Archives for category: Education Industry

Veteran journalist Andrea Gabor explains that Betsy DeVos got the Trump administration to commit fully behind her voucher obsession, rolling some 29 or 30 programs into a block grant, including the toxic federal Charter Schools Program. In exchange, the Trump administration is seeking $5 billion for national voucher program. It is certain not to be approved by Congress, but meanwhile the Supreme Court is considering a case (Espinoza v. Montana) that could eliminate all state bans on public spending for religious schools. This would have a devastating fiscal impact on public schools.

But, she warns, the voucher idea is an expensive failure and politically toxic. Based on recent electoral results, she predicts that it could blow up in the faces of Republican candidates. The overwhelming majority of American children attend public schools, including the overwhelming majority of children of Republican voters.

Despite DeVos’s enthusiastic support for vouchers, it may turn out to be a losing issue:

K-12 schooling remains a hot issue especially in local elections; thus, the combination of block grants and vouchers create a political minefield for Republican state legislators this election year. During the 2018 midterms, teachers in Kentucky helped a Democrat, Andy Beshear, defeat Republican incumbent Matt Bevin in the race for governor in a state Donald Trump had carried by 30 points.

In Wisconsin, where another pro-public education Democrat, Tony Evers, defeated Republican incumbent Governor Scott Walker, voters set recordspassing ballot measures increasing property taxes and allowing districts to exceed state-imposed revenue caps. These measures brought in an estimated $1.37 billion in additional public-school revenue. 

Meanwhile, in Arizona, groups critical of public education, including ones backed by DeVos and the Koch family, chose not to campaign for a 2018 ballot measure that would have expanded the state’s voucher law when they saw it would be a losing battle. The expansion measure was resoundingly defeated following a vigorous anti-voucher campaign. And just last month, Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, unveiled a budget with close to $300 million in extra funding for Arizona public schools. 

Sarah Vowell is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times where this article appeared. Proponents of vouchers often claim that the state prohibitions on public funding of religious schools were birthed in anti-Catholic bigotry, based on the Blaine Amendment, which was offered as a Constitutional amendment after the Civil War but failed to be adopted. Many states wrote their own “baby Blaine” amendments to assure that no public money went to religious schools–not just Catholic schools, but religious schools of any kind. The case now before the Supreme Court, Espinoza v. Montana, asserts the claim that refusal to fund religious schools is bigotry towards those schools. Sarah Vowell explains that the Montana constitution was rewritten in 1972. It included a strict prohibition against funding religious schools because the people of Montana can barely afford to pay for the public schools they have. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Espinoza, it will impoverish the public schools of Montana. That is why the suit is supported by the far-right Institute for Justice and their funders such as the Walton and DeVos families.

 

Scrutinizing the avuncular sphinx Chief Justice John Roberts throughout the impeachment trial of President Trump, I kept wondering whether he will preserve or ransack the legacy of the framers we revere — framers like the Republican Betty Babcock and the Democrat Dorothy Eck. It’s the question on all Americans’ minds: Do Mr. Roberts and his eight co-workers fully appreciate the public-spirited grandeur of the winter of 1971-72, when 100 Montanans, including housewives, ministers, a veterinarian and a beekeeper, gathered at the state capital, Helena, for the constitutional convention, affectionately nicknamed the “Con Con”?

The question haunts the current Supreme Court case Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. This newspaper has called the dispute over whether state tax credits can apply to donations for scholarships to private religious schools “a proxy battle over school choice.” However, the back story is so clumsily specific to Montana’s small population and immense geography that the case doesn’t entirely translate to states where people outnumber cows.

The novelist Ivan Doig wrote that in the scruffy Montana of yore, “when you met up with someone apt to give you trouble from his knuckles, the automatic evaluation was ‘too much Butte in him.’” When, as the grateful graduate of a Montana public school, I was determining whether I had a duty to stick up for the Con Con framers regarding the Espinoza case, I spotted a sequence in the web address of an article about it in The Atlantic that read “montana-bigoted-laws.” At that moment this Bozeman girl had too much Butte in her. Dorothy Eck wrote no “bigoted” anti-Christian laws — she was a blatant Methodist!

Before it ended up at the Supreme Court, the Espinoza ruckus started with a $150 tax credit. Montanans will make an appellate-level stink about chump change because that’s the only available change. The tiny tax base is basically eight coal miners, a couple of ski lift operators, that family in Belgrade making organic goat cheese and Huey Lewis.

Kendra Espinoza counted on scholarships to help pay for her daughters’ tuition at Stillwater Christian, a private school in Kalispell. No wonder. At up to $8,620 per year, ninth grade is more than $1,000 higher than undergraduate tuition at the University of Montana. What we called a “band room” at Bozeman High, Stillwater considers a “conservatory.”

