Archives for category: Closing schools

Jan Resseger has established a reputation for writing well-researched, fearless articles about unjust education policies. In this post, she reviews a new book about the roots of corporate education reform. I have already ordered it.

She writes:

I remember my gratitude when, back in 2010, I sat down to read Diane Ravitch’s The Death and Life of the Great American School System, which connected the dots across what I had been watching for nearly a decade: the standards movement, annual standardized testing, the operation of No Child Left Behind’s test-and-punish, Mayor Bloomberg’s promotion of charter schools in New York City, and the role of venture philanthropy in all this.

Now over a decade later, many of us have spent the past couple of months worried about pushback from the charter school sector as the the U.S. Department of Education has proposed strengthening sensible regulation of the federal Charter Schools Program. We have been reminded that this program was launched in 1994, and we may have been puzzled that a federal program paying for the startup of privately operated charter schools originated during a Democratic administration.

Lily Geismer, a historian at Claremont McKenna College, has just published a wonderful book which explains how the New Democrats—Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and the Democratic Leadership Council—brought a political and economic philosophy that sought to end welfare with a 1996 bill called the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act” and envisioned privately operated charter schools to expand competition and innovation in the public schools as a way to close school achievement gaps. Geismer’s book is Left Behind: The Democrats’ Failed Attempt to Solve Inequality. The book is a great read, and it fills in the public policy landscape of the 1990s, a decade we may never have fully understood.

In the introduction, Geismer explains where she is headed: “Since the New Deal, liberals had advocated for doing well and doing good. However, the form of political economy enacted during the new Deal and, later, the New Frontier and Great Society understood these as distinct goals. The architects of mid-twentieth century liberalism believed that stimulating capital markets was the best path to creating economic growth and security (doing well). The job of the federal government, as they saw it, was to fill in the holes left by capitalism with compensatory programs to help the poor, like cash assistance and Head Start, and to enact laws that ended racial and gender discrimination (doing good). In contrast, the New Democrats sought to merge those functions and thus do well bydoing good. This vision contended that the forces of banking, entrepreneurialism, trade, and technology… could substitute for traditional forms of welfare and aid and better address structural problems of racial and economic segregation. In this vision, government did not recede but served as a bridge connecting the public and private sectors.” (p. 8)

Geismer devotes an entire chapter, “Public Schools Are Our Most Important Business,” to the Clinton administration’s new education policy. She begins by telling us about Vice President Al Gore’s meetings with “leading executives and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley. The so-called Gore-Tech sessions often took place over pizza and beer, and Gore hoped for them to be a chance for the administration to learn from innovators of the New Economy…. One of these meetings focused on the problems of public education and the growing achievement gap between affluent white suburbanites and students of color in the inner city…. The challenge gave venture capitalist John Doerr, who had become Gore’s closest tech advisor, an idea… The tools of venture capital, Doerr thought, might offer a way to build new and better schools based on Silicon Valley’s principles of accountability, choice, and competition… Doerr decided to pool money from several other Silicon valley icons to start the NewSchools Venture Fund. NewSchools sat at the forefront of the concepts of venture philanthropy. Often known by the neologism philanthrocapitalism, venture or strategic philanthropy focused on taking tools from the private sector, especially entrepreneurialism, venture capitalism, and management consulting—the key ingredients in the 1990s tech boom—and applying them to philanthropic work… Doerr and the NewSchools Fund became especially focused on charter schools, which the Clinton administration and the Democratic Leadership Council were similarly encouraging in the 1990s.” (pp. 233-234)

As she explains, the Clinton administration bought the idea that charter schools would be an effective way to end poverty. It encouraged the growth of the charter sector, not realizing that it was creating an industry that would fight accountability, lobby for more federal funding, and ignore frequent scandals and frauds.

It is a cautionary tale that reminds us that the best way to fight poverty is to raise incomes, create jobs, and support labor unions that will defend the rights of working people and advocate for higher wages and benefits.

Reader Christine Langhoff sent a warning that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is poised to take control of the Boston Public Schools. This would be a mistake. No state takeover has ever led to better education. The state is not wiser than the city. If anything, the state education department is far removed from daily practice, as it is simply another bureaucracy. The current board is dominated by advocates of choice. Apparently they are unaware that the root cause of low test scores is poverty. The best the board could do would be to reduce class sizes and to promote the creation of community schools, which makes the school the hub of valuable services for children and families. Such proven strategies are unfamiliar to choice advocates. They prefer a failed approach.

