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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Michigan Family Buying Indiana Education | Hoosier School Heist Blog

The Michigan Family Buying Indiana Education | Hoosier School Heist Blog:


Art by Clyde Gaw
Art by Clyde Gaw

By Doug Martin,  the author of Hoosier School Heist (find iton Facebook)
(cross-posted at Schools Matter)
If you haven’t read my book Hoosier School Heist, chances are you don’t know Betsy DeVos.  Without a doubt, Betsy DeVos and her family members are some of the biggest players behind school privatization in Indiana (and several other states).
Betsy DeVos is the wife of Richard (Dick) DeVos, Jr., the Christian Right leader of Amway and Right-to-Work  supporter who ran for governor of Michigan in 2006 and almost won.   As I explain in my book, Richard, in a video a few years back, detailed the family plan for Indiana public education and school privatization across the country.
Betsy DeVos’ brother Erik Prince founded the Christian military force Blackwater, known for its massacre, threats to a U.S. investigator, and big government payouts in the War on Terror.
Along with Walmart’s Walton family, Betsy DeVos heads the American Federation for Children, a front-group which funneled money into the Hoosiers for Economic Growth PAC which in turn handed tons of campaign donations to Indiana Republicans (and lawmakers in several other states) to pass anti-public education bills to benefit for-profit charter operators and rightwing free-market-promoting Christian schools.
Besides giving Tony Bennet $10,000 directly, the DeVos family has handed $940,000 to the American Federation for Children.
Mike Pence has received just $20,000 in campaign donations The Michigan Family Buying Indiana Education | Hoosier School Heist Blog:

K.J. sues SN&R over controversial emails - Page Burner - July 1, 2015 - Blogs - Sacramento News & Review

K.J. sues SN&R over controversial emails - Page Burner - July 1, 2015 - Blogs - Sacramento News & Review:

K.J. sues SN&R over controversial emails

Kevin Johnson is suing SN&R and the city of Sacramento to block the release of emails between his office and lawyers involved in Johnson’s legal troubles with the National Conference of Black Mayors.
The litigation is meant to force SN&R to agree that the city should not disclose certain emails even though the city attorney has determined them to be public records. Failing that, Johnson’s attorney wants a Sacramento Superior Court judge to prohibit the city from releasing emails, which he believes are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Johnson’s attorney, David Pittinsky, with the Philadelphia-based law firm Ballard Spahr, threatened the legal action last week.
“We’re not suing you as a bad person,” he said during a phone call. “But we need to protect ourselves.”
Let’s back up. Regular readers may remember that SN&R filed a public-records request in March in order to better understand how and why the mayor’s staff uses a network of private Gmail accounts to do city business (read the story, “Special Delivery,” printed on April 23:
You may also recall that Johnson has used city staff for many of his non-city projects. One of those was a takeover of the leadership of the National Conference of Black Mayors, which was described in a PowerPoint presentation to city staff as a “coup” (read my recent column, from June 11, titled “KJ Inc. strikes again”:
The NCBM takeover resulted in a nasty legal fight involving Johnson and aggrieved NCBM officials. Each of these separate threads—the parallel email accounts for the mayor’s staff, and the NCBM coup—show the remarkable extent to which Johnson uses city resources for non-city business. 
In the course of reviewing documents for SN&R’s records request, deputy city attorney Michael Benner identified several emails between the mayor’s staff and Ballard Spahr—that’s the firm representing the mayor and the K.J. sues SN&R over controversial emails - Page Burner - July 1, 2015 - Blogs - Sacramento News & Review:

An amusing Common Core irony - The Washington Post

An amusing Common Core irony - The Washington Post:

An amusing Common Core irony


Diane Ravitch, the education historian, former assistant secretary of education, and titular leader of the movement against corporate school reform, edited a book decades ago titled “The American Reader: Words That Moved a Nation.” It is an anthology of speeches, letters, poems, songs, documents and essays by people who have “inspired, delighted, enraged, and roused America.”
Ravitch is also a fierce critic of the Common Core State Standards (as she wrote here). It turns out — as Ravitch wrote on her blog — that the book is listed in Appendix B of the Common Core State Standards as a “text exemplar” in the category of Informational Texts: History/Social Studies — but she is not mentioned as the editor. Three spots above “The American Reader” on the exemplar list is “An American Primer,” whose editor, Daniel J. Boorstin, is mentioned.

In fact, if you look at the complete list of text exemplars, there are plenty of anthologies with the editors’ names listed. For example:

Russ on Reading: State Teacher Equity Plans: Following Data Down the Rabbit Hole

Russ on Reading: State Teacher Equity Plans: Following Data Down the Rabbit Hole:

State Teacher Equity Plans: Following Data Down the Rabbit Hole

You may remember that last fall with great fanfare, President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in another of a long line of misguided educational decrees, announced that they were requiring states to develop new plans to ensure equity in the distribution of quality teachers (I wrote about this decree here). Well, now those plans are in and available for public inspection here.

