Archives for category: Education Reform

Ten years ago, ASCD published a book that I compiled about education jargon and buzzwords. It is called EdSpeak. 


Recently, I became aware that Nancy Bailey, a teacher-blogger, was collecting jargon and buzzwords, and I started thinking that EdSpeak needs to be updated. It predated Race to the Top and many new fads and innovations of the past decade.


I wrote on a post that I would love to help Nancy’s help in revising the book, and she responded offering to be co-editor.


ASCD has given us the go-ahead to revise the book with new buzzwords, jargon, phrases, and terminology that have grown up in the past decade.


Last time, when I compiled the glossary of education language and terminology, I spent months scouring EdWeek and other publications to pick up on the latest words.


This time, I am asking you to send me your favorite buzzwords, terminology, and jargon. Just send them here as a comment, and Nancy and I will add them to our collection.


Thank  you for your help. This will be the first time I have ever crowd sourced a book, but I can’t think of a better way to gather all the current and latest language of our field.


Here is an example of a possible new entry:


“Reformer”: someone who wants to close local public schools and replace them with privately managed charter schools. Also known as a corporate education reformer. 



After a hard-fought election that produced a narrow margin of victory, State Attorney General Roy Cooper was elected the next Governor of North Carolina. Pat McCrory, current governor and Tea Party hero, conceded defeat.


Education was the leading issue for Roy Cooper. He railed against the actions of McCrory and the legislature, and he was elected even as the state voted for Trump. Maybe that’s a lesson for Democratic candidates in other states. Supporting public schools is wise and politically powerful.


This is what Governor-elect Cooper says on his website:


We need to make education a priority. Governor McCrory has prioritized huge tax giveaways to big corporations and those at the top while he cut teaching assistants and failed to provide the resources our children need and to pay our teachers what they deserve.


We have to give more pay and respect to teachers, and to treat them as the professionals they are. Among the top priorities are increasing teacher pay, reversing cuts to textbooks and school buses, and stopping teacher assistant lay-offs.


Teachers will ultimately know we respect them when our policy reflects our rhetoric. Reinstating a teaching fellows program to attract the best and brightest, providing opportunities for teachers to improve their skills as professionals, and making sure their kids are healthy and ready to learn in the classroom are vital.


North Carolina already ranks 46th in the country and last in the Southeast in per-pupil expenditures for public schools. Many good teachers are leaving for other states for better jobs, and class size has increased. That’s causing parents to lose faith in public schools and undermining North Carolina’s best jobs recruiting tool, our education system.


Similarly, I oppose vouchers that drain money from public schools. I support strong standards and openness for all schools, particularly charter schools. While some charters are strong, we see troubling trends, such as a re-segregation of the student population, or misuse of state funds without a way to make the wrongdoers reimburse taxpayers. We need to manage the number of charter schools to ensure we don’t damage public education and we need to better measure charter schools so we can utilize good ideas in all schools.


We must support early childhood education as well as our great universities and community colleges. Our approach to quality education must be comprehensive.


Here is his education agenda.

Something amazing happened in Nevada in the 2016 election. Democrats won control of both houses of the legislature. There is still a Republican governor.


Angie Sullivan is a second-grade teacher in Nevada who often writes letters to legislators and journalists, to keep them grounded in the reality of the classroom. Nevada has what is very likely the worst performing charter sector in the nation; most of the state’s lowest performing schools are charter schools. It also has a voucher program with no income limits, that is utilized by affluent families to underwrite private school tuition. It is starting an “achievement school district,” modeled on the one that failed in Tennessee and the one that voters in Georgia just rejected, where state officials may take over public schools with low scores and hand them over to charter operators.

Here is Angie with her good-sense newsletter:

Read this:

Educators have been forced to become issue based in our state. We can no longer afford to depend wholly on either party. We have to get things done and work with any ally.

We have to get things done.

We will not get everything we want but we have to make headway.

Last session I was proud of the leadership in my state.