Christine Langhoff wrote:

It seems that MA DESE is poised to place Boston’s public schools under receivership, perhaps by a vote as soon as May 24. Doing so would fulfill the Waltons’ wet dream which has been frustrated since the defeat of ballot Question 2 in 2016, which would have eliminated the charter cap.

The board is appointed by Governor Charlie Baker, whose donors are, of course, the Waltons and the Kochs. Four members of the board have day jobs tied to the Waltons: Amanda Fernández, Latinos for Education; Martin West, Education Next; Paymon Rouhanifard, Propel America; and Jim Peyser, New Schools Venture Fund and the Pioneer Institute. Baker is a lame duck, which may explain the haste to pull this off.

No state takeover has yet been successful, and once a system enters receivership, there is no exit. BESE has pointed to low MCAS scores to say our schools are failures, but Boston’s scores, invalid as they may be during the covid pandemic, are higher that in the three districts the state runs: Lawrence, Holyoke and Southbridge.

The Boston Teachers Union has an action letter if anyone is so inclined to support public education in the city where it originated:

Jan Resseger, now retired, spent her career as an activist for social justice. Her recent essay was reposted by the Network for Public Education. It seemed appropriate to post it on the 68th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision of 1954. In trying to assess the meager progress towards the ideals of Brown—specifically, equality of educational opportunity—she lays some of the blame on No Child Left Behind and the corporate school reform movement,

Jan Resseger attended the recent Network for Public Education conference, where she took inspiration from speaker Jitu Brown, director of the Journey for Justice Alliance. Reposted with permission.

She wrote:

A highlight of the Network for Public Education’s recent national conference was the keynote from Jitu Brown, a gifted and dedicated Chicago community organizer and the national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance. His remarks made me think about the meaning of the last two decades of corporate school reform and the conditions today in his city and here where I live in greater Cleveland, Ohio. It is a sad story.

Brown reflected on his childhood experience at a West Side Chicago elementary school, a place where he remembers being exposed to a wide range of information and experience including the study of a foreign language. He wondered, “Why did we have good neighborhood schools when I went to school but our kids don’t have them anymore? For children in poor neighborhoods, their education is not better.”

Brown described how No Child Left Behind’s basic drilling and test prep in the two subjects for which NCLB demands testing—math and language arts—eat up up more and more of the school day. We can consult Harvard University expert on testing, Daniel Koretz, for the details about why the testing regime has been particularly hard on children in schools where poverty is concentrated: “Inappropriate test preparation… is more severe in some places than in others. Teachers of high-achieving students have less reason to indulge in bad preparation for high-stakes tests because the majority of their students will score adequately without it—in particular, above the ‘proficient’ cut score that counts for accountability purposes. So one would expect that test preparation would be a more severe problem in schools serving high concentrations of disadvantaged students, and it is.” (The Testing Charade, pp. 116-117)

Of course, a narrowed curriculum is only one factor in today’s inequity. Derek W. Black and Axton Crolley explain: “(A) 2018 report revealed, school districts enrolling ‘the most students of color receive about $1,800 or 13% less per student’ than districts serving the fewest students of color… Most school funding gaps have a simple explanation: Public school budgets rely heavily on local property taxes. Communities with low property values can tax themselves at much higher rates than others but still fail to generate anywhere near the same level of resources as other communities. In fact, in 46 of 50 states, local school funding schemes drive more resources to middle-income students than poor students.”

Again and again in his recent keynote address, Jitu Brown described the consequences of Chicago’s experiment with corporate accountability-based school reform. Chicago is a city still coping with the effect of the closure of 50 neighborhood schools in June of 2013—part of the collateral damage of the Renaissance 2010 charter school expansion—a portfolio school reform program administered by Arne Duncan to open charter schools and close neighborhood schools deemed “failing,” as measured by standardized test scores. On top of the charter expansion, Chicago instituted student-based-budgeting, which has trapped a number of Chicago public schools in a downward spiral as students experiment with charter schools and as enrollment diminishes, both of which spawn staffing and program cuts and put the school on a path toward closure.

