Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Seattle Schools Community Forum: Charter Commission Picks Questioned

Seattle Schools Community Forum: Charter Commission Picks Questioned:

Charter Commission Picks Questioned

So not all the Charter Commission picks have been happily received and there have been some surprising things said about some of the newly minted members.

The two primary targets are Kevin Jacka and Steve Sundquist.

Superintendent Jacka is from Springdale and leads the Mary Walker School District.  He is suspect because he signed a No on 1240 page (I can't discern if it was the No on 1240 campaign or the WEA campaign.)  Nonetheless, many superintendents, out of concern for their districts, did sign the petition.  (And indeed, even some of the districts recently signed up with a letter of intent to become authorizers are still expressing concern.)

Steve Sundquist, well, we all know he ran in November 2011 as being against charters.  He filled out a King 

A Big Red Splash | First Focus

A Big Red Splash | First Focus:

A Big Red Splash

By Ed Walz
April 3, 2013
CommunicationsLast Tuesday, my Facebook timeline went red, as friend after friend joined the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in changing their profile pictures to a red version of the HRC logo, showing symbolic support for same-sex marriage. I was immediately impressed by the scale of this interesting communications effort, and as I thought more about it, I realized there are are three lessons children’s advocates can take from HRC’s effort:
  1. If it Ain’t Broke … — HRC’s message last Tuesday was the same as its message last Monday: equality. They changed up the packaging by making the logo red, and that made the campaign new and interesting. But they stuck with a message that has served them well for years, avoiding a temptation we all face to change our message with every new opportunity or threat.
  2. One Push Can Be Powerful — HRC has 1.4 million Facebook fans, way more than children’s advocates have. But they made their fan base appear even bigger, by activating as many of their fans as possible all at once. We can do the same, recognizing that social media is largely a numbers game, and using a single push to make a bigger splash.

New Jersey parents joining nationwide boycott of state standardized tests -

New Jersey parents joining nationwide boycott of state standardized tests -

New Jersey parents joining nationwide boycott of state standardized tests

A handful of New Jersey families will join an increasingly vocal national group boycotting state standardized tests this |spring, in the belief that they hinder true learning, fail to measure students’ skills, waste time and squander money.
Jean McTavish of Ridgewood is a New York City high school principal who is boycotting state tests in New Jersey for her two children, Zac, 10, and Ian, 13, as part of a nationwide movement.
Jean McTavish of Ridgewood is a New York City high school principal who is boycotting state tests in New Jersey for her two children, Zac, 10, and Ian, 13, as part of a nationwide movement.
This fledgling revolt comes at a time when education officials in New Jersey and elsewhere are relying more heavily on test scores to evaluate teachers, principals and schools, with the strong backing of President Obama and the vehement opposition of powerful teachers unions.
Jean McTavish, a Ridgewood mother and principal of an alternative high school in New York, said her 10-year-old son, Zak, used to stress out simply seeing the owl in the logo of the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge test, or NJ ASK. Zak and his 13-year-old brother, Ian, won’t be taking the tests this May.
“After 27 years in education, I can’t imagine a 

Jersey Jazzman: Reformy Campaign Money Machine Update

Jersey Jazzman: Reformy Campaign Money Machine Update:

Reformy Campaign Money Machine Update

In my last post, I explained how eight very wealthy people appear to have coordinated their campaign donations to support reformy state- and school district-level candidates across the nation:
  • Greg Penner
  • Arthur Rock
  • David Goldberg and Sheryl Sandberg
  • Kent Thiry
  • Lydia Callaghan
  • Alana and Jennifer Fournier
commenter at my post, however, objects to my characterization of this reformy intrusion into politics:
Might be disappointing, but there's no conspiracy here - just regular old political organizing 

Who do you believe: Childless carpetbagger John White or a Louisiana public school parent? | Crazy Crawfish's Blog

Who do you believe: Childless carpetbagger John White or a Louisiana public school parent? | Crazy Crawfish's Blog:

Who do you believe: Childless carpetbagger John White or a Louisiana public school parent?

