Mercedes Schneider teaches high school in Louisiana. She is supposed to resume full-time, in person instruction in a few weeks, although her state has a 14% positivity rate for COVID.

She describes how she will rearrange her classroom and how she will teach, in detail.

I am the teacher, and I am supposed to limit my movement in my own classroom. Is every conversation with a student to be said loud enough for all to hear? Am I to teach without being able to walk up to my students or have them walk up to me? Apparently that is the expectation. But let’s not pretend that what I will be able to do for my students in my COVID-era classroom is remotely on par with normal teacher-student and student-student interaction.

In short, what I will be offering in my room is a form of distance learning to students who happen to be seated in a space in which they can see me and I can see them.

In another post, Mercedes explained that she bought two HEPA filters for her classroom. It has windows, but they don’t open. It has air-conditioners but they don’t filter the air. She is doing what she can to protect her students and herself.

A teacher in the District of Columbia wrote about the hidden scandal in public education: crumbling buildings.

She writes:

For all the debate about why schools should not open … the most obvious elephant in the room is invisible or just a footnote in most discussions. Yes… schools are crowded, yes… the government is not giving timely funding for the necessary PPE and such… and there are SO MANY reasons I could provide as to the dangers at this current time from early childhood issues to teen issues. But the glaring one involves a problem that has existed LONG before the pandemic, but would now be impossible “to fix” in order to make schools safe to open this fall.

US public school buildings are falling apart and have been for years. My school has a rampant mold problem. Two years ago we had a terrible rainy summer and came back to see that the mold was no longer hidden and just “peeking through, but rather was everywhere. I had a giant black clump of black mold on my ceiling in one spot where there is always moisture under normal circumstances. Mold was everywhere – hallways, classrooms, floors…. Was there mold abatement? No. They took ceiling tiles out, cleaned cursorily here and there for “cosmetic appeal”. They finally closed the school down over a weekend in mid fall and turned up all the heaters on high and opened windows and doors all weekend. The spores may have gone into dormancy – that is all. They would perk up as soon as pipe condensation started up when the AC came on in spring. At the end of the school year summer school was held at my school and the can was pushed further down the road for repairs and abatement.

That “road” never came. The custodian was told by his superiors to just replace ceiling tiles. I would regularly spray the obvious mold patch in my ceiling with hydrogen peroxide (bought on my own dime) knowing that this mold could not be healthy for little ones lungs!

Why bring all this up? Our school also has heat and AC issues… filters not fitting properly when replaced etc. My school is NO DIFFERENT than so many public schools in America. Even if the government did give over funding (even right away in March) it would take years to bring the buildings up to safety standards under normal conditions. All kinds of respiratory illnesses abound in my school and schools in other areas of the country too (have teacher friends in different places). This vulnerability would make our young as well as staff even more vulnerable in a very dangerous time.

So, do we send our students back to schools that make them vulnerable under ordinary circumstances? I have a feeling that S. Korea and schools in Europe are paying attention to school infrastructure so it really is a matter of organizing space, schedules to reduce numbers of students at any one time and adding PPE and cleaning.

NOT IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS… they are unsafe to begin with. This is the big elephant in the room.

Thank god my region made a smart decision and very early and set the tone for the entire metro DC/VA/MD area.

Jack Schneider is a historian of education. In this post, which he wrote at my request, he analyzes the new push for homeschooling. In the midst of the global pandemic, with millions of children quarantined at home, its not surprising that parents are compelled to be teachers. But how many parents will want to homeschool when real schools are one day available again?

Schneider writes:

Never let a good crisis go to waste. As any policy advocate knows, the destabilizing nature of an emergency creates a rare opportunity: sweeping change can happen quickly.

Both parties have a history of exploiting difficulties and disasters. During the Great Recession, for instance, the Obama administration pushed through a series of heavy-handed federal education reforms that might otherwise have met with stiff resistance. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the most ambitious education proposals have come from Republicans, because the shuttering of schools has played to their advantage.

