Archives for category: Budget Cuts

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities documents how states are disinvesting in K-12 education.

This report shows the dramatic contradiction between political rhetoric and economic reality. The state’s that are cutting education spending are also demanding higher test scores, and many have launched charters and vouchers, which further diminish funding for public schools.

It begins:

“Public investment in K-12 schools — crucial for communities to thrive and the U.S. economy to offer broad opportunity — has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade. PUBLIC INVESTMENT IN K-12 SCHOOLS HAS DECLINED DRAMATICALLY IN A NUMBER OF STATES OVER THE LAST DECADE.Worse, most of the deepest-cutting states have also cut income tax rates, weakening their main revenue source for supporting schools.

“At least 23 states will provide less “general” or “formula” funding — the primary form of state support for elementary and secondary schools — in the current school year (2017) than when the Great Recession took hold in 2008, our survey of state budget documents finds. Eight states have cut general funding per student by about 10 percent or more over this period. Five of those eight — Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin — enacted income tax rate cuts costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars each year rather than restore education funding.

“Most states raised general funding per student this year, but 19 states imposed new cuts, even as the national economy continues to improve. Some of these states, including Oklahoma, Kansas, and North Carolina, already were among the deepest-cutting states since the recession hit.

“Our country’s future depends heavily on the quality of its schools. Increasing financial support can help K-12 schools implement proven reforms such as hiring and retaining excellent teachers, reducing class sizes, and expanding the availability of high-quality early education. So it’s problematic that so many states have headed in the opposite direction over the last decade. These cuts risk undermining schools’ capacity to develop the intelligence and creativity of the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs.

“Our survey, the most up-to-date data available on state and local funding for schools, also indicates that, after adjusting for inflation:

“Thirty-five states provided less overall state funding per student in the 2014 school year (the most recent year available) than in the 2008 school year, before the recession took hold.
In 27 states, local government funding per student fell over the same period, adding to the damage from state funding cuts. In states where local funding rose, those increases rarely made up for cuts in state support.”

This helps to explain the lure of school choice. It is a thinly-veiled way to divert attention from a state’s failure to fund its public schools. It offers a cheap alternative.

If you live anywhere near Philadelphia, you should not miss the premiere of the stunning documentary “Backpack Full of Cash.” It is an expose of the corporate education reform movement. It has the potential to inform the public about the billionaire-funded effort to privatize our public schools.

The producers and director are the same team from Stone Lantern Films that created the award-winning PBS series called “School” a decade ago.

“Backpack” is narrated by Matt Damon.

The producers found it far harder to raise funding for this film than for their “School” series. Try to see the film but also consider a contribution to their crowd-sourcing fund. They need our help to tell the story of an unprecedented assault on American public education. They have started a Kickstarter campaign to get your assistance in telling the story of the efforts to privatize public education. Please give whatever you can. This is a very professionally made film and it will help to educate the public about the dangers of corporate education “reform.”

BACKPACK FULL OF CASH 

WORLD PREMIERE

PHILADELPHIA FILM FESTIVAL 25 

Dear Friends and Supporters, 

We are very happy to announce the world premiere of our 95-minute documentary BACKPACK FULL OF CASH at the Philadelphia Film Festival with screenings to be held on two Saturdays, October 22 and October 29, 2016. BACKPACK producers Sarah Mondale and Vera Aronow will present the film and participate in a Q&A session after the screenings.

The film examines major threats to public education from the movement for market based reform, including the rapid growth of privately-run charter schools, vouchers and tax credit “scholarships”, cyber charter schools, standardized testing, and the attack on teachers. 

backpack1

BACKPACK follows students, parents, teachers and activists through the tumultuous 2013-14 school year in Philadelphia and other cities, giving viewers an inside look at what happens to public schools when scarce taxpayer dollars are shifted into private hands. 

Key participants include children whose lives were upended by the dramatic events that rocked the Philadelphia school district in 2013-14, as well as local leaders including City Council member Helen Gym, Philadelphia’s Chief Education Officer Otis Hackney (former Principal of South Philadelphia High) and School Superintendent William Hite. The film also features interviews with historian Diane Ravitch, policy analyst Linda Darling Hammond, and journalist David Kirp, among other national figures.  One of our goals, as filmmakers, is to emphasize the importance of just, fair public schools that are places of hope for children of all backgrounds.

