Wednesday, September 14, 2016

“Does Governor Jerry Brown Want His Legacy to Be the Privatization of California’s Public Schools?” | Diane Ravitch's blog

“Does Governor Jerry Brown Want His Legacy to Be the Privatization of California’s Public Schools?” | Diane Ravitch's blog:

“Does Governor Jerry Brown Want His Legacy to Be the Privatization of California’s Public Schools?”

Joel Warner writes an investigative article about the fight to bring transparency to California’s charter schools.
He describes the problems that many charter schools have encountered–or created–because of their lack of transparency. He might have added that they are not only non-transparent, they are also unaccountable in their use of public funds:
Since these charters are exempt from most school district laws, there’s nothing on the books compelling them to abide by California’s open-meeting and open-records rules. And these days, California is being singled out for lax oversight of its booming charter school industry. “I came away appalled,” says Carol Burris, executive director of the New York-based Network for Public Education, after a recent fact-finding trip to the state for a four-part series she’s writing on the state of charters in California. “I was really taken aback by how unregulated charters are in the state.”
Part of the problem, says Burris, is Governor Brown’s pro-charter stance; last year he vetoed a bill that would have banned for-profit charter schools in the state, a restriction that even many charter school advocates support. Another factor, says Burris, is that the California Charter Schools Association, which did not respond to a request for comment for this article, has become a powerful lobbying force against many reforms, thanks to major funding from deep-pocketed charter advocates.
Charter critics contend that the absence of regulations contributes to the scandals that have plagued California’s charter schools, including:

Charter operators who were found guilty of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds.
A charter principal who moonlighted as an NBA scout on his school’s dime.
A charter teacher who claimed her boss told her to fly to Nigeria and marry her brother-in-law to make him a U.S. citizen.
Last year, a report by the Center for Popular Democracy, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Institute and Public Advocates Inc. concluded that charter school fraud and mismanagement had already cost California taxpayers more than $81 million. And last month, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and Public Advocates reported that more than 250 California charter schools – one-fifth of the state’s total – violated state law by excluding low-performing and other potentially undesirable students. In both reports, authors concluded that because of minimal oversight, such misconduct findings are likely to be “just the tip of the iceberg.”
Such troubles don’t just generate headlines; they impact students, says Sarah Vigrass, a longtime K-8 teacher at California Virtual Academies (CAVA), the state’s largest online charter school. In July, K12 Inc., the Virginia-based for-profit that manages CAVA, agreed to a $168.5 million settlement with California in the wake of a state Attorney General probe and a Mercury News investigation into whether the company had manipulated its success rates and attendance records. According to Vigrass, over the years she’s seen K12 reduce the quality and quantity of education materials it provides to its students – but she and her colleagues have no way of knowing why that might be happening.
Julian Vasquez Heilig, a professor at California State University, chair of the California NAACP education committee, and a board member of NPE, says in the article about Governor Jerry Brown:
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“Does he want his legacy to be the anti-democratic privatization of our public schools?”
“Does Governor Jerry Brown Want His Legacy to Be the Privatization of California’s Public Schools?” | Diane Ravitch's blog:

 Esquire Blogger: Charter Schools are a Vehicle for Graft and Profit

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Eric Sheninger: Governor Christie’s Guide to Destroying a Great Public School System
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New York: Former Chair of State Board of Regents Endorses Vouchers and More Charters
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