Archives for category: West Virginia

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Krysten Sinema held the power to block the Democrats’s ambitious bill to reduce carbon emissions and improve healthcare. Each of them extracted a hefty price in exchange for their vote, one that benefited either their state, their campaign donors, or themselves personally.

This analysis by the New York Times shows that Manchin got a trifecta: a win for the coal industry (big in his state), a win for his campaign donors, and a win for himself. Sinema demanded the removal of taxes on private equity firms..

Plenty of West Virginians are angry at Manchin. They are environmentalists. Senator Manchin takes care of the fossil fuel industry, not them.

BLACKSBURG, Va. — After years of spirited opposition from environmental activists, the Mountain Valley Pipeline — a 304-mile gas pipeline cutting through the Appalachian Mountains — was behind schedule, over budget and beset with lawsuits. As recently as February, one of its developers, NextEra Energy, warned that the many legal and regulatory obstacles meant there was “a very low probability of pipeline completion.”

Then came Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and his hold on the Democrats’ climate agenda.

Mr. Manchin’s recent surprise agreement to back the Biden administration’s historic climate legislation came about in part because the senator was promised something in return: not only support for the pipeline in his home state, but also expedited approval for pipelines and other infrastructure nationwide, as part of a wider set of concessions to fossil fuels.

It was a big win for a pipeline industry that, in recent years, has quietly become one of Mr. Manchin’s biggest financial supporters.

Natural gas pipeline companies have dramatically increased their contributions to Mr. Manchin, from just $20,000 in 2020 to more than $331,000 so far this election cycle, according to campaign finance disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission and tallied by the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Manchin has been by far Congress’s largest recipient of money from natural gas pipeline companies this cycle, raising three times as much from the industry than any other lawmaker.

NextEra Energy, a utility giant and stakeholder in the Mountain Valley Pipeline, is a top donor to both Mr. Manchinand Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, who negotiated the pipeline side deal with Mr. Manchin. Mr. Schumer has received more than $281,000 from NextEra this election cycle, the data shows. Equitrans Midstream, which owns the largest stake in the pipeline, has given more than $10,000 to Mr. Manchin. The pipeline and its owners have also spent heavily to lobby Congress.

The disclosures point to the extraordinary behind-the-scenes spending and deal-making by the fossil fuel industry that have shaped a climate bill that nevertheless stands to be transformational. The final reconciliation package, which cleared the Senate on Sunday, would allocate almost $400 billion to climate and energy policies, including support for cleaner technologies like wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles, and put the United States on track to reduce its emissions of planet-warming gases by roughly 40 percent below 2005 levels by the decade’s end.

Read the rest of the story in the New York Times.

The courts are still dispensing justice! In West Virginia, if not in DC.

WEST VIRGINIA CIRCUIT COURT STRIKES DOWN UNCONSTITUTIONAL PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHER LAW

 

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel

skrengel@edlawcenter.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Charleston, WV – This morning, Judge Joanna Tabit of the Circuit Court of Kanawha County granted West Virginia parents’ request to halt implementation of the state’s expansive new private school voucher law. The hearing this morning in Beaver v. Moore resulted in Judge Tabit granting a preliminary injunction and permanently enjoining the program, which would have siphoned millions of public dollars from the state’s underfunded public schools to subsidize private education.

 

The Beaver plaintiffs are public school parents challenging the private school voucher law under the West Virginia Constitution. The President of West Virginia’s Board of Education and the State Superintendent are courageously standing with the parents in support of their request.

 

The state defendants and pro-voucher lawyers from the Institute for Justice had asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. Judge Tabit denied their motions.

 

“The judge clearly understood that the West Virginia Constitution does not allow for this voucher program,” said Tamerlin Godley, partner at Paul Hastings LLP, co-founder of Public Funds Public Schools, and lead lawyer for the case. “Stopping the voucher program was absolutely essential to protect the state’s students and their public schools.”

 

West Virginia’s 2021 voucher law authorizes the broadest voucher program in the nation, with eligibility for any student who attends public school for 45 days or is entering kindergarten, regardless of family income. Under the voucher law, the State deposits public funds in private accounts for use on a wide range of private education expenses. There are no accountability or quality safeguards. Over time, the law will force West Virginia taxpayers to subsidize all private and homeschooling in the state, totaling over $120 million a year.

