Archives for category: Corporate Reformers

Joshua Leibner is a National Board Certified Teacher in Los Angeles. He wrote this post.

The elephant in the room of School Reform, is, the Elephant.

When Republican Donald Trump announced his choice of Betsy DeVos to serve as his Education Secretary, The California Charter Schools Association wrote: [We] congratulate Betsy DeVos, a longtime supporter of charter schools, on her appointment as Secretary of Education. Mrs. DeVos has long demonstrated a commitment to providing families with improved public school options and we look forward to working with the administration on proposals allowing all students in California to access their right to a high quality public education.

If you have one ounce of Progressivism in your blood, that mealy-mouthed congratulations would create a lethal dose of moral leukemia. This disgusting endorsement of DeVos, a person who is one of the most hateful, gay demolishing, anti-child, free market embracing, Big Business darling, reveals clearly to Californians who CCSA is and who they put their faith in.

I’ll leave it to other columns to specifically go through all her contemptible sins in the world of education. Those yucky particulars are not the concern of this column: Betsy DeVos as emblematic of the entire Reform Education movement is my focus.

DeVos is the rich and ignorant School Reform Education Secretary that the entire School Reform movement and CCSA have pined for. Yes, they also got the President they implicitly yearned for–but more importantly, they now have the education ideology that is their entire raison d’etre and central to their cause.

In President-Elect Donald Trump (and especially in Vice President Mike Pence), they see the opportunity to have their public policy way on the federal level and translate it to local jurisdictions nationwide.

The bottom line here in California? Our Democrat candidates can no longer accept CCSA money pretending that this organization doesn’t represent America’s most heinous politics.

To be clear, there is zero degrees of separation between CCSA and the Koch Brothers.

The one great truth that Donald Trump did reveal was in the first GOP debate. There he honestly said that he “bought” politicians because he was a businessman and that’s what he is supposed to do.

CCSA is a business. A huge multi-billion dollar business.

CCSA plays both sides of the fence. It has bought the Democrats for Education Reform as well as a veritable Who’s Who of the most evil Republicans in the game today.

CCSA knows full well the disgusting, hateful, chauvinistic, anti-women, anti-immigrant, pro-life, pro-unregulated firearms, pro-rich corporate giveaways platforms of MANY of the people who support their and give it its lifeblood. They have endorsed some terrible Republicans who make life miserable for so many Californians in other economic, judicial and quality-of-life portions of their lives.

CCSA and its dark money allies give to Reform candidates across our state.

If the Democrats insist that Trump repudiate the Neo-Nazi’s and White Supremacist groups who have embraced his cause, the Democrats of California need to strongly repudiate the vile money, support and influence of CCSA. They are not fascists, but their ties to the Right and those who seek to fundamentally reshape America to regressive ends, should give concerned liberals pause.

Mike Pence is a hero to School Reformers. Pence’s home state of Indiana, is not only fraught with the dark perils of School Reform in hyper-drive, but a place where women, gays and minorities fear for their safety and liberties.

CCSA’s mouth piece in California, Campbell Brown’s The 74, is where many in the Republican Party have found a happy home. The LA School Report is owned by them and its former owner “liberal” multi-millionaire Jamie Alter-Lynton has happily partnered with Republicans who are anathema to Civil Rights, gay rights and economic justice proponents. Worse, they are proud of their associations with these politicians as long as they vote on the one issue they care about most: Education Reform. They cozy up to some of the most loathsome politicians in America.

Thus we get Betsy DeVos.

Betsy DeVos is seen as a messiah that will push through their agenda nationwide.

What does the Charter School and Ed Reform Movement share much in common with the current President Elect and many Republicans? Forgive my bluntness, but they love the Jerk Autocrat.

Look at the type of preening, aggressive narcissists whom the GOP admires: Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz. These are men who take particular delight in their tough, bad-ass, in-you-face bravado.

To be fair, the movement also loves tough-talkin’ Reform Democratic Jerks like Rahm Emanuel who qualifies as a Republican on the Arrogance Scale. School Reform, like the GOP, adore these personalities. Flexi-Democrat and uber-autocrat, Michelle Rhee, interviewed for the Ed Secretary position with Trump, and offered her support and enthusiastic endorsement of DeVos as well. The very first person’s name floated was New York’s Success Academy’s Eva Moskowitz, the Big Stick swinging Charter operator, who also has sung DeVos’s virtues.