Teachers are used to compromise – we do it everyday to make headway for kids. Please be willing to do the same again this session.

These are my asks.


First Ask: A real teacher in every classroom –

In the recent past, politicians, administrators and businessmen have scape-goated Nevada’s education problems onto those working directly with students – the teachers.

This has lead to unfunded mandates, witch-hunt type behavior, firing professionals, and driving off good teachers in our state. This never made sense – since the classroom teacher is directed by many others and very little is in our control at any level. My day is outlined and many classrooms are micromanaged to the point of damaging students. And the supplies are very limited. Teachers were blamed none-the-less.

These attacks on professional teachers occurred on both sides of the aisle.

Less productive.

We are the front line. We never were the enemy.

Now we have at-risk schools filled with under-prepared people struggling to become an educator. It is the poor, the disenfranchised, and the needy who do not have a teacher for several years in a row. If a child has an IEP and a special education need, they probably do not have a prepared professional to implement the plan.

This is reform?

We need to step back from attacks on collective bargaining, whittling teacher due process, and proclamations that skilled teachers are the problem. Filling our schools with temporary labor is damaging a generation of students – mainly students of color.

Spending all our time looking for the “lemon” instead of retaining the “good guys” is costly in more ways than one.


Second Ask: Stop funding scams and craziness.

In an effort to produce quick results, Nevada grabs ideas from other states. These ideas have not proven themselves and flaunt questionable research. None have proven effective with populations as diverse as ours. These Nevada legislative ideas are failing on epic levels and need to be cleaned up.

– Charters are a disaster in Nevada. The amount of fraud, embezzlement, and criminal type behavior occurring in Nevada’s charters is astounding. The bipartisan legislature who supported and implemented reform by charter needs to put some teeth into laws to clean this mess up. I’m adding up the cost and it is millions and millions.

– Read-by-Three which is grant based will fund programs in the north. 75% of the students in need are in the south but the way the language was built – only a drizzle of funding will help students who are most likely to be punished by this legislation in Vegas. Again Nevada demands rigor without giving students and teachers resources to get the job done. Punishing 8 year olds without giving them adequate opportunity is a violation of civil rights. Read-by-Three has only been successful in states willing to fully fund early intervention. And that costs a significant amount of money. States which implement Read-By-Three as Nevada is doing without funding – fail miserably. This is not tough love – it is a crime.

-ASD [Achievement School District] is scary. Due to our lack of per pupil funding, Nevada cannot attract viable charter operators. We spent $10 million on a harbor master, Allison Serafin, to attract charters to Nevada. What a waste. We will now replace 6 failing public schools with charters who have failed elsewhere. To be watched over by the same system that allows the charter systems in Nevada to fail on an epic level already. Just how much are we spending on the Charter Authority and other groups responsible for overseeing charters? Do we continue to ask public schools to be accountable while ignoring the atrocious failure of charters? And we force charters on communities of color with the ASD – in the name of school choice. Force is not choice.

– ESA [Education Savings Accounts–or vouchers] is scary. A treasurer will determine education curriculum and spot check for fraud. Parents will “police themselves”. Blank checks will be given to mainly white affluent parents to take wherever they like or allow children to lay on the couch. And those checks will go to 8,000 applicants in the amount of $40 million in tax payer money. While lack of regulation sounds like a great idea, in Nevada education it leads to waste and fraud. This is a nightmare of waste ready to happen.

We have little money for real research based best practice but have spent millions on unproven and failing reform.

Ten years of reform and limited gains. Some reform may have damaged a generator. Of learners. Time for a return to the steady growth produced by funding best practice. It’s not fancy or flashy but it works.


Third Ask: Funding Fairness.

The Southern Caucus needs to advocate for our children.

In a bipartisan manner, the southern caucus needs to work and make progress for our children. Teachers and students need our legislators to do the heavy lift for the kids in our area. Frankly we need money.

