Archives for category: West Virginia

Jan Resseger gives thanks for the teachers and other educators who boldly walked out and went out on strike over the past two years. So do I.

These courageous educators challenged the national narrative that had been so deviously cultivated by billionaires and Wall Street about “failing schools” and “bad teachers,” in an effort to destroy public faith in public schools and promote privatization of public funds.

Thanks to #Red4Ed, the new and realistic narrative is about crowded classrooms, crumbling schools, underpaid teachers, and schools without nurses, social workers, or librarians.

#Red4Ed said, “No more!”

The first walkout was in West Virginia in the spring of 2018. That walkout closed every school in the state and unleashed a wave of strikes and walkouts that continues now.

Reading about the West Virginia walkout inspired me to start writing a book that will be published January 21, called SLAYING GOLIATH. I will be in West Virginia on February 22 to meet those brave teachers and thank them for what they have done for all of us.

 

When teachers in West Virginia launched the Education Spring of 2018, one of their demands was “no charter schools.” The state’s public schools are already underfunded, and public school teachers had low pay compared to nearby states. The teachers understood that the addition of charter schools would mean fewer resources for public schools. Given that West Virginia is a largely rural state, there was no need or demand for a parallel school system of private contractors.

The legislature and governor agreed to the teschers’ demands but proceeded to double cross them by passing a charter law.

Charter advocates were thrilled. Another conquest for privatization.

But now charter advocates are “perturbed.” In fact, they are truly dismayed and having a hissy fit. They are downright ticked off.

It seems West Virginia law allows only school districts to authorize charters.

That is very very bad in charter land because districts are unlikely to welcome entrepreneurs, amateurs, and corporate raiders to tap their resources and cherrypick the students they want.

The National Alliance for Public [sic] Charter Schools won’t provide any assistance because they are so displeased. Its crack TFA alum, Emily Schultz, expressed her displeasure with West Virginia law; she previously was in charge of charters for the state of Alabama (which has a grand total of two charter schools).

Imagine that! A local school district having the right to decide who can open on their turf and poach their students!

 

The West Virginia Republican members of the House rammed through an omnibus education bill that authorized charters for the first time in the state. Every Democrat opposed the bill, and seven Republicans broke ranks to oppose it. It passed 51-47.

The West Virginia House of Delegates passed Wednesday its education omnibus bill (House Bill 206), after replacing its cap of 10 charter schools statewide with a cap of three until July 1, 2023.

But the bill would allow three more charter schools every three years after that.

The number allowed as the years roll by would be unlimited. If the bill ultimately becomes law, these would be the state’s first charter schools.

The final passage vote, after 11 p.m. Wednesday, was 51-47, largely with Republicans for it and Democrats against.

The House then recessed its side of the special legislative session on education. The state Senate, which is also led by Republicans, will now have to decide what to do with the bill.

Both chambers must agree on the same version to send it to Republican Gov. Jim Justice for his signature or veto.

The deal was strongly opposed by teachers even though it included pay raises and new money for counselors and other support staff.

West Virginia’s teachers struck twice, with opposition to charters one of their demands.

Governor Jim Justice pledged to block charters. Let’s see if he betrays the teachers as the Legislature did. After the bill passed, he congratulated the House, so a veto is unlikely. 

West Virginia is a rural state. It does not need two parallel publicly funded school systems. It does not need charter schools. It needs investment in public schools, which are underfunded.

Betsy DeVos must be sipping champagne.

 

 

Jan Resseger writes an in-depth account of the ongoing battle by teachers in West Virginia to keep charters and vouchers out of their state. 

They struck twice and they continue to fight.

The Republican majority in the legislature is determined to introduce privatization, despite the poor results in other states.

The Republican leadership have added provisions to the pending legislation to prevent walkouts in the future.

We learned on Tuesday that a poison pill had been added to the Senate’s omnibus bill—to ban strikes by teachers: “Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump says an anti-strike provision was amended into an omnibus education bill….  The amendment also says no county superintendent may close school in anticipation of a strike.  And the amendment says that if a strike causes school to be closed then that school can’t participate in extracurricular activities… Democrats in the Senate argued that the provision was retaliatory for the strikes of the past two years.”

