Archives for category: Budget Cuts

The next time you hear boastful claims about “reform,” think Chicago.

 

Poor Chicago! Arne Duncan launched his version of reform there in 2001, with Gates funding. School closings, test scores above all, new schools, charter schools. And what is left now: a public school system struggling to survive. The results of Arne’s reforms: zilch.

 

Then Obama named his basketball buddy as Secretary of Education and the reforms that failed in Chicago were imposed on the nation by the ill-fated Race to the Too, where everyone is a loser.

 

So, Mike Klonsky tells us, reform is business as usual. The Chicago way. Those that have, get more. Those that have not, get ignored.

 

Fifteen years of reform. Think Chicago. Where Democratic leaders pander to billionaires and strangle the public schools.

Guess who really puts children first? Their parents!

 

MEDIA ALERT: Wednesday, May 25th, 9:00 a.m.

 

Billion Dollar Bake Sale/Rally Demands Budget Solution; Sustainable Revenue for CPS

 

WHAT: Hundreds of CPS Parents from across the city are leading the first ever: “Billion Dollar Bake Sale/Rally” for Sustainable Funding to Save Our Schools. This demonstration will illustrate parents’ frustration and determination to keep the pressure on elected officials throughout the summer and demand appropriate and equitable funding for CPS schools.

 

The mock bake sale will include “$250K Clout Cakes,” “$100k nothing-but-crumb cakes,” “Overcrowded Cookie Jars,” etc. to illustrate how traditional methods of filling budget gaps, like bake sales, will no longer suffice. The rally/march will also include real time logging of 1000+ calls from parents to city/state representatives demanding that they put children before politics.

 

WHERE/WHEN: Wednesday, May 25th
9:00 a.m: Gathering at Thompson Center;
9:15 a.m: March to Dearborn and Madison
9:40 a.m: Rally/Press Conference at Dearborn/Madison (Across from Board of Ed)

 

WHY:
CPS plans to cut budgets by 25-30% after years of massive deficits that have gone ignored by state, city and CPS. Parents will announce plans for a summer full of public protests and events to keep the heat on for sustainable funding for Chicago Public Schools.

 

SPEAKERS TO INCLUDE:
Paris Shaw, parent Leif Ericson
Pastor Kristian Johnson, parent Ravenswood
Parent Jose Hernandez, Calmeca
Parent Tim Alexander, OA Thorpe

Photo opp: Hundreds of parents from around the city, creative signage, “baked goods” ie “$250k Clout Cakes,” Etc.

CONTACT:
Wendy Katten 773-704-0336

Interesting times in Chicago. Frightening too. Can the nation’s third largest school district survive?

 

Mike Klonsky reports that Mayor Rahm, who does not like public schools, has proposed a 40% budget cut.

 

It is tough to teach amidst so much instability, austerity, and hostility.

 

Meanwhile, Blaine Elementary School’s dissident and suspended principal, Troy LaRaviere, was elected as president of the Chicago Principal and Adobistrators Association. Troy was suspended and may soon be fired, despite winning many awards. He has been an outspoken critic of Mayor Rahm.

 

Do you have 3 minutes towatch a video?

 

Watch this graphic video and share it with your friends when they ask you what a charter is.

 

It explains in clear visuals how charters operate and how they hurt public schools by draining away the students chosen by the charter and the resources that previously funded the community’s public school.

 

The he video was commissioned by the Network for Public Education. Help it go viral. Share it. Tweet it. Put it on Facebook.

As the charter industry grows, many observers have wondered how their expansion affects the public schools in the same district. A new study published by the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, addresses that question.

 

Policymakers have assumed that the charter sector would provide healthy competition for district public schools. The promise originally was that they would spur innovation and efficiency, and at the same time would be accountable for results. We know from the example of Milwaukee, which has had charters and vouchers for 25 years, that none of these promises were true. Nonetheless, the claims still are repeated and all too often believed by a gullible media and public, which seldom if ever hears critical views.

 

The present study should be distributed to every news outlet, so they understand the collateral damage that charters inflict on public schools.

 

“Little scholarship has been devoted to the impact of charter schools on, one, how much revenue school districts collect through local property taxes and, two, how school districts budget that revenue.

 
“With “The Effect of Charter Competition on Unionized District Revenues and Resource Allocation,” Jason B. Cook fills this void. Cook, a doctoral student in economics at Cornell University, focuses on Ohio, home to a high concentration of both online and brick-and-mortar charter schools, and examines school budget data in the state from 1982 through 2013. In addition to confirming in detail that charter competition has reduced federal, state, and local support for district schools, Cook finds that charter competition has driven down local funding by depressing valuations of residential property and has led school districts to redirect revenue from instructional expenditures (in particular, teacher salaries) to facility improvements. Cook complements these two important findings with thorough explanations.”

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Greene reports on the latest terrible news from Pennsylvania. Because of the highly inequitable funding formula for the state, because of the legislature’s inability to pass a budget for almost a year, because of the burgeoning charter movement, school districts across the state are in dire condition.