We are especially happy to be premiering BACKPACK FULL OF CASH  in the city where we spent so much time filming with the support and cooperation of so many wonderful people. Please join us at one of the festival screenings. We hope to see you there.

BACKPACK FULL OF CASH 

PFF25 Festival Screenings

Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 5:10PM

Prince Theater, Philadelphia, PA

and

Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 4:10PM

Prince Theater, Philadelphia, PA 

View the full program guide here.

Purchase your tickets here!

Thank you for supporting our work.  

Sincerely,

Sarah Mondale – Stone Lantern Films and Vera Aronow – Turnstone Productions

Producers

Christopher Martell, a professor of social studies education at Boston University, wrote a thoughtful explanation of why he would note NO on Question 2 in November. Question 2 would allow the state to open 12 new charter schools every year forever.

Christopher Martell gives five reasons for his decision.

Here the first three reasons:

“This is not a post about the merits of charter schools. Just like their public school peers, some charter schools provide an excellent education, while others are failing their students. The reality is that charter school students perform equal or worse on standardized tests than their peers in the public schools. In Boston, while charter school students perform better on state standardized tests, their public school peers are more likely to graduate college. Overall, Massachusetts has the nation’s best public education system, which is something we should be very proud of, but also something we must carefully protect.

“Instead, this post is focused specifically on the upcoming Ballot Question 2 in Massachusetts. If this question passes, it would remove the current statewide cap on charter schools and allow up to 12 new Massachusetts charter schools every year. If it does not pass, the state legislature will continue to decide how many new charter schools can open in the future. Considering all of the negative consequences of the ballot question at hand, I am using this post to discuss the five reasons why I will be voting NO on Question 2 during this November’s election.

“1. This ballot question will decrease funding for traditional public schools. Despite the “Yes on 1” campaign’s claims in television commercials that voting yes will result in “more funding for public education,” there is no evidence that this is true, especially since communities continue to receive less state educational aid. Even the ballot question’s most vocal supporter, Governor Charlie Baker has stated that Questions 2 will not change the current school funding formula. Currently, more than $450 million is being drawn from public school districts and with an increase of 12 charter schools per year (which according to this ballot question can happen indefinitely), it could cost local school districts close to $1 billion by the end of the decade.

“While charter schools are approved by the state, their funding comes largely from charter school tuition reimbursements from public school districts (see here, for more on charter school funding). Boston had a $158 million charter school tuition assessment, which was 5% of the entire city budget. If this question passes, it could lead to almost all of Boston’s state education aid being diverted to charter schools. Moreover, there are other costs that local districts incur related to charter schools, including transportation. Last year, Boston spent $12 million on charter school busing, while the district has been dramatically cutting its own students’ transportation (middle school students now use public transportation instead of buses and the school assignment policy was changed so more students would attend schools closer to their homes. Boston charter schools also get first pick of school start times).

“2. This ballot question will contribute to growing educational inequity in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts (and nationwide), there is strong evidence that charter schools do not serve all students. They typically have higher student attrition rates (which some attribute to charter schools “pushing” or consulting out students) than public school districts. They serve smaller numbers of English language learners and special needs students. They are more likely to use “no excuses” discipline procedures that can be harmful to children (to understand what this looks like, consider this in-district charter school in Boston or these two charter schools in New York). They are also contributing to an alarming trend of racial resegregation in schools nationwide. It makes sense to correct these inequities before any major expansion of charter schools occurs in Massachusetts.

“3. This is about privatizing public education. This ballot question is being pushed by well-funded special interest groups (who do not have to reveal their donors and many are from outside Massachusetts with no previous advocacy work for public education), who would like to see more private entities running public schools. Many of these special interest groups are supported by wealthy families (who do not typically have children in the public schools) and investors (who profit from investments in charter school companies and other attempts to privatize public education). If you believe that public education is essential for democracy, then this should raise serious concerns.”

EduShyster (aka Jennifer Berkshire) interviews Yawu Miller, editor of Boston’s Bay State Banner, about charters and Question 2, the November referendum on lifting the cap.

http://edushyster.com/tag/bay-state-banner/

Miller is not anti-charter. Nor is he pro-charter. He has applied to charters for his own children. But he understands the widespread concern that charters will weaken public schools.