Education week has looked at twelve of those state reports and provides a good summary of what they found here. Basically, some of these reports offered a few new ideas, but others recycled ideas from the last equity plan from 2006 or reported on the progress they had made with certain programs.

Reading these lengthy, dense reports could be a really good cure for insomnia, so I only looked at two of the reports, one from the state where I live, Pennsylvania (80 pages)and the one from the state where I work, New Jersey (40 pages).

Here is my summary of the two plans:

The Pennsylvania report said blah, blah, blah, professional development; blah, blah, blah teacher preparation; blah, blah, blah new Russ on Reading: State Teacher Equity Plans: Following Data Down the Rabbit Hole:

About those Ed Regs for Improving Teacher Equity: A preview of new (old) findings | School Finance 101

About those Ed Regs for Improving Teacher Equity: A preview of new (old) findings | School Finance 101:

About those Ed Regs for Improving Teacher Equity: A preview of new (old) findings 

Doc student Mark Weber and I have been blogging a bit less lately and digging in on a number of interesting academic papers ranging from analyses of charter school expenditures to inter and intra-district resource inequality.  Among these papers is an analysis of data provided by ED for states to run preliminary analyses of measures of teacher equity across schools.
As states roll out their plans, this topic is again getting some ed media attention, most of which (if not all) misses entirely the point that regulatory pressure passed by states along to local public districts will achieve little or nothing in equalizing the distribution of teacher/teaching/instructional resources across schools and children statewide. That is, without any attention to inter-district disparities in school funding, whichas I have noted, have only continued to get worse. Bottom line, you can’t fix cross-school, statewide disparities in resources without fixing between district disparities in funding. Here are a portion of the intro and conclusions of our current draft:
New federal regulations (State Plans to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators)[1] place increased pressure on states and local public school districts to improve their measurement and reporting of gaps in teacher attributes across schools and the children they serve, and ultimately to mitigate revealed disparities. But, these regulations largely sidestep the extent to which availability of financial resources might influence the distribution of teachers, pointing a finger instead at “root causes” such as lack of effective leadership, lack of comprehensive human capital strategies and otherwise ineffective and inefficient personnel policies.[2] Failure to emphasize the potential role of broader financial disparities as a root cause of inequitable access to excellent educators, and thus failure to mitigate those disparities, may undermine the administration’s goals.
Despite a lack of explicit attention to inter-district fiscal disparities as possible root causes of inequitable access to excellent educators, the administration provides guidance on measuring teacher equity using existing data sources and measures which either directly or indirectly involve financial resources. While broadly referencing “inexperienced, unqualified, or “out-of-field teachers” as a concern,[3] the administration’s guidance also cites measures of teacher salaries and cumulative school site spending on teacher compensation (as reported in the recent CRDC collection).[4]
Coinciding with these new federal regulations are a series of legal challenges in states including California and New York which claim that state statutes providing due process protections and defining tenure status for teachers are a primary cause of deficiencies in teacher qualifications, specifically in districts and schools within districts serving disadvantaged minority populations (Black, 2016). Implicit in these legal challenges is an assumption that if statutorily defined tenure status and due process requirements pertaining to teacher dismissal did not exist, statewide disparities in teacher qualities between higher and lower poverty schools (under the statutes in question) would be substantially mitigated. Like the federal regulations, this approach fails entirely to consider that disparities in district financial resources may be substantial determinants of statewide variations in teacher attributes.
As a basis by which inequality should be determined, the administration places 
About those Ed Regs for Improving Teacher Equity: A preview of new (old) findings | School Finance 101:

FUSD board divided on need for outside investigation of bidding processes | Fresno Bee Fresno Bee

FUSD board divided on need for outside investigation of bidding processes | Fresno Bee Fresno Bee:

FUSD board divided on need for outside investigation of bidding processes

 The Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees remains divided in the wake of acontroversial construction deal that was recently deemed illegal by the 5th District Court of Appeal.