In response to our campaign to lobby our legislators and Governor to put a leash on John White’s reckless and illegal privacy violations, John White sent out a letter to local superintendents.  This letter tries to mischaracterize our objections and goals, while pointedly ignoring the underlying issues and facts. I will set the record straight on a point by point (between the lines) basis so you can be the judge who to “believe.”
As the recent investigation and federal probe into Bobby Jindal’s DHH head, Bruce Greenstein, shows, government agencies and their appointed heads are more than capable of performing illegal acts, and lying about them.
For an official copy of this letter please refer here:
A copy has been preserved by this blog as evidence. LDOE has a nasty habit of “losing” all their incriminating or revealing memos and files and we wouldn’t want that to happen here.

April 2,2013
Dear Superintendent,
Over the past few weeks, you may have received communications expressing concern over the inBloom data storage system. I wanted to take a moment to clarify some misinformation, and I wanted to reiterate the state’s continuing commitment to student privacy.
By sharing every last detail about your children with out of state, unaccountable data vendors we can guarantee all students and parents should expect zero privacy. Whereas before most of this data was housed internally, we 

Daily Kos: Leaves received the quilt!!!

Daily Kos: Leaves received the quilt!!!:

Leaves received the quilt!!!

photo (35)
This is one of the most incredible things I've ever been given.
Every one of these sayings is extraordinary.
It's just incredible. On so many levels its just beautiful - emotionally, visually, in the beautiful way it's made, in the words themselves which are so full of poetry, healing and holiness.  There is a real sense of the sacred about it.
In the love behind it, in the community.
It's one of the most amazing things I've ever been given.  Such a gift!
Just a few of the words Leaves on the Current offered upon getting and examining this:
I think she likes it.
There are more pictures of this wonderful gift below.

The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School Part X: Fun With

The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School Part X: Fun With Dick

Oh what a joy it is to be back at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School after almost two weeks. Sadly, what was is, and what is, will be for the foreseeable future.

Today, one of the teachers at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School was attempting to teach a 5th grade 12:1 one class. Yes, this is a rough class, but the kids are generally

Today the class was different. Keith Partridge and Danny Partridge happened to show up today. Keith, a student who never stays in a classroom and wanders the halls all day started up immediately with the teacher. He was disrespectful and was getting the other students to be disrespectful as well. Keith was openly mocking the teacher even after he was warned that the Responder on Duty (ROD) would be called if this anti-social behavior continued. It did, and even though the 

Identities of the rich who hide cash offshore | UK news | The Guardian

Identities of the rich who hide cash offshore | UK news | The Guardian:

Identities of the rich who hide cash offshore

Offshore financial industry leak exposes identities of thousands of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world
British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands, the world's leading offshore haven used by an array of government officials and rich families to hide their wealth. Photograph: Duncan Mcnicol/Getty Images
Millions of internal records have leaked from Britain's offshore financial industry, exposing for the first time the identities of thousands of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world, from presidents to plutocrats, the daughter of a notorious dictator and a British millionaire accused of concealing assets from his ex-wife.
The leak of 2m emails and other documents, mainly from the offshore haven of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), has the potential to cause a seismic shock worldwide to the booming offshore trade, with a former chief economist at McKinsey estimating that wealthy individuals may have as much as $32tn (£21tn) stashed in overseas havens.
In France, Jean-Jacques Augier, President Fran├žois Hollande's campaign co-treasurer and close friend, has been forced to publicly identify his Chinese business partner. It emerges as Hollande is mired in financial scandal because his former budget minister concealed a Swiss bank account for 20 years and repeatedly lied about it.
In Mongolia, the country's former finance minister and deputy speaker of its parliament says he may have to resign from politics as a result of this investigation.
But the two can now be named for the first time because of their use of companies in offshore havens, particularly in the British Virgin Islands, where owners' identities normally remain secret.
The names have been unearthed in a novel project by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists [ICIJ], in collaboration with the Guardian and other international media, who are jointly publishing their research results this week.
The naming project may be extremely damaging for confidence among 