The fealty to the wealthy, entrepreneur class is a hallmark of Education Reform. Billionaire DeVos contributed almost $10 million to Trump and is rewarded with her dream assignment. THIS is precisely business as usual and anyone who believes that Trump is going to combat the system that has rewarded him so handsomely is waiting for Godot. The billionaires used a rigged Republican/Wall Street tax system they fueled to reap untold fortunes exploiting a system that exploits the rest of society—and after a lifetime of plundering that system, live long enough to receive the holy civic term “philanthropist” from the impoverished public sector.

Here in LA, we have these autocratic personalities like Eli Broad (and in fact, his whole Broad Academy Superintendent philosophy is basically how to be a CEO Asses in the schools). Eli Broad and Donald Trump, knew how to game a system for themselves and pay off people of both parties to further their personal fortunes. In both cases, “Moral Politics” and “Ethics” were not high priorities in each of their wealth gathering operations.

Broad’s star pupil here was former LAUSD Superintendent, John Deasy, who never missed a chance to assert his authority, relishing despicable delight in exercising his bullying personality.

In contrast, these rich people have no fear of speaking their truth to labor, to unions and the teaching profession. These rich American titans claim the moral authority to speak on the behalf of the working class and the communities of color. Their grand designs for re-working education continues to favor a certain class and color of people, while never displaying a modicum of humility in their engineering.

Betsy DeVos is the epitome of the wealthy’s hubris and their oligarchic approach to education.

Trump’s selection of DeVos was as if Hollywood contacted Central Casting to provide CCSA with a person who would accurately mirror their Portrait of Dorian Gray. Her portrait is indeed reprehensible. DeVos’s beliefs of white privilege, class entitlement, stomach-churning religious imperative, grand American Exceptionalism/racist “manifest destiny” imperatives are the backbone of the charter school industrial complex.

Michelle Rhee who actually interviewed for the Ed Secretary position with Trump, offered her support and endorsement of DeVos as well.

Most Democratic candidates are quick to protect undocumented Latino children or claim that gay rights is sacrosanct here–not particularly tough positions for a Democrat in California. There are many CCSA Democrat candidates who espouse education policies that are cooked in the putrid stew of Right Wing economic and pedagogical philosophy. Predictably, they would not be happy about GOP’s barbaric social agenda, but CCSA would have any problem if any assortment of nightmarish GOP politicians controlled American education: Scott Walker? Jeb Bush? Sam Brownback? Rick Scott? Bobby Jindal? Mike Pence (they got their wish here).

In matters of education, CCSA and the Right are simpatico.

The CCSA throws enormous amount of money backing candidates across our state. Look who gratefully and self-righteously takes their money “in the name of the kids”. Think about what other positions the Ed Reform Money is supporting through their chosen candidates across the nation. Many of these politicians have a view of America and justice that is the antithesis to what Progressives demand.

It is disingenuous to believe yourself “liberal” and embrace the ideology of CCSA. There is no separation between them and who else supports them.

Again, this debate among Democrats is a long time coming. In California, where we are basically a One Party state, corporate money and influence goes to a certain sort of centrist Democrat who will back their policies. These are the Democrats who don’t care about what other policies their proponents support-or refuse to see the connection between their Education cause and the other rest of the Right’s Agenda for America.

Follow that money.

Follow that money.

Follow that money.

CCSA contributions to the Corporate Democrats in California (on the state and local level)…but elsewhere, out of the confines of our Blue World, it’s CCSA’s sister organizations that are supporting whatever Right Wing monster runs the unfortunates in other states.

If you think Donald Trump and Mike Pence are wrong about everything else in America, but got it dead right on what America’s students require, then you really can compartmentalize as delusionally as the folks who take CCSA money.

People who think of themselves as Progressives don’t have that luxury.

This is unbelievable!

 

The California Charter School Association pretends to be fighting for the civil rights of children by pushing school choice and undermining public schools.

 

Yet it wrote a note congratulating the Billionaire Queen of Vouchers, Betsy DeVos, on her nomination to be Secretary of Education:

 

The California Charter Schools Association congratulates Betsy DeVos, a longtime supporter of charter schools, on her appointment as Secretary of Education. Mrs. DeVos has long demonstrated a commitment to providing families with improved public school options and we look forward to working with the administration on proposals allowing all students in California to access their right to a high quality public education.

