Archives for the month of: March, 2022

Steve Nelson, the retired headmaster of the Calhoun School in New York City, has spotted the ironies and hypocrisies in the GOP pandering to the “parent rights” movement.

Read the Bible and gasp at the references to incest and licentiousness.

Nelson writes:

There is a certain hypocritical Victorian flavor to the GOP these days, as they are turgid with moral rectitude when considering – gasp – transgender folks, same sex marriage or pre-marital sex, while embracing the multifaceted lecher who remains their president-in-exile. But back to children . . .

The GOP assault on CRT or any education related to race, gender or sex is partnered with the campaign for parental rights in education. Parental rights in education is further paired with the systematic and relentless attacks on public education. The logic is unassailable; if your schools insist on teaching CRT or mentioning sex despite your parental rights, then you should be empowered to send your child to a good Christian school, where they can learn about these things:

“If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.” (Deuteronomy 25:11-12)

“When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts.” (Ezekiel 23:18-21)

Keep reading!

Frank Breslin is a retired teacher in New Jersey. This article originally appeared in the NJEA monthly publication.

What if your race had known only tragedy
throughout America’s history? What if your people had been enslaved, murdered, persecuted and denied their civil rights?

And what if, instead of owning up to having inflicted such outrages, showing remorse, asking forgiveness, and making amends, those responsible, their descendants and
sympathizers denied that those actions had ever
occurred or, if they had, they had best be forgotten?

But what if the history of those deeds could
never be taught in our schools, but covered in
silence because it would only be “divisive” or
“racist” against those whites who had committed
them? Rather, let bygones be bygones! We should
forget the past and simply move on!

This is the white supremacist gospel being
preached by some in our country today, especially
by protestors at school board meetings. It is the
New Jim Crowism that would leave no public
record in the classroom of the centuries-old infamy that was inflicted on the Black race.

Moreover, these protestors add insult to injury
by denying the victims of this racism the chance to finally have their story told to America’s children as our schools have done for the Holocaust. Children deserve the truth, not fairy tales, even when the truth makes racists uncomfortable.

Anyone with an ounce of humanity could not
help but be moved when learning about the brutal treatment of Blacks over the centuries. Students would learn that the justification of slavery was preached even from church pulpits. They would learn about the KKK, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, fire bombings of Black churches, racial segregation of our schools today—decorously disguised as “school choice,” the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the killing of George Floyd, and the freedom march in Birmingham, Alabama when Commissioner “Bull” Conner turned his fire hoses, attack dogs, and police truncheons on peaceful Black marchers demanding their civil rights, as Americans watched aghast at their TV
screens as it unfolded.

It would be a national catharsis to know that
America was finally coming to terms with the dark
chapters in its history and not-so-distant past. For
this is what great nations do that are big enough,
humble enough, contrite and courageous enough
to admit their failings and vow to do better. The
beginning of healing is the admission of wrong!

Great nations also reverence the sacrosanct
nature of the mind. They do not insult those who
have dedicated their lives to the noble profession of
teaching the young. They do not force teachers to
indoctrinate their students with a sanitized history
that omits the entire truth about their nation’s past.

However, teaching the truth is terrifying to these
protestors who view truth as dangerous, especially
for their children, for it would mean losing control
over their minds. Schools that teach what actually
happened should be shut down because truth
leads to social unrest, and it is better to have peace
based on lies.

In a word, we are dealing with an
educational philosophy that teaches: Thou shalt
not think! Thou shalt not question! Thou shalt
only conform!

These protestors abhor teaching about what
happened to Black people since this would mean
the end of their white supremacist world. Their
protests are an assault on the mind itself, the
importance of truth, and the nature of education.

An education in its ultimate sense is not an
initiation rite into the myths of one’s tribe, but
a personal struggle to free oneself from those
myths. It is escaping from Groupthink. An
education is not about fear of the truth or a blind
acceptance of White supremacist doctrine.

Teachers resist such indoctrination of their
students. They want to teach, not suppress, the
truth of what happened, but these protesters know
what happened and want to suppress it lest it be
taught not only to their children, but to everyone’s
children, as well, a.k.a. censorship.

Teachers refuse to aid and abet this fantasy
of a dying white Supremacy whose days are
numbered as anyone knows who has checked
the demographics, for what we are hearing today
is but its death knell!

A classroom is a sacred place, a temple of
reason, not a recruiting station for a white
supremacist doctrine that would ban the teaching
of Black history because it dismisses Black people
themselves as unimportant in their kind of
supremacist democracy that is not a democracy
at all, but an ethnocentric, xenophobic, wouldbe fascist dictatorship, and not the American
democracy most of us know, cherish, and want
to preserve.