The south generates most of the revenue for the state. 80% of the DSA (Distributive Schools Account) is funding put there from Clark County.

Clark County receives 50% in return. This is the antiquated Nevada Plan.

Also the south does not have access to mining proceeds which many rural communities can also tap for school funds.

I am not advocating a grab from other schools. I am advocating for restructuring that is fair to all students wherever they reside.

The south serves students who traditionally need more financial support to be successful.

CCSD [Clark County School District: Las Vegas] has huge numbers of children in poverty.

Our students cannot continue to endure class sizes of 40 plus.

We cannot continue to ignore early intervention so vital to future success.

We have to continue to fund and expand Victory and ZOOM schools.

CCSD was considering an ELL plan which is necessary. The cost would be $1 billion to fund at a level appropriate for our learners in Clark County.

We cannot continue to train educators who leave for greener pastures. We need committed and permanent educators to see a return in teacher development investment. We need to invest in teacher pipelines and retention of excellent and fully qualified professionals. We also need teachers who reflect the faces we see in our community. It is very expensive to endure teacher churn as skilled labor looks for a better deal.


Final Ask:

Listen up both sides of the aisle . . .

Everything costs.

Unfunded mandates that may be easily implemented in a tiny rural district, can cost multiple millions to implement in CCSD with 380,000 students and 36,000 educators.

That great idea a random legislator has – needs to have a price tag on it. Just one thing – can rob a classroom of supplies. A great idea – can mean my students do not have books. The pot is limited. The budget is already stretched thin. We have to prioritize and necessities need to come first.

We cannot continue to do more with less.

Unfunded mandates are killing public schools. Do not send that idea without cash.

Just don’t do it.

I’m looking at everyone here because I have seen it non-stop. Most returning law makers are guilty.

If we are running at a deficit of $300-$400 million, please know unfunded mandates will rob from another need.

If there is zero money. There is zero money. No money – no reform. No money – no new ideas. No money – no change. It is not that different from a budget at your house. It is not that we do not want things, we just cannot afford it right now.

Whipping teachers like we are going to row faster on a Viking ship – just leaves us too whipped to teach.

Unfunded mandates are usually implemented by teachers from our own pockets – we pull from our personal bank accounts, our families, and our time to implement that great idea. Many unfunded mandates are half implemented and just waste time and money because they are impossible. It is a burden.

Ideas cost money.


Listen to me.

I am without guile.

My hands are clean as I work to teach seven year olds to read.

These are my asks.

I have spent a lifetime educating children. I am from Nevada where we used to fund near the top and achieve results near the top too. I have watched my state’s educational success plummet as our per pupil spending has declined. That is a fact proven with real data.

Educating students costs.

Competition has not and will not improve Nevada’s system.

Tough love, fads and gimmicks are draining precious resources.

Teachers will fail if we do not have what we need to do the job.

Some things are more important than winning and losing a political game.

Please work together for kids this session in a well thought out way that makes progress.

You expect a lot from teachers.

Teachers need resources spent the right way to make progress.


Garrison Keillor is in fine form as he asks whether God intended for Trump to be elected president. He seems to have been inspired by some of the mail landing in his mailbox or email..


So many Trumpists have written in since the election, and I am grateful for their interest and also impressed by the sheer variety of their profanity. I never learned to swear that well because by the time my mother died, at 97, it was too late for me to learn. I gather from the letters that these people’s lives were devastated by the advent of gay marriage, political correctness, the threat of gun control and the arrogance of liberals, and now a champion rises from Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue and East 56th Street, and God forbid that any dog should bark when he speaks or any pigeon drop white matter on his limousine.


What the letter-writers don’t grasp is that cursing is highly effective in person — someone kicks his car in rage, forgetting he’s wearing flip-flops, and flames pour from his mouth, and it’s impressive. But you see it in print, and it’s just ugly. It makes you pity the writer’s wife.