 

Let’s be clear. DeVos is first and foremost a supporter of vouchers. When vouchers are not available, because voters don’t approve them (as in her home state of Michigan), she supports charters. She doesn’t necessarily support “high-quality charters,” she supports low-quality charters, no-quality charters, and for-profit charters. Last spring, she and her husband spent nearly $1.5 million in campaign contributions to block legislative efforts to make charter schools accountable. Detroit is her petri dish; it is the lowest-performing urban district in the nation on NAEP measures. In addition, she and her family have also devoted large sums to anti-gay legislative campaigns.

 

How hypocritical can CCSA be?

 

Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, wrote a blistering article about the DeVos family’s purchase of the Republican members of the Michigan legislature in return for their abandonment of any oversight of Detroit’s woeful charter schools.

 

The DeVos family, owners of the largest charter lobbying organization, has showered Michigan Republican candidates and organizations with impressive and near-unprecedented amounts of money this campaign cycle: $1.45 million in June and July alone — over a seven-week period, an average of $25,000 a day.

 

 

The giving began in earnest on June 13, just five days after Republican members of the state Senate reversed themselves on the question of whether Michigan charter schools need more oversight.

 

There’s nothing more difficult than proving quid pro quos in politics, the instances in which favor is returned for specific monetary support.

 

But look at the amounts involved, and consider the DeVos’ near-sole interest in the issue of school choice. It’s a fool’s errand to imagine a world in which the family’s deep pockets haven’t skewed the school debate to the favor of their highly financed lobby.

 

And in this case, it was all done to the detriment of children in the City of Detroit.

 

Deep pockets, long arms

 

Back in March, the Senate voted to place charter schools under the same authority as public schools in the city, for quality control and attention to population need and balance, in line with a plan that had been in the works for more than a year, endorsed and promoted by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

 

But when the bills moved to the state House, lawmakers gutted that provision, returning a bill to the Senate that preserved the free-for-all charter environment that has locked Detroit in an educational morass for two decades. After less than a week of debate, the Senate caved.

 

Even then, several legislators complained that the influence of lobbyists, principally charter school lobbyists, was overwhelming substantive debate. The effort was intense, they said, and unrelenting.

 

Now we know what was at stake.

 

Five days later, several members of the DeVos family made the maximum allowable contributions to the Michigan Republican Party, a total of roughly $180,000.

 

The next day, DeVos family members made another $475,000 in contributions to the party.

 

It was the beginning of a spending spree that would swell to $1.45 million in contributions to the party and to individual candidates by the end of July, according to an analysis by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network…

 

The legislation the DeVos family bought preserves a unique-in-the-nation style of charter school experimentation in Detroit.

 

If I wanted to start a school next year, all I’d need to do is get the money, draw up a plan and meet a few perfunctory requirements.

 

I’d then be allowed to operate that school, at a profit if I liked, without, practically speaking, any accountability for results. As long as I met the minimal state code and inspection requirements, I could run an awful school, no better than the public alternatives, almost indefinitely.

 

That’s what has happened in Detroit since the DeVos family helped push the charter law into existence 20 years ago.

 

On average, the schools don’t perform on state and national tests much better than public schools. A few outliers have reached remarkable heights. A few have done much worse. And charter advocates have become crafty liars in the selling of their product.

 

They’ll crow, for instance, that nearly twice as many of their kids do as well on national math assessments as the public schools. What they don’t tout are the numbers, which show the public schools are 8%, and the charters at 15%.

 

Regardless of outcome, none of the charter school establishment has been subject of a formal oversight and review that would reward the best actors and improve the worst.

 

Education should always be about children. But in Michigan, children’s education has been squandered in the name of a reform “experiment,” driven by ideologies that put faith in markets, alone, as the best arbiters of quality, and so heavily financed by donors like the DeVos clan that nearly no other voices get heard in the educational conversation.

 

 

Nancy Flanagan, retired NBCT teacher and current blogger, explains in a comment what has happened in Michigan, where she lives:

 

 
I live in Michigan, where the charter movement was an outgrowth of Betsy DeVos’s inability to get a voucher law through, resulting in her turning to charter schools (DeVos family paid–twice!–to put failed voucher initiatives on the ballot). Initially, 25 years ago, the goal was conversion charters–making Christian (not Catholic) education free for white parents in western Michigan, by putting up a new sign and moving Bible Study classes to the end of the day, as an “elective.” A few education progressives took advantage of the law to start high-tech schools (very sexy, at the time), including one in Henry Ford Museum. Charters were all about serving the privileged kids and the promising kids, with new, out-of-the-box thinking.

