Archives for category: Charter Schools

Denis Smith was a teacher and an administrator in West Virginia. He moved to Ohio where he worked in the State Education Department. His last position before retiring was in the office of charter schools (misleadingly called “community schools” in Ohio, even when they operate for profit).

He writes here in the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette-Mail, the state’s largest newspaper.

The link works but doesn’t permit me to copy any print.

Here’s the basic story. The Republican legislature passed a charter law, and the Republican Governor (billionaire Jim Justice) signed it, despite promising the state’s teachers he would veto it.

He appointed cronies to the state’s new West Virginia Charter School Board. The board picked five new charter operators. One of the charter operators is Ron Packard, CEO of Accel, former CEO of K12 Inc., which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Accel has charter operations in many states. Its teachers are paid less than the national average but its CEO collected $19 million in a four-year period. Its bottom line is profit, not education or community, writes Smith.

Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey of Kanawha County issued an injunction barring the schools from opening because they violate state constitution. She ruled that the creation of a new school district within an existing school district is unconstitutional, unless a majority of voters in the existing district approve in an election.

Smith writes that the West Virginia law is “a flagrant attempt” to use public funds for private profit. He writes that public schools are democratic institutions owned by the community and operated by elected school boards. The initiation of charter schools is a blatant effort to destroy the public schools, a radical and wasteful decision that was never put to voters.

Paul Bowers was the education reporter at the Charleston Post and Courier. He wrote this post at my request. A reader alerted me to the billionaire-driven attack on public schools in Charleston, and I had the good fortune to find the journalist who knew the story.

Paul Bowers writes:

Every few years, South Carolina becomes a battleground for school privatization. It looks like 2022 is going to be one of those years.

Back in the 2000s, the New York real estate investor Howard Rich backed a series of South Carolina candidates pushing school vouchers, which would funnel public education funds into private schools. More recently, we have seen efforts by Gov. Henry McMaster and the state legislature to create a Tennessee-style “turnaround district,” to deregulate for-profit online charter schools via authorizer shopping, and to divert federal COVID-19 relief funds from public schools to private schools. Teachers and parents have had to fight these advances tooth and nail and have so far kept most of the damage at bay.

Lately it seems like the tip of the spear for privatization efforts in South Carolina is the Charleston County School District, a starkly segregated and unequal district anchored by a world-renowned tourist destination. The Charleston County School Board is scheduled to vote Jan. 10 on a proposal called “Reimagine Schools” that would allow a private third party to make decisions at 23 predominantly Black schools. I thought now would be a good moment to revisit the history of school board power struggles and dark-money campaigns in Charleston County.

The pressure to privatize the governance of public schools often comes from two of South Carolina’s billionaires, the chemical manufacturer CEO Anita Zucker and the debt collection agency CEO Ben Navarro. Sometimes working in tandem, sometimes independently, Zucker and Navarro tend to promote more charter schools and private takeovers of public schools.

Zucker and her advocacy organization, the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative, were involved in a 2015-2016 effort to create a “turnaround district” at the state level, modeled after failed efforts in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Michigan. The proposal involved lumping the state’s lowest-performing schools into a new district and bringing in third-party operators to manage them. Similar bills were introduced in Georgia and North Carolina around the same time, but the idea never received serious discussion in the South Carolina Statehouse.

Navarro is best known nationally for his failed 2018 bid to buy the Carolina Panthers NFL team. In the financial world, he is known for his Sherman Financial Group, a privately owned firm that filed more lawsuits against defaulted credit-card debtors than others in the industry during COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a recent Wall Street Journal investigation.

In the arena of education, Navarro is known for his private Meeting Street Schools, which are sometimes lauded as a model for improving the test scores of low-income students from at-risk communities. Since 2014, Meeting Street Schools has entered unique public-private partnerships with South Carolina public school districts, starting with the takeover of two elementary schools in North Charleston.

With a boost of private funding, the schools invest in wraparound services for students and their families, offer additional psychological support, place two teachers in each classroom, and operate on an extended school day and academic calendar. Those practices have a proven track record of success, but most schools in South Carolina lack the funding to carry them out.

Meeting Street Schools also heavily recruit staff from Teach for America and KIPP, and they preach the trendy mid-2010s gospel of “grit” – in fact, the disciplinary model is so gritty that one Meeting Street-run elementary school suspended one-quarter of its students in a single school year. Before opening the schools under new management, Navarro sought and received a special exemption from the state’s employment protections for teachers. As a result, Meeting Street principals can hire and fire teachers at will.