 

“West Virginia has a proud history of prioritizing quality public schools for all the state’s children, and that commitment is enshrined in our constitution,” said Jack Tinney, co-counsel for the parent plaintiffs and a partner at Hendrickson & Long in Charleston. “We could not stand by and allow the voucher law to undermine West Virginia students’ constitutional rights.”

 

In the Beaver lawsuit, the parent plaintiffs highlight the numerous ways the voucher law violates the Education Clause of the West Virginia Constitution. The Legislature has no authority to fund a separate system of private schooling that infringes on its ability to provide a “thorough and efficient system of public schools.” The voucher law also violates the State Constitution’s prohibition against “special laws” that treat similar people differently because it excludes voucher students from critical protections afforded public school students against discrimination based on disability, religion, or LGBTQ status.

 

“In my view, the Legislature has violated its constitutional level obligations regarding public education and funding by enacting House Bill 2013 for the Hope scholarship fund,” Judge Tabit stated in explaining her decision.

 

The plaintiff families in Beaver v. Moore are represented pro bono by the law firm Paul Hastings LLP, Education Law Center, and the West Virginia office of the firm Hendrickson & Long. Education Law Center co-leads the Public Funds Public Schools campaign, which works to ensure public funds are spent on public education and not diverted to private schools. Paul Hastings partner Tamerlin Godley has spearheaded other successful PFPS efforts, including NAACP v. DeVos, which stopped former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos from diverting hundreds of millions of dollars in pandemic relief funds to private schools, and a 2016 lawsuit that permanently enjoined a similarly expansive voucher law in Nevada.

 

For more information, visit the Beaver v. Moore page on the PFPS website.

The stores in small towns and rural areas across America have been devastated by the arrival of Walmarts, whose low prices and foreign imports drive the small stores out of business. Main streets across the nation are marked by empty stores.

This is a story of a near century-old store in Moundsville, West Virginia, that managed to survive. The story explains how Ruttenberg’s has withstood the competition.

It is a reminder that competition can make you stronger, or, if the competition is a mega-giant, it can kill you and wipe out your town’s Main Street.

More than 100 students walked out at Huntington High School in Huntington, West Virginia, to protest a religious revival in school.

The students “staged a walkout to protest a school-sanctioned religious revival that some of their teachers required them to attend.”

Earlier this week, teachers told students that during a non-instructive class period called COMPASS, they had to go to an assembly where a Christian prayer revival was set to take place. At the assembly, teens were told to close their eyes, raise their arms in prayer and give their lives to Jesus Christ. They were also told that if they didn’t follow the Bible, they would go to hell after they died.

According to reporting from The Associated Press, one student texted his parent, asking, “Is this legal?”

The tenets of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — and a number of Supreme Court rulings — suggest that it was not. According to the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University, public schools cannot prevent students from expressing or sharing religious beliefs during school hours. However, school officials cannot impose prayer or other religious practices in the building, even if students are not required to take part; to do so constitutes a violation of students’ religious freedom.

Many students at Huntington High School — and their parents — agreed that the revival was not appropriate, and that it violated students’ rights.

“I don’t think any kind of religious official should be hosted in a taxpayer-funded building with the express purpose of trying to convince minors to become baptized after school hours,” said senior Max Nibert, one of the students who led the walkout. “My rights are non-negotiable…”

A spokesperson for Cabell County Schools claimed that the event was optional, and that two teachers made a mistake when they told students they were required to attend.

But once students were at the revival and tried to leave, some were told they couldn’t do so. A Jewish student reported being told they “needed to stay” at the assembly because the classroom where they would otherwise go was locked and unsupervised.

In other words, while the event may have been quietly billed as optional, there were no other options available for students who didn’t want to attend.

How long will it be until the U.S. Supreme Court, with its new-found devotion to unrestricted religious liberty, rules that religious observances in the schools are hunky-dory?

Denis Smith was a teacher and an administrator in West Virginia. He moved to Ohio where he worked in the State Education Department. His last position before retiring was in the office of charter schools (misleadingly called “community schools” in Ohio, even when they operate for profit).

He writes here in the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette-Mail, the state’s largest newspaper.

The link works but doesn’t permit me to copy any print.

Here’s the basic story. The Republican legislature passed a charter law, and the Republican Governor (billionaire Jim Justice) signed it, despite promising the state’s teachers he would veto it.

He appointed cronies to the state’s new West Virginia Charter School Board. The board picked five new charter operators. One of the charter operators is Ron Packard, CEO of Accel, former CEO of K12 Inc., which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Accel has charter operations in many states. Its teachers are paid less than the national average but its CEO collected $19 million in a four-year period. Its bottom line is profit, not education or community, writes Smith.

Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey of Kanawha County issued an injunction barring the schools from opening because they violate state constitution. She ruled that the creation of a new school district within an existing school district is unconstitutional, unless a majority of voters in the existing district approve in an election.

Smith writes that the West Virginia law is “a flagrant attempt” to use public funds for private profit. He writes that public schools are democratic institutions owned by the community and operated by elected school boards. The initiation of charter schools is a blatant effort to destroy the public schools, a radical and wasteful decision that was never put to voters.

After the inspiring teachers’ strike in 2019, which closed every public school in the state, the billionaire Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia promised to veto any charter school legislation. He lied. The legislation passed, and the Governor signed it.

The state established a state charter board, which proceeded to award seven charters, mostly to a for-profit charter corporation that manages low-performing charters in Ohio.

But a county judge stopped the clock by issuing an injunction to halt the new charter schools.

A Kanawha County judge has temporarily blocked five public charter schools from opening in West Virginia.

Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey granted a preliminary injunction Monday sought by parents and education union members.

They filed a lawsuit against Gov. Jim Justice and leaders of the state Senate and House.

In the suit, the plaintiffs claim residents should be able to weigh in on any charter school established in their county.

They are challenging the authority of the Professional Charter Schools Board, a group that has its members appointed by the governor.

Last month, the board approved charter schools in Morgantown, Nitro and in Jefferson County, along with two online charter schools.

The judge outlined her logic in granting the temporary injunction.

“The plain language of Article 10, Section 12 of our state constitution provides that no independent school district or organization shall hereafter be created except with the consent of the school district or districts, out of which the same is created, expressed by a majority of the voters voting on the question,” Bailey said.

One of the arguments in the lawsuit was that the transfer of the student – and the tax money that goes with that student – is the same thing as creating an independent school district, and there is a specific prohibition against that in the state constitution – unless there is a public vote.

The two parents bringing suit are members of the American Federation of Teachers union.

“It is unconstitutional to create a new school system within our current school system and that’s what this bill seems to do,” AFT-WV President Fred Albert said.

After some county school boards voted no to approving a charter school in their areas, lawmakers created the Professional Charter Schools Board, which could OK charter schools without a county school board’s approval.

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said the injunction is wrong because acts of the Legislature are presumed to be constitutional and because the parents should have sued the charter school board not the governor and legislators. He said he will seek relief from the state Supreme Court.

Denis Smith writes here about the past, present, and hoped-for future of West Virginia. He urges West Virginians to throw out the leaders who undermine their health, safety, and well-being. He reminds us and them of the state’s past progressive leaders. A lifelong educator, Smith retired as an official in the Ohio State Department of Education, where he oversaw charter schools.

He writes:

In her earlier post, West Virginia: The Battle of Blair Mountain, Diane Ravitch not only reminded us about the emergence of the labor movement but also shed light on how, a century later, the coal industry, though greatly diminished in activity from earlier times, still maintains a grip on the state through the misfeasance of its political leadership in the governor’s office and by its representatives in the Congress.

The story goes back to 1921, when 10,000 coal miners, in reaction to the murder of a union-friendly local sheriff, joined together to check the power of coal companies and the low wages, unsafe working conditions, and horrific housing they provided in company towns situated near the mines operated by these representatives of corporate America.

Inasmuch as I completed almost all of my graduate work in West Virginia and lived there for nearly 20 years, I was familiar with the Blair Mountain story and the sad history of exploitation of the land and workers by extractive industries like coal companies. Unfortunately, I thought that this tale of labor history was widely known but learned otherwise about eight years ago.

At that time, I was asked to teach a number of American history courses for Ohio public school teachers so they could meet the then-new content area Highly Qualified Teacher requirements. A review of the draft course syllabus showed, however, that additional content was needed to bolster the students’ knowledge of the Progressive Era and the emerging American labor movement. In particular, there was no treatment of the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire as well as the Battle of Blair Mountain, which remains the largest labor uprising in American history.

I soon learned that none of the students in my class in suburban Columbus, Ohio had any knowledge of either event, and the Blair Mountain post, with its spotlight on West Virginia, sheds light on that state’s history of exploitation by energy companies and the lack of political leadership today to ensure the health, safety,and welfare of its citizens based on that past history.