 

It wasn’t until the DFER Democrats came along, promoting charters as a “civil rights” initiative (just about the time the admin turned over), that charters could also be positioned as a cheap and promising strategy for “saving” kids in troubled urban districts. Connecting charters to the civil rights movement was a brilliant (although utterly failed) strategy, because the charter model produced nothing of consequence in urban education, except financial malfeasance.

 

People who live in states where charters are very limited and relatively new immediately perceive–because we have plenty of evidence now– all the things that are wrong with the charter movement. You have to go to a state where the policy has been in place for 25 years–like Michigan, which has 300+ charter schools–to see what advanced-stage charter syndrome looks like.

 

Jay Mathews is just stuck in the past, following an old (but seductive) narrative. And he has plenty of company–witness the terrible, deceptive coverage of education (and the policies of major candidates) in the 2016 election.

You may have heard about a shiny new service that promises to reward high school students with money that can be applied to future college tuition if they reach certain targets. It is called Raise.me.

I confess I had not heard about it until our dear friend Laura Chapman wrote one of her deeply researched comments about it. She googled and came across a scathing article by Steve Nelson, the headmaster of the Calhoun School in New York City. I browsed the website of Raise.me and read the glowing articles written about it in the press.

You should learn about it too. It seems to be yet another way to gather personally identifiable information about students. It is part of the insidious data mining regime that certain philanthropies, corporations, and the federal government have been crafting to create both Big Data and cradle-to-grave data about individuals, usually without their knowledge.

First, Steve Nelson. He reminds us of the old adage that if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t. He writes:

“In a matter of days I’ve gone from knowing nothing about Raise.me to being inundated with information. Raise.me is an organization that purports to provide wonderful scholarship opportunities to high school students, particularly those who are less privileged and less likely to have sophisticated guidance in choosing a college and financing their education.

“First awareness came via an uncritical New York Times piece describing Raise.me. After visiting their website I’ve received emails hoping my school might guide students to the program. Apparently many colleges and universities have signed on. If nothing else, this venture has good PR and marketing capabilities. I use the word “venture” intentionally, as will shortly be clear.

“Interested readers can visit the site to find details on the mechanics of the programs, but here is a short overview: Beginning in 9th grade, students register for the program and earn “dollars” for various things, including grades, grade point averages, AP courses, extra-curricular activities and others. Individual colleges assign their own values, so college X may offer $300 for an “A” and university Y offers only $100. The students then accumulate “dollars” that will be granted in scholarships by the college when and if the college admits the student.

“Too good to be true? Probably. Misleading? Perhaps.

“First, I must register an objection to monetizing student choices. Extrinsic motivators are fleeting and often counterproductive. There are already enough incentives that drive America’s students to see learning as an exercise in credential accumulation rather than seeking enlightenment, joy, creation or curiosity. This program is a more sophisticated version of the programs instituted in some urban schools, where small children are treated like laboratory animals, earning small rewards for compliant behavior or good grades.

“Raise.me takes the already stressful process of college application and presses it needlessly into years when students should be exploring, taking risks, having fun and not be encumbered by the pressure of getting in to college. (This is also the case with the new college application process, Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, supported by all the Ivy League schools and 80 or so other highly selective colleges. Like Raise.me, the Coalition intrudes needlessly on adolescence by pressing kids into the college game earlier and earlier.)”

Nelson did some research and discovered that the enterprise was funded by venture capital. What’s in it for the investors? He is not sure.

“Of greater concern is that there is no evidence the accumulated “dollars” actually add to what a student might have received in a total aid package from any university. In business terms, dollars are fungible, and any credit given for Raise.me earnings can be (and seems to be) deducted from other sources the college might have applied. A few reports on College Confidential indicate that my skepticism is warranted. In other words, the program drives students to a college, but probably has no impact on the financial aid package that would otherwise have been awarded. And of course that’s almost certainly true! No college would allow its discretionary aid awards to be dictated by a program like Raise.me.”

Our esteemed friend Laura Chapman came across Raise.me, and this is what she reported after she perused the website of Raise.me:

Welcome to Raise.me, an online service owned and operated by Raise Labs Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Raise.me,” “we,” and/or “us”). Please read on to learn the rules and restrictions that govern your use of our websites, products, services, and applications (the “Services”). ….

