Archives for category: Education Reform

The Columbus Dispatch reported the judge’s ruling against ECOT, which is fighting to block accountability and transparency for use of public funds.

“A judge today denied a request by the state’s largest online charter school to stop the state from requiring that it produce attendance records to justify the $106 million it got last year in state funding.

“Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jenifer French ruled in favor of the Ohio Department of Education, rejecting a preliminary injunction request by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow that would have immediately blocked the state from using log-in records and other data to determine how many full-time students actually attend the school

“The department has already completed its attendance audit on ECOT for last school year. The ruling means ECOT could be forced to repay tens of millions of dollars based on recent state calculations that its enrollment numbers last year were heavily inflated.

“French wrote that ECOT does not have a substantial likelihood of success on any of its claims in the lawsuit. A 2003 funding agreement at the heart of ECOT’s argument against the state was only meant to apply for the 2002 and 2003 funding reviews, French said.

“Enforcing an outdated 2003 agreement would be in violation of public policy,” French wrote. “The Court finds that if the funding agreement were interpreted in the manner that ECOT suggests, to require the state to continue paying hundreds of millions of dollars per year, without any ability to determine whether students are in fact participating in any curriculum at ECOT at all” would violate public policy.

“The ruling comes four days after the Department of Education informed ECOT that, based on its attendance audit, the district’s reported enrollment last year was inflated by 143 percent. Instead of the 15,322 full-time students that ECOT was paid for, the department said that based on log-in durations and other data provided by the school, the actual number is 6,313.”

EduShyster (aka Jennifer Berkshire) interviews Yawu Miller, editor of Boston’s Bay State Banner, about charters and Question 2, the November referendum on lifting the cap.

http://edushyster.com/tag/bay-state-banner/

Miller is not anti-charter. Nor is he pro-charter. He has applied to charters for his own children. But he understands the widespread concern that charters will weaken public schools.


Yawu Miller: What I’ve noticed in the debate in Boston is that people are not against charter schools. They think that there is a place for them. They think that charter schools work well for some people, maybe for their own children. But they don’t want to see the kind of expansion that’s being proposed now. They think there’s a threat to the district school system if that happens. You hear a lot of people saying *I’m not anti-charter. I’m against this ballot question.* I think the funding issue has caused a lot of people who pay attention to the schools to come out strongly against this.

The Nevada Supreme Court blocked the funding of the state’s sweeping voucher program, which would have given money to every student to spend anywhere. Despite the total absence of any evidence for the efficacy of such programs, the Nevada legislature undoubtedly will go back to the drawing board to devise another voucher giveaway that won’t improve education but will divert funding from the state’s underfunded
Unlicensed schools.

The Nevada State a Constitution has explicit prohibition against sending public money to sectarian schools, but that hasn’t stopped the anti-constitutional impulses of the Republican majority.

What part of the Nevada constitution does the legislature not understand?

The Constitution of the state of Nevada clearly states in Article 11:

Sec: 9.  Sectarian instruction prohibited in common schools and university.  No sectarian instruction shall be imparted or tolerated in any school or University that may be established under this Constitution.

Section Ten.  No public money to be used for sectarian purposes.  No public funds of any kind or character whatever, State, County or Municipal, shall be used for sectarian purpose.
[Added in 1880. Proposed and passed by the 1877 legislature; agreed to and passed by the 1879 legislature; and approved and ratified by the people at the 1880 general election. See: Statutes of Nevada 1877, p. 221; Statutes of Nevada 1879, p. 149.]

I was just in Nevada. I was taken aback by the luxurious hotels and promiscuous spending in Las Vegas. An additional 1% sales tax would be a boon to the public schools. But the legislature offers choice instead of resources.

Why won’t the legislature fund the education of the kids in public schools, as the Constitution commands?

Is it because they don’t care about the kids, the kids whose parents clean the hotels and wash dishes in the restaurants?

Or are they protecting the 1% who own the casinos, hotels, and restaurants?

Or they just don’t give a damn about the Nevada state constitution?

On MSNBC, Chris Mathews asked Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, who was his favorite world leader. He was silent. Asked again, any country, any continent, he couldn’t think of one. Johnson said, “I’m having another Aleppo moment.”