It’s not good form to curse at someone you’ve just defeated. That is why the president-elect made it clear he would not be waterboarding Hillary Clinton or sending her back to Mexico. He was gracious in victory and said the Clintons are “good people.” Several of his biggest applause lines seem to have been put back in the box. And his base is faced with the possibility that they may have elected a Manchurian. They know that he was a Democrat for most of his life and that the sight of Adam and Steve holding hands does not fill him with loathing. He is, after all, a New Yorker; he’s not from Tulsa. He likes drama. Maybe he’ll appoint his sister to the Supreme Court. Maybe he would rather row than wade. Maybe the Republicans will privatize the Pentagon, and maybe the Chinese will be the low bidder. Why not run the Marines like a business? Put the “deal” back into “idealism.”



I planned to post this as a comment but it grew into a full-blown post. One of our daily readers, named Joe, voted for Bernie in the primaries but then supported Hillary in the general election. He wrote a comment a few hours ago urging other readers to stop criticizing and demonizing Hillary and to recognize the present danger to our nation.


I responded to Joe as follows:


Thanks, Joe. I too am tired of people continuing to kick Hillary. What’s the point? There’s no doubt in my mind that Comey handed the election to Trump. I recently read an article that said the FBI is known internally as Trumplandia. His intervention 11 days before the election was unprecedented and highly prejudicial to her campaign.


This <a href=””>article</a&gt; sums up my view:


I don’t understand the deep-seated hatred that some people have for Hillary Rodham Clinton. I think they unconsciously imbibed 25 years of Republican attacks on her. She is a good person. She would have sought out people of distinction for her cabinet, not extremists, ideologues, and retreads.


I was prepared to support either Bernie or Hillary. After she won the primaries, I supported her, like you.


Yes, she did win the primaries. She collected 400 delegates more than Bernie, without the superdelegates.


She won 3.7 million <a href=”,_2016″>votes more than Bernie</a>.


Yet some of his most fervent supporters still say the primaries were rigged and Bernie was cheated.


That is not true. A difference of 3.7 million votes is not a close call.


The detractors have become nihilistic, and now insist that Hillary and Trump No different. They can believe whatever they want, but this is ridiculous. Trump is ignorant of governance and policy. He has skipped most of the daily intelligence briefings that he is supposed to receive. His co-author says he doesn’t read. He blatantly lies (in his rally yesterday, he claimed he had won in a landslide, even though Hillary is ahead 2.5 million in the popular vote). Mitt Romney was right when he said during the primaries that Trump was a con man and a fraud. Worse, Trump has given new life to the “Alt-right” (neo-Nazis) with his disparaging comments about every group that is not white, Christian, and able-bodied.


Hillary, by contrast, is a woman of dignity and intellect. Unlike Trump, she was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She is well-educated. She went to public schools before going to Wellesley. She is experienced and knowledgeable. She would not have embarrassed the nation.


She lost. It’s one for the history books.


And now the half of the nation that didn’t vote for Trump must hope and pray that he doesn’t harm the economy, that he doesn’t withdraw the safety net that protects our most vulnerable citizens, that he is not able to privatize public education, and that his hawkish national security team doesn’t embroil us in another war.


Lets look forward and fight to save our public schools, to defend the social safety net, to defend health insurance for those who need it, and to keep our nation to its ideals and promise. There will be another election in two years, and another one in four years. We must organize and be prepared. Our time will come. And when it does, we will drain the swamp of lobbyists, conflicts of interest, nepotism, cranks, zealots, extremists, rightwing anarchists, and neo-Nazis.



The Wall Street Journal reports today that Trump plans tax cuts for everyone but the biggest cuts go to those in the 1%. To see the graphs, buy today’s WSJ.