What happens next will be decided by the House and Governor Jim Justice.

Politico Morning Education reports:

BANNING TEACHER STRIKES?: West Virginia’s GOP-led Senate approved the ban on teacher strikes 17-14 as an amendment to broad education reform legislation that DeVos urged the lawmakers to pass. The amendment was approved with “heavy opposition” from Democrats, the Associated Press reported.

— GOP Sen. Charles Trump, who sponsored the amendment, said it’s meant to keep schools running and not as retaliation for two teacher walkouts since last year, according to the AP. But Fred Albert, the president of the state’s American Federation of Teachers chapter, told POLITICO Pro “it’s pure retribution, retaliation.”

—”Already, we don’t have collective bargaining. It’s a right-to-work state,” Albert said, acknowledging that work stoppages in the past have been “truly illegal.” “This is just I think another stab at trying to punish us, making the law perhaps a little more severe with such language,” but he said such measures aren’t likely to float in the House.

— The chamber will continue its work today on education legislation, which would allow for the creation of state charter school and education savings account programs that are opposed by teachers unions who have been protesting at the state Capitol. The GOP-led House will reconvene on June 17.

— In February, the unions waged a two-day strike over a contentious education bill that would have brought education savings accounts and charter schools to West Virginia. The state started the wave of teacher strikes in 2018, helping create a #RedforEd teacher strike movement that continues today.

— DeVos’s push for school choice runs directly counter to what the state’s teachers unions want. She tweeted on Friday, “West Virginia has an opportunity to improve education for all & put the needs of students first. Looking forward to seeing bold moves to offer robust options like charter schools & ESAs and support great teachers. Let’s get it done.”

 

Teachers in West Virginia stunned the nation in February 2018 by going out on strike and staying out while demanding a pay raise and a commitment from the Governor and Legislature not to support charter schools and privatization. Theywon a pay raise and they had a commitment from Governor Jim Justice to veto charter legislation. Justice is a billionaire, the richest man in the state.

A year later, the Legislature was ready to abandon its promise not to introduce privatization. The teachers struck again.

Jan Resseger has the story here. 

The Legislature wants to put the camel’s nose under the tent. Just the nose. Promise. Cross my heart.

Don’t believe them. They are lying. Once the privatization starts, the camel gets into the tent. The tiny voucher program becomes a massive voucher program. The experimental charter becomes a major lobbying industry.

Fight for public education.

 

Peter Greene has a rapier sharp wit, which he wields so deftly that the object of his attention has been beheaded without knowing what happened. If you want to see him at his best, read this mystery: Who is murdering Charter Schools? 

Teachers?

Unions?

Lobbyists?

If you live in the real world, the people fighting privatization are heroic defenders of the commonweal, protecting the public interest against the Waltons, the Koch brothers, DeVos, and other private interests.

Hi, Hoppy,

A friend sent me the column you wrote about the stalemate in West Virginia over school choice. 

I would like to help you out.

The first thing you should know is that charter schools are NOT public schools. They call themselves public schools to get public money, but that doesn’t make them public schools. Might as well call Princeton University a public college or Boeing a public utility just because they get public money. Charter schools are private contractors with private boards of trustees that do not hold public meetings. Public schools have an elected school board or a board composed of people appointed by an elected official.

As this study shows, when charter schools open, the money to pay for them is deducted from public schools. The public schools lose not only the tuition for each student, but are left with “stranded costs.” If 10% of the students leave, you can’t stop heating or cooling the building by 10%, you can’t cut back on transportation or other expenses or the principal’s salary by 10%. What the public schools must do is lay off teachers, eliminate programs, cut the arts, and increase class sizes. So the vast majority of students pay a high price so 10% can choose to attend a charter that may be a fraud or may close in a year or two.

You suggested that Ohio charter schools are an example of success.

Actually, two-thirds of the charter schools in Ohio were rated either D or F by the State Department of Education. And their enrollment is declining as parents realize that they are not better than real public schools.

