Archives for category: Competition

Maureen Reedy is a former Ohio Teacher of the Year and Upper Arlington City School District Teacher of the Year, retired after a 30-year career as a public-school teacher. She wrote this article for the Columbus Dispatch.

The “public” must be put back into public education in Ohio.

Instead of pushing current legislation like Senate Bill 11 that could take one billion dollars from public schools to fund private and religious school vouchers, Ohio’s lawmakers need uphold Ohio’s constitutional promise to keep public tax dollars out of private schools.

We Ohioans love our public schools.

Most of us attended neighborhood public schools, which continue to be the schools of choice for our children and grandchildren. Our public schools are community hubs that educate over 90% (1.7 million) of Ohio’s children; students come together from all backgrounds to learn and build understanding and acceptance of others.

Public education in Ohio is a 172-year-old promise, created on the constitutional belief that public schools are the fundamental foundation for the public good; a necessary tool to build an educated democracy and sustainable futures for our children in these challenging times.

Why then, are Ohio lawmakers churning out private school voucher legislation that takes hundreds of millions of public-school tax dollars per year from our neighborhood schools to pay for private and religious school education?

School vouchers violate the Ohio Constitution. That is why over 210 public school districts have filed the “Vouchers Hurt Ohio” lawsuit challenging EdChoice Vouchers for their unconstitutional use of state school funds for private school tuition.

Public dollars should not fund private and religious school tuition.

Ohio’s constitution has some of the strongest language in the country specifying that state funds are for public (common) schools only.

“The General Assembly … will secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state; but no religious or other sect, or sects, shall ever have any exclusive right to, or control of, any part of the school funds of this state,” Article VI, Section 2 of the Ohio Constitution reads.

Just as Ohio’s founders intended, there is not one single word in the Ohio Constitution that allows the use of state dollars for private and religious school tuition.

Ohio’s first attempt at school vouchers began as a temporary pilot in 2006, and is now a refund and rebate school privatization program that reimburses families who never intended to send their children to public schools.

Runaway train must be stopped

Private school vouchers have ballooned out of control, initially taking away $42 million of public-school funding in 2008 and expanding to $350 million in 2022.

Senate Bill 11 has been introduced to make every child in Ohio eligible for a private EdChoice school voucher, which could immediately take a billion dollars out of the finite supply of state school funds for over 90% of Ohio’s children whose families choose public schools.

When we let vouchers siphon funds from our public schools, our kids do not have the resources they need to succeed, and that hurts us all. EdChoice Vouchers for private schools means more school levies and higher property taxes. State funding for private schools is not only unconstitutional, it is unsustainable for Ohio taxpayers.

This brings us full circle to the crucial choice for the future of public education in Ohio. Public schools open their doors to children of all ability levels; welcoming students from diverse religions, cultures and nationalities.

Overall, Ohio’s public schools continue to outperform private voucher schools.

Public schools mirror the rising challenges of society today. Teachers are not just teaching, but also taking care of rising numbers of children in crises with mental and physical health challenges, which prevent them from learning. Instead of divesting in public education, Ohio needs to re-invest in our public schools.

Let’s face it. The only way to stop this runaway school voucher train is through a lawsuit.

Thousands of Ohio citizens have tried to get legislators to put the brakes on EdChoice vouchers and fulfill their oath to the state’s constitution: state school funding is solely for Ohio’s public-school districts.

The majority of Ohio’s legislators continue to steer our children and families in the wrong direction.

Vouchers hurt Ohio. The numbers are growing.

The movement is strong.

Maureen Reedy is a founding member of Public Education Partners, the largest nonprofit, all-volunteer Public Education advocacy group in Ohio.

Retired teacher Fred Klonsky notes that Arne Duncan endorsed Paul Vallas for mayor of Chicago. This is no surprise since the two previously worked closely together and their views about privatization are very similar. Duncan is best remembered for his failed “Race to the Top” program, which foisted charter schools on almost every state and the horrendous policy of judging teachers by the test scores of their students, as well as the imposition of the Commin Core standards. A decade after RTTT was launched, the national NAEP exams showed that it changed nothing, although it cost the feds $5 billions and the states and districts many more billions. For nothing.

