Archives for category: Home Schooling

California claims to have tightened up its charter school law, but huge loopholes remain. For example, state money goes to charters that offer religious education to home school students, as well as to private businesses.

Patrick O’Donnell, chair of the Assembly Education Committee, thinks that oversight is needed.

Private businesses and religious organizations have been getting public school dollars through charter schools that allow home-schooling parents to use state funds to pay for certain services for their children — a practice some lawmakers want to rein in.

Parents in certain home school charters get as much as $2,600 a year, money that has gone to Disneyland, religious educators, private businesses and others who provide educational, enrichment and recreational services for children.

“It was never the intent of the state legislature to pass dollars through online charter schools to private vendors or religious organizations,” said Assembly Education Committee Chair Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, in an interview. “This highlights a bigger issue that we’ve been grappling with in Sacramento for many years … that the charter school law, when it was originally written, was wide open.”

Another state legislator, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, says she plans to bring forward a bill in the new year that would require state oversight and rules for charter school vendors.

She expects the bill will have guidelines about what kinds of vendors would be allowed to receive public school funds. She said her bill was partly inspired by The San Diego Union-Tribune’s reporting on home school charters.

It’s important “to make sure we are allowing (charter schools) to have the freedom that they were given, without it being abused and without it turning into a system where we’re privatizing education and taking advantage of loopholes,” Garcia said during an interview.

“We keep going to the fact that there hasn’t been enough oversight as to how charter schools are using the dollars,” she said. “I think we’re seeing through this reporting that there’s a lot of blurred lines, and we need a lot more transparency and a lot more accountability.”

Legislators can reasonably anticipate that the powerful, well-funded California Charter Schools Association will fight relentlessly against any regulation, oversight, transparency, or accountability.

 

California is paying a high price for its notoriously lax law for authorizing charter schools, which was revised in recent weeks.

Tom Ultican sees a striking similarity between the Inspire charter chain, which enrolls home schoolers, and the A3 chain, which went up in flames with a loss to taxpayers of at least $50 million.

Inspire Charter School mirrors the methods of A3 Education. It employs practices strikingly similar to those that led to May’s 67-count indictment against A3’s leaders. Furthermore, the California Charter School Association (CCSA) took the same unusual step of sharing concerns about Inspire and A3 with California authorities. They are virtual schools that concentrate on obtaining authorization from small school districts. These systems have a similar structure in which a central organization controls the schools that are contracting with it and they transfer funds among multiple organizations making it difficult to monitor their activities. Students at both Inspire and A3 struggle academically.

The Acton-Aqua Dulce Unified School District is infamous for authorizing suspect charter applications while not having the resources to adequately monitor those schools. It has 1085 public school students and 14,734 charter school students. Acton-Aqua Dulce authorized Inspire’s first charter school which was located in Los Angeles County. Strangely, Inspire Charter grew from 151 students in the 2014-15 school year to 4,321 students in the 2018-19 school year and then closed up shop this June 30th.

Founder Nick Nichols needed a program that would service his target audience of home school students.  The Inspire 2016 tax form shows that he purchased curriculum from Academic Arts and Action for $149,625. This is notable because the chairman of Academic Arts and Action was Jason Schrock and the President was Sean McManus. That is the same Schrock and McManus indicted in the A3 scandal.

The education writer for the San Diego Union Tribune (UT), Kristen Taketa, has been relentlessly pursuing the Inspire story. She explains one of the the charters selling points,

“Inspire parents have been able to spend state-provided money on expenses they say are educational, from Disneyland annual passes to private ice skating coaching. The list of places where Inspire parents could spend school funds has included Costco, Amazon, Big Air Trampoline Park, Medieval Times, Guitar Center and the DNA testing company 23 and Me, according to Inspire’s list of approved vendors.”

Inspire provides each parent $2600 to $3000 to spend on field trips and other educational resources.

Last year Nick Nichols oversaw nine schools with 23,300 total students. In the 2016-17 school year, Inspire took in $76,018,441 yet their debt was skyrocketing. Their pay for officers went from $65,318 for the 2014-15 school year to $2,011,898 in the 2016-17 school year. Nick Nichols did especially well.

Inspire Income-Debt-Wages-Table

Data from Inspire Tax Documents

The UT’s Taketa reports, “Inspire expects to pull in $285 million in state funding this school year.”

