Archives for category: Hypocrisy

 

Nancy Bailey calls out Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for talking about “education freedom” at the same time that she is doing everything within her power to snuff it out.

Betsy DeVos’s Education Freedom: It’s Anything But

 

 

 

 

Every year since 2014, Democrats who fervently support the privatization of public schools have gathered at a conference they pretentiously call “Camp Philos.”

https://campphilos.org/

Check the agenda of meetings present and past.

There you will see the lineup of Democrats who sneer at public schools and look on public school teachers with contempt.

These are the Democrats who support the DeVos agenda of disrupting and privatizing public schools.

They are meeting again this year, and they will slap each other on the back for supporting school closures, charter schools, high-stakes testing, evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students, and hiring inexperienced teachers.

They have the chutzpah to call themselves “stakeholders,” although none of them are teachers, parents of public school students, or have any stake in the public schools that enroll 85-90% of all American students. Exactly what do they have a “stake” in?

 

Justin Parmenter here tells the story of the “white flight academy” that decided to turn itself into a charter, thus relieving the parents of the burden of paying tuition. Now the taxpayers of North Carolina get to fund this school with a long history of fighting desegregation.

Hobgood Academy was founded in 1969 and opened in 1970 as a private academy for white parents who didn’t want their children to attend desegregated (by court order) schools in North Carolina. Tuition was low ($5,000) but onerous for the parents. They realized not long ago that they could become a charter school and the state would pay all their costs.

The Hobgood parent site confirms that the primary reason behind the school’s desire to become a public charter was not to increase diversity and expand opportunity for children of poverty at all. Rather, it was to allow children who already went to the 87% White school to continue to attend it, instead of going to Halifax County Schools, where only 4% of students are White. According to 2010 census data, Halifax County’s residents are 40% White and 53% Black.

North Carolina’s Director of Charter Schools opened Hobgood’s opening ceremony as a charter school and praised it for…its “diversity.”

Do you laugh or cry when confronted with such hypocrisy?

 

In my new book, Slaying Goliath, I focus on heroes of the Resistance. One of them is Professor Maurice Cunningham of the University of Massachusetts. He is a professor of politics and a blogger who believes in “follow the money.” His relentless pursuit of Dark Money in the Massachusetts charter referendum of 2016 (where voters overwhelmingly rejected charter expansion) led to the demise of the billionaire-funded front group called “Families for Excellent Schools.” It so happened that the “families” were billionaires who never set foot in a public school and never will.

In this post, Cunningham describes his fruitless effort to get a media outlet to acknowledge that the “parent group” it featured was Walton-funded.

Back on June 10 Masslive.com ran an editorial titled Meet the Newest Education Union: Parents which turned out not to be about education or unions at all but about the WalMart-heir front Massachusetts Parents United of Arkansas.  Helpful as always I sent an op-ed to Masslive setting the record straight but they paid no attention. Oh well. You can read the op-ed below.

It surprises me how little most media care about writing the basic facts about corporate “education reform” groups like MPU of AK, which would be non-existent without the millions of dollars poured in by the Waltons. The editorial board can take any position on issues they wish but it doesn’t excuse them from not informing their readers about who is funding and thus controlling the privatization fronts. Are they just not curious? I can’t imagine the motto “We don’t ask too many questions” would look good on the masthead. Is “follow the money” an elective in journalism school that got axed due to budget cuts?  Is it not news that state education policy is being hijacked by family of billionaires? Is it still not news that the billionaires are from Arkansas?

If you’re from western Massachusetts, ask Masslive yourself, and feel free to pass along my Letter to Massachusetts Education Reporters which has six reasons why reporters should report on who is behind front groups with tantalizing names like Massachusetts Parents United, Educators for Excellence, and Democrats for Education Reform.

Cunningham says “Dark Money never sleeps.”

Any Group funded by the Waltons or other billionaires is by definition “inauthentic.”

Cunningham hates hypocrisy.

So do I.

Adolph Reed Jr. and Cornel West blast the charter school advocates who dishonestly attacked Bernie Sanders’ plan for charter accountability as racist.

This is an amazing article. Please read it in full. I am not supposed to quote more than 300 words without violating copyright law. I would love to post it all, but I can’t. You have got to open it and read it.

