Archives for category: Oakland

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.

Thomas Ultican, the chronicler of the Destroy Public Education movement, writes here about the calculated destruction of the Oakland Public School District, which has suffered at the hands and by the wallets of billionaires.

In 2003, the district had a deficit of $37 million.

The state forced the district to take out a loan of $100 million.

In return, the state took control of the district.

After six years of state control, the district’s deficit increased from $37 million to $89 million.

Unfortunately for Oakland, the billionaire Eli Broad decided to turn the district into his petri dish.

Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown welcomed the state takeover.

The Broadies romped.

A California central coast politician named Jack O’Connell was elected California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2002. He selected Randolph Ward, a Broad Academy graduate, to be Oakland’s state administrator. When O’Connell ran for state superintendent, his largest campaign donors had been Netflix CEO Reed Hastings ($250,000), venture capitalist John Doerr ($205,000), and Eli Broad ($100,000). Brown described the state takeover as a “total win” for Oakland.

The Broadies of Oakland

2003-2017 Broad Academy Graduates and Superintendents of OUSD

Broad Academy graduates are often disparagingly called Broadies.

The OUSD information officer in 2003 was Ken Epstein. He recounts a little of what it was like when Ward became the administrator:

“I remember a school board meeting where Ward and the board were on stage. Each item on the agenda was read aloud, and Ward would say, “passed.” Then the next item was read. In less than an hour, the agenda was completed. At that point, Ward said, “Meeting adjourned” and walked out of the board room and turned out the lights, leaving board members sitting in the dark.”

When Ward arrived in Oakland, the district was in the midst of implementing the Bill Gates sponsored small school initiative which is still causing problems. The recently closed Roots that caused so much discontent in January was one of the Gates small schools. Ward opened 24 of them (250-500 students) which in practice meant taking an existing facility and dividing it into two to five schools. He closed fourteen regularly sized schools.

When Ward arrived in Oakland there were 15 charter schools and when he left for San Diego three years later there were 28 charter schools…

Kimberly Statham, who was a classmate of Ward’s at the Broad Academy, took his place in 2006. The following year a third Broad Graduate, Vincent Mathews took her place.

After a short period of no Broadie in the superintendent’s seat, Antwan Wilson was hired in 2014. Shortly after that, the New York Times reported that the Broad Foundation had granted the district $6 million for staff development and other programs over the last decade. The Broad Center also subsidized the salaries of at least 10 ex-business managers who moved into administrative jobs at the district office.

Kyla Johnson-Trammell, an Oakland resident who and educator with OUSD, was named to replace Antwan Wilson in 2017. When he left to lead the Washington DC’s schools, he left a mess in Oakland. Mother Jones magazine says Wilson saddled the district with a $30 million deficit. They continue, “A state financial risk report from August 2017 concluded that Oakland Unified, under Wilson, had ‘lost control of its spending, allowing school sites and departments to ignore and override board policies by spending beyond their budgets.”’

The preponderance of the problems in OUSD are related to the state takeover, FCMAT and the leadership provided by Broad Academy graduates.

The usual billionaires have selected several of the OUSD board members and showered them with donations from out-of-district and out-of-state.

The fundamental problem is Oakland has a dual education system with 37,000 students in public schools and 15,000 in charter schools. It costs more to operate two systems. Every school district in California that has more than 10% of their students in charter schools has severe financial problems. Oakland has the largest percentage of charter school students in the state with 29% so financial issues are the expectation.

This is an education crisis that was manufactured by the super wealthy and implemented by neoliberal politicians.

 

 

Jeff Bryant reports here about the recent strike in Oakland. Teachers won concessions from the school board but they were fighting for much more than higher pay. Like their peers in Chicago and other districts, they were striking to fend off the Modern Disruption/Corporate Reform Narrative of failing schools, closing schools, and privatization.

Even after the strike ends, the struggle continues.

He writes:

Teachers and public school advocates in Oakland and elsewhere are showing that strikes don’t end systemic forces undermining public education as much as they signal the next phase in the struggle.

When their recent strike concluded, Oakland teachers had won a salary increase and bonus, more school support staff, a pause on school closures and consolidations, and a resolution from the board president to call on the state to stop the growth of charter schools in the city.

While those were significant accomplishments, the core problem remaining is that policy leaders in the city continue to take actions that “hurt students,” Oakland Education Association president Keith Brown told me in a phone conversation.

“Students continue to experience pain and trauma in our schools due to lack of resources, over-policing, and continuing threats of school closures,” Brown said.

Despite gains from the recent strike, teachers and public education advocates have continued to show up at school board meetings to press their cause.

The coalition recently formed the group Oakland Is Not for Sale, which seeks to extend the moratorium on school closures and consolidations to summer 2022, institute financial transparency in the district, end the district’s policy of expanding charter schools, and redirect money for school police and planned construction of a probation camp for juveniles to pay for a rollout of restorative discipline practices in schools.

The board’s recent announcement to close higher-performing Kaiser Elementary and merge the students and teachers into an under-enrolled and struggling Sankofa Academy raised yet more agitation in the community, especially when news emerged that students from Kaiser would receive an “opportunity ticket” giving them priority to attend schools ahead of neighborhood students not already enrolled in those schools. In other words, the district’s rationale for merging the two campuses for the sake of fiscal efficiency was being undermined by its own proposal to make transferring to Sankofa optional and, thus—as Zach Norris, a parent leader of Kaiser parents resisting the move, told California-based news outlet EdSource—keep Sankofa under-enrolled and thereby also an eventual target for closure.

 

School closings in Oakland are accelerating. These closures disproportionately affect the lives and well-being of black and brown students. They need stability, not disruption and constant churn. Black communities across the nation have suffered disinvestment in their communities because of school closings.


Reply-To:
“Kwesi Chappin, Color Of Change” <info@colorofchange.org>

Tell Acting School Board President Jody London to stop Oakland’s school closures today  

Black students in Oakland classroom

Black kids deserve stability in education.

TAKE ACTION

 

Last Wednesday, under Acting Oakland Unified School Board President Jody London’s watch, parents were physically barred from participating in a school board discussion that has the potential to completely change the trajectories of their children’s futures.1 In spite of escalating protests from teachers and parents, Oakland Unified School District is moving along plans to close up to 24 schools over the next three years.2 The vast majority of these schools, many of which are known for developing culturally competent curriculum and tight-knit relationships with the communities they serve, are located in predominantly Black and Brown neighborhoods in East and West Oakland.

The fight to protect our schools is the fight to protect our communities.

When schools leave our communities, the vital resources they provide our students and their families leave with them. The underinvestment in Black students’ education that Oakland’s school closures represent has been mirrored in nearly every major city in the country. If we do not take action now, the complete disregard Black students are being shown in California will undoubtedly continue to go unchecked across the nation. This is why we are demanding that Acting School Board President Jody London place a moratorium on all school closures in the Oakland Unified School District today.

Will you sign the petition and forward this email to make sure your voice is heard? Add your name here.

From Chicago to D.C. to Philadelphia, the rate of school closures in predominantly Black neighborhoods, especially those with rising rates of gentrification, has jumped dramatically in the past ten years3. Studies show that these closures hit Black students the hardest. While white students are “significantly more likely to transfer to high performing schools,” Black students who get displaced rarely benefit academically or otherwise from their new placements4, widening the achievement gap that the historic Brown v. Education decision to end racial segregation in education once sought to close. For so many of our communities, schools are one of the only institutions that still provide consistent support and resources to both Black children and their families5. Once those schools shut down, Black students get left behind, with no real plan in place to ensure that the new schools they attend have the appropriate resources to guarantee their success or their safety. What happens in the fight for both equity and equality in education in Oakland will set the stage for what’s possible for our communities across the country for years to come. We have to make it our business to support all Black students’ right to a stable education today.

Black kids deserve stability in education. Take action to demand Acting President Jody London place a moratorium on all school closures in the district NOW.  

Systems built without our input will not meet the needs of our communities. Our children should not have to be shuffled out of their own communities for the false promise of a quality education – our fight is for a deeper investment in the schools that they already attend. While the Oakland Unified School District continues to spend well over 6 million dollars a year on hiring police officers at schools who criminalize, traumatize, and harshly punish our children, they refuse to meaningfully invest in the teachers, counselors, and nurses who have been proven to support their growth and potential 6. That isn’t right! Take action today to let President Jody London know that she has a responsibility to invest in the solutions her constituents want, not to ignore their concerns and lock them out of this process. Sign now to demand that Acting President London and the board of directors put a moratorium on all school closures immediately.

Sign now to let Acting President Jody London know we want a moratorium placed on Oakland school closures now. 

Until justice is real,
—Kwesi, Arisha, Shannon, Chad, Dominique, Daniel, Corina, Imani, Quiana, Sadie, Ariana, and the rest of the Color Of Change team

References:

  1. “Oakland school board may close meeting to public after protests,” East Bay Times,November 12, 2019, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/195290?t=11&akid=39141%2E2472185%2EEuJQKB
  2. “Oakland school board’s vote to close schools draws ire from parents, teachers,” Mercury News, September 12, 2019, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/163219?t=13&akid=39141%2E2472185%2EEuJQKB
  3. “School Closings Are Shutting The Doors On Black And Hispanic Students,” ThinkProgress, May 14, 2014, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/163220?t=15&akid=39141%2E2472185%2EEuJQKB
  4. “School Closures Tend to Displace Black, Poor Students With Few Positive Outcomes,” Kinder Institute for Research, August 2, 2016, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/163220?t=17&akid=39141%2E2472185%2EEuJQKB
  5. “Gentrification, School Closings, and Displacement in Chicago,” The American Prospect, March 14, 2019, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/163220?t=19&akid=39141%2E2472185%2EEuJQKB
  6. “From Report Card to Criminal Record,” The Black Organizing Project, Public Counsel, and the ACLU Northern California, August 2013, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/163220?t=21&akid=39141%2E2472185%2EEuJQKB


Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

 

Jane Nylund, parent activist in Oakland, wrote the following warning after reading about the ouster of the Disrupters in Denver. Parents and activists and concerned citizens must organize and oust the agents of Disruption:

 

Oakland also must flip 4 board seats next year. The Walton-bought board has recently closed two schools, Roots and Kaiser Elementary, and there is talk of accelerating the “Blueprint process”, which is basically a plan to close and consolidate schools. Oakland’s portfolio model, which was only supposed to close “low performing” schools (nearly all of which were privatized into charters), has now morphed into the Citywide plan, in which no school is safe from the threat of closure. Kaiser was an exemplary model for a popular, well-supported, diverse neighborhood public school that attracted families both within and outside its boundaries. It also supported a significant number of LGBT families. It’s enrollment had been steady for years. Its closure (and planned consolidation with Sankofa, a struggling elementary school several miles away with a freeway in between) means that the beautiful piece of property where Kaiser is located (with SF bay views) will either be sold or handed over to a charter. Kaiser’s closure was a sacrifice, a political pawn in the school closure game, to show that the school board can be “bold” and not just close schools in high-needs neighborhoods. Look at us, we can close anything, and we will! This is the not-so-new normal for OUSD.

WHAT AN OUTRAGE! “Reform” strikes again. Literally.

 

PRESS STATEMENT & PRESS AVAILABILITY

October 24, 2019

Contact: OEA 2nd Vice President, Chaz Garcia, 510-414-3593

Statement from OEA 2nd Vice President Chaz Garcia on Behalf of the OEA Officers on OUSD’s Use of Violence at School Board Meeting

 

“Last night, OUSD police pushed, choked and clubbed peaceful elementary school parents and educators who were protesting school closures. We hold the OUSD Board of Directors and Superintendent Johnson-Trammell responsible for setting the stage for this violence by erecting barricades, and for the actions of their police force. The Oakland Education Association condemns these acts of policing and violence in the strongest possible way, as we have opposed (and went on strike against) the harm done to our students by school closures, the harm done when a Board member choked a teacher in March, and OUSD’s continued spending of over $6.5 million on OUSD police while underspending on counselors, nurses, and school psychologists that our students need.” 

 

“Oakland students, parents and educators deserve better than what the OUSD Board and Superintendent Johnson-Trammell are giving us. Oakland educators demand that OUSD immediately: 

 

  • Enact a moratorium on all planned and future school closures; 

  • Issue a public apology to our students, parents and educators for the use of police barricades, over-policing, and violence at last night’s board meeting;

  • Defund the OUSD police force, and redirect those funds toward the counselors, nurses and other supports our students need; and immediately suspend, investigate and discipline officers for their behavior last night.”


PRESS AVAILABILITY: OEA 2nd Vice President Chaz Garcia, Noon to 2pm today (October 24th); OEA office (272 E. 12th Street, Oakland, 94606)

It has been widely reported that charter schools enroll fewer students with disabilities and few of the students they enroll have severe disabilities.

The California Teachers Association and the United Teachers of Los Angeles reviewed public records to document the enrollments of students with disabilities in charter schools in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Oakland.

The study is titled “State of Denial: California Charter Schools and Special Education Students.”

https://www.utla.net/news/new-study-reveals-privately-run-charter-schools-under-enroll-students-disabilities

The study found that charters enroll fewer students with disabilities than public schools. Charter enrollment is 11% compared to more that 14% in public schools. Furthermore, charters enroll fewer students with severe disabilities. They avoid the students who are most expensive to educate. Consequently these charter policies cost the three districts between $64 million to $97 million each year.

In some of the charter networks, fewer than 10% of students are entitled to special education services. One celebrated charter in Oakland, the American Indian Model Schools, known for its high test scores, has fewer than 3%. The 12 Rocketship charter schools enroll only 7.34% students with disabilities. The two charters created by former Governor Jerry Brown in Oakland enroll fewer than 10% of students with disabilities.

CONCLUSIONS:

Advocates for students with disabilities have long held that charter schools do not enroll, and therefore do not serve, students with disabilities at the same levels as public school districts—either in overall enrollment or level of need—which leads to a greater fiscal impact for public school districts.

Our analysis affirms these concerns for the first time in the three California school districts we examined. Because of the structure for funding special education in California—which arguably disincentivizes enrolling students with disabilities in charter schools by funding based on total enrollment, and not need—we have no reason to believe that similar results would not be borne out in other districts throughout the state.

These findings are particularly important at this point in time in California, when a growing body of evidence shows that the rapid growth of charter schools has led to growing fiscal impact for public school districts. As policymakers at all levels of government weigh how to best meet the needs of California students equitably, we hope they will take these findings into account.

CONSIDERATIONS FOR POLICYMAKERS

The aim of our report was to provide an in-depth analysis of special education enrollment to quantify the anecdotal evidence so often cited by public education advocates. However, our analysis affirms the need for policy changes brought forth by advocates that would begin to address the inequities described in this report. The following represent just a few of those proposals:

1. Increase Federal Funding for Special Education: Perhaps the most obvious solution to these inequities would be for the federal government to meet its original 1975 obligation to fund 40 percent of public special education costs. This language is already in federal statute and requires only the political will to push Congress to budget the necessary resources. Federal lawmakers should make the original promise the absolute floor, rather than the ceiling, of funding for students with disabilities.

2. Federal Civil Rights Monitoring: The Office of Civil Rights within the US Department of Education must independently and proactively monitor student access to and service within charter schools across the nation. While some states are capable of effectively monitoring their education systems for civil rights abuses, the federal government’s total abdication of this power to prioritize equity and access has not, and will not, lead to a safer and more responsive system for students and their families.

3. Accountability and Oversight by the CA Department of Education (CDE) and Authorizers:
The CDE should hold accountable both the charter schools that are underserving special education students, and the authorizers who are responsible for their oversight. This would not be the first time a state has moved to protect the rights of special education students, as the New York State Education Department’s Office of Special Education recently investigated and concluded the practices at Success Academy Charter Schools were violating the civil rights of special education students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Both Success Academy and the New York City Department of Education (Success Academy’s authorizer) were held accountable and corrective action was required.8

4. Re-Examine California’s Model for Funding Special Education to Account for Special Education Enrollment Disparities Between Districts and Charter Schools: California’s system of allocating special education funding based on total student population counts, as opposed to targeted counts of students by special education eligibility categories, has led to harmful fiscal impacts for the school districts we studied due to charter schools significantly under-enrolling these students. We have no reason to believe the results would be different for other districts.
This funding model makes two critical assumptions: that need does not vary by network or location, and that all schools are open to serving all students. These assumptions require further serious investigation because the current system actively discourages charter schools from both identifying students with disabilities, and perversely incentivizes the creation of barriers to access through enrollment.

5. Require Charter Schools to Join the Same SELPA as the District in Which They Are Located:

California policymakers should return the responsibility of coordinating special education services for charter schools to local Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs), and end the practice of allowing charter schools to opt-out of their local SELPA in favor of remote charter- only SELPAs that are sometimes hundreds of miles away.
As it stands, from a functional perspective, a student moving between schools within the same local area may have inconsistent accommodations and experiences due to schools belonging to different SELPAs. This undermines continuity of services, which is of utmost importance for special education students. This opt-out also undermines the fiscal stability of local school districts which, as our analysis found, are serving a disproportionately larger share of special education students without a larger share of funding.

6. Conduct Educational and Fiscal Impact Analyses When Considering New Charter School Petitions and Renewals: As fiduciaries of their local education agencies, and as elected officials entrusted to protect all students’ best interests, charter school authorizers must make economic and education impact analyses an essential part of both the charter school authorization and reauthorization processes. Elected officials, the authorizing body, and the public must have independent information about the impact of opening a new charter school in an established education community. Information should cover the full learning needs of all students, including essential topics regarding enrollment, retention, discipline, and the financial impact on the community and the neighborhood’s public schools. Districts must be allowed to use the findings of these impact reports as justification for denying new charter school petitions that will have an adverse fiscal impact on district programs and services.

7. Charter School Site-Based Special Education Committees: Coupled with both state and local governance oversight, charter operators themselves can take a proactive role to ensure they are open to and meeting the needs of all children in the community in which they operate. Each charter school campus should create a site-based special education committee. As those who spend the most time with special education students, both educators and parents are uniquely positioned to lead these committees.

A few years ago, billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs pledged $100 million to launch 10 super new innovative schools, which she dubbed XQ schools. Each would get $10 million to show their stuff. She surrounded herself with veterans of the failed Race to the Top, like Arne Duncan and Russlyn Ali. What could possibly go wrong?

I reported last week that two of the 10 had failed.

The XQ school in Somerville, Massachusetts, was rejected when town officials realized that the cost of running a new school for 160 students would cause budget cuts to existing schools.

Leonie Haimson pointed out that a third had failed, in Oakland.

More on the Somerville story here (not behind any paywall): https://hechingerreport.org/anatomy-of-a-failure-how-an-xq-super-school-flopped/The XQ Institute also awarded $10M to start a Summit Learning HS in Oakland that never opened. https://www.sfgate.com/education/article/Backers-abandon-10-million-Super-School-project-11176992.phpThat means 3/10 of the awardees of their Super School prize have already failed. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-09-14-xq-institute-announces-ten-winners-of-super-schools-competition.

Stay tuned.

 

DeBlasio recently boasted at the NEA candidates’ panel about his courageous resistance to the charter industry. It is true that he started his first term in office in 2014 determined to stop the charter zillionaires’ efforts to grab money and the students they wanted from the public schools.

When he did not grant Eva Moskowitz all the new charters she wanted, her backers launched a PR blitz against DeBlasio, spending $6 million on emotional appeals on TV.

Eva bused parents and students to Albany, where Governor Cuomo pledged his loyalty to the charter cause. The legislature passed a bill requiring NYC to let the charters expand at will, to give charters any public space they wanted at no cost, and to pay their rent if they couldn’t find suitable public space.

At that point, DeBlasio stopped fighting the charter industry.

Currently, the New York City Department of Education gives the charter industry its lists of students’ names and addresses for recruitment purposes.

Parents have protested this misuse of their children’s private information. This practice of releasing personally identifiable student information is illegal under state law.

Recently Chancellor Carranza pledged to end the practice. But as Leonie Haimson reported, DeBlasio reversed the decision and promised to reach his own decision. He has not made any decision and the charter industry continues to bombard public school parents with recruitment letters.

So much for those mythical long waiting lists!

Speaking of mythical waiting lists, Leonie Haimson also reported on an exciting new development at Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter chain:

More recently, Moskowitz created what is described as a “full service, brand strategy, marketing, and creative division within Success Academy” called the “The Success Academy Creative Agency” according to the LinkedIn profile of its Managing Director, Meredith Levin. 

In an earlier version of her profile, Levin described this internal marketing division of Success as a  “group of over 30 creative directors, designers, copywriters, strategists, e-learning architects & project managers to develop, execute and optimize campaigns to recruit 1,000+ teachers, enroll families, donors, influencers, and cultivate community engagement.

 

This arrived last night from a friend in the Bay Area:

Most of the Democratic presidential candidates are here in the Bay Area this weekend. Elizabeth Warren held a huge rally in Oakland, and she was introduced by a representative of Great Oakland Public Schools, a billionaire-funded anti-teacher, pro-charter, pro-“reform” operation. I’m pointing this out with some hope that someone has access to set her straight.

If you recall, Warren pledged to appoint a teacher as Secretary of Education. Someone from TFA?