With state revenues shrinking before our eyes and schools forced online, conservatives have seized the opportunity to push for a number of long-standing pet projects: virtual schooling, spending cuts, union-busting, and privatization. Unthinkable in ordinary times, these ideologically-motivated reforms suddenly seem plausible.
Consider the recent push for homeschooling. The right has long made the case that public education is a waste of taxpayer funds and an offense to individual liberty. “Government schools,” as many conservatives deridingly call them, strip parents of their freedom to educate their children as they please; worse, they do so at an annual cost of nearly a trillion dollars. Homeschooling, by contrast, is defined by limited government oversight and costs taxpayers virtually nothing.

Homeschooling is no great evil. It predates formal schooling and has existed alongside the public education system for roughly two centuries. It also constitutes a small fraction of overall school enrollments in the United States.

Yet it is important to understand current advocacy for homeschooling as what it is: crisis-related opportunism. Homeschooling hasn’t suddenly become better or more appealing than it ever was. Instead, market-oriented conservatives understand that this is the best shot they’ve ever had at dismantling public education (an aim that Jennifer Berkshire and I detail in our book A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door). Homeschooling, for those like Betsy DeVos, is a means to that end.

A recent article in Education Next—a publication created by the conservative Hoover Institution—offers a perfect case in point. It may lead with the classic ideological argument—that homeschooling offers “the freedom to explore education as families see fit, with limited government oversight.” But the real aim of the piece is to persuade readers that our concerns about homeschooling are “overblown.” It’s a play for respectability—ammunition for the policy siege to come.

Yet the evidence on offer is hardly compelling. As we learn, homeschooled children go to museums and libraries somewhat more often than their public school counterparts—largely because they are not at school all day. They are slightly more likely to visit a zoo or aquarium. And they are 17 percentage points more likely to do arts and crafts projects. We are also told, as if we couldn’t have guessed, that homeschooled children are more likely to participate in family activities.

And that’s just about all.

There are some nods to the fact that homeschooling isn’t uniform—that families often band together, employ additional internet-based resources, and sometimes even participate in school-based activities. But on the whole, there is little evidence that homeschooling is a viable large-scale alternative to public education.

To his credit, the study’s author, Daniel Hamlin, doesn’t make that claim. But we need to imagine how such studies will be transformed as they careen across the internet, and as they are weaponized by ideologically-motivated legislators.

We must remember, too, that there is a cost to homeschooling. Most children who are homeschooled probably turn out just fine, though the truth is we don’t actually know—we don’t have the evidence. For many children, however, a shift away from school as we know it would be devastating. Their academic experiences would be more limited and their social experiences much narrower. They would lose out on nutrition and health services, miss opportunities to build interracial and cross-class friendships, and experience far more idiosyncratic forms of citizenship preparation. All of this, as we know from educational research, would most severely affect the least advantaged—those from historically marginalized racial groups and low-income families.

Despite the limited evidentiary base for homeschooling, and the serious concerns we should have, we can be sure that the push for widespread homeschooling will come. The present crisis is simply too good to waste. And given the nature of this emergency, the case for channeling funds directly to families—even if it is at the expense of public school budgets—is an easy one to make.

So, expect to see a sudden influx of research (and research-like products) that tells us to put our concerns aside, to embrace homeschooling for the time being, and to allow policy leaders to blaze a new trail. But read carefully, and remember that any changes implemented now may endure far into the future.

Eli Saslow of the Washington Post interviewed Arizona Superintendent Jeff Gregorich about the prospect of opening schools in his district with the coronavirus still active in the region. The article causes me to wonder why decisions about when to open schools are made by politicians, not scientists, medical experts, and educators.

Gregorich was candid, blunt, worried.

This is my choice, but I’m starting to wish that it wasn’t. I don’t feel qualified. I’ve been a superintendent for 20 years, so I guess I should be used to making decisions, but I keep getting lost in my head. I’ll be in my office looking at a blank computer screen, and then all of the sudden I realize a whole hour’s gone by. I’m worried. I’m worried about everything. Each possibility I come up with is a bad one.

