Archives for category: Corporate Reform

Tom Ultican, chronicler of the Destroy Public Education movement and retired teacher of physics and advanced mathematics, investigated a strange occurrence in the District of Columbia: Two respected, experienced black educators were fired for refusing to adopt the practices of the so-called Relay “Graduate School” of Education. Relay is not a real graduate school. It has no campus, no research, no graduate programs. It was created by charter schools and recognized by their allies so that charter teachers could teach the tricks of raising test scores to other charter teachers and enable them to get a “master’s degree” from people who had never earned doctorate degrees. Relay’s textbook is Doug Lemov’s “Teach Like a Champion.” Relay does not offer the wide range of courses offered in real graduate schools.

He begins:

School leaders and teachers in Washington DC’s wards 7 and 8 are being forced into training given by Relay Graduate School of Education (RSGE). West of the Anacostia River in the wealthier whiter communities public school leader are not forced. When ward 7 and 8 administrators spoke out against the policy, they were fired. Two of them Dr. Carolyn Jackson-King and Marlon Ray, formerly of Boone Elementary School are suing DC Public Schools (DCPS) for violating the Whistleblower Protection Act and the DC Human Rights Act.

Jackson-King and Ray are emblematic of the talented black educators with deep experience that are being driven out of the Washington DC public school system. They are respected leaders in the schools and the community. When it was learned Jackson-King was let go the community protested loudly and created a web site publishing her accomplishments.

In 2014, Jackson-King arrived at the Lawrence E. Boone Elementary school when it was still named Orr Elementary. The school had been plagued by violence and gone through two principals the previous year. Teacher Diane Johnson recalled carrying a bleeding student who had been punched to the nurse’s office. She remembered fighting being a daily occurrence before Jackson-King took over.

In 2018, Orr Elementary went through a $46 million dollar renovation. The community and school board agreed that the name should be changed before the building reopened. Orr was originally named in honor of Benjamin Grayson Orr, a D.C. mayor in the 19th century and slave owner. The new name honors Lawrence Boone a Black educator who was Orr Elementary’s principal from 1973 to 1996.

Jackson-King successfully navigated the campus violence and new construction. By 2019, Boon Elementary was demonstrating solid education progress as monitored by the district’s star ratings. Boone Elementary is in a poor minority neighborhood. It went from a 1-star out of 5 rating when Jackson-King arrived to a 3-star rating her last year there….

Marlon Ray was Boone’s director of strategy and logistics. He worked there for 13-years including the last six under Principal Jackson-King. Despite his long history in the district, Ray was apparently targeted after filing a whistleblower complaint over Relay Graduate School. Ray questioned RGSE’s relationship with DCPS, the Executive Office of the Mayor and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. He implicated Mary Ann Stinson, the DCPS Cluster II instructional superintendent who wrote Jackson-King’s district Impact review that paved the way for her termination. In the lawsuit, Ray alleges that DCPS leadership responded by requiring him to work in person five days a week in the early months of the pandemic while most of his colleagues, including Jackson-King’s replacement Kimberly Douglas, worked remotely. This continued well into the spring of 2021.

In October of 2020, Ray joined with about 30 Washington Teacher’s Union members, parents and students to rally against opening school before it was safe. Ray reported that he received a tongue lashing from a DCPS administrator for being there and then 2-hours later receive a telephoned death threat. He reports the caller saying, “This is Marcus from DCPS; you’re done, you’re through, you’re finished, you’re dead.”

Ray’s position was eliminated in June, 2021…

In Washington DC, the mayor has almost dictatorial power over public education. Therefore, when the mayor becomes convinced of the illusion that public schools are failing, there are few safeguards available to stop the policy led destruction.

In the chart above, notice that all of the key employees she chose to lead DC K-12 education have a strong connection to organizations practicing what Cornell Professor Noliwe Rooks labeled “segrenomics.” In her book Cutting School (Page 2), she describes it as the businesses of taking advantage of separate, segregated, and unequal forms of education to make a profit selling school. Bowser’s first Deputy Mayor for Education, Jennifer Niles, was a charter school founder. Her second Deputy Mayor, Paul Kihn, attended the infamous school privatization centric Broad Academy. She inherited Kaya Henderson as DCPS Chancellor and kept her for five years. Kaya Henderson, a Teach For America alum, was the infamous Michelle Rhee’s heir apparent. The other two Chancellors that Bowser chose, Antwan Wilson and Lewis Ferebee, also attended the Broad Academy and both are members of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change….