The NAACP and other civil rights groups (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; National Urban League; The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; National Council on Educating Black Children; Rainbow PUSH Coalition; and The Schott Foundation for Public Education) officially condemned Race to the Top for creating a competition among the states for federal funds, instead of funding the neediest students and districts so they could have experienced teachers, early childhood education, and reduced class sizes. The competition, they agreed, would bypass those who needed funding the most, while implementing harmful policies like school closings.

Klonsky writes:

To the surprise of absolutely nobody Arne Duncan endorsed his former boss at CPS, Paul Vallas, for mayor in an op-ed piece in the Chicago Tribune.

When Vallas was Richard Daley’s (2) CPS CEO, Duncan was his deputy chief of staff.

Duncan then went on to be picked by Barack Obama to run the Department of Education and Vallas went on to post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, destroying the public school system there by turning it into the largest privatized nearly entirely charter school system in the country.

If it weren’t for Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education, Duncan would still hold the title of the worst Secretary of Education ever.

Duncan’s notable achievement as Secretary of Education was the creation of Race to the Top.

Duncan’s idea was to pit states against states in a competition for limited federal education dollars.

It was educational cock fighting.

At the last convention of the National Education Association that I attended as an active teacher in 2011, the delegates voted to adopt a resolution condemning Duncan in what became known as 13 Things I Hate About Arne Duncan.

Among the union’s 13 criticisms are Duncan’s failure to adequately address “unrealistic” Adequate Yearly Progress requirements, focusing too closely on charter schools to the detriment of other types of schools, weighing in too heavily on local hiring decisions and failing to see the need for more encompassing change that helps all students and depends on shared responsibility by stakeholders, versus competitive grant programs that the NEA says “spur bad, inappropriate, and short-sighted state policy.”

To say that public school teachers detested the policies of Arne Duncan is an understatement.

Duncan and Vallas have always been brothers from another mother.

They worked hand in hand blowing up CPS.

When Vallas moved from Chicago to head the Recovery School District in New Orleans, Duncan applauded Hurricane Katrina for blowing up New Orleans schools.

Duncan said 2005’s Hurricane Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans,” because it led to hiring Paul Vallas.

Vallas completed the job that Hurricane Katrina started.

Last year Duncan hinted that he might enter the race for Chicago Mayor. The voter response was underwhelming.

Now he’s endorsing his doppelgänger.

Open the link to enjoy Fred’s art.

Cecily Riesenberg, a teacher at Caprock High School in Amarillo, Texas, wrote an opinion article for the Amarillo Globe-News. She explained why vouchers will benefit the most affluent families and offer low-quality schools to most other students.

She wrote:

Both sides of the aisle agree that education needs reform. At first glance, vouchers seem like a great solution. Who wouldn’t think that parents should have “freedom,” and “choices,” and that more “competition” will make the market stronger. But that simply isn’t what the data shows.

Data shows that vouchers benefit the wealthy who need it the least, hurt the disadvantaged the most, abuse taxpayer dollars, and erase the separation between church and state. Vouchers act like a discount for wealthy students already in private schools. Picture a country club that won’t allow any new members, but now their current members get to use taxpayer money to subsidize part of their dues. Not only is everyone else stuck at the public pool, but now we’re all paying for a few people to go to the country club, and we have less money to maintain or upgrade the public pool. That’s how vouchers work in the states that have them.

There are three kinds of private schools. The first type are elite, exclusive, “country-club” schools that don’t want or need more students and won’t accept vouchers at all. These schools are able to stay elite because of their exclusivity. Then there are new private schools that pop up after states implement vouchers. New private schools don’t focus on quality education at all – they use taxpayer money to market themselves to attract more students and take more public money. After a few months, families realize these schools can’t offer what they were selling. Students withdraw, but the school keeps the money. Most of these schools close within four years, but not until after they’ve made a profit, and the students are left further behind. The third type of private schools are subprime schools that need taxpayer money just to stay afloat. These schools have a 40% failure rate.

Vouchers only offer the illusion of choice.