The governor has told us we have to open our schools to students on August 17th, or else we miss out on five percent of our funding. I run a high-needs district in middle-of-nowhere Arizona. We’re 90 percent Hispanic and more than 90 percent free-and-reduced lunch. These kids need every dollar we can get. But covid is spreading all over this area and hitting my staff, and now it feels like there’s a gun to my head. I already lost one teacher to this virus. Do I risk opening back up even if it’s going to cost us more lives? Or do we run school remotely and end up depriving these kids?

This is your classic one-horse town. Picture John Wayne riding through cactuses and all that. I’m superintendent, high school principal and sometimes the basketball referee during recess. This is a skeleton staff, and we pay an average salary of about 40,000 a year. I’ve got nothing to cut. We’re buying new programs for virtual learning and trying to get hotspots and iPads for all our kids. Five percent of our budget is hundreds of thousands of dollars. Where’s that going to come from? I might lose teaching positions or basic curriculum unless we somehow get up and running.

I’ve been in the building every day, sanitizing doors and measuring out space in classrooms. We still haven’t received our order of Plexiglas barriers, so we’re cutting up shower curtains and trying to make do with that. It’s one obstacle after the next. Just last week I found out we had another staff member who tested positive, so I went through the guidance from OSHA and the CDC and tried to figure out the protocols. I’m not an expert at any of this, but I did my best with the contact tracing. I called 10 people on staff and told them they’d had a possible exposure. I arranged separate cars and got us all to the testing site. Some of my staff members were crying. They’ve seen what can happen, and they’re coming to me with questions I can’t always answer. “Does my whole family need to get tested?” “How long do I have to quarantine?” “What if this virus hits me like it did Mrs. Byrd?”

We got back two of those tests already — both positive. We’re still waiting on eight more. That makes 11 percent of my staff that’s gotten covid, and we haven’t had a single student in our buildings since March. Part of our facility is closed down for decontamination, but we don’t have anyone left to decontaminate it unless I want to put on my hazmat suit and go in there. We’ve seen the impacts of this virus on our maintenance department, on transportation, on food service, on faculty. It’s like this district is shutting down case by case. I don’t understand how anyone could expect us to reopen the building this month in a way that feels safe. It’s like they’re telling us: “Okay. Summer’s over. It’s been long enough. Time to get back to normal.” But since when has this virus operated on our schedule?

I dream about going back to normal. I’d love to be open. These kids are hurting right now. I don’t need a politician to tell me that. We only have 300 students in this district, and they’re like family. My wife is a teacher here, and we had four kids go through these schools. I know whose parents are laid off from the copper mine and who doesn’t have enough to eat. We delivered breakfast and lunches this summer, and we gave out more meals each day than we have students. I get phone calls from families dealing with poverty issues, depression, loneliness, boredom. Some of these kids are out in the wilderness right now, and school is the best place for them. We all agree on that. But every time I start to play out what that looks like on August 17th, I get sick to my stomach. More than a quarter of our students live with grandparents. These kids could very easily catch this virus, spread it and bring it back home. It’s not safe. There’s no way it can be safe.

If you think anything else, I’m sorry, but it’s a fantasy. Kids will get sick, or worse. Family members will die. Teachers will die.

Thomas Ultican continues his investigation of the tentacles of billionaire reformers, this time focusing on the tumultuous career of John Deasy, who resigned as superintendent of the Stockton, California, school district.

Ultican shows how Deasy rose to become superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, how Justin tenure there was marked by controversy as he walked in lockstep with the Eli Broad-Bill Gates agenda of charter school expansion, high-stakes testing, and huge investments in technology. His controversial decision to spend $1.3 billion on iPads and tech curriculum led to the end of his tenure in L.A.

On to Stockton, where the Mayor and three school board members were closely allied with the billionaire agenda.