Board members disagree about whether an independent investigation should be conducted to answer questions about how and why the district went outside the scope of typical bidding processes when it signed a near-$40 million contract with Harris Construction to build Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School.
While the board has not taken up the matter in a public meeting, with board leadershipshutting down requests to get it on the agenda, trustees have taken their arguments public anyway, signing off on two conflicting letters to the editor in The Bee in the past week.
In a letter to the editor in Tuesday’s paper, trustees Janet Ryan and Christopher De La Cerda say fellow trustees’ call for an outside investigation is unnecessary, and defend lease-leaseback deals — the process used in the Harris Construction case. Lease-leaseback deals were designed for cash-strapped districts that want to build schools. The method allows school districts to handpick developers who will pay the upfront building costs, then the district pays to lease the school until it’s paid off.
The appellate court found the Gaston Middle deal was not a true lease-leaseback deal because Fresno Unified had the money to pay it off immediately, and the decision has left critics alleging district officials broke the rules in order to favor Harris Construction.
Fresno Unified Trustee Christopher De La Cerda, citing construction of Gaston Middle School as a positive development being overshadowed by the debate of how it was paid for
“As a current board member and former educator, I continue to remind myself what is at the center of this issue. The district finally built a state-of-the-art middle school for a part of our community that lacked one for more than 30 years. The positive impact that it has had on the children, their families and the community is just beginning to be realized,” De La Cerda said Tuesday in an email. “For that, I would suggest that the on-going criticism has been worth it.”
De La Cerda and Ryan point to other cases where other school districts in California have gone to court and won regarding the lease-leaseback method, and say any investigation would be “unwise” while the case is still pending a final court decision. The board voted to appeal the most recent court decision, asking that the case move to the California Supreme Court. The district has already spent $117,000 litigating the case, according to a district official.
The case was not addressed at a Fresno Unified Audit Committee Meeting on Tuesday, but it could be in the future, according to Ryan.
The committee — made up of some trustees, district staff and community members — meets quarterly with an external auditor, required to oversee districts by state law, and an additional internal auditor that Fresno Unified employs voluntarily to keep an eye on finances and business practices.
Ryan said that while she doesn’t think an investigation is needed, she would support a move to have the firm already employed by the district — Price, Paige & Company — to conduct an audit of the bidding process in question.
“I’m a part of this committee and I trust these guys and think they do a good job,” Ryan said Tuesday. “In September, if we want to put that on the agenda, that’s something I would support.” The Audit Committee voted Tuesday to renew its contract with Price, Paige & Company, extending its seven-year business relationship.
But three of the seven Fresno Unified trustees want new eyes on the case and are asking that the board consider hiring an outside firm that has no prior ties to the district to look into the Harris Construction contract.
Fresno Unified Trustee Brooke Ashjian, lamenting what he says is a lack of open discussion about how bond dollars are being spent
Trustee Brooke Ashjian said the board’s current focus on the purpose of lease-leaseback deals is a red herring, and that the concern is more about the deals that happened between Fresno Unified and Harris Construction prior to the company’s selection for the project. Harris Construction agreed to do consulting for free in exchange for winning the project’s contract — and without the full board’s approval.FUSD board divided on need for outside investigation of bidding processes | Fresno Bee Fresno Bee:

Read more here:

Rewriting @MichelleMalkin’s bodyslam of Teach For America | Cloaking Inequity

Rewriting @MichelleMalkin’s bodyslam of Teach For America | Cloaking Inequity:

Rewriting @MichelleMalkin’s bodyslam of Teach For America

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 12.00.58 PM
Not long ago Fox News contributor and columnist Michelle Malkin issued a stinging critique of Teach For America in the New York Post entitled The militant takeover of the ‘Teach for America’ corps. I was surprised that the right was turning on Teach For America. They have been huge supporters of their temporary teacher model over the years. I tweeted the following.
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This single tweet caused a 1,000 tweet Twitter storm directed at me by Teach For America supporters. I couldn’t even keep up with all of the tweets flying around so I had to bring Chad Sommer, Annie Tan and other TFA alum dissidents into the Twitter conversation as backup. The predominance of tweets tried to frame my tweet as agreeing with Malkin’s entire thesis (See for example Choosing A Battle in the Fight for Educational Justice). I explained to the Teach For America supporters on Twitter (deluging me with tweets) that I only agreed with the portion about the need to stop public funding. They weren’t satisfied with that point.I don’t think there is any mystery why I have levied critiques against TFA and proffered that they reform for their “reform.” I have blogged extensive counter narrative here at Cloaking Inequity. For all of Cloaking Inequity’s posts on Teach For America click here. So I found the attacks on Twitter disingenuous. But, to make my perspective more clear relative to Malkin’s argument, I have taken some creative liberty and rewritten Ms. Malkin’s column. I use the parts of her argument that I agree with verbatim, and then made modifications where my perspective diverges from her’s.
It’s increasingly difficult to tell the difference between Teach for America — whose leaders are at the forefront of anti-teacher, privatizing forces in New Orleans, Chicago and elsewhere — and right-leaning foundations such at the Walton Family Foundation (TFA’s largest donor) and the Broad Foundation (another large donor). Guess what, taxpayers? You’re paying for it! Wendy Kopp founded Teach for 
Rewriting @MichelleMalkin’s bodyslam of Teach For America | Cloaking Inequity: