders’ by 5 percent.

There is more to do to address the disparities in achievement. We know we face significant challenges in assisting the kids that come into our system in education districts where they experience poverty and exposure to violence, often resulting in trauma. But, the solution is not less resources, nor is it more privatization.

In fact, the administration’s own data has shown how privatization has let down students. The Trump administration evaluated the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and found that vouchers had a statistically significant negative impact on the mathematics achievement of impacted students. In other words, more vouchers, lower math achievement. That is not a lone data point, either. Previous multi-sector studies using NAEP data have found that no student achievement scores for children in private schools were higher than those of children in public schools by any statistically significant degree.

So, your push to privatize public education is based on false premise that is not supported by data.

Its consequences would be to undermine the education of students in nearly every state, particularly for vulnerable students in high-need regions, including rural parts of our country.

• You would end career and college readiness for 560,000 low-income, middle school students across 45 states by eliminating the highly competitive grant program known as GEAR UP (-$365 million).

• You would endanger academic tutoring, personal counseling, and other programs for 800,000 students in sixth grade by slashing TRIO programs by $140 million. TRIO serves low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities, helping them graduate from college.

• You would endanger education access for children experiencing homelessness by eliminating the Education for Homeless Children and Youth program (-$102 million). This funding is desperately needed. In the 2016-2017 school year, more than 1.3 million enrolled children had experienced homelessness at some point in the past 3 years, an increase of 7 percent from 2014-2015.

• You would endanger youth literacy as well as potentially increase class size and undermine efforts to support diverse teachers by eliminating the main program — Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants which we increased for the first time in many years (-$2.1 billion).

• You would potentially put higher education out of the financial grasp of students by flat funding the Pell Grant ($6,345). 40 percent of undergraduate students or 7 million students rely on Pell Grants to afford higher education. But while Pell covered 79 percent of the average costs of tuition, fees, room, and board at a four-year public institution in 1975, it covers only 29 percent today. Our students cannot afford for us to stand pat like this.

• And, finally, your budget would risk exacerbating the financial challenges of under-resourced rural districts by converting rural formula grants into the block grant. These districts already struggle with lower student populations and higher transportation costs and your move to undermine their funding in this way is unacceptable.

With all of this, let me say, it is not going to happen.

I am supportive of the recognition of I-D-E-A State grants ($100 million proposed increase) and career and technical education, ($680 million proposed increase) for CTE State grants. Although I am disappointed that Adult Education State Grants are left with level funding. I plan to ask you that about later.

You have also once again requested an increase for student loan servicing. We included new reforms in the fiscal year 2020 bill to help us conduct more oversight and ensure borrowers are getting the help they need. Many of these ideas stemmed from an oversight hearing that this Subcommittee held last year. To be direct, I will need to see how the Department implements the new requirements as I review your request for next year.

And, with regard to Charter Schools, there is a place for them. They have a role in the education system. However, we have moved in the direction of creating a parallel education system. Concerns remain around issues of accountability and transparency, which to this point they have not been forthcoming. As I have said again and again, I believe Charter Schools ought to be held to the same rigor. And, where they fail, we need to know about it.

To close, Madame Secretary, you are clearly seeking to privatize public education. I hope that I have been clear that we are not going to do that. Because doing so ignores the research indicating the gains we have made, ignores the many areas private education shortchanges students, ignores the very reason the federal government has needed to be involved in education as so powerfully indicated with Brown vs. Board of Education, and ignores the spirit and values of this country. No, instead, we need to be expanding public policies that boost education attainment, not restricting or reducing them.

So, I look forward to our discussion today. Now, let me turn to my colleague, the Ranking Member from Oklahoma Tom Cole. Mr. Cole?

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delauro.house.gov

The Orange County School of the Arts is one of the most popular, most sought after, and most elite charter schools in the nation. Now it is locked in a battle with the local board of Educatuon about its admission policies.

Its students are whiter and more affluent than the surrounding community.

The Santa Ana Unified School District had made demands for change.

Last fall, OCSA applied to renew its charter with SAUSD, something state rules require must be done every five years. The district staff responded with a scathing 37-page report that found:

The schools “admission/enrollment policies and practices have encouraged applications from high achieving and well-resourced students and discouraged applications from those in the under-represented protected classifications.”

The numbers of “Hispanic/Latino, English Learners” and low-income students were so small at OCSA, it was impossible to meaningfully compare achievement to other district schools.

In sharp contrast to other middle and high schools in Santa Ana, OCSA reported no students who were homeless.

Mandatory meetings where school representatives set expectations that parents make donations of more than $4,000 a year to cover the costs of teaching the arts.

Since that report came out, KPCC/LAist got access to details Santa Ana Unified investigators did not uncover, including the current “Parent Funding Agreement” distributed at mandatory meetings.

While district officials openly say that OCSA is a high-quality school, they also say its policies exclude local, mostly Latino students while welcoming a wealthier, whiter student body that isn’t reflective of Santa Ana.

