Archives for category: Los Angeles

Many school districts have had unfortunate experiences with “Broadies,” the graduates of Eli Broad’s management program for future school leaders. The Broad Leadership Academy has sent forth hundreds of would-be superintendents to impose Broad’s top-down management style, his faith in data, and his belief that the best way to reform a public school is to close it and replace it with a privately managed charter school. Broad is one of the major funders of charter schools in the nation. Although he graduated from the public schools of Detroit, he has zero interest in public schools other than as objects for privatization. In my 2010 book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, I referred to the Broad Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and the Walton Foundation as the Billionaire Boys Club. Since then, I have discovered that the club has dozens of billionaire members, and a few (think Alice Walton) are Girls, not Boys. All, however, share an animus toward public schools and a passion for privatization of what belongs to the public.

The big news is that Eli Broad has given $100 million to Yale University to administer his efforts to train future leaders of schools. It is not clear where the faculty will come from, since the Broad training program is unaccredited and is led by Broad allies, not academicians or scholars.

Now the graduates will be accredited, but their degree won’t mean much unless the philosophy of the program  changes from its current emphasis on DPE (“Destroy Public Education”) to SPE (“Support Public Education”). That change is hard to imagine. If you want to see the fruits of Broad’s distorted thinking, look no farther than Detroit and Oakland, where Broad-trained leaders encouraged (or imposed in the case of Oakland) massive charter expansion, a goal shared with Betsy DeVos. Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority, whose leadership he selected, collapsed in failure.  Oakland continues to suffer from the disruptive actions of Broadie leaders. His efforts to hand half of the students in Los Angeles over to charter schools have thus far been foiled.

Read Mercedes Schneider’s account of the multiple failures associated with Eli Broad’s agenda. 

Eli Broad is aggressive in using his money and policy agenda to destabilize and disrupt public education.

Here is the press release from the Broad Foundation/Broad Center, with the usual puffery and zero admission of the failed policies (privatization, school closings, high-stakes testing, VAM) that Broad and the graduates of his program have inflicted on American schools over most of the past two decades.

 

The Broad Center Will Become Part of Yale University to Train Future Generations of Public School Leaders

$100 Million Donation from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation will Fund The Broad Center at the Yale School of Management to Offer Tuition-Free Master’s Degree to Emerging Education Leaders and Advanced Management Training to Superintendents and Senior Leaders in Public School Systems

 

Los Angeles, CA – With a gift of $100 million to Yale University, The Broad Foundation today reaffirms its commitment to public K-12 education and makes possible the launch of a major new initiative of the Yale School of Management focused on strengthening leadership in public education. Building on transformative work by The Broad Center in Los Angeles, the initiative will ensure in perpetuity high-impact programs to advance excellence and equity in education.

 

The Broad Center at Yale SOM will develop research, teaching, and policy initiatives devoted to improving the effectiveness of top leaders in America’s public school systems. The ambitious initiative will leverage Yale SOM’s expertise in delivering rigorous management education to talented professionals in fields that have broad societal impact, while furthering and amplifying the previously independent Broad Center’s mission of ensuring high-quality leadership in public education.

 

“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last 20 years and I can think of no better future for The Broad Center than Yale University,” said Eli Broad.

 

The gift is the largest ever received by the Yale School of Management and will enable the creation of a master’s degree program for emerging public education leaders and advanced leadership training for top school system executives—successors to The Broad Residency in Urban Education and The Broad Academy, respectively. The Broad Center at Yale SOM will also develop extensive research endeavors aimed at assembling the premier collection of data on public education leadership.

 

“With its mission to educate leaders for business and society, Yale SOM is a natural home for The Broad Center,” said Yale SOM Dean Kerwin Charles. “We have long recognized public education as critical to the health of our communities, and we believe that our distinctive approach to management education and research can have tremendous impact. Our efforts will build on the extraordinary work of The Broad Center team over the past two decades. Indeed, we are impressed by and grateful for what they have done to advance excellence and equity in public education.”

 

The Broad Foundation has learned through its 20 years of investing in public education that schools alone can’t solve for the inequities, indignities, and challenges facing students from underserved communities: Having The Broad Center housed at Yale SOM means all of its programs can be enhanced with input from Yale University’s leading thinkers in management, public health, law, child development, policy, criminal justice and economic development. The center will draw on the experiences and insights of practitioners, including Broad Center alumni and Yale SOM graduates, to help guide and inform its efforts in both teaching and research.

 

“I am honored that The Broad Foundation is entrusting Yale to carry out this important part of Eli and Edye’s philanthropic legacy. Educating leaders who will serve all sectors of society is part of Yale’s mission, so it is fitting that the Yale School of Management is creating a master’s degree program tailored to delivering management and leadership training that meets the unique needs of public education,” said Yale President Peter Salovey. “The school’s dedication to leadership education and cultivation is unmatched. Its track record of producing transformational leaders across a range of fields speaks to the tremendous promise of the new Broad Center at Yale SOM.”

 

The two programs of The Broad Center, The Broad Academy (founded in 2002) and The Broad Residency in Urban Education (founded in 2003), have trained more than 850 education leaders working in over 150 urban school districts, public charter school networks and state education agencies nationwide. More than 150 Broad Center leaders have served as superintendents or chief executives of local and state systems, and over 70 are currently in these roles. Each program has made great strides in building a diverse network of leaders that better represent the students and families they serve.

 

“The Broad Center has been committed to evaluating and evolving its work since it was founded – continuous improvement is in our DNA,” said Becca Bracy Knight, Executive Director of The Broad Center. “Organizational leadership has a direct effect on school quality, which is why The Broad Center has worked for two decades to elevate the field of public education management. We look forward to new opportunities to increase our impact by combining each organization’s unique and complementary strengths in service of our shared mission to improve public education.”

 

The current cohorts of fellows and residents will finish their programs through The Broad Center as currently structured; successor programs run by SOM will begin in 2020.

 

In its 20 years of investing in public education, The Broad Foundation has made grants to transform school governance, improve district operations, grow high-quality charter management organizations, engage in education policy and advocacy, and develop talented leaders, managers and teachers for public school systems.

 

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Tonight, the United Teachers of Los Angeles endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for president.

LOS ANGELES — United Teachers Los Angeles, the second-largest teachers’ local in the country, is proud to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for US President in the 2020 Primary Election, making UTLA the first teachers’ union in the country to endorse a presidential candidate.

Tonight, the UTLA House of Representatives – the elected leadership body of the 34,000-member union — voted 80% in favor of endorsing Sen. Sanders, capping the most comprehensive member engagement process that UTLA has ever conducted for a political candidate.

vote

Thursday’s House vote followed a six-week discussion at school sites. Following that member engagement, on Wednesday at nine regional meetings, more than 500 elected site representatives voted 72.5% yes to the presidential endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Wednesday’s vote was opened up to allow any member who attended to vote alongside elected chapter leaders.

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said: “Why now, and why Bernie? Because we want him to win in the primary election and because we need an unapologetic, longstanding ally of progressive policies to make public education a priority in the White House. Sanders is the first viable major candidate in 25 years in the Democratic Party to stand up against privatization, the charter billionaires, and high-stakes testing and to stand up for a massive redistribution of wealth to schools and social services. Critically, like UTLA, Sen. Sanders believes in building a national movement for real, lasting change.”

Bernie Endorse

Teachers are the number one profession among his donors for a reason: Sanders has the most comprehensive, progressive plan for public education among the candidates. His platform calls for a salary floor for public school teachers, tripling Title I federal education funding, boosting funding for special education (IDEA), and placing a moratorium on charter school growth. For the last several decades the unregulated growth of corporate charter schools has siphoned money from public schools, with little protection against fraud and little attention paid to equity or quality when it comes to educating students.

In addition to education issues, Sanders’ platform aligns with our values on a range of issues, including rebuilding the US labor movement and winning Medicare for All.

Bernie spoke at UTLA’s Leadership Conference in July, and he brought down the house with his defiant message about leading a movement for fundamental political and social change, including a strong, fully funded public education system. Sen. Sanders also signed a pledge to support Schools and Communities First and Our New Deal for Public Schools. He was the first major US politician to publicly support our 2019 strike, and he pushed for donations to our strike fund, leading to a cascade of influential support and an increase in the fund of more than $100,000.

BSUTLA

LA educators are standing behind a candidate who has the electability to beat Trump. Sanders is leading in Democratic fundraising, is strong in swing states and among independent voters, beats Trump in head-to-head polls, and has major support in demographics that will vote heavily in 2020, including Latinx voters, Black women, and millennials. As the electorate becomes more diverse, defeating Trump will require a candidate who can motivate a diverse coalition of voters.

Sanders’ platform is not just a corrective to the destructive presidency of Donald Trump but also to failed policies of the past few decades that have starved public schools and left behind working-class and middle-class families while giving massive tax breaks to corporations and billionaires. Long-standing Democratic Party leaders have been a part of these problems.

“We must take the most anti-Trump stance that we can take,” said UTLA Vice President Gloria Martinez. “That includes endorsing Sen. Sanders. We see in Bernie the same fighting spirit that drove 60,000 people — teachers, students and parents — to the streets of LA in January during UTLA’s strike to invest in our students.”

The following is a timeline of UTLA’s endorsement.

  • Sept. 11 – UTLA Board of Directors votes 35-1 to begin exploring an endorsement process for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
  • Sept. 18 – UTLA House of Representatives votes 135-46 to confirm the process to explore endorsing Sanders.
  • Oct. 2 – School site leaders discuss and review endorsement materials.
  • Oct. 2-Nov. 12 — School site leaders engage members on consideration of a UTLA endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
  • Nov. 13— Membership advisory up or down vote at 9 regional area meetings. 72.5% of voters, representing more than 500 LAUSD schools, say yes to endorsing Sanders.
  • Nov. 14 — House of Representatives votes 80% to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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The Resistance won a big victory in Los Angeles.

Thanks to newly elected LAUSD board member Jackie Goldberg, a key committee of the school board rejected a plan to assign a single grade to every school. 

The idea of grading schools with a single letter was first hatched by Jeb Bush, in his relentless push to impose test-based accountability on every public school in Florida and to set up those with the worst grades to be privatized.

Several states have adopted the Jeb Bush plan, and in every case, the letter grade was a reliable proxy for students’ family income. The schools where poor students predominated received the lowest grades and were fair game for the charter industry.

Jackie Goldberg has a long history as a teacher, school board member, and state legislator, and she strongly opposed the plan.

Nick Melvoin, who was elected with the help of millions of dollars contributed by Eli Broad and other friends of the charter lobby, proposed the plan.

The Los Angeles Unified school board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee approved a resolution introduced by board member Jackie Goldberg that calls for the district to suspend implementation of “any use of stars, scores, or any other rating system” for its schools. 

The committee’s action includes a shift in support by Kelly Gonez, who says she now opposes assigning single ratings to schools. Gonez last yearco-sponsored a resolution with board member Nick Melvoin that called for creating a school performance framework that would include a “single, summative rating for each school.”  The board approved that resolution in April 2018. 

Goldberg’s resolution, which is expected to pass when it goes before the full board Nov. 5, would effectively kill the idea to give all schools in the district a single rating, which Melvoin says would allow the district to better identify and help struggling schools…

The three board members on the committee — McKenna, Scott Schmerelson and Gonez — voted unanimously to send Goldberg’s resolution to the full board, where it needs four votes to pass. Board member Richard Vladovic also indicated to EdSource that he supports the new resolution. Goldberg’s expected vote would give the resolution a five-vote majority on the seven-member board…

Goldberg’s resolution says that summative rankings “promote unhealthy competition between schools” and “penalize schools that serve socioeconomically disadvantaged student populations.” 

Jackie Goldberg proves that one person can make a difference. She does so by dint of superior experience, knowledge, and intellect.

The billionaires once owned the LAUSD. They bought it, fair and square.

No longer.

Be on alert for the next school board election. The sharks will gather round again.

 

 

Working with his treasure trove of emails among charter operators, which he obtained via a public records request, blogger Michael Kohlhaas explains how the Charter Lobby managed to reduce the powers of the Office of Inspector General, whose investigations into corrupt charters had been a thorn in their side.

This is an important post. Read it in full. The charter lobby dedicates a lot of time and money to avoiding accountability and transparency.

He begins:

The Los Angeles Unified School District has a particularly powerful oversight office, the Office of the Inspector General, known in the trade jargon as OIG. And in 2018 the School Board failed to renew then-IG Ken Bramlett’s contract. According to LA Times education reporter Howard Blume, pro-charter board members Monica Garcia, Kelly Gonez, and Nick Melvoin voted against renewal, which was enough to deadlock the board and prevent Bramlett’s return. Blume also noted that Bramlett had aggressively investigated some charter schools, in some cases leading to criminal charges being filed, and that charter schools had been clamoring for limits on OIG’s ability to investigate them but he stopped short of saying that Bramlett’s fall from grace was due to charter school influence.

And later a bunch of overwhelmingly salacious details of a number of really appalling and quite serious hostile work environment complaints against some of Bramlett’s senior subordinates came out along with credible accusations that Bramlett had at best failed to take these complaints seriously. Regardless of the validity of the uproar, and it seems quite valid indeed to me, this had the effect of directing most of the media attention away from charter school involvement in Bramlett’s downfall. Not entirely, though. For instance, Kyle Stokes, education reporter with KPCC, did mention that charter schools had been seeking to limit OIG’s role in overseeing them, although in that same article noted that “sources who spoke to KPCC said that concern over charter oversight was not a factor in the board’s thinking”

But newly published internal documents from the Los Angeles Advocacy Council, a shadowy organization run by the California Charter School Association and about 20 local charter school leaders, paint a very different picture. In fact LAAC and the CCSA give themselves credit for taking advantage of the chaos at OIG in order to effectively remove oversight of charter schools from OIG’s purview.

Not only that but they claim to have kept quiet about the issue in order to protect their public image. In the same document they also claim that they were asked to do so by unnamed people in the District who promised CCSA and LAAC that “they would handle it, and they followed through” Given some statements in another document it’s not impossible that convicted felon and then Board member Ref Rodriguez was one of these unnamed people. The charterites were thrilled by the outcome of their work against OIG oversight, announcing that it “should be seen as a major win by and for the charter community.” Perhaps this media strategy underlay Stokes’s sources’ comment about charter involvement in Bramlett’s non-renewal.

The charter Industry faction on the Los Angeles School Board wants to introduce a Jeb Bush-style evaluation system to rank and rate schools. It hasn’t worked anywhere else in the nation, so why not introduce it in Los Angeles.

Every other state has demonstrated that the school grading system ranks schools by the income of parents. Schools that enroll the poorest children get the lowest grades. Schools that enroll affluent children get the highest grades.

The purpose of school grades is to set schools up to be privatized.

Sara Roos, who blogs as Red Queen in L.A., writes that the school district does not need a Yelp system. She is right.

She points out that board member Jackie Goldberg wants the school system to help schools that are in need of support, not devise a system to call them “failures.”

The charter advocates are pushing the Jeb Bush Plan because it will help build the charter industry. It will do nothing for children.

Did Los Angeles board member Nick Melvoin share privileged information with the representatives of the charter school industry?

Please sign this petition to call for an investigation. 

Carl Petersen, a veteran of the charter wars in Los Angeles, writes her about the serious defect in the charter reform law.

The law finally allows local school boards to determine whether proposed charter schools will damage the fiscal stability of the public schools, a welcome change.

But it also allows the unelected County Board of Education to overturn the decisions of the elected district school board. If the elected school boards determine that the proposed charter will damage the district, the unelected County Board can reject the decision of the local elected board. That is just plain wrong.

And nowhere is it wronger than in Los Angeles, where Corporate Reformers funded by billionaires fight to control the LAUSD school board. When the public manages to get the upper hand, the decisions of the school board can be overruled by a charter-friendly unelected county school board.

The county board in LA is dominated by phony Reformers, including the candidate who lost to George McKenna, a true friend of public schools, and Kate Braude, the executive director of astroturf Speak Up, the voice of the charter industry.

Elected officials should have the last word, not charter shills.

With so much billionaire cash sloshing around California to promote charter schools and to disparage public schools, it can be difficult to know which groups are real and which are Memorex.

Here is one that definitely is not a real parents’ group. It is called Speak Up and it is populated with people who are embedded in the charter sector. It recently chastised L.A. Superintendent Austin Beutner for not moving swiftly enough to clamp ratings on every school, the better to close them with and set them up for privatization. How will parents know how to choose a school if the district doesn’t give it a grade or a rating? They say he is in danger of “breaking a promise” to the parents of Los Angeles, who are longing to have their schools rated.

Schools should be evaluated based on such issues as their class size; the experience of their teachers; the resources invested by the district, such as: does the school have a library with a librarian? Does it have a school nurse? Does it have classes in the arts for all students?

But Speak Up seems to be interested mostly in test scores. Are they going up or down? Most people these days recognize that test scores measure the demographics of the students enrolled, not the quality of the school.

So who is this group?

Its founder and executive director is Katie Braude, a former KIPP executive. Until recently, she was on the Los Angeles County Board of Education, which has the power to overrule the LAUSD Board of Education on charter school decisions.

On Speak Up’s board of directors is Russell Altenburg, who is also connected to KIPP, was a program officer at the Broad Foundation, and a fellow at the NewSchools Venture Fund. And he was part of the “inaugural cohort” at the Pahara Next Gen Network.

Mary Najera was a founder of the Los Angeles Parents Union, now known as the Parent Revolution, which used the Parent Trigger law to try to convert public schools into charter schools. Parent Revolution was funded by Walton, Broad, Gates, Arnold and other billionaires. She is “chief community officer” at the Extera Public Schools charter chain.

Rene Rodman is another member of the board of directors of Speak Up. She is a also on the board of the Palisades Charter High School, where she served as president.

Aida Rodriguez is Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, a charter school network. She too worked for Parent Revolution.

Speak Up is an organization led by charter school advocates. Twenty percent of the students in Los Angeles are enrolled in charter schools. Eighty percent are not.

Nowhere on Speak Up’s website does it list the names of its funders. One can only guess. Waltons? Broad? Hastings? Gates?

When you see a press release from Speak Up, remember that they are speaking up for Eli Broad, Reed Hastings, the Waltons, Bill Gates, and the charter industry, not for the 80 percent of students in the public schools.

Michael Kohlhaas has been drip-drip-dripping emails between and among the charter industry’s bigwigs in Los Angeles.

He reveals in this post that he filed a public records request for the emails and his request was granted by the in-house counsel for Green Dot charter chain, Keith Yanov. Lo and behold, Mr. Yanov has “transitioned” to the private sector, meaning that he either quit or was fired.

