Archives for category: Stand for Children

Nashville has a school board election coming up in August. It will determine whether the charter industry is permitted to invade the city with a free hand (the existing charters are already skimming the kids they want).

T.C. Weber, a Nashville parent, sums up here the current landscape of candidates.

Three current school board members are fighters for public education: Amy Frogge, Will Pinkston, and Jill Pinkston.

They are standing for re-election. Help them stave off privatization of the public schools.

Several candidates are endorsed by the nefarious and devious “Stand for Children.” Stand is popularly known as “Stand on Children.” Don’t vote for anyone they endorse, because they will fight for privatization and for anti-teacher policies. Stand for Children is supported by the billionaires. They do not stand for your children.

Jeannie Kaplan served two terms as an elected member of the Denver school board. Denver is a reform hotspot. It has been under the firm control of reformers for the past decade. Kaplan says it has been a disastrous decade that has brought union-free charters, constant testing, but no improvement for the children.since the reformers regularly flood Denver school board elections with cash for their candidates, they will be in control for an even longer time. How many years must reformers be in total control until they can declare that every child has an excellent school without regard to zip code? Mayor Bloomberg had 12 years of unfettered power in NYC (Joel Klein was there for 9 of those years) and the happy day has still not arrived.

 

In this post, Kaplan describes what happened to District 4 in Denver, the epicenter of reform. She sums it up in three words: Disruption, disenfranchisement, and drama.

 

It begins like this:

 

 

“This is a saga about Disruption (school closings and openings, extraordinarily high teacher and principal turnover, destruction of neighborhood schools), Disenfranchisement (two board resignations in four years, two representatives chosen by the Board of Education, not the voters), and Drama (the most recent Board vacancy replacement appears to never have undergone the most basic background check which is mandatory for all Denver Public Schools – DPS – employees and volunteers. The seat became vacant in February 2016 and remains vacant as of May 2.)”

 

Read on: You will encounter your old friend Stand on Children (know to its critics as Stand ON Children).

 

 

Stand for Children was once an organization that fought for better education for all children. Then it discovered the corporate reform gravy train and jumped on. Now, SFC can be found fighting teachers and public schools in states across the nation.

 

In this post, MercedesSchneider reviews Stand’s infamous activities in Louisiana.

 

In Louisiana, there was a state school board election last October. One of the anti-corporate reform candidates was an incumbent board member named Carolyn Hill. She often joined with two other dissidents who wanted to improve–not eliminate–public schools. At election time, Stand for Children put up a fake TV ad that accused her of criminal behavior. It was totally false. But it worked. She lost at the polls. That helped build a stronger majority for the group on the board that wants more privatization, more charter schools, more vouchers, more efforts to demoralize career teachers. Carolyn Hill was a great loss.

 

Jason France, the blogger known as Crazy Crawfish, describes Stand for Children in Louisiana this way in the title of a recent post: “Stand For Children Louisiana” is an Evil and Malicious Corporate Front Group for Evil People and Organizations. As Jason put it, in his post about this sordid business,

 

This is how Stand chose to stand for children, by lying and deceiving people about a real champion of children in their community.

 

Of course this behavior wasn’t limited to Stand but this was one of the more egregious cases. In addition to the primetime commercials Stand also spent tens of thousands of dollars on direct mail to people’s homes, warning them about Carolyn Hill.

 

But not only does this organization not “stand for children”, it doesn’t stand for the “Louisiana” part of its title either! 98% of their funding came from corporations, tax exempt entities including one funded by the Sierra club (seriously), and billionaires outside of our state. Several of these organizations probably broke federal laws and should lose their tax exempt status for contributing to a purely political organization that spent all their money on attack ads and propaganda.

 

 

Despite pressure from the big spenders at Stand for Children and other titans of corporate reform, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed the legislation allowing parents to opt out of state tests.

 

Federal officials had warned that the bill, which also reduces the consequences for schools where many students skip tests, could lead the federal government to withhold millions in federal education funding.

 

House Bill 2655, which was strongly backed by the Oregon Education Association, prioritizes the rights of parents to exempt their children from that one aspect of public schooling over the desire of school accountability proponents to get complete reading and math test results for all students each year.

 

But Brown said she wants Oregon educators to make the case to parents that taking part in state tests is valuable so that they will opt for their children to keep taking the exams.

 

The new law means that, beginning next spring, schools will have to notify every family at least 30 days before state testing begins about what the tests will cover, how long they will take and when results will be delivered. Those notices will also tell parents they can exempt their child from the tests for any reason.