These Terms of Use (the “Terms”) are a binding contract between you and Raise.me. You must agree to and accept all of the Terms, or you don’t have the right to use the Services. By using the Services in any way (whether as a visitor or a registered member), it means that you agree to all of these Terms, and these Terms will remain in effect while you use the Services. These Terms include the provisions in this document, as well as those in the Privacy Policy and Copyright Dispute Policy

Over 320,000 students – representing 1 out of 2 high schools in America – have signed up to earn ‘micro-scholarships’ from a diverse set of over 180 colleges and universities
Here is an example of the high schools and one university using the Raise Me platform https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/university-minnesota-announces-scholarship-program-raiseme

Here is part of the privacy policy at Raise Me. We receive and store any information you knowingly provide to us. For example, through the registration process and/or through your account settings, we may collect Personal Information (such as your name, email address, phone number), account information (such as a password or other information that helps us confirm that it is you accessing your account), demographic or other information (such as your school, gender, age or birthday, and other information about your interests and preferences), and third-party account credentials (for example, your log-in credentials for Google Plus or other third party sites). Any other information combined with your Personal Information will be treated together as Personal Information. You may have the opportunity to create a profile, which may include Personal Information, photographs, information about your academic and work history, your interests and activities, your use of Raise.me’s Services and other information.

When you earn a Micro-Scholarship, you may be required to provide additional information, such as proof of identity (which may include a driver’s license, passport, voting card or similar government issued identification), proof of academic and work history (which may include high school transcripts, standardized test scores, or references from teachers or counselors), or proof of financial need (which may include completing a FAFSA or CSS profile, and providing other family income documentation), in order to claim the award. Colleges which have awarded you Micro-Scholarships may share your application, enrollment and graduation information with us. If you provide your third-party account credentials to us or otherwise sign in to Raise.me’s Services through a third party site or service, you understand some content and/or information in those accounts (“Third Party Account Information”) may be transmitted into your account with us, and that Third Party Account Information transmitted to our Services is covered by this Privacy Policy; for example, if you log into our Services through Google Plus, your Google Plus profile information will be populated into your profile on Raise.me’s Services.

All information entered by you is voluntary and at your own discretion, though certain information may be required in order to register with us or to take advantage of some of our features. If you provide such information, you consent to the use of that information in accordance with the policies and practices described in this Privacy Policy. Raise.me may, on occasion, send you notifications, information, materials, or other offers through e-mail, text, or other type of notification. Also, we may receive a confirmation when you open an email from us. This confirmation helps us make our communications with you more interesting and improve our Services. If you do not want to receive communications from us, please indicate your preference in the “Account Settings” page of the website. https://www.raise.me/privacy_policy

Information Collected Automatically: This is too long for the post. See also the Terms of Use policy.

Suggest you also look up Raise Labs Inc. Delaware.

Betsy DeVos likes to point with pride to her husband’s charter school. See, she implies, I know what I am talking about. My husband started a charter school called the West Michigan Aviation Academy, located at the Gerald Ford Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the DeVos family lives.

 

Jersey Jazzman found that there is another side to the story. 

 

Dick DeVos’s charter school has one of the lowest shares of special education students in its county.

 

Understand that Betsy DeVos is absolutely fine with this. In her opinion, we would be better off segregating children who “struggle” from those who do not….

 

Dick DeVos’s charter school enrolls relatively few Limited English Proficient students….

 

We can debate whether it’s a good idea to isolate many of these students from the rest of the community. But we all have to agree — unless we’re totally ignorant of the realities of school finance — that schools serving more students with special needs must have more resources. One would think, therefore, that a school like WMAA, with its relatively small special education and LEP populations, wouldn’t be spending nearly as much as the other high schools in the area.

 

One would be wrong….

 

Dick DeVos’s charter school spends more on salaries for all employees per pupil than almost every other high school in its county. Hmm… well, Betsy DeVos says she wants to pay “good” teachers more. Maybe all that extra money is going into instructional salaries…

 

Or not….

 

Despite its high spending on total salaries, Dick DeVos’s charter school spending on instructional salaries is fairly typical. Which leads me to wonder: where is all that extra money going?

 

It is not going to pay highly experienced teachers. Like other charter schools in Michigan, DeVos’s charter school has a large proportion of inexperienced teachers.

 

Teachers gain the most in effectiveness over the first few years of their careers; yet nearly half of the teachers at Dick DeVos’s charter school have less than three years of experience. 