As Jitu Brown reflected on his inspiring elementary school experience a long time ago, I thought about a moving recent article by Carolyn Cooper, a long time resident of Cleveland, Ohio’s East Glenville neighborhood: “I received a stellar education in elementary, junior high, and high school from the… Cleveland Public School system… All of the schools I attended were within walking distance, or only a few miles from my home. And at Iowa-Maple Elementary School, a K-6 school at the time, I was able to join the French Club and study abroad for months in both Paris and Lyon, France… Flash forward to this present day… To fight the closure of both Iowa-Maple and Collinwood High School, a few alumni attended a school facilities meeting held in October 2019 at Glenville High School… Despite our best efforts, Collinwood remained open but Iowa-Maple still closed down… Several generations of my family, as well as the families of other people who lived on my street, were alumni there. I felt it should have remained open because it was a 5-Star school, offering a variety of programs including gifted and advanced courses, special education, preschool offerings, and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).”

In his keynote address last week, Jitu Brown explained: “Justice and opportunity depend on the institutions to which children have access.” Brown’s words brought to my mind another part of Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood less than a mile from Iowa-Maple Elementary School. If you drive along Lakeview Road between Superior and St. Clair Avenues, you see a neighborhood with older homes of a size comfortable for families and scattered newer rental housing built about twenty years ago with support from tax credits. You also see many empty lots where houses were abandoned and later demolished in the years following the 2008 foreclosure crisis. Separated by several blocks, you pass two large weedy tracts of land which were once the sites of two different public elementary schools—abandoned by the school district and boarded up for years before they were demolished. You pass by a convenience store surrounded by cracked asphalt and gravel. Finally you pass a dilapidated, abandoned nursing home which for several years housed the Virtual Schoolhouse, a charter school that advertised on the back of Regional Transit Authority buses until it shut down in 2018.

My children went to school in Cleveland Heights, only a couple of miles from Glenville. Cleveland Heights-University Heights is a mixed income, racially integrated, majority African American, inner-ring suburban school district. Our children can walk to neighborhood public schools that are a great source of community pride. Our community is not wealthy, but we have managed to pass our school levies to support our children with strong academics. We recently passed a bond issue to update and repair our old high school, where my children had the opportunity to play in a symphony orchestra, and play sports in addition to the excellent academic program.

Jitu Brown helped organize and lead the 2015 Dyett Hunger Strike, which forced the Chicago Public Schools to reopen a shuttered South Side Chicago high school. Brown does not believe that charter schools and vouchers are the way to increase opportunity for children in places like Chicago’s South and West Sides and Cleveland’s Glenville and Collinwood neighborhoods. He explains: “When you go to a middle-class white community you don’t see charter schools…. You see effective, K-12 systems of education in their neighborhoods. Our children deserve the same.”

In the powerful final essay in the new book, Public Education: Defending a Cornerstone of American Democracy, Bill Ayers, a retired professor of education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, agrees with Jitu Brown about what ought to be the promise of public education for every child in America:

“Let’s move forward guided by an unshakable first principle: Public education is a human right and a basic community responsibility… Every child has the right to a free, high-quality education. A decent, generously staffed school facility must be in easy reach for every family… What the most privileged parents have for their public school children right now—small class sizes, fully trained and well compensated teachers, physics and chemistry labs, sports teams, physical education and athletic fields and gymnasiums, after-school and summer programs, generous arts programs that include music, theater, and fine arts—is the baseline for what we want for all children.” (Public Education: Defending a Cornerstone of American Democracy, pp. 314-315) (emphasis in the original)

Tom Ultican, retired teacher of advanced mathematics and physics in California, is now a significant chronicler of the Destroy Public Education movement. He attended the recent national conference of the Network for Public Education in Philadelphia and recapitulates the excitement we shared at being in person after a 2-year hiatus.

After every conference, attendees say, “This was the best one yet.” They enjoy meeting people who are doing the same work to fight privatization of their public schools. By the end of the conference, attendees say they feel energized, hopeful, and happy to know that they are not alone.

I urge you to read Tom’s post. You will get a sense of the embarrassment of riches available to attendees.

I should add that the Nebraska Save Our Schools group shared the Phyllis Bush Award for Grassroots Activism. Nebraska is one of the few states that has managed to protect its public schools and keep out both charters and vouchers, despite being a Red State.

The Pastors for Texas Children, a co-winner of the award, has repeatedly blocked vouchers in the Texas Legislature and has consistently fought for funding for public schools. PTC has opened chapters in other Red states, where they mobilize clergy to support public schools.

