Archives for category: Administrators, superintendents

Jack Ross of California-based Capital & Main posed the question: Will Alberto Carvalho, who was recently hired away from Miami-Dade public schools to become the new superintendent of the Los Angeles public schools, expand the number of charter schools in L.A.?

At Carvalho’s first press conference, the first question to him was about where he stood on charter schools. This issue has prompted billionaires like the late Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, and Reed Hastings of Netflix to pour millions into school board races. The current board has a 4-3 pro-charter majority.

Ross wrote:

So where does Carvalho stand? During his 13 year tenure in the Sunshine State, the number of charter schools in the south Florida district rose from 65 to 145 (while more than 30 charter schools also closed). More campuses were converted into magnet programs offering specialized education in subjects like robotics, computer science or performing arts: In 2010, around 41,000 Miami students attended magnets, and by 2019 that number had risen to more than 72,000. The Miami magnets, however, are operated by the school district and not by private owners. “I have always been a proponent, and dramatically expanded, publicly offered, accountable choice in Miami-Dade public schools,” Carvalho said at his press conference, referring to his investment in public magnet schools. “In Florida, charter schools are enabled by Florida statute, and school boards, by and large, do not have great latitude in the approval of charter programs.”

Carvalho liked the story so much that he tweeted it with a comment:


Alberto M. Carvalho@MiamiSup
Publicly accountable choice, under the leadership of representative boards, that serve all children, regardless of their diverse abilities, not profits, is a model that has worked well. Will L.A.’s New Superintendent Expand Charter Schools? @capitalandmain

Right below Carvalho’s tweet was a response from Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education.

Opposed to for-profit @miamiSup? Why did largest for- profit Academica more than double # of schools in your district?

Academica is a huge for-profit chain based in Florida that is unusually avaricious and highly political.

The board of the Los Angeles Unified School District has hired Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of the schools in Miami-Dade, too PPP become superintendent of the Los Angeles. Carvalho has served in Miami as superintendent since 2008. Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to hire him in New York City in 2018, but Carvalho backed out after the appointment was announced.

Alberto Carvalho, who has led Miami-Dade County Public Schools since 2008 and is among the nation’s most experienced and admired school district leaders, has been named the next superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, district officials announced Thursday.

The Board of Education made the announcement after a special, closed meeting. In recent weeks board members have interviewed and deliberated over candidates in a series of closed sessions.

In coming to L.A. Unified, Carvalho, 57, moves from heading the fourth-largest K-12 public school system in the country to the second-largest, taking on one of the highest-profile and most challenging posts in public education…

Born in Portugal, he came to the U.S. at age 17. Carvalho learned English as a young adult and quickly worked his way up from construction and restaurant jobs as he attended Broward Community College. He later won a scholarship to Barry University and enrolled on a premed track. He excelled academically, but took a hard turn in his career path when, in his mid-20s, he interviewed for a teaching position at Miami Jackson Senior High. He was offered a job the same day, a Tampa Bay Times profile reported in 2019.

After four years in the classroom — teaching physics, chemistry and calculus — he became an assistant principal. The superintendent at the time was so impressed that he brought Carvalho to work downtown without his having been a principal. Carvalho oversaw federal programs and later became the district’s chief communications officer. He gained further experience by overseeing grant administration and lobbying state officials.

Under Supt. Rudy Crew, Carvalho launched several initiatives, including a Parent Academy and a School Improvement Zone, focusing on schools with low academic achievement.

After becoming superintendent, Carvalho eventually filled a gap in his resume, serving as a principal. He put himself at the helm of a new campus called iPrep Academy, a pre-kindergarten-to-12th-grade magnet school “designed to promote respect and responsibility among the students and staff,” according to its website. All students are required to take honors classes.

Jan Resseger is puzzled that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot selected San Antonio Superintendent Pedro Martinez to lead Chicago’s public schools. His experience and views overlap with those of Arne Duncan, for whom he served as Chief Financial Officer. Parents and teachers wanted the next superintendent to be an instructional leader. Martinez has no experience as a teacher or a principal. He represents the failed ideas of corporate reform. Twenty years of test score driven decisions—closing schools and replacing them with charter schools— should be enough.

