On September 30, Wellesley College inaugurated its 14th president since the college was founded in 1875. The new president is Dr. Paula Johnson, a cardiologist with an MD and a Ph.D. in public health. She is a renowned scientist, researcher, physician, teacher, and expert on the subject of women’s health. I met Dr. Johnson when I went to Wellesley for Pasi Sahlberg’s performance/lecture. She is brilliant, unassuming, warm, and very impressive.

I was class of 1960 at Wellesley. Hillary was class of 1969. Obviously, we did not overlap.

But this is what you need to know about Wellesley. Its motto is “Non ministrari, sed ministrate,” which means “not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Not to be served, but to serve.

Another motto is “Incipit vita nova: here begins new life.”

That’s what Wellesley was for me, coming from the public schools of Houston, from parents who never went to college, from a decidedly non-academic, non-bookish family. The beginning of a new life.

I think that’s what Wellesley meant for Hillary Rodham, coming from public schools in Illinois, from a family of modest means. The beginning of a new life.

Wellesley is where we began a new life. It is the educational environment that shaped us.

To understand that environment, I invite you to watch some or all of the inauguration of Dr. Paula A.Johnson. The video has a table of contents, and you can skip the 30-minute processional and go right to the speakers. Watch the brief speech of Senator Elizabeth Warren. Then watch Drew Gilpin Faust, the president of Harvard University, who delivers a fascinating overview of women’s higher education and the snobbishness it encountered. Then watch Kathleen McCartney, president of Smith College, who speaks with great wit about the sibling rivalry between Smith and Wellesley but assures Dr. Johnson that all her sisters are with her. Listen to Dr. Virginia W. Pinn, a senior scientist at the National Institutes of Health and a medical pioneer, who knows Dr. Johnson’s role in her field.

And of course, please watch and listen to Dr. Johnson, who is simply fabulous. Dr. Johnson grew up in Brooklyn. She is a product of the New York City public schools, having completed her high school studies at Samuel J. Tilden High School, a comprehensive school where she met teachers who inspired and encouraged her. From Tilden, she went to Radcliffe and Harvard, where she began her brilliant career. [Tilden was declared a “failing school” by the Bloomberg administration in 2006 and converted to small schools.]

To understand the environment that shaped Hillary Rodham and me, watch this video. It made us strong, fearless, and prepared us to face the future armed with a strong liberal arts education and the belief that women can do anything. It taught us that we were fortunate to have such a wonderful education and were obliged to use it to make a difference for others.

Carol Burris, a veteran high school principal in New York state, recently retired and became executive director of the Network for Public Education. She is currently completing a four-part series on charter schools in California and will write additional reports about privatization in other states.

She writes here about an important court decision in California that was released yesterday.

Just how important was this decision? It was a Court of Appeal decision that overturned the Superior Court decision in Shasta County. So, it is binding law throughout California and overturns the trial court’s incorrect decision (essentially that out of district in county resource center are allowed since not specifically prohibited by the charter schools act).

Carol Burris writes:

Readers who have been following our NPE series on charters in California are familiar with the storefront charters and not-for profit shells of K12 that are multiplying across the Golden State. Many of these charters have terrible graduation rates–some as low as 0%. Students rarely check in–some have the requirement of going to a center only once every 20 days.

Their explosive growth was a result of small elementary districts colluding with charter chains that operate charter “learning centers” in order to get revenue, even though the charters are not in their district, and sometimes not even in the same county. The charters promise these districts that they will not open in their district but rather in other districts which, in turn, lose both revenues and students.

Although the legislature tried to rein in this predatory practice, the bill they passed was recently vetoed by Jerry Brown who opened two charter schools himself [when he was mayor of Oakland] and has an “anything goes” attitude towards charters–including for profits. Luckily, the court had more sense.

Yesterday The Court of Appeal called the practice a violation of the law. It is a stunning victory against these charters, which had the full support of the California Charter School Association (CCSA). CCSA, which is funded by billionaires such as Reed Hastings, Eli Broad, the Waltons and Doris Fisher, is now the most powerful lobby in the state. The Court of Appeal reversed a lower court decision and its decision covers the entire state.

You can read more about the decision and its implications here.

Congratulations to the Anderson Union High School District who had the guts to stand up for its taxpayers and students. Congratulations also to the San Diego law firm of Dannis, Woliver and Kelley that carefully argued a complicated law and to the California School Boards Association who lent their support.