Reed and West write:

During the Reagan era, ultraconservative columnist James Kilpatrick, a notorious segregationist since the southern Massive Resistance campaign against the 1954 Brown decision, took up the right-wing attack on Social Security from a novel angle. He opposed the program as discriminatory against African Americans because black men were statistically less likely than whites to live long enough to receive the old-age benefits. That was likely the only time in his public life Kilpatrick expressed anything that might seem like sympathy for black Americans.

A decade or so later, many advocates of the welfare “reform” that ended the federal government’s 60-year commitment to provide income support for the indigent similarly couched their efforts in feigned concern to help poor black people break a supposedly distinctive “cycle of poverty.” Similar disingenuous tears have accompanied the federal government’s retreat since the 1990s from direct provision of affordable housing for the poor. Thus, a racist premise that there’s a special sort of black poverty became a way to spin cutting public benefits for poor people as a supposedly anti-racist, anti-poverty strategy.

Now, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, the charter-school industry and its advocates also make such claims, asserting that charters offer unique opportunities for poor African-American children. On those grounds, for example, The Washington Post recently attacked the Bernie Sanders campaign’s Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education, which, among other features, supports the NAACP’s call for a “moratorium on public funds for charter school expansion until a national audit has been conducted to determine the impact of charter growth in each state.” In a May 27 masthead editorial, the Post described charterization as a civil-rights issue, claiming that charter schools can remedy the “most enduring—and unforgivable—civil rights offense in our country today [which] is the consigning of so many poor, often minority children to failing schools.” To justify that claim, the editorial cites research indicating that black students in charter schools “gained an additional 59 days of learning in math and 44 days in reading per year compared with traditional school counterparts.”

Reed and West demonstrate that multiple studies show that charter schools do not outperform public schools, and they are more segregated than public schools.

They write:

As is a common occurrence in the privatization of public functions, lack of effective public oversight has provided the charter-school industry great opportunities for fraud and corruption. A 2019 national study by the Network for Public Education concluded among its findings that “Hundreds of millions of federal taxpayer dollars have been awarded to charter schools that never opened or opened and then shut down. Only a few months before the Washington Post editorial attacking Senator Sanders’s support for the NAACP’s call for a moratorium on charters, the newspaper published an investigative article exploring the nightmarish uncertainty that sudden closure of fly-by-night charter schools can inflict upon students and their parents…

The charter industry is about profiting off education. In addition to the officially for-profit companies involved, even many charter nonprofits are structured in ways that enable people and businesses to make money off them. Charter operators and affiliated entities have used public funds to obtain and privately own valuable urban real estate.

Moreover, administrative overhead for charter schools is often more than twice that of district schools, and charter executive salaries far exceed those of district administrators. A 2017 report found that in post-Katrina New Orleans, long touted as the Shangri-la of charterization, administrative spending per pupil had increased by 66 percent, while instructional spending had declined by 10 percent.

Bad as the out-and-out fraudsters and get-rich-quick schemers are, the most dangerous and destructive elements in the charter-school industry are the billionaire “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, Walmart’s Walton family, and Eli Broad, the hedge-fund operators, corporate chains, and their minions in think tanks and on op-ed pages, who, out of ideological and commercial motives, have for some time been plotting the privatization of public schools and the destruction of public education as anything more than an underfunded holding pen for the least profitable students….

Of course, teachers’ unions are the charter industry’s bête noire for a more old-school reason as well: There is no place for them in the business model. Charter-school teachers are paid less than teachers at traditional public schools, are less experienced, less likely to be certified, less satisfied with their jobs, have higher rates of turnover, and most important, are much more likely to be at-will employees who can be dismissed without cause. The charter-school industry has been able to impose these clearly less-desirable working conditions on teachers partly through taking advantage of young, idealistic people funneled from outfits like Teach For America. And the long campaign stigmatizing public-school teachers, as well as other public workers, and their unions as the equivalent of lazy welfare queens has enabled propagation of a narrative projecting the image of fresh-faced, energetic young elite-college graduates as more effective and desirable than experienced teachers…

Simply put, charter advocates’ sanctimonious bluster about charterization as a civil-rights issue is deeply disingenuous, and the attacks on Bernie Sanders as racist for joining the NAACP in opposing it are repugnant.