She writes:

For WBEZ, Chicago’s best education reporter, Sarah Karp introduces Pedro Martinez: “Turning to a non-educator with deep Chicago ties, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot named former Chicago schools official and a current San Antonio schools superintendent Pedro Martinez as the next CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Martinez, who was born in Mexico and raised in Chicago, will be the first permanent Latino leader in the school district’s history… Martinez worked as CPS’ chief financial officer under former CEO Arne Duncan… Martinez is an accountant who has been called ‘analytics heavy.’ And in San Antonio, he has expanded charter schools as well as partnered with private organizations to take over failing schools. These ideas have been popular in Chicago, but they have fallen out of favor in recent years… Martinez has never taught or run a school as principal. And, thus, in choosing him, Lightfoot is rejecting the input of parents and others who said they wanted someone with a strong instructional background with ‘boots on the ground’ experience… Martinez is a graduate of the Broad Superintendent Academy training program. Critics say the Broad Academy promotes school leaders who use corporate-management techniques and that they work to limit teachers’ job protections and the involvement of parents in decision-making.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot selected Pedro Martinez, Superintendent of the San Antonio School District, as the Windy City’s public schools.

Martinez is a “reformer.” In San Antonio, he was known for his obsession with data and commitment to opening charter schools. He is a graduate of the tattered Broad Superintendents Academy. He is chairman of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change. Chiefs for Change brings together superintendents who share the test-and-punish ideas of the failed corporate reform movement (closing low-scoring schools, opening charter schools, relying on high-stakes testing, evaluating teachers by test scores, collecting data about everything, distrust of unions, etc.).

Martinez is a graduate of the Chicago Public Schools. He holds an M.B.A. from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And, of course, he is a graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy. He worked for Arne Duncan as Chief Financial Officer when Arne was Superintendent in Chicago. He was “Superintendent-in-Residence” for the Nevada Department of Education. Prior to that, he was superintendent for the 64,000-student Washoe County School District, covering the Reno, Nevada area.

Like Arne, Martinez was never a teacher or principal.

In the education world, currently controlled by a coalition of billionaires and the rightwing think tanks and legislators they finance, public schools have some valuable friends. Among them are the National Superintendents Roundtable and the Schlechty Center. If your school board is looking for a new superintendent who believes in public schools, these are the go-to sources. They are the anti-Broadies. Since James Harvey, the Director of the National Superintents Roundtable is retiring, the two organizations are merging. Jim Harvey is a member of the board of the Network for Public Education.

Here is their press release:


The National Superintendents Roundtable will merge with the Schlechty Center this fall


Seattle, WA – The National Superintendents Roundtable and the Schlechty Center have entered into a partnership to merge on September 30, 2021, bringing two veteran, non-profit organizations together under one roof to better serve school superintendents. The Schlechty Center will provide a legacy home to the National Superintendents Roundtable after its founder, Dr. James Harvey, retires at the end of the year.

Both organizations have spent decades delivering professional development and strengthening relationships among superintendents. The Roundtable, the successor to a Danforth Foundation network established in 1992, has operated since 2006; the Schlechty Center was founded in 1988 and its Superintendents Leadership Network was established in 1997. Both organizations believe fiercely in the value of public education.

The National Superintendents Roundtable and the Schlechty Center’s Superintendents Leadership Network will maintain their own names, membership, and programming, with opportunities for superintendents to join in some activities together.

“The Roundtable is delighted to become part of the Schlechty Center. There is great synergy between the two organizations. Dr. Phillip Schlechty was one of the giants of American public education over the past 50 years. The Roundtable is honored to be associated with his name,” said Harvey, the group’s executive director.

