Archives for category: Charter Schools

Julian Vasquez Heilig reports on his blog Cloaking Inequity that the National NAACP passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on charters.

Read the text of the resolution.

Delegates to the 2016 national convention of the NAACP in Cincinnati passed a resolution expressing their concern about the lack of public governance, the targeting of low-income communities of color, increased segregation, and harsh disciplinary policies associated with charter schools.

Do you think that the Walton family, ALEC, the hedge fund managers, Scott Walker, Pat McCrory, and every other Republican governor will stop claiming the mantle of the civil rights movement, now that their favorite “reform” policy has been denounced by the real civil rights movement?

Molly Knefel writes in Truthout about the meeting at the Democratic convention with Clinton staffers and the hedge fund managers’ Democrats for Education Reform.

I am fully prepared for any disappointment that Clinton will bring and still hoping for any sign that she will support public schools, public school teachers, and the students who attend public schools.

It is satisfying to see that DFER spokesmen are fearful that Clinton might actually support the “social justice” goals of me, the Network for Public Education, and the millions of parents and teachers who feel betrayed by the so-called “reform” movement.

On other other hand, it is shocking to see Clinton staffers defending George W. Bush’s failed No Child Left Behind legislation. We thought that one had died and been buried, and yet here they are–representatives of the Democratic nominee–praising NCLB and its emphasis on accountability. It is a tired chestnut that NCLB alerted us to achievement gaps. That is utter nonsense. Everyone knew there were achievement gaps between different groups, and NCLB did nothing about them. Nothing. Testing does not close achievement gaps.

I suport Hillary Clinton. I will vote for her. But I will be a tough critic when her staff says dumb things that refute common sense and evidence about the harm that NCLB has done, especially to the most vulnerable children.

It is time for truth: Everything promoted by the corporate reform movement–charter schools, vouchers, evaluating teachers by test scores, closing schools that have low test scores (and high numbers of needy students)–has failed.

Their numbers are small. They represent hedge fund money, but very few people.

Their critics, however, represent millions of parents and educators and people who love their community public schools.

We are many, and they are few.

And, yes, Jonathan Alter, the Network for Public Education will continue to fight for social justice for children, for improving their lives as well as their schools.

Jeff Bryant writes that corporate reformers are feeling nervous these days. As you know, none of their promises has come true anywhere, after 15 years of their strategies. They are uneasy about Hillary Clinton, and their fears have grown deeper since she selected Tim Kaine as her running mate.

If she had chosen Corey Booker, there would be champagne corks popping in the penthouses of reform leaders.

Instead, she picked Kaine, who sent his children to public schools in Richmond and who has never been a supporter of school choice, charters, or high-stakes testing. Nor is his wife Anne Holton, who was Secretary of Education in Virginia until her husband was picked to run for vice-president. Anne Holton’s father, Governor Holton, enrolled his children in Richmond’s public schools, and she went to desegregated schools. Her tenure in office was marked by opposition to charter schools.

He is not as progressive as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, but he is a friend of public schools.

As Bernie Sanders said of Kaine, “He is more conservative than I am, but on his worst day he is 100 times BETTER than Trump.”

When the charter industry decides to expand in your district or state, one thing is certain: Bitter divisiveness will follow, as the night follows the day.

The school board elections become pitched battles between friends of charters and friends of public schools. Parents fight over who goes to charter schools and over resources taken away from public schools to fund charter schools.

One of the most heated school board races this fall will take place in Nashville, where the charter industrial complex has targeted board members who support public schools. The money is pouring in from wealthy contributors to knock out Amy Frogge (a hero of this blog), Will Pinkston, and Jill Speering, all of whom have fought to keep the charter zealots from destroying public education.

The parasitic Stand On Children is handing out big bucks to candidates who prefer charter schools. Rich corporate leaders and right-wingers are funding the charteristas.

The model campaign last time was run by Amy Frogge, a lawyer and public school parent who was elected despite her opponent’s 5-1 war chest advantage.

Tired of seeing the board led by supporters of public education, the privatizers are making a move to defeat the board members who have stood in their way.

If you care about education in Tennessee, do what you can to support the friends of public schools.

I am reposting this notice because the original post attributed the fabulous film “Education, Inc.” to the wrong film-makers.

Brian and Cindy Malone spent years creating the film “Education, Inc.” which documents the corporate assault on public education.

It just won an Emmy award. from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Heartland Region).

The Malones donated the Emmy to Douglas County Schools as a symbol of a great community coming together.

This is wonderful news!

The Malones join the honor roll of this blog for helping to tell the story of the creeping privatization of public education, and doing so with a dramatic film.

Please go to their website and arrange a showing in your community.

Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, has written an excellent summary of the reasons that charter schools are not public schools. As she puts it, they are private schools that receive public funding. They are like private contractors who are working with a government contract; when they are sued in court, they claim they are not state actors, they are private contractors. That is, they plead that they can’t be held to the same laws as public schools because they are not public schools.

What makes public education advocates angry, she writes, is when charter schools claim “success” but play by different rules.

She uses the example of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charters to show that her charters do not enroll the same proportions of children who are poor and children with disabilities as the neighborhood school. In addition, they don’t accept new students after a certain grade because they don’t want to ruin their “culture” by bringing in new students (this is called “backfilling”).

Public schools have public governance, with open meetings and financial transparency. Charter schools almost never do.

The differences between public schools and charter schools go well beyond issues of governance. One of the strengths of a true public school is its ethical and legal obligation to educate all. Public school systems enroll any student who comes into the district’s attendance zone from ages 5 to 21 — no matter their handicapping condition, lack of prior education, first language, or even disciplinary or criminal record. Not only will empty seats be filled at any grade, if there is a sudden influx of students, classes must be opened.

In contrast, charter schools control enrollment — in both direct and subtle ways. In 2013, journalist Stephanie Simon wrote a comprehensive report exposing the lengthy applications, tests, essays and other hurdles used by many charters schools to make sure they get the kind of student that they want.

Even when some charter chains, such as Aspire, Success Academy and KIPP, have simple applications and lottery entrance, student bodies are not necessarily representative of neighborhood schools.

Burris asks:

The Democratic National Convention is about to begin. Will the party show commitment to rein in the “Wild West” of charter schools, as new platform language suggests? Friends of public education will be watching.

The charter industry in Texas wants to take part of the capital funding that now goes to public schools. Charter schools in Texas do not perform as well as public schools, but they have a powerful lobby of business elites who are contemptuous of public schools.

Currently, public schools are required to give space to charter schools. Public education in Texas have been underfunded since the legislature cut $5.2 Billion from them in 2011.

But charters want their own dedicated funding stream, even though the funding will be taken from public schools.

Here’s a thought: why don’t the billionaires like John Arnold and Tecans for Education pay for charter facilities?

A few years ago, when I visited Michigan, I spoke with about 80 district superintendents. The most common complaint from them was the money they had to spend every year advertising themselves in a fierce competition with other districts. The money follows the child, so larger enrollments meant bigger budgets. Each district, they said, typically puts about $100,000 into campaign to poach students away from neighboring districts.

They thought this was a huge waste of resources, since they also had to hire people to design their marketing materials.

This study reviews the practices of branding and marketing schools in a competitive environment.

The charter chain that does it best is Success Academies, which targets its audience, sends out mailers, and blankets the neighborhood with notices to parents. Its goal is to have more applicants than places, so it can advertise that it has a long waiting list.

When Success Academy opened its first school in Harlem, it had a marketing budget of $325,000. The public school with which it competed had $500 to print flyers and brochures.

Bill Phillis of the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition writes about the results of an investigation conducted by the Ohio Department of Education.

ECOT is the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. It is a for-profit online virtual school. It has one of the lowest graduation rates of any school in the nation. Its owner, William Lager, is one of the biggest campaign contributors to Republicans in Ohio.

ECOT’s waste felt at the school district level

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has determined that a sample of ECOT students participate, on the average, one hour per day-one fifth of the time required. If that holds true of ECOT’s enrollment, of the $108 million ECOT extracted from school districts in FY 2016, a total of more than $80 million was collected for time students were not participating in instruction.

589 districts are suffering funding deductions flowing to ECOT. On the average, the deduction is $183,175 per district. Columbus Public Schools lost $11,618,822 to ECOT at the high end and Indian Creek lost $177 last school year.

The ECOT scheme drains scarce resources from school districts–and for what? Student participation, an average for 20% of the time required. Hence, for a district like Northridge Local in Licking County, over $100,000 of its $154,000 flows to ECOT for time students are not participating.

The district-by-district deduction data should be of concern to school officials and their constituents.

Massachusetts has been engaged this past year in a heated public debate about “lifting the cap” on charter schools. Public school parents are concerned that lifting the cap will encourage a proliferation of charter schools that will harm public schools, draining away students and funding.

One blogger, known as Public School Mama, has become deeply invested in protecting her children’s public school. Recently she and other parents have been slammed on Twitter by an out of state venture capitalist who thinks he knows what is best for parents in Boston and everywhere else.

This venture capitalist doesn’t like public schools. He calls those who defend them ugly names, suggesting they are akin to Nazis or segregationists. He thinks he is a “freedom rider,” although he is not on a bus risking his life for anyone.

My own experience has taught me that it is useless to engage with people who won’t listen. It is passing strange to tell parents that they should open the flood gates to privatization and relinquish their attachment to their community public schools, especially when the person doing the lecture doesn’t even live in the state.


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