But in light of the state’s challenges in the past, and with the neglect of the health, safety, and welfare shown by its top political leaders, are West Virginia residents also unknowing of its past history? Or have they been bamboozled by their politicians in not realizing what is at stake in the current political climate?

That lack of leadership to ensure the health and welfare of the populace is shown in the misfeasance and conflicts-of-interest manifested by West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice and its senior U.S. Senator, Joe Manchin, who also served as the state’s governor before his election to Congress.

As the owner of several coal companies, Justice has a history of exploiting not only the land but of the communities affected. Moreover, like his friend Donald Trump, he also has a history of tax avoidance. In 2019, for example, Justice companies paid $1.2 million in back taxes owed to Knott, Pike, Harlan and Magoffin counties in Kentucky, with more delinquent taxes to be paid at a later date. A review of his tax delinquency showed that he had additional obligations to be paid in Virginia and West Virginia, along with past due mine safety fines.

Yes, mine safety fines owed by companies owned by the governor of the state where 10,000 miners revolted against unsafe working conditions exactly a century ago. But that was then, right? Or are we back to the future and the past simultaneously?

Then we have the case of Senator Joe Manchin, a predecessor of Jim Justice in the West Virginia governor’s office. The current Build Back Better legislation would provide funds to deal with climate change, expand Medicare, and assist families with lower costs for child care and elder care. Yet Manchin, who has interests in the energy industry and a daughter who formerly was the CEO of Mylan, a pharmaceutical company, seems to have a conflict-of-interest when it comes to supporting lower prescription drug costs and dealing with the environment.

When many communities lack safe drinking water caused by years of mining and health consequences caused by such mineral extraction activity in West Virginia, wouldn’t you think that the political leadership on both sides of the aisle would support legislation that would protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents?

If you have financial interests in a top industry, as Manchin and Justice do, that’s asking far too much.

On Sunday, Manchin announced, appropriately enough, on Fox News that he does not support the Build Back Better Act. This is what Bernie Sanders had to say about his colleague, Joe Manchin:

“Well, I think he’s going to have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia, to tell him why he doesn’t have the guts to take on the drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” he said. “West Virginia is one of the poorest states in this country. You got elderly people and disabled people who would like to stay at home. He’s going to have to tell the people of West Virginia why he doesn’t want to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing, and eyeglasses.”

When it comes to drug companies and Manchin’s lack of courage in dealing with them, Bernie Sanders is certainly knowledgeable about some family history. And then some. He went on to add this observation:

“If he doesn’t have the courage to do the right thing for the working families of West Virginia and America, let him vote no in front of the whole world.”

Manchin used the canard of not wanting to increase the national debt as one of his arguments in opposing Build Back Better. But he does not acknowledge that West Virginia greatly benefits from all types of federal spending. A study several years ago demonstrated that a number of red states, including West Virginia, receive much more in federal dollars than they receive from the treasury. As examples, West Virginia receives $2.07, Kentucky $1.90, and South Carolina $1.71 for every dollar sent to Washington.

In light of his concern about the national debt, would Manchin favor West Virginia being treated on a par with states like Massachusetts and New York, which receive far less than a dollar back from the treasury for every dollar sent to Washington?

So as I reflect a bit more about the Mine Wars and the Battle of Blair Mountain, I am puzzled by the descendants of these mine workers offering such enthusiastic support to the likes of Governor Jim Justice and Senator Joe Manchin, who obstruct legislation that would improve the health, safety, nutrition, and educational opportunities for West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the union.

There are two great West Virginia Senators who must be turning in their graves as they view the likes of the state’s present political leadership. The first, Jennings Randolph, entered the U.S. Senate in 1933 at the start of FDR’s New Deal and was a champion of Social Security, Medicare, voting rights and the abolition of the Poll Tax. Then there was Robert Byrd, who served with Randolph as the long-time Senate leader who distinguished himself as a check on many of Ronald Reagan’s policies, opposed the Iraq War, and in his last days championed the Affordable Care Act from a wheelchair on the Senate floor.

In a Senate speech on February 12, 2003 that attacked the march toward war with Iraq, Byrd said that “We are truly “sleepwalking through history.” In my heart of hearts I pray that this great nation and its good and trusting citizens are not in for a rudest of awakenings.”