Teachers refuse to violate their consciences by
lying to children and shattering their trust in them,
and when they are forbidden to tell the whole
truth lest it embarrass white racists, they refuse
to betray both children and truth

Frank Breslin is an NJREA member and a retired
English, Latin, German, and social studies
teacher. An educator for over 40 years, he retired
from the Delaware Valley Regional High School.

People often wonder how charter entrepreneurs make money. This article by Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, appeared on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog in 2019. It’s a cautionary tale that is as important now as it was then. The new regulations for the federal Charter Schools Program would ban “sweeps contacts” in which for-profit corporations control the funding of charters they manage.

Burris writes:

National Heritage Academies (NHA), the third-largest for-profit charter chain in the nation, is selling 69 of its more than 90 schools to a new corporation created just for the purchase. Charter Development Co., the real estate arm of NHA, will receive the payout from a sale that requires nearly $1 billion to finance. This massive transfer of public dollars into private wealth is running into some roadblocks, however, in NHA’s home state of Michigan.

Both Charter Development Co. and NHA are owned by J.C. Huizenga, an education reform entrepreneur who refers to himself as “the son of a garbage man.” His father was hardly the typical garbage collector, however. In 1971, his successful business joined forces with those of his cousin, H. Wayne Huizenga, to create Waste Management, a trash disposal company worth almost $64 billion today.

The sale of the 69 NHA campuses in seven different states, like the operation of Huizenga’s charter schools, is wrapped in secrecy, even though taxpayers have paid the mortgages for years.

According to the documentation provided to the Wayne County, Mich., Commission, which was asked to approve the deal for 15 schools, the buyer is Campus Partners 1, which describes itself as a Michigan nonprofit organization.

Campus Partners 1’s charitable tax-exempt status, however, has not yet been granted by the Internal Revenue Service. The corporation has no website. It has no records filed with the Michigan attorney general, which is a requirement for nonprofit organizations in that state. Its November 2020 articles of incorporation provide scant information other than an incorporation date and boilerplate bylaws.

The president of Campus Partners 1, according to the documentation given to Wayne County, is John Grant, who serves as general counsel to J.C. Huizenga and his interests. Campus Partners 1 will contract with NHA’s related Charter Development Co. for a facility maintenance contract and “ground lease” so that the buildings can continue to be a cash cow for the for-profit organization. While ownership may technically change hands for the cash-out, control will still be in the hands of NHA.

One might wonder what organization would loan $853,600,000 to a corporation of unsettled status that is less than a year old. Apparently, one that frequently finances for-profit private prisons will. The Industrial Development Authority of the County of La Paz in Arizona is issuing municipal bonds to finance the sale. National Heritage Academy has no charter schools in that county or even the state.

According to this 2014 report in Bloomberg News, La Paz issues municipal bonds to charter schools and for-profit prisons as a means to raise revenue. Arizona is one of only three states that allow the sale of municipal bonds to out-of-state entities. The bonds, according to Bloomberg, are intended to give “riskier borrowers from charter schools to private prisons access to the $3.7 trillion municipal market.”

This is not the first time an Arizona county has financed a charter school cash-out with municipal bonds. Jim Hall, founder of Arizonans for Charter School Accountability, studies the state’s for-profit charter sector. “Bill Coats sold his Leona charter chain for $72 million,” he said. On his website, Hall detailed the sale of Coats’s charter school real estate in 2007.

Coats sold his schools to a Michigan nonprofit he founded by persuading the Pima Industrial Authority of Arizona to issue $82 million in bonds to pay for the sale of 10 of his charter schools, plus expenses.

Like its counterpart in La Paz County, Pima sold municipal bonds, which are attractive to the wealthy for their potential high returns on which they pay neither federal nor state taxes. From mortgage payments to the tax-exempt payouts from the bonds, taxpayers fund charter cash-out deals.

The questionable nature of these dealings has not been lost on some local authorities — at least two of which are putting on the brakes.

Earlier this month, Mount Clemens City Commission refused to approve the sale of the bonds to Campus Partners 1 when it found out that the board of directors of Prevail Academy had no idea that its building was to be sold and had no input into the new lease.

According to reporter Mitch Hotts of the Macomb Daily, Prevail’s board of directors approached the city manager for details regarding the transaction. The firm representing Campus Partners 1 acknowledged that the board of the supposedly independent nonprofit school might have been left in the dark but said that although the board of the school was not briefed, “the owners were in favor of the sale.” The commission is putting the sale on hold, pending further information.

The board’s concern about the new lease is understandable. If the sale goes through, the board will be committing to a 30-year lease with Campus Partners 1.

Casandra Ulbrich, president of the Michigan State Board of Education, is concerned with the terms of the lease as well. “Most charter schools are authorized for five-year intervals,” she wrote in an email on Aug. 25. “What happens if a school closes or isn’t reauthorized? Who will end up ‘holding the bag’?”