The State Superintendent of Education who awarded $7.5 million in public education dollars to five private companies was Hanseul Kang. Before Bowser appointed her to the position Kang was a member of the Broad Residency class of 2012-2014. At that time, she was serving as Chief of Staff for the Tennessee Department of Education while her fellow Broadie, Chris Barbic, was setting up the doomed to fail Tennessee Achievement School District. In 2021, Bowser had to replace Kang because she became the inaugural Executive Director of the new Broad Center at Yale. Bowser chose Christina Grant yet another Broad trained education privatization enthusiast to replace Kang.

For background information on the Broad Academy see Broad’s Academy and Residencies Fuel the Destroy Public Education Agenda.)

Bowser and her team are in many ways impressive, high achieving and admirable people. However, their deluded view of public education and its value is dangerous; dangerous for K-12 education and dangerous for democracy.

“Teach like it is 1885”

The root of the push back against Relay training by ward 7 and 8 educators is found in the authoritarian approach being propagated. NPR listed feedback from dismayed teachers bothered by instructions such as:

  • “Students must pick up their pens within three seconds of starting a writing assignment.
  • “Students must walk silently, in a straight line, hands behind their backs, when they are outside the classroom.
  • “Teachers must stand still, speak in a ‘formal register’ and square their shoulders toward students when they give directions.”

Dr. Jackson-King noted“Kids have to sit a certain way, they have to look a certain way. They cannot be who they are. Those are all the ways they teach you in prison — you have to walk in a straight line, hands behind your back, eyes forward.”

RSGE does not focus on education philosophy or guidance from the world’s foremost educators. Rather its fundamental text is Teach Like a Champion which is a guidebook for no excuses charter schools.

In her book Scripting the Moves Professor Joanne Golann wrote:

No excuses charter school founders established RGSE. In the post “Teach Like its 1885.” published by Jenifer Berkshire, Layla Treuhaft-Ali wrote, “Placed in their proper racial context, the Teach Like A Champion techniques can read like a modern-day version of the *Hampton Idea,* where children of color are taught not to challenge authority under the supervision of a wealthy, white elite….”

‘“Ultimately no-excuses charters schools are a failed solution to a much larger social problem,’ education scholar Maury Nation has argued. ‘How does a society address systemic marginalization and related economic inequalities? How do schools mitigate the effects of a system of White supremacy within which schools themselves are embedded?’ Without attending to these problems, we will not solve the problems of educational inequality. ‘As with so many school reforms,’ Nation argues, ‘no-excuses discipline is an attempt to address the complexities of these problems, with a cheap, simplistic, mass-producible, ‘market-based’ solution.’” (Page 174)

Legitimate education professionals routinely heap scorn on RSGE. Relay practices the pedagogy of poverty and as Martin Haberman says,

“In reality, the pedagogy of poverty is not a professional methodology at all. It is not supported by research, by theory, or by the best practice of superior urban teachers. It is actually certain ritualistic acts that, much like the ceremonies performed by religious functionaries, have come to be conducted for their intrinsic value rather than to foster learning.”

So these two courageous black professionals were fired for refusing to accept the harsh “no excuses” pedagogy designed for black children, designed to make them servile and obedient.

Their jobs should be promptly restored. Mayor Bowser has been captured by the forces of privatization and conformity. She should wake up. Some of the “no excuses” charter schools have recognized the harm they do to black children by treating them as clay to be molded, instead of human beings with vitality and interests who need to discover their talents and the joy of learning.

#BustEDPencils Live tonight at 8pm EST.

Michigan Public Schools Under Attack!

Mitchell Robinson for State Board of Education

CALL! 844.967.2789

Listen Live: https://www.devilradio927.com/listen-live/

A writer who identifies here as quickwrit sent a comment to the U.S. Department of Education commending it for the proposed regulation of the federal Charter Schools Program, which dispenses $440 million a year to start new charter schools or expand existing ones. During the Betsy DeVos years, she showered many millions of dollars on some of the nation’s largest charter chains. Some, like the IDEA chain in Texas, received more than $200 million to grow their brand. Back when the program started, its founders envisioned small mom-and-pop charters or teacher-led schools that needed some money to get started. What they did not envision was the Walmartization of schools into giant corporate chains.

CHARTER SCHOOL FRAUD: 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.