 

Erie is considering closing all its high schools and sending its students to other districts. The decision may be made today. Peter predicts that the end result of this crisis could be the end of public education, as the free-market mania consumes everything in its path:

 

The district is looking at a $4.3 million gap, and like many districts in PA, it has no possible response except to cut, “including eliminating sports, extracurricular activities, art and music programs, district libraries, and the district’s police department.” Plus cutting various administrative positions out the wazoo.

 

 

PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has taken a look at Erie finances and determined that the crappy state funding formula and the loss of money to charters are a huge part of the problem. DePasquale has actually been saying this a great deal, all over the state, because from Erie to Philadelphia, bad funding and a terrible charter law are guttting school finance.

 

 

It is, of course, the same death spiral visible across the country. If Erie does hang in there, how well can the public schools compete with the charters if the public schools must cut all sorts of services? This is one of the most baloney-stuffed parts of the Free Market Competition Mantra– competition will spur Erie schools to become greater and more competitive by stripping them of the resources they need just to function. Is that how it’s supposed to work?

 

 

No, this is how charter eat public schools from the inside out, like free market tapeworms. The more the eat, the weaker public schools become, and the weaker public schools become, the more charters can attack them and eat more….

 

Particularly in the long term, closing down the high schools and farming out the students qualifies as a viable solution. It also qualifies as a breakdown of the public education system. If the schools shut down (a process that would take over a year), what happens to the students? While there would be public and charter schools that could, maybe, take those students, there’s no guarantee that there would be enough capacity to absorb those students and more importantly, none of those schools would have an obligation to absorb the Erie students (and Erie’s only remaining obligation would be to pay tuition– it would actually be to their benefit if a student is not placed anywhere). Whether the student is expensive to teach or a behavior problem or can’t get transportation or the receiving schools are just out of desks and don’t want to hurt their own programs through overcrowding, there will be students that nobody takes responsibility for….

 

The bulldozing of public schools in order to make room for the free market presumes that the free market has the chops to absorb what the public system turns loose. What if we burn down the public school to make room for a shiny charter, and all we end up with is a vacant lot? The biggest danger of a botched conversion to a charter choice system is not that we’d end up with a bad charter choice system, but that a city could end up with no system at all.

 

 

This just in:

 

 

Arizona education supporters, led by the state’s Teacher of the Year Christine Marsh and Valley Interfaith Project (which is the local affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation), will launch an effort this Thursday, May 19, to signal to the public and to policy makers that the abysmal lack of education funding in Arizona is not acceptable.

 

The rally, called #NowItStarts, will be held on the Arizona State Capitol grounds at 4 p.m. in Phoenix to draw attention to the nearly $2 billion in cuts to Arizona public schools, which have stymied teacher pay raises, slashed classroom spending, and left the state’s aging school facilities in disrepair.

 

The rally comes in the aftermath of a controversial ballot proposition being voted upon today.  Proposition 123, a lawsuit settlement brokered by Gov. Doug Ducey, would end a protracted lawsuit filed when the state withheld voter approved inflation funding from Proposition 301, a voter approved measure from 2000 that legislators ignored during recession budget shortfalls. 

 

The measure, which has deeply divided supporters of public schools, would replace 72% of the funding due to the schools and would draw largely on the state’s land trust fund to resume inflation funding.  If it passes, the state would still rank 48th in per pupil spending, spending $3,000 less than the national average.

 

“Regardless of whether Proposition 123 passes or fails, it’s not OK that Arizona education is so underfunded and undervalued by the powers-that-be,” said Marsh, an AP English instructor in Scottsdale.   

Here is a report on the Boston student walkout that took place today.

 

Students protested Mayor Walsh’s budget cuts, which hurt every public school and were especially deep for students with disabilities.

 

Today the students of BPS chose to walk out again. Edward Tapia of Boston Student Advisory Council said, “The main reason why I am walking out is because I am tired of Marty Walsh playing with us as if we don’t know anything about the budget cuts, and also I want us to prove to the city that having the City Council hearings during school hours will not hold us back from advocating, empowering student voice and fighting for our rights.” Excel High School student Trinity Kelly said, “We’re telling Mayor Walsh we are not misinformed.” BPS student Gabi Pereira wrote, “I have a little brother with an IEP, his education is under attack and so is mine.”

 

The students are walking out to ask that BPS is fully funded, not only for themselves, but for their younger brothers and sisters, cousins, friends and the future students of BPS. Additionally, they want an end to high stakes testing because they feel that it’s being used against them as a tool to identify which “failing” schools to close. They want restorative justice practices implemented across the district and an end to overly punitive suspensions and expulsions.

 

The mayor told the media that there must be adults behind these walkouts; the implication was that kids are not smart enough to figure out what he is doing to their schools and that they don’t care.

 

He is wrong. And the students are proving to him that they know the score and they know they are being cheated.

 

The link includes a list of the cuts to each school. Gone are librarians; music programs; science classes; music departments; SPED programs.