Yawu Miller: What I’ve noticed in the debate in Boston is that people are not against charter schools. They think that there is a place for them. They think that charter schools work well for some people, maybe for their own children. But they don’t want to see the kind of expansion that’s being proposed now. They think there’s a threat to the district school system if that happens. You hear a lot of people saying *I’m not anti-charter. I’m against this ballot question.* I think the funding issue has caused a lot of people who pay attention to the schools to come out strongly against this.

The Journey for Justice is working with other civil rights groups to bring thousands of people to demonstrate at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, where the first Presidential debate will take place on September 26. Details are below.

NEWS RELEASE MEDIA CONTACT: Jitu Brown
For Immediate Release 773-317-6343
September 15, 2016 http://www.j4jalliance.com

​Thousands expected to demonstrate @ Sept. 26th presidential debate in protest of public education cuts in African American and Latino communities across the nation
“It matters to me who becomes the next U.S. Education Secretary…”

CHICAGO – A national coalition of parents, students, teachers and activists have vowed to travel to Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on Monday, September 26th, and join with thousands of other people who will protest the first presidential debate due to cuts in public education and the impact on students of color. Activists, led by the Journey for Justice Alliance, have demanded Democratic nominee Sec. Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump release their respective K-thru-12 education platforms and meet with school leaders prior squaring off.

A coalition led by the Journey for Justice Alliance (J4JA) with more than 40,000 members from 24 cities across the US is galvanizing. Organizers say they will release a seven-point platform that tackles school privatization, the school-to-prison pipeline, standardized testing and a myriad of other failed education interventions that have led to massive school closings, charter proliferation and other schemes that have not improved education outcomes in urban communities.

“Our voices have been locked out of any discussion about public education during the race to the White House,” said Jitu Brown, national director J4JA. “Both Clinton and Trump have closed their ears to those of us who have protested, boycotted, waged hunger and teacher strikes demanding an end to corporate education interventions that have devastated students and schools.”

“Clinton, Trump and (Green Party candidate) Jill Stein have all been eerily silent on the impact of these bad policies and school-based cuts that have harmed African American and Latino students the most—yet they continue to campaign in our neighborhoods in search of our support,” said Brown. The award-winning activist gained national attention as the organizer and participant in a 34-day hunger strike to save Dyett High School in Chicago which forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to abandon his plans to destroy the school.

Added Natasha Capers, public school parent from the New York City Coalition for Education Justice, “We intend to gather that morning in a national forum on what’s been happening to us in our respective communities,” she said. “There is massive charter proliferation in New York despite the fact that research shows charters do not improve education outcomes. It matters to me who becomes the next U.S. Education Secretary.”

The Alliance will release a national public education platform in a forum called “Public Education Nation” co-sponsored by the Network for Public Education Action, which calls for a moratorium on school privatization; federal funding for 10,000 sustainable community schools; an end to zero tolerance policies; national equity in assessments; an end to the attack Black educators who are being terminated from urban school districts in record numbers; an end of state takeovers of trouble school districts where there is only mayoral control and appointed school boards; and, an elimination of the over reliance on standardized tests in public schools.

Parents and teachers have repeatedly lobbied law makers in their opposition to the destruction of community schools at the expense of publicly-funded, privately operated charter schools and over testing.

​“Where do the candidates stand on standardized testing and how those scores are tied to teacher evaluation,” said Nikkisha Napoleon, a public school parent in New Orleans. “Children in New Orleans have been devastated by racist education experimentation—and we’ve also seen a loss of African-American teachers in our city. Why is this happening in places like Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit? I’m angry that people who live in our neighborhoods, have a history with our children and understand our culture are being driving out of our schools. Where do the candidates stand on the loss of veteran Black and Latino teachers?”

Added, Hiram Rivera, a public school parent and director of the Philadelphia Student Union. “This is a movement for justice and equity in this country. Black and Brown people are united in fighting to make our schools matter, our lives matter and to have our voices heard. We are tired of handshakes and photo ops. We are tired of school closings, privatization schemes and the disinvestment in our neighborhoods. Clinton and Trump need to be held accountable—before they take the oath of office. I’m going to Hempstead because we have to make our voices heard.”