Navarro is also closely associated with the Charleston Coalition for Kids, a dark-money group that emerged in 2018 and immediately outspent all other donors combined on advertising for a slate of school board candidates. Much of the Coalition’s funding and spending is hidden from public view thanks to state election law and the group’s nonprofit status, but FCC records reveal it spent at least $235,000 on TV commercials alone in the run-up to the 2018 school board election – four-and-a-half times what all of the candidates combined raised for their own campaigns. (Local activists estimated the Coalition’s spending on Facebook ads, billboards, and other media might have cost additional hundreds of thousands of dollars.)

The Coalition spent big on the school board election again in 2020, investing $306,000 on TV commercials, including attack ads against two Black incumbents. Today 6 of the 9 sitting Charleston County School Board members have received backing from the Coalition.

A number of national organizations have taken an interest in Charleston school politics as well, including 50CAN (formerly StudentsFirst) and the Broad Foundation.

After failing to create a statewide turnaround district in 2016, the 50CAN affiliate SouthCarolinaCAN shifted its focus to the local level – specifically to Charleston County. When I interviewed then-Executive Director Bradford Swann in December 2016, he said his organization would be focused on “grassroots organizing” via a 5-month fellowship program for parents.

The result was Charleston RISE, a parent advocacy group that also operates a parent help hotline. Billboards advertising its services have appeared all over the county, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Charleston RISE trainees were among the founding members of the Charleston Coalition for Kids when it launched in 2018. Some RISE members said they helped vet school board candidates for the Coalition.

Currently the Charleston County School Board is deciding how to spend its share of the COVID-19 recovery funds provided under the American Recovery Act’s ESSER III program. Multiple local nonprofits submitted proposals on how to spend the money, but only one has gotten a public hearing.

On Monday January 10, the school board will vote on a proposal called Reimagine Schools that would target 23 low-performing schools in low-income and majority-Black parts of the county. Leaning on a “Schools of Innovation” law recently expanded by the state legislature, the proposal would authorize a takeover of individual schools by an unidentified “Innovation Management Organization.” The Schools of Innovation law also allows a school to hire up to 25% of its teachers in certain subject areas without a state teaching license.

The organization that proposed the Reimagine Schools plan is the Coastal Community Foundation, a relative newcomer to school board lobbying. The foundation and its CEO, Darrin Goss Sr., have promoted the Meeting Street Schools public-private partnership model as a way of getting around “bureaucratic” regulations. (Complicating matters further, the Coastal Community Foundation also administers an investigative fund and Education Lab for the local daily newspaper, The Post and Courier.)

The 9-member school board gave the Reimagine Schools proposal initial approval by a 6-3 vote in December without holding any community input sessions about it. All 6 members who voted to approve for the proposal had been endorsed by the Charleston Coalition for Kids.

Whatever the Charleston County School Board decides, the privatization push will continue in parallel at the state level. The state superintendent of education post is up for grabs this fall, and the first candidate to announce her run was Ellen Weaver, a charter school advocate with the conservative Palmetto Promise Institute. A central proposal in her platform is the creation of an Education Scholarship Account, a modified private school voucher program.

Sound familiar? If at first they don’t succeed, they give it a new name and try again.

***

Paul Bowers is a parent of 3 public school children in North Charleston, South Carolina. He was The Post and Courier’s education reporter from 2016-2019 and was part of a team that won the 2018 Eddie Prize from the Education Writers Association. Find him on Twitter at @Paul_Bowers and read his work at brutalsouth.substack.com.

Mercedes Schneider informs us that New Orleans, the nation’s first and so far only all-charter district, must downsize. It has 50,000 seats, but only 47,000 students. How will the district handle this challenge?

The core problem, she points out, is that each school has its own bureaucracy. How will they decide how to “right size” the district?

She writes:

Stability in a school district is not a goal of market-based education reform. On the contrary, “disruption” is the name of the ed-reform game; supposedly disruption and market forces somehow come together to foster parental empowerment and a “choice” situation in which the best schools automatically thrive and the less-than-best are efficiently weeded out as a result of empowered parents not choosing them.

The simplistic, smooth-operation fantasy noted above has never come to fruition in New Orleans’ “portfolio” district– one comprised completely of charter schools, some under the same management organizations, most authorized by the district but some authorized by the state (under the label Recovery School District, or RSD, with the true purpose of converting traditional New Orleans schools into charter schools) but none directly operated by a local, elected school board.