A sad and cautionary tale about the destructive billionaire-funded movement to gut public schools.

Andy Hargreaves is an internationally renowned scholar and author who taught for many years at Boston College. He wrote this article about education technology for Valerie Strauss’s blog “The Answer Sheet.”

I previously posted a presentation that Andy delivered at an international conference in South Korea, where he described his vision of the future post-pandemic. It was brilliant and points in the direction we should be heading.

Strauss writes about Andy (who is a personal friend of mine):

Hargreaves is a research professor at Boston College and visiting professor at the University of Ottawa who has been working for decades to improve school effectiveness. He has been awarded visiting professorships in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Sweden, Spain, Japan, Norway and Singapore. And he is past president of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement.

Hargreaves founded and serves as co-president of the Atlantic Rim Collaboratory, or ARC, a group of nine nations committed to broadly defined excellence, equity, well-being, inclusion, democracy and human rights. He has consulted with numerous governments, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, universities and professional associations. He has written more than 30 books — and received numerous awards for them — and he was the founding editor in chief of the Journal of Educational Change.

Andy Hargreaves writes:

As we head into the dog days of summer, a new mantra is being spread across the world’s governments and through its media. It’s called “reimagining education.” On the surface, much of it, even most of it, sounds helpful and positive. It’s rightfully concerned about the physical health of children and their teachers. Its visions of innovative learning are engaging and purposeful. But eventually, the conclusion is drawn that these interests can be best advanced by digital technology.

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) signed an agreement with billionaire businessman Bill Gates to “reimagine” public education in the state through technology. Cuomo dredged up outworn and inaccurate stereotypes of “the old model of everybody goes and sits in the classroom, and the teacher is in front of that classroom and teaches that class, and you do that all across the city, all across the state, all these buildings, all these physical classrooms.” “Why,” he wondered, “with all the technology you have?”
Cuomo questions why school buildings still exist — and says New York will work with Bill Gates to ‘reimagine education’
A report in May by Microsoft, co-authored by its staff, on reimagining education has constructive advice on how to create meaningful learning and provide health protections and social distancing once children return to school. Yet its ultimate vision is for a “hybrid learning environment” where “technology will be prominent.” “A blend of real-life and online learning will concur. Learning will happen at school, at home, in the community and beyond.”
This kind of talk is energizing education ministers, international lending banks, technology consultants and not-for-profits, who are eager to reimagine a better post-covid future for public schools.

In effect, though, a lot of reimagining education is about how learning will be leveraged or delivered in a blended or hybrid format that is available anytime, anywhere, through public-private partnerships involving digital technology.
Yet, after years and billions of dollars of investment in digital technology in schools, there is little firm evidence that it substantially improves children’s learning. In her book “Slaying Goliath,” Diane Ravitch, former assistant secretary of education and public education advocate, showed that there is no evidence to support (and there is much to contradict) the claim that superior performance results from online learning.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is cautious about the benefits of technology for learning. Its own evidence is that “computers do not improve pupil results.” The OECD’s education chief, Andreas Schleicher, has warned that despite some promise shown by technology options during the coronavirus pandemic, “education systems need to pay close attention that technology will not further amplify existing inequalities in access and quality of learning.”

“This is not just a matter of providing access to technology and open learning resources,” Schleicher said. “It will also require maintaining effective social relationships between families, teachers and students — particularly for those students who lack the resilience, learning strategies or engagement to learn on their own.” A July OECD report further advises that “any digital strategy should take into account potential risks” of things like digital distraction, “and balance digital use with screen-free activities.”

Even before the novel coronavirus, excess screen time and technology use had already increased adolescent anxiety, especially after the global penetration of smartphone use among adolescents beginning around 2012. Digital addiction also distracts young children from outdoor activity, free play and face-to-face relationships. During the pandemic, young children up to age 11 have been spending more than double the amount of screen time recommended by pediatricians.
Necessity is the mother of invention. During the novel coronavirus, digital learning at home has been an invaluable stopgap to enable children’s learning to persist somehow. It’s hard to imagine how everyone would have coped without the Internet and other digital technologies if this pandemic had happened even 20 years ago.