 

The takeaway:

 

High spending schools, enrolling proportionally fewer students with special needs, taught by inexperienced teachers. That’s Betsy DeVos’s vision for American education — just ask her husband.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Carey of the New America Foundation wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times, attempting to assuage fears that Betsy DeVos would privatize American schools. If she tries to promote privatization, she is likely to face “disappointment and frustration,” as Carey put it. He believes that the decentralization of American public education will prevent her from imposing privatization. I disagree with Carey, because we have seen state after state, district after district, where “reformers” have passed legislation for charters and vouchers, intended to undermine public schools without the consent of the governed. Massachusetts and Georgia, the only states that voted on whether to have more charters, decisively voted NO. The point of Carey’s article seems to be to persuade readers that charters are swell and vouchers will never happen, that DeVos can’t change much, so relax, privatization is not a threat. Can’t happen. Won’t happen. Trust me.

 

The New America Foundation, Carey’s employer, has received nearly $10 million from the Gates Foundation since 2009. Not surprisingly, it regularly defends charter schools and the Common Core standards. It  has even urged colleges to adopt the standards now.

 

 

Carey previously worked at Education Sector and Education Trust, both Gates-funded and charter-friendly. He tells us that “charter schools are public schools, open to all, accountable in varying degrees to public authorities, and usually run by nonprofit organizations.” Savvy readers of this blog know that charter schools declare that they are private organizations whenever they are sued or when their teachers try to form a union, but they are “public” when it is time to collect government money. They choose their students. They exclude children with severe disabilities and English-language-learners. They kick out troublesome students. In many states, charters are deregulated, unsupervised, and non-accountable. Carey has written favorably about the for-profit Alt-School chain of technology-based private schools (which would be eligible for Trump’s vouchers). Carey joined Eli Broad and every national “reform” group (including TFA, 50CAN, DFER, etc.) to endorse the Obama administration’s plan for “reforming” teacher education. After the 2008 election, he called on Democrats to embrace such “progressive” reforms as charter schools and test-based accountability.*

 

Carey says not to worry about DeVos’ passion for privatization because most states won’t be able to afford the cost of a universal voucher system. Trump says he will free up $20 billion from existing federal programs, but expects states to chip in another $110 billion. That won’t happen, Carey says, because “states don’t have that kind of money lying around.” Local school districts will resist the diversion of their property taxes. And besides, Betsy DeVos’ state laboratory of free-market reform–Michigan–is hardly a success. 80% of the charters there operate for profit, and Detroit is still a mess, despite a Wild West of charters and competition. Nor have vouchers proved to be a success.

 

Larded throughout the article is subtle praise for charters. He points out that expansion of charters was voted down in Massachusetts “despite strong evidence that the state’s well-supervised charters produce superior results for low-income and minority schoolchildren.” No mention of the reason that liberal Massachusetts rejected charters: the districts with charters did not want to sacrifice their public schools to the growth of charters, and the districts without charters wanted to protect their public schools. Organized groups of parents rang doorbells and told their friends and neighbors to support their public schools. The defenders of public education were outspent 2-1 by out-of-state billionaires like the Waltons and Michael Bloomberg, but they defeated the charter question by a vote of 62-38%.

 

Carey exemplifies the new line of “reformers”: charters run by private corporations and private boards are “public” but vouchers are a bad idea. The problem with this logic is that once you start down the road of school choice, it is hard to know when or how to stop. The Obama administration’s advocacy for charter schools greased the wheels for vouchers, some form of which now exist in about half the states.

 

Yes, we do have to worry about DeVos and Trump’s privatization agenda. If the state is a deep red state, with a Republican governor and a Tea Party legislature, like Indiana and many more, the state may grab whatever the feds offer and supply vouchers to anyone who wants them to use for any purpose, including home schooling and low-quality religious schools. DeVos may open the floodgates to unregulated, for-profit charters, allowing anyone to open a charter who wants to, regardless of their experience or qualifications (like Florida, Michigan, and Nevada). School choice does not have a record of success; charters get mixed results, at best, and vouchers have a record of failure. Even when they produce higher graduation rates, they simultaneously have astonishingly high attrition rates.

 

Join with the Network for Public Education to fight the DeVos nomination. Democrats, Republicans, and independents must stand together in opposition to this raid on public money. Separation of church and state is part of our heritage as Americans. Public schools that enroll all children–not just those they want–are part of our democracy.