Many states have tried vouchers, the data shows they failed and abused public resources. Not only do charters and private schools in Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, and Louisiana, have worse educational outcomes than public schools, but when so many programs receive public money, it’s impossible to monitor where the money goes in the same way that public schools are held accountable. In Arizona, for example, an audit showed that parents were using taxpayer dollars to buy kayaks and take vacations. We can’t claim to value fiscal responsibility and support a shady cash grab for corporate charters, “service providers,” and bank fees.

Rural areas will be harmed the most by vouchers, because there aren’t enough students to make opening new schools profitable. But rural public schools would still lose enrollment and funding as some parents use vouchers for homeschooling or online schooling. Again, the quality of these options is almost always lower than public schools.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Governor Abbott are always ready to listen to their wealthy donors and the corporations that are lined up like vultures to make a buck. Recently, Governor Abbott has been on a whirlwind tour of private Christian schools to sell his agenda. He even came to Amarillo on March 2nd to speak at San Jacinto Christian Academy, a tiny school that serves less than 400 students. But the governor refused an invitation to tour Amarillo ISD public schools and listen to the tens of thousands of teachers, students, and parents who would be harmed by vouchers. Even if San Jacinto offered a world-class education, they would never have the capacity to serve a significant number of Amarillo’s students.

There are answers on how to actually reform education. We can follow the lead of countries like Finland that consistently rank high on international measures of reading and math skills. Finland doesn’t have vouchers. They don’t even have private schools. There, every school is public and wellfunded. Every student can get a quality education from their neighborhood school, and every student has an equal opportunity to achieve. Finland attracts the best and brightest to the teaching profession by requiring a masters degree and paying them as much as doctors or lawyers. Finnish teachers are empowered, respected, and trusted – essentially the opposite of how teachers are treated in Texas.

Imagine Texas as a state that consistently ranks higher in education than other states and countries, where students excel academically and socially, and find fulfilling careers post-graduation. We can get there, but it will not be by following Governor Abbott’s orders. The governor’s orders will only lead to the wealthy donor class pocketing taxpayer money while the average student falls further behind.

We know what works. So why don’t politicians want to do it? Simple – it’s impossible to monetize and profit from this approach the way they can with vouchers.

Reach out to your state senators and representatives to let them know that public schools are the bedrock of our communities. We need to make them stronger instead of tearing them down and selling them for parts.

The right to public education is enshrined in our constitution. We have to guarantee that right to every child, regardless of race, income, or zip code, and the best way to do that is by fully funding public schools.

Julie Vassilatos writes about Paul Vallas’ school reform ideas here. Privatization and choice. She says that they are no longer innovative: they have been tried again and again, and they have failed again and again. We seen this rodeo before: disruption; closing schools; high cost; poor results.

An excerpt:

Here’s what you need to know if you don’t already. Vallas is the OG of a tired, old, failed style of school reform marked by privatization of public services, charter proliferation, and school choice. These elements are now omnipresent in American public education; he helped make this so. In no school district anywhere have these initiatives enabled positive transformation, not in thirty years. But choice-based school reform does two things well—it racks up big, huge spending deficits, and it racially stratifies urban school systems. Vallas has achieved both, here and everywhere he has led districts.Vallas-style school reform has a kind of tech-bro aesthetic: spend big, break things, disrupt systems, do it all at once. But this has always come with a cost. We need to know the cost.

Vallas’s push for privatization and its ugly impact in urban districts

In Chicago, the effort to privatize is by now the rather hackneyed status quo. Charter advocates say there just aren’t enough charters yet. But critics say we can’t possibly afford to keep throwing money at this worn-out approach. After all, in Chicago we have seen the rise and fall of the UNO network, and embroilment in scandals for Urban Prep, Acero, Epic, Gulen, and many other chains.

If you click this link, you can find 26 articles on charter scandals in IL dating back just to 2017.

Privatization lacks accountability. These schools are not subject to the standards and accountability faced by traditional public schools, which eventually is what lands many of them in trouble—they say they are handling special needs and aren’t. They claim they offer bilingual services and they don’t. They get millions in funding from the district and it goes up in smoke. These schools also yield a poor ROI—that is to say, their results are not good. On top of this, these schools are prone to closing without notice.