Inspire just secured another $50,000,000 loan from the California School Finance Authority. With booming student daily attendance income and large financial backing from the state, it is strange that Nick Nichols chose now to take a temporary leave of absence. Former Mount Diablo Superintendent and Inspire’s chief operating officer, Steven Lawrence, is taking over as executive director.

As Ultican shows, Inspire’s students have very poor academic results.

How much longer will this charade continue with state money? Will someone wake up the taxpayer’s and legislators?

Inspire Charter Schools does not inspire confidence in its academics, its finances, or its integrity. Inspire makes money by getting state money to underwrite home schooling, with state-subsidized field trips and lots of folderol.

Things got so bad that the Inspire chain was kicked out by the California Charter Schools Association, the powerhouse lobbyists for the charter industry. There is just so much embarrassment that the CCSA can tolerate and this is one of those rare occasions. In the past, CCSA has defended criminal charter operators, but drew the line at Inspire and called for an independent audit of its financials.

The California Charter Schools Association has expelled the Inspire home charter school network from its membership and is now calling for a third-party investigation, citing concerns about the network’s operational and governance practices.

At the same time, a group of county superintendents from across the state has asked a state agency to audit Inspire, though the scope of that audit request and the list of superintendents requesting it have not yet been finalized.

Meanwhile, a tiny California school district said it believes an Inspire school it oversees has been violating state law. The district, Winship-Robbins Elementary, said it may shut down the school if it fails to address several concerns that the district has about its finances, academics and organizational practices.

The California Charter Schools Association announced in a statement posted Tuesday on its website that the association and its Member Council have decided to revoke Inspire’s membership. They made that decision based on a review of Inspire that the association had launched in October after hearing concerns from other charter schools….

An investigation by The San Diego Union-Tribune in August found that Inspire has grown rapidly in recent years in numbers of schools and students while relying on heavy loan borrowing, consistently posting below-average academic performance and engaging in what several say are questionable organizational practices.

Inspire allots $2,600 or more of public school funds to each student annually to spend on a list of thousands of vendors who sell field trips, academic and extracurricular classes, curriculum and more, including items such as horseback riding lessons and ski passes.

Public scrutiny of Inspire grew after 11 people were criminally indicted in May in relation to another statewide charter network called A3. San Diego County prosecutors accused A3 executives of manipulating enrollment numbers and using charter schools to funnel more than $50 million into their own pockets.

Among other “unethical” practices, Inspire was poaching students from other charter schools with promises of free tickets to Disneyland!

Another critic is Terri Schiavone, the Founder and Director of Golden Valley Charter School in Ventura. Schiavone says her school is one of many that are losing students to Inspire Charter.

“They target a school and then they try to get as many of their teachers and students as possible,” Schiavone said.

Schiavone said families and teachers are enticed by incentives like using instructional funds to buy tickets to Disneyland and other theme parks. Schiavone says there is a lack of oversight and accountability.

No one is making sure teachers are checking up on students’ work, and Schiavone says parents can buy whatever they want from vendors who she says are not fingerprinted or even qualified.

“It’s very desirable for some parents to enroll in schools in which nobody’s looking over their shoulder,” said Schiavone. “They can utilize whatever curriculum they want, including religious curriculum, which is illegal if using public dollars.”

Inspire found parents to defend the glory of home-schooling with public subsidy.

A few days ago, Inspire announced that its CEO and founder was taking a leave of absence. 

 

 

Steven Singer explains here why public schools are the safest environments for children. They are supervised. They are run by professionals, who are licensed and certified.

He writes:

“A California home-school where parents shackled, starved and abused their children is a symptom of a larger disease.

“And that disease is privatization.

“David Allen Turpin and his wife, Louise Anna Turpin, were arrested after police found the couple’s 13 children living in deplorable conditions in their Perris, California, home.

“Some of the children were actually young adults but were so malnourished investigators at first mistook them for minors.

“It is a situation that just could not have happened had those children been in the public school system.

“Someone would have seen something and reported it to Child Protective Services. But school privatization shields child predators from the light and enables a system where minors become the means to every adult end imaginable.

“Let me be clear. Privatization is defined as the transfer of a service from public to private ownership and control.

“In education circles, that means home-schools, charter schools and voucher schools – all educational providers that operate without adequate accountability.

“We are taking our most precious population – our children – and allowing them to be educated behind closed doors, out of sight from those tasked with ensuring they are getting the best opportunities to learn and are free from abuse.

“And since home-schooling operates with almost zero oversight, it is the most susceptible to child neglect and mistreatment.