Having no consistent, centralized, publicly-elected oversight of a loosely-comprised school “district” creates many problems. First of all, the level of bureaucracy is magnified as each school or small groupings of schools is under its own appointed board and management organization. It is therefore no wonder that in New Orleans K12 schools, more salary dollars for admin increased as salary dollars for teachers decreased. Lack of centralization also makes it unrealistic to track students who leave one school to be sure that they arrive at another school. In 2015, then-RSD assistant superintendent Dana Peterson admitted that he “didn’t know” how many students disappeared from the decentralized, RSD schools.

Then comes the issue of how parental choice translates into impractical outcomes, including the inability for parents to get their children enrolled in schools physically near their homes. Parents must apply for schools using New Orleans’ “OneApp” application process, which parents complain is opaque. In 2013, I wrote about the difficulty in navigating the OneApp, which left parents to mostly choose from schools graded D or F. Some schools institute additional acceptance criteria, such as special meetings and parent essays. Former RSD superintendent Patrick Dobard admitted in 2018 that New Orleans needed “more good schools.” Nevertheless, somehow, New Orleans’ white students seem to overwhelmingly end up enrolled in New Orleans schools rated A and B, so it is no wonder that New Orleans parents complain about the opaqueness of the OneApp process.

“Parental empowerment” seems to practically translate into “selective parental empowerment.”

By June 2018, all-charter New Orleans was once again under a New Orleans school board (as opposed to being under the state-run RSD). However, the schools still have that previously-mentioned extra layer of “portfolio” bureacracy. It seemed that the New Orleans Public School (NOLA-PS) district (as the new district is called) was primarily in place to investigate financial mismanagement and fraud, such as the “emergency revoking” of three charters due to financial issues and the 2019 Kennedy High School grade-fixing scandal, which resulted in transferring Kennedy and another school to another management org (that is, to a different, non-cheating, extra “portfolio” layer of bureacracy) and NOLA-PS instituting a new means of auditing student records.

As customary, I have taken an excerpt from this very interesting post. Open the link and read it all.

This message came from an educator who studies racial equity:

From: Being Blackatkipp <beingbipocatkipp@gmail.com>

Subject:Being Black at KIPP


To whom it may concern,

BeingblackatKIPP is an Instagram account that was created in the wake of the George Floyd social reckoning. During this time, I was empowered to also seek change in the KIPP network of public charter schools. I had witnessed first hands for many years how white supremacy culture and politics were deeply engrained in this network. I knew from my own experience how policies that aimed to police black and brown bodies and create distrust among the community re-traumatized the very groups of people KIPP claimed to serve.

Once the Instagram page launched the accounts of abuse, racism, and discrimination began to pour in from all corners of the country.

Most recently we have been covering a situation that took place in KIPP NYC. KIPP NYC has a long history of abuse against children that is well known in the alumni community but has received little to no media coverage. Most recently Jesus Concepcion was arrested by the FBI for sexual assault of minors while he was the orchestra teacher under David Levin in the KIPP Academy school in the Bronx. Many previous students alleged that and other leaders knew of Mr. Conceptions’ behavior as he was allowed to have a private bedroom attached to the music room where girls would often be taken to. It has taken 20 years for justice to reach those kids.

Today, in 2021 history is repeating itself in KIPP NYC. This month Cesar Sanchez a decorated science teacher at the KIPP Washington Heights campus was arrested for sexual misconduct towards a minor. What’s most alarming is that Cesar had previously been suspended for misconduct with a student. The principal at his school Danny Swersky had also been suspended for failing to report the misconduct. Both men were allowed to come back to the school where Cesar allegedly continued to groom and abuse middle school girls. On the Instagram page, we have posted voice recordings as well as first-hand written accounts of things Cesar would do to his middle school students. He would notice a child without a bra in a tank top and have the class do jumping jacks as students notice him become visibly “excited”. He would follow students on snap chat, a social platform famous for disappearing messages to further manipulate students in secrecy. He would touch himself in front of students. One student even alleged he asked her if she had her nipples pierced and also showed his nipple tattoo to students. All this was going on, despite other staff allegedly alerting the principal of his behavior. Their concerns fell to deaf ears.

KIPP has a strong clique/mob mentality. Once you are in with leadership you can do no wrong. Cesar was married to another KIPP principal who used to work with his current principal Danny Swersky. The conflict of interest influenced the situation and kept Cesar employed until the police were involved.

Please take time to review the evidence on the beingblackatkipp page on Instagram. This story deserved to be investigated, This community deserves justice and children should not have to be anxious for their return to school. While Cesar has been arrested, the principal who allegedly failed to report him is still set to lead in that school. Our communities deserve better.

I thank you for your time and consideration.