School choice partisans pounced when Ms. Espinoza and other private-school parents sued to overturn the State Supreme Court’s ruling that the tax credit for scholarship donations violated the “no-aid” clause for sectarian schools in the Montana Constitution. They argued that it was time to erase “antiquated” anti-Catholic laws against public funding for private religious education. The subtle former state senator Matthew Monforton denounced the law as “Jim Crow for Christians.”

It is worth pointing out that the eighth word of the ’72 Constitutionis “God.” In the first draft of the preamble, some wistful Jeffersonians tried to thank the “Spirit of the Creator” for “the quiet beauty of our state.” They were shot down in the Bill of Rights Committee because “not mentioning ‘God’ specifically would be unacceptable” and so they “voted unanimously to retain Him in the Preamble.” The framers included a priest from Great Falls, Mitt Romney’s cousin Miles, the self-proclaimed “first Roman Catholic ever elected to anything in Yellowstone County,” and enough Presbyterians to warrant their own photo op.

While the ’72 Constitution’s no-aid clause looks similar to its predecessor in the 1889 original, the update was motivated by fortifying public schools, not shunning people of faith. Rethinking education was, along with open government and the right to individual dignity, part of the Con Con’s crusade to take a stand that no one dared dream of at statehood: that Montana would be a state in a republic and not an exceedingly wide company town.

“We were known as the state that wore the copper collar, controlled by the Anaconda Company,” Ms. Eck once said. A swashbuckler for the League of Women Voters, she referred to the copper company lording over the “richest hill on earth” and thus the newspapers and politicians. “There were stories of how their lobbyists would sit in the balcony at the legislature and do thumbs up and thumbs down of how people should vote.”

The Con Con delegates, who arranged themselves not by party but alphabetically, were so preoccupied with the public interest that they agreed public funds could be spent only on public agencies. During deliberations on the no-aid clause, the pastor of Helena’s Plymouth Congregational led the charge of “preserving our public school system,” preaching, “that’s what this issue is all about. I don’t think we ought to dilute that in any way.” (Diluting that is the aim of Espinoza.)

Article X, Section 1, of the ’72 Constitution proclaims that it is the duty of the state to “develop the full educational potential of each person.” That is an expensive ideal in a desolate wasteland. Public schools are supposed to be a volume business, but tell that to the Great Plains. The state of Montana has about 60,000 fewer inhabitants than the number of students enrolled in New York City’s public school system. I have volunteered in that epic system, which is to say I have had to excuse myself from a struggling student to go cry in a bathroom, so I sympathize with an urban kid who might eye a parochial school as her best chance.

That school choice logic doesn’t apply to Montana, where the poorest schools often have the smallest class sizes. The Montana Free Press reported that out in Prairie County, “Terry High School’s sophomore class has just five students this school year.” Starting in first grade, my friend Genevieve would ride her horse Croppy to the Malmborg School near Bozeman Pass; one year she and her brother Pete were half the student body.

When USA Today asked Ms. Espinoza if she had any qualms about what her case could mean for public schools, she insisted, “They have plenty of money.”

How I wish that were true. Last year, the public school district in Kalispell announced $1.7 million in budget cuts, Great Falls recently lost almost a hundred teachers, and Billings just announced about $4 million in cuts that mean canceling fifth grade orchestra and band.

A Supreme Court decision on Espinoza is expected in June. If the justices rule against Montana’s voters, tax credits for private school scholarship donations could surge. Revenue that might revive the Billings fifth grade band program could underwrite the fifth grade band at a pricey Kalispell private school.

Kalispell is the seat of Flathead County, which between 2000 and 2015 added more than 15,000 jobs just as rural Choteau County was losing more than 300. Overturning the no-aid clause will shovel more money into the cities (where most of the private schools are) and kick Choteau while it’s down, thereby thwarting the framers’ plan to spare needy districts from taxing “their residents three or four times as much as rich districts to provide less than half as much money per student.”

The public schools the framers conjured ask the taxpayers to splurge on fairness, not privilege, to pull together, not away. That beekeeper, those clergymen and moms chartered a state in a republic where a first grader on horseback is supposed to be as big and important as the mountains. As the Supreme Court justices ponder whether to upend all that over what appears to be a $150 trifle, I’ll pass along this lesson of Montana winters: A collapsed roof starts with a single snowflake.

Sarah Vowell, a contributing Opinion writer, is the author of “The Wordy Shipmates” and “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.”

Heather Gautney and Eric Blanc warn in the Guardian the Michael Bloomberg’s ideas about education would be a disaster for the nation. He is the only candidate whose ideas about education are in synch with those of Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, and Arne Duncan. The authors are both supporting Bernie Sanders.

Affer persuading the legislature to give him total control of the city’s 1.1 million public school students, he hired three non-educators as city Chancellor. One of them, a publisher out of her depth, lasted 95 days.

Like Trump and his inept Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, Bloomberg is a fervent backer of privatizing and dismantling public schools across the country. Education, in their view, should be run like a business.

While other establishment Democrats have begun changing their tune in response to the “Red for Ed” movement, Bloomberg’s campaign spokesman has made it clear that privatization will be a core message of his 2020 presidential run: “Mike has always supported charter schools, he opened a record number of charter schools as mayor of New York City, and he will champion the issue as president.”

Indeed, Bloomberg succeeded in massively expanding privately run but publicly funded charter schools during his term as mayor, increasing their number from 18 to 183. His controversial push to “increase school choice” closed over 100 schools in low-income communities and entrenched New York City’s education system as the most racially segregated in the country…

If anything, the main difference between Bloomberg and Trump is that the former has spent far more of his immense personal fortune to boost corporate “education reform” and local candidates driving this agenda. The New York Times reported last week that Bloomberg has spent millions to promote charters in the state of Louisiana alone. And this is just the tip of the iceberg: Bloomberg’s foundation in 2018 announced its plan to spend $375m to promote charters, merit pay, and the sacking of “failing” teachers, among other reforms.

Bloomberg is also an active promoter of high stakes testing. Despite abundant evidence that an excessive testing regime does little to improve real educational achievement, Bloomberg has vociferously sung the praises of this system in op-eds such as Demand Better Schools, Not Fewer Tests. Accordingly, as mayor he fought for a merit pay system through which teachers’ salaries would be pegged to student test scores.Like Trump and DeVos, Bloomberg has also viciously attacked teacher unions and scapegoated educators. He spent much of his mayoral tenure fighting with the powerful United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which he compared to the National Rifle Association. As he put it, “if the UFT wants it, it ain’t good”.

Actually, Bloomberg has poured money into charter school campaigns across the country, not just in Louisiana. He donated big money to school board races in Los Angeles and a charter referendum in Massachusetts, among many other state and local races.. His daughter Emma is one of three billionaire board members of TFA’s political action arm, called Leadership for Educational Equity.

Though his Republican roots are less evident on some other issues, Bloomberg’s personal and political similarity to Trump will make it very hard for him to win in a general election. Trump’s base remains solid – we need a candidate who can increase turnout by energizing the Democratic base and involving new voters in the political process.

That’s why having Bloomberg as the Democratic party’s standard bearer would make defeating Trump exceedingly difficult. At a moment when a wave of successful teachers’ strikes has captured the imagination of millions and changed the national discussion on education, a Bloomberg nomination would be a sure-fire recipe for demoralizing educators and teachers’ unions, an indispensable bastion of organized labor and the Democratic base.

They conclude:

You can’t win in November without teachers. And nobody should expect educators to be won over to a billionaire who has spent much of his career and fortune demonizing them. If you want to save public schools and defeat Trump, Bloomberg is no choice at all.

Jeff Bryant writes in the Progressive about the Trump-DeVos budget and their plan to eliminate the federal Charter Schools Program, which incensed the charter industry. The charter industry was certain they had a friend in Betsy DeVos, how could she have abandoned them?

Bryant quotes me as saying that the far-right foundations and think tanks embraced charters thirty years ago because they were easier to sell to the public than vouchers. I was involved in three different conservative think tanks–the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation/Institute, the Manhattan Institute, and the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force. I met with leaders of the voucher movement and the charter movement. Charters were easier to sell because they could be “called” public schools even when they were under private management. And, of course, the charter industry passed legislation in state after state labeling themselves as “public charter schools,” when it would be more accurate to say that they are privately managed schools with a government contract.

Charters were embraced by the right because they did not run the risk of losing in court as vouchers did (at that time). In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the charter industry got its start, the courts would have never approved a full-blown voucher scheme (the courts did okay vouchers for Cleveland and Milwaukee, but those seemed to be special cases, since they were supposed to “save” poor black and brown children from “failing public schools.”) Now we know that vouchers did not work in Cleveland and Milwaukee, but that has not slowed the zeal of voucher advocates one iota. From the discussions that I listened in on in rightwing circles, the invocation of “saving poor black and brown children” was a propaganda ploy intended to win the support of liberal legislators. It was a hoax and it was a knowing hoax. And many liberals fell for it.

Bryant explores Trump’s lie during the State of the Union address about the Philadelphia student who was allegedly “trapped” in a “failing government school.” As we soon learned, the student had attended a private Christian Academy, then applied for and was accepted into one of the city’s most elite charter schools.

Bryant writes:

As The Philadelphia Inquirer revealed, Janiyfah Davis was enrolled in Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III (MaST III), which is part of a popular charter network in Philadelphia with a reputation for being “high performing.” But that designation is also deceptive.

A research study I co-authored with the Network for Public Education on the federal government’s charter school grant program—the program Trump now proposes to cut—spotlighted MaST I and MaST II schools in the network because of the multiple grants, totaling over $1.6 million, the schools received. 

We also found that—though the schools’ grant applications expressed a “vision” to provide access to high-level math and science courses to low income, special education, English language learners, and minority populations—the schools actually served disproportionately higher percentages of white students than Philadelphia district schools. 

Despite any indication that MaST III actually served the groups it purported to, DeVos awarded the school a grant of $1,345,000 in 2019. 

In other words, the MaST network is an example of how charter schools have rigged the game to claim the mantle of “high performing” by serving mostly non-disadvantaged students.

Yet as the charter school industry continues to pour huge sums of money into its advocacy and lobbying efforts, it does little to address, and arguably worsens, the pervasive inequality that is at the root of the nation’s education problems.

Indeed, as the reformers fretted over the elimination of the federal government’s charter school grants, they were completely silent on Trump axing programs that actually do address inequality, such as those that focus on migrant and homeless students, native Hawaiian and Alaskan students, rural education, after-school programs, and full-service community schools.

So sure, Trump lied during his State of the Union address about saving the educational destiny of a young African American girl in Philadelphia, but that lie exposed a much deeper one: That the political establishment, conservative and liberal alike, has been deceiving us about the goals of school choice—vouchers and charter schools—all along. It’s always been about turning education into a private enterprise. 

 

About 30 public schools in Broward County may close due to loss of students to charter schools.

The original purpose of charter schools was to collaborate with public schools, not to destroy them. Unfortunately, the charter industry is so well represented in the legislature that they have a distinctive edge over real public schools. The wife of the State Commissiomer of Educatuon Richard Corcoran runs a charter school.

About 30 Broward schools could close, combine with other schools or convert into a new type of facility as the school district looks for ways to deal with nearly half-empty campuses.

Many of these schools are in the southern part of the county, from Hollywood to Pembroke Pines, where thousands of students have left for charter schools. Others are in the Fort Lauderdale area and have struggled with factors such as low student performance, outdated facilities and aging neighborhoods…

Enrollment has dropped about 30,000 in the past 15 years, due mostly to charter schools and to a smaller degree private school vouchers. The demographics also have changed in Broward, where most growth is among adults without school-aged kids….

Broward considers a school to have insufficient enrollment if it has 70% percent or fewer students than it was built to serve. Many of these schools aren’t able to afford an art, music or physical education teacher or a media specialist to run the library. Several didn’t get musical instruments through the $800 million bond because they can’t afford to teach music.

Nearby charter schools are eagerly eying the buildings that might become available.

 

From Politico today:

Of all the Democratic candidates, Michael Bloomberg has the worst record on education. His education policies mirrored George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind. He was fully invested in high-stakes testing, data-based decision-making, closing schools with low scores instead of helping them, opening new schools and then closing those schools, creating selective schools that chose students based on test scores, and opening scores of charter schools. He had sole control of the “Panel on Education Policy,” and warned its members that if they disagreed with him, they would be fired. When some disagreed about his blanket prohibition of “social promotion,” he summarily fired them. He hired three non-educators as chancellor to lead the system (one of them last 95 days). He tried and failed to hire business people and people from other other fields as principals. He stands for testing and privatization of public education. He has funded pro-privatization candidates in local and state school board races around the country.

SCOOP … MIKE BLOOMBERG is airing another national TV ad tying himself to closely BARACK OBAMA. This one is a 30-second spot entitled “Difference,” and it’s chock-full of imagery of BLOOMBERGand OBAMA. The timing of this ad is quite interesting, as it comes in the middle of a massive intraparty squabble between BLOOMBERGand Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (more about that in a second). BLOOMBERG has found plenty of ways to tie himself to OBAMA, the most popular Democrat in America. The 30-second ad

— SCRIPT: “[NARRATOR]: A great president and an effective mayor. Leadership that makes a difference. [OBAMA SPEAKING]: He’s been a leader throughout the country for the past 12 years, Mr. Michael Bloomberg is here. [NARRATOR]: Together they worked to combat gun violence, and again to improve education for every child. [OBAMA]: And I want to thank the mayor of this great city, Mayor Bloomberg, for his extraordinary leadership. And I share your determination to bring this country together to finally make progress for the American people.”

BLOOMBERG also has a new 30-second spot with Judge Judy. …

— LAT WITH THE NUMBERS: “Democratic presidential candidate Michael R. Bloomberg has spent more than $124 million on advertising in the 14 Super Tuesday states, well over 10 times what his top rivals have put into the contests that yield the biggest trove of delegates in a single day. The only other candidate to advertise across most of those states so far is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has spent just under $10 million on ads for the March 3 primaries.”

NEWS: BLOOMBERG has qualified for the NBC/MSNBC/Nevada Independent debate Wednesday night in Las Vegas. He’s indicated that he’ll do it, and a brand-new poll suggests that his advertising and publicity blitz has vaulted him into second place nationally.

THE POLL: SANDERS, 31 … BLOOMBERG, 19 … JOE BIDEN, 15 … ELIZABETH WARREN, 12 … AMY KLOBUCHAR, 9 … PETE BUTTIGIEG, 8. NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll

— BLOOMBERG’S DEBATE PREP, via Chris Cadelago and Sally Goldenberg: “Howard Wolfson, the veteran Democratic strategist who joined Bloomberg’s orbit in 2009 after working on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential race, is playing the role of Bernie Sanders; Julie Wood, Bloomberg’s national press secretary, is depicting Elizabeth Warren; and senior advisers Marc La Vorgna and Marcia Hale are stand-ins for Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, respectively. …

“Bloomberg is trying to hone a crisp and energetic appeal to voters that will contrast with Biden — another white, male septuagenarian on stage, according to advisers.”

THE BRAWL right now between BLOOMBERG and SANDERS seems to be the rare internecine fight that benefits everyone involved. It goes something like this: BLOOMBERG whacks BERNIE, delighting the Democratic Party’s large anti-Bernie wing. BERNIE then blasts out a fundraising email to his list of millions. He reminds his supporters that BLOOMBERG is a billionaire who palled around with TRUMP,and the left goes wild, but so do BLOOMBERG supporters, who say only a deep-pocketed billionaire willing to punch can take on the president.

This is an astonishing report about the destruction and privatization of public schools in Oakland, California, and the billionaires who facilitated the looting of that city. The article by Eugene Stovall appeared in “Black Agenda Report.” The audacity of this attack on public education is astonishing. The mechanism for the destroyers were graduates of the Broad Academy, known as Broadies. Since billionaire Eli Broad gave Yale University $100 million to take charge of his program, someone should warn Yale about its record.

Read it all. It will take your breath away.

Stovall writes:

Eli Broad (rhymes with “toad”) conconcted a scheme to privatize Oakland’s public schools and produce a revenue stream for his billionaire cronies.

Operating unethically and illegally, Broad managers used their training to cripple and plunder Oakland’s schools.”

Eli Broad is a liberal Democrat. He opposes Trump’s Muslim ban, immigration policies and withdrawal from the climate change treaty. In fact, like Democratic billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Blloomberg, Broad opposes Trump’s entire right wing agenda. However, just as the Trump Foundation created the Trump University scam, the Eli Broad Foundation created the Broad Superintendent Academy, an educational enterprise that has become so successful that it is now associated with the home of the Skull and Bones Society, Yale University. But despite its aura of respectability, the Broad Superintendent Academy is no less a scam than Trump University.

Billionaires Want More

Eli Broad created two Fortune 500  companies, Kaufmann-Broad Homes and SunAmerica Bank. With an estimated net worth of $6.7 billion, Eli Broad ranks as Forbes  Magazine’s 78th wealthiest man in the United States. But like many billionaires who create mechanisms to increase their wealth, Broad created a “non-profit” academy as his entré into the private education market. The Broad Superintendent Academy attracts applicants who willingly pay exorbitant tuition fees for the chance to get placed in a top management public education position. Broad academy applicants do not need educational degrees or teaching certificates. Neither are they experienced teachers or successful school administrators. The Broad academy is uninterested in strategies for improving student achievement and does not teach its students about fundamental educational issues, pedagogies and methodologies. The Broad academy only indoctrinates and commits its students to the privatization of public education and the generation of revenues for private corporations. Broad Academy attendees are taught the disruptive management tactics needed to ignore “best educational practices.” They are taught how to overcome objections when mandating school closures and school property sell offs to the billionaire-owners of private schools. When Broad placed his academy graduates in management positions at the Oakland Unified School District, they left a trail of fiscal mismanagement, budget overruns and demoralized staff, students and teachers. Operating unethically and illegally, Broad managers used their training to cripple and plunder Oakland’s schools.

The Broadies Who Plundered Oakland’s Schools

In 1998, Eli Broad recruited Jerry Brown, the former Governor of California and a former presidential contender, to become mayor of Oakland. Broad needed someone with Brown’s political clout with the Democratic Party to implement his plan to privatize Oakland’s schools. Broad had been a close personal friend of Jerry Brown’s father, Pat Brown, and had financed all of Jerry Brown’s political campaigns. Now Broad realized California’s top Democrat and his control over the statewide Democratic Party machine gave him a unique opportunity to make money from private education.

Broad’s scheme to privatize Oakland’s public education resources required the support of other billionaires capitalizing on the private education market. Netflix founder, Reed Hastings, a Bay Area resident with a net worth of $3.7 billion, was associated with the multi-million dollar Rocketship Charter Schools. The late founder of The Gap, Don Fisher, with a net worth of $3.3 billion, was associated with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), one of the largest chains of charter schools in the country. With a net worth of $3.5 billion, John Doerr, partner in the investment firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, the firm that brought Google and Amazon to the market, cofounded the New Schools Venture Fund which sucks public school resources into for-profit K-12 corporations. Another critical partner in Broad’s clique of billionaires was the bishop of Oakland’s catholic diocese, a representative of the multi-billion dollar, worldwide Vatican empire. With its profound interest in co-opting public funds and real estate for its own network of parochial schools, Oakland’s catholic bishop gave Broad’s unholy coalition a solid block of votes that not only put Jerry Brown in City Hall, but changed Oakland’s charter into the ‘strong mayor” form of government, that gave “Boss” Brown the power function as Eli Broad’s “bag man.” In return for its electoral support, the diocese of Oakland received a multi-million dollar cathedral on the downtown shore of Lake Merritt.

Once “Boss” Brown controlled City Hall, Reed Hastings went into action. Hastings funded another charter amendment that gave the mayor the authority to pack the school board with his own unelected appointees. Greasing the wheels of the Democratic machine, Hastings financed the passage of a State Assembly bill that permitted charter schools to operate without  accreditation and to hire teachers without  teaching credentials. Then Hastings funded the Proposition 39 campaign to force local school districts to share revenues with charter schools. “Boss” Brown’s buddy, Democratic Governor Gray Davis, who later was recalled on corruption charges, put Reed Hastings on the State Board of Education. In the meantime, Don Fisher gave Jerry Brown’s wife, Gust Brown, the position of CEO over The Gap Corporation.

Getting Control Of The Schools … And The Money

In 2001, the Oakland Unified School District had a $37 million budget deficit. The district’s fiscal managers decided to resolve the shortfall by borrowing from its construction fund, a practice other California school districts in similar situations routinely used. But Brown and Broad saw the school deficit as an opportunity to advance their scheme.

Brown contacted Tom Henry, CEO of the Fiscal Crisis and Management Team (FCMAT), a firm located in Sacramento and staffed by lobbyists and political hacks. Brown used Henry’s services, on occasion, when he was governor. FCMAT did “hit” jobs for anyone willing to pay. Brown paid Tom Henry to prevent Oakland from solving its fiscal problem. FCMAT lobbied the State Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, the former Democratic Assemblyman from Alameda, to rule that Oakland’s plan to borrow construction funds was a violation of state and local law. Then Henry worked with Don Perata, the State Senator for Alameda County, to lobby a bill through the state legislature that forced the Oakland school district to accept a $100 million loan to cover its $37 million shortfall. In addition, the bill put the Oakland school district under the control of a state administrator to be appointed by Jack O’Connell, the State Superintendent of Public Education. When Jack O’Connell campaigned for state superintendent, he received financial support from Eli Broad’s billionaire cabal. Reed Hastings contributed $250,000, John Doerr $205,000 and Eli Broad, himself, contributed $100,000 to O’Connell’s campaign. With the state takeover of Oakland’s schools, O’Connell agreed to appoint anyone “Boss” Brown wanted. Thus Eli Broad and his cronies got complete control over the $63 million slush fund  forced on the Alameda County tax payers. Jerry Brown described the state takeover as a “total win” for Oakland’s schools. In reality, the state takeover was a total win for Eli Broad and his billionaire cronies. For the tax payers forced to repay the loan and for the Oakland school children whose schools were plundered by malicious billionaires, the state takeover was a disaster.

The Table Was Set And The Feasting Began

The Democratic state superintendent of education, Jack O’Connell, appointed Randolph Ward, a graduate of Broad’s superintendent academy, as Oakland’s state administrator. Ward appointed Arnold Carter, another Broad academy graduate, to serve as his chief of staff. Both state administrators appointed a bevy of Broadies  to fill the Oakland school district’s top management positions. Then Ward implemented Broad’s privatization agenda. He closed public schools and opened charter schools. He created additional management positions for Broad academy graduates and issued multi-million dollar consultation and construction contracts to private corporations. Randolph Ward gave Broad’s billionaire cronies complete access to the $63 million slush fund created by top Democrats, Jerry Brown, Bill Lockyer, Don Perata, Jack O’Connell, Tom Henry as well as other members of “Boss” Brown’s Democratic machine.

When the state took over the Oakland schools in 2002, Randolph Ward fired the superintendent, Dennis Chaconas. When Ward resigned in 2006, Broadie Kimberly Statham replaced him. A year later, Statham left and her chief of staff, Vincent Matthews, another Broadie, took her place.

In 2008, Oakland Assemblyman Sandre Swanson broke with “Boss” Brown and introduced a bill to force the state to relinquish its control over Oakland schools. Eli Broad gave a Sacramento lobbyist $350,000 to oppose Swanson’s legislation, but Swanson’s bill passed and local control was returned to the Oakland School Board. In July 2009, the school board hired Anthony “Tony” Smith as the district’s superintendent.

Smith was not associated with Eli Broad. However, even though local school board resumed control over the schools, Eli Broad was not finished, He funded a front group, Greater Oakland [GO], which financed the election of five Broadies to the Oakland school board. In 2014, the Broadie school board forced school superintendent Tony Smith to resign and appointed another graduate from Broad’s academy, Antwan Wilson , Oakland’s next school superintendent, resuming Broad’s decade-long privatization scheme.