 

When the federal government turns against public education, as the Trump administration promises to do, that is unprecedented. We don’t need to be soothed and promised that its threats to public education are not real. They are real. They build on the opening to school choice created by the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation and the think tanks that they have underwritten as part of their “policy advocacy.”

 

Parents and educators and concerned citizens must mobilize to oppose the Trump privatization agenda.

 

*I had my own unfortunate brush with Carey in 2011; I didn’t realize he was a key player in the “reform” movement, and I agreed to an interview. He published a mean-spirited screed about me, taking pot shots at my scholarly works and claiming that I changed my philosophy of education because Joel Klein did not give my partner a job. At the time, I was closeted, and Carey managed to “out” me. My partner already had a high-level job at the Board of Education when Klein arrived and was not in need of a job. So long as she worked at the Board, I was constrained from criticizing Klein or Bloomberg, whose policies of disruption did little to improve education. Once she retired, I was free to write and speak my mind. Yes, they helped me to see the deep flaws of corporate reform, of putting non-educators in charge of schools, of intimidating experienced educators, of trying to run schools like a business, of making test scores the basis for all decisions, but not for the reason Carey and Klein asserted.

 

Peter Greene opened his email and found an invitation to attend the annual convening of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence. Bush may have done poorly in the 2016 campaign but he still wants to remake American education in the image of Florida: charters, vouchers, high-stakes testing for students and teachers.

Greene wonders:

I am interested in seeing what happens next to Jeb!, who now occupies a weird sort of reformster twilight zone. On the one hand, Herr Trump appears to fully embrace Bush’s education policies, or at least the Let a Million Charters Bloom part. But Bush himself–well, it seems unlikely that Jeb is in line for Trumpian Ed Secretary. And that bitter taste resting on Bush’s ivy league palate must be getting only more and more bitter as it becomes obvious that President Trump will be following a lot of the policies that Candidate Trump used to smack Bush over the head. What happens when hated political enemies actually stand for pretty much the same policy ideas? How exactly do you criticize someone for pursuing policies that you totally agree with?

Who will the conventioneers hear from? Open the post.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan released the following statement on the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education:

 
Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan, issued the following statement on the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education:

 

We strongly urge Congress to scrutinize the record of Betsy DeVos, who has been a staunch proponent of school vouchers, a misguided idea that diverts taxpayer dollars into private and parochial schools and perverts the bedrock American value of separation of church and state. She and her husband served as the primary fundraisers and engine for a Michigan ballot initiative –Kids First! Yes! Coalition that voters soundly rejected in 2000.

 

She has ardently supported the unlimited, unregulated growth of charter schools in Michigan, elevating for-profit schools with no consideration of the severe harm done to traditional public schools. She’s done this despite overwhelming evidence that proves that charters do no better at educating children than traditional public schools and serve only to exacerbate funding problems for cash-strapped public districts. We believe that all children have a right to a quality public education, and we fear that Betsy DeVos’ relentless advocacy of charter schools and vouchers betrays these principles.

Kate Zernike of the New York Times has an excellent article explaining Betsy DeVos to the general public. She is not your garden-variety “reformer,” who claims to love both public schools and charter schools. She is a  privatization zealot.

 

For nearly 30 years, as a philanthropist, activist and Republican fund-raiser, she has pushed to give families taxpayer money in the form of vouchers to attend private and parochial schools, pressed to expand publicly funded but privately run charter schools, and tried to strip teacher unions of their influence.

 

A daughter of privilege, she also married into it; her husband, Dick, who ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan a decade ago, is heir to the Amway fortune. Like many education philanthropists, she argues that children’s ZIP codes should not confine them to failing schools.

 

But Ms. DeVos’s efforts to expand educational opportunity in her home state of Michigan and across the country have focused little on existing public schools, and almost entirely on establishing newer, more entrepreneurial models to compete with traditional schools for students and money. Her donations and advocacy go almost entirely toward groups seeking to move students and money away from what Mr. Trump calls “failing government schools.”

 

Conservative school choice activists hailed her on Wednesday as a fellow disrupter, and as someone who would block what they see as federal intrusion on local schools.

 

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, where Ms. DeVos helped push legislation establishing tax credits for scholarships to private schools, called her an “outstanding pick,” a “passionate change agent to press for a new education vision.”

 

DeVos and her  fellow privatization zealots have a goal: the destruction of public education.