Happy New Year.

Last week, I posted my thoughts on “Who Demoralized the Nation’s Teachers?” I sought to identify the people and organizations that spread the lie that America’s public schools were “broken” and that public school teachers were the cause. The critics slandered teachers repeatedly, claiming that teachers were dragging down student test scores. They said that today’s teachers were not bright enough; they said teachers had low SAT scores; and they were no longer “the best and the brightest.”

The “corporate reform” movement (the disruption movement) was driven in large part by the “reformers'” belief that public schools were obsolete and their teachers were the bottom of the barrel. So the “reformers” promoted school choice, especially charter schools, and Teach for America, to provide the labor supply for charter schools. TFA promised to bring smart college graduates for at least two years to staff public schools and charter schools, replacing the public school teachers whom TFA believed had low expectations. TFA would have high expectations, and these newcomers with their high SAT scores would turn around the nation’s schools. The “reformers” also promoted the spurious, ineffective and harmful idea that teachers could be evaluated by the test scores of their students, although this method repeatedly, consistently showed that those who taught affluent children were excellent, while those who taught children with special needs or limited-English proficiency or high poverty were unsatisfactory. “Value-added” methodology ranked teachers by the income and background of their students’ families, not by the teachers’ effectiveness.

All of these claims were propaganda that was skillfully utilized by people who wanted to privatize the funding of public education, eliminate unions, and crush the teaching profession.

The response to the post was immediate and sizable. Some thought the list of names and groups I posted was dated, others thought it needed additions. The comments of readers were so interesting that I present them here as a supplement to my original post. My list identified No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core as causes of demoralization that tied teachers to a standards-and-testing regime that reduced their autonomy as professionals. One reader said that the real beginning of the war on teachers was the Reagan-era report called “A Nation at Risk,” which asserted that American public schools were mired in mediocrity and needed dramatic changes. I agree that the “Nation at Risk” report launched the era of public-school bashing. But it was NCLB and the other “solutions” that launched teacher-bashing, blaming teachers for low test scores and judging teachers by their test scores. It should be noted that the crest of “reform” was 2010, when “Waiting for Superman” was released, Common Core was put into place, value-added test scores for teachers were published, and “reformers” like Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, and other became media stars, with their constant teacher-bashing. For what it’s worth, the National Assessment of Educational Progress flatlined from 2010 onwards. Test score gains, which were supposedly the point of all this “reform” activity, were non-existent on the nation’s most consequential test (no stakes attached).

Readers also blamed demoralization on teachers’ loss of autonomy, caused by federal laws and the testing imposed by them, and by the weakness of principals and administrators who did not protect teachers from the anti-education climate caused by NCLB, RTTT, ESSA, and the test-and-punish mindset that gripped the minds of the nation’s legislators and school leaders.

Readers said that my list left off important names of those responsible for demoralizing the nation’s teachers.

Here are readers’ additions, paraphrased by me:

Michelle Rhee, who was pictured on the cover of TIME magazine as the person who knew “How to Fix American Education” and lionized in a story by Amanda Ripley. Rhee was shown holding a broom, preparing to sweep “bad teachers” and “bad principals” out of the schools. During her brief tenure as Chancellor of D.C., she fired scores of teachers and added to her ruthless reputation by firing a principal on national television. For doing so, she was the Queen of “education reform” in the eyes of the national media until USA Today broke a major cheating scandal in the D.C. schools.

Joel Klein, antitrust lawyer who was chosen by Mayor Bloomberg to become the Chancellor of the New York City public schools, where he closed scores of schools because of their low test scores, embraced test-based evaluation of schools and teachers, and opened hundreds of small specialized schools and charter schools. He frequently derided teachers and blamed them for lagging test scores. He frequently reorganized the entire, vast school system, surrounding himself with aides with Business School graduates and Wall Street credentials. Under his leadership, NYC was the epitome of corporate reform, which inherently disrespected career educators.

Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, billionaire funder of charter schools and of candidates running for state or local offices who supported privatization of public schools. He claimed that under his leadership, the test-score gap between different racial gaps had been cut in half or even closed, but it wasn’t true. He stated his desire to fire teachers who couldn’t “produce” high test scores, while doubling the size of the classes of teachers who could. His huge public relations staff circulated the story of a “New York City Miracle,” but it didn’t exist and evaporated as soon as he left office.

Reed Hastings, billionaire funder of charter schools and founder of Netflix. He expressed the wish that all school boards would be eliminated. The charter school was his ideal, managed privately without public oversight.