“The Schlechty Center is honored to become the legacy organization chosen to carry forward the excellent tradition and impact of the National Superintendents Roundtable. One of our cornerstone beliefs at the Center is the critical role of superintendents as moral and intellectual leaders. We are truly excited to broaden our interaction, design, and facilitation of deep learning with superintendents from across the nation. The impact of bringing together our cumulative 150 voices around the key issues that all leaders face in public education today will be high leverage for the field,” said Dr. Steve McCammon, president and CEO of the Schlechty Center.

Harvey will retire in December and assist the Schlechty Center part-time to facilitate a smooth transition in 2022. McCammon will become the Roundtable’s new executive director on January 1, 2022, in addition to the continuation of his role as president and CEO of the Schlechty Center.

About the organizations:

Based in Seattle, Wash., the National Superintendents Roundtable (superintendentsforum.org) is a community of 90 school superintendents committed to just and humane schools. Besides bi-annual conferences focused on policy and social factors in education, members take study missions to learn how other nations organize their school systems. The Roundtable also conducts research—adding to the conversation about U.S. school performance overall.

Based in Louisville, Ky., the Schlechty Center (schlechtycenter.org) is a private, non-profit organization that partners with education leaders to nurture a culture of engagement in their organizations, with the ultimate goal of increasing profound learning for students. Schlechty Center staff consult with school district leaders on strategic planning, school improvement planning, systems design, and the design of professional learning and classroom experiences for students. The Center’s Superintendents Leadership Network is a fieldtrip/experience-based network that draws on Schlechty frameworks and learning organization theory to build organizational capacity to focus on engagement at all levels.


Contact
National Superintendents Roundtable: Rhenda Meiser
(206) 465-9532, rhenda@rhendameiser.com
Schlechty Center:
Nicole Bigg
(502) 931-3046, nbigg@schlechtycenter.org

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I like this post by Peter Greene a lot because it clears up confusion about what defines a public school. Many people think that charter schools are public schools because most state laws define them as “public charter schools.” The charter industry wrote the state laws, and they desperately wanted to be considered “public schools” so they could qualify for the same funding as public schools (in Texas, they get even more funding than real public schools). The proliferation of corporate charter chains make it even harder to see charter schools as public schools, since nowhere in the history of public schools were multiple schools managed by a corporation.

Greene asks the questions that define what a real public school is.

Here are a few of them:

Is the school and its resources owned by the public?

Who owns the building? If the school closed tomorrow, who would take possession of the building, the desks, the chairs, the books, the music stands, etc etc etc. If the physical resources of the building are owned by the public, it’s probably a public school.


Is the school run by local elected officials?

When we get to the very top level of management, do we find a board of local people elected by local taxpayers? If so, it’s probably a public school. We’re in a fuzzy grey area in districts under mayoral control, but not at all fuzzy when discussing upper management that is not elected by anybody at all.

Did those local officials open the school?

Who decided this school should exist, and that local taxpayers should pay for it? If that decision was made by a board of local citizens elected by local taxpayers, it’s probably a public school.

Are those local official required by law to meet only ever in public?

Can the board of local citizens elected by the local taxpayers meet in secret? Or must their meetings be announced and in public, with exceptions only for times when the group must adjourn for privacy regarding, say, personnel or student issues? Public school boards don’t get to meet unannounced, privately.

Are all financial records available upon request, and subject to state audit?

If you’ve gone to court to block the state from auditing your school financial records, you are not a public school. It’s simple, really– you’re spending taxpayer money, and the taxpayers are entitled to an accounting of it. Any taxpayer should be able to access your financials. The state should audit you regularly.

If your school doesn’t meet these minimal requirements, it is not a public school.


The Orlando Sentinel has been covering scandal after scandal in the voucher schools of Florida, but the Legislature doesn’t care about their scandals and is planning to take even more money from public schools to fund more private voucher schools. The Sentinel published a story about one troubled voucher school that has received over $5 million from the state since 2015 despite the fact that it hires teachers without college degrees.

Leslie Postal and Annie Martin wrote about Winners Primary School in Orange County, which recently changed its name to Providence Christian Preparatory School:

The job applicant hoped to teach fourth grade at Winners Primary School, a small private school in west Orange County. She didn’t have a college degree and her last job was at a child care center, which fired her.

“Terminated would not rehire,” read the reference check form from the daycare.

Since 2018, the school, dependent on state scholarships for most of its income, has hired at least three other teachers with red flags in their employment backgrounds and at least 10 other instructors who lacked college degrees, an Orlando Sentinel investigation found.

One Winners teacher — whose only academic credential was his high school diploma — was arrested in November, accused of soliciting sexually explicit videos from a boy in his class. Others have criminal backgrounds or histories of being fired for incompetence in other jobs, the records show. Despite that, the Florida Department of Education recently opened and closed an investigation into the school without taking any action.

The school is constantly hiring because many teachers work there only briefly. With about a dozen teachers on staff, Winners had a teacher turnover rate of 83% between 2019 and 2020. The turnover and the questionable teaching credentials raise doubts about the quality of education offered to the school’s 250 students in pre-K through eighth grade.

“The kids should’ve been in public schools,” said Evan McKelvey, who taught math at Winners for six months, leaving in January after getting hired at Bishop Moore Catholic High School. “All of the public schools around here are leagues better than that place.”

Almost all the students attend because Florida’s scholarships, often called school vouchers, cover their tuition. Since 2015, Winners, a for-profit school run by a married couple with a history of financial problems, has received more than $5.1 million in state scholarship money.

The school’s students use the state scholarships — Family Empowerment and Florida Tax Credit — that aim to help children from low-income families attend private schools...

Typically, the nearly 2,000 private schools that take state scholarships do not need to make public information on their operations or their employees. Despite state support, taxpayers have no right to see who is hired or what is taught at these schools.

Because of the teacher’s arrest at Winners, however, the department opened an investigation, telling the principal it was worried the school could be in violation of state scholarship laws because “proper vetting during the hiring process is not occurring,” according to a letter sent to the school Nov. 19.

“When we’re made aware of situations like this, our team thoroughly investigates,” said Eric Hall, senior chancellor at the education department, when asked about Winners at a January meeting of the Florida Senate’s education committee. ”We take these things very seriously. We would make sure that we hold those institutions or those individuals accountable.”

Less than two months later, however, the department closed its investigation without taking any action against the school, despite a file depicting a shoddy employee vetting process and a history of questionable teacher hires. The school faced similar state inquiries in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and was cleared to remain a scholarship school then, too.

That is because the Republican-led Legislature has written the scholarship program laws to give the state only limited power to oversee participating private schools. As the Sentinel reported in its 2017 “Schools Without Rules” series, some of the schools have hired teachers with criminal backgrounds, been evicted, set up in rundown facilities and falsified fire and health reports but still remained in the voucher programs.

This year, the Florida Senate is considering a bill to expand the scholarship programs that already serve more than 181,000 students and cost nearly $1 billion, so that more children could use them and more state money would be spent.

The Legislature also has turned down requests to stiffen the rules that govern participating private schools. In 2018, for example, a proposal to require private schools’ teachers to have bachelor’s degrees — as the state demands of its public school teachers — was rejected. Advocates say the scholarships, some of which go to children with disabilities, give parents options outside public schools, and if parents aren’t happy with the private school they pick, they can move their child to another campus...

The education department investigated the school previously after a complaint from a parent who wrote the state to say the campus was dirty and “children of all ages are running out of the classroom screaming and hitting each other,” as well as after a report from the Florida Department of Children and Families that a teacher had hurt a student and the Sentinel’s report in 2018 that the school had hired a felon as a teacher.

A custodian at the school served time in prison for a firearms violation.

The story goes on with more details about the checkered past and present of a “school without rules” and a legislature that happily hands out millions to anyone who asks for them, all in the name of “school choice.” Even bad choices are fine in Florida.