But if necessity is the mother of invention, we should also avoid making a virtue out of a necessity. Kids, parents and teachers have been experiencing endless problems with digital learning at home — kids who can’t concentrate; devices that break down; families with several kids, only one device, and practically no space; lessons devoid of humor or emotion; young kids walking off or hiding under tables during the middle of a Zoom class (I’m talking about my own 5-year-old twin grandchildren here!); insufficient instructions for parents to do things like help the child practice cursive writing (but how, exactly??).

Teenagers are now the greatest mental health risk of all age groups during the pandemic. Adolescents need to go to school to be with their friends, develop their senses of identity, become responsible citizens, learn about how to deal with racism and prejudice (especially if they live with parents who may be racist and prejudiced), and so on. They need less time on screens, not more. We don’t need to be downplaying the importance of physical schools just yet.

When they get back to school, children will not need more of the anytime-anywhere Big Tech strategy. They will need more face-to-face support in the here and now — to get back the habits of lining up, taking turns and listening to others; to get help dealing with the post-traumatic stresses that accompany disasters such as this; to get the special education support to help them deal with learning disabilities and ADHD distractions for which there was little or no support at home, and so on. Learning in the here and now in school will need more human and less hybrid learning. It will need less technology, or more judicious use of it, than most kids have experienced during covid-19.

Of course, technology can and does enhance great teaching by using rich resources and methods for generating interactive student engagement. But technology will not make weaker teachers more inspiring, caring or empathetic, more able to understand and develop global learning competencies like collaboration or citizenship, more able to deal with prejudice and bullying, or more ready to help their children learn and play outdoors. Only effective selection, training and development of teachers can do that.

We can benefit from using digital technology in learning. But we need to do it in a way that deliberately uses technology in a balanced (not just a hybrid or blended) way, and that maximizes the benefits, while minimizing the clear risks of excess screen-time and digital addiction.

A balanced approach to digital technology use should also pinpoint areas where it uniquely provides something of value that cannot be offered in any other way. This is what the business field calls its “unique value proposition” (UVP). One UVP of digital technology occurs when children with special needs are given devices and programs to access and express their learning. Another is when teachers in small, remote rural schools can connect with and learn from colleagues in their subject or grade level who teach elsewhere. These are just two of the many UVPs of digital technology use in schools.

Balanced learning with judicious use of technology is an essential part of the physical schools we will always need. But once kids go home, they don’t stop learning. What happens then?

When I was a teenager, learning after school took place through the books I took home that were shared by my classmates, as well as in the public library that was available to everyone. After school learning was public, universal and free.

But digital learning at home — the new global public library — is not public, universal and free.

One thing the pandemic has reminded us of in U.S. education is about the great chasm that is the digital divide. So instead of leaving digital learning resources outside the school to market forces and privileged access, anytime, anywhere, we need to create conditions for technologically enhanced learning that are universal, public and free to those who need it. Learning-related technology outside the school should be a civil right, alongside food, shelter and education itself that is available everywhere and always to everyone as a universal entitlement. It should be free of charge to those who need it.

If this scenario sounds far-fetched, it already exists in several countries. They include one of the world’s highest performers in education, Estonia, where all curriculum materials were already online before covid-19.

In South Korea, access to the Internet and to digital devices is close to 100 percent. Then there is Uruguay, where every family has access to digital technology for learning. This has resulted from a policy of one laptop per child that was established in 2007, and from a national, government-funded innovation agency that has supported projects that are linked to but not driven by various kinds of technology, in more than a third of the nation’s schools. The existence of this national platform meant that within days of learning moving from schools to homes, use of the digital platform went up by over 1,000 percent.

Immediately after the pandemic, we need to focus on the here and now to help schools cope with post-traumatic stress and other mental health problems, and to reestablish relationships and routines.