 

 

 

In Florida, the Governor and legislators proclaim their love of “equality,” as they funnel millions of public dollars to religious schools that openly discriminate against LGBT students. 

The state currently spends $1 billion a year on vouchers and the Legislature recently voted to expand them.

During pride month, Florida politicians love talking about their passion for equality.

They’re much less eager to talk about the anti-equality programs they fund the rest of the year — specifically millions of public dollars they send to schools that discriminate against LGBT families and even expel students who say they’re gay.

At one of Florida’s approved voucher schools in Brevard County, for example, being gay is actually the only expellable offense listed in the school’s “ethics” policy.

Lying, cheating and destruction of school property are also bad, according to the Merritt Island Christian School student handbook — but only to the extent that they’re listed as “Class II infractions” worthy of punishments like a five-day suspension.

Greg Windle, a journalist at The Notebook, has drawn together the many strands of the tangled web of Reformer groups in Philadelphia, as seen through the lens of a contract awarded to The New Teacher Project for principal training. TNTP, Michelle Rhee’s creation, was designed to hire new teachers. When did it develop an expertise in training principals? Were there no veteran educators, no one in the Philadelphia School System, capable of training new principals? Or were they recruiting principals who had been a teacher for a year or two?

As Windle gets deeper into the story of a contract dispute about hiring TNTP to train principals, a familiar cast of money-hungry Reform groups washes up on the beach.

“Marjorie Neff, a former School Reform Commission chair who voted against the TNTP contract to recruit and screen teachers, said that in her experience such national education vendors use an approach that is “formulaic” and doesn’t tailor well to the needs of an individual teacher or the “context” of teaching in Philadelphia, where a teacher’s needs are different than in the suburbs. Neff is a former principal at Samuel Powel Elementary and J.R. Masterman who earned a master’s degree in education from Temple University.

“They’re selling a product. From that perspective, their formula is their vested interest,” Neff said. “Their bottom line is profitability, and we need to take that into account. Is it the most effective way to do this, or is it the most profitable? I don’t think those necessarily have to be in conflict, but sometimes they are.”

“In 2017, TNTP reported that its expenses were $20 million higher than revenue. In 2016, its revenue was nearly $21 million higher than expenses, but this was entirely due to the $41 million it brought in from “all other contributions, gifts, grants” (excluding government grants). That pot includes grants from outside philanthropies, such as foundations, but also investments from venture capital firms. In 2015, the nonprofit lost $6.1 million, despite millions in outside funding.

“Shifting funding, but consistent ideology

“Bain Capital’s consulting firm has two members on the board of TNTP. Since 2009, Bain’s consulting arm has partnered with Teach for America to develop “high-impact leaders in education” by placing TFA alumni in “leadership” positions in public education. Together, TFA and Bain designed “a series of programs to inspire, prepare, match and support Teach for America alums on the path to leadership.” Bain aimed to bring leadership development practices from the private sector into public education.

“In 2012, the two organizations got together to “expand the scope of work” of their partnership — the same year that Teach for America founded School Systems Leaders to train TFA alumni to “serve at the highest levels of leadership in public school systems.”

“Matt Glickman, an employee of the Bain consulting firm and board member of TNTP, has also served on the board of the NewSchools Venture Fund. That fund has invested in free-market education reforms since 1998. The Sackler family – whose fortune is based on profits from Purdue Pharma, developer of OxyContin – decided to invest heavily in the fund.”

When will education be returned to educators?

Anyone advocating for edupreneurs should be fired. As Neff said quite well, these national vendors are in it for the money.

This is an unusually good opinion piece that appeared in the New York Times a few days ago.

Think Gates, Zuckerberg, Walton, Hastings, Koch, and many more who use their wealth to impose their ideas on what they consider lesser lives.

The author is Anand Giridharadas.

Please note the mention of charter schools, a bone used by the elites to distract us from wealth inequality and the necessity of providing a better education for all.

It begins:

“Change the world” has long been the cry of the oppressed. But in recent years world-changing has been co-opted by the rich and the powerful.