Alfie Kohn on APS cheating scandal: ‘What if we gave a test and nobody came?’ | Get Schooled

Alfie Kohn on APS cheating scandal: ‘What if we gave a test and nobody came?’ | Get Schooled:

Alfie Kohn on APS cheating scandal: ‘What if we gave a test and nobody came?’

testing (Medium)I interviewed education advocate and writer Alfie Kohn a while back. You can read the 2011 interview here.
The APS cheating scandal was in the news at the time, and Kohn told me:
The real cheating scandal that has been going on for years is that kids are being cheated out of meaningful learning by focusing on test scores. Standardized tests like the CRCT measure what matters least. The more you know about education, the less likely you would ever be to measure teachers, schools or kids based on test scores.
I wondered what Kohn, author of “The Case Against Standardized Testing” and other books, thought about the indictments Friday of former APS school chief Beverly Hall and 34 others.
I asked him a few questions for an editorial I am writing for the print AJC.
Here are his answers in full:
Standardized tests are lousy measures of thinking. They assess some combination of (a) family wealth and (b) how much time has been diverted from real learning in order to make kids better …

UPDATE: Correct meeting time is 12:30 pm 4-5-13 Help! Action Alert! Kate and Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education Needs Your Help!!

Correct meeting time is 12:30 pm 

Sacramento County Board of Education
Regular Meeting
Friday / April 5, 2013 / 12:30 P.M.
Meeting Location
Leo A. Palmiter Jr/Sr High School Cafeteria
2040 Ethan Way
Sacramento, CA 95825
Meeting Time
12:30 p.m.

 We believe that the Fortune schools should go before the individual districts where the schools are to be located to petition for  their charter. Please take a minute to let the Sacramento County Board of Education know that you support the Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education and that Fortune Charters must go before the individual districts where the schools are to be located to petition for  their charter. Below you will find some of the issues involved with the fight against the Fortune Charter Schools being granted in district service areas without the approval of the elected school board in that district. Also below are the email addresses of the entire Sacramento County Board of Education, take a moment and let them know that you  support the Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education.

Kate Lenox's profile photo

Hi all:
You may have seen the letter to the SCOE board that I posted on our website.   I received this attached letter in reply from Greg Geeting. He schooled me on some statements I made, including some that were correct, and then cc’d his reply to the Elk Grove Supt. and board President and Raymond and Jeff Cuneo. Meanwhile he ignored the main point of the letter.  I’m writing a reply which I will cc to the same people and send on to you.

The Fortune school  is asking for a material revision of their charter to locate in a area not mentioned in their original petition. It’s almost inevitable that they will come before the SCOE board to ask for another charter to get a start up grant for the third school. The need more money and the state has decided that a charter like theirs only qualifies for one start up grant. Our argument remains the same-they should be petitioning the school districts they want to locate their schools in.  I was told that all three Elk Grove unions  will be going to the SCOE board meeting Friday evening, and that if there are four votes tonight, their Superintendent will be going as well.
Hope you have time to drop them a line,

Send a letter to the SCOE board regarding the Fortune charter


Sacramento News & Review > Blogs > SNOG > Post 

Well, it wasn’t a surprise, but local school board trustees from Sac City UnifiedNatomas Unified, and other area school districts are muy bummed that the Board of the Sacramento County Office of Education usurped their power to approve (or disapprove) charter schools, and went ahead and greenlighted a plan by Fortune Schools to open a several new charters around the county.
Fortune Schools will be allowed to open five school in the next five years, with five more to follow, pending approval from the SCOE board. The charter network would serve 5000 kids in all. Fortune’s stated goal is closing the achievement gap between African American and white students, leading SCOE trustee Harold Fong–the sole “no” vote against the plan–to complain that the board might be approving segregated schools

But mostly the local schools boards feel undermined. “I’m disappointed. I think this is a local decision, with impacts on our local districts,” said Sacramento City Unified School District trustee Patrick Kennedy.

He noted that the county board of education has no active charter schools at all under its watch right now, and may be ill-equipped to give the large new charter network adequate oversight.

“We scrutinize these charters pretty heavily, to make them better. I don’t think they [SCOE] have the track record or the experience.” And Kennedy says the SCOE is a relatively unknown agency to the public, making it tougher to hold them accountable. 

Kennedy also thinks the county board of education may have violated state law when it approved the Fortune Schools Charter–because backers of the charter and the staff at SCOE didn’t really address what the likely impacts would be on local school districts.

For example, “We can not afford to lose several hundred kids,” said Natomas Unified School trustee Lisa Kaplan.  That district is already in such a precarious financial position–because of low enrollment, the economy, and the impact of several previously established charter schools which suck state education money away from the district–that it faces possible bankruptcy and takeover by the state.

“If the charters are approved in our district, it’s basically the board rubber-stamping a state takeover,” Kaplan said of the SCOE decision.

But all is not lost for public school fans.

“Litigation is a real possibility. I think it should be explored,” said Kennedy.
The local districts be the only ones contemplating a lawsuit. The California Teachers Association sent a letter to the SCOE board warning that the courts might frown on county-wide charter. The teachers union cites the case of California School Boards Association v State Board of Education and Aspire Public Schools Inc.  In that case decided last summer the California 1st Distrct Counrt of Appeal found that Aspire schools could not circumvent local school boards under a state-wide charter.

Sure, a state-wide charter sounds a lot less local than a county-wide charter, but the CTA says the principle is the same:  Fortune schools didn’t really make the case that asking Sac City Unified, or Elk Grove Unified, Natomas Unified or other school districts to approve schools in their territory would somehow hurt students.

The ed code says that: “A county board of education may only approve a countywide charter if it finds…that the education services to be provided by the charter school will offer services to a pupil population that will benefit from those services and that cannot be served as well by a charter school that operates in only one school district in the county.”
Even if it’s politically easier to go to the county board.

Here is a recent Sacramento Bee story surrounding Fortunes’ efforts in the Capitol City:
Opposition is mounting against a proposal to create a network of charter schools in Sacramento County.
Area school board members and union representatives say their concern is that local control is being thwarted by Margaret Fortune petitioning for 10 charter schools with the Sacramento County Office of Education and not individual school districts.
“These charters will have implications both fiscal and educational on these local districts, so these districts should have the opportunity to consider the charter application,” said Patrick Kennedy, a Sacramento City Unified board member.
Sacramento City Unified will vote tonight on a resolution expressing concerns over Fortune’s charter proposal, which is aimed at improving the academic achievement of African American students.
This isn’t Fortune’s first charter attempt in City Unified’s boundaries.
Fortune spearheaded the controversial drive to remake Sacramento High School into a charter school.
“This charter petition is a regional charter to address a regional problem,” Fortune said. “I’m comfortable being a gadfly to encourage districts with a negative record of African American achievement to address the problem with a level of seriousness.”
Twin Rivers teacher union President John Ennis said he is writing a letter to the county Board of Education to voice his concern about the charter schools that would be in his jurisdiction. Twin Rivers Superintendent Frank Porter, at the direction of the school board, is writing a similar letter.
Kennedy said tonight’s Sacramento City resolution was drafted by board members and Superintendent Jonathan Raymond.
“This resolution isn’t about being pro or anti charter,” Kennedy said. “It’s about locally elected school boards having input and control over the education of kids in their district.”
The financial implications stem from how schools receive state aid based on average daily student attendance. If students leave district schools to attend independently run charters, the districts would lose thousands of dollars in state aid for each student.
Sacramento County schools chief Dave Gordon said Fortune came to his office because she plans to open charter schools in the Twin Rivers, Natomas, Sacramento City, Elk Grove and Folsom Cordova school districts.
“If they want to operate in more than one district then they are not obligated to go district by district,” he said.
Gordon and his staff will make a recommendation Friday to the county Board of Education.
That recommendation will be sent to affected school districts Monday.
The county board will hear the petition Feb. 1 and possibly vote.
“The standard for charter approval is whether they meet the legal requirement, not whether you like charters or not,” Gordon said.
If approved, the first school would open in August in south Sacramento as a kindergarten through third-grade school and expand incrementally each year to a K-8 campus.
Fortune said she has more than 100 parents who want to send their children to the first charter.
“I’m excited about the conversations that have been happening,” said Fortune, who is president of the Fortune School of Education, a teacher and principal credentialing program. “It excites me that there are moms in hair salons writing letters to the county Office of Education on why they want a better education for their child. That kind of engagement can only be good.”
Last August, Fortune School opened its first charter, the Hardy Brown College Prep Charter School at the Carousel Mall in San Bernardino. Fortune plans to open a similar charter school system with 10 schools through the San Bernardino City Unified School District.
The Sacramento County charter proposal calls for one school to open each year for the first six years. The schools will have longer school days, use non-union teachers and each be named after a living African American icon, Fortune said.

Charter schools a dividing issue in Sacramento County education board races

Published: Saturday, Apr. 21, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 6, 2012 - 9:21 pm
Seats on the Sacramento County Board of Education aren't usually hotly contested. But a controversial network of charter schools has changed that.
The June 5 contest for four open seats on the seven-member board has already generated one lawsuit and a flurry of donations from charter school opponents and proponents.
The undercurrent is that candidates are running in an effort to stop the approval of charter schools operated by educator Margaret Fortune, said board President Brian Cooley. He is not running for re-election.
"Quite frankly, I think there is a reason there are so many candidates," Cooley said. "Most people usually aren't even aware of this race, but the charter issue really put it on the forefront."
Two Fortune schools already are operating in the county, with three more approved. Fortune plans to ask to open five additional schools over the next decade. The schools focus on closing the achievement gap for African American students.
If two candidates opposed to the charter network were to win, they could tip the board majority. Harold Fong, who has only one opponent, voted against the Fortune schools last year. John Scribner, who has no opposition, and Rivas, who is not up for re-election, both abstained.
Scribner has reported a $100 donation from the political director of the California Federation of Teachers – the state's largest teachers union – on his campaign contribution statement.
Charters generally don't sit well with unions. The schools usually aren't unionized and they draw students and the dollars attached to them from local school districts.
Heather McGowan, one of four candidates running for the seat being vacated by Cooley, said the $4,900 fee for her candidate's statement was loaned to her by the teachers union for the Twin Rivers school district.
But Fortune isn't sitting idly by. As of March 17, she had donated $1,100 to Christina Shipman. She is running against Fong, who voted against the charters. She also has given $100 to incumbent Eleanor Brown, who voted for the charters.
A Charter School Political Action Committee has contributed $3,500 to the campaign of Penny Schwinn, a charter school operator, who is also running to replace Cooley. A sitting board member, Gregory Geeting, who voted for the charter, lent Schwinn $1,500 for her campaign.
McGowan wouldn't say whether she would vote against the charter schools if elected. "My biggest concern are that these schools are being brought to the county board for approval, instead of to local school districts," she said.
But McGowan said she would take a closer look at whether the county Office of Education legally approved the Fortune charter network. She said there is some question whether a county board can approve a chain of individual schools. "It could throw out the entire charter," she said.
McGowan said she was approached about running for the school board by local education leaders 48 hours before the deadline. She said there is no slate working against the charters. "We are running as individuals."
In the meantime, incumbent Fong waged a battle of his own. Fong sued county Registrar of Voters Jill Lavine to prevent his opponent from calling herself an "early childhood educator" in the voter pamphlet.
Fong asserted that Shipman, a manager for First Five Solano, an agency providing early education programs, is not an educator.
The court disagreed.
The rules about job titles aren't very stringent, said Alice Jarboe, assistant registrar of voters for the county. A person's title should explain what they have done in the past 12 months and should be reasonable and clear, she said.
Editor's Note: This story has been changed from the print version to correct board member John Scribner's vote on the Margaret Fortune network of charter schools. Corrected on April 23, 2012.
Charter Schools - Dividing Communities since 1991