 

Here is an example:

 

Boston Community Leadership Academy
• Losing over $500,000
• 1 Librarian, 1 math teacher, 1 science teacher, 1 history teacher, 1 theater teacher, 1 leadership coordinator
• Losing gym class
• Losing Strategies for Success (9th grade class helps kids get organized, read for meaning)
• Losing Numeracy (10th grade class that works on math problem solving and MCAS skills)
• Losing Writers Workshop (10th grade class that works on writing and MCAS skills)
• Losing SAT prep (11th grade class that works on SAT skills and college readiness)
• Losing AP Biology
• Losing AP World History
• We had to change our schedule from a 6-period day (teachers teach 4 of 6) to a 5-period day (teachers teach 4 of 5), with longer classes, less collaborative time for teachers, and fewer options for students.
• Cuts to autism program

 

I have said before and I will say it again: Students are powerful, more powerful than they know. Politicians will always claim that the union is behind every protest, but it is not true. The students suffer the cuts. The students feel the loss of teachers and programs. They have a voice, and when they use it, no one accuses them of greed and self-interest. Of course, they are interest in their lives and their futures. They should be. When they protest, politicians quake.

 

 

Steven Singer hangs a dunce cap on Pennsylvania’s legislature. Facing a budget crisis, they voted to eliminate seniority and cynically called their bill “The Protecting Excellent Teachers Act.”

He writes:

“If you live in Pennsylvania, as I do, you must be shaking your head at the shenanigans of our state legislature.

“Faced with a school funding crisis of their own making, lawmakers voted this week to make it easier to fire school teachers.

“Monday the state Senate passed their version of an anti-seniority bill that was given the thumbs up by the House last summer.

“Thankfully, Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to veto it.

“As usual, lawmakers (or more accurately their surrogates at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who actually wrote the bill) spent more time on branding the legislation than appealing to logic, sense or reason. The bill called HB 805 was given the euphemistic title “The Protecting Excellent Teachers Act.”

“Yes, this is exactly how you protect excellent teachers – by making it easier to fire them.

“Currently, if teachers are furloughed, those with least seniority go first. Under this new law, teachers would be let go based on their academic rating. Teachers can have one of four ratings: Distinguished, Proficient, Needs Improvement and Failing. Under the new legislation, teachers rated Failing would be furloughed first, followed by those under Needs Improvement, etc. Within those categories decisions would be made based on seniority.

“It sounds great – if you know absolutely nothing about Pennsylvania public schools.

“First off, in 2015 our rating system found 98.2% of state teachers to be in the highest two rating categories. So at best this bill is next to meaningless.

“Second, like virtually all value added rating systems across the country, our rating system is pure bull crap. It’s a complicated measure of meaningless statistics, student test scores and mumbo jumbo that can be twisted one way or another depending on the whims of administrators, dumb luck and the phases of the moon.”

Be sure to read Peter Greene’s take on this legislation.

Denis Smith, who previously worked in the Ohio Education Department’s charter school division, writes here about the Byzantine school finance system of the state, which enables charters to be funded at the expense of public schools.

 

He writes:

 

Last fall, the Columbus Dispatch published an article, Are local school taxes subsidizing Ohio Charters? that confirmed the Byzantine nature of Ohio school finance and the complexities surrounding the calculation of state school aid. If comprehending how the formulas work which allow districts to receive state aid is enough of a challenge, readers also learned that the state was adding insult to financial injury by sending extra money to charters by calculating the amount of local support in the charter aid formula. This calculation method further assists charters by using the local share amount (viz., local property taxes raised by the district for its schools) in the formula to determine charter payments at the expense of public education.

 

How novel: starve public schools of state funds for years but use local support dollars to calculate the level of state charter payments. So much for local control.

 

Let’s get back to that word Byzantine again. Consider this one example of how state school aid works.

 

“When a student living in the Columbus district attends a charter school, the state subtracts nearly $7,800 on average from the district’s state funding. But the state is giving Columbus only an average of about $3,900 in basic aid per pupil,” the Dispatch’s Jim Siegel reported. “Once charter-school money is subtracted, the district gets just $2,604 for each student who is left, a $1,312 loss that is also, by far, the highest in the state,” he explained.

 

As we’ve read before on these pages, voodoo public policy begets voodoo economics which begets voodoo accounting. In the Dispatch story, Sen. Peggy Lehner, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, confirmed the perfidious nature of state school aid when it comes to charters. “It’s kind of a shell game with the money,” she said. “It’s state dollars, but you have to use local dollars to backfill the state dollars. I think it’s pretty clear that these kids are getting local dollars.”

 

School boards and voters are starting to catch on to the shell game that causes the dollars to flow out of their public schools and into the coffers of privately managed charter schools.

 

The situation is bringing financial distress to many districts, which explains why dozens of districts have invoiced the state for the money they have lost to charters.

 

Scam. Voodoo public policy. Shell game.

 

How long will the voters of Ohio stand for this financial undermining of the public schools that educate more than 90% of the state’s children?

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