Mount Clemens was not the only location where NHA encountered a roadblock. NHA wants to sell 46 of its Michigan charter schools, 15 of which are in Wayne County.

When advocates of the sale made their pitch to a standing committee of that county’s commissioners, they were met with skepticism and resistance to the sale.

“I just can’t help but think that for every charter school that opens up, one of our public schools closes. … I am going to be a no vote on this one,” council member Irma Clark-Coleman said at the meeting. The Arizona lawyer representing the deal pushed back by describing the requested action as “a technical, administrative thing.”

Council members in attendance unanimously approved a motion to reject approving the bonds for the sale, making it clear that they did not want to be what they called a “one-stop-shop” for the 15 schools.

After the meeting, I spoke with council member Tim Killeen, who was outspoken in his opposition to the deal, and asked him why. “It did not pass the smell test,” he said. “This was not a normal request. It felt like they thought we were going to roll over.”

The representatives of NHA told the Wayne County Commission’s standing committee that if they did not approve the sale, they would ask the localities where the schools are located, or if need be, use private bonds that do not need approval. Denial would just slow the deal down. They also said they might approach the full commission but never did, perhaps not wanting to draw attention to their multi-state efforts.

Can the boards of the charter schools themselves block the sale? In theory, any NHA schools that might not like the new lease agreements should be able to negotiate with the new owner or find another home. They should also be able to fire the for-profit management company pushing the sale. But theory meets reality when charters run by for-profits try.

In 2014, the Detroit Free Press reported what occurred when one NHA school, Detroit Enterprise Academy, attempted to break free of NHA. The board had questioned why the school spent almost $1 million a year on its building lease. According to the story, when the board sought financial information, they were “treated as a student council.”

The board president resigned when she pressed for financial details and was told by NHA that it was “none of the board’s business.” When the board tried to fire the for-profit management company, the school’s authorizer, Grand Valley State University, said the school would not have its charter renewed if the board fired NHA.

According to the letter from the authorizer, the evaluative measures that Grand Valley would use would “cease to exist” because “NHA employs the faculty and administration, NHA owns the building, curriculum and all of the equipment.”

According to reporter Jennifer Dixon, when NHA’s Metro Charter Academy sought a cheaper lease and asked for financial records, Grand Valley “suggested the entire board resign — and summarily reduced the term of office for two who refused.”

Detroit Enterprise Academy is now up for sale for $14.5 million and Metro Academy for $16 million, according to the document presented to the Wayne County Commission.

How does absolute control of a school that a corporation is supposed to work for happen? It happens because NHA operates its schools via sweeps contracts, in which the nonprofit board turns over school control and taxpayer funding to the for-profits. Such contracts are not uncommon in the for-profit-run charter world.

Other examples of sweeps contracts include the contract between the Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy and the for-profit chain Accel Online Ohio, a Nevada limited liability company; the contract between Northeast Raleigh Charter Academy and its for-profit management Torchlight Academy Schools, and the contract between Ohio Virtual Academy and K12 Virtual Schools.

While agreements between for-profit management companies and their schools are hard to find because of the lack of transparency built into state charter laws, as we searched across states, we found the contracts for chain schools and the for-profit management companies to be consistent.

In most cases, for-profit management is an attempt to get around Title 20 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which requires schools to be nonprofit organizations to be eligible to receive federal funding. The nonprofit school is a facade for the for-profit corporation.

And it is the reason the charter lobby unsuccessfully fought so hard to defeat Section 314 of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education 2022 appropriations bill. If adopted by the Senate, it would close the loophole that allows nonprofit schools to be cash cows for for-profit operators.

Ultimately, Huizenga’s charter school cash-out financed by the taxpayers will probably go forward. Unless Congress acts and closes the loophole, the 139 for-profit corporations that manage more than 1,100 charter schools in the United States will continue to put profits before taxpayers and kids. And more cash-outs funded at taxpayers’ expense will occur.

Jan Resseger writes here about the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed new regulations for the federal Charter Schools Program. To a significant extent, the Department has incorporated recommendations offered by the Network for Public Education aimed at blocking for-profit entrepreneurs from winning federal funding. The charter lobby is fighting furiously to block these new regulations. Public comment is open until April 13.

Open this link and send your comment.

Peter Greene writes here about the proposal to tighten federal regulations so that for-profit corporations will not qualify to receive federal charter funding.

Greene writes:

This is exactly the kind of boring policy wonk stuff that can make ordinary humans nod off. But it;’s worth paying attention to. It’s even worth giving the feds your two cents. I’ll tell you how at the end of this. First let me explain what’s happening.