John King, charter school leader who was appointed New York Commissioner of Education. He was a cheerleader for the Common Core and high-stakes testing. He made parents so angry by his policies that he stopped appearing at public events. He was named U.S. Secretary of Education, following Arne Duncan, in the last year of the Obama administration and continued to advocate for the same ill-fated policies as Duncan.

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education despised public schools, unions, and teachers. She never had a good word to say about public schools. She wanted every student to attend religious schools at public expense.

Eli Broad and the “academy” he created to train superintendents with his ideas about top-down management and the alleged value of closing schools with low test scores

ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), which writes model legislation for privatizing public schools by opening charters and vouchers and lowering standards for teachers and crushing unions. More than 2,000 rightwing state legislators belong to ALEC and get their ideas directly from ALEC about privatization and other ways to crush public schools and their teachers.

Rupert Murdoch, the media, Time, Newsweek, NY Times, Washington Post for their hostility towards public schools and their warm, breathless reporting about charter schools and Teach for America. The Washington Post editorialist is a devotee of charter schools and loved Michelle Rhee’s cut-throat style. TIME ran two cover stories endorsing the “reform” movement; the one featuring Michelle Rhee, and the other referring to one of every four public school teachers as a “rotten apple.” The second cover lauded the idea that teachers were the cause of low test scores, and one of every four should be weeded out. Newsweek also had a Rhee cover, and another that declared in a sentence repeated on a chalkboard, “We Must Fire Bad Teachers,” as though the public schools were overrun with miscreant teachers.

David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core, which undermined the autonomy of teachers and ironically removed teachers’ focus on content and replaced it with empty skills. The Common Core valued “informational text” over literature and urged teachers to reduce time spent teaching literature.

Margaret Raymond, of the Walton-funded CREDO, which evaluates charter schools.

Hanna Skandera, who was Secretary of Education in New Mexico and tried to import the Florida model of testing, accountability, and choice to New Mexico. That state has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the nation, and the Florida model didn’t make any difference.

Governors who bashed teachers and public schools, like Chris Christie of New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Gregg Abbott of Texas

“Researchers” like those from the Fordham Institute, who saw nothing good in public schools or their teaching

Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, who turned Denver into a model of “reform,” with everything DFER wanted: charter schools and high-stakes testing.

Poorly behaving students and parents who won’t hold kids accountable for bad behavior

Campbell Brown and the 74

The U.S. Department of Education, for foisting terrible ideas on the nation’s schools and teachers, and state education departments and state superintendents for going along with these bad ideas. Not one state chief stood up and said, “We won’t do what is clearly wrong for our students and their teachers.”

The two big national unions, for going along with these bad ideas instead of fighting them tooth and nail.

And now I will quote readers’ comments exactly as they wrote them, without identifying their authors (they know who they are):

*Rightwing organizations like the American Enterprise Institute, (AEI), the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Heritage Foundation, even the allegedly Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP) for publishing white papers masquerading as education research that promotes privatization.

*Wall St moguls who invented Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) to gamble on & profit from preK student test scores.

*Rogues Gallery. One body blow after another. A systematic 💦 water boarding with no respite. And then we add the Broad Foundation who sent Broad-trained “leadership” so drunk on arrogance and ignorance that the term “School Yard Bully” just doesn’t capture it.
Operating with the Imprimatur and thin veneer of venture capital, plutocratic philanthropy, these haughty thugs devastated every good program they laid eyes on. Sinking their claws instinctively into the intelligent, effective and cultured faculty FIRST.A well orchestrated, heavily scripted Saturday Night Massacre.

*Congress and the Presidents set the stage, but the US Department of Education was instrumental in making it all happen. They effectively implemented a coherent program to attack, smear and otherwise demoralize teachers. And make no mistake, it was quite purposeful

*This list is incomplete without members of Democrats for Education Reform. Add in Senator Ted Kennedy, whose role in the passage of No Child Left Behind was critical. Same for then Congressman and future Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who noted (bragged!) in his recent autobiography that he was essential in keeping President George W. Bush on track with NCLB.

*Let’s not forget Senate Chair Patty Murray. She has been an important player in keeping the worse of Ed Reform legislation alive.

*You have presented a rogue’s gallery of failed “reformers” that have worked against the common good. In addition to those mentioned, there has also been an ancillary group of promoters and enablers that have undermined public education including billionaire think tanks, foundations and members of both political parties. These people continue to spread lies and misinformation, and no amount of facts or research is able to diminish the drive to privatize. While so called reformers often hide behind an ideological shield, they are mostly about the greedy pursuit of appropriating the education that belongs to the people and transferring its billions in value into the pockets of the already wealthy. So called education reform is class warfare.