Technology has an important role in schools to make good teaching and learning better. But even as a hybrid, it should not be the main driver or leverage for reimagining better learning in schools. It’s not just hybrids or blends we want. We need a thoughtful balance that uses the UVP of technology wherever it can improve learning and well-being, while actively avoiding excess screen time that might disturb that balance, and continuing to promote outstanding face-to-face teachers and teaching that are still the cornerstone of an effective school system.

At the same time, reimagining education should also ensure that additional learning opportunities at home are universal, public and free of charge everywhere and always to all those who need it.

Enough, but not too much, digital technology and a lot more face-to-face support for vulnerable students after the pandemic — that’s what our reimagined new normal now needs to include.

Nancy Flanagan writes here about why she is sticking with Facebook, despite it multiple flaws.

I was on Facebook for a brief time, then quit. Then resumed, then quit again. What I discovered was that when I quit Facebook, my identity remained there, waiting for me to return. I was reminded of King George III in “Hamilton” singing “You’ll Be Back.”

No, I won’t. It’s addictive, true. But anyone who wants to reach me knows how to get in touch. I don’t need another way to waste time. I have too many already. And I don’t want to direct a penny towards Mark Zuckerberg.

What do you think?

Will you stick with Facebook or did you quit? Or did you never sign up?

Retired teacher Glen Brown has written his own poetic addendum to a book by Robert Sears called “The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump.”

I was not aware of Sears’ collection and organizing of Trumpian verbiage into blank verse. Searching for the poetry of Trump by Sears on Amazon, I discovered that he also wrote a book titled: “Vladimir Putin: Life Coach.”

Here are one of Glen Brown’s Trump poems:


“I’m One of the Smartest People in the World” by Donald J. Trump

“Look, having nuclear —
my uncle was a great professor
and scientist and engineer,
Dr. John Trump at MIT;
good genes, very good genes,
okay, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance,
very good, very smart —
you know, if you’re a conservative Republican,
if I were a liberal, if, like, okay,
if I ran as a liberal Democrat,
they would say I’m one of the smartest people
anywhere in the world —
it’s true! — but when you’re a conservative Republican
they try — oh, do they do a number —
that’s why I always start off:
Went to Wharton, was a good student,
went there, went there, did this, built a fortune —
you know I have to give my like credentials
all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged —
but you look at the nuclear deal,
the thing that really bothers me —
it would have been so easy,
and it’s not as important as these lives are
nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me
many, many years ago,
the power and that was 35 years ago;
he would explain the power
of what’s going to happen
and he was right —
who would have thought?
but when you look at what’s going on
with the four prisoners —
now it used to be three, now it’s four —
but when it was three and even now,
I would have said it’s all in the messenger;
fellas, and it is fellas because, you know,
they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women
are smarter right now than the men,
so, you know, it’s gonna take them
about another 150 years —
but the Persians are great negotiators,
the Iranians are great negotiators,
so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.”

Carl J. Petersen, a parent advocate for students with special needs in the public schools of Los Angeles, wrote here about the failure of the LAUSD school board to monitor graft in the charter sector.

He writes about the deliberate negligence of board members supported by the charter industry:

As Community Preparatory Academy (CPA) approached the end of its charter, it was $820,303 in debt. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was a major creditor, with invoices that were about two years old totaling $82,240. The school had not resolved the majority of the Notices to Cure that the LAUSD Charter School Division (CSD) had issued, some of which involved health and safety violations. “Since CPA [had] opened in 2014, the school [had] not earned a rating higher than a ‘2’ (Developing) in the area of governance” on its annual oversight visits. Despite all of these problems, CPA requested that the LAUSD renew its charter.