Sad. Why is this man running for President?

John King awards $245M to charters incl $8M to the Uncommon Schools charter chain, a chain he previously ran that is known for outrageously high suspension rates. Jersey Jazzman called him the King of Student Suspensions. (His own children never attended a no-excuses charter school; when he lived in New York, they were enrolled in a Montessori school.)

http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2015/10/john-king-new-seced-is-king-of-student.html?m=1

Research accumulates that charters don’t necessarily outperform public schools. That they drain resources from public schools, thus harming the great majority of children who attend public schools. That they fail to be accountable or transparent. That their sponsors and advocates are funded by billionaires and hedge fund managers. That even the best of them, according to a new study by Dobbie and Fryer, have no long-term effects. That they open and close with alarming frequency. That many are abject failures.

Yet John King is using his brief tenure to hand over hundreds of millions to continue the Public School Demolition Derby.

http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-awards-245-million-support-high-quality-public-charter-schools

This post is a profile of Doris Fisher, the California billionaire who wants to privatize public schools and open corporate-run charters with no ties to the local community.

“As co-founder of the Gap, San Francisco-based business leader and philanthropist Doris Fisher boasts a net worth of $2.6 billion, making her the country’s third richest self-made woman, according to Forbes. And she’s focused much of her wealth and resources on building charter schools. She and her late husband Donald donated more than $70 million to the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and helped to personally build the operation into the largest network of charter schools in the country, with 200 schools serving 80,000 students in 20 states. Doris’ son John serves as the chairman of KIPP’s board of directors, and she sits on the board herself.

“Doris’ passion for charter schools also fuels her political donations. While not as well-known as other deep-pocketed charter school advocates like Eli Broad and the Walton family (heirs to the Walmart fortune), Fisher and her family have quietly become among the largest political funders of charter school efforts in the country. Having contributed $5.6 million to state political campaigns since 2013, Fisher was recently listed as the second largest political donor in California by the Sacramento Bee – and nearly all of her money now goes to promoting pro-charter school candidates and organizations. While often labelled a Republican, she gives to Democrats and Republicans alike, just as long as they’re supportive of the charter school movement. According to campaign finance reports, so far this election cycle she’s spent more than $3.3 million on the political action committees of charter school advocacy groups EdVoice and the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), as well as pro-charter candidates. (Christopher Nelson, managing director of the Fishers’ philanthropic organization, sits on the board of CCSA, which, along with EdVoice, declined to comment for this article.)

“Fisher’s philanthropic and political efforts are not as straightforward as simply promoting education, however. Recent investigations have found that she’s used dark-money networks to funnel funds into California campaign initiatives that many say targeted teachers and undermined public education. It’s why many education activists worry about the impact her money is having on California politics – and on California schoolchildren.”

What is less well known than her passion for privatization is that spends millions in “dark money” to harm the state’s public schools.

“Even if some of the charter schools Fisher champions have been a success, she’s secretly supported efforts that critics regard as undermining the success of the public school system and teachers. A recent investigation by California Hedge Clippers, a coalition of community groups and unions, found that Fisher was one of a number of wealthy Californians who in 2012 used a dark money network involving out-of-state organizations linked to the conservative Koch brothers to shield their donations to controversial campaign efforts that year. The money was used to oppose Proposition 30, a tax on high-income Californians to fund public schools and public safety, and support Proposition 32, which, among other things, would have severely limited the ability of organized labor, including teachers unions, to raise money for state and local races.

“At the time of the campaign, none of these donations were public. In fact, fellow charter-school advocate Eli Broad publically endorsed Proposition 30 while secretly donating $500,000 to the dark money fund dedicated to defeating it. And Fisher herself had close ties to Governor Jerry Brown, a key proponent of Proposition 30. Brown’s wife Anne Gust Brown worked as chief administrative officer at the Gap until 2005 and is credited with helping to improve the company’s labor standards, and the Fishers were major financial supporters of Brown’s 2014 campaign to pass Proposition 1, the water bond, and Proposition 2, the “rainy day budget” stabilization act.