###

The Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J) (www.j4jalliance.org) is a national network of inter-generational, grassroots community organizations led primarily by Black and Brown people in 24 U.S. cities. With more than 40,000 active members, we assert that the lack of equity is one of the major failures of the American education system. Current U.S. education policies have led to states’ policies that lead to school privatization through school closings and charter school expansion which has energized school segregation, the school-to-prison pipeline; and has subjected children to mediocre education interventions that over the past 15 years have not resulted in sustained, improved education outcomes in urban communities.

Xian Franzinger Barrett is a passionate teacher of middle school students in Chicago. He just received his layoff notice, the third in six years. He is one of more than 1,000 educators who were laid off. As a teacher, he does his best, but the people who run the school system–namely, Mayor Rahm Emanuel–seem to be incapable of stabilizing its finances. This doesn’t happen in affluent suburbs. It happens all too often in big-city districts, where the kids are mostly black and brown, and their parents lack political power.

Xian is a member of the board of the Network for Public Education, and I have gotten to know him since we launched in 2012. I can attest to his love for his profession and his students. Mayor Emanuel wants to put a stop to that.

Friends tried to console him but Xian writes:

But oppression is not an accident; it is a centuries-long design.

That is the only explanation for a Chicago where my students who have already lost parents to Immigration and Customs Enforcement have to persevere through more cuts in school funding, and the mayor who covered up the murder of one of their peers before he was re-elected sits comfortably in office. It’s the only way to explain a Chicago where an eighteen-year-old lies dead and those who were paid to protect him revel in paid administrative leave.

Oppression is the only way to describe the reason why I sit jobless, surrounded by piles of published student work from brilliant teaching and learning in a class I was asked to teach, while those who mismanaged the funds of the district collect their checks and continue to wield power over our students. We can’t shrug this off and persevere. To paraphrase Angela Davis, we cannot continue to accept what we cannot change, we must change what we cannot accept.

Xian is a fighter. He won’t quit. He will be there long after Rahm Emanuel has gone and been forgotten.

Massachusetts voters will decide whether to increase the number of privately managed charter schools in a referendum in November. Question Two will determine whether the state adds 12 new charter schools every year, using money subtracted from public schools.

Advocates for privatization have launched a $2.3 million advertising budget with a deceptive ad, calling on voters to vote YES for “stronger public schools.” The ad refers to privately managed, unaccountable charter schools as “public schools,” which they are not.

Public schools are under democratic control, not private and corporate management. Public schools are financially transparent; charter schools are not. Public schools must comply with all federal and state laws relating to children with disabilities and English language learners; charter schools are not. Public schools are required to comply with state laws related to student discipline, suspension, and expulsion; charter schools are not.

The ad does not acknowledge that more money for charter schools means less money for public schools. The tiny percentage of children in charters will benefit as the great majority of children in public schools get larger classes and fewer programs.

Wake up, citizens of Massachusetts! Voting yes on Question a Two will WEAKEN YOUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

The Chicago Teachers Union spoke out against the draconian layoffs and budget cuts imposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

STATEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact Stephanie Gadlin
August 9, 2016 312/329-6250 (office)

CTU President Karen Lewis warns of inevitable strike should CPS enforce cuts to wages and benefits of public school educators

CHICAGO—The following is a partial transcript of CTU President Karen Lewis’ remarks from Monday’s news conference in response to the new Chicago Public Schools budget:

“I am Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. I am joined by fellow officers, Vice President Jesse Sharkey and Financial Secretary Maria Moreno. We are also joined by a group of rank and file teachers—all who are obtaining their national board certification, which is one of the highest distinctions in the nation for our profession. And contrary to the governor’s beliefs, all of whom can read, write, add, think…and vote him out of office.

“On Monday, August 29th, CTU members—teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians—will report to their schools and classrooms. They will be returning to work without a labor agreement amidst severe budget cuts and threats to their profession, income and benefits.

“Our members are returning to more than 500 school buildings that are filthy due to bad CPS outsourcing; with contaminated pipes that may have exposed children and employees to lead poisoning; and in a climate where random gun violence and neighborhood conflicts have gripped significant parts of our city in fear.

“Our members are returning to campuses where their colleagues have disappeared, by no fault of their own, but because of mandates from the Board that principals reduce positions and cut school budgets to the marrow. Fewer employees—including teachers’ aides—mean enormous class sizes. The more students in a classroom mean fewer minutes of personalized instruction for each student.