The Charter Schools Program (CSP) is a federal grant program that gives charter schools money both for start-ups and expansions. It’s a big, beautiful federal tax dollar gravy train, and it’s been running for many years through many administrations. The first batch of granty largesse was disbursed in 1995; since then something like $4 Billion has been thrown at charters, with decidedly mixed results. A report from the Network for Public Education found that about 1 out of every 4 dollars ($1 billion) had been spent on fraud and waste, including schools that closed within a year as well as schools that never opened at all (spoiler alert: no, the taxpayers don’t get their money back when that happens). Despite all that, the gravy train is still running, this year to the tune of about $440 million.

But if we’re going to do this, couldn’t we at least institute a few rules for getting the grant money? That’s what the Biden administration is proposing right now, and we are all invited to offer our thoughts before the proposed rules are adapted and/or adopted.

The language of the proposal is about priorities–in other words, if you meet these certain guidelines, you score more points in the Give Me Some Grant Money contest– and application requirements. So let’s take a look at the proposed language and see what we’ve got, because some of this is good and some of it could be better.

Greene explains the changes the feds want to make. And he also gives you information on where to write to express your views. If you or your organization thinks that the feds should stop enriching for-profit corporations, you should write a letter. The charter industry is working furiously behind the scenes to organize their allies and to fight these new regulations.

Greene writes:

Offering your two cents is the easiest thing in the world (Well, not the easiest–but pretty damn easy). On the government website that I’m linking right here, you can find a copy of the full proposal. Up and to the right is a blue button that says “comment,” which you just click on and there you go. There’s a guide in case you want some “how to” tips. You can comment as an individual or as a group representative. You can even comment anonymously.

Do not be intimidated. One of the comments currently up at the sites say, in total, “Hi hello I believe this is an important topic to discuss!”

And here’s the thing. The charter industry does not want this, and they are already mustering troops to flood these comments with tales of how this will hurt the children and cripple their good work and be a terrible awful no good very bad thing, even though these rules boil down to a simple message–

Maybe charter schools should partner with communities and other people interested in education instead of partnering with people whose main interest is making money.

So tell the feds that. Make your voice heard. Help the government make one tiny step toward the kind of charter function and accountability that we always should have had.

This year, for the first time since the federal Charter Schools program was established in 1994, the U.S. Department of Education is setting forth meaningful regulation of the program. This is a historic development and great news for those of us who have watched the charter industry escape accountability and transparency, while tolerating grift and profiteering.

As the Network for Public Education showed in two major reports (Asleep at the Wheel and Still Asleep at the Wheel), the federal charter program is riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse. Nearly 40% of the charter schools funded by this program either never opened or closed soon after opening. About $1 billion was wasted.

The Department has made a good faith effort to repair the negative aspects of the Charter School Program and to create regulations that would put guardrails in place for charter schools.

There are three key features to these regulations:

First, to qualify for federal funding, charters must develop an impact statement, describing the demographics that they will serve, whether there is a need for their proposed charter, whether the charter would intensify racial segregation in district schools, and how the charter would impact the local district schools.

Second, charters would have to demonstrate how they will serve the local community.

Third, charters operated by for-profit organizations would not be eligible for funding.

These are all significant reforms that have the potential to turn charters into good neighbors of public schools.

I urge you to write your own comment to support the Department’s bold effort to regulate the recipients of federal money for charters ($440 million). You can write 50 words in the comment or write a letter and attach it.

Please open this link to make a comment or send a letter:

Please read the letter that Carol Burris wrote on behalf of the Network for Public Education, posted here.

Comments from The Network for Public Education Regarding Proposed Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria-Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Program (CSP)-Grants

Docket ID Number: ED-2022-OESE-0006

April 1, 2022

The Network for Public Education (NPE) writes in response to the invitation to submit comments regarding “Proposed Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria-Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Program (CSP)-Grants to State Entities (SE Grants); Grants to Charter Management Organizations for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools (CMO Grants); and Grants to Charter School Developers for the Opening of New Charter Schools and for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools (Developer Grants).

NPE is a national non-profit organization with 350,000 subscribers. We network with nearly 200 national, state, and local organizations all committed to the same mission—to preserve, strengthen and support our democratically governed public school system. For the past several years, we have been deeply concerned by what we view as endemic corruption and waste in the Federal Charter Schools Program.

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) must update its priorities and its requirements to address loopholes and flaws in the program that have resulted in for-profit run schools receiving grants, 12% of all CSP grants going to charter schools that never open, grants received by schools and charter management organizations that provide false and misleading information, and sub-grants issued to charter schools with a history of exacerbating racial segregation and that exclude, by policy or practice, students with disabilities and students who are English Language Learners.

The Award of CSP Grants Charter Schools Operated by For-Profit Organizations

We strongly support the Department’s attempt to ensure that charter schools operated by for-profit management corporations do not receive CSP grants, specifically this language:

(a) Each charter school receiving CSP funding must provide an assurance that it has not and will not enter into a contract with a for-profit management organization, including a non-profit management organization operated by or on behalf of a for-profit entity, under which the management organization exercises full or substantial administrative control over the charter school and, thereby, the CSP project.