This is quickwrit’s message to the U.S. DOE:

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.

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.” The catch-phrase “school choice” was concocted by racists following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling that required racial integration in public schools. After that, racist organizations used racist politicians to conduct a decades-long attack that underfunded public schools and crippled their ability to provide the full measure of education and to “prove” that public schools were “failing”. Public school “failure” is an issue manufactured by racists organizations and politicians.
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

Please send your own comments to:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/03/14/2022-05463/proposed-priorities-requirements-definitions-and-selection-criteria-expanding-opportunity-through#open-comment

Ohio knows charter schools. A lobbyist for the charter school industry wrote the law. Charter schools are mistakenly called “community schools.” Most charter schools in the state are failing schools, but that does not dim the enthusiasm of the GOP legislature for them. Ohio welcomes for-profit charter schools. Charters drain money from public schools.

For the first time in the history of the federal Charter Schools Program, which started in 1994, the federal U.S. Department of Education has proposed regulations to exclude for-profit management of charters that seek federal funding to expand and to require charters seeking federal funding to present a summary of their charter on the locality where they plan to open.

Jan Resseger, who lives in Ohio, sent the following appeal to her followers.

Please Support the Proposed USDOE Rule Changes for the Federal Charter Schools Program

Submit a comment supporting the Department’s new stronger regulations. You can submit your comment HERE, and you must submit the comment before April 13, 2022.

Please read Ohio Public Education Partners’ explanation of an urgently important development that requires our immediate attention. The U.S. Department of Education has published a notice in the Federal Register proposing new rules to strengthen oversight of the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). It is urgently important for each one of us to write and submit a formal comment expressing support for stronger oversight of the Charter Schools Program.

First, even though the Elementary and Secondary Education Act forbids the allocation of federal dollars to for-profit charter schools, the owners of for-profit charter management organizations (CMOs) have learned how to get around the law. The U.S. Department of Education has proposed to stop the misallocation of federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) dollars to for-profit charter school management companies that hide behind the nonprofit charter schools they manage under sweeps contracts.

Second, when a charter school asks for Charter Schools Program startup funds, the Department has declared its intention to require a community impact statement to ensure that there is a need for a new charter school in the community and that the school won’t promote racial segregation. Neither should rapid expansion of charter schools undermine urban neighborhoods. The most serious consequence of out-of-control charter school expansion has been evident in large cities, where charter schools advertise lavishly to attract families from public schools.

Here is the language of the two urgently important rules the U.S. Department of Education proposes to add:

First — “Each charter school receiving CSP funding must provide an assurance that it has not and will not enter into a contract with a for-profit management organization, including a non-profit management organization operated by or on behalf of a for-profit entity, under which the management organization exercises full or substantial administrative control over the charter school and, thereby, the CSP project.”

Second — “Each applicant must provide a community impact analysis that demonstrates that there is sufficient demand for the proposed project and that the proposed project would serve the interests and meet the needs of students and families in the community or communities from which students are, or will be, drawn to attend the charter school, and that includes the following: (a) Descriptions of the community support and unmet demand for the charter school, including any over-enrollment of existing public schools or other information that demonstrates demand for the charter school, such as evidence of demand for specialized instructional approaches. (b) Descriptions of the targeted student and staff demographics and how the applicant plans to establish and maintain racially and socio-economically diverse student and staff populations, including proposed strategies (that are consistent with applicable legal requirements) to recruit, enroll, and retain a diverse student body and to recruit, hire, develop, and retain a diverse staff and talent pipeline at all levels (including leadership positions).”

Please submit a comment supporting the Department’s new stronger regulations. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the complicated language and presentation of the new rules in the Federal Register. Begin your comment by thanking the Department of Education for strengthening long-needed accountability in this program. In simple prose, explain your support for each of the proposed new rules for the Charter Schools Program. In your comment, if you like, you may quote the language (above) of each rule followed by your reason for believing the new regulation is so important. Your comment may be as long or as short as you like—a few sentences or several paragraphs. Longer comments must be submitted as attached documents.

You can submit your comment HERE, and you must submit the comment before April 13, 2022.

If you are not planning to write your own comment, you may send the Network for Public Education’s action alert letter, but I urge you to personalize your letter by adding a few sentences of your own.