Privatization always results in disinvestment of traditional public schools. Privatizers love to say that public schools are terrible without ever acknowledging that they’ve been deeply disinvested for decades, then divert much of what funding remains to charter schools, entrenching the cycle of disinvested schools failing to provide what students need and deserve. When you factor in poor ROIs, scandals, and instability, banking on charters seems like a pretty poor bargain. In Chicago, the district added charter schools for years prior to the school closings, very much impacting or even creating the 2012/13 “school utilization crisis” pushed by Rahm and Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Suddenly we had too many schools for too few students. The end result was 50 closed neighborhood public schools, displacing 30,000 kids.

By the way, I posted a tweet the other day, retweeting Fred Klonsky’s Blog titled “Vallas Will Defund CPS.” CPS=Chicago Public Schools. Hours later, I received a notice from Twitter that my comment had been deleted because it contained offensive content. What? An opinion about a mayoral candidate is “offensive”? And this on the giant social media site that welcomes Nazis, election deniers, COVID crackpots, and assorted conspiracy theorists.

This was the “offensive” post that had to be censored.

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post points out that some Republicans don’t like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ intervention into everyone’s business to control them. Wyoming is a great example of a state that has refused to join DeFascist’s war against WOKE.

Blake wrote:

A potential flash point in the 2024 GOP presidential race: Conservatives are criticizing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and other Republicans for going too farin using the heavy hand of government to combat so-called “woke” entities.

And in Wyoming, the tension between those two approaches has come to a head.

The nation’s least-populous state could be considered its most Republican. In both 2016 and 2020, it handed Donald Trump his largest margin of victory of any of the 50 states, going for Trump by more than 43 points. Republicans hold more than 90 percent of the seats in both of its state legislative chambers.

But recently, the state House has effectively shelved a number of bills resembling proposals that have sailed to passage elsewhere:

  • A school-choice bill that would create a scholarship fund for students to attend private instead of public schools.
  • A bill modeled on Florida’s education bill, dubbed “don’t say gay” by critics, that would ban the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
  • A bill that would ban state officials from contracting with businesses and investment funds that boycott fossil fuels or emphasize political or social-justice goals.
  • A bill called “Chloe’s Law” that would forbid doctors from providing hormone blockers and gender-affirming surgery to children.

All four have passed in the state Senate. But along the way, they lost GOP votes — a significant number of them, in the first three bills — and now the state House is holding them up.

A big reason? The state House speaker says he believes in “local control” and worries about the broader effects of state government dictating such issues.

Speaker Albert Sommers (R) has used a maneuver on the school-choice and education proposals known as keeping a bill in his “drawer.” In the former case, he noted that a similar measure already failed in the state House’s education committee. And on the latter, Florida-like bill, he argued for a limited role for state government.

“Fundamentally, I believe in local control,” Sommers told the Cowboy State Daily. “I’ve always fought, regardless of what really the issue is, against taking authority away from local school boards, town councils, county commissions. And in my view that’s what this bill does.”

He also argued that the bill was unconstitutional, because legislation in Wyoming must be focused on one topic. This bill would both restrict instruction on certain subjects and implement changes in how much control parents have over school boards. Sommers suggested such proposals “do not come from Wyoming but instead from another state, or they are templates from a national organization.” And he echoed some conservatives in arguing that it was a solution in search of a problem. “This type of teaching is not happening in Wyoming schools,” he said.ADVERTISEMENT

On “Chloe’s Law,” Sommers angered some conservatives by sending the bill to the appropriations committee rather than the labor and health committee. While the bill was being considered, some Republican legislators warned the bill would undercut counseling and mental health care for transgender youth and could create problems with the state’s federally regulated health insurance plans. The appropriations committee voted against the bill 5-2, tagging it with a “do not pass” designation.

Sommers also sent the fossil-fuels bill to the appropriations committee, and GOP lawmakers expressed worry that the bill would reduce investment in the state and force out large corporations and financial institutions.

These tensions come as some conservatives have warmed to the idea of using the government to crack down on so-called “woke” policies and practices in private businesses and in public education. That turn is perhaps best exemplified by DeSantis, who moved to prevent cruise lines from requiring covid vaccinations, prohibit social media companies from banning politicians and strip Disney of its special tax status after it criticized the so-called “don’t say gay” bill. He also has repeatedly involved the government in school curriculum decisions.