“I would imagine that it caused some domestic strife,” says Karen Wolfe, a California parent and founder of PSconnect, a community group that advocates for traditional public schools. “[Anne likely] thought she had the Fishers’ support on her husband’s crowning achievement, a tax to finally balance California’s budget and bring the state out of functional bankruptcy. This was absolutely his highest priority.”

“In total, according to the Hedge Clippers investigation, Fisher and her sons donated more than $18 million to the dark money group. It wasn’t the only time the Fisher family has worked with political organizations known for concealing their financial supporters. In 2006, current KIPP chairman John Fisher gave $85,000 to All Children Matter, a school-privatization political action group in Ohio that was slapped with a record-setting $5.2 million fine for illegally funneling contributions through out-of-state dark money networks. Instead of paying the fine, All Children Matter shut down and one of its conservative founders launched a new group: the Alliance for School Choice, which in 2011 listed John Fisher as its secretary. And last year, Doris Fisher contributed $750,000 to California Charter School Association Advocates, which funneled such donations to a local committee. The names of individual donors wouldn’t be disclosed until after the election.”

How sad that a woman worth more than $2 billion would secretly fund campaigns to block funding of the public schools that enroll 90% of children in California. What is she thinking?

Elizabeth Warren is a very smart woman. She knows that charters divide communities and destroy community support for education. This is her statement. 

““ ‘I will be voting no on Question 2. Many charter schools in Massachusetts are producing extraordinary results for our students, and we should celebrate the hard work of those teachers and spread what’s working to other schools. 
” ‘But after hearing more from both sides, I am very concerned about what this specific proposal means for hundreds of thousands of children across our Commonwealth, especially those living in districts with tight budgets where every dime matters. Education is about creating opportunity for all our children, not about leaving many behind. 
” ‘I hope that the Legislature, the teachers, and the parents can come together to find ways to make sure all kids in Massachusetts get a first-rate education without pitting groups against each other.’ ”

————–

Senator Elizabeth Warren announced today that she would vote NO on Question2, the proposal to expand the state’s charter schools by 12 a year forever.

I received the following message from Save Our Schools:

“We are excited to announce that Elizabeth Warren has joined the ever growing movement to vote NO and we are hoping you can help us get the word out! We know the best way to do that are one on one conversations. Below we have provided a suggested email blast that includes links to RSVP to our upcoming events. We have also provided links to retweet and share on your social media channels.

“Massachusetts public schools will lose $450 million in funding to charter schools this year. Our students can’t afford to lose anymore.

“For a full list of campaign events, please visit our website’s events page.

“Here are our top cities and towns we will be canvassing and pushing for this Saturday, Oct. 1:

Boston Canvass with Tito Jackson – 1:00 PM
Grove Hall Library
41 Geneva Ave.

For all other canvasses please click here to RSVP.

Everett – 10:30 AM
Glendale Park, near Everett Park

Fall River – 10:30
Fall River Educators Association
178 4th St.

Fitchburg – 10:00 AM
Fitchburg Education Association
78 Franklin Rd.

Lowell – 4:00 PM
Riley School
115 Douglas Rd.

Northampton – 10:30 AM
Potpourri Plaza
243 King St.

Pittsfield – 2:00 PM
188 East St.

Quincy – 10:00 AM
MTA Office

Worcester – 11:00 AM
Sweets Kitchen and Bar, 72 Shrewsbury St.

Thank you for your support,

Russ Davis
Coalition Director Save Our Public Schools
Cell: 617-413-0713

Suggested Retweet:

Suggested Facebook Share:

Suggested Email Blast:

We have great news – Senator Warren is officially #NoOn2.

“I will be voting no on Question 2…I am very concerned about what this specific proposal means for hundreds of thousands of children across our Commonwealth, especially those living in districts with tight budgets where every dime matters.”

It’s time to stand up to the out-of-state billionaires and join Senator Warren and the Democratic State Committee to fight for quality education for ALL Massachusetts students.

“Sign up for a canvass shift this Saturday, Oct. 1 near you:

“Boston Canvass with Tito Jackson – 1:00 PM
Grove Hall Library
41 Geneva Ave.

Pittsfield – 2:00 PM
188 East St.

Worcester – 11:00 AM
Sweets Kitchen and Bar, 72 Shrewsbury St.