*The Clintons, whose 1994 reauthorization of ESEA set the stage for NCLB

*Don’t forget the so called ‘liberal’ media, publications such as the New York Times and the Boston Globe who have published pro charter piece after pro charter piece, while simultaneously dumping all over public schools

*I’d like to include a cast of editorialists like George Will, Bill Rhoden, and many others, who have parroted the plutocratic-backed Ed Reform line. Armstrong Williams would certainly be part of this.

*Going back even further into the origins of this madness, I would add to Diane’s excellent rogues gallery those unknown bureaucrats in state departments of education who replaced broad, general frameworks/overall strategic objectives with bullet lists of almost entirely content-free “standards” that served as the archetype of the Common [sic] Core [sic] based on the absurd theory that we should “teach skills” independent of content, all of which led, ironically, to trivialization of and aimlessnessness in ELA pedagogy and curricula and to a whole generation of young English teachers who themselves NOW KNOW NEXT TO NOTHING OF THE CONTENT OF THEIR SUBJECT, typified by the English teacher who told one of the parents who regularly contributes comments to this blog, “I’m an English teacher, so I don’t teach content.” So, today, instead of teaching, say, Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” as part of a coherent and cumulative unit on common structures and techniques and genres of poetry, one gets idiotic test-practice exercises on “inferencing” and “finding the main idea,” with any random piece of writing as the “text.”

*It’s driven by how teachers have been treated the past 4-5 years, especially during the pandemic. Teachers are first responders. We should have been on the list of first-to-be-vaccinated. Schools should have strict mask and vaccine mandates. Teachers are professional educators. We should not be told what and how to teach by ignorant, conspiracy-driven MAGA parents. Public education is a cornerstone of democracy, and we teachers are motivated by a sense of civic duty. We are demoralized by attempts to destroy public education, led by anti-education bible-thumping “leaders” like Betsy DeVos and (in my home state) Frank Edelblut. Public education is being dismantled by gleeful right-wingers, while naive, well-intentioned moderates wring their hands and do little to defend it. It’s tiring to be under constant attack on the front lines, with no support. That’s why teachers are leaving today.

*One tiny example of a routine phenomenon. Teachers got the message pretty clearly: They were at the bottom of the pecking order. The absolute bottom. Micromanaged and undercut at every turn.Excellent points. The heavy handed top-down, bureaucratic demands for “data,” basically serve one goal, to justify the existence of administration.Don’t forget the voracious appetite of publishing companies…We had a district administrator prance around in our “professional; development days” tell use could not read novels or other picture books to the students…ONLY USE PEARSON.”And then 7 or so years later, the district made us THROW OUT every book from Pearson, and they bought new crap curriculum…that program was written by testing industry, not educators, I think it was “Benchmark,” real junk.

*I’d like to mention how I often lose my student teachers when they see the edTPA requirement. They switch majors, and the teaching pool gets even smaller.

*After Skamdera in NM came the TFA VAM sweetheart Christopher Ruszkowski. At least he had 3 years in a classroom, Skammy had none, but the Florida model, you know?

*Children’s behavior is in large part in response to the drill and kill curriculum and endless testing and teaching to the test that has been driving public education since NCLB and the back-to-basics movement that ushered it in. No room for creativity, no room for self expression, no room for innovation. Highly scripted Curriculum like Open Court turned children into little automatons, barking their answers like well trained dogs and turned teachers into task masters. It was a drive to dummy down the curriculum for fear of teaching too much free thinking. And a drive to turn teachers into testing machines and teacher technicians, easily replaced by anyone who can walk in a classroom and pick up the manual. Only it doesn’t work. It was and is developmentally inappropriate and the resulting rebellion in the classrooms if proof of that. No wonder teachers are leaving in droves!

*Under threat of closure of the MA school board in the mid 1800s, Horace Mann turned to the cheapest labor he could find, literate northern females, and deployed the Protestant ethic “teacher as a calling” trope to institute state free-riding on teachers (as opposed to the free-riding of which teachers are accused). Everything in this piece is correct except for the “almost” in the final paragraph. There’s no “almost” about it … free-riding on teachers is an operational feature of a system imported from Prussia, designed to produce cheap, obedient labor by underpaying women. As of 2012, teachers would need to make around 1/3 higher salaries to be paid on the same level as their professional peers. Everyone mentioned in the article is simply this generation’s enactment of the long-standing, systemic class war that preys on gender and race to continue and exacerbate inequity. While naming the current situation is very important, we also need to discuss, address, and shift these deep issues.

