Friday, January 30, 2015

They Didn't Show Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:



They Didn't Show
by: Meg Barcus





My name is Meg and I AM a Bad Ass teacher! I have been a Bad Ass teacher for the last 18 years. Since I was five years old, my entire world has revolved around the field of education. The world that I am living in now is unrecognizable.  



Common Core and Smarter Balanced have destroyed the field that I love so much; the field in which I chose to devote my life. As each day progresses, I learn more and more about Common Core and the testing that goes along with it. I thought that I was fairly well versed on this topic. I thought that I knew a lot. I didn’t know nearly enough. So, I went to a town hall meeting at the University of Delaware to hear more about it and to get justification for the feelings that I had towards this supposed panacea for American Education. I attended this meeting. I and about 100 other people were there to hear a “debate” about Common Core. However, half of the people that were supposed to debate the topic didn’t show. They backed out at the last minute. They didn’t come. They were invited to share the reasons that Common Core and SBAC and PARCC are supposed to be the “promised land.” They didn’t show. That, in and of itself, speaks volumes.  



Another thing that speaks volumes is that the person that they found to support Common Core and the standardized tests that go along with it was not a supporter of Common Core or standardized testing. How do I know this? In her opening statements, she made it very clear that she did not support standardized testing. In her closing remarks, she stated that educational decisions should not be motivated by money [paraphrased]. So, you may ask, what was the point of this debate? Why did I spend 3 ½ hours on a Saturday morning listening to four incredibly intelligent women discuss Common Core and the tests that go along with them? Why? Because I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did.


I learned so many things; things that were shocking in many ways. I've always been a person run more by emotion than anything else. I have always opposed the testing and Common Core based on my own emotional reasons and feeling that tying test scores to student and teacher success is wrong. Test scores don't account for differences or individuality in any way. I always knew in my heart that education has become big business, but I never realized how deep those pockets truly are and how much the "powers that be" are being strong armed into compliance because of the threats that are being given to them. IT'S ALL ABOUT MONEY! The rich get richer and force the hands of everyone to follow what they want, so that they can get richer. Our country is being bought by a select group of
Badass Teachers Association:

GUEST: Teachers are caught in the testing crossfire | Bob Braun's Ledger

GUEST: Teachers are caught in the testing crossfire | Bob Braun's Ledger:



GUEST: Teachers are caught in the testing crossfire

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blogkidstakingtestsBy Grace Nufrio 
As teachers, we are caught in a crossfire when it comes to standardized tests. We do not design these tests, we have no control on what is on them so, therefore,  we cannot adequately prepare our students to take these tests. We do not get the results back for individual students–just a score, if we are lucky, months after the student has left our classroom. Yet, these standardized tests will count in our evaluations on whether or not we are a “good teacher” or a “bad teacher.”
We are also in the middle because, when we tell parents that we do not think these standardized tests accurately assess their child’s knowledge, we appear to be self-serving. If we tell the parents that we truly believe they should opt-out for their child, again it appears to be self-serving.
We are in the middle of this battle, with everything at stake, but we cannot speak out, without appearing to be selfish and to care only about ourselves.
With the TeachNJ Law, our hands are tied even more. That law was a way to write out tenure. We are seeing the results of this law now. We are seeing more and more experienced teachers who have been effective in the past suddenly become partially effective or ineffective. We are seeing tenure charges being brought  to get rid of experienced teachers.
I am not defending a truly “bad teacher,” but the reality is that there really aren’t that many “bad teachers” in the system. Most  have left because they couldn’t teach and didn’t like children. The teaching profession is too hard for someone who doesn’t like teaching. There are other jobs that are much easier. There are other jobs that don’t require you spend your own money to have the materials  students need to be successful. There are other jobs that don’t require all the extra hours that teachers put in to prepare for their classes and grade their students work on their own time. There are other jobs that don’t require personal family time be GUEST: Teachers are caught in the testing crossfire | Bob Braun's Ledger:

What's Good for Cuomo Is Bad for Students | Arthur Goldstein

What's Good for Cuomo Is Bad for Students | Arthur Goldstein:



What's Good for Cuomo Is Bad for Students






 I'm blessed and privileged to be a teacher. The longer I do it, the more I appreciate it. But Andrew Cuomo has not the remotest notion of why that is.

To listen to him, you'd think I was sitting around some work site in a lawn chair with Tony Soprano. Actually, I work in a classroom for the first time in twelve years, and that's only because my supervisor kicked me out of a trailer. I happen to know she did this only to protect a classroom she won in a never-ending building-wide turf war. I entertain no fantasies of luxury or getting rich from this job.
What keeps me going is the faces of kids, kids who come from every corner of the world. Every week they come to my classroom and I try to share the language I love with them. One of my former students is now working in our school as a math teacher. She'll probably be my boss one day. I'm immensely proud of her, and she is the reason I am an activist.
My students are not rich. Some of them have parents who work endless hours in restaurants, small businesses, or delivering newspapers at 4 AM. One of my students told me her father was a doctor in South America, but was working here parking cars. He's here chasing the American dream, sacrificing everything for a better life for his children.
My students can certainly park cars or work 200 hours a week for minimum wage, but that's not why their parents brought them here. Two exits up the LIE from our school is Queens College, and my students can scrimp, save, borrow and go there. After that, they can do what I do, and hopefully move out of an underclass and into a middle class.
Governor Cuomo says he's concerned about the kids. He says that education is not a teacher employment program. In fact, he wants to fire us over test scores. Studies show that teachers account for about 1-14 percent of variation in test scores. They further show that the best predictor of college success is not, in fact, test scores, but rather teacher grades.
Despite that, the governor doesn't trust us. We're not allowed to grade Regents exams of our students because some evil teacher might find a way to pass a kid who scored 64 on the Trig exam, and that would be the end of western civilization. He doesn't trust our supervisors either. Apparently too many of them like too many of us, so he wants people from outside, or from SUNY, or from some galaxy far, far away to pass judgment on us.
Actually, my supervisor knows me a lot better than whatever outside observer Governor Cuomo picks. And I know my kids better than some teacher in another school. Are we prejudiced? Of course we are, and of course I want the best for my What's Good for Cuomo Is Bad for Students | Arthur Goldstein:

Where School Dollars Go to Waste - The Atlantic

Where School Dollars Go to Waste - The Atlantic:



Where School Dollars Go to Waste

"Why throw money at problems? That is what money is for."Kurt Vonnegut






Shutterstock/The Atlantic

America spends tons of money on education even though the final product isn't very impressive. If children are indeed the future, then they're certainly an expensive one: Of the $3.2 trillion in total expenditures for local and state governments in 2012, education accounted for nearly 28 percent, or $869.2 billion, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau. That figure topped government spending in any other sector, almost doubling the second-largest recipient of taxpayer dollars—public welfare.

Local and State Spending by Sector


The Atlantic



But while much attention centers on how much schools are spending, it's also worth examining how well it’s being spent. And it's not a new question. A few years ago the New York Times, for example, hosted a debate in its opinion section about the worthiness of education spending.
Meanwhile, audits regularly find wasted funds at the district level, including one last summer that identified more than $2.7 million in misspent technology funding for schools in Fort Worth, Texas. Another audit—this one for Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Texas—resulted in over 200 recommendations for improvement. The revelations were so damning that the state auditor, Adam Edelen, was quoted blaming the problem on "an unchecked bureaucracy that has become bloated and inefficient at the expense of the classroom." It's undeniable that the burden on taxpayers to foot the bill for education is a heavy one, especially when research shows that the quality of a school district directly correlates with the amount of tax dollars families put into their local economies.

piece last year in USA Today by Michelle Rhee, a Democrat who formerly served as the chancellor of Washington, D.C., public schools, and Susan Combs, Texas' Republican public comptroller, reveals just how concerned public officials on both sides are about the misappropriation of government funds.

Of course, education spending isn’t inherently bad—what matters is the result. Some school districts get lots in return for the amount of money they spend. And some governments have systems that track the return on investment. Texas, for example, launched a tool five years ago that assesses how school districts and individual campuses spend their money and compares the data with student achievement.

Now, the online financial resource WalletHub has crunched the numbers on school spending at 90 of the most-populated cities across the country, revealing which ones are getting the most—and least—bang for their buck. To arrive at the findings, WalletHub divided each city’s aggregate test scores in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math by its total per-capita education spending. The researchers then adjusted those figures for various socioeconomic factors, such as the poverty rate and percentage of households that don't speak English as their first language.


Cities With the Most Efficient K-12 Spending


WalletHub



Regionally, trends suggest that the North East is home to some of the most wasteful school districts. Of the bottom 10 cities on the list, seven are located in that area:

Cities With the Least-Efficient K-12 Spending


WalletHub


For some cities the data is all but indicting: At the bottom of the list is Rochester, New York, a city that is No. 2 for K-12 spending but has the lowest test scores. Jill Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for WalletHub, had this to say about the regional analysis: "As far as the Northeast goes these cities are spending upwards of $2,500 per capita and their test scores really aren’t showing that. They may have more money to spend on students but they are not using it efficiently."

Mapping Efficient and Inefficient K-12 Spending 




WalletHub



California is also home to some of the most wasteful K-12 spenders, according to WalletHub—11 of the state's 16 most-populated cities are in the bottom 25. It's noteworthy that two of those cities also top the list of the percentage of households where English isn't spoken as a first language. While that factor isn't necessarily a reason for their inefficient spending, research shows that the Where School Dollars Go to Waste - The Atlantic: 

Michelle Rhee gets 3-year term (No not Jail) on Scotts Miracle-Gro board - Columbus - Columbus Business First

Michelle Rhee gets 3-year term on Scotts Miracle-Gro board - Columbus - Columbus Business First:



Michelle Rhee gets full 3-year term on Scotts board

Jan 30, 2015, 10:40am EST


Michelle Rhee, the education reformer disliked by many public school teachers, has earned a three-year term on the board of Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.
Rhee, who also goes by Michelle Johnsonafter marrying Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, joined the Marysville lawn-and-garden company's board in August for a term that ended at the end of the year.
Scotts shareholders elected her on Thursday to a three-year term that expires in 2018.
Rhee is controversial in the public education sector. She became famous in 2007 as chancellor of Washington, D.C., schools and her reform efforts put her at odds with many in the district. She resigned in 2010 and started advocacy group StudentsFirst, which she has since left.
Her appointment to the Scotts (NYSE:SMG), board caused some teachers to threaten boycotting the $2.84 billion company, although there's no indication that happened or had any consequential impact.
A Scotts spokesman told me in August that board members "spent a lot of time getting to know her," and CEO Jim Hagedorn called Rhee an innovator and change agent who can bring a unique perspective to Scotts.Michelle Rhee gets 3-year term on Scotts Miracle-Gro board - Columbus - Columbus Business First:

NEA - Congressional Report Card

NEA - Congressional Report Card:



Congressional Report Card

113th Congress, (2013-2014)



The National Education Association (NEA) Legislative Report Card measures Members of Congress’ overall support for public education and educators, with each Member receiving a letter grade of A, B, C, D or F. Letter grades are based on their voting records on selected votes in 2013 and on five additional criteria:
  • Cosponsorship of bills critical to advancing NEA’s identified legislative priorities;
  • Behind- the-scenes work to advance or impede NEA priority issues;
  • Committee votes in support of or against NEA priorities;
  • Accessibility of the Member and staff in Washington, DC to NEA staff and leaders; and
  • Accessibility and education advocacy in the Member’s home state or district.
Additionally, emphasis continues to be given to votes and other actions involving union rights. We believe it important to hold lawmakers accountable at a time when both public and private sector unions and the right to bargain collectively are under severe attack.
More information on NEA's Legislative Report Card may be gained by contacting NEA at reportcard@list.nea.org.