Click here to see a full list of all neighborhood canvasses. Question 2 is bad for our schools it’s time we stand up united to vote NO.” https://www.eventbrite.com/e/weekend-statewide-canvasses-tickets-28132083820?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=escb&utm-source=cp&utm-term=listing

This just in:  

 

NEWS RELEASE

IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin

September 26, 2016 312-329-6250

 

 

Teachers vote 95 percent to authorize strike to resolve contract dispute

CTU House of Delegates to meet Wednesday to discuss possible strike date

 

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today released totals of its recent strike authorization vote. Now, its governing body will meet in a special session on Wednesday, Sept. 28 to determine the next steps, including whether to issue a 10-day strike notice to the Chicago Board of Education. If that happens, the first possible date for a teachers’ strike would be Oct. 11. This would be the third work stoppage by the city’s public school educators since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in 2011.

 

The Union’s Rules & Election Committee reported that on a 90.6 percent turnout, 95.6 percent of votes cast voted in favor to strike. This should come as no surprise to the Board, the mayor or parents because educators have been angry about the school-based cuts that have hurt special education students, reduced librarians, counselors, social workers and teachers’ aides, and eliminated thousands of teaching positions.

 

The CTU House of Delegates will meet this week to discuss the next steps in the contract fight. CTU officers and rank-and-file members will conduct a press conference at the conclusion of that session to share the results of those deliberations.

 

 

###
The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 27,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit CTU’s website at http://www.ctunet.com.

 

Antonio Olmedo writes here about the new undemocratic, unaccountable Philanthrocapitalism, as embodied by the Gates Foundation:


In 2008, in their Ode to philanthrocapitalism, Bishop and Green claimed that philanthrocapitalists are “hyperagents who have the capacity to do some essential things far better than anyone else”. Apparently, the fact that they “do not face elections every few years, like politicians, or suffer the tyranny of shareholder demands for ever-increasing quarterly profits, like CEOs of most private companies” or that they do not have to devote “vast amounts of time and resources to raising money, like most heads of NGOs”, situates them in a privileged position to “think long term”, to go “against conventional wisdom”, to take up ideas “too risky for government” and to deploy “substantial resources quickly when the situation demands it”. These new super agents can solve the problems of the world, and do it fast, cleanly, and absolutely.

Behind Bishop and Green’s philanthrocapitalim, Bill Gates’ creative capitalism, and David Cameron’s Big Society, which are closely related conceptions, is a new relation of ‘giving’ and enacting policy. This relation is based on a more direct involvement of givers in policy communities, that is a more ‘hands on’ approach to the use of donations. In previous writings we have referred to this new political landscape as philanthropic governance, that is the ways in which, through their philanthropic action, these actors are able to modify meanings, mobilise assets, generate new policy technologies and exert pressure on, or even decide, the direction of policy in specific contexts.

Democratic deficit

The problem here, or the problem for some of us, is that the claims and practices of new philanthropy are premised on the residualisation of established methods and traditions of democracy. They see no need to respond to or be accountable for their philanthropic investments to anyone else but themselves. This is what Horne indicates when he claimed that new philanthropists operate in a ‘para-political sphere’[1] within which they can develop their own policy agenda untrammelled by the vicissitudes of politics. What we are facing here is more than just givers who ‘vote with their dollars’[2]. As Parmar puts it: “the foundation-state relationship, therefore, is not a conspiracy – it may be quite secretive and operate behind the scenes, but it is not criminal enterprise. It is, however, strongly undemocratic, because it privileges the right people, usually those with the right social backgrounds and/or attitudes”. The direct involvement of new philanthropists in the para-political sphere enables “some individuals to act as their own private governments, whose power can be used to challenge that of the state and force it to re-examine its priorities and policies”

Gambling with children’s future

Essentially this is a simplification of policy, a cutting out of the messy compromises, dissensus and accommodations that attend ‘normal’ policymaking. But perhaps change is less simple than it seems initially from the perspective of great wealth! In a recent public letter from of Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, there is a frank recognition that single-mindedness and a deliberate circumvention of traditional policy actors may not actually be constructive or effective in getting change done.

“… we’re facing the fact that it is a real struggle to make system-wide change.