Steven Rosenfeld, writing at Salon, notes that both the Washington Post and the New York Times warned the NAACP not to pass the resolution to halt the expansion of charter schools. Both editorials were condescending and misinformed. Fortunately, the NAACP ignored them and did what was best was kids and American education.

Their editorials were wrong, writes Rosenfeld.

He writes:

The New York Times called the NAACP’s proposal “misguided,” while The Washington Post snidely declared, “Maybe it should do its homework.”

But both newspapers are misguided and uninformed about what the charter school industry is doing to America’s public schools. Their attempt to influence the NAACP board’s vote this weekend reveals that they don’t understand or care to understand how the industry is dominated by corporate franchises with interstate ambitions to privatize K-12 schools.

What do the drafters of the NAACP resolution understand that these editorial boards do not? They know that the charter industry was the creation of some of the wealthiest billionaires in America, from the Walton family heirs of the Walmart fortune, to Microsoft’s Bill Gates, to Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, Reed Hastings, Mark Zuckerberg and others, including hedge fund investors. These billionaires have pumped billions into creating a new privatized school system where those running schools can profit and evade government oversight. These very rich Americans aren’t trying to fix traditional public schools, but create a parallel, privately run system that’s operating in a separate and unequal world inside local school districts.

He adds:

How separate and unequal is the charter world? Their most antidemocratic accomplishment may be destroying the tradition of local control over schools by allowing private charter school boards to replace locally elected and appointed officials. These boards do not have to be composed of district residents, don’t have to hold open meetings, don’t have to bid or disclose contracts, and do not have to publicly reveal much of anything about their operations. As a result, privatizers have been able to tap into more than $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies in recent years, of which at least $200 million has been misspent or vanished in a spectrum of self-dealing scandals documented by public interest groups and investigative reporters in every state where charter schools exist.

The Times, at least, admits that there have been problems with poorly functioning charters. Trying to sound reasonable, the editorial cites a respected Stanford University study saying better charters have had good academic results, even though the opposite has happened in cities like Detroit, where half the students attend “significantly worse” charters. They cite demand from parents as evidence that the schools must be working, not mentioning the industry’s marketing routinely trashes traditional K-12 schools. And they say it’s disingenuous for the NAACP to claim charters have reintroduced segregation, because many inner cities are predominately non-white….

The Times and The Post fail to see the charter school industry for what it is — a privatization juggernaut. It receives massive funding from the richest Americans, who incorrectly blame traditional schools for not solving poverty. It benefits from seductive marketing that goes unquestioned, with major media often acting as its propaganda wing. In too many communities, charters present a false hope, as many local activists and parent groups have found. Scarce funds are redirected from traditional schools, students are cherry-picked as communities are roiled and divided, and better educational outcomes are not guaranteed.

Why are the Times and the Post both indifferent to the dangers of privatizing our nation’s public schools? Why do they think it is naive and unreasonable to insist on charter school accountability?

I was in the U.S. Department of Education when the idea of charter schools was first floated. The idea, at the time, was that they would gain autonomy in exchange for accountability. Now they get autonomy with no accountability. The NAACP thinks that is wrong. Public money should be accompanied by public accountability, not by freedom from any accountability at all.

Kevin McCorry read the report from the federal Office of the Inspector General and learned that the major malefactors of the charter industry are the big corporate management chains.

He writes:

Some charter schools operate like islands — day-to-day they run independently of any higher or centralized power.

Others contract with a management organization — sometimes part of a big network, sometimes not. Sometimes for-profit, sometimes not.

It’s these charter management organizations, or CMOs, that have been criticized recently by the Office of the Inspector General inside the U.S. Department of Education.

In a September report, the OIG warned that CMOs pose a “significant risk” to both taxpayer dollars and performance expectations.

The report studied 33 CMOs in six states and found that two-thirds were cause for concern, with internal weaknesses that put federal tax dollars at risk.

Pennsylvania was one of the states investigated, and the report echoed much of what Pa. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has already flagged about CMOs in the state.

He testified on the issue at a hearing in Allegheny County last week.

“When you have the larger management companies running a broad chunk of schools, we view that as a major issue,” he said. “If you were not allowed to find out the salary of your school district superintendent, what would be the outcry in your district?…There would be pitchforks at that meeting. In many of the management companies, we don’t even get to see the salaries let alone the costs.”