For example, while apparently struggling to find qualified local disadvantaged students, OCSA has admitted students from other counties, states and occasionally even other countries…. The board decided not to go as far as denial — instead, board members went with another recommended course: Vote to renew OCSA’s charter on the condition that the school work with the district to correct the alleged violations.

OCSA reacted swiftly, and fiercely. The school’s founder said the pushback from the district is payback over a lawsuit OCSA filed against the district last year over special education funding (that’s a whole other act in this drama — we’ll get to that). He also said there was nothing for OCSA to correct.

So the school stopped trying to work it out with the district, and started looking for another oversight agency.

Now, the issue is in the hands of the Orange County Board of Education, the body charged with taking up appeals of charters denied by their local authorizers. They don’t have long to make a decision — OCSA’s current charter expires on June 30.

The charter industry is nearing a flection point. The number of schools that open each year is almost the same as the number that close. The charter industry is rushing to open new schools before the public is fully woke to the crisis of charter corruption.

The Network for Public Education started a hashtag (#) on Twitter called #AnotherDayAnotherCharterScandal. Every day a new scandal, sometimes two or three.

Mercedes Schneider describes the latest charter debacle in Texas, where Betsy DeVos has dropped many millions to open new charters.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) will be closing the Kauffman Leadership Academy (KLA) (Cleburne) charter school with one week’s notice, as reported in WFAA.com.

In this February 13, 2020, letter to KLA leadership, TEA cites, “the [closure] order was issued as a result of the financial situation at the charter school having deteriorated significantly, including federal tax liens and levies issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that had frozen all accounts of the charter school.”

KLA filed with the Texas Secretary of State (SOS) as a business entity on August 23, 2010 (search here; KLA’s taxpayer ID# is 32042519895). According to KLA’s charter application dated 02/23/11 and on file with TEA, KLA planned “to open in August 2011 operate as a private school, pending charter approval.” These archived web pages from July 2011 and May 2015 have KLA identifying itself as an “open enrollment private school pending charter approval.”

According to the IRS, KLA received nonprofit status in August 2014, and according to KLA’s website, the school opened as a charter school in August 2016.

What took TEA so long to identify KLA’s suspicious financial situation is a looming question.

According to the IRS, KLA has only ever filed 990-N tax forms, also known as “e-postcards,” because according to KLA, for tax years 2013 to 2017 (the most recent filing,) KLA has reported “gross receipts not greater than 50,000.”

So, for five tax years, KLA told the IRS, “We have almost no money,” and the public– including TEA– had ready access to that information.

Meanwhile, on its website, KLA states, “every employee of the Academy earns the same salary, $35,000,” a statement that has remained consistent on its website since the time KLA received its charter in fall 2016, as evidenced by this October 2016 archived web page announcing KLA’s grad opening celebration.

If KLA had $50K or less per annum in 2016, that would have been enough for only a single KLA employee based upon state funding for perhaps 8 students.

Red flag, no?

Question: Why didn’t they just write to the Waltons or John Arnold or any number of other billionaires to get an infusion of cash?

 

By now, the California Charter Schools Association knows that they are harming public schools, where 80-90% of California’s students are educated.

By now, the CCSA knows that charter schools do not get higher test scores than public schools.

By now, they know that their industry is rife with corruption and fraud, and some of its leaders are serving jail time or on the lam.

By now, they know that charters do not have a secret sauce.

By now, they know that all they fight for is survival and power.

But they are pouring millions into the four contested seats on the Los Angeles Unified School District races, hoping to regain control so they can continue to do the bidding of Eli Broad, Reed Hastings, Michael Bloomberg, and Bill Bloomfield.

Here is the latest from the LA Education Examiner in the closing days of the campaign. 

See here for the money dump in the closing days of the campaign, with nearly one million going to a charter candidate running against Scott Schmerelson.

Here is Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times, reporting on the ugly smear campaign against Scott Schmerelson. 

Charter supporters are angry at Schmerelson, first because he supports public schools, but also because he revealed that more than 80% of the LA charters have vacancies.

Blume writes:

A million-dollar attack campaign is underway portraying Los Angeles school board member Scott Schmerelson as greedy, corrupt and determined to score fast cash by exposing children to deadly vaping and McDonald’s French fries.

One mailer — which included a cartoonish image of Schmerelson, who is Jewish, bedecked with a gold dollar-sign chain and holding a cigar and fistful of cash — came under fire as anti-Semitic and its use was halted.

Behind the surge of negative mailers in this West San Fernando Valley board district is an intense effort by charter school supporters to defeat Schmerelson and elect Marilyn Koziatek, a district parent who works at a local charter school managing community outreach efforts.

The pivotal race could tip the board majority toward the protection and expansion of charter schools, which enroll about 1 in 5 district students. Charter advocates are especially concerned about a new law that will soon give school boards more authority to reject new charters.