A high point for me was interviewing “Little Stevie” Van Zandt, a legendary rock star and actor (“The Sopranos”), who is dedicated to getting the arts into schools, not as an extra, but across the curriculum. we had a wonderful conversation. He has funded lesson plans based on rock and roll, available free at his website TeachRock.

All of the general sessions were taped. I will post them when they become available.

Mercedes Schneider describes a new consulting team that is selling its services to states and districts. Most of its partners are protégés of Jeb Bush and learned his strategies of high-stakes testing, school choice, test-based accountability, and harsh treatment of teachers.

She writes:

Need help with your public or private business venture? Well, NY- and DC-based Ridge-Lane Limited Partners (LP) offers “venture development at the apex of public and private sector…”

Schneider reviews the bios of the firm’s principal actors, which are not reassuring.

She writes:

So, if you want to dip into some of this Ridge-Lane LP K12 “significant experience” (not in the classroom, mind you, but in Jeb Bush reforms, such as school grading, and Common Core, and PARCC, and pension funneling), then get your (or the taxpayer’s) proverbial checkbook ready so that these once state-ed superintendents can spin an income advising you out of those edu-dollars.

The Boss of bosses

Jeff Bryant writes here about the decision by the Oakland, California, school board to close a number of schools because of a budget shortfall. Some of these schools were popular Community schools, offering services that benefited children, families, and the community. Bryant shows that the closure of these schools would not solve the budget shortfall.

Many readers of this blog used a Zoom link provided by friends in Oakland to listen to the crucial meeting of the school board when the vote was taken. I listened for four hours, as hundreds of students and parents spoke out against the closure of their beloved school. Not a single student or parent during the four hours I listened supported the closings.

The board was unmoved. Two members—Mike Hutchinson and VanCedric Williams— voted against the closings, but the majority voted yea.

One of those who voted for the closings just announced that she was resigning. Shanthi Gonzalez is not waiting for the next election. She claimed that she was interested only in raising academic quality when she supported closing schools.

Shanthi Gonzales, who represents District 6 on the Oakland Unified School District board, announced Monday that she is stepping down from her position immediately, seven months before her term is set to expire.

In a lengthy public statement published on her blog on Monday morning, Gonzales denounced the increasingly hostile discourse surrounding public education in Oakland, which has led to protests, strikes, and personal insults lobbed at school board members. She also called out the lack of progress the district has made in supporting students’ academic needs, and slammed the Oakland Education Association teachers union and its supporters for resisting moves to improve the quality of schools…

Along with board president Gary Yee, Gonzales introduced a resolution in December for the board to consider closing schools because of deep financial troublesbrought on in part by years of declining enrollment. That resolution led to the board’s February decision to close seven schools over the next two years, and merge or downsize several others. Three of the schools slated for closure, Community Day School, Parker K-8, and Carl B. Munck Elementary School, are in Gonzales’ district. null

Opposition to the district’s closure and consolidation plan has been fierce. In recent months, community members have held marches, two educators have staged a hunger strike, and protesters have rallied outside the homes of Gonzales and other school board members. The Oakland Education Association teachers union staged a one-day strike that effectively shut down classes this past Friday. School board meetings have also been contentious, with regular heckling and disruptions at in-person meetings.

All the members who voted for the closings should be voted out of office.

The two members who opposed the schools’ closings are Mike Hutchinson and VanCedric Williams. They are true leaders.

The National Education Policy Center has published a thoughtful critique of the strategy of closing schools. This approach was encouraged by George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and by Barack Obama’s Race to the Top. Typically, the local board (or mayor) claims that the district will save money or the students will surely move to a better school. But what if this is not the case. NEPC identifies Oakland, California, as the district planning to close several schools. But it is not alone. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 schools in a single day, the largest school shutdown in U.S. history. Studies subsequently showed that the students did not benefit. School closures typically harm students of color more than white students. The same is true in Oakland.

NEPC writes:

Like others before it, the latest round of urban school closures disproportionately impacts people of color and students from low-income families. Yet there’s limited evidence that closures achieve their stated goals of saving money or improving academic outcomes.

It’s happening again.

Another urban school district, this time Oakland Unified in California, has voted to close schools that serve a disproportionate number of students of color from low-income families.

