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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Federal Complaint Puts Charter School Segregation on Blast | TakePart

Federal Complaint Puts Charter School Segregation on Blast | TakePart:

Federal Complaint Puts Charter School Segregation on Blast

The ACLU and the Community Legal Aid Society allege that 75 percent of charter schools in Delaware are racially divided.

A veteran journalist and former White House correspondent for Politico, Joseph Williams is a freelance writer, blogger, and essayist in Washington, D.C.
Hailed as the future of public education, charter schools were sold to the public as an innovative, taxpayer-funded solution to failing schools in poor minority neighborhoods and a growing achievement gap between black and white schoolchildren.
A new federal civil rights complaint, however, alleges that charter schools in Delaware have actually turned back the clock to the era of separate-but-equal education.
The complaint, filed jointly by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Community Legal Aid Society earlier this month, contends that more than three-quarters of charters statewide are identifiable as either mostly white or mostly minority, and the predominantly white ones far outperform the mostly minority ones on standardized achievement tests.
“Specifically, the state’s Charter School Act of 1995 has led to the proliferation of high-performing charter schools with practices and policies that result in the disproportionate exclusion of African-American and Hispanic students, low income students and students with disabilities,” according to the complaint, filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The disparities, the complaint continues, stem from state-sanctioned “preferential treatment” of some students, including its “failure to adequately regulate school-level barriers to admission” such as expensive uniforms, mandatory parental involvement and activity fees.
The ACLU and CLAS want the Office for Civil Rights to stop Delaware from authorizing and opening new charter schools until the state comes up with an acceptable desegregation plan—including eliminating funding disparity between charters and traditional public schools.
"The power of choice should be with the student and the family, not with the charter school," Kathleen MacRae, the ACLU's executive director, said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit.
The Delaware complaint, while eye-opening, is simply the latest challenge alleging racial Federal Complaint Puts Charter School Segregation on Blast | TakePart:

What Happens When Your Teacher Is a Video Game? | The Nation

What Happens When Your Teacher Is a Video Game? | The Nation:

What Happens When Your Teacher Is a Video Game?

Gordon Lafer on September 24, 2014 - 6:57PM ET

This fall, New Orleans's Recovery School District became the country's first all-charter district, completing a process begun following Hurricane Katrina, when the Bush administration refused to pay for reopening public schools, instead providing $45 million for charter schools to take their place. While these schools are publicly funded, the local community has no control over their curriculum or quality because they are not overseen by any democratically elected school board.
If corporate lobbyists have their way, the New Orleans model will be replicated across the country, with Netflix CEO and charter booster Reed Hastings leading the call to "get rid of school boards."
Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, a new type of segregation is spreading across the urban landscape. The US Chamber of Commerce, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Prosperity and their legislative allies are promoting an ambitious, two-pronged agenda for poor cities: replace public schools with privately run charter schools, and replace teachers with technology.
What was accomplished by a hurricane in New Orleans is being pursued elsewhere by legislation. The formula is simple: use standardized tests to declare dozens of poor schools "persistently failing"; put these under the control of a special unelected authority; and then have that authority replace the public schools with charters. In 2011, Tennessee and Michigan created special districts to take over low-scoring schools; in both cases, the superintendent was specifically authorized to replace public schools with charters. This year, Wisconsin legislators considered a bill that bypassed the middle step and simply required that low-performing public schools be replaced with privately run charters. Since test scores are primarily a function of poverty, it's no surprise that 80 percent of the Tennessee schools targeted for privatization are in Memphis, or that the Michigan and Wisconsin bills focus, respectively, on Detroit and Milwaukee.
Recently, corporate-backed reform advocates have begun insisting that no public authority whatsoever be responsible for running schools. Neerav Kingsland, the former CEO of New Schools for New Orleans, warns that superintendents "must not succumb to the temptation to improve schools through better direct operation. Rather, [they] must humbly acknowledge that a marketplace of school operators will…out-perform even the best direct-run system." Hastings similarly suggests that the role of elected school boards be limited to "bringing to town more and more charter-school networks. Sort of like a Chamber of Commerce would to develop business."
Thus, what "slum clearance" did for the real-estate industry in the 1960s and '70s, high-stakes testing will do for the charter industry: wipe away large swaths of public schools, enabling private operators to grow not school by school, but twenty or thirty schools at a time.
This is not an evidence-based policy; research shows that replacing public schools with privately run charters will, in itself, do nothing to improve education. But this hasn't dampened the vigor of charter-school boosters.
* * *
Corporate lobbyists are increasingly promoting a type of charter school that places an emphasis on technology instead of human teachers. One of the exemplars of this model is Rocketship Education, based in Silicon Valley but with contracts to open schools in Milwaukee, Memphis, Nashville and Washington, DC. Rocketship's model is based on four principles. First, the company cuts costs by eliminating teachers. Starting in kindergarten, students spend about one-quarter of their class time in teacherless computer labs, What Happens When Your Teacher Is a Video Game? | The Nation:

What Pearson Education Asked Santa For

Fewer Teachers, More Data In The Schools Of The Future:

Fewer Teachers, More Data In The Schools Of The Future

Technology has already transformed education, but there is an increasingly widespread belief that the process is only just getting started. In one scenario, we are heading towards a paradigm shift that will mean fewer teachers and more data in the schools of the future.

According to a new report by two respected educationalists, we are on the verge of a historic change in the way schools operate.

In this model, huge quantities of data will finally make personalized education a reality, while large numbers of teachers will be replaced by support staff.

The study has been put together by Australian educationalist Dr Peter Hill, who has held senior positions both in his home country and in the U.S., as director of research and development at the National Center on Education and the Economy, and Sir Michael Barber, a former professor at the Institute of Education in London and one-time advisor to U.K. prime minister Tony Blair.

In their vision, the combination of globalization and new technology, plus the apparent stagnation of top-performing education systems, will drive the biggest revolution in education in more than 100 years.

According to their report: “New models of learning and teaching are evolving that make traditional classroom, teacher and textbook modes of formal learning obsolete.”

A key change is the availability of data. “Next-generation learning systems will create an explosion in data because they track learning and teaching at the individual student and lesson level,” the report says, with data providing “instant and detailed feedback” on pupil progress.

This approach also involves “a movement away from predominantly teacher/text instruction towards and online learning environment in a range of settings, supported by small-group and one-on-one tutorial assistance.”

Fewer Teachers, More Data In The Schools Of The Future:

Education’s Newsmaker Of The Year: Charter School Scandals

Education’s Newsmaker Of The Year: Charter School Scandals:

Education’s Newsmaker Of The Year: Charter School Scandals

Since it’s the time of the year when newspapers, websites, and television talk shows scan their archives to pick the person, place, or thing that sums up the year in entertainment, business, sports, or every other venue, why not do that for education too?
In 2014 education news, lots of personalities came and went.
Michelle Rhee gave way to Campbell Brown as a torchbearer for “reform.” The 
comedian Louis C. K. had a turn at becoming an education wonk with his commentary on the Common Core standards. Numerous “Chiefs for Change” toppled from the ranks of chiefdom. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett went down in defeat due in part to his gutting of public schools, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker remained resilient while spreading the cancerous voucher program from Milwaukee to the rest of the state. New York Mayor Bill De Blasio rose to turn back the failed education reforms of ex-mayor Bloomberg, only to have his populist agenda blocked by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo who insisted imposing policies favored by Wall Street. Progressives formed Democrats for Public Education to counter the neoliberal, big money clout of Democrats for Education Reform. And Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush emerged as rival voices in the ongoing debate about the Common Core among potential Republican presidential candidates.

But hogging the camera throughout the year was another notable character: charter school scandals.
In 2014, charter schools, which had always been marketed for a legendary ability to deliver promising new innovations for education, became known primarily for their ability to concoct innovative new scams.
From Local Stories To National Scandal
A story that appeared at Forbes in late 2013 foretold a lot of what would emerge in 2014. That post “Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City” brought to light for the first time in a mainstream source the financial rewards that were being mined
from charter schools. As author Addison Wiggin explained, a mixture of tax incentives, government programs, and Wall St. investors eager to make money were coming together to deliver a charter school bonanza – especially if the charter operation could “escape scrutiny” behind the veil of being privately held or if the charter operation could mix its business in “with other ventures that have nothing to do with education.”

As 2014 began, more stories about charter schools scandals continued to drip out from local press outlets – a chain of charter schools teaching creationism, a charter school closing abruptly for mysterious reasons, a charter high school operating as a for-profit “basketball factory,”recruiting players from around the world while delivering a sub-par Education’s Newsmaker Of The Year: Charter School Scandals:


A compilation of news articles about charter schools which have been charged with, or are highly suspected of, tampering with admissions, grades, attendance and testing; misuse of funds and embezzlement; engaging in nepotism and conflicts of interest; engaging in complicated and shady real estate deals; and/or have been engaging in other questionable, unethical, borderline-legal, or illegal activities. This is also a record of charter school instability and other unsavory tidbits.


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