 

Friends in Oregon: Forget the governor’s misgivings! Opt out is the best tool you have to protect your children from the current national mania for standardized testing. Opting out will curb the overuse and misuse of standardized testing. Former Texas state commissioner of education Robert Scott memorably said in 2012 that the educational industrial complex was out of control and that testing was “the heart of the vampire”

 

He also said:

 

The assessment and accountability regime has become not only a cottage industry but a military-industrial complex. And the reason that you’re seeing this move toward the “common core” is there’s a big business sentiment out there that if you’re going to spend $600-$700 billion a year in public education, why shouldn’t be one big Boeing, or Lockheed-Grumman contract where one company can get it all and provide all these services to schools across the country.

 

I mean, that’s really what you’re looking at. We’re operating like a business.

 

“Stand for Children” was once a civil rights group; it once advocated for more funding and for programs to help children. Then it was taken over by the corporate reform movement and became outspoken against unions and teachers. The budget surged into the millions, due to its new-found friends (the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, and friends from Bain Capital). In Illinois, it bought up all the top lobbyists to push through a bill to limit teachers’  rights and prevent teachers in Chicago from striking. Stand’s founder, Jonah Edelman, boasted about his success in beating the unions and was videotaped doing so at the Aspen Institute  (here is the videotape). (He later apologized for what he said but not for what he did.) In Massachusetts, Stand threatened an expensive referendum to eliminate teachers’ job rights and won.

 

Many of its original friends left the organization because they did not like its alignment with the forces seeking privatization of public education and demonization of teachers. Some now call the group “Stand ON Children.”

 

In Oregon, parents and teachers fought hard for a bill to establish the right of parents to opt their children out of state testing. The bill was passed by the Legislature and is now heading for the Governor’s desk for her signature.

 

Stand for Children has been lobbying and campaigning to persuade Oregon Governor Kate Brown to veto the bill. They wrap themselves in the mantle of “it’s all about the kids” and “it’s all about disadvantaged kids,” to attack the right of parents to say no to abusive high-stakes testing.

 

If you are a parent or educator or student in Oregon, let Governor Brown hear from you.

This teacher blogger says that the worst line invented by the reformers‘ PR team is “It’s all about the kids,” which seems to imply that teachers don’t care about their students. Right up there among toxic and accusatory lines are “Students First” and “Students Matter.” I would add “Children First” as another insulting trope. Also “Stand for Children,” which critics call “Stand on Children.” All imply that teachers have been putting their own interests first, or they don’t think children matter.

 

 

Who really, truly cares about the kids? Not their teachers, not their parents, but billionaires, hedge-fund managers, entrepreneurs, politicians.

 

 

This insulting rhetoric trips lightly off the tongues of reformers, along with assertions of wanting “to save poor kids from failing schools” by closing their school and handing the kids over to privatizers.

 

 

“Raging Horse” saw this teacher-bashing reach the height of absurdity or the depths of slime in a statement made by Carmen Arroyo, a member of the New York State Assembly, defending Cuomo’s test-based teacher evaluation plan.

 

 

She said:

 

 

“Those teachers that [sic] are responsible and are doing their job, those teachers that [sic] sacrifice their families and themselves for the children they serve are going to be protected. Those that are not good, better get a job at McDonalds…..”

 

 

Raging Horse blogger writes:

 

 

“Any system that demands the sacrifice of a person’s family is deranged and any public official who demands such is unfit for public office. Any people who stand for such deserve what they get.”

Jeannie Kaplan, who was elected to two terms on the Denver school board, explains here that reform has not worked despite a lavish PR campaign to boast of “results.”

She begins:

“I have been suffering from DPS and “reform” fatigue, hence my recent silence. But several things have occurred that have catapulted me back to my computer: multiple emails from Superintendent Tom Boasberg touting DPS’ success; newspaper stories telling the truth about public education; conversations with real “boots on the ground” DPS educators and parents; and former DPS superintendent, current U.S. Senator Michael Bennet’s somewhat over the top introduction of his childhood friend and current DPS superintendent Tom Boasberg’s appearance at a No Child Left Behind re-authorization panel where the Senator reiterated the DPS success myth. When Senator Bennet finished, committee chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said, “I think that boils down to ‘he [Boasberg] cleaned up after you left.’” To which Senator Bennet responded, “You can’t even know half of the truth.”

Kaplan proceeds to tell the whole truth, not less than half the truth. After ten years of high-stakes testing and charters, achievement gains have been meager. Denver schools are increasingly segregated. The achievement gap has increased. Pension costs have grown, along with debt. Teacher turnover has increased. And local control has been sacrificed as out-of-state money pours in from wealthy individuals and national groups like Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform to elect reformers to the school board.