A Decade of Corruption

Under Randolph Ward, Oakland Schools struggled with the overwhelming debt imposed by the Democratic Party machine. When Ward left Oakland, millions of dollars went missing with him. Though FCMAT received a multi-year contract to help manage the debt, Tom Henry provided little substantive support, financial or operational. In 2007, Jerry Brown left Oakland for his cattle ranch in Northern California. In its 2007-08 report, an Alameda County grand jury investigation found that the Oakland Unified School District had been looted.

Between 2003 and 2006, Ward shut down 14 public schools and opened 13 charter schools. He increased the district’s shortfall by nearly $15 million. Ward’s successor, Kimberly Statham, another Broadie, opened 4 charter schools and Broadie Vincent Matthews, who followed Stratham as state administrator, opened 9 charter schools. Under state control, the district’s debt ballooned from $37 million to $89 million while school enrollment, the district’s primary source of funding, dropped from 55,000 in 2002 to 38,000 in 2009. When Assemblyman Sandré Swanson forced the state to return local control, Oakland’s schools had $5.6 million less than what was reported and a total of $9 million unaccounted for and completely missing. But with the return of local control, the district’s fiscal mismanagement problems only worsened. Eli Broad now directed his Broadie school board to support his schemes. 

Antwan Wilson: The Most Corrupt Broadie Of Them All 

When the Broadie school board replaced Tony Smith with Antwan Wilson, it hired a thoroughly corrupt, incompetent and morally reprehensible superintendent to run the Oakland Unified School District. Ignoring all budgetary, ethical and legal constraints, Wilson zealously implemented Broad’sprivatization plan. Wilson overspent the school district budget by overpaying Broadie administrators and conniving with Broadie consultants. In 2015, though the school board authorized only $10.4 million, Wilson paid consultants $22.6 million. The board approved only $7.1 million for administrators and supervisors, but Wilson spent $22.3 million. From July 2014 to January 2015, Wilson spent $22.3 million on district office managers while Smith spent only $13.1 million the entire previous year. From 2013-2014, Tony Smith spent $10 million on classified managers, but in 2015-2016, Antwan Wilson spent $22.3 million. Under Wilson, the number of students shrunk, but spending for administrators and supervisors with teaching certificates grew from $13.9 million in 2013-2014 to $20 million in 2015-2016. Wilson increased spending on outside consultants from $22.7 million in 2013-2014 to $28.3 million in 2016-2017. In Wilson’s last year with Oakland schools, he exceeded the budget for consultants by 32 percent.

These revelations galvanized Tom Henry’s FCMAT into action. Henry immediately lobbied for another state take over even as he collaborated with the Broadie school board to close even more schools and make even more valuable real estate available to billionaire-owned charter schools. But without Boss Brown’s backing, Henry was unsuccessful in getting Governor Gavin Newson’s support for another state takeover.

Open the article and read the ending. It doesn’t get better for the students of Oakland. Eli Broad, Jerry Brown, and their allies used Oakland as their Petri dish. Oakland was raided and looted. Antwan Wilson left Oakland to become chancellor of the D.C.schools, where he was booted out after seeking preferential treatment for his own child. Upon Wilson’s abrupt departure, the mayor of D.C. replaced him with Lewis Ferebee, superintendent of Indianapolis, who is also a graduate of the Broad Academy.

A front group for the California Charter Schools lobby, which calls itself “Families and Teachers United,” released a flyer that attacked school board member Scott Schmerelson, a pro-public school member of the LAUSD school board and well-qualified educator. Schmerelson has been endorsed by every Democratic club in Los Angeles.

The scurrilous flyer accuses him of investing in mutual funds that include products that are harmful to children (tobacco). Anyone whose pension is invested in large mutual funds knows that individual shareholders do not choose the stocks in the fund’s portfolio. My own pension fund includes companies I find abhorrent and there’s nothing I can do about it.

The flyer accuses Schmerelson of “double dipping” because he collects a pension for his decades of service as an educator in the LAUSD schools and a salary as a board member, like other board members.The flyer does not mention that board salaries were increased in 2017 based on the recommendation of an independent commission.

Should he give up his well-earned pension? Of course not! Should he refuse to take the same salary as other board members? Of course not!

Who paid for this vile, lying, unethical anti-Semitic ad?

Ad paid for by Families and Teachers United, sponsored by California Charter Schools Association Advocates. Committee major funding from
Charter Public Schools PAC
Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.
Funding details at http://www.fppc.ca.gov.

This may be the most expensive school board election in LA history, even though the billionaires have no ideas other than charter schools. None.

Who are they? Blogger Sara Roos names names. 

How about full public disclosure of the income and investments of the billionaires who fund the CCSSA?

Sara declined to reproduce the flyer, so as not to give more visibility to this trash.

Methinks the charter billionaires  are angry at Scott for telling the public that more than 80% of LA’s charters have empty seats.