Jan Resseger

 

The federal Charter Schools Program was launched in 1994 with a few million dollars, when the Clinton administration decided to offer funding for start-ups. At the time, there were few charter schools. In the early, idealistic days, charter enthusiasts asserted that charters would set lofty goals and close their doors if they didn’t meet them. They were sure that charters would be far better than public schools because they were free to hire and fire teachers.

Right-wingers jumped on the charter bandwagon as a way to undermine public schools and to bust teachers’ unions. In short order, a gaggle of billionaires decided that charter schools would succeed because they operated with minimal or no regulation, like a business.

What no one knew back in 1994 was that the charter industry would grow to be politically powerful, with its own lobbyists. No one knew that the “most successful” charter schools were those that excluded the students who might pull down their test scores. No one knew that for-profit entrepreneurs would set up or manage charter chains and make huge profits, mainly by their real estate deals. No one knew that one of the largest charter chains would be run by a Turkish imam. No one knew that charter schools would develop a very old-fashioned militaristic discipline that prescribed every detail of a student’s life in school. No one knew that the little program of 1994 would grow to $440 million a year, with much of it bestowed on deep-pocketed chains that had no need of federal money to expand. No one knew that charter schools would become a favorite recipient of big money from Wall Street hedge-fund managers and billionaires like Bill Gates, the Walton family, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, John Arnold, Betsy DeVos, Reed Hastings, and many other billionaires and multi-millionaires. No one anticipated that by 2022, there would be 3.3 million students in more than 7,400 charter schools.

Perhaps most important, no one expected that charter schools, on average, would perform no better than public schools. And in many districts and states, such as Ohio, Nevada, and Texas, charter schools perform far worse than the public schools.

School choice has been a segregationist goal ever since the Brown Decision of 1954, when southern states created segregation academies and voucher plans to help white students escape from racial integration. It should be no surprise, then, to see that the same states that are passing laws to restrict discussion of racism, to ban teaching about sexuality and gender, and to censor books abut these topics are the same states that demand more charter schools. Coincidence? Not likely. These are culture war issues that rile the Republican base.

How strange then, given this background, that the Washington Post published an editorial opposing the Department of Education’s sensible and modest effort to impose new regulations on new charter schools that seek federal funding. The education editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao very likely wrote this editorial, since she has that beat. Armao was a cheerleader for Michelle Rhee when she was chancellor of the D.C. schools and imposed a reign of terror on the district’s professional staff, based on flawed theories of reform and leadership.

In the following editorial, she makes no effort to offer two sides of the charter issue (yes, there are two, maybe three or four sides). She writes a polemic that might have been cribbed from the press releases of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the amply endowed lobbyist for the industry. She gives no evidence that she has ever heard of the high closure rate (nearly 40%) of the charters that received federal funds from the Charter Schools Program. She seems unaware of the scores of scandals associated with the charter industry, or the number of charter founders who have been convicted of embezzlement. She doesn’t care about banning for-profit management from future grants. She thinks it’s just fine to set up new charters in communities where they are not needed or wanted. She seems unaware that the new regulations will not affect the 7,000 charters now in existence. Charters can still get start-up funding from Michael Bloomberg, the Waltons, or other privatizers. New charters can still be opened by for-profit entrepreneurs like Academica, but not with federal funds.

Here is the editorial, an echo of press releases written by Nina Rees of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (Rees previously worked at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, served as education advisor to Vice-President Dick Cheney, and worked for financier Michael Milken).

The editorial’s title is: “The Biden Administration’s Sneak Attack on Charter Schools.”

Advocates for public charter schools breathed easier last month when Congress approved $440 million for a program that helps pay for charter school start-up expenses. Unfortunately, their relief was short-lived. The Biden administration the next day proposed new rules for the program that discourage charter schools from applying for grants, a move that seems designed to squelch charter growth.


On March 11, a day after the funding passed, the Education Department issued 13 pages of proposed rules governing the 28-year-old federal Charter Schools Program, which funnels funds through state agencies to help charters with start-up expenses such as staff and technology. “Not a charter school fan” was Mr. Biden’s comment about these independent public schools during his 2020 presidential campaign, and the proposed requirements clearly reflect that antipathy.


The Biden administration claims that the proposed rules would ensure fiscal oversight and encourage collaboration between traditional public schools and charter schools. But the overwhelming view within the diverse charter school community is that the proposed rules would add onerous requirements that would be difficult, if not impossible, to meet and would scare off would-be applicants. Those most hurt would be single-site schools and schools led by rural, Black and Latino educators.