Blume reports that the charter industry has stopped sending out its antiSemitic image of Schmerelson but that’s a meaningless gesture since it was already sent out in a mass mailing.

 

Last year, two large online charter schools collapsed in Indiana at a cost of $86 million.

Now a new online charter has opened and hired some key employees of those that defrauded they public.

Last summer, as two large Indiana virtual charter schools collapsed under the weight of fraud allegations, a small new online program made its debut.

Indian Creek Online Academy was launched by a 2,000-student district south of Indianapolis experimenting with new ways of reaching students.

Officials with the Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson district said they wanted to avoid the mistakes of the troubled virtual schools. But they also picked an outside management company whose leader had a history with those very institutions, Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy.

Businessman Gar Hoover, the head of Indian Creek Online Academy’s management company, had previously served as chief operating officer for AlphaCom, a company accused in the $86 million alleged enrollment fraud and self-dealing scheme at the two virtual charter schools.

A state auditors’ investigation released earlier this month alleges that Hoover, who also served as a board member for Indiana Virtual School, signed off on a request for more than $96,000 in state funds based on inflated enrollment numbers. He’s listed as one of the parties personally responsible for repaying that amount, plus the cost of the auditors’ investigation.

A federal investigation has been launched into the fraud allegations. It is unclear whether Hoover’s role is included in the investigation.

Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson Superintendent Tim Edsell said he asked about Hoover’s history at Indiana Virtual School before the district contracted with his new company, American Online Education Services.

But Edsell wasn’t aware that Hoover was named in the state auditors’ investigation until contacted by Chalkbeat. After Chalkbeat sent him the state’s report, Edsell said he opened an internal investigation with the district’s legal counsel into Hoover’s connections to the virtual charter schools.

“I do have concerns,” Edsell said. “I want to be very thorough and comprehensive and accurate in our review.”

Edsell also didn’t know that Hoover had brought in a subcontractor with several other former employees from the web of companies paid millions in public dollars to operate virtual schools that served far fewer students than they received money for.

Statement on New High-Tech School Security Projects

Approved Through Smart Schools Bond Act

For Immediate Release: February 26, 2020

Media contact: Ben Schaefer, bschaefer@nyclu.org, 212-607-3372

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Today Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the approval of $111 million for 133 new Smart Schools Bond Act, including $51.5 million for high-tech security projects like the facial recognition system currently running in the Lockport City School District.

In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union released the following statement from Director of the Education Policy Center, Johanna Miller:

“The amount of funding for high-tech security projects approved today is greater than the amount for classroom tech, pre-k classrooms, and school connectivity projects combined. State funding could be used to transform the education and experiences of students, but instead we’re seeing this money diverted toward invasive surveillance systems that don’t work and make students feel like criminals in school. In the Lockport City School District alone $3 million was used to buy a facial recognition program – at the cost of $550 a student.

The Smart Schools Bond Act lacks the oversight and transparency it needs to improve schools. The state shouldn’t approve any additional applications for high tech security projects until it creates appropriate protections for student privacy.”

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Tomorrow February 27, Betsy DeVos defends her budget before the House Appropriations sub-committee led by Rosa DeLauro. This year, DeVos took the funding for the Charter Schools Program out of her budget and put it in a block grant.

Our job is to make sure that the nearly half billion dollars to start up new charter schools is not restored. Nearly one billion dollars of waste on charter schools that never open, or open and close, is enough.

Call the following committee members now. The hearing begins tomorrow at 10:00 am.

Lucille Roybal-Allard–(202) 225-1766
Rosa DeLauro–(202) 225-3661
Barbara Lee–(202) 225-2661
Mark Pocan–(202) 225-2906
Katherine Clark–(202) 225-2836
Lois Frankel–(202) 225-9890
Cheri Bustos–(202) 225-5905
Bonnie Watson-Coleman–(202) 225-5801

Keep your message simple:

My name is (your name). I am calling Representative X to ask that the Charter Schools Program funding not be restored. The Charter Schools Program has wasted nearly a billion dollars that could have gone to our neediest students. The Charter Schools Program should not be funded. The federal government should leave the funding for new charter schools to the state.

If the phone is not answered, or you call after hours, leave a message.

Then send an email to your representative.

Click here.

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/emergency-de-vos-budget-hearing-tomorrow-tell-congress-no-funding-for-the-charter-schools-program-give-the-funds-to-the-neediest-students-instead/

Naming names is very important when discussing the movement to privatize public schools. In my book SLAYING GOLIATH, I devote an entire chapter to naming names. It’s not good enough to you “business interests” or “foundations.”

Name names.

Tom Ultican names names. In this podcast, he describes the wealthy people who are determined to privatize education. Why do they do this? They profess their love of the needy at the same time they try to take away one of the few institutions that belongs to them and give it to corporations.

After 20 years of corporate reform in charge of federal education policy, there is not a single example of success. It seems fair to predict that the deformers will fail in Dallas as they have everywhere else.