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Commonweal editors mark the departure of Scott Walker from the 2016 field with relief.

“The departure of Gov. Scott Walker from the Republican race for president should come as a relief to American working people. His campaign against public-employee unions in his home state of Wisconsin, underwritten by billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch, proved devastatingly effective, and his goal was to take it nationwide. Not that he was the only Republican candidate to take aim at what is, by general agreement, a fading target—organized labor as both a political force and an advocate for workers is perhaps weaker now than it’s ever been. But Walker, even more than fellow Republican Chris Christie, had been especially vocal in demonizing unions. That put him at odds with many of his fellow citizens: Support for unions has been rising since 2008, according to an August Gallup survey, with 58 percent of Americans—and 42 percent of Republican voters—now viewing them favorably.

“A plan Walker issued days before stepping down, costumed in the rhetoric of freedom, flexibility, and expanded opportunity, was essentially a proposal for finishing off organized labor once and for all. Its title was “Power to the People, Not the Union Bosses,” as if Walter Reuther and Albert Shanker still strode the land, legions of auto-workers and schoolteachers massed behind them. Empowering people, in Walker’s view, would mean abolishing the National Labor Relations Board, rewriting federal law to make Right to Work “the default position for all private, state, and public-sector workers,” replacing overtime pay with unpaid time off, and stripping employees of their ability to bargain collectively. The plan appears to have died with Walker’s candidacy. But its spirit is very much alive among many in the GOP—those who recall Ronald Reagan’s decision in 1981 to fire eleven thousand employees in the air-traffic controllers union the way some remember, say, the establishment of Social Security. That they speak so cynically about labor is not surprising. That Democrats seem to speak so little of it is not reassuring.

“According to the Economic Policy Institute, since the beginning of the “Reagan Revolution” in 1980, American workers have seen their hourly wages stagnate or decline, while real gross domestic product has grown by nearly 150 percent and net productivity by 64 percent in this period. More and more of the jobs Americans hold today come without reliable, living wages or benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, training, and job security. Measures like Walker’s aren’t meant to improve things, but rather accelerate what began some time ago. The decoupling of wages and benefits from productivity has been evident over the past two decades, according to the EPI, a period that has “coincided with the passage of many policies that explicitly aimed to erode the bargaining power of low- and moderate-wage workers in the labor market.”

Most of the time, we engage in covil discourse, even with people whom we know are rigid ideologues whose minds are blted closed. but every once in a while, someone opens a window and yells out, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” And they say what’s really on their mind.

Rep. Brian Sims did that in Pennsylvania recently. He called out the conservative Comminwealth Foundation after he received a mailing from it. He wrote on his Facebook page:

“See, I already know that you are all racist, homophobic, sexist, classist, ableist, anti-American, bigots whose single driving motivation is to secure the wealth of your multimillionaire donors at the expense of every single working person and family in the Commonwealth. See, I told you I already get it so you don’t need to waste money sending me proof…actually go ahead and waste that money!”

Thanks to reader GST for bringing this important story to our attention: a court in Pennsylvania ruled that the School Reform Commission may not cancel the contract of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. This is a battle that has gone on for two years, as the unelected School Reform Commission looks for ways to cut the budget. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia schools are suffering from former Governor Tom Corbett’s deep budget cuts, and the Legislature has refused to fulfill its responsibility to the children of Philadelphia.


Commonwealth Court judges have handed a win to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, ruling that the School Reform Commission cannot throw out the teachers’ union’s contract and impose new terms.


The decision was confirmed by Jerry Jordan, PFT president, on Thursday morning.


“This is a very big victory,” Jordan said.


After nearly two years of negotiations, the district had moved on Oct. 6 to cancel the teachers’ contract and impose health-benefits changes that would save the cash-strapped system $54 million annually, officials said.
In the decision, judges said that neither the state Public School Code nor the Legislature have expressly given the SRC the power to cancel its teachers’ contract.