“Nearly half the benefits of the plan, and a higher proportion of savings, would go to the top 1%
Steven Mnuchin, the likely next Treasury secretary, this week said rich U.S. taxpayers won’t get “an absolute tax cut” under President-elect Donald Trump. But that is not what Mr. Trump says in his taxation plan. In fact, under his approach the wealthy would receive an average tax cut of about $215,000 per household, experts say.
“In Mr. Trump’s plan, Americans in different income ranges would divide up several hundred billion dollars of revenue cuts for 2017. As a result, Americans would, on average, receive a lower tax bill for 2017 compared with current law.
“The way to think of the plan is this: The overall tax pie will shrink, and as it shrinks, the amounts owed by various taxpayers will shift, too. So while everyone will pay less, their relative contributions may change.
“The top 1% will benefit, as they would contribute a smaller percentage of total tax revenue under Mr. Trump than they do now. The group, which consists of about 1.1 million households and earns 17% of total income, would owe 25% of federal taxes for 2017 under Trump’s plan compared with 28.7% under current law.
“Mr. Mnuchin said these high-income households won’t get an “absolute” cut, because reductions for high earners “will be offset by less deductions.” Notably, Mr. Trump’s tax plan currently limits “itemized” deductions on Schedule A, such as those for mortgage interest, charitable donations, and state taxes, to a maximum of $200,000 per couple and half that for singles.
“But these limits don’t fully offset the effects of income- and estate-tax cuts for high earners proposed by Mr. Trump, according to experts.
“Trump’s current plan doesn’t identify sufficient offsets for high earners to pay for their rate reductions,” says Eugene Steuerle, a economist with the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington who as a member of Ronald Reagan’s administration helped formulate the major tax reform of 1986.
“According to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis, nearly half the benefits of Mr. Trump’s tax plan would go to the top 1%, households earning more than about $700,000 annually.
“Compared with the highest earners, the share of total taxes of the next-highest income group—those earning between $143,100 and $699,000—would rise to 41.2% under the Trump proposals from 39.4% under current law. Their average tax cut would be about $6,900. For the lowest income group—those earning less than $24,800—the average tax cut would be $110.
“The uneven benefits of the Trump plan reflect the difficult nature of tax changes for policy makers who, like Mr. Mnuchin, say they don’t want to benefit the wealthy disproportionately.
“Cutting tax rates for the middle class not only costs a great deal of revenue, it also lowers taxes for high earners because they benefit as well,” says Roberton Williams, an economist with the Tax Policy Center.
Another complication is that tax breaks for individuals are unevenly distributed. For example, high earners are often more able than lower earners to reap long-term capital-gain income, which is now taxed at a top rate of 23.8%. Under current law, 78% of long-term gains go to those in the top 1%.”

Politico reports on the new chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee:

FOXX IN THE HOUSE: Virginia Foxx wants to dismantle the Education Department and erase Barack Obama’s education legacy – and she’s poised to become one of the Hill’s power players with the authority to do that. The 73-year-old GOP lawmaker and former community college president is poised to assume the leadership of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and she wants to veer far away from what she regards as Obama’s wrongheaded approach. “I’m going to push to diminish the role of the federal government in everything it’s in that isn’t in the Constitution,” Foxx said in an interview in her district in North Carolina. “That’s education, health care. All the things that the federal government does that it should not be doing. I’m happy to diminish its role.”

– Foxx’s small-government views are rooted in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a slice of Appalachia where she grew up without power and running water and began working as a weaver to help support her family at age 12 – experiences that convinced her it’s an individual’s hard work, and not federal programs, that lead to success. She is a strong supporter of school choice as President-elect Donald Trump pushes his $20 billion school choice plan emphasizing vouchers. Foxx would love to dismantle the federal Education Department, but is realistic enough to acknowledge that that is probably unlikely in the near term. “I definitely don’t think the Department of Education has any business doing all the things that it’s doing,” she said, “but I don’t think you do it overnight. I think you have to devolve it over time.”

– Foxx remembers a time when community members like her father went “into the wilds” to gather plants to sell in New York to make ends meet. Her district is more prosperous now because of tourism, but it’s still deeply conservative with an occasional Confederate flag flying in the wind. As she walked down the main street of West Jefferson, N.C., one recent day to line up for the annual Christmas parade, she greeted many people by name who cheerfully congratulated her – and the president-elect – on Election Day wins.