Such moves have earned significant criticism not just from some free-market and libertarian-oriented groups, but also from DeSantis’s potential rivals for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2024.

“The idea of going after [Disney’s] taxing authority — that was beyond the scope of what I as a conservative, a limited-government Republican, would be prepared to do,” former vice president Mike Pence said last week.

“For others out there that think that the government should be penalizing your business because they disagree with you politically, that isn’t very conservative,” New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu added in February. He has said that “if we’re trying to beat the Democrats at being big-government authoritarians, remember what’s going to happen.”

Last year, former Maryland governor Larry Hogan called DeSantis’s moves on Disney “crazy” and said, “DeSantis is always talking about he was not demanding that businesses do things, but he was telling the cruise lines what they had to do.”

Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, too, criticized DeSantis for his proposed changes to Disney’s special tax status (which have since been significantly watered down). In 2021, Hutchinson also took a relatively lonely stand in his state, against the legislature banning gender-affirming care for children.

“While in some instances the state must act to protect life, the state should not presume to jump into the middle of every medical, human and ethical issue,” he said at the time. “This would be — and is — a vast government overreach.”

Hutchinson’s veto was easily overridden by the state legislature. That, and DeSantis’s rise in the GOP, suggest which way the wind is blowing.

But as Wyoming shows — and the 2024 primary could demonstrate — that doesn’t mean the debate within the GOP about the scope of government is settled

In 2009, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution scrutinized test score gains in the city’s public schools and discovered a number of schools where the gains seemed improbable. The story triggered intense scrutiny by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Eventually nearly three dozed educators were charged with changing answers on the standardized tests from wrong to right in hopes of winning a bonus and pleasing their superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall, who put pressure on all teachers to raise scores or be humiliated.

During Beverly Hall’s tenure, the Atlanta district was celebrated for its miraculous test score gains, and she won recognition as Superintendent of the Year. She was the poster educator supposedly proving the “success” of No Child Left Behind. What she actually proved was that NCLB created perverse incentives and ruined education.

The facade of success came tumbling down with the cheating scandal.

After the investigation, Beverly Hall was indicted, along with 34 teachers, principals, and others. All but one of those charged is black. Many pleaded guilty. Ultimately, 12 went to trial. One was declared innocent, and the other 11 were convicted of racketeering and other charges. Beverly Hall died before her case went to trial.

The case was promoted by then-Governor Sonny Perdue. Ironically, the rise in Atlanta’s test scores was used by the state of Georgia to win a $400 million Race to the Top award.

One of those who was punished for maintaining her innocence was Shani Robinson, who was a first-grade teacher. She is the co-author with journalist Anna Simonton of None of The Above: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal, Corporate Greed, and the Criminalization of Educators.

I reviewed their book on the blog. While reading her book, I became convinced that Shani was innocent. As a first-grade teacher, she was not eligible for a bonus. Her students took practice tests, and their scores did not affect the school’s rating. Yet she was convicted under the federal racketeering statute for corrupt activities intended to produce financial gain. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), was written to prosecute gangsters, not school teachers. Her conviction was a travesty.

Investigators offered Shani and other educators a deal: Plead guilty and you can go free. Or, accuse another teacher and you can go free. She refused to do either. She maintained that she was innocent and refused to accuse anyone else. Shani was accused by a teacher who won immunity. Despite the lack of any evidence that she changed scores, she was convicted.

Two Atlanta lawyers wrote a blog post in 2020 describing the Atlanta cheating trial as a legal outage:

The Atlanta Public Schools (APS) “cheating” scandal is a textbook example of overcriminalization and prosecutorial discretion gone amok, compounded by an unjust sentence of first-time offenders to serve years in prison. It is a glaring illustration of a scorched-earth prosecutorial mindset that has sparked a movement of reform-minded prosecutors nationwide — one which has yet to be embraced in Atlanta.

Just this past week, the six remaining educators who have insisted on their innocence went before the same judge who found them guilty. Their public defender asked to be excused from the case because he thought it was a conflict of interest to represent all six defendants. The original prosecutor, Fani Willis, continues to believe the six educators should be imprisoned. Willis is now prosecuting the case of whether former President Trump interfered in Georgia’s election in 2020.