“Change the world. Improve lives. Invent something new,” McKinsey & Company’s recruiting materials say. “Sit back, relax, and change the world,” tweets the World Economic Forum, host of the Davos conference. “Let’s raise the capital that builds the things that change the world,” a Morgan Stanley ad says. Walmart, recruiting a software engineer, seeks an “eagerness to change the world.” Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook says, “The best thing to do now, if you want to change the world, is to start a company.”

“At first, you think: Rich people making a difference — so generous! Until you consider that America might not be in the fix it’s in had we not fallen for the kind of change these winners have been selling: fake change.

“Fake change isn’t evil; it’s milquetoast. It is change the powerful can tolerate. It’s the shoes or socks or tote bag you bought which promised to change the world. It’s that one awesome charter school — not equally funded public schools for all. It is Lean In Circles to empower women — not universal preschool. It is impact investing — not the closing of the carried-interest loophole.

“Of course, world-changing initiatives funded by the winners of market capitalism do heal the sick, enrich the poor and save lives. But even as they give back, American elites generally seek to maintain the system that causes many of the problems they try to fix — and their helpfulness is part of how they pull it off. Thus their do-gooding is an accomplice to greater, if more invisible, harm.

“What their “change” leaves undisturbed is our winners-take-all economy, which siphons the gains from progress upward. The average pretax income of America’s top 1 percent has more than tripled since 1980, and that of the top 0.001 percent has risen more than sevenfold, even as the average income of the bottom half of Americans stagnated around $16,000, adjusted for inflation, according to a paper by the economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

“American elites are monopolizing progress, and monopolies can be broken. Aggressive policies to protect workers, redistribute income, and make education and health affordable would bring real change. But such measures could also prove expensive for the winners. Which gives them a strong interest in convincing the public that they can help out within the system that so benefits the winners.”

There is more, if it is not behind a paywall.

You might want to remember this statistic the next time you hear a Reformer claim that charter schools enroll the same demographic as public schools.

In Detroit, the public schools are 22 times more likely to enroll children with autism than are charter schools.

The charter schools have to protect their test scores, so they don’t want those children.

Bill Bennett was Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Education. He went on to become a multimillionaire from the royalties “The Book of Virtues” and other books. He is a hero to conservatives and homeschooling families, even though he admitted that he has a serious gambling habit, gambling millions of dollars. After the gambling story came out in 2000, he cut back on the moralizing.

But now he is back, chastising teachers for hurting children by striking. Bennett wrote an article in Education Week with Karen Nussle, president of Conservative Leaders for Education, an organization I never heard of. They speak out against striking teachers.

They warn that continued strikes will turn the public against public schools, but they don’t admit that they don’t believe in public schools and are devoted to vouchers and choice, like DeVos.

Here comes the moralizing:

“There is a fundamental problem in education that has been on vivid display recently: confusion about whom our schools exist to serve. Our public school system exists to give our children a foundation in literacy and numeracy and to help them become informed citizens. It is not the purpose of the public schools to use children as leverage for the gains of others.

“Only that base misconception could drive mass school closures and disruptions right in the midst of a critical time in the school year. Only that misconception could lead adults to go on strike, thrusting chaos and untenable choices on the most vulnerable families least able to cope with abrupt changes in the routines of their children.
“When coal miners strike they lay down their equipment. When teachers strike, they lay down their students’ minds.”
We strongly believe in the importance and honor of great teaching and teachers. We believe policymakers should set budgets so that the best teachers are attracted and retained. Those decisions must be made at each state and district level.

“We strongly disagree that adults in our public schools should use systematic disruption of students and families—that is, strikes or walkouts—as a tactic to secure financial outcomes. There are several basic reasons for this:
First, abrupt school closure interrupts and damages the progress of students. We either believe that school and teaching time matters, or we do not. Teaching time does matter, and we should be very reluctant to interrupt it. Strikes (and walkouts) do exactly that. When coal miners strike they lay down their equipment. When teachers strike, they lay down their students’ minds.”

Second, they write, teachers should act like professionals. Professionals don’t strike. Professionals politely ask for higher compensation.

When you are a multimillionaire, it’s easy to sneer at people earning $40,000 a year and working two or three jobs to make ends meet.

Hypocrisy is not virtuous.