Politico also reports that Arne Duncan will join Bill Bennett and Rod Paige at Jeb Bush’s education reform conference, where they will no doubt agree on the progress they have made in promoting charters and school choice and testing.

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.

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) issued a statement congratulating Betsy DeVos on her selection by Donald Trump to be Secretary of Education. The statement expressed the hope that Trump might “disavow” his hateful rhetoric. Note that the DFER statement does not mention vouchers, which is DeVos’ most cherished goal, nor does it acknowledge that DeVos paid out $1.5 million to Michigan legislators to block ANY oversight of charter schools. Nor does it refer to Michigan’s for-profit charters, which are 80% of all charters in the state. Nor does it make any mention of public schools, which enroll 94% of all public school children (excluding those in religious and independent schools, which are about 10% of the total).


The reformers are in a pickle. They can’t claim fealty to Trump, because they pretend to be Democrats. But Trump has embraced the reformer agenda, lock, stock and barrel. This statement is one way of handling their dilemma: embrace DeVos–a figure who finances the far-right and wants completely unregulated, unaccountable choice, and simultaneously chide Trump for his hateful rhetoric. Pretend to be Democrats while saluting her. Search for any gift she ever made to a real civil rights group to offset the tens of millions the DeVos has invested in rightwing groups that are hostile to equity. Let’s watch to see what other “reformers” come up with, now that Trump and DeVos are the new face of “reform” and do not hide their desire to jettison public schools.



New York, NY – In response to President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos to the post of Secretary of Education, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) President Shavar Jeffries released the following statement:


“DFER congratulates Betsy DeVos on her appointment as Secretary of Education, and we applaud Mrs. DeVos’s commitment to growing the number of high-quality public charter schools.


“However, DFER remains deeply concerned by much of the President-elect’s education agenda, which proposes to cut money from Title I and to eliminate the federal role on accountability. These moves would undermine progress made under the Obama administration to ensure all children have access to good schools. In addition, our children are threatened by many of the President-elect’s proposals, such as kicking 20 million families off of healthcare, deporting millions of Dreamers, and accelerating stop-and-frisk practices. We hope that Mrs. Devos will be a voice that opposes policies that would harm our children, both in the schoolhouse and the families and communities in which our children live.


“Finally, regardless of one’s politics, Trump’s bigoted and offensive rhetoric has assaulted our racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, causing millions of American children to perceive that they are less than full members of our communities. We hope Mrs. DeVos will push the President-elect to disavow such rhetoric.”



You might find this interesting. 


Jay Mathews has been writing for the Washington Post for many years. He is a big fan of charter schools. He wrote a book about KIPP. He admires Teach for America. Despite our differences, Jay is a genuinely nice guy who likes to exchange ideas and he listens. He sent me some questions, and I responded to him. He gave me an opportunity to review what he wrote.


Basically, I want a moratorium on new charters until certain requirements for transparency and accountability are met. I agree with the NAACP. I would like to see existing charters conform to the same standards of transparency and accountability as public schools. I would like them to stop cherry-picking students they want and pushing out the ones they don’t want. I would like to see a flat ban on for-profit charters and for-profit management organizations. I would like to see for-profit virtual charters shut down altogether.


With the incoming Trump administration, any charter reform is off the table. Betsy DeVos spent over $1 million to block legislation in Michigan to require charter accountability. Under her guidance, 80% of the charters in Michigan operate for-profit. There will be neither accountability nor transparency. There will be no effort to stop for-profit entrepreneurs. Profiteers will get free rein. Graft and fraud will get the green light. Taxpayer dollars will be squandered by chain-store corporations. Children will not be better educated, and many will be subjected to abusive disciplinary practices. If there are responsible voices in the charter industry, they should insist on cleaning up their own house. Otherwise, the scandals will  multiply.