“Children who in traditional public schools would have a whole plethora of people from teachers to counselors to principals to cafeteria workers who can observe the danger signs of abuse are completely removed from the home-school environment.

“Home-schooled children receive their educations almost exclusively from parents.

“While most moms and dads would never dream of abusing their kids, home-schooling provides the perfect cover for abusers like the Turpins to isolate children and mistreat them with impunity.

“It is a situation that at least demands additional oversight. And at most it requires we rethink the entire enterprise as dangerous and wrongheaded.

“Charter and voucher schools at least utilize whole staffs of people to educate children. The chances of something like this happening at these institutions is much smaller. However, both types of school also are much less accountable for their actions than traditional public schools.

“And that is the common factor – responsibility. Who is being held answerable when things go wrong? At traditional public schools, there is a whole chain of adults who are culpable for children. At these other institutions, the number of people in the hot seat shrinks to zero.”

Read it all. Think about it.

 

The horrific case of the abusive Turpin family in California, who enslaved their children while claiming to be a home school, reminds us that these children will remain after their parents are imprisoned.

A reader in Oregon contacted me to tell me about an organization that documents these cases. 

We trust parents to love and cherish their children. What happens when they don’t?

 

The news media have given ample attention to the story of the married couple who chained their 13 children to their bedsteads and starved them. One child escaped and called authorities. The parents registered their home of enslavement as a “home school.” 

Needless to say, there was neither teaching nor learning, just two parents abusing their unfortunate children.

What would Betsy DeVos say? Trust the parents. They made their choice. The parents know best. I recall when John White, the state superintendent of Louisiana said the same thing. Trust the parents.

“The private school had a welcoming name. The principal was scientifically minded. But the Sandcastle Day School was a nightmare for the six students enrolled there.

“David A. Turpin created the school inside his nondescript stucco home southeast of Los Angeles. But the only ones enrolled there were the six of his 13 children who were school age. And what took place inside was not teaching but torture, the authorities said, after they raided the house over the weekend and found a horrifying scene of emaciated children chained to furniture. The putrid smell overwhelmed them.

“By creating such a school of horrors, Mr. Turpin had kept the authorities at bay. His children were never seen by teachers or counselors. Their absences never raised suspicions. On Tuesday, state and local officials were on the defensive as they tried to explain how such things could have occurred in a private school the state had sanctioned.

“Mr. Turpin, 56, and his wife, Louise A. Turpin, 49, were arrested on nine counts of torture and child endangerment after one of their daughters escaped from the home out a window before dawn and called the police on a deactivated cellphone that only allowed her to dial 911. The girl, 17, showed the police photos to corroborate her story. Once the authorities entered the disheveled home, they found the Turpins’ 12 other children, ages 2 to 29. They were so malnourished that the older ones looked years younger.

“I can’t begin to imagine the pain and suffering that they have endured,” Mayor Michael Vargas of Perris said of the siblings. “This is a very happy and tight, hard-working family community.”

“How a family that some described as normal just a few years ago had seemingly unraveled so severely, nobody seemed to know…

“Before Sunday, there was no indication that any authority had ever set foot in the home. Riverside County’s child protective services never received reports of abuse. And the State Department of Education said it had registered the school, but had never been inside.

The case raises questions about whether the state may be too lenient in its approach to home schooling and whether it should have been monitoring Mr. Turpin more closely. In California, almost anyone can open a private school by filing an affidavit with the state. California is one of 14 states that ask parents only to register to create a home school, and in 11 other states, including Texas, parents are not required to submit any documentation at all.

“The California Department of Education said it was sickened by the tragedy and was investigating what had occurred. The department registers private schools, but “does not approve, monitor, inspect, or oversee” them, said Bill Ainsworth, a department spokesman.

“Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, a Democrat from Stockton, Calif., and a social worker who teaches at California State University, Sacramento, said that she would support legislation to monitor such schools.

“The state has a responsibility to make sure there is at least an annual inspection,” she said. “If we’re not going to uphold educational standards, then for the love of God the least we can do is uphold health and safety standards. We need to do everything we can for vulnerable minors before it becomes anything this tragic.”

Please, if you are a journalist, ask Betsy DeVos about how home schools and private schools should be regulated.

 

Delve into the mind of Betsy DeVos.

She is the first Secretary of Education ever to address the American Legislative Exchange Council, the secretive far-right organization funded by the Koch brothers, the DeVos family, and major corporations, with the intent of getting rid of unions, standards for teachers, environmental regulations, and anything that gets in the way of corporations.