The federal definition of a public school under IDEA and ESEA is “a nonprofit institutional day or residential school, including a public elementary charter school, that provides elementary education, as determined under State law.” 20 U. S.C. §§ 1401(6) (IDEA), 7801(18) (ESEA) Similarly, the statutes define a “secondary school” as “a nonprofit institutional day or residential school, including a public secondary charter school, that provides secondary education, as determined under State law․” 20 U.S.C. §§ 1401(27) (IDEA), 7801(38) (ESEA).

Former for-profit entities have created non-profit facades that allow the for-profit and its related organizations to run and profit from the charter school, following the judgment of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Arizona State Bd. For Charter Schools v. U.S. Dept. of Educ. in 2006 (464 F.3d 1003).

Ineffective provisions undermine the present regulations against the disbursement of funds from the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) to charter schools operated by for-profit entities. We identified over 440 charter schools operated for profit that received grants totaling approximately $158 million between 2006 and 2017, including CSP grants to schools managed with for-profit sweeps contracts.

We offer as examples the recent CSP grants awarded to Torchlight Academy Charter School of North Carolina and Capital Collegiate Preparatory Academy of Ohio. We also bring your attention to the audit of a charter school run by National Heritage Academies in New York. The State Comptroller specifically chides the charter board for the fees taken by a for-profit that played the role of applying for and managing grants. National Heritage Academies schools have frequently received CSP grants and operate under sweeps contracts.

The relationship between a for-profit management organization is quite different from the relationship between a vendor who provides a single service. A school can sever a bus contract and still have a building, desks, curriculum, and teachers. However, in cases where charter schools have attempted to fire the for-profit operator, they find it impossible to do without destroying the schools in the process.


Many for-profit organizations operate by steering business to their for-profit-related entities. They are often located at the same address, and the owner of the management company or a member of the immediate family is the owner of the related entity. Therefore, it is recommended that wherever references to for-profit organizations appear, the phrase “and its related entities” is added.

(a) Each charter school receiving CSP funding must provide an assurance that it has not and will not enter into a contract with a for-profit management organization, including a non-profit management organization operated by or on behalf of a for-profit entity, under which the management organization and its related entitiesexercise(s) full or substantial administrative control over the charter school and, thereby, the CSP project.

Quality Control of Awards and the Importance of Impact Analysis

We strongly support the proposed regulations that seek to bring greater transparency and better judgment to the process of awarding CSP grants. We especially support the inclusion of a community impact analysis.

We are pleased that “the community impact analysis must describe how the plan for the proposed charter school take into account the student demographics of the schools from which students are, or would be, drawn to attend the charter school,” and provide “evidence that demonstrates that the number of charter schools proposed to be opened, replicated, or expanded under the grant does not exceed the number of public schools needed to accommodate the demand in the community.”

More than one in four charter schools close by the end of year five. A foremost reason for both public school and charter closure and the disruption such closures bring to the lives of children is low enrollment, as seen this past month in Oakland. In New Orleans, school closures have resulted in children being forced to attend multiple schools during their elementary school years, often traveling long distances. Between 1999 and 2017, nearly one million children were displaced due to the closure of their schools, yet only nine states have significant caps to regulate charter growth.

We applaud language that states, “The community impact analysis must also describe the steps the charter school has taken or will take to ensure that the proposed charter school would not hamper, delay, or in any manner negatively affect any desegregation efforts in the public school districts from which students are, or would be, drawn or in which the charter school is or would be located, including efforts to comply with a court order, statutory obligation, or voluntary efforts to create and maintain desegregated public schools…”

In some states, charter schools have been magnets for white flight from integrated schools. Other charter schools have attracted high achieving students while discouraging students with special needs from attending. And, as you know from the letter you received in June of 2021 from 67 public education advocacy and civil rights groups, the North Carolina SE CSP sub-grants were awarded to charter schools that actively exacerbated segregation, serving in some cases, as white flight academies The information requested by the Department is reasonable and will help reviewers make sound decisions.

In addition to our support for the proposed regulations, we have two additional recommendations to strengthen the impact analysis proposal.

Recommendations: (1) That impact analysis requirements include a profile of the students with disabilities and English Language Learners in the community along with an assurance that the applicant will provide the full range of services that meet the needs of students with disabilities and English Language Learners. (2) That applicants include a signed affidavit provided by district or state education department officials attesting to the accuracy of the information provided.

Regarding proposed rules regarding transparency, we note that in the past, schools were awarded grants without providing even one letter of support, or provided false information indicating support that did not exist.

We also strongly support the requirement state entities provide additional supervision of grants. Some will argue that they do not receive sufficient funding to provide supervision. We believe that funding is more than sufficient and we offer the following example as evidence.

