Archives for category: Education Reform

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. 

 

Two Wisconsin legislators published an opinion piece about the harm that school choice is doing to the state’s public schools.

Jon Erpenbach and Sondy Pope object to the way that vouchers have taken money away from public schools without the compose top of the governed.

It hasn’t been long since many Wisconsinites have had to vote on referendums to keep their public school doors open, and now in this new year, our schools continue to be underfunded. This spring 50 school districts will go to referendum, with 29 seeking $915 million in operating costs alone.

During last year’s budget deliberations, Gov. Tony Evers put forth a proposal that would have made significant investments in our public schools. Many of his ideas stemmed from the Republican controlled Blue Ribbon Commission on K-12 education. Unfortunately, the task force recommendations could not make it past the Republicans on the Joint Committee on Finance, including $10.1 million from sparsity aid for rural districts compared to the Governor’s plan. Senate District 27 lost $600,000 alone due to Republican rejections of their own recommendations, with 82 other districts statewide also losing funds.Fast forward to this year, andinstead of doing their jobs and convening for a special session to address the farm crisis, Republicans chose to hold a political rally to promote voucher schools.

Unfortunately, while taxpayers will be voting on referendums this April, voucher school operators are able to take $145.5 million from property taxpayers with zero transparency, oversight or ability to vote “no.”

On Jan. 8, 2020, Senator Bewley (D-Mason), Representative Considine (D-Baraboo), and both of us introduced Senate Bill 661 (SB 661), to prohibit the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) from making reductions in the amount of state aid that is paid to school districts, unless the voters agree to the reductions by a referendum vote.

Under current law, school choice programs are able to drain funds away from public schools, and SB 661 would give power back to Wisconsinites to decide how they want their tax dollars spent.

A recent memo released by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that vouchers caused $145 million in aid reduction to public schools. That amount is up 30% from last year, and this problem is only going to grow if it is not addressed. The trend in tax dollars going away from public schools towards unreliable voucher programs shows the decline to our education system at the expense of our taxpayers. Wisconsinites should have a choice in whether or not they want to fund two separate education programs, and that is why we introduced the bill to bring accountability back into the fold.

For-profit education is chipping away at our democracy with misinformation and misleading standards for education, with the approval of our current presidential administration. Wisconsin Democrats believe in doing what is best for our children, and unfortunately, forcing taxpayers to fund competing education systems will only hinder their future.

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.

 

Oklahoma has just experienced a fraud involving an online charter school called EPIC, which was accused of collecting money for ghost students and billing for excessive administrative overhead. It’s amazing how many of the big scandals in charter land involve the highly profitable online charters.

Now parents in Oklahoma are outraged that a new virtual charter obtained the names and addresses of their children. The charter is aligned to the Gulen movement.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has promised get to the bottom of this breach of student privacy.

Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution wrote one of the most insightful columns that I have read about the candidacy of Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s net worth is more than $50 billion. He has given generously to many charitable causes. But he has also used his charitable donations to advance his political ambitions.

In recent years, he has given millions of dollars to mayors across the nation, ostensibly to aid them as they shaped a political agenda that was anti-gun, anti-smoking, and other good causes.

But now Bloomberg is collecting on some of those gifts. He already has the endorsement of the mayor of the District of Columbia, who received a Bloomberg gift of $4 million.

Williamson writes:

In his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already spent nearly a quarter of a billion dollars, more than that of the major Democratic candidates combined. But, ironically, focusing on his immense campaign budget underrates the impact of Bloomberg’s money on his chances. Just as important is the political force of his charitable giving.

Traditionally, presidential nominations have been decided more by political insiders than by grassroots mobilization. Bloomberg may be able to gin up some public support through campaign ads and Tammany Hall-style politics, but in the inside game, it would seem he is at a disadvantage. He has never run for national office, has supported Republican candidates, and was himself a Republican.

But politics in America is increasingly organized around institutions reliant on big-donor philanthropy. Candidates, local and state parties, advocacy organizations, think tanks, and many foundations are in a constant scramble for money. Few leaders of these organizations will want to offend a man whose personal wealth makes their entire operating budgets look like a negligible rounding error.

And in case Bloomberg’s potential support had escaped the attention of any would-be grantees, he ramped up his giving in advance of his presidential bid. Bloomberg outspent every other billionaire philanthropist last year, giving away $3.3 billion dollars, nearly five times more than he did in 2017. This spending has had little impact on his overall wealth; the 77-year-old Bloomberg remains the eighth-richest man in the world, with more than $50 billion dollars.

His tactical philanthropy gives Bloomberg the unique capacity to influence the decision-making of the institutions that are traditional power brokers and opinion makers in Democratic politics. As Bloomberg knows well from his stint as mayor, big-money “charity” is an imposition of the giver’s political will. While he is best known for his work on the crucial issue of gun control, Bloomberg has also deployed his wealth to bully and sideline potential opponents. “When church groups or community organizations threatened to get noisy in opposition to him or his programs, he wrote checks that tended to quiet them down,” writes Edward-Isaac Dovere in his analysis of Bloomberg’s mayoralty. Bloomberg can run pork-barrel politics out of his own pocket. And, of course, the political effects of Bloomberg’s philanthropy are not limited to New York.

Charity tends to get a free pass when it comes to its political effects. Liberal concern about “money in politics” is usually limited to direct electoral engagement. Charitable endeavors are seen as sacrosanct; witness the opposition President Barack Obama faced upon attempting to limit the charitable deduction. (The tax implications of Bloomberg’s run are interesting in themselves—assuming the billionaire gets a tax write-off for his charity, and that those contributions meaningfully contribute to his presidential chances, he is the only major candidate whose campaign is publicly subsidized.)

Big-dollar philanthropy deserves vastly more criticism than it receives; when wealth is highly concentrated, charity comes at enormous cost to the public good. The Democratic presidential primary has already seen multiple experienced public servants drop from contention for lack of funds, including, not coincidentally, every single non-white person who was a serious contender for the nomination. If Bloomberg can buy his way out of the public scrutiny that a campaign is supposed to afford—if he can purchase, rather than persuade, the party faithful—it represents yet another fissure in our decaying political process.

In essence, Bloomberg is engaging in a very old form of politics that has long been recognized as at odds with the function of representative institutions. As political theorist Emma Saunders-Hastings explains, philanthropy in ancient Rome was “not only comparable to campaign finance”—it was campaign finance. To assure their political base, those wishing to accrue power gave generously to the poor. Machiavelli, whose analyses made his name synonymous with the pursuit of power, recognized that philanthropy was a form of political domination. “Many times works that appear merciful,” he wrote, “are very dangerous for a republic.”

Machiavelli would easily have recognized the implications of Bloomberg’s philanthropy for his position in the Democratic primary. No matter his intentions, the Bloomberg campaign’s reliance on his personal wealth threatens America’s democratic institutions at a time when those institutions are already profoundly weakened. His charitable contributions exacerbate the risks posed by his self-funded campaign. Money is power, even when it is donated.

In addition to his strategic philanthropy, Bloomberg used his vast wealth to buy opinion leaders. He selected a number of experts in various fields, people known for writing opinion pieces and speaking out on issues, and invited them to be on his “personal payroll,” not on the government payroll. It was impossible to know which experts supported his policies because they agreed with them or because he had hired them. No one knew who was on his “personal payroll.”

 

 

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.