Previous Report Cards

House
Senate
Paid for by the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education at 1201 16th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.NEA - Congressional Report Card:

Cut the Baloney Fact Checking the Cuomo Education Agenda Alliance for Quality Education

Alliance for Quality Education of New York - The state's lead community-based organization in the fight for high quality public education:


Cut the Baloney
Fact Checking the Cuomo Education Agenda




ALBANY (Jan. 30, 2015) - Governor Cuomo has offered up a dramatic set of reforms that amounts to nothing less than an attack on the fundamental concept of public education. His packaging of these proposals creates a compelling narrative that he is the champion of our public school students. The Governor’s State of the State address was peppered with partial facts and misleading assertions. In a moment of rhetorical flourish designed to justify his entire agenda, he called the current teacher evaluation system “baloney,” but his own agenda simply does not cut the mustard.

School Funding: Holding Students Hostage, Growing Inequality 
Governor Cuomo is holding public school students hostage to the agenda of his hedge fund campaign donors and their front groups like Students First and Families Excellent Schools. He says he will not add any funding for art, music, smaller class sizes, career and technical education, advanced placement classes, or anything else, unless lawmakers agree to his education reforms that are at best untested and unproven, and at worst have actually failed in other states. 

Governor Cuomo said that “money does not improve performance.” But there is plenty of evidence of just how much money does matter. A comprehensive new study shows that “a 10 percent increase in the money available for each low-income student resulted in a 9.5 percent increase in students' earnings as adults.”1 His $1.06 billion proposal falls way short of what is needed; it’s half of what was proposed by the Board of Regents and supported by 83 members of the State Legislature. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, inequality in spending between rich and poor districts has grown to $8733 per pupil, a record setting level. When Governor Cuomo says money does not matter, all students suffer, but those in high need districts suffer the most. When he threatens to hold funding for our schools hostage, he is playing politics with our kids.

Evaluations and Testing: Ignoring the Evidence


Governor Cuomo called the current New York State teacher evaluation system “baloney.” He failed to mention that he forced the existing evaluation system through the legislature. At the time, his PR team succeeded in getting TIME Magazine to name him one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People in 2012 in part due to his teacher evaluation system.

Governor Cuomo’s solution is to increase the role of standardized testing despite huge public opposition. He is proposing that 50% of teacher evaluations be based on state tests, disregarding the overwhelming evidence this approach doesn’t work. In fact, the American Statistical Association warns “that teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores,” and that ranking teachers based on test scores “can have unintended consequences that reduce quality.”4    The RAND Corporation concluded that test scores should not be used in “high-stakes decisions about individual teachers or schools.” The National Research Council’s Board on Testing and Assessment states that using test scores in this way is “far too unstable to be considered fair or reliable.”6  In New York, parents, teachers and administrators alike have panned the Governor’s approach as overly simplistic, and too focused on standardized tests.7
 
Ignoring the evidence, Governor Cuomo asserted that, “Everyone will tell you nationwide the key to education reform is a teacher evaluation system.” This is certainly the rhetoric of the corporate reform crowd who are the Governor’s donors, but there is no evidence to back it up. The outcome will be more teaching to the test, which is bad for the education of our children. It will also punish teachers who dedicate themselves to teaching low-income students.