In 2020, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools(PCPCS) received a SE grant of $30 million to open 18 new or expanded charters in the Commonwealth within five years. ESSA allows state entities to retain 10% of all grant funding with 3% dedicated for grant administration. That means that this small state entity would have access to $1 million dollars to supervise the CSP grant spending of eighteen schools. Given that it is a five-year grant, PCPCS would therefore be allowed to spend from CSP funding $200,000 a year to review applications and keep track of grant spending.

To date, three schools have been awarded grants according to the two co-directors hired to administer the program.

We strongly support all SE sub-grant review requirements. These include: (a) how peer reviewers will be recruited and selected, and (b) efforts the applicant must make to recruit peer reviewers from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups. We applaud the requirement for a review team. In some states, including New York, CSP sub-grants are routinely distributed as part of the charter authorization process.

To those proposals we suggest adding the following:

Recommendations: (1) That review teams must include at least one reviewer representative of the district public school community. (2) that a minimum point threshold be established for an award, (3) that applications be checked for factual accuracy, and (4) that applications be posted for public review and comment for a period of no less than 45 days before award decisions.

We also recommend that the Department retain funds from the Charter Schools Program to conduct audits of all Developer, CMO and SE subgrants to ensure the funds are being properly spent and that the conditions and aspirations as described in the applications are being met. Annual audits of 5% of all active awardees in each of the programs, randomly chosen by the Department should be conducted each year.

Priorities One and Two

We strongly support the proposed priorities, which we believe will help return the charter school movement back to its original purpose and benefit the children who attend charter schools. Priority one builds off the successful community schools’ movement. Priority two encourages cooperative activities between district and charter schools. We believe that these priorities should be absolute priorities.

Unfortunately, in many cases charter schools’ employee handbooks commonly require teachers to sign nondisclosure agreements that threaten legal action if they reveal the schools “trade secrets” including such things as “curriculum systems, instructional programs, curriculum solutions … new materials research, pending projects and proposals, proprietary production processes, research and development strategies, technological data, and technological prototypes.”


That the Department disallows grants or sub-grants to any schools that apply under priority two if the school or the CMO considers educational material confidential and proprietary and/or does not make publicly available financial, personal or contracting information.

Planning Grants to Unauthorized Charter Schools

According to a 2019 response to Representative Raul Grijalva by then-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, 12% of all CSP grants between 2001 and 2019 were awarded to schools that never opened and were not expected to open. In most cases, these schools had never achieved authorization. Whether unauthorized schools can receive funding for planning purposes and how much can be awarded has been left up to the states. This has resulted in large amounts of federal CSP money in the pockets of people who provided no service to the public.

It has also resulted in egregious abuse, especially in Michigan, where charter schools have received more than $100,000 in awards before their authorization was approved. An in-depth review of such planning grants by Michigan State Board of Education President Cassandra Ulbrich revealed questionable submissions, including invoices that would-be charter operators paid themselves and excessive technology purchases.

Recommendation: A school’s planning amount before an authorization is limited to $10,000. If justifiable expenses exceed that amount, they should only be compensated following authorization.

Proposed Selection Criterion for CMO Grants

ESSA places the following restriction on grants awarded to State Entities: No State entity may receive a grant under this section for use in a State in which a State entity is currently using a grant received under this section. However, ESSA is silent regarding the awarding of grants to CMOs. This has resulted in CMOs having several active grants at the same time, with new grants being issued without proper inspection of the efficacy of former grants. For example, it has resulted in the IDEA charter CMOreceiving six grants in a ten-year period totaling nearly $300 million. These grants occurred under a leadership structure that engaged in questionable practices, including the attempted yearly lease of a private jet, related-party transactions, and the rental of a luxury box at San Antonio Spurs games.

IDEA received two awards, in 2019 and 2020, totaling more than $188 million even as the 2019 audit of the Inspector General found that IDEA submitted incomplete and inaccurate reports on three prior grants. The IG report also looked at a randomly selected sample of expenses and found that IDEA’s charges to the grants did not always include only allowable and adequately documented non-personnel expenses.


That department regulations disallow the awarding of grants to any CMO currently using a grant received under the CMO program and that for any grant exceeding $25 million, the Department’s OIG conducts an audit before an additional grant is awarded.

I don’t often ask the readers of this blog to do anything other than vote. I urge you to write the Department on behalf of these urgently needed reforms.

The deadline for comments is April 13, 2022.

One man tried to stop Vladimir Putin.

His name was Boris Nemtsov. He formed a new political party and planned to run against Putin.

In 2015, he was assassinated. New information reported by the BBC funds that he was followed by members of Russia’s security squad, who murdered him only days before he planned to lead a public protest against Putin.