1. Decline in number of charters. See Fig 3, p. 9. 2013-2014 base year (395). See 2017-2018 academic year 340. http://education.ohio.gov/getattachment/Topics/Community-Schools/Annual-Reports-on-Ohio-Community-Schools/2017-2018-Community-Schools-Annual-Report.pdf.aspx?lang=en-US
2. Number of charters closed – At this page, click on the third section under Schools heading for link – Schools that Have Suspended Operations (no separate URL for this Excel sheet) http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Community-Schools  Last line = 293. Subtract heading line = 292 schools closed.
3. Decline in Charter Enrollments – 2017-2018 Annual Report, Fig 2, p. 8. 2013-2014 Base year = 120, 893 compared to 2017-2018 – 104,380. Diff = 16,513
Ohio also had a spectacular failure of its biggest cyber charter last year. It was called ECOT, or the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. It had the lowest graduation rate of any high school in the nation and very low test scores. Its owner collected $1 billion from the taxpayers of Ohio before he declared bankruptcy; that was after a court ordered him to return $67 million for one year of inflated enrollments.
I hope you will do some more research into charter performance and charter frauds and scandals. You might start by going to Twitter and looking at the list under the hashtag #AnotherDayAnotherCharterScandal.
Or look at the report by the Network for Public Education about the federal Charter Schools Program, called “Asleep at the Wheel,” which found that between the years 2006 and 2014 (Obama administration), the federal government wasted $1 billion on charter schools that never opened or closed shortly after opening.
Here are a few more readings for you:
https://dianeravitch.net/2019/04/07/bill-phillis-one-half-of-ohios-authorized-charter-schools-either-closed-or-never-opened/
https://dianeravitch.net/2018/09/01/stephen-dyer-ohio-charters-present-a-picture-of-incompetence-ineffectiveness-and-malfeasance/
https://dianeravitch.net/2019/03/10/ohio-another-reason-why-charter-schools-should-not-get-more-funding/
That’s only Ohio. If I had more time, I would give you even more hair-raising stories from Michigan and Arizona and California.
Think twice before you encourage diversion of funding your your public schools to entrepreneurs, corporate chains, and grifters.
I hope this helps.
Diane Ravitch

Recently Education Week posted a column claiming that charters and vouchers do not threaten public schools and that concern about privatization is vastly overblown.

Anthony Cody refutes that argument for complacency in this post. 

The writer of the article, Arianna Prothero, is a staff writer for Education Week.

Cody writes:

Prothero apparently only consulted one side of this contentious issue, as all the statistics she cites are from the National Alliance for Public (sic) Charter Schools.

When she refers to “most parts of America,” she apparently means rural areas, he says.

She wondered why West Virginia teachers were willing to strike to block charter schools, when, she claims, they are no big deal in a state like West Virginia. After all, legislators only want to start small, with one itty-bitty program with only a few charters.

Cody responds:

Wow. That is quite a conclusion! It would be reassuring if this were not the way that almost every charter school and voucher program began – with just a few schools, or only targeting a limited group of students. And then within a few years, the programs are expanded to include nearly everyone. Reporters covering education should know this history.

Indiana’s voucher program started for limited income students who had attended public schools for at least a year. It expanded to the point that today many students are eligible. Take a look at all the student eligibility pathways  This year, taxpayers will spend $153 million on vouchers for students attending private and parochial schools. Families earning as much as $91,000 a year are eligible.

Voucher programs such as “Education Savings Accounts” almost always start with one group, such as students with disabilities,  and then more groups are added every year. That is what happened in Arizona. The program in Arizona started small, and by last year had expanded to make 20% of students eligible. State lawmakers tried to make 90% of students eligible, but last year voters overturned the law. The proposal in West Virginia, for seven charter schools and vouchers for a thousand students this year, would have been a platform for further growth.

Cody shows how charters are undermining the very existence of public schools in some cities.

And he notes:

Mainstream media coverage for the past decade has, similar to this EdWeek blog post, generally downplayed the potential and real harms inflicted by the expansion of charter schools and voucher programs. The experiences of those in places like Oakland, Los Angeles and Pennsylvania serve as a warning to others — whether they are in urban, suburban or rural areas. Charter schools are a costly experiment that so far, has failed to yield much. Those in states fortunate enough to have avoided charters thus far do not need to repeat these failed experiments to learn the same lessons the hard way. Teachers in West Virginia were wise to ward off this danger.