In the same vein, it’s past time for the people of West Virginia to emerge from their sleepwalking and support leaders, unlike Manchin and Justice, who will put the interests of the people first and not those of the pharmaceutical industry and energy interests.

One more thing. Dear West Virginians, the next time you vote, remember your ancestors who fought for justice (small j, of course) and basic human rights at Blair Mountain. It’s now the 21st century. Jennings Randolph and Robert Byrd might be pleased with your awakening.

Thanks to G.F. Brandenburg, who posted this very important report about The Battle of Blair Mountain, a largely forgotten milestone in the history of unionism.

Brandenburg opens his post by reminding us that the rich and powerful usually control history and write the narrative.

He adds this dramatic story of The Battle of Blair Mountain, which is unknown to most people and barely remembered in the state where it happpened. The famous but almost-forgotten battle pitted underpaid, impoverished miners against the coal industry’s hired and well-armed detectives and union-busters. After several days of fighting, federal troops were sent in to stop the combat.

The story was written by Irina Zhorov and appeared on PBS WHYY.

The site of the conflict is marked by an inconspicuous plaque. The land is inaccessible because its owned by a coal company.

Here is the lead-up to the Battle of Blair Mountain:

In early 20th-century Appalachia, miners in the southern West Virginia coal fields lived in company towns. They were dependent on their bosses for every necessity, including their homes and food. Pay was low. Living and working conditions were deplorable.

The United Mine Workers union attempted to organize miners in the region, but the coal companies fought back, often violently. In a series of clashes now called the Mine Wars, both union and company supporters were killed.

By 1921, tensions were coming to a head. Miners in Mingo County, south of Blair, had joined the union. In retaliation, the company had evicted them from their homes. The miners had been rounded up and were being kept in pens. State police had cut off food supplies, so families were starving.

Then private detectives who worked for the coal companies brazenly murdered a union sympathizer named Sid Hatfield, a hero to the miners. It was broad daylight, and Hatfield’s wife was by his side. Tensions boiled over.

One week after the murder, Frank Keeney, the leader of West Virginia’s United Mine Workers chapter — and Chuck Keeney’s great-grandfather — gave a series of speeches to rally miners in the coal fields.

Miners—10,000-15,000 of them—marched 50 miles to Blair Mountain to protest and fight.

Clearly, there are many people in West Virginia today whose parents or grandparents took up arms against the tyrannous coal companies. They know the history because it’s personal.

Yet this legacy of labor militancy does not seem to have any role in today’s politics. West Virginia is a red state with a Republican-controlled legislature. The Governor, Jim Justice, was a Republican who became a Democrat for his election in 2016. Seven months after his election, he reverted back to being a Republican, at a political rally with Trump by his side. Governor Justice is a billionaire who controls many businesses, mostly in agriculture and coal mining.

Why do West Virginians keep electing and re-electing Republicans who are hostile to the interests of poor and working-class people?

West Virginia recently passed a charter school law, breaking its promise to the state’s teachers. A new board was created to authorize charters. That board just approved two for-profit online charter schools. One is run by K12 Inc., which changed its name to Stride. The other will be run by Ron Packard’s Accel, which operates low-performing charters in Ohio. Packard was the first CEO of K12 Inc., where he was paid $5 million a year.

Online charters are known for low academic performance, low graduation rates, and high attrition. A study by CREDO found that students in online charter schools learn almost nothing.

While findings vary for each student, the results in CREDO’s report show that the majority of online charter students had far weaker academic growth in both math and reading compared to their traditional public school peers. To conceptualize this shortfall, it would equate to a student losing 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days of learning in math, based on a 180-day school year. This pattern of weaker growth remained consistent across racial-ethnic subpopulations and students in poverty.

The following post by Bill Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy details the outsized role that Ron Packard’s for-profit charter chain will have in starting charter schools in West Virginia. Packard was one of the founders of the low-performing but highly profitable K12 Inc. virtual charter chain (where he was paid $5 million a year). He left to start another charter chain, called Pansophic, of which Accel is a part. His background is not in education, although his online bio describes him(self) as an “educator and entrepreneur.” In fact, his work experience prior to K12 Inc. was at Goldman Sachs and McKinsey. Learn more about Ron Packard at Sourcewatch, which keeps tabs on rightwingers and privatizers (www.sourcewatch.org). The selection of charter chains which have demonstrated poor academic performance in other states shows that the decisions in West Virginia are driven by politics, not concern for students or their education.