Expanding Pre-K Statewide: Hollow Promises


Governor Cuomo’s budget presentation began with an introduction from a teacher who told us, “Thanks to Governor Cuomo, soon every four year old in the state will have access to quality pre-K education.” The Governor said that as part of his “phase-in” of  universal full-day pre-K, he would “Invest another $365 million this year in pre-k for 4 year olds.” It was very exciting to hear the Governor follow through on last year’s much-ballyhooed commitment regarding statewide pre-K that “as quickly as cities can bring it online, we will fund it.”8 But in reality the teacher who introduced him was, like the rest of us, artfully misled. The $365 million in new money this year is actually not new money at all. It is simply a renewal of the $365 million invested last year - $300 million for New York City, $40 million for the rest of the state and $25 million for a statewide competitive grant program.
 In reality, Governor Cuomo did not propose to expand pre-K for a single four-year-old this year. And this comes after only serving 4% of four-year-olds outside New York City last year. Governor Cuomo has no plan to phase in universal pre-K for upstate and suburban four-year-olds.

Charter Accountability: Another Bait and Switch


The Governor is right that there is a major problem with privately-run charter schools cherry picking students. He promised “anti-creaming” legislation to make sure they serve their share of students in the highest poverty, students with disabilities and English language learners. The problem is that his “anti-creaming” legislation for charter schools is toothless. The only new requirement involves charters self-reporting student demographics. It does not change current law at all in terms of enforcing any requirement to actually serve the same spectrum of high-need students as are served by public schools. It’s anti-creaming legislation without the anti-creaming provisions.  Further, the Governor failed to propose anything to require greater fiscal accountability for charters. The First Deputy Comptroller recently warned of charter schools engaging in “practices that are questionable at best, illegal at worst.”9  Yet the Governor proposed nothing to crack down on fraud, waste, or abuse in the charter school industry.


The Governor and his hedge fund backed charter allies are relying on this toothless enforcement legislation to provide cover for a massive expansion of charter schools. Currently there are 159 available charter school slots, including 24 for New York City. The Governor would add 100 new slots, but he would open up all of  the 159 for any location in the state—meaning that New York City could rapidly see another 259 privately run charter schools. But the Governor also proposes to increase state subsidies for privately run charter schools to $575 per student, on top of tuition paid by local school districts. This additional funding will provide an incentive for an expansion of privately run charter schools statewide, which will divert hundreds of millions of additional state and local dollars away from public schools.  This enormous growth in charters and charter funding would come with no additional accountability for the charter school industry.

Improving Low Performing Schools: Good Sound Bite, Failed Policy


The Governor is right that the state needs to improve education in many schools. That has been our argument all along. Over the years, the Governor has made a big splash off of programs like community schools, extended learning time and statewide pre-K. But he’s invested a very small amount of money—enough to get a headline while serving only a small fraction of students.  For instance, in the 2013 State of the State he promised extended day to every school district that wants to “opt in”, saying if they do it, the state would pay 100% of the additional cost.10  But, as with universal pre-K, he never delivered on this promise. If Governor Cuomo put his money where his mouth is and invested what is necessary to turn every one of these schools into community schools, with extended day, a high quality curriculum and full-day pre-K throughout the state, we would see dramatic improvements. The research cited by his own education commission proves that. But that would require asking millionaires and bankers to pay their fair share in taxes in order to finance those programs. Fair taxation in order to fund these programs could hurt Governor Cuomo’s campaign war chest and his future political ambitions. 

The Governor is proposing a state run takeover of local school districts and schools by turning control of a local school district over to a “receiver”, who essentially becomes the czar of the school district. The Cuomo plan would eliminate the powers of the elected school board and the superintendent, and would make the voices of parents, students and voters moot as the new school czar, who would most likely be a private consultant, would call all the shots. The same plan would be applied to individual schools as well as districts. The school czar could fire all the teachers and administrators, turn the school into a charter school, or insist on other top down dramatic actions. The one power the school czar would not have is additional funding to create the needed programs. For the most part these interventions are borrowed from federal No Child Left Behind programs. 