In the federal report, five Pa. CMOs were studied — four in Philadelphia and one in Chester. Two in Philadelphia checked out, but the other three rang alarm bells.

The report did not call out organizations by name.

There’s only one charter school in Chester, though, Chester Community Charter. It’s run by CSMI Education Management, a for-profit entity headed by Vahan Gureghian, a wealthy, politically influential player in state politics.

The report says he wrote checks to himself for $11 million dollars without seeking board approval in 2008-09.

This isn’t illegal in and of itself, but like the rest of the red flags in the report, the Inspector General says this raises concerns about the potential for waste, fraud and abuse.

The NAACP is right. It is time for accountability and transparency.

Leonie Haimson, one of the nation’s leading champions of student privacy, posted a detailed description of the Summit/Facebook platform, now in use in more than 100 schools (mostly public schools), and soon to be found in your own district or school, whether it is public or private.

She writes:

Summit is sharing the student personal data with Facebook, Google, Clever and whomever else they please – through an open-ended consent form that they have demanded parents sign. A copy of the consent form is here.

I have never seen such a wholesale demand from any company for personal student data, and can imagine many ways it could be abused. Among other things, Summit/Facebook claims they will have the right to use the personal data “to improve their products and services,” to “conduct surveys, studies” and “perform any other activities requested by the school. ”

The Terms of Service (TOS) limit the right of individuals to sue if they believe their privacy has been invaded:

As the Washington Post article points out, the TOS would force any school or party to the agreement (including teachers) to give up their right to sue in court if they believe their rights or the law has been violated, and limits the dispute to binding arbitration in San Mateo CA – in the midst of Silicon Valley, where Facebook and Google presumably call the shots. This is the same sort of abuse of consumer rights that that banks and credit card companies have included in their TOS and that the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is now trying to ban.

–The CEO of Summit charters, Diane Tavenner, is also the head of the board of the California Charter School Association, which has aggressively tried to get pro-privatization allies elected to California school boards and state office, and has lobbied against any real regulations or oversight to curb charter school abuses in that state.

You will not be surprised to learn that the big money behind this privacy invasion venture is Bill Gates and Laurene Powell Jobs.

In my view and that of many other parents, the explosion of ed tech and the outsourcing of student personal data to private corporations without restriction, like this current Summit/Facebook venture, is as risky for students and teachers as the privatization of public education through charter school expansion. In this case, the risk is multiplied, since the data is going straight into the hands of a powerful charter school CEO – closely linked to Gates, Zuckerberg and Laurene Powell Jobs, among the three wealthiest plutocrats on the planet.

Gates has praised Summit to the skies, has given the chain $11 million, and has made special efforts to get it ensconced in his state of Washington; Zuckerberg is obviously closely entrenched in this initiative, and Laurene Powell Jobs has just granted the chain $10 million to launch a new charter school in Oakland.

Don’t let them data-mine your child.

Get informed. Contact Leonie or other privacy advocates. Leonie’s email address is included in her post.

One of the great all-time Broadway shows was Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane (based on the movie with Zero Mostel). The two men were failed producers who came up with a brilliant idea: raise lots of money to produce a really terrible play, which would quickly close as a flop. They would raise money by promising investors a large share of the ownership, totaling more than 100%. They would keep the money as soon as the play closed and get rich.

The play they picked was a musical called “Springtime for Hitler,” a concept so ludicrous that Bialystock and Bloom were sure it would close after the first performance. But audiences thought it was a parody, and they loved it. To the producers’ shock, their terrible play was a huge hit.

In this spoof recreated by Broderick and Lane, they are now political consultants trying to find the worst political candidate for President and raise millions that they could pocket after he flopped.

I promise you: This is hilarious!

It’s only flaw is that it can’t compete with real life, which is beyond parody!

The NAACP’s decision to call for a moratorium of charter school expansion until laws can be revised to provide accountability and transparency. This decision sent shock waves inside the corporate reform echo chamber. Would they still be able to call themselves leaders of the civil rights ipissue of our time if the NAACP disagreed with their aggressive efforts to privatize public schools?

The right wing reform headquarters called the Center for Education Reform in D.C. put out a press release accusing the NAACP of caving in to pressure from teachers’ unions. Of course, that implies that the corporate-funded conservatives at CER care more about black children than the NAACP and its national convention. Hard to believe.