Schmerelson, a man of unblemished integrity, responded to the anti-Semitic flyer with a statement denouncing the depths to which the charter lobby is willing to sink. He notes that the group that produced the flyers by the billionaire Waltons and Reed Hastings.

The election is March 3 but early  voting has started.  VOTE  FOR SCOTT SCHMERELSON!

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We have a problem in this society. We have many problems. One of them is the role of private equity in destroying products and services that were once household names.

Here is an example: One of the stores that many New Yorkers love is Fairway Markets. It started as one store on the Upper West Side. It was the place to go for an amazing selection of cheeses and fresh produce and dozens of varieties of olive oil and more.

But it started to grow, and it turned to equity investors for new capital to expand. The investors had big plans. They paid themselves big salaries. They loaded up the company with debt. They went public and took on more debt. And before long this once-successful chain was doomed.

This article appeared at Bloomberg News by Joe Nocera.

There is more. This article in Slate describes how private equity investors have pillaged well-known retail operations. Jordan Weisman wrote:

The list of retailers that have been bought and wrecked by private equity firms keeps on growing. This week, the beloved New York grocery chain Fairway filed for its second bankruptcy in less than four years and announced plans to sell off its stores, thanks to a disastrous run of mismanagement by a series of buyout shops. It’s on a list of casualties that now includes Toys R Us, Payless ShoeSource, and Sports Authority, among many others. That’s on top of financially troubled names like Neiman Marcus that have managed to avoid Chapter 11 or liquidation (so far).

Last year, a group of progressive nonprofits reported that of the 14 largest retail bankruptcies since 2012, 10 had involved companies owned by private equity. The thud of corporate failures has become so constant that it’s essentially become a meme in the financial press.

This is the marketplace that choice advocates favor as the future of schooling.

Scott Maxwell, a columnist at the Orlando Sentinel, tweeted a few days ago:

”Berate public schools all you want. There will never be a day when you take your child to aPublic school only to find it’s gone out of business.”

 

 

New Hampshire’s Governor is a Trump-style extremist, Chris Sununu, whose father John advised the first President Bush. Sununu appointed Frank Edelblut as state commissioner of education. The state commissioner home-schooled his children and follows the ideology of Betsy DeVos. He thinks government money should go wherever children go, regardless of who gets the money. That’s called “Learning Everywhere.”

Edelblut is an extremist libertarian.

Now he wants to pilot online leaning for pre-schoolers. This is his response to the growing recognition of the value of early childhood education.

Not surprisingly, advocates for ECE are alarmed that sitting in front of a computer is being substituted for play, where children learn to cooperate with others and make things and use their imagination. One group said:

Kids aren’t meant to sit still in front of a screen. They use their whole bodies to learn, and they want and need to move. Let’s not forget that some of the essential milestones for preschoolers are gross and fine motor skills. They need to practice galloping, throwing a ball, zipping up their jackets to go outside, and holding a pencil. Having good motor control is essential for children’s growth and independence. They cannot develop it by sitting at a computer.

You may recall that DeVos offered New Hampshire $46 million to double the number of charter schools in the state. The Democrats in the legislature have twice turned down her offer. New Hampshire has declining student enrollment, and the Fiscal Oversight Committee said it would be irresponsible to add new charter schools, which would drain students and resources from existing public schools.

Edelblut came back with his own analysis, claiming that adding more charter schools in a time of declining enrollment would save money.

According to the report from Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, doubling the number of charter schools over the next 10 years could translate into at least $60 million in savings for local taxpayers as 4,000 students leave traditional public schools.

Edelblut’s report points to studies that warn declines in enrollments not related to charter schools will be at least 24,000 by 2030 — and could approach double that figure.

“If the visceral reaction is how are we going to manage a declining student enrollment due to public charter schools, the answer is you are going to have to deal with this issue regardless of this grant,” Edelblut said…

This report clearly responds to analysis from Reaching Higher New Hampshire, which supports traditional public schools.

The group has warned the charter school grant could cost the state an additional $57 million to $104 million in its first 10 years.

The same organization found in its analysis of 20 of the state’s charter schools that at least 1,083 of the 4,025 seats available went unfilled in the 2018-2019 school year.

Reaching Higher New Hampshire also maintains state funding alone often doesn’t cover operating costs for these charter schools, which make them unsustainable.

Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, D-Concord, said the new report doesn’t change his view that the panel should keep rejecting this grant.

“We need to support our public schools and the successful existing charter schools, work on the over 1,000 open spots in existing charter schools, and protect New Hampshire taxpayers. This fiscally irresponsible grant will cause our already record high property taxes to continue to increase, which is unacceptable,” Feltes said in a statement.

With 25% of the state’s charter school seats empty, it should be hard to make the case that NH needs more charters.

Reaching Higher NH’s research on the charter grant is cited here.

Edelblut welcomes the Trump administration’s plan to turn all education funding into a block grant as he feels it will give him more control over federal money. His own philosophy is that public schools are unnecessary, which is rooted in the practices of the 18th century.