*It’s the boiled frog effect over the last 50 years that began as a response to mini-courses, sixties curriculum, obsession over college attendance, professors and teachers walking out to protest with their students, Viet Nam… and the Civil Rights Act. Since 1964, Intentional segregation influenced Local, state, and federal decision making on transportation, health care, insurance, zoning, housing, education funding, hiring, and more. When whites fled the cities and insured two sides of the tracks in towns and two systems evolved, quick fixes became that accumulation of bad decisions and leadership – and slowly, slowly, deterioration became acceptable.

*The list is not dated. It’s illustrative of the accumulation of negativity, quick-fix seeking, acronym-filled, snake-oil salesmen, desperate mayors and governors, obsession with rankings, publisher fixation on common core, NCLB votes hidden under the shadow of 9/11, and keep-everyone-happy state and national professional organizations.

*At the end of 2021 it is far right and left of politics and their rhetoric like CRT and homophobic slurs. So much for especially the “Christian Right.” In their god’s (yes lower case since not The Lord Jesus Christ’s New Testament words of love) name they exclude instead of include to share the good news/word.

*Data, data, data. Yesterday, I commented that I feel sympathetic toward the anti-CRT petitioners. I do. They’re not bad people. They’re just afraid of changing social rules. Their actions are demoralizing, but not dehumanizing. Wealthy corporations and individuals on the other hand , through their untaxed foundations, gave carrots to governments the world over to give the stick to education so that greater profits could be made through privatization and data monetizing. I was once called a 2. I was once labeled the color grey. I was numbered, dehumanized by test score data in an attempt to make education like Uber or Yelp. Not just demoralized, dehumanized. It’s not just who but what dehumanized teachers. It was the wrongheaded idea that education can be measured and sold by the unit. That idea was insidious. The marketing ploy to make my students into consumers who consider their efforts junk unless they are labeled with the right number or dashboard color was insidious. I have no sympathy for the investor class. They are not people with whom I disagree about social issues; they are hostile, corporate takeover wolves out to tear the flesh of the formerly middle and deeply impoverished classes for profit. Not one of the investors in education “reform” or any of their revolving door bureaucrats is any friend of mine. The list of who is long. The list of what is short.

*Jonah Edelman (Founder, Stand on Children); brother Josh Edelman (Gates Foundation: Empowering-?!–Effective Teaching; SEED Charter Schools); Charles & David Koch. Pear$on Publishing monopoly&, of course, ALEC (interfering in our business for FIFTY long years!)

Ever since Republicans in North Carolina took control of the General Assembly (legislature) in 2010, they have tried to diminish the state’s responsibility for the common good or to extinguish it altogether. No institution has suffered as much by their hostility as the public schools.

NC Policy Watch is an outstanding source of information about the state. It recently reported about the General Assembly’s refusal to obey a court order to rectify the unconstitutional funding of the public schools, which is grossly inequitable. The historic ruling was the Leandro case, and Republicans have offered charters and vouchers instead of equitable and adequate funding. Now they are rumbling about impeaching the judge who told them to fix the funding.

Despite multiple judicial determinations that the state’s K-12 schools are unconstitutionally deficient, the Republican politicians – including, last week, a pair of appellate court judges – say that no court can order the legislature to actually fix the problem.

According to the judges in question, state courts have “no authority to order the appropriation of monies to satisfy any execution of [the Leandro] judgment.”

In effect, they argue, 25-plus years of trials, expert witness testimony, findings, rulings, appeals and remedy planning were all just a meaningless exercise in pushing paper. When it gets right down to it, the power to decide whether to make our K-12 schools constitutional remains right where it’s always been – at the whim of state legislative leaders who are the chief authors of the current failed system.

And just in case anyone had any doubts about the complete power they claim to wield (or had any inkling to question it), GOP lawmakers are firing some unmistakable warning shots designed to intimidate naysayers.

In concert with right-wing allies, lawmakers have sent the clear and appalling message in recent days (see item #8 of the recently adopted adjournment resolution) that they are considering the extraordinary (and deeply treacherous) step of impeaching Superior Court Judge David Lee – the visionary and courageous jurist who has been seeking to enforce the Leandro ruling and make it real.

A reader whose nom de plume is quickwrit explained in a recent comment that there is no such thing as a “public charter school.” In addition to the evidence supplied, bear in mind that several federal courts and the National Labor Relations Board have ruled that charter schools are not “state actors,” meaning not public schools. Even charter schools have sought to avoid accountability for their actions by insisting in court that they are not “state actors,” but private organizations with a government contract. If receiving public funds made your public agency, then every college and university that accepts federal funds would be public, not private, as would Lockheed Martin, Merck, and other corporations.