Here is his Wikipedia entry:

Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov (Russian: Борис Ефимович Немцов, IPA: [bɐˈrʲis jɪˈfʲiməvʲɪtɕ nʲɪmˈtsof]; 9 October 1959 – 27 February 2015) was a Russian physicist and liberal politician. He was involved in the introduction of reforms into the Russian post-Soviet economy.[4] In the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin, he was the first governor of the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast (1991–97). Later he worked in the government of Russia as Minister of Fuel and Energy (1997), Vice Premier of Russia and Security Council member from 1997 to 1998. In 1998, he founded the Young Russia movement. In 1998, he co-founded the coalition group Right Cause and in 1999, he co-formed Union of Right Forces, an electoral bloc and subsequently a political party. Nemtsov was also a member of the Congress of People’s Deputies (1990), Federation Council (1993–97) and State Duma (1999–2003).

From 2000 until his death, he was an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin. He criticized Putin’s government as an increasingly authoritarian, undemocratic regime, highlighting widespread embezzlement and profiteering ahead of the Sochi Olympics, and Russian political interference and military involvement in Ukraine.[5][6] After 2008, Nemtsov published in-depth reports detailing the corruption under Putin, which he connected directly with the President. As part of the same political struggle, Nemtsov was an active organizer of and participant in Dissenters’ Marches, Strategy-31 civil actions and rallies “For Fair Elections”.

Nemtsov was assassinated on 27 February 2015, beside his Ukrainian partner Anna Durytska, on a bridge near the Kremlin in Moscow,[7][8] with four shots fired from the back.[9] At the time of his assassination, he was in Moscow helping to organize a rally against the Russian military intervention in Ukraine and the Russian financial crisis. At the same time, he was working on a report demonstrating that Russian troops were fighting alongside pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, which the Kremlin had been denying, and was unpopular externally but also in Russia.[10] In the weeks before his death, he expressed fear that Putin would have him killed.[11][12] In late June 2017, five Chechnya-born men were found guilty by a jury in a Moscow court for agreeing to kill Nemtsov in exchange for 15 million rubles (US$253,000); neither the identity nor whereabouts of the person who hired them is officially known.[13]

After Nemtsov’s murder, Serge Schmemann of The New York Times paid tribute to him in an article headlined “A Reformer Who Never Backed Down.” Schmemann wrote: “Tall, handsome, witty and irreverent, Mr. Nemtsov was one of the brilliant young men who burst onto the Russian stage at that exciting moment when Communist rule collapsed and a new era seemed imminent.”[14] Julia Ioffe, writing for The New York Times, described Nemtsov after his death as “a powerful, vigorous critic of Vladimir Putin”, who was “a deeply intelligent, witty, kind and ubiquitous man” who “seemed to genuinely be everyone’s friend”.[15]

Who would have wanted him dead?

Steve Ruis doesn’t like lies. And he understands that some lies are worse than others. This Breitbart lie, he writes, is a giant whopper.

A young man tragically took his life in Virginia. His mother went to the local school board and said he killed himself because of COVID isolation and “critical race theory.” Breitbart said so.

But what Breitbart did not say was that the young man graduated high school before COVID closed it down. And that CRT was not taught in his school.

And there is more.

Recently, a pro-voucher organization released a report claiming that vouchers save money. The National Education Policy Center assigned the report to two scholars, and they found that the report’s claims were untrue. In addition, numerous studies have shown that students who use vouchers are likely to fall behind their peers in public schools, especially in mathematics. If you care about educating the next generation, vouchers are a big step backward.

BOULDER, CO (March 15, 2022)—A recent report from EdChoice argues for expansion of policies that publicly fund private schools, contending that private schools could provide equal or better outcomes at lesser cost. A review released today examines the report’s methodology to determine the soundness of its claims, and it finds the cost-saving estimates to be based on unsubstantiated assumptions.
Luis A. Huerta and Steven Koutsavlis of Teachers College, Columbia University reviewed Fiscal Effects of School Choice: Analyzing the Costs and Savings of Private School Choice Programs in America, and found its accounting procedures to be based on conjecture.

The report asserts that voucher and voucher-like (tax credit scholarship and education savings account) programs have saved state and local treasuries some $12.4 to $28.3 billion dollars as student “switchers” use those programs to leave public schools and enter private schools. The report claims that the purported savings result from the lower numbers of students in public schools coupled with lower variable per-student costs.

However, Huerta and Koutsavlis point out that the cost-saving estimates of private school choice programs are based on speculative assumptions. In particular, the report guesses in estimating the number of switchers across programs and for determining resulting variable cost fluctuations. With some limited exceptions, states operating these private-school subsidy programs do not track the previous enrollment status of students who use the vouchers to subsidize their enrollment in private schools. Such lax accountability standards mean that the number of switchers and estimated fiscal savings are necessarily based on conjecture.