Speaking in favor of rejecting CPA’s charter renewal, I noted some of the financial irregularities in the school’s governance and asked: “Was this school [Executive Director Janis] Bucknor’s personal piggy bank?” Yesterday, Bucknor herself provided the answer when she “agreed to plead guilty to embezzling $3.1 million in school funds that she spent on her personal use”. These funds were stolen from students “to pay for personal travel, restaurants, Amazon and Etsy purchases and private school tuition for her children” along with “more than $220,000…spent on Disney-related expenses, including cruise line vacations and theme park admissions.”
Central to my comments before the LAUSD board was the assertion that CPA’s charter should have been revoked long before it was up for renewal. This opinion is now strengthened the serious corruption that has been exposed by Bucknor’s guilty plea. How much of the $3.1 million could have been saved for use in the education of students if CPA had been shut down from the moment the school refused to resolve the concerns brought forward by the district? Instead, the LAUSD allowed the charter to continue operating with Bucknor having unfettered access to public funds.

Ignoring the almost five years of misbehavior by the charter that was allowed to continue without interruption, Board Member Nick Melvoin mocked my concerns by claiming that “we need to point out and be consistent of [sic] people who are saying that this board doesn’t hold charters accountable at a meeting where we are closing two schools”. He also said the board should “look at themselves in the mirror” and they should “be thinking [about] how are we holding ourselves accountable both academically at the school level and fiscally.” A good start would be to ensure that scarce funds are not taken from students in order to finance a charter school administrator’s Disney vacations.

Melvoin stated that he thought that the LAUSD would not “be comfortable with [a] conversation” that compared public schools to privately run charter schools. This is an easy position to take when he and other charter industry-financed board members like Monica Garcia, Caprice Young, and Ref Rodriguez have ensured that this competition does not take place on a level playing field. Instead of demanding accountability as they allowed public funds to flow into private hands, they built a bureaucracy that ensures that charter schools do not have to follow the same rules as their public school counterparts. The charter school industry will spend millions more this year on the campaigns of Marilyn Koziatek and Tanya Ortiz Franklin to ensure that their underregulated operations continue without interference.

The charter school industry would like you to believe that the corruption that occurred at CPA is an isolated incident. They said the same thing when Vielka McFarlane of the Celerity Educational Group “agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to misappropriate and embezzle public funds” and when El Camino’s former Executive Director David Fehte was caught charging personal expenses to his school credit card. Even after these cases of misconduct became public, the CCSA fought against measures that would make charter schools accountable. This makes them complicit when the corruption continues. The same can be said for politicians like Melvoin who have stood in the way of reforms.

Don’t board members have a duty to represent the people who elected them, rather than the California Charter School Association that funded their campaigns?

In this article that appeared in Forbes, Peter Greene reviews the implications of the Network for Public Education’s report of charter school closures.

When parents choose a charter school for their child, they are gambling that the school will be around for another three or four years or longer. The odds are not good.

He writes:

Within the first three years, 18% of charters had closed, with many of those closures occurring within the first year. By the end of five years, 25% of charters had closed. By the ten year mark, 40% of charters had closed. Of the 17 cohorts, five had been around for fifteen years; within those, roughly half of all charter schools had closed (anywhere from 47% to 54%). Looked at side by side, the cohort results are fairly steady; the failure rates have not been increasing or decreasing over the years.

Charter advocates have often argued that charter churn is a feature, not a bug, simply a sign that market forces are working and that weaker schools are being sloughed off. But the NPE report notes that these closures represent at least 867,000 students who “found themselves emptying their lockers for the last time—sometimes in the middle of a school year—as their school shutters its door for good…

Charter supporters may argue that this is all just the market working itself out, but that’s hardly a comfort to parents who must go through shopping, application, enrollment and adjustment to the new school yet again. As the report acknowledges, there are charter schools doing some excellent work out there, but for parents, enrolling a child in a charter school—particularly a new one—is a bit of a risk. It’s one thing to see market forces work in a sector such as restaurants, where new businesses come and go and very few go the distance; if you discover that your new favorite eatery has suddenly closed, it’s a minor inconvenience. It’s another things to see such instability in a sector that is supposed to provide stability and education for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.