Here is the speech she delivered today, released by the U.S. Department of Education.

Jennifer Berkshire (the writer formerly known as EduShyster) is one of the best education writers on the national scene.

In this article, she describes the evangelical roots of the present school-choice movement, as personified by Betsy DeVos.

You will meet some very peculiar people who loathe “government schooling” and prefer to home school their children. Some will be familiar to you, like the far-right billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, who bankrolled Steve Bannon and Breitbart News. Daughter Rebekah homeschools her children to keep them free from the contamination of both public and private schools.

Berkshire notes that the Mercers funded an odd Oregon politician named Arthur Robinson.

She writes about Robinson:

In Oregon, Robinson is known as a kooky Tea Party-ish chemist who has been stockpiling urine as part of his mission to improve health, happiness, prosperity — and boost student test scores. He’s also a perennial GOP congressional candidate whose long-shot bids have been mostly underwritten by the Mercers.

In Christian homeschooling circles, Arthur Robinson is a household name. The Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum, developed by Robinson and his six home-schooled children, teaches children to “teach themselves and to acquire superior knowledge as did many of America’s most outstanding citizens in the days before socialism in education.”

Robinson fleshed out his views on education during his 2016 run for Congress, releasing an education platform called “Art’s Education Plan!” He called for a nationwide voucher program, providing every student in the United States with the “freedom and resources to apply to any school in our nation, public or private.”

There was also a bold plan for Congress to shut down the schools of Washington, DC, for three months, long enough to fire the “unionized deadwood” and create a model in which students and parents are customers rather than “vassals of school administrators.”

She describes the ultra-conservative financiers and their faithful political vassals who have turned Florida into a mecca for publicly funded religious education, even though the Florida Constitution explicitly forbids it, and even though the state’s voters turned down a Jeb Bush effort to strip the state Constitution of its anti-voucher language in 2012.

Yes, there are some far-right extremists in the school choice movement. But, notes Berkshire, it was not DeVos that put school choice into the mainstream. It was Democrats who called themselves “reformers.”


DeVos and her allies are aided in the efforts to dismantle public education by Democratic education reformers who’ve spent the past two decades doing essentially the same thing. It is “progressive” reformers, after all, who’ve led the charge to convince parents and taxpayers that there is no meaningful difference between a public school and one that’s privately managed. That parents don’t care who runs their schools as long as they’re good is a standard reform talking point, along with the reminder that “charter schools are public schools….”

School choice has been legitimized, not by DeVos et al, but by the likes of Corey Booker, Rahm Emanuel and other reform-minded Democrats. If saving public education is to be a key plank of the #resistance, Democrats will have to join the fight or be swept aside.

Bob Braun was a star investigative reporter in New Jersey. Now he is retire and blogs about the misdeeds and antics and corruption in his state. He is deeply knowledgeable about education.

In this post, he wonders whether the allies of public education have the guts and the will to save their public schools from predators.

Here he reports on a conference of public school advocates in New Jersey and warns against collaborating with those who want to destroy what you value. You cannot find common ground with vandals.

He writes:

“It’s not as if the problems aren’t known. Bruce Baker, the Rutgers professor who is probably the smartest and most cutting critic of state educational policy, warned both about the regressive nature of school funding under Christie–and the growing acceptance of the segregating effects of charter schools, privately-operated, public-funded schools that help frightened parents run away from public schools.

“We’ve lost momentum on the idea that pubic schools should be inclusive,” he said. “They”–the critics of public schools–“are making the opposite argument and they are winning.”

In short, the fundamental idea that public schools are and should be engines of equality and diversity is losing support.

And how will it be restored? Baker and others–including Theresa Luhm of the Education Law Center (ELC)–were not hopeful. No, it’s not that they were pessimistic–they were all hopeful the last eight years of Christie’s contempt for public education could be reversed. But they also warned that any effort to rewrite school funding laws were inherently dangerous because they invited political interference in the pursuit of true equity. Better to leave well enough alone and tinker with the edges.

Like Phil Murphy’s expected candidacy, this is simply not enough. Something akin to a political tsunami has occurred that is about to wash away public education as we know it and something more than the restoration of the Bourbons to public education is needed.