Consequently, the report’s findings do not provide a sound base for policy decisions. Huerta and Koutsavlis provide suggestions for more detailed accounting procedures and more nuanced methodologies for calculating reliable variable student costs.

Find the review, by Luis A. Huerta and Steven Koutsavlis, at:
Find Fiscal Effects of School Choice: Analyzing the Costs and Savings of Private School Choice Programs in America, written by Martin Lueken and published by EdChoice, at:

More than 100 school districts in Ohio have joined a lawsuit against the state of Ohio opposing vouchers.

Bill Phillis, former deputy superintendent of the Ohio Department of Education, now leads a pro-public school advocacy group called the Ohio Coalition of Equity and Adequacy. He and a new group called “Vouchers Hurt Ohio” have organized the campaign to have the voucher program declared unconstitutional. This is their website.

Bill Phillis posted this description of the lawsuit when it was filed in court in Ohio in early January:

Vouchers Hurt Ohio and Ohio E&A Coalition

File Lawsuit Against Private School Voucher Program

COLUMBUS – A coalition of public school districts filed a lawsuit today in Franklin County Common Pleas court challenging the constitutionality of the rapidly growing private school voucher program that is siphoning away hundreds of millions of dollars from public school students, teachers, classrooms and communities.

Former Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice and current Columbus City Schools board member Eric Brown said the lawsuit asks the judicial system a simple, but critical question:

“Where does the Ohio General Assembly get the power to fund private school vouchers? That power is nowhere to be found in the Ohio Constitution. In fact, the Ohio Constitution forbids it. Lawmakers have the authority and responsibility to fund “a” system of “common schools,” with common standards and resources for all of Ohio’s taxpayers, parents, and students,” Brown said at a press conference today outlining the lawsuit.

“Funding schools that aren’t for everybody is not the business of the Ohio General Assembly, and it is not the responsibility of Ohio taxpayers to pay for these private schools,” Brown said. “The Ohio General Assembly either knows they are violating the Ohio Constitution and doesn’t care or the members who support expanding the private school vouchers need a history lesson themselves.”

William L. Phillis, executive director for the Coalition of Equity & Adequacy of School Funding, was instrumental in leading the successful court challenge to the way Ohio pays for public schools during the ‘90s.

“The DeRolph school funding lawsuit was the case of the 20th century. The EdChoice private school voucher lawsuit we filed today is destined to be the case of the 21st Century,” Phillis said. “In fact, the private school voucher system is siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars from an already underfunded system of public schools. The legislature and the governor are putting our state and our public school children at risk and they admit it.”

Nneka Jackson, a school board member with the Richmond Heights School District in Cuyahoga County, said private school vouchers are making school segregation in Ohio worse, not better.

“If someone tells you this is about helping poor minority children, hook them up to a lie detector test asap and stand back because the sparks are going to fly,” Jackson said.

About 40 percent of Richmond Heights residents are white. Before the EdChoice private school voucher program, about 26 percent of the students in the Richmond Heights School District were white and 74 percent were students of color. Today, after EdChoice, Richmond Heights is three percent white and 97 percent students of color,” Jackson said.

“Private schools are allowed to discriminate, plain and simple, based on disability, disciplinary records, academic standings, religion and financial status. These are often proxies for race and other protected characteristics. Ohio is essentially engaged in state-sponsored discrimination in admissions and retention. You know who can’t do this? Public schools. Common schools,” Jackson said.

Dan Heintz, a school board member in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, said his district lost more than $27 million to private school vouchers, and this forced voters to pass two levies to raise property taxes.

Heintz said 95 percent of our EdChoice voucher users have never been enrolled in one of our schools. 

“So, contrary to the narrative, these families aren’t fleeing a failing school.”The only thing they’re fleeing is a tuition bill. A private school tuition bill that is now being paid by Ohio taxpayers,” Heintz said.

Eric Resnick, a school board member for Canton City Schools in Stark County, said high school students receive a $7,500 voucher while public school students receive far less from the state in basic education funding.

There is no truth to the claim by voucher proponents that “the money follows the student,” Resnick said. “To those who say the money should follow the student, I ask why the discrepancy? Why should voucher students get $7,500 and some public school students get one-fifth or less than that amount? If the money was truly following the student, then each public school student would also receive $7,500.”

The complaint can be read here.

School districts in the Vouchers Hurt Ohio coalition can be found here.

The E&A Coalition is working with Vouchers Hurt Ohio, a growing coalition of public school districts that have come together to sue the state over the unconstitutional and harmful private school voucher program. Vouchers Hurt Ohio now has nearly 100 member school districts in 47 of Ohio’s 88 counties that open their doors wide and welcoming to more than 250,000 public school students.

This is Jan Resseger’s commentary about the lawsuit.