Bill Phillis posted this notice:

Ron Packard’s Accel For-Profit Charter School Operation May Run Half of West Virginia’s First Charter Schools
The Ohio D-ranked Accel charter school operator is in line to run half of West Virginia’s first charter schools. Ron Packard, former CEO of the publicly traded K12 company, left K12 Inc. to start Pansophic Learning, of which Accel is a part. Accel has a huge presence in Ohio, with less than a stellar record of performance.

It is of at least passing interest that Packard’s former employer (K12 Inc.) is in line to run the West Virginia charter school Virtual Academy.


One company could run half of WV’s first charter schools. Ohio doesn’t rank it highly.

By Ryan Quinn ryan.quinn@hdmediallc.comNov 4, 2021

CHARLES TOWN — Accel Schools says it serves schools in seven states. West Virginia could be the eighth.
The fast-expanding charter school management company’s name is on half the six applications to open charters here. Lawmakers tout charters as a way to improve Mountain State education.

In neighboring Ohio, 17 of 30 Accel schools were graded D’s and five others were graded F’s in 2018-19 by the state Department of Education. Accel says it serves more than 50 schools.

Ron Packard, founder of K12 Inc., an online charter school business traded on the New York Stock Exchange, left that company in 2014 and started Pansophic Learning. Accel is part of that private, international firm. 

Since 2014, Accel has virtually expanded to the Pacific, with online charters in California and Washington state. It has become the largest school management company in Ohio, home to most of the brick-and-mortar charters Accel runs.

It has yet to go farther east. West Virginia has put out an invitation.

In this year’s regular legislative session, Republicans fast-tracked a law allowing charters to expand faster, teach almost solely online and apply for approval from a new, unelected West Virginia Professional Charter School Board.

A month after Gov. Jim Justice signed the law, Accel hired two lobbyists, according to the state Ethics Commission. One is Larry Puccio, who represents prominent businesses, including the governor’s Greenbrier resort.

Now Accel is trying to reach the tip of the Eastern Panhandle with a brick-and-mortar, 650-student maximum charter in Jefferson County. On Oct. 18, Accel’s Chad Carr spoke to a mostly receptive audience in Charles Town, the county seat.

A second Accel brick-and-mortar charter, Nitro Preparatory Academy, would be located at the edge of the state’s most populous county and enroll up to 600 students.

Accel’s Virtual Preparatory Academy would enable it to reach all of West Virginia. Or, at least, the parts in the hills and hollows that can get online. The school would provide laptops, and max out at 2,000 students.

The Professional Charter School Board could approve all three Accel schools Wednesday during an online meeting scheduled to start at 8 a.m.

The Nitro, Eastern Panhandle and Virtual Preparatory academies are overseen by separate boards, save for one shared member. The Nitro and Eastern Panhandle applications are almost identical.

The Ohio Department of Education rated Accel a “D” operator in 2018-19, the last school year before the pandemic. Ohio hasn’t graded operators or schools since.

The agency graded a half-dozen Accel schools as C’s, two as B’s and none as A’s. More than two-thirds of Accel’s schools in the Buckeye State received the lowest two letter grades. Rapidly expanding Accel’s recent takeover of some schools might have been a factor in the grades, an official said.

“With regards to the Ohio academic records,” Accel spokeswoman Courtney Harritt wrote in an email, “it is a complex analysis because Accel has a specialty in turning schools around academically and financially. The majority of the schools we manage are going through the academic turnaround process.”

The Ohio letter grades are composed of multiple measures, including students’ overall achievement on state tests and their rate of improvement.

Acceleration

Carr said he was swept up in the company’s expansion when Accel took over the charter chain for which he worked.

“Accel is made up of different, uh, organizations that have tried to do charter schools and not done ’em very well,” Carr told the Charles Town crowd. He said his own school excelled academically, but not financially.

“In Ohio, we run schools on a third of what the traditional public schools run ‘ern on,” Carr said of Accel.

Education service provider companies like Accel can’t turn a profit from per-student state funding if they don’t keep down expenses.

The Nitro and Eastern Panhandle Preparatory academies set a goal of maintaining “a grade of C or higher on the West Virginia School Report Card.”

West Virginia ditched its letter-grade system for schools in 2017. Nitro and Eastern Panhandle Preparatory set academic goals, but those don’t take into account scores on state standardized tests by which public schools are judged.