Two schools will close this year, and five more next year, according to the plan the school board approved last month. Black students comprise 23 percent of the Oakland school dis- trict but 43 percent of the students in the schools slated for closure.

Oakland is the latest in a growing collection of urban school districts that have decided in recent years to close schools that disproportionately enroll students of color and students from low-income families. Other examples include Chicago, which closed or radically recon- stituted roughly 200 schools between 2002 and 2018, St. Paul Minnesota, which approved six school closures in December, and Baltimore City, where board members decided in Jan- uary to shutter three schools.

Closures tend to differentially affect low-income communities and communities of color that are politically disempowered, and closures may work against the demand of local ac- tors for more investment in their local institutions,” according to an NEPC brief authored in 2017 by Gail Sunderman of the University of Maryland along with Erin Coghlan and Rick Mintrop of UC Berkeley.

In Oakland, community members and educators reacted to the closures with protests, marches and a hunger strike.

When urban school boards close campuses, they typically cite the schools’ poor academic performance or to the need to save money by shuttering buildings that are under enrolled

Yet it’s unclear that closures serve either goal.

In their policy brief, Sunderman, Coghlan, and Mintrop find limited evidence that student achievement improves as a result of school closures designed to improve academic performance.

“[S]chool closures as a strategy for remedying student achievement in low-performing schools is a high-risk/low-gain strategy that fails to hold promise with respect to either stu- dent achievement or non-cognitive well-being,” they wrote.

It causes political conflict and incurs hidden costs for both districts and local communities, especially low-income communities of color that are differentially affected by school closings. It stands to reason that in many instances, students, parents, local communities, district and state policymakers may be better off in- vesting in persistently low-performing schools rather than closing them.

Similarly, NEPC Fellow Ben Kirshner and his CU Boulder colleagues Matt Gaertner and Kristen Pozzoboni found several harms for the high school closure they closely studied. Writing in the journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, they identified declines in the displaced students’ academic performance after transferring to their new schools, and they found that these students had difficulty adjusting to their new schools after their old relationships were disrupted.

The Oakland closures have mainly been justified as saving money by closing under enrolled schools that can’t take advantage of the economies of scale available to larger schools. Similar arguments were made in Baltimore and St. Paul…

In Oakland, a combination of factors, including gentrification and pandemic-related enroll- ment declines, caused the student population to decline 11 percent over the past five years to just over 37,000. The school closures were touted as a way to address the district’s $90 million budget shortfall.

Yet in a commentary in The Mercury News, NEPC Fellow and CU Berkeley professor Janelle Scott pointed out that even the claimed fiscal savings are minimal. A consultant’s report estimates the Oakland closures could save as little as $4.1 million.

“These estimates don’t fully account for disillusioned families and school staff who will like- ly leave OUSD for private, charter and public schools, fatigued by the constant threat of closure and consolidation,” Scott wrote.

Please open the link and read the full report. Many schools have been closed since the passage of No Child Left Behind. Arne Duncan, among others, celebrated these closings, promising to replace the closed schools with even better ones. That didn’t happen.

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The following article describes a victory for parents and communities, which blocked a privatization plan to close 23 schools. It appeared on “Parent Voices for Public Schools,” which is sponsored by the Network for Public Education.

What’s the best way to improve public education? That question, hotly contested in communities across the country, has prompted an intense debate in Charleston, SC, a thriving city that is experiencing a boom in growth and economic development and has in many ways become a symbol of the New South. But too often missing from these discussions are the voices or perspectives from individuals from within the actual communities who will be directly impacted or affected by policies to improve their neighborhood public schools. We rarely hear from the parents who rely on public schools to educate their children and even the actual young people themselves, particularly those old enough to articulate and discern what they would like to experience in terms of a quality public school education. While the community organizations putting forth proposals to improve or reform schools in the South Carolina Lowcountry may be well-intentioned, excluding parent and student voices is a critical omission.

The most recent example is the Coastal Community Foundation (CCF) and its Reimagine Schools Proposal. South Carolina legislators recently expanded the state’s “Schools of Innovation” law, which authorizes the takeover of individual schools by an unidentified “Innovation Management Organization” or IMO. CCF’s Reimagine Schools plan calls for these IMOs to manage some 23 struggling public schools in Charleston, all serving students of color from surrounding communities.