Consider, for example, the requirement that would-be applicants provide proof of community demand for charters, which hinged on whether there is over-enrollment in existing traditional public schools. Enrollment is down in many big-city school districts, which would mean likely rejection for any nonprofit seeking to open up a charter. “Traditional schools may be under-enrolled, but parents are looking for more than just a seat for their child. They want high quality seats,” said Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.Hence the long waiting lists for charter school spots in cities with empty classrooms in traditional schools. Also problematic is the requirement that charters get a commitment of collaboration from a traditional public school. That’s like getting Walmart to promise to partner with the five-and-dime down the street.

The Biden administration surprised the charter school community by what charter advocates called a sneak attack. There was no consultation — as is generally the case with stakeholders when regulations are being drafted — and the public comment period before the rules become final ends April 14.The norm is generally at least two months.

The proposed changes, according to a spokesperson for the Education Department, are intended to better align the Charter Schools Program with the Biden-Harris administration’s priorities. “Not a charter fan,” Mr. Biden said, and so bureaucratic rulemaking is being used to sabotage a valuable program that has helped charters give parents school choice.

If you disagree with this editorial, as I do, please send a comment thanking the Department of Education for proposing to regulate a program that has spun out of control and urging them to approve the regulations. Give your reasons.

If you think that charter schools have no need for federal funding when so many billionaires open their wallets for them, if you think that your community has enough charter schools, if you think that public schools must be strengthened and improved, if you want to stop federal funding of for-profit entrepreneurs, if you are tired of funding schools that never open, please write to support the U.S. Department of Education’s reasonable proposal to regulate the federal Charter Schools Program.

Journalist Jennifer Berkshire and historian Jack Schneider wrote a warning in the New York Times to the Democratic Party about education. Democrats, they say, used to have a big advantage over Republicans on the education issue, but that advantage has almost disappeared. They say that Democrats have erred in celebrating education as the most important, if not the only, route to economic success. Meanwhile, they ignored trade unions, which dwindled under red state assaults and corporate attacks, and tax policy, which favored the rich.

While I don’t disagree with their analysis, I have a different take on why Democrats lost the education issue. Not only did they ignore growing economic inequality, but Democrats abandoned their historic devotion to public schools (attended by 90% of American students) and adopted the Republicans’ long-standing belief in choice, competition, testing, and accountability.

Thirty years later, it is indisputably clear that those policies do not improve education, do not increase opportunity for those who are at the bottom, and do not reduce economic inequality.

Under Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, the Democratic platform sounded remarkably like the Republican Party on education. Clinton and Gore pledged to create a national system of standards and tests. Their Goals 2000 legislation of 1994 laid the groundwork for George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, which had bipartisan support. The Clinton administration created the federal Charter Schools Program in 1994, which allocated a few million dollars to help start new charters; it has now grown into a charter slush fund of $440 million annually, which is strongly supported by Republicans and for which there is no need, given the many billionaires who subsidize charters.

Race to the Top was the culmination of the Democrats’ complete merger with Republicans on education policy.

The Democrats lost their primacy as the party of public schools because they embraced Republican ideology, and they ignored the causes of economic inequality, which testing, standards, and choice could not fix.

Berkshire and Schneider write:

The warning signs are everywhere. For 30 years, polls showed that Americans trusted Democrats over Republicans to invest in public education and strengthen schools. Within the past year, however, Republicans have closed the gap; a recent poll shows the two parties separated on the issue by less than the margin of error.

Since the Republican Glenn Youngkin scored an upset win in Virginia’s race for governor by making education a central campaign issue, Republicans in state after state have capitalized on anger over mask mandates, parental rights and teaching about race, and their strategy seems to be working. The culture wars now threatening to consume American schools have produced an unlikely coalition — one that includes populists on the right and a growing number of affluent, educated white parents on the left. Both groups are increasingly at odds with the Democratic Party.

For the party leaders tasked with crafting a midterm strategy, this development should set off alarms. Voters who feel looked down on by elites are now finding common cause with those elites, forming an alliance that could not only cost the Democrats the midterm elections but also fundamentally realign American politics.

The Democrats know they have a problem. One recent analysis conducted by the Democratic Governors Association put it bluntly: “We need to retake education as a winning issue.” But reclaiming their trustworthiness on education will require more than just savvier messaging. Democrats are going to need to rethink a core assumption: that education is the key to addressing economic inequality.