Quickwrit writes:

The impartial, non-political watchdog Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education has issued a report warning that so much taxpayer money is being skimmed away from America’s genuine public schools and pocketed by private corporate charter school operators that the IG investigation declared that: “Charter schools and their management organizations pose a potential risk to federal funds even as they threaten to fall short of meeting goals” because of financial fraud and their hidden ways for skimming of tax money into private pockets.

The racial resegregation of America’s school systems by the private charter school industry is so blatant and illegal that both the NAACP and ACLU have called for a stop to the formation of any more charter schools. The Civil Rights Project at UCLA summed it up, stating that charter schools are “a civil rights failure.”

There is NO SUCH THING as a “public charter school”. Charter school operators spend a lot of taxpayer money telling taxpayers that charter schools are “public” schools — but they are not. As the Supreme Courts of Washington State and New York State have ruled, charter schools are actually private schools because they fail to pass the minimum test for being genuine public schools: They aren’t run by school boards who are elected by, and therefore under the control of and accountable to voting taxpayers. All — ALL — charter schools are corporations run by private parties. Taxpayers have no say in how their tax dollars are spent in charter schools.

The Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) — which is funded by pro-charter organizations — has been conducting years-long research into the educational quality of charter schools. And yet even this charter-school-funded research center’s findings are that charter schools don’t do any better academically than genuine public schools. Moreover, CREDO reported that in the case of popular online charter schools, students actually lose ground in both reading and math — but online charter schools are the fastest-growing type of charter school because they make it easiest to skim away public tax dollars.https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergreene/2019/03/29/report-the-department-of-education-has-spent-1-billion-on-charter-school-waste-and-fraud/#ab1fbdb27b64

A reader called “Retired Teacher” read Peter Greene’s reflections on Amazon as a model of schooling and posted this comment:

Devious DeVos had the nerve to call public schools a factory model of education. It seems to me that rows of zombie students staring at screens and fed content from an algorithm on a screen much more easily qualifies as a “factory model.” Public education is a model whose goal is mostly about being “through and efficient.” It aspires to bring young people access, opportunity and civics preparation in order to become responsible citizens. It is a pubic institution with noble goals, not an Amazon Warehouse.

The so-called “free market” is a scammer’s delight where the strong feed on the weak and the predators hunt for prey. Believing that the free market will solve education’s problems is as naive as it is reckless. Our young people should be valued, protected and taught well to prepare them for the future as they are the future of this country. They must be ready to address our future needs, and they deserve so much more than being considered a monetized line item in some rich person’s portfolio.

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.

This post was published by the Network for Public Education. The authors remind us that the only thing innovative about charter schools is their marketing practices.

Cynthia Roy and Richard Rosa are co-chairs of the New Bedford Coalition to Save Our School. In this op-ed for SouthCoast Today, they explain why a newly proposed charter school is not something that Massachusetts needs.

One of the most morally disturbing aspects of the Innovators Charter School proposal for New Bedford and Fall River is the joining of considerable political and economic power to withdraw resources from public education systems that have been historically underfunded. What is appalling is the deliberate indifference to the impact on our public school systems in New Bedford and Fall River which, together, serve 22,563 students. As students and families are seduced to exit their public schools, the operating costs in these schools remain the same. This proposal is just more of the same looting of the public school system that we have seen with charter schools.

The Innovators Charter School is not an incubator of innovation for public education reform; rather, it is part of a movement to treat public education as a market opportunity for entrepreneurs and business that has proven to be catastrophic for communities across the state.

Virtually every “innovation” that charter schools utilize to decorate their proposals was born in public schools. Charter schools have been on the scene since the 1980s, and yet there has been little to no shared innovation even though they are released from significant regulations that public schools must abide by.

The greatest innovation that charter schools have engendered is that they are very seductive with their false narratives of “failing public schools.” The application is loaded with these references, insinuating that public schools are dated in their assumptions about learning and educator development.

The ICS application places great emphasis on its educators being knowledgeable about adolescent development. There is nothing innovative about this. All licensed public school educators in the state have taken various courses in adolescent development. Many hold advanced degrees and possess a deep understanding of child psychology and how students learn and grow, including students with disabilities. We also wonder how ICS will recruit and retain professional educators who are knowledgeable in adolescent development when they intend on paying their educators ten thousand dollars less than their counterparts working in our public schools.

Read the complete op-ed here.