In Charleston, the Coastal Community Foundation looms large, managing nearly $300 million in assets. But what it doesn’t have is any proven track record working in PK-12 education, a major concern of local area groups engaged in public education advocacy, grassroots roots leadership, and other critical voices from within the community.

Just how CCF’s Reimagine Schools plan would address the critical issue of community involvement is also unclear. The proposal calls for the establishment of District Innovation Commissions consisting of consolidated and constituent school board members and as many as ten members from the community-at-large consisting of faith and business leaders and other stakeholders. But what entity will determine who these individuals will be? This is a critical question at a time when local area groups and grassroots organizers have been pushing for more community voice regarding the direction of Charleston’s public schools. These advocates are concerned that CCF and its allies are moving forward with a vision that is open to privatization and financial profits for vendors without receiving input from the community, including the parents who rely on the twenty-three schools that are to be ‘reimagined.’

Community voice isn’t just an abstraction. Parents, teachers, faith leaders, and other local stakeholders are at ground zero when it comes to truly understanding the educational needs of children in their communities and the challenges they face when it comes to receiving a quality education. Most importantly, they are not in the game to profit financially through contractual relationships with various outside vendors.

CCF’s Reimagine Schools proposal calls on the Charleston County School District’s consolidated school board to spend $32 million to support privatization schemes. Voices from within the community are calling for these funds to be invested directly into the district to support greater wraparound services for students and their parents, provide two teachers in every classroom and provide additional psychological services given the shortage nationally of qualified clinical psychologists working in PK-12 education. These are common-sense solutions that meet the needs of schools within the local community that elected leaders would be wise to consider.

Since CCF introduced Reimagine Schools late last year, pushback from community groups and public school advocates has been fierce. Recently the school board announced that the proposal is being tabled indefinitely, a response to pressure from grassroots organizers. While experience teaches us that we must remain vigilant, this was a huge victory for believers in public education.


Dr. Kendall Deas is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Race, Freedom, and Democratic Citizenship with the African American Studies Program and Institute for African American Research at the University of South Carolina. He is also the Director of the Quality Education Project, a community-based research organization in South Carolina committed to public education advocacy.

Community members and two members of the Oakland school board asked for a one-year delay in the decision to close schools. The board turned down their request. The two board members who have valiantly opposed the closures are Mike Hutchinson and VanCedric Williams.

Zack Haber wrote at Medium about one school on the closure list that is indispensable. It is Community Day School, which takes in students who have been expelled from other schools and provides the support they need to believe in themselves.

Community Day’s mission statement says they use a “therapeutic approach” by supporting students “academically, socially, and emotionally” both individually and in small groups through “instruction, counseling and career exploration.” Enrollment depends on expulsion rates, and has been low lately. Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school had 39 students. But during last school year, when OUSD students were almost entirely in distance learning, the district issued no expulsions, and the school now enrolls around 15 students, which allows for more individualized attention.

“You get more help here compared to a regular school,” said Luis Martinez, a Community Day student. “It’s calmer. You get away from big crowds of people and everyone gets along.”

The name “Luis Martinez” is a pseudonym as this reporter is granting this student anonymity due to his status as a minor navigating a school discipline process.

“Coming to Community Day and experiencing this small class size is sometimes the first step in our students seeing they can be successful in school,” said English Teacher Vernon ‘Trey’ Keeve III. “We’re also a staff that is constantly experimenting with new ways to get our students to express themselves.”

When the school is needed again, it won’t be there. That’s why parents, students, and educators continue to protest the school closures.

I wish I could explain why the board majority is so determined to lose schools in the face of enormous opposition. I don’t understand.

When a bright young man or woman gets an idea to replace experienced educators with inexperienced tyros and is quickly funded by billionaire foundations, you can guess that the ultimate goal is privatization. For one thing, the enterprise rests on a base claim that “our schools are failing,” and that experience is irrelevant and probably harmful.

Tom Ultican recounts the origin story of one such organization: New Leaders for New Schools.

The idea was so spot-on that the organization attracted millions of dollars from the plutocrats of privatization: Eli Broad, Bill Gates, the Walton Family Foundation, and many more.

Where are the miracle schools led by New Leaders? That’s a hard question to answer.

What Ultican demonstrates is the continuing relevance of New Leaders for New Schools. One of its illustrious graduates was behind the recent decision by the board of the Oakland Unified School District to resume closing schools, despite overwhelming opposition by students, parents, and educators.