Kohlhaas writes:

KEITH YANOV — FORMERLY GENERAL COUNSEL FOR GREEN DOT CHARTER SCHOOLS — HAS “TRANSITIONED TO PRIVATE PRACTICE” — WHICH MEANS HE QUIT OR WAS FIRED — AND GIVEN THAT IT WAS ALMOST CERTAINLY HIS DECISION TO FOLLOW THE LAW AND RELEASE THAT MASSIVE SET OF EMAILS TO ME IN JUNE — REVEALING THE APPALLING INNER WORKINGS OF THE CALIFORNIA CHARTER SCHOOL ASSOCIATION — THE WORLD-SHAKING MAGNITUDE OF WHICH IS STILL ONLY BARELY KNOWN — I WOULD VENTURE A GUESS THAT THE LATTER IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE — FIRING SOMEONE FOR FOLLOWING THE LAW CERTAINLY WOULDN’T BE OUT OF CHARACTER OVER THERE AT GREEN DOT — OR ANY OF THESE CHARTER SCHOOL CRIMINAL CONSPIRACIES FOR THAT MATTER

Kohlhaas began publishing the bombshell contents of the emails, Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times wrote about Kohlhaas’s revelations, and all hell broke loose.

Kohlhaas wrote:

And then things really blew up, as you may already know. Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times published two separate articles based on this material, the first one and the second one. The material revealed that Austin Beutner was letting the CCSA write his speeches for him and Nick Melvoin was letting them write actual board resolutions and also slipping them confidential info from LAUSD’s general counsel at the very same time that CCSA was suing LAUSD.

These documents recently showed that CCSA’s ultimate goal is to have every kid in California essentially in a charter school by 2030. And, friend, the revelations are not done even now, just wait and see. And the silence from CCSA has been amazing. The day I put out the news about CCSA writing Beutner’s speech charter school PR flack Cassy Horton dismissively tweeted (and since deleted) that this was all perfectly normal.

Yanov left for the private sector. And it is now a matter of public record that the California Charter Schools Association gives orders to Austin Beutner and Nick Melvoin.

Is this legal?

This expose is not finished. Kohlhaas has more.

Michael Kohlhaas is combing through the treasure trove of leaked emails about the inner world of the Los Angeles charter industry.

He recently posted about the short and strange debut of Ganas Academy.

It got a grant of $325,000 from the Walton Family Foundation. The founder proceeded to pay herself $13,000 a month, spent $63,000 on consultants, and another $15,000 on lawyers, and so on, and soon the money was all gone. But the school wasn’t ready to open, even though the founder was paying a recruiter a bonus of $850 to sign up students.

Kohlhaas writes:

I just got a small set of records from everybody’s favorite star-crossed charter school horror show, that is to say GANAS Academy. The set is woefully incomplete, and it’s pretty clear that Sakshi Jain is lying to her lawyer about it yet again, but nevertheless there is some essential material in there, and you can browse through the whole pile of it over here on Archive.Org.

And by far the most important material in here is GANAS Academy’s general ledger in MS Excel format1 along with monthly bank statements through June 2019. The ledger shows every credit and every debit from the inception of the school in August 2018 with very detailed descriptions. The story kicks off with a $325K grant from the Walton Family Foundation, deposited in the California Credit Union on August 11, 2018 as shown on that month’s bank statement and it’s all downhill from there.

In September 2018 she began paying herself $13K per month, as shown in that month’s statement and this continued at least through June 2019, which is the last monthly statement I have.2 But like I said, the real action is found in that ledger. It’s there that we learn that the $325K Jain has been burning through came from the Waltons. That she spent about $63K on recruiting students, which no doubt includes the $850 per kid bounty she paid her recruiter. And last but never least $15K to charter school contract killer law firm Young, Minney, and Corr.3

So that, friends, is the charter school innovation laboratory model. Get a ton of free money from an appalling gang of zillionaires and proceed to burn through it at an astonishing rate. A quarter of a million dollars between August 2018 and June 2019.4 And at the end, you don’t even have a damn school. Although I will say that given the horrific nature of these schools, the world is clearly better off having her spend all that money and not start a school than otherwise.