State law gives charter applicants the chance to correct “identified deficiencies” in applications before the charter board decides.

Answering questions now is “premature,” Harritt wrote in an email “because we haven’t yet received application feedback from the charter board. We are still working through the iterative process.”

The Virtual Preparatory Academy application includes a goal to meet or exceed the statewide average for student proficiency in math, English language arts and science.

“Each year, the school will strive for a 2% improvement from the prior year,” the application says.

The only non-Accel brick-and-mortar charter proposed in this state, West Virginia Academy near Morgantown, isn’t planning to use a management company like Accel to run its daily operations.

But the boards of the other two incipient charters are planning to use service providers. The online West Virginia Connections Academy plans to use Pearson, the international education company that also sells textbooks to public schools.

West Virginia Virtual Academy plans to use Stride Inc., the new name for K12 Inc.

Lawmakers allowed up to 10 charters to open, but only two statewide virtual charters. So Accel’s Virtual Preparatory Academy might not open if the Charter School Board instead approves other schools’ applications.

This means Packard’s old company is competing with his new one, which includes five other executive leaders originally from K12 Inc.

At the Charles Town public forum, Carr explained Accel’s approach, telling the more than 30 people there the strategy includes tests assessing only the past two weeks of learning.

“It’s small, six questions, but it has to cover exactly what you just taught,” said Carr, who wore boots and Dallas Cowboys cuff links with his suit.

“You give it to the students. If they know it and they do well on it, move on. But if they don’t know it, you need to go back and reteach it,” Carr said of teachers. “And that’s when somebody like me steps in and says, ‘Hey, here’s a couple of ways that you need to fix this.’ And it works.”

Joanne Curran, an attendee, was open to the pitch.

“Why wouldn’t everybody want to go?” she asked. “And — I literally can’t understand a downside, so it’s a serious question.”

“I don’t know,” Carr said. “It’s, it’s really hard, it’s really hard to answer.”

Ryan Quinn covers education. He can be reached at 304-348-1254 or ryan.quinn@hdmediallc.com. Ryan QuinnEducation Reporter

https://www.wygazettemail.com/news/education/one-company-could-run-half-of-wys-first-charter-schools-ohio-doesnt-rank-it-highly/article_7010ca95-2a1b-55b8-b16e-81af3c757c42.html

The profiteers are lining their pockets with public funds that should be used in the classrooms.

By WSAZ News StaffPublished: Nov. 10, 2021 at 8:32 AM EST|Updated: 6 hours ago

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The West Virginia Professional Charter School Board approved West Virginia’s first charter schools during a virtual meeting Wednesday morning.

The Board met to consider seven applications from companies looking to open new virtual and in-person education options.

Three in-person schools were approved Wednesday morning: West Virginia Academy, Eastern Panhandle Academy and Nitro Preparatory Academy.

Two of those learning proposals, the Eastern Panhandle Academy and Nitro Preparatory Academy, were submitted by the company ACCEL Schools.

ACCEL wants to open the first in-person charter school in our region.

The Nitro Prep Academy, which would be located in the former Nitro High School building, hopes to attract up to 600 students in kindergarten through eighth grade from Kanawha and Putnam counties, according to its application. That would including pulling students from Nitro Elementary School, which will share a parking lot with the new charter school, and Rock Branch Elementary School, which is one of West Virginia’s three National Blue Ribbon Schools and is located less than a 10-minute drive from the proposed charter school.

Nitro Prep said in its application to the state, “there is a need in this area for a high-quality charter school because neither county is excelling academically.” The application goes on to state it hopes to create an individualized learning environment as “an alternative to traditional public schools that have been ineffective in meeting certain family and student learning needs, or cost-prohibitive private schools.”

In addition to the in-person charter school, ACCEL wants to add a statewide virtual option. The West Virginia Professional Charter School Board is set to consider applications for virtual learning next week.

This is a developing story.

West Virginia’s first charter schools gain approval by board members (wsaz.com)

Follow the link to read the 8 Lies About Private School Vouchers

https://vouchershurtohio.com/8-lies-about-private-school-vouchers/

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OhioEandA

The No Child Left Behind Act Has Put The Nation At RiskVouchers Hurt Ohio
William L. Phillis | Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding | 614.228.6540 |ohioeanda@sbcglobal.nethttp://ohiocoalition.org