Read her post to learn the truth that neither Senator Bennett nor Superintendent Boasberg mentioned at the NCLB hearings.

The most contentious issue in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently named No Child Left Behind) will be the federal role in mandating annual testing. The latest polls show that it is opposed by a majority of parents and educators, but Secretary Duncan has staunchly insisted it is necessary; 19 civil rights groups endorsed his position, even though the children they represent all too often are negativrly afrcted by such tests. Since minority children, English learners, and children with disabilities are disproportionately stigmatized by standardized tests, it is bizarre to assert that standardized tests are guarantors of civil rights.

So here comes an interesting debate in the conservative National Review. Michael Petrilli of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Rick Hess of the conservative American Enterprise Institute take issue with Jonah Edelman of the corporate reform Stand for Children.

Stand for Children is an active and politically savvy opponent of teachers and teachers’ unions. A few years ago, Jonah Edelman boasted at an Aspen Ideas Festival about his role in buying up all the best lobbyists in Illinois so he could ram hostile legislation down the throats of teachers across the state and make it near impossible for the Chicago Teachers Union to go on strike. He was wrong about the latter, because the CTU garnered overwhelming support for a strike and followed through in 2012. Edelman pulled a similar stunt in Massachusetts, having collected millions of dollars from hedge fund manager to make war on teachers and their benefits and job security.

In the present case, Petrilli and Finn chastise Edelman for supporting an expansive federal role in education.

They write:

“In the piece, Edelman denounces efforts to shed some of No Child Left Behind’s more onerous and unworkable provisions as a “threat” to “your kids’ future.” He then recounts a parade of horribles from the last century. “Linda Brown was denied the opportunity to attend a nearby public school because she was black,” he reminds us. “Black students were denied access to a public high school by segregationist Governor Orval Faubus.” And states and districts weren’t meeting the “special needs” of students with disabilities.

“This is a shopworn parlor trick — equating conservatives concerned about federal micromanagement of schooling in 2015 with the “states’ rights” segregationists of two or three generations past (who, for what it’s worth, were overwhelmingly Democratic)….

“But this sort of rhetorical sleight-of-hand has not held up particularly well. Debating whether the federal government should tell states how to label, manage, and “improve” schools (all on the basis of reading and math scores) is a far cry from debates over whether states should be allowed to deny black students access to elementary and secondary schools. Moreover, those who, like Edelman, celebrate Uncle Sam’s expertise and the effectiveness of federal bureaucrats fail to acknowledge how often federal bureaucrats have gotten it wrong — and put in place laws and regulations that have gotten in the way of smart, promising reforms at the state and local level.

“What are the issues that have Edelman so worked up? Republicans on Capitol Hill make no secret that they envision a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind that will significantly reduce the strings attached to federal education dollars. Among the possible actions: Allowing states to test students every few years rather than annually; getting the federal government out of the business of telling states how to design school-accountability systems or address low-performing schools; and making clear that (contrary to the Obama administration’s designs) the federal government should have no role in dictating state reading and math standards.

“Casual followers of the education debate might notice that these changes seem both modest and sensible. Yet Edelman insists that if Congress dares to go down this path, “disadvantaged students will lose out, and millions of young people who could have become hard-working taxpayers will end up jobless, in prison, or worse.” (Worse?)….

“The deeper problem is that Edelman and his allies fail to grapple with the very real harm that federal education policy has caused, especially in the past decade. This is baffling, given his own admission that No Child Left Behind is “deeply flawed” and that “federal interventions don’t always work as intended.” But his solution — to simply update the law more regularly — indicates a misunderstanding of the realities of the legislative process (Congress updates laws when it will, not on the schedule of us pundits) and of the root problem. The real issue is not just that specific provisions of NCLB are problematic (though they are); it’s that the federal government is destined to mess up whatever it touches in education. That’s because it’s three steps removed from actual schools, with states and local districts sitting between its good intentions and its ability to ensure good results.

“All the federal government can do is pass laws telling federal bureaucrats to write rules for the states, whose bureaucrats then write more rules for school districts, which in turn give marching orders to principals. By the time this game of telephone is done, educators are stuck in a stifling, rule-driven culture that undermines the kind of practical discretion that characterizes good schools.

“During the Obama years, this problem has only grown worse. Convinced of their own righteousness and brilliance, Obama’s education officials have pushed all manner of half-baked ideas on the country (especially the demand that states evaluate teachers largely on the basis of test scores); helped turn potentially promising ideas into political hot potatoes (see Common Core); and embarked on ideological, deeply harmful crusades (using legal threats, for example, to discourage schools from disciplining minority students)….”