Participants in the conference danced around the danger of charters–but they are starving public schools. Yet even charter critics like Mark Weber–better known as the blogger Jersey Jazzman–offered palliatives when, in fact, bulldozers are needed. Charters suspend and expel 20 to 30 times more students than do public schools, a good way of enhancing their student test results, and such behavior raises serious moral as well as political issues.

Charters are cancers. There are no good cancers–and charter schools are metastasizing throughout education.

Mary Bennett, a former Newark high school principal, spoke about governance–specifically the return of local control to the Newark schools. But she neglected to mention that the path to local control was impeded, not by the will of the Newark people willing to fight for their schools, but by the unfortunate deal cut between Christie and Mayor Ras Baraka to end criticism of Christie’s policies in the city, including the vast expansion–doubling in ten years–of charter school enrollment.

Baraka, in short, impeded the pace of a return to local control and now takes credit for expediting it. The dangers public schools face now cannot allow such delusional political thinking–the enemies in Washington are too real and too powerful.

In the audience, Newark activist Roberto Cabanas pointed out the obvious: If the people of Newark just waited out Christie’s term, local control would be returned in 2018 when he leaves–even if Baraka had lost to pro-charter Shavar Jeffries in the 2014 mayoral contest. All the marches and rallies and speeches were pretty much useless.

“We could have done nothing and achieved the same result,” he said.

Don’t forget these were the activists, the advocates, the good guys, at the conference. But they argued against tinkering with the school aid formula, wrung their hands about seeking an end to charter schools completely, held out little hope about seriously integrating the public schools of the state, and believed that a mayor who hires school board members really means it when he talks about independent public education.

Even if Phil Murphy is elected, public education in New Jersey–and throughout the nation–is in serious trouble.

It is underfunded.

It is racially segregated.

It is in danger of being swept away by charters.

Its employees are demoralized.

It has been targeted for destruction by a national administration unlike any other in the history of the republic.

In short, without aggressive action to restore the promise of public education, it will continue to lose support among those who will turn to nuts like Trump and DeVos to find answers in alternatives like vouchers, private schooling, and home-schooling.”

Here is the official transcript issued by the White House of Trump’s “listening tour.” Note how he gushes over every parent or teacher not in a public school and how quickly he breezes past a Teacher of special education in a public school. He seems to promise near the end to reduce the rate of autism. He says he visited an amazing charter school in Las Vegas but clearly doesn’t know that most of the charter schools in Nevada are failing schools.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate ReleaseFebruary 14, 2017
Remarks by President Trump at Parent-Teacher Conference Listening Session

Roosevelt Room

10:50 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I am delighted to welcome everybody to the White House. And Betsy DeVos, who has gone through — our new Education Secretary — she went through an interesting moment. And you’re going to do a fantastic job, and I know you would have done it again if you had to do it again, right? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY DEVOS: Probably.

THE PRESIDENT: She had no doubt that final night, waiting for the vote. So I just want to congratulate you. You showed toughness and genius.

As I said many times in my campaign, we want every child in America to have the opportunity to climb the ladder to success. I want every child also to have a safe community, and we’re going to do that very much. We’re going to be helping you a lot — a great school and some day to get a really well-paying job or better, or better; own their own company. And a lot of people are looking at that.

But it all begins with education, and that’s why we’re here this morning. And I’m here also to celebrate a little bit with Betsy because we started this journey a long time ago, having to do with change and so many other good things with education. And I’m so happy that that all worked out.

Right now, too many of our children don’t have the opportunity to get that education that we all talk about. Millions of poor, disadvantaged students are trapped in failing schools and this crisis — and it really is a crisis — of education and communities working together but not working out. And we’re going to change it around, especially for the African American communities. It’s been very, very tough and unfair. And I know that’s a priority and it’s a certainly a priority of mine.

That’s why I want every single disadvantaged child in America, no matter what their background or where they live, to have a choice about where they go to school. And it’s worked out so well in some communities where it’s been properly run and properly done. And it’s a terrific thing.

Charter schools, in particular, have demonstrated amazing gains and results. And you look at the results — we have cases in New York City that have been amazing in providing education to disadvantaged children and the success of so many different schools that I can name throughout the country that I got to see during the campaign. I went to one in Las Vegas; it was the most unbelievable thing you’ve ever seen. And they’ve done a fantastic job.

So there are many such schools and we want to do that on a large-scale basis. We can never lose sight of the connection between education and jobs. I’m bringing a lot of jobs back. We’re bringing a lot of big plants back into the country — everyone said it was impossible. And before I even took office, we started the process and tremendous numbers of plants are coming back into this country — car plants and other plants. And I have meetings next week with four or five different companies, big ones that are going to bring massive numbers of jobs back.