Educationally, the plan is destined to fail in most cases. In fact, a comprehensive review of these type of interventions nationwide found that “Overall, there is little or no evidence to suggest that any of these options delivers the promised improvements in academic achievement.”11  The research on what does work shows clearly that one of the essential elements is strong parent and community ties,12 but Governor Cuomo’s top down interventions ignores parents and communities. It may be a good sound bite, but it’s bad policy.
Private School Voucher Tax Credit: Pure Privatization
This is nothing more than a give-away to the wealthy. Corporations and individual taxpayers would receive a tax credit equal to 75 percent of their contributions, up to $1 million a year. That is a total of $100 million in taxpayer money going primarily to private schools. In a cynical political ploy, the Governor is holding passage of the DREAM Act hostage in order to win support for the private school tax credit. 

Market Reforms Do Not Work in Education


The Governor’s education agenda places him in the national spotlight alongside presidential contender and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and other leading proponents of a “market reform” agenda for education. This agenda applies market forces to school reform. Test scores are used as a bottom line to measure schools and teachers, just as Wall Street uses a balance sheet to measure profits. Privatization and “market disruption” through expanding charter schools and tax credit voucher programs are hallmarks of this approach. Using high stakes test scores to label schools as “failing”, and to trigger top down takeovers by a single person with the virtually unlimited powers of a corporate CEO, jumps straight out of the corporate “turnaround” playbook. And proclaiming that money does not matter in public education, while insisting on more funding for privately run charter schools, is one of the leading sound bites of the market reformers and their hedge fund sponsors. The problem is that market approaches to education reform have failed. Dr. Margaret Raymond, the director of CREDO, a nationally renowned conservative education think tank at Stanford University, summed it up recently:

“I actually am kind of a pro-market kinda girl. But it doesn’t seem to work in a choice environment for education. I’ve studied competitive markets for much of my career. That’s my academic focus for my work. And (education) is the only industry/sector where the market mechanism just doesn’t work. ”13



1http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/01/20/when-public-schools-get-more-money-students-do-better/?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Capital%20Education&utm_campaign=Capital%20Education%2001%2F21%2F15
  2http://www.aqeny.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/final-final-record-setting-inequality.pdf
  3http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2111975_2111976_2111987,00.html
  4https://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/ASA_VAM_Statement.pdf
  5Daniel F. McCaffrey, Daniel Koretz, J. R. Lockwood, Laura S. Hamilton (2005). Evaluating Value-Added Models for Teacher Accountability. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.
  6National Research Council, Board on Testing and Assessment (2009). Letter Report to the U.S. Department of Education.
  7http://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/01/21/gov-cuomo-wrongly-focused-teacher-evaluations/22129435/
  8http://www.recordonline.com/article/20140213/NEWS/140219841/0/SEARCH
  9http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/01/23/five-key-questions-to-ask-now-about-charter-schools/
  10http://www.governor.ny.gov/news/transcript-governor-andrew-m-cuomos-2013-state-state-address
  11http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/Mathis-SANCTIONS.pdf
  12http://ccsr.uchicago.edu/downloads/9954essentialsupports_onepager_final-2.pdf
  13http://www.educationdive.com/news/credo-director-the-free-market-doesnt-work-in-ed/343780/

Wisconsin Senate Bill 1: Less Flogging is still Flogging | BustED Pencils

Wisconsin Senate Bill 1: Less Flogging is still Flogging | BustED Pencils:



Wisconsin Senate Bill 1: Less Flogging is still Flogging

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flogging_1
As most of you know the Wisconsin House republicans had a hearing on their destroying public schools accountability bill (Assembly Bill #1) a few weeks ago.  Read here for a review of that disastrous day.  
It’s now been two days since I went to the capital in Madison to testify against Senate Bill #1.  In case you’re wondering, Senate Bill #1 is another silly school “accountability ” bill.  And yes I actually waited 7 1/2 hours this time because it was really important for the 6 people left in the room to hear such a blistering and historic oratory.
However, after some reflection I am really troubled by what I heard from people who were supposedly there as supporters of  public education.  Time and time again, public school administrators went to the microphone and literally thanked the Senate for putting forward a bill that was (And I’m paraphrasing), “not as bad as AB #1 and not punitive.”  In fact the School Administrator’s Alliance (SAA) “Representing the Interests of Wisconsin School Children”  called Senate Bill #1, “a significant improvement over Assembly Bill #1.”
Is it really an improvement when our public schools—the hearts of our communities—can still be privatized? And please explain how the continued use of high stakes standardized tests as an accountability tool is not punitive? Children are damaged cognitively and psychologically every time they are forced to take a high stakes standardized test.
Where’s the improvement?  There isn’t any and its extremely simple why?  Children are not struggling in schools because of a lack of accountability.  Children are struggling because accountability denies them the opportunities and essentials for success in school.  In fact, here is what I said on Tuesday,
I am here today as a citizen, a parent and a long time educator.  I start my testimony by asking the committee three questions.
  1. Does this bill provide blankets for homeless children?
  2. Does this bill provide supplemental health care and nutrition for sick and hungry Wisconsin Senate Bill 1: Less Flogging is still Flogging | BustED Pencils:

Report estimates as much as $27.7 million in Illinois charter school fraud

Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse | Center for Popular Democracy:



Report estimates as much as $27.7 million in Illinois charter school fraud
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García demands real oversight, transparency, accountability
in charter industry 


WASHINGTON—The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) has uncovered massive oversight deficiencies and found at least $13.1 million in proven or suspected fraud in the charter school industry in Illinois. This is the latest from a series of state-specific follow-ups to its whistle-blowing May 2014 report, Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse. Today’s report, focusing on the Illinois charter school industry, alleges that this number may be as high as an estimated $27.7 million in possible fraud in 2014 alone and finds that Illinois has no system in place for monitoring charter school projects.
“Here is yet another state where lawmakers continue to dump massive amounts of public school funds into the charter industry, yet no one is held accountable at any stage of the funding pipeline,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Operators continue to line their pockets unchecked while public schools are forced to slash programs due to lack of funding. Lawmakers need to stop treating education budgets like a slush fund for corporate charter school operators and hold them accountable to the students and communities they are supposed to be serving.”
The CPD report, Illinois’ Charter School Fraud Risk Problemidentifies three fundamental flaws with Illinois’ oversight of its charter schools:
  • Oversight depends heavily on whistleblowers and reporting by the charters themselves;
  • General auditing techniques commissioned by the charters are not specifically designed to uncover fraud, only inaccuracies and inefficiencies; and
  • Government agencies in Illinois tasked with investigating fraud are severely understaffed.
Despite instances of proven and suspected fraud and the inability to show real improvement in student achievement, Illinois charter schools have seen enrollment grow by 680 percent and funds continue to pour in. Chicago Public Schools’ budget for its charter schools is $616 million for fiscal year 2015, an increase of 15 percent compared to 2014.
“Illinois students, their families, and taxpayers cannot afford to keep losing millions of dollars in public funds at the hands of charter school operators, who essentially enforce their own rules. It’s time for the Illinois legislature, State Board of Education, and authorizers like Chicago Public Schools to step in and make sure these operators use the funds they are given to fulfill their own promises of a great education for their students,” said Eskelsen García. “There should be a sound structure for oversight and accountability whenever taxpayer dollars are applied.”
CPD recommends that the state of Illinois make major changes to its current oversight structure, including mandated audits designed to detect and prevent fraud; increased transparency and accountability; and a state-imposed moratorium on new charter schools until the state oversight system has adequately reformed.
“It’s time Illinois and all states are able to assure taxpayers that their charter oversight systems are airtight and dedicated to quality and community,” said Eskelsen García.
###
The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing

Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse





Risking Public Money: Illinois Charter School Fraud






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