The six educators who insist they are innocent have lived in a state of suspended animation for more than a decade. They have not gone to prison, yet. They have lost their reputations, their jobs, their teaching licenses.

They hoped that Judge Baxter might use the hearing to dismiss their case. Shani asked me to write a letter supporting her. I did.

It didn’t matter. Judge Baxter decided that the defendants should get a new public defender and return for another hearing. The case has already cost millions of dollars and is the longest-running trial in the history of the state.

The judge ordered them to return to court with their new lawyers or public defenders on March 16. At that time, the entire appeals process might start again and take years to conclude.

I contacted my friend Edward Johnson in Atlanta to ask him what he thought. Ed is a systems thinker and a sharp critic of the Atlanta Public Schools‘ leadership, which is controlled by corporate reformers who make the same mistakes again and again instead of learning from them.

Ed wrote me:

Prosecuting teachers and administers was morally wrong to begin with. Continuing to prosecute any of them is doubly morally wrong. Teachers and administers were the real victims of Beverly Hall. So prosecuting them means being willfully blind to ever wanting to learn truths about anything that would help Atlanta avoid doing a Beverly Hall all over again.

I agree.

This is good news. In multiple ways, the US News & World Report rankings of schools, colleges, and graduate schools are misleading. Harvard Law School and Yale Law School certainly don’t need to have the blessing of US News. I’m hoping that other schools and universities refuse to be ranked by an invalid and useless measure.

CNN reports:

Yale and Harvard law schools, two of the premier law schools in the country, announced they are parting ways with U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of best law schools. The schools are bowing out after criticizing the publication’s methodology, arguing that the list actively perpetuates disparities in law schools. Given the elite status of Yale and Harvard, the move is significant and could signal a greater shift away from college rankings. For years, policymakers and those working in higher education have dismissed the rankings, though they are still referenced by potential students and their families. The decisions have been met with praise, but some questioned whether the move, if followed by other schools, would make it more difficult for the average person to choose to which colleges to apply.

The New York Times:

Colleges and universities have been critical of the U.S. News ranking system for decades, saying that it was unreliable and skewed educational priorities, but they had rarely taken action to thwart it, and every year almost always submitted their data for judgment on their various undergraduate and graduate programs.

Now both Yale and Harvard law schools have announced that they will no longer cooperate. In two separate letters posted on their websites, the law school deans excoriated U.S. News for using a methodology that they said devalued the efforts of schools like their own to recruit poor and working-class students, provide financial aid based on need and encourage students to go into low-paid public service law after graduation.

Jeanne Kaplan served two terms as an elected board member in Denver. She has watched the board’s frenIed embrace of “reform” with dismay. open the link and read the full article, which appears on her blog. I am not putting the post into italics since she uses italics.

She writes:

Reap what you sow and the chickens come home to roost. The elephant in the room.  Aphorisms appropriate to describe what is happening in public education in Denver. 

After 20 years,  more than 5  superintendents, and 11 different school boards, the results of education reform in Denver have become clear, and they aren’t pretty. After opening 72 charters in the last 20 years, 22 of which have closed, the declining enrollments in neighborhood schools have forced the prospect of school closures.  Who knew opening 26 privately run elementary charter schools in competition with district-run schools would ultimately force the district to make some hard financial decisions?  And who knew that ignoring its own 2007 data showing stagnant population growth would lead to less demand for elementary school seats in the 2020s?  Apparently, not those with the power for the last 20 years.  And, as an ironic aside, many of the same people who were the decision-makers in the past and who were unable to make substantive change then, have now decided they will somehow make these previously unattainable changes from their outside “oversight” committee, EDUCATE Denver. In fact one of the co-chairs, Rosemary Rodriguez, was a DPS board member when on March 16, 2017, a Strengthening Neighborhoods Resolution passed, stating:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that a citywide committee be formed to review changing demographics and housing patterns in our city and the effect on our schools and to make recommendations on our policies around boundaries, choice, enrollment and academic programs in order to drive greater socio-economic integration in our schools.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in the face of the sharp decline in the number of school-aged children in gentrifying neighborhoods, the committee is also charged with how to think about school choice and school consolidation to ensure that our schools are able to offer high-quality, sustainable programs for our kids.