“And, though educators have already returned about $2 billion in salary and benefits to the district, with $100 million being returned this year alone, we are being asked to give more when there is nothing left to give. Understand that budget cuts impact students; they include cuts to programming, staffing and services.

“Our special needs students have been hit the hardest, and CPS continues to gut special education at record speed. Even as children are impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder due to rampant violence and death—including police shootings caught on video—CPS reduces social workers, school psychologists and nurses.

“Veteran educators, many of whom are nationally board certified, have been driven out of the district, out of our city, and some, out of the state. Just as highly skilled public university professors are being driven to smaller school districts in Florida and elsewhere, we are seeing teachers and good principals leaving CPS in record numbers. People go where they can engage in their profession, have significant impact on students and where their careers aren’t threatened at every turn.

“The Chicago Teachers Union has been clear. If the Board of Education imposes a 7 percent slash in our salaries, we will move to strike. Cutting our pay is unacceptable, and for years, the ‘pension pickup’ as the Board has called it, was part of our compensation package. This was not a perk. This was negotiated compensation with the Board of Education.

“The CTU has also been very clear—CPS is broke on purpose. Instead of chasing phantom revenue in Springfield and in between the seat cushions of Chicago taxpayers, Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago City Council can show true leadership and guts by reinstating the corporate head tax, declaring a TIF surplus and fighting for progressive taxation that would pull in revenue from the uber-wealthy in our city and state. The rich must pay their fair share.

“Chicago’s teachers are required to live in the city of Chicago. This means the mayor is telling us that even though he has stolen our raises, cut our benefits such as steps and lanes, and now threatens an even further pay cut of 7 percent, as taxpayers we must pay more and more and more for everything under the sun. None of that new revenue, however, will even go toward schools. This is absurd thinking.

“That is why the Chicago Teachers Union will attend all CPS budget hearings and call for truthful and fair taxation for CPS schools. Our members will do what they do best—educate the public, including parents, about the lies within CPS’ funding formula, the Board’s budgeting process and why the school district continues to cry broke.

“Cuts to our pay and benefits must be negotiated. We have been bargaining in good faith since the middle of last year and we have yet to come to an agreement. At some point a line has to be drawn in the sand.

“Chicago teachers do not seek to go on strike. We want to return to clean, safe, resourced schools. We want a fair contract. We will continue to partner with parents and community residents in fighting for the schools our students deserve.

“But we will not accept an imposed pay cut.

“To parents, play close attention to what is going on over the next few weeks so you can be prepared should CPS force educators back on the picket line. To CTU members, we’ve been telling you for months now to save as much money as you can.

“We do not know if Mayor Emanuel can stand another teachers strike, especially at a time when confidence in his leadership is at an all-time low, and when the city is in an uproar over another police shooting of an unarmed African-American youth.

“Do not force our hand.”

Mike Klonsky updates readers on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ongoing efforts to destroy public education in Chicago.

There is plenty of money for “network leaders,” who oversee principals. There is plenty of money for charter school expansion.

But the Mayor and his hand-picked board have ordered layoffs of 1,000 public school staff, including nearly 500 teachers, many of them tenured.

Last week, we learned that CPS chief Forrest Claypool was funneling big contracts to his Jenner & Block law firm pals.

On Wednesday, CPS announced it was maintaining and expanding it’s network of high-paid, mid-level regional managers called network chiefs. They’re the enforcers who give school principals marching orders and ride herd over clusters of neighborhood schools.

On Thursday, we learned that more privately run charter schools will be opening, including a new $27 million charter that’s part of the development around the newly-planned Obama Library in Kenwood. The goal is to give a boost to the real estate market and promote gentrification on the city’s south side.

Today, Rahm/Claypool pulled the trigger on nearly 1,000 CPS teachers and staff. That includes 494 teachers — including 256 tenured teachers. The layoffs broke down this way: 302 high school teachers and 192 elementary school teachers for a total of 494; and 352 high school support personnel and 140 elementary school support personnel, for a total of 492.

Obviously, charter schools are NOT public schools. Only teachers in public schools were laid off.

What a disgrace!

Good news from Kansas yesterday.

In the Republican primaries, several courageous moderate Republicans defeated far-right elected officials.

One of the major issues that helped the moderates was school funding.

Kansans are not ready to abandon public schools for the sake of Governor Brownback’s tax cuts.