The party’s current education problem reflects a misguided policy shift made decades ago. Eager to reclaim the political center, Democratic politicians increasingly framed education, rather than labor unions or a progressive tax code, as the answer to many of our economic problems, embracing what Barack Obama would later call “ladders of opportunity,” such as “good” public schools and college degrees, which would offer a “hand up” rather than a handout. Bill Clinton famously pronounced, “What you earn depends on what you learn.”

But this message has proved to be deeply alienating to the people who once made up the core of the party. As the philosopher Michael Sandel wrote in his recent book “The Tyranny of Merit,” Democrats often seemed to imply that people whose living standards were declining had only themselves to blame. Meanwhile, more affluent voters were congratulated for their smarts and hard work. Tired of being told to pick themselves up and go to college, working people increasingly turned against the Democrats.

Today, as the middle class falls further behind the wealthy, the belief in education as the sole remedy for economic inequality appears more and more misguided. And yet, because Democrats have spent the past 30 years framing schooling as the surest route to the good life, any attempt to make our education system fairer is met with fierce resistance from affluent liberals worried that Democratic reforms might threaten their carefully laid plans to help their children get ahead.

Please read the rest of their article.

For the first time in 25 years, Pennsylvania officials imposed new regulations on charter schools. Charter advocates were not happy, nor were the Republicans who control the legislature.

Pennsylvania’s charter schools may be required to follow certain accounting and audit standards, comply with state ethics requirements, and post enrollment policies on their websites under new rules opposed by charter advocates and Republican lawmakers.

The rules, passed by the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission on Monday in a 3-2 vote, were proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf as part of a broader effort to overhaul how charters are regulated and funded — a perennially contentious issue in the education world. Charters, which educate 170,000 students across Pennsylvania, including one-third of all Philadelphia public school students, are paid by school districts based on enrollment….

Mastery Schools, Philadelphia’s largest charter network, said in written comments submitted to the commission that the regulations “threaten the very existence of the public charter schools that have been transformative to our children’s lives.”

The same regulations that public schools must follow are somehow a mortal threat to charters.

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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Tina Bojanowski, a teacher and member of the Kentucky legislature, tweeted last night that HB 9, the charter funding bill, appears to be dead for this session. A great victory for parents, students, teachers, and taxpayers in Kentucky!

She tweeted:

HB9, the charter school bill, was pulled from the committee agenda. It’s likely we stopped it – for this session.

@TinaForKentucky

Bill Gates struggled for years to bring charter schools to Washington State, over the opposition of parent groups, teachers, and civil rights organizations. He lost three state referenda, but won the fourth—barely—by blitzing voters with a multimillion dollar campaign that the opponents could not match.

Be careful what you want. First a CREDO report found that the charters did not outperform the much-maligned public schools.

Now a state audit reports that charters in Seattle and Tacoma are breaking the law by hiring uncertified teachers.

Teachers who lacked proper accreditation taught at charter schools in Seattle and Tacoma, in violation of state rules. This was discovered through an audit; State Auditor Pat McCarthy called these findings “unprecedented.”

The state audit found that Summit Sierra and Summit Atlas, schools in Seattle, and Summit Olympus, a school in Tacoma, received nearly $4 million in funding related to the positions, which may now need to be repaid…

The auditor’s office estimated that Summit schools received $3.89 million in state funding more than it should have related to the teaching positions filled by uncertificated staff.

In a formal response to the audit findings, an attorney for Summit Public Schools challenged all of them, and the state’s repayment calculations.

“It is simply not the case that a person is only qualified to teach under Washington law if he or she has a state-issued teacher certificate,” wrote attorney David Stearns.

The auditors, Stearns wrote, failed “to recognize the explicit exception to the teacher certification requirement that applies to charter schools.”

Jessica de Barros, interim executive director of the Washington State Charter School Commission, which authorizes and oversees Summit Public Schools, disagreed.

“All public charter schools are required to employ certificated teachers,” de Barros said. “The Commission supports full compliance with all of the audit recommendations,” including repayment of inappropriately-granted state dollars.

“We have since strengthened our systems to ensure these inadvertent reporting issues will not happen again,” said Kate Gottfredson, spokesperson for Summit Public Schools. “We will work with the [Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction] to develop an appropriate plan to address the findings.”

It is not clear why the spokesperson for the charter chain thought the problem was a “reporting issue,” not a breaking-the-law issue.