Then Shavar Jeffries of the Democrats for Education Reform (the hedge fund managers’ pro-charter advocacy group) issued a statement saying that the great African-American scholar W.E.B. DuBois would be shocked to see the NAACP turn against charter schools and privatization.

Jersey Jazzman calls out Jeffries for apparently never having read DuBois. JJ points out that DuBois was clear about his commitment to an elite education for “the talented tenth.” Maybe Jeffries was acknowledging that charters are only for a small elite (which Mike Petrilli called “the strivers”). If so, that case should be stated openly and clearly, instead of pretending that charters could save “poor kids in failing schools.”

JJ also notes that DuBois was a Marxist and it was unlikely that he would support the privatization of public education. Or that he would be able to tolerate an alliance with Wall Street and hedge fund managers.

The national board of the NAACP decided last Saturday to endorse the resolution passed at its general convention, calling for a halt to charter expansion until charters meet the same standards of accountability and transparency as public schools. This was a reasonable decision. It was not anti-charter, it was pro-accountability. It was a responsible decision, made with great courage; after all, both the New York Times and the Washington Post had written editorials urging the board to reject the resolution passed by its general convention last summer and to protect the freedom of charters to ignore accountability, cherrypick students, kick out students with low scores, and live by different standards from those imposed on public schools that accept all students.

Some in the charter advocacy sector responded with rage and attacked the NAACP, even though it is the nation’s most important civil rights organization. It is absurd for charter advocates to say they are fighting for civil rights, then to trash the organization that has been fighting for civil rights for over a century.

Peter Greene writes here about the response of some leaders of the charter industry. They belittled the NAACP for its decision, instead of listening and paying attention to what it actually said. This is the same disrespect that whites have shown to blacks for centuries in this country. At least, read their resolution and think about it before denouncing the NAACP or charging that it was bought by the teachers’ unions. At least, give the board and the members the respect of assuming they acted from experience and conviction, not from nefarious motives.

Greene writes:

If I had to guess (and, of course, I do), I’d say the freak-outery is that this is a PR set-back. The charter movement depends a lot on the ability of the rich white guys pushing charters to be able to gesture at some Actual Black Persons who support charters and agree that charters are the best thing that white folks have ever done for them. This whole holleration is not about policy or politics, but instead centers on their bastard child, PR optics.

It may be simpler than that. Many of the charter backers are in it to make money. A moratorium on launching new charters would hurt their bottom line, and they are simply businessmen who have hit an obstacle to expanding their business revenue. It’s PR perhaps with a side of money-grubbing.

But charter fans do have options here. They could, instead of arguing that the NAACP can be dismissed because they are now ignorant dupes, actually listen to what they’re saying.

I say this as someone on the Support Public Ed side of the debate, where many of us really blew it in the early stages by suggesting that support for charters among parents of color was only happening because they had been misinformed and duped. But they weren’t. They were responding to what looked like the best available solution to the problem of underfunded, under-resourced, just generally crappy poor schools.

The lesson for some of us? It’s a mistake to dismiss someone’s concerns just because you disagree with their method of addressing those concerns. If someone comes running out of a building wearing a tin hat and shouting, “I’m wearing this tin hat because the building is on fire,” discussing the anti-fire efficacy of tin hats is useful, but denying the flames shooting out of windows is not.

So if charter fans were smart, they would look at things like the NAACP resolution and say, “Well, we clearly have some problems that need to be addressed, because these folks are certainly responding to something that they see going on.” They could look at this as something more than a lost skirmish in a PR battle, but an opportunity to gather some actual information.

Or Allen and her posse can keep trying to write off the NAACP as a group of ignorant dupes, blame it all on the teachers’ union, and keep wondering why, even though they’ve thrown away their tin hats, everything feels so very warm.

The Arizona Republic is a conservative newspaper. Since, 1890, when it was founded, it has never endorsed a Democrat for President. Until now. It published an editorial endorsing Hillary Clinton and said that Donald Trump was neither conservative nor qualified.

Then the death threats began. On her show tonight, Rachel Maddox put this into context. Forty years ago, she said, an investigative reporter for the newspaper was murdered by a bomb placed in his car. Now, the callers invoke the name of the assassinated reporter, Don Bolles.

This was the response of the newspaper’s publisher to the death threats. It is magnificent. It gives us hope for the survival of basic democratic values long after this vicious, degrading election is over.

Please read it.

Watch Elizabeth Warren skewer The Donald in this video.