So we’re doing it from the jobs standpoint, but education only makes it better. Our goal is a clear and very safe community, great schools, and we want those jobs that are high-paying jobs — we’ve lost a lot of our best jobs to other countries and we’re going to bring them back.

So I’m going to do my job, and Betsy, at the education level, will do her job. And just to do it very, very formally, I want to congratulate you on having gone through a very tough trial and a very unfair trial, and you won. And there’s something very nice about that. And I’ll tell you the real winner will be the children — I guess a couple of adults (inaudible) — but will be the children of this country. And I just want to congratulate you.

SECRETARY DEVOS: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we’ll go around the room. And everybody knows our fantastic Vice President, Mike Pence. But if we went around the room, it would be very nice. So why don’t we start? Betsy, you might want to say a few words to us.

SECRETARY DEVOS: Well, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, I am just very honored to have the opportunity to serve America’s students, and I’m really excited to be here today with parents and educators representing traditional public schools, charter public schools, homeschools, private schools, a range of choices. And we’re eager to listen and learn from you your ideas for how we can ensure that all of our kids have an equal opportunity for a high-quality, great education and therefore an opportunity for the future.

So again, I just wanted to have the opportunity to serve, and looking forward to fulfilling the mission that you set forward.

THE PRESIDENT: It’s our honor — believe me, Betsy.

Kenneth.

MR. SMITH: Ken Smith, educator helping at-risk kids get through school. Vice President, it actually has the largest application of jobs for America’s graduates in the country. And in a minute we’ll talk about that as a solution.

THE PRESIDENT: Great. Good.

Laura.

MS. PARRISH: Laura Parrish, I’m from Falls Church, Virginia. I homeschool my 10- and my 13-year-old.

THE PRESIDENT: Good. Very good.

Mary.

MS. RINER: My name is Mary. I’m a charter school parent here in D.C., and considered the best school in America.

THE PRESIDENT: You think, huh? (Laughter.)

MS. RINER: I know.

THE PRESIDENT: I like that.

MS. RINER: According to U.S. News & World Report.

THE PRESIDENT: Really? Is that right? Wow.

Jennifer.

MS. COLEMAN: I am Jennifer Coleman. I am from Prince William County, Virginia. I am the mother of six, and I homeschool my oldest four; they are grades kindergarten through seven. And before that I was a private school teacher.

THE PRESIDENT: Very good.

MR. CIRENZA: Bartholomew Cirenza. I’m a parent of seven, and my kids have gone through both private and public school, and I see differences, and —

THE PRESIDENT: Big difference.

MR. CIRENZA: Big difference.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay.

MS. BAUMANN: Good morning, I’m Julie. I teach special education at a public school in New Jersey.

THE PRESIDENT: Very good. Thank you.

MS. QUENNVILLE: Hi, I’m Jane Quennville, and I’m a principal of a special-ed center in Virginia serving children ages five through twenty-two with autism and physical and medically fragile conditions.

THE PRESIDENT: How is that going?

MS. QUENNVILLE: Well —

THE PRESIDENT: Have you seen an increase in the autism with the children?

MS. QUENNVILLE: Yes, yes. In fact, our school has shifted its population — saw more children with autism, definitely.

THE PRESIDENT: So what’s going on with autism? When you look at the tremendous increases, really, it’s such an incredible — it’s like really a horrible thing to watch, the tremendous amount of increase. Do you have any idea? And you’re seeing it in the school?

MS. QUENNVILLE: Yes, I think — I mean, I think the statistics, I believe, are 1 in 66, 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism.

THE PRESIDENT: And now it’s going to be even lower —

MS. QUENNVILLE: Probably.

THE PRESIDENT: — which is just amazing. Well, maybe we can do something.

MS. BONILLA: I am Carol Bonilla. I teach Spanish in a private elementary school in Arlington. I teach the students in fourth through eighth grade.

THE PRESIDENT: Very good. Thank you.

MS. VIANA: Good morning, Mr. Vice President, Mr. President. My name is Aimee Viana. I’m the parent of two children — fifth grade and second grade — and I live right outside of Raleigh, North Carolina in Cary, and I’m also a former educator in public and private schools.

THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. Thank you. So thank you all very much. Let’s get going.

END
10:58 P.M. EST