These former school board members and former and current civic leaders have formed a “shadow school board” to evaluate and oversee the current superintendent and school board.  Why?  It appears they don’t like what they are seeing being proposed by the current superintendent. What don’t they like?  It appears they have determined the current superintendent is not committed enough to their reform agenda.  You know – the one that has been in place when they were in power, the one that has produced the biggest gaps in the nation, more segregation, and more resource inequity.

As school closures have risen to the fore this week Chalkbeat disclosed these statistics:

“Over the past 20 years, Denver Public Schools has added a lot of schools. It has added students, too — but at a much slower rate.

  • The number of public schools in Denver grew 55% between the 2001-02 and 2021-22 school years, while the number of students grew just 12%.
  • Denver went from having 132 schools serving about 72,000 students in 2001-02 to 204 schools serving nearly 89,000 students in 2021-22.
  • The number of elementary schools in Denver grew 23% over the past 20 years, while the number of students grew just 4%.”

Through expensive marketing and often false narratives, charter schools have had free reign to prey on susceptible families resulting in DPS losing 7400 elementary school students who would have otherwise most likely attended a neighborhood school. Then add in:

  • a state law that prohibits a district from shutting down low enrollment charters, 
  • a district that has ignored demographic information predicting declining enrollment, 
  • a district that employs “attendance zones” and a secretive CHOICE system to often force place students into heavily marketed, often unwanted CHARTER SCHOOLS, and 
  • a competitive financial model called Student Based Budgeting (SBB – money follows the kid) to fund schools, depending on student needs, the goal of which is to close the achievement and resource gaps.

New York City has a large number of schools with competitive admissions. Some, like the Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant High School, are protected by state law because their graduates are successful and vocal and oppose any loosening of the entrance requirements they met. Many additional screened schools were added during the administration of Mayor Bloomberg, perhaps hoping to hold onto the relatively small number of white students in the public schools. Asian American families strongly defend test-based admissions policies, and their children are over-represented at the most selective schools.

Mayor Adams, who controls the city’s public schools, announced a restoration of screened admissions.

The New York Times reported:

New York City’s selective middle schools can once again use grades to choose which students to admit, the school chancellor, David C. Banks, announced on Thursday, rolling back a pandemic-era moratorium that had opened the doors of some of the city’s most elite schools to more low-income students.

Selective high schools will also be able to prioritize top-performing students.

The sweeping move will end the random lottery for middle schools, a major shift after the previous administration ended the use of grades and test scores two years ago. At the city’s competitive high schools, where changes widened the pool of eligible applicants, priority for seats will be limited to top students whose grades are an A average.

The question of whether to base admissions on student performance prompted intense debate this fall. Many Asian American families were particularly vocal in arguing that the lotteries excluded their children from opportunities they had worked hard for. But Black and Latino students are significantly underrepresented at selective schools, and some parents had hoped the previous admissions changes would become permanent to boost racial integration in a system that has been labeled one of the most segregated in the nation.

“It’s critically important that if you’re working hard and making good grades, you should not be thrown into a lottery with just everybody,” Mr. Banks said, noting that the changes were based on family feedback.

It is surprising that a city with an African-American Mayor, who controls the city school system, and an African-American schools Chancellor, would revive screened admissions for the city’s middle schools and high schools. Some high schools have competitive admissions that are mandated by the state legislature. Most admission screens, however, are a matter of policy. They exist because of decisions by the Mayor and the Chancellor.

Just in from the New York Civil Liberties Union:

NYCLU Statement on Screening in NYC Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Mohamed Taguine, 212-607-3372,

NEW YORK – New York City’s school chancellor David C. Banks announced on Thursday the City’s selective middle and high schools can once again use grades to choose which students to admit. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from Education Policy Center’s director Johanna Miller:

“Screening props up a separate and unequal school system and feeds the notion that only some students deserve a great education. Allowing middle and high school screens is a step backward that will increase the exclusion of Black, Latinx and lower-income students from our city’s best educational opportunities.

“In the most segregated school system in the country, we will never make progress without intentional measures. Instead of using precious education dollars to discriminate, we urge this administration to center racial equity, advance inclusion, and help our students heal and grow together.”