What Secretary Duncan has achieved in his six years in office is to persuade many liberals and conservatives that the U.S. Department of Education has abandoned any sense of federalism and has assumed far too much control. While liberals are uneasy about trusting either state or local government with the future of education, they are just as wary (or warier) of the heavy-handed power of the federal government. Duncan himself has become a symbol for many of the federal government’s abandonment of public schools and its commitment to privatize public schools “with all deliberate speed.” Duncan’s demand for annual testing and his determination to evaluate teachers based on students’ test scores–practices not found in high-performing nations–has put him on the wrong side of history. He simply ignores the failure of his pet policies, as well as the protests of parents and educators. His self-righteousness is no substitute for evidence and democratic governance.

Jeannie Kaplan, who was an elected member of the Denver school board, has done an amazing job of investigative research on the money that Denver lavishes on two charter chains: Denver School of Science and Technology and Strive. These two chains get the lion’s share of charter funding. Their charters get the best space; other charters are poor relations.

These two chains together have 20 of Denver’s 57 charters. Denver is very generous to its charters, paying their rent and virtually all their costs. The elected school board never approved the arrangement, but that’s a moot point since privatizers now control 6 of the board’s 7 seats.

How cozy is Denver’s power structure with the privatization movement? Very. Consider this:

“So, there you have it. Equal and more equal. A “Compact” intended to “level the playing field” for charters. But as we can see some charters are more equal than others. And as the numbers of charters increases, connections among various Colorado government officials, “reformers” and the Denver Public Schools become even more important and relevant. Just last month the Mayor’s Chief of Children’s Affairs left the city to become – drumroll, please – the Chief of External Outreach for Strive charter schools. Her previous “reform” job was as Colorado’s first statewide Director of Stand for Children. She is following the former DPS Chief of Staff into Denver’s education “reform” world, the latter of whom left the District to become Colorado’s executive director for Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). Denver’s former Manager of Safety is now the DPS General Counsel, followed by the former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives who this month started as the Chief Financial Officer for Denver Public Schools. The former Speaker just happened to be the deciding vote moving “teacher effectiveness” legislation, SB-191, out of committee in 2009. Legislators and voters beware. All the players are in place for a Denver Public Schools lead legislative agenda which will undoubtedly try to further this national “education reform” model. And when you add in a 6-1 nationally financed Board of Education, who needs actual mayoral control of your school board? It will be interesting to follow these new careers as more and more taxpayer money goes to “equal” and “more equal” charters. What would the animals think?”

Let’s face it. If Arne resigned, as the delegates to the NEA convention recommended in Denver, teachers would be thrilled to see one of the worst Secretaries of Education go away, but would we get someone worse? Would it be Ted Mitchell, who makes no bones about his love of privatization and for-profits? Would it be the teachers’ nemesis Michelle Rhee? Most reformers make too much money to step down to a cabinet job, so maybe it would be one of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change, like Deborah Gist of Rhode Island or Hanna Skandera of New Mexico or John White of Louisiana? What does it say about Obama that his likely choice would have to be acceptable to DFER, Stand on Children, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the other reformers?

One thing we would not miss: Arne Duncan’s affinity for the term “game changer.” Here is parent Matt Farmer of Chicago, remarking on how frequently Arne sees some phenomena as a game changer.

Farmer wrote in 2013:

“Let’s go back to 2010.

That February, Duncan called a proposal for increased funding of student loans “a real game-changer.”

By mid-July, he deemed “shared standards for college-readiness…an absolute game changer.”

His thinking had obviously evolved by the end of July, when he concluded that “the big game-changer is to start measuring individual student growth rather than proficiency.”

August, however, brought another epiphany. Duncan realized that the “big game-changer…revolves around the issue of teacher quality.”

In September, he concluded that the “new [Race to the Top] tests will be an absolute game-changer in public education.”

And Duncan, like a lanky philanthropist filling the tin cups of educational panhandlers, continued doling out change in 2010.

In November, he hit Paris to address the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Arne changed the game so often during that speech his UNESCO audience needed copies of “According To Hoyle” just to keep up with him.

After noting that in “the knowledge economy, education is the new game-changer,” Duncan assured the crowd that the sweeping adoption of “common college-ready standards that are internationally benchmarked . . . is an absolute game-changer.”

The secretary of education then called a “new generation of assessments aligned with the states’ Common Core standards” a “second game-changer,” even though it was actually the third “game-changer” Duncan had offered the assembled UNESCO masses during that difficult-to-diagram, five-minute rhetorical stretch.”

If Arne left, would it be a game changer or would President Obama go back to DFER to get their pock?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 175,620 other followers