“This Court is cognizant of the dire financial situation which the Districtcurrently faces and the SRC’s extensive efforts to achieve the overall goal of properlyand adequately meeting the educational needs of the students,” Judge Patricia A. McCullough wrote for the court. “There have been numerous difficult decisions that the SRC has been forced to make in an effort to overcome these economic hurdles, including a one-third reduction in staff and theclosing of 31 schools in recent years.”


But the law does not give the SRC the power to cancel a collective bargaining agreement.

Jonathan Pelto reports on the big money that will flow into the Massachusetts referendum on expanding charters. Most of it will flow from the coffers of hedge fund managers, who never showed any prior interest in improving public schools but get excited by the opportunity to privatize them.

He writes:

A group of billionaires and corporate executives are using a front group called Great Schools Massachusetts and the New York based charter school advocacy group, Families for Excellent Schools, to pour an unprecedented amount of money into a campaign to expand the number of charter schools in Massachusetts.

According to published reports, the charter school industry is on track to dump up to $18 million into a record-breaking campaign in support of Massachusetts Question 2, a referendum question on this year’s ballot that would effectively lift the legislatively mandated cap on the number of charter schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Families for Excellent Schools, a pro-charter school, pro-Governor Andrew Cuomo, anti-teacher group has led a series of expensive advocacy campaigns in New York State and Connecticut on behalf of the charter school industry.

Expanding first to Connecticut and then to Massachusetts, Families for Excellent Schools has become the preferred money pipeline of choice for a group of corporate elites who seek to anonymously fund the effort to privatize public education in the United States.

Thanks to the demise of campaign finance laws at the federal and state level, Families for Excellent Schools can accept unlimited donations from those who profit from or support the rise of charter school, the Common Core and the Common Core testing scheme.

While most of the money flowing into the Massachusetts Question 2 campaign can’t be traced, public documents reveal that a handful of hedge fund managers and corporate executives donated $40,000 each to kick start the campaign aimed at diverting even more scarce public funds from public schools to charter schools.

Most of the key players in the Question 2 operation are directly or indirectly associated with a handful of hedge fund companies including, Bain Capital, the Baupost Group and Highfields Capital Management.

Leading the effort from Bain Capital is Josh Bekenstein, the managing partner at the infamous company. Bekenstein is a long-time charter supporter having donated massive amounts of money to pro-voucher, anti-teacher, pro-charter school groups including Stand for Children, Teach for America, and the KIPP and Citizen charter school chains.

In addition, Bekenstein has played an instrumental role for both New Profit, Inc. and the NewSchools Venture Fund, two of the major funders behind the charter school movement in Massachusetts and across the nation.

New Profit, Inc.’s “investments” include major donations to underwrite the faux teacher advocacy group called Educators 4 Excellence, which is actually another New York based, anti-union front group. New Profit, Inc. also funds Achievement First, Inc., a charter school chain with schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the Achievement Network and Turnaround for Children, two more pro-charter school lobby and public relations organizations.

Through Bain Capital, and on his own, Bekenstein’s has also helped fund and lead Bright Horizons, yet another charter school chain with operations in multiple states.

There are many more financiers and bigwigs piling on to advance privatization. Read Jon’s post to see the cast of characters.

Jon’s post was written before we learned of the $1.8 million donated by two members of the Walton family of Arkansas. I wonder why they don’t fix the low-performing schools of Arkansas instead of telling the nation’s top state how to “reform” its successful public schools by opening up a dual school system.

Charles Pierce blogs for Esquire, where he turns out spot-on posts about many issues. He lives in Boston, so he is well aware of the millions of dollars being spent to deceive the public into thinking that more charter schools means more money for public schools.

In this post, he explains that the issue is about siphoning money from public schools and sending it to privatized schools.

He writes:

The people seeking to blow up the cap on the number of charter schools here in the Commonwealth (God save it!) have turned on the afterburners in recent weeks, as we get closer to balloting in which a referendum on lifting the cap will be placed before the voters. The airwaves are thick with commercials about how lifting the cap on charter schools will provide more money to public schools, which is a dodge, because charter schools are not in any important sense public schools.

There is no public oversight. There is little public input. They are privately run and funded with public money. This is the same principle that has worked out so well with prison food.

In New York on Monday, Jonathan Chait jumps into the issue with both feet. (To his credit, Chait is quite clear that his wife works for a charter company.) He argues no less a case than that the referendum is “one of the most important tests of social justice and economic mobility of any election in America this fall.” Glorioski! And, of course, he characterizes the opposition to lifting the charter cap as wholly influenced by the all-powerful teachers union, which he casts as a thoroughgoing villain, and which he comes dangerously close to accusing of enabling racism—or, at the very least, as heedless to the concerns of the poor and disadvantaged.

This is noxious garbage; the great majority of the people represented by the teachers union work in classrooms that most of us wouldn’t walk into on a bet. And, anyway, as the very excellent Diane Ravitch points out, a huge number of local school boards have lined up against lifting the cap. These are not all puppets of the evil teachers union. Many of them are composed of people who have looked around the country and seen that an untrammeled charter system is an amazing entry vehicle for waste and fraud. Chait dismisses these people as the heirs to Louise Day Hicks or something.

Pierce reviews the millions pouring into the state from billionaires who live elsewhere, and he writes:

Call me crazy, but I don’t think Michael Bloomberg and the Walton family give a rat’s ass about educating children in Roxbury or Mattapan. I think they are running for-profit businesses that want to increase their profits and, in Massachusetts, they see a chance to make themselves more money, the way they have in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Arizona, and all those other places where education is considered an industry and children, essentially products. (Especially Sacramento, where Michelle Rhee, Queen of the Grifters, is married to Kevin Johnson, a truly horrible person.)

They are not campaigning for freedom of choice for Massachusetts children. They are campaigning for their own freedom to gobble more and more from the public trough. See also: Privatization, all forms of.

In fairness, I don’t think Bloomberg or the Waltons expect to make a profit. They don’t need the money. I think they have a dedication to the free market (it works for them), and you can be sure that the opening of more charters will attract profiteers and entrepreneurs. It has happened everywhere else. Why would Massachusetts be immune? Deregulation and privatization will undermine Massachusetts’ excellent school system. School board members understand the threat, which is why more than 100 school boards have passed resolutions against Question 2, and not even one school board supports it.

Two days ago, the Massachusetts Democratic Committee overwhelmingly passed a resolution opposing Question 2, which seeks to lift the cap on charter schools.

Massachusetts teacher and daily reader Christine Langhoff expands on my early report (which she kindly sent to me as soon as the resolution passed). Thanks to Christine, I was able to circulate the good news before the daily press. It is kind of amusing seeing the complaint by the representative of DFER, the hedge fund managers’ group. Hedge funds are not generally viewed as champions of those without power; they lack numbers, but they are loaded with money and power. Parents and educators anticipate that the hedge funds and corporate interests will pour close to $20 million into their campaign for Question 2. Supporters of public schools can’t match the dollars, but they can knock on every door and alert every parent that the real goal of this deceptive campaign is privatization, not helping public schools.

She writes:

On Tuesday evening, August 16, the Massachusetts State Democratic Committee overwhelmingly passed a resolution, by voice vote, in opposition to Ballot Question #2, which would eliminate the cap on the number of charter schools permitted in the Commonwealth. Here is part of the text of the resolution, which was offered by Steve Tolman, President of the MA AFL-CIO:

Democratic State Committee Resolution Regarding Question 2

WHEREAS, the Massachusetts Democratic Party platform states that “Massachusetts Democrats are committed to investing in public education”; and

WHEREAS, the national Democratic Party platform states that charter schools “should not replace or destabilize traditional public schools”; and

WHEREAS, more than $400 million in taxpayer money was diverted to charter schools statewide last year from local school districts, forcing cuts to programs that families and students value; and

WHEREAS, charter schools typically serve far fewer special needs students, English language learners and economically disadvantaged students than the traditional public school districts they are located in and use hyper-disciplinary policies and suspensions for minor infractions to push out students; and

For more, see:

Liam Kerr, director of Democrats For Education Reform Massachusetts, was not amused.

“Tonight, a small group of state Democratic Party insiders hijacked a meeting and passed a resolution with little warning and no debate or discussion. Democratic leaders, including Hillary Clinton and President Obama support high-quality public charter schools. The Massachusetts party insiders are so out of step they won’t even listen to those who stand with low-income families and families of color desperate for a better education for their children. There was nothing democratic about this vote.”

The vote flew in the face of predictions by the pro-charter Boston Globe on Monday that it would be a divisive resolution:

“…forcing activists to take sides between two traditional party constituencies: minority and low-income families versus teachers unions…

A ballot proposal to expand charter schools across the state could drive a further wedge between Democratic Party factions when state committee members gather Tuesday night in Lawrence…

‘The charter school issue shows a genuine disagreement within the party, that there’s no consensus,’ said one party insider, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal Democratic dynamics. ‘And both sides are really intractable. The notion of a middle ground on charter schools within the Democratic Party, or among the people that are going to be showing up to this meeting, it just doesn’t exist.’ ”

The Globe got it wrong about a lack of consensus, as today’s report indicated only a “smattering” of opposition to the resolution. It also quoted New England NAACP head Juan Cofield who thanked state Democrats:

“In an emailed statement, NAACP New England Area conference president Juan Cofield, who also chairs the Campaign to Save Our Public Schools, said, ‘We applaud the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee for joining the campaign to save our public schools and opposing Question 2. They join more than 70 local communities and a broad coalition of families, parents, educators, students, and local leaders who understand that Question 2 is bad for our schools.’ ”

Even Boston’s pro-charter Mayor Walsh, himself a founder of a charter school, has publicly opposed Question 2, due to the projected $158 million it will siphon from Boston’s public schools next year without lifting the cap:

Here’s further reporting from State House News Service, much behind a paywall:


The Massachusetts Democratic Party on Tuesday night voted to oppose a ballot question that would expand charter schools in Massachusetts, putting the party at odds with some of its members in the Legislature.

“Our local communities cannot afford to lose even more money to charter schools,” said former Rep. Carol Donovan, a Democratic State Committee member from Woburn, in a statement. “Already, cities and towns [are] forced to make budget cuts every year due to the state’s underfunding of education and the money lost to charters. If this ballot question passes, it will create budget crises in hundreds of Massachusetts communities, and hurt the students who remain in our local district public schools.”

The party’s definitive position differs from the verdict of Democrats who run the Legislature and have differing opinions of charter schools. Legislative leaders were unable to broker a charter school compromise and have left the issue for voters to settle.

Sen. Michael Rodrigues, a Westport Democrat, and Rep. Frank Moran, a Lawrence Democrat, have both taken on prominent roles backing passage of Question 2, which would allow up to 12 new charter schools or charter expansions in Massachusetts annually regardless of a statutory cap.

The Senate this year passed “The Rise Act,” tying charter cap increases to additional investment in local education, at an estimated cost of $203 million to $212 million annually for seven years.

The bill knocked by critics who noted the lack of dedicated funding in the bill, which they described as placing on unfeasible burden on increasing access to a form of public education that operates outside the control of local school committees.
Rather than seek compromise with the Senate, House leaders abandoned hope of a legislative solution, allowing the question to be decided by voters on Nov. 8.

The RISE Act mentioned here would have made charters more transparent, holding them to standards similar to those for public schools, and was bitterly opposed by the charter lobby on those grounds, while public school advocates opposed the further funding of charters it would have enabled. The House failed to take up the measure.

On Twitter, head of the MassTeachers Asociation, Barbara Madeloni used the hashtags #alltheygotliesand$ and #wegotpeoplepoweranddemocracy, pointing out the dark money flowing in from out of state to fund charter growth. Maurice Cunningham, a professor of Political Science at UMass Boston has been tracking that money:

So far, not a great ROI in MA for the hedge funders.

Surely, you remember the negative ads against John Kerry when he ran for President against George W. Bush. Some veterans of the Vietnam War ran a multi-million ad campaign against him, coming close to calling him a traitor.

Interesting that the same advertising group that created the Swiftboat campaign against Kerry is now running the deceptive ad in Massachusetts promoting charter schools as “public schools.”

Peter Greene looks at the controversy and nails the lies.

Peter writes:

Massachusetts is heating up. Perhaps no state has better exemplified the fierce debate between public school advocates and fans of modern education reform. Ed reformers captured the governor’s seat, the mayoral position of Boston, commissioner of education, and the secretary of education offices, and yet have consistently run into trouble since the day they convinced the commonwealth to abandon its previous education standards in favor of the Common Core Standards– which were rated inferior to the Massachusetts standards even by the guys paid to promote the Core.

These days the debate has shifted to the issue of charter schools. Specifically, the charter cap. Currently Massachusetts has a limit on how many charter schools can operate in the Pilgrim state. The people who make a living in the charter biz would like to see that cap lifted, and the whole business will be put to a public referendum in November.

So well-heeled charter fans have collected a few million dollars, and they have hired DC-based SRCP Media, most famous for the Swift Boat campaign that sank John Kerry’s candidacy. The Swift Boat campaign was also a demonstration of the fine old political rule, “When the truth is not on your side, construct a new truth.”

So is SRCP manufacturing truth in Massachusetts?

Spoiler alert: Yes.

It appears that the multi-million dollar ad buy will lean on that old favorite– charter schools are public schools. And when I say “favorite,” what I actually mean is “lie.” But let’s look at the whole thirty seconds.

Read on as Peter explains the Big Lies that are behind the campaign for privatization of public schools in Massachusetts.

Strange, isn’t it? Massachusetts is the highest performing state in the nation, and the privatizers want to grab a piece of the action (money) with their usual lies.

Massachusetts is the birthplace of public education in America. It is up to the voters to stop the privatization movement in November.

I invited teacher-blogger Rachel Levy, a Virginia resident, to give her appraisal of Tim Kaine.

Rachel Levy grew up in Washington, DC, about a mile from the Vice President’s residence, but has lived in Virginia for 14 of the past 16 years, and in the Richmond area for the past 7. In that time, she has been a public school teacher, an education writer and blogger at All Things Education, a private preschool teacher, a public school parent, and is currently a PhD student at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education (go Rams!) studying educational leadership and policy.

She writes:

In light of Hillary Clinton’s recent choice for Vice President, Diane asked me to write something about Tim Kaine and Anne Holton. If you want to read about Senator Kaine’s education policy views and actions, and about his experiences sending his children to public schools, you can go here and here. If you want to read about Secretary Holton’s life and career, you can go here and here. If you want to see what Diane had to say about the pair, go here. Although, all of those things are important to me as a parent, as a public education advocate, and as an apprentice policy scholar, I am going to talk about general insights and impressions here.

I don’t know Tim Kaine or Anne Holton personally. I voted for Tim Kaine when he ran for Governor and I voted for him again when he ran for the U.S. Senate. The way he discussed how he navigated holding the personal views he does versus the requirements of his job as a political leader resonated with me, particularly vis a vis women’s reproductive rights. But otherwise, I didn’t know that much about him. Then, a few years ago, I went to hear him speak at Randolph-Macon College (go Yellow Jackets!) where my husband is a professor of psychology. I went because I am politically active, because I wanted to hear what one of the political leaders in my state had to say, and well, because I live walking distance from RMC. I wasn’t prepared at all to be impressed or inspired. I was prepared to be hear spin and to be marketed to. But afterwards, I was deeply impressed. I had never heard a politician speak so earnestly and so frankly. He told his story. What stood out the most was his emphasis on local politics. He didn’t seem to see local political work as grunt work you have to do to get to next level; he saw it as the most important type of work you can do, serving the public and serving your community. Many liberals have ceded the local political arena, the place where decisions happen that most impact your day-to-day life, to conservatives. Say what you will about the Tea Party but they show up to Board of Supervisors and School Board meetings, they use the democratic process. Too many liberals brush off local politics, as well as the decision-makers themselves, as too boring, too provincial, not glamorous enough. In doing so, they ignore the perspectives of local decision makers, and they fail to assert influence and fail to participate meaningfully in the civic life of their communities. Tim Kaine talked about the importance of local politics, about the importance of understanding the perspectives of constituents and of fellow decision-makers who might have different opinions, and of working with them. He spoke directly to the students, urging them to go into local politics. That was the only thing he was selling. I left his speaking engagement feeling good for once about a politician, proud, even, to have a political leader like him in charge and in my state. I felt hopeful.

As someone who also kept her name when she got married, I would like to point out that Anne Holton kept her name when she got married and that Tim Kaine married a woman who kept her name. I know that seems like a small detail, but it’s symbolic and says something about both of them. Even so, I was skeptical when Tim Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton was appointed Secretary of Education. Oh great, I said, another well-intentioned but clueless non-educator coming in and telling educators what to do. However, the more I read about how she was brought up and about her as a person and a professional, the more impressed I grew with her. And then as I heard her policy ideas, my wariness wore off and I became reassured. Subsequently, this past semester, I was lucky enough to complete an externship with the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS). I met Secretary Holton once or twice very briefly and certainly she was warm and friendly. But what really impressed me was hearing her address education stakeholders, which I had the pleasure of doing on a number of occasions. It wasn’t her speaking style that impressed me, it was her command of the policies and their implications. She is thoughtful about educational practice and genuinely cares about the success of all children and wants them to have a rich and meaningful learning experience. She listens to stakeholders. One occasion in particular has stayed with me. During the legislative session at the Virginia General Assembly, she and a very conservative state senator were both giving public comment in support of the same bill, and it was a good bill. However, while he referred to “failing schools,” she referred to “challenged schools.” She did not use deficit discourse or make it sound as if the issues were inherent to the people in the schools with lower test scores or the schools themselves. She did not take on the legislator’s language to try to get the bill passed, but she didn’t throw out her office’s support of the bill, either. Also just the fact that she was there was notable. She wasn’t phoning it in. She took her work and her role seriously.

By the way, Anne Holton stepped down after her husband’s selection as Clinton’s running mate, so she can help him.

The biggest criticisms I have heard about Tim Kaine is that he’s “anti-union,” too “pro-Wall Street,” and not enough of an advocate for climate change. If he said he supported Virginia’s Right to Work laws, I don’t know if that makes him “anti-union” or if it means he was supporting existing laws in the state he was elected to govern because it would be political suicide otherwise (and I don’t hear the VEA complaining about his candidacy.) Also, it is worth noting that he has a 96% positive rating from the AFL-CIO.

But maybe he is anti-union, not wary enough of Wall Street, and not concerned enough about climate change. Maybe you don’t agree with him on many things, but if his history as a local and state politician are any indication, he will listen, he will learn, he will roll his sleeves up, and he will try to do right by the public. If he has done it in the case of public education, which he has, I believe he can do it in the case of other public democratic institutions and matters. You can look at Kaine’s candidacy through the lens of the national media and national political organizations or you can look at it through the lens of the Virginians he served, like me, and public servants he served with, all of whom have overwhelming positive things to say. His record on higher education is strong.

Look, I am unabashedly pro-union and pro-labor. I am deeply apprehensive about Wall Street’s power. I am profoundly concerned about climate change (which I see as the defining issue of our time). I voted for Bernie. But Bernie didn’t win. Hillary did and she picked a genuine, smart, hard-working VP. Both Tim Kaine and Anne Holton are thoughtful, caring people—thoughtful about their positions they hold, about the policies they enact or implement, about how those intersect with their personal views. They are not climbers or elitists. They have unapologetically and unwaveringly dedicated their lives to being public servants, to serving their country, state, and local communities. Isn’t that at least in part what Bernie Sanders campaign was all about? We rarely see someone like Tim Kaine in politics and now we have the chance to have him serve as Vice President of our country. It’s time to stop working against him and start envisioning what can be done when he starts working with us.

Hillary Clinton’s choice for her running mate is Tim Kaine, Senator from Virginia. Tim Kaine is one of the few people in American politics who has been elected mayor (of Richmond, Virginia), governor, and senator.

He is also a steadfast supporter of public education, even though he graduated from a Jesuit high school. His own children attended primarily black schools in Richmond. His wife is now Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virgina.

This is what he wrote three years ago about his life as a public school parent in Richmond.

Anne and I are now empty-nesters. Combined, our three kids spent 40 school years in the Richmond Public Schools. While we both interact with the school system in our professional lives, we’ve learned even more from back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, attending school events and pulling crumpled notes to parents out of our kids’ backpacks. The lessons learned as parents have made me think about what works and what doesn’t work in Pre-K-12 education. Here are seven changes I’d like to see:

It’s about the individual!

Most policy debate these days seems to be about charter schools or high-stakes testing. But I’m convinced that the most important reform has been under our noses since 1975, when legislation was passed to guarantee children with diagnosed disabilities receive individualized learning plans tailored to meet their specific needs.

Each child brings a mix of strengths and challenges to the classroom. Let’s use the insight gained through advances in educating kids with disabilities to leverage new technologies and teaching methods that can individualize learning for each child.

Early childhood education works

My daughter was able to attend a year of high-quality pre-K in our city schools. This experience made me a believer, and it’s one of the reasons why I greatly expanded pre-K for at-risk 4 year olds when I was governor.
The research is powerful — if you invest in high-quality programs that coordinate with K-12 curricula and have mandatory teacher standards, the gains from early education are lasting. It’s also important that we focus on coordinating investments made in early childhood programs — such as Head Start — to ensure we are effectively using our funding, eliminating any waste and bolstering the structure of our education system.

The article goes on to add other recommendations, including the importance of arts education and the necessity of reducing testing.

His article ended like this:

Finally, a note of gratitude. Our kids were blessed to have many wonderful teachers. There were some weak ones, but RPS teachers were mostly solid, some spectacular and a few life-changing for our children. As I listen to public debate, it often sounds like our main issue is how to get rid of bad teachers. But this problem pales beside the larger issue of how to keep good teachers.

Too many great prospective teachers never enter the profession and too many great teachers leave too early over low salaries, high-stakes testing pressure, discipline challenges and an overall belief that society doesn’t value the profession. We need a robust debate about how to value and attract good teachers.

Better yet, Tim Kaine’s wife Anne is a long-time champion for children and for public schools. Reformers will not find an ally in her. She cares about children and has a deep commitment to improving their lives.

As a schoolgirl in 1970, she was on the front lines of the fight to desegregate Virginia’s public schools. Holton is the daughter of Virginia Gov. A. Linwood Holton (R), who championed integration in a state that was known for its vigorous efforts to resist it. To drive home this point, he sent his daughters to a historically all-black Richmond City public school, escorting Anne Holton’s sister to class in a gesture captured in a historic photograph.

“I have spent much of my working life focused on children and families at the margin, with full appreciation of the crucial role education can and must play in helping young people escape poverty and become successful adults,” Holton wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in June 2015.

Holton and Kaine also sent their three children, who are now grown, to Richmond public schools.

The pair met at Harvard Law School, from which they both graduated. She became a legal aid lawyer representing low-income clients in Richmond and eventually a judge in the city’s juvenile and domestic relations court. She stepped down when her husband was elected governor in 2005 and as first lady made a priority of finding and stabilizing homes for teens in foster care.

She continued to work on improving opportunities for foster youth after Kaine left the governor’s office.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) chose her as the state’s education secretary in 2014. In that role, she has worked to reform a standardized testing regime that had been criticized as unnecessarily time-consuming and onerous.

“Teachers are teaching to the tests. Students’ and teachers’ love of learning and teaching are sapped,” she wrote in 2015. “Most troublesome, Virginia’s persistent achievement gaps for low-income students have barely budged,” she continued, arguing that “our high-stakes approach” with testing has made it more difficult to persuade the best teachers to work in the most difficult, impoverished schools….

She continued to work on improving opportunities for foster youth after Kaine left the governor’s office.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) chose her as the state’s education secretary in 2014. In that role, she has worked to reform a standardized testing regime that had been criticized as unnecessarily time-consuming and onerous.

“Teachers are teaching to the tests. Students’ and teachers’ love of learning and teaching are sapped,” she wrote in 2015. “Most troublesome, Virginia’s persistent achievement gaps for low-income students have barely budged,” she continued, arguing that “our high-stakes approach” with testing has made it more difficult to persuade the best teachers to work in the most difficult, impoverished schools.

Tim and Anne will be great advocates for public schools. Unlike many reformers, who never set foot in a public school, they actually know from personal experience what they are talking about.

Foundations are tax-exempt because they are supposed to do good works on behalf of society. But more and more foundations are putting their vast, untaxed wealth into the national effort to undermine public education and to hand it over to entrepreneurs, amateurs, fast-buck operators, and religious institutions. Privatization does not promote the common good. Privatization is harmful to the commonweal.

Tom Ultican, a high school teacher of advanced math and physics, takes a look at the powerful San Diego Foundation. Sadly, most of its funding in education goes to nonpublic schools. Public schools seem to be an afterthought.

He writes:

San Diego Foundation was established in 1975 and has grown to almost $700 million in assets. It’s self-described purpose: “As one of the nation’s leading community foundations, The San Diego Foundation strives to improve San Diegans’ quality of life by creating equity and ensuring opportunities to be WELL (Work, Enjoy, Live & Learn).” In 2014, they gave over $10 million to educational endeavors. The following table illustrates the spending bias against public education.

Of that $10 million, only $373,000 went to public schools. That’s odd, because the overwhelming majority of children in San Diego attend the neglected public schools.

Another favorite recipient of San Diego Foundation funds is competency-based education. The goal of CBE is to put every child on a computer. We know from multiple studies that children learn best from human teachers who respond to them. Yet the San Diego Foundation has jumped on the Bandwagon to Nowhere.

And here is another strange pattern:

The largest single grant bestowed by the SD Foundation was $2,6 5 0,7 0 9 to the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego. The JC Foundation had net assets at the end of 2014 of $171,593,990.

The Jewish Community Foundation spending on education follows a similar pattern as the San Diego Foundation. They spent $466,830 for groups working to privatize public education most of which went to TFA ($406,330). They also spent lavishly on private schools including $146,000 to La Jolla Country Day, a decidedly upscale K-12 private school.

By far the largest grant by the Jewish Community Foundation was the $25,817,228 bequeathed to University of California San Diego. A major patron of both the Jewish Community Foundation and UCSD is the Qualcomm founder and billionaire, Irwin Jacobs.

Three more grants from the Jewish Community Foundation were interesting. They gave Cornell University $5,511,000. They also gave the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund $6,362,171. The Goldman Sachs fund asset total at the end of 2013 was $1,500,395,380. And the JC Foundation gave the SD Foundation $1,515,800. Why give money back? It is like the Charter School Growth Fund giving their benefactors from Walmart $15,000,000 in 2013. Why?

Why would any foundation give a donation to the Goldman Sachs fund, which has assets of $1.5 billion? Puzzling.