Subscribe to the Orlando Sentinel to read the full story.

Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch excoriated retiring Senator Roy Blunt as a symbol of a cowering GQP establishment that failed to stand up to Trump. McDermott wonders why newcomer Josh Hawley has a national profile (as a Trump lackey), but the senior senator from Missouri is virtually unknown outside the state.

Unfortunately, Blunt also has personified what establishment Republicans became during the Trump era: passive enablers to a chronically mendacious, constitutionally malicious, mentally unfit president.

And now Blunt is, once again, personifying the GOP establishment, this time by exiting the extremist bunker that his party has become — a trend that intensified under Trump, as Blunt and others at the grownups’ table stared down at their plates in mute terror...

Blunt, just by virtue of his position in the Senate Republican hierarchy, could have forced a historic shift in the narrative of the Trump era had he done what he could have — shouldhave — done at any point during Trump’s tenure. Blunt could have walked up to any microphone in sight after some Trumpian outrage or other (the available choices were constant) and said what he knows is true: “This isn’t who we are. As a party, or as a country. Acceptance of this ignorant, corrosive sociopath of a president isn’t a valid trade for tax cuts and judges. It’s a selling of the soul, and I won’t do it anymore.

Yes, he would have lost his Senate Republican leadership role and probably his seat — the same seat he is now leaving willingly anyway. Meanwhile, it would have forced a badly needed self-examination by the GOP. Most importantly, Blunt might have provided a little cover for lower-ranking Republicans of conscience to follow suit.

Instead, Blunt mostly held his tongue for four years, voting twice to acquit Trump for his clearly impeachable offenses of trying to extort election aid from Ukraine and for inciting violent insurrection in an attempt to overturn the 2020 vote.

In essence, Blunt consistently backed a president who represented the most dire threat to constitutional democracy that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. The fact that Blunt did this quietly, without the toxic enthusiasm of Hawley and his ilk, is irrelevant. What’s the point of having a grownups’ table if its occupants let the children overrun the place?

The Biden administration selected San Diego Superintendent of Schools Cindy Marten to become Deputy Secretary of Education, the #2 job in the Department of Education.

She has a long career as a teacher, as principal of a high-poverty school in San Diego, and as Superintendent of the state’s second largest district since 2013.

Louis Freedberg of Edsource describes her career in this article.

Marten has been superintendent of San Diego Unified since 2013. But before that she had been a teacher for 17 years, as well as principal of San Diego’s Central Elementary School, a school in the diverse City Heights neighborhood where 96% of students qualify for free and reduced-priced meals.

It was after several years at Central Elementary that she made the virtually unheard of jump from an elementary school principal to being superintendent of her district — not just any district, but the second-largest district in California and the 20th-largest in the nation.

Derrick Johnson, President of the national NAACP, tweeted his support for her candidacy.

The San Diego chapter of the NAACP, strong supporters of charter schools, has criticized Cindy Marten for the high suspension rates of black students (black students are 4% of the SD enrollment but 12% of suspensions). The critics do not note that the San Diego school board passed a resolution to replace suspensions with programs of restorative justice, which will drive down suspension rates.

No such voices complained about John King, when he was nominated to be Secretary of Education by the Obama administration, after Arne Duncan stepped down. King’s no-excuses charter school in Massachusetts had the highest suspension rate in the nation (nearly 60%), but no one mentioned it. He was “the king of suspensions,” but no one cared.

Marten is committed to child-centered education, with a heaping dose of the arts and play. She is a worthy choice to serve as Deputy Secretary of Education.

The Biden-Harris administration announced the selection of Cindy Marten, superintendent of schools in San Diego for the past seven years, as its choice for Deputy Secretary of Education. I have known her for 15 years. I first met her when she was the new principal of Central Elementary School. This will be the first time in the history of the U.S. Department of Education that the top two jobs were held by people with experience as teachers and principals.

This 2018 article is a good portrayal of who she is.

Read her memo to the transition team here.