Readers might be interested to know that blog posts in EdWeek bearing the K12 Parent Engagement logo are partly funded by contributions by the Walton Family Foundation, though EdWeek retains editorial control.

The Walton Family Foundation is anti-union, anti-public school, and pro-privatization. They expect a return on investment.

 

 

Bill Raden and Eunice Park wrote today’s roundup of education news for the excellent California-based website “Capitol & Main.”

Everyone should subscribe to it, or for sure, read it regularly.

This is an astonishing post, as you will read. LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin ran as a “liberal,” but he cites ALEC model legislation! Austin Beutner was forced to release a contract with an organization best known for privatizing the public schools of Camden, New Jersey. And let us not forget the more than half a million dollars collected by former Newark superintendent Cami Anderson (appointed by former Governor Chris Christie) to consult on special education services. The tight connections between alleged Democrats and rightwing Republicans never ceases to amaze.


“Yes, West Virginia, there is a teachers union, and it’s still fighting mad.” That was the message for Mountain State lawmakers this week when thousands of West Virginia teachers and school workers walked off the job to kill a privatization bill reputedly written in retaliation for last year’s historic nine-day teachers strike. Only hours into the Tuesday-Wednesday walkout, the state’s House of Delegates voted 53 to 45 to indefinitely table Senate Bill 451, which had linked a teacher pay raise to the gutting of job security and a first-time legalization for West Virginia of charters and private school vouchers. “Instead of trying to treat a symptom with garbage legislation that isn’t even vetted or proven to work,” Logan County teacher Kristina Gore told New York magazine, “let’s brainstorm some legislation to fix the real problem — the social conditions in which our children live.”

All eyes now turn to the East Bay, where over 3,000 Oakland Unified educators walked off the job today, following the recommendations issued last Friday by a neutral fact-finding panel, which agreed with key union bargaining positions but was unable to break the deadlock. “Years of underfunding, the unregulated growth of the charter school industry and district neglect [have] starved our schools of the necessary resources,” OEA president Keith Browncharged at a Saturday press conference. In addition to a 12 percent raise over three years, the union is asking for class size reductions, more support staff and is opposing extreme austerity measures that could shutter up to 24 OUSD neighborhood schools.

That OUSD chopping block was the subject of Tuesday’s almost Dickensian Oakland school board meeting in which a procession of tearful parents, students, teachers, activists and education leaders pleaded with trustees to spare programs targeted for cuts. School libraries, the district’s restorative justice and foster youth programs, and its Asian Pacific Islander Student Achievement services have all been slated for deep reductions in the current, $21.75 million round of budget cuts. The final vote comes February 25.

A murky scheme to transform Los Angeles Unified into a“portfolio” or “network” school district became a little more transparent last week when LAUSD suddenly released a torrent of documents related to superintendent Austin Beutner’s “Re-Imagine LAUSD” reorganization plan. After months of stonewalling on California Public Records Act requests from news media and BD 3 school board member Scott Schmerelson, the office of LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist released hundreds of pages of Re-Imagine contracts and memoranda after Schmerelson upped the ante by introducing a resolution reprimanding the superintendent for his “lack of transparency and responsiveness.” That measure passed in a 5-1 vote Tuesday after board members soundly rejected BD 4 member Nick Melvoin’s attempt to resurrect an old ALEC model law attack on teacher job security called “mutual consent.”

The most eye-popping of the PRAs is LAUSD’s 24-page, $765,000 contract with national portfolio district retrofitters Kitamba. The company, which also designed the portfolio transformation of Camden, New Jersey schools that has turned that district into a parent-versus-parent war zone, was engaged to implement a performance-based rating system that, under the portfolio system of governance, is used by district “network leaders” to justify closing and replacing low-testing public schools — usually with charters. Kitamba CEO Rajeev Bajaj, who may be best remembered in New Jersey for his connection to a conflict-of-interest scandal involving former Newark schools chief Christopher Cerf, is leading the LAUSD effort.