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Thursday, May 5, 2016

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: How and Why CPS Removed Me from My School – Troy LaRaviere's blog

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: How and Why CPS Removed Me from My School – Troy LaRaviere's blog:

You won’t believe this (Then again, if you know Chicago, you might)
After the mayor’s office had me removed from my school I wrote, “The corruption behind CPS’s actions that day was readily apparent. I intend to write about it soon.”
Well, here it is.
Take a deep breath. You’re in for one hell of a ride.

On Wednesday, April 20th I received a letter informing me that I’d been reassigned “to home” and that CPS would seek to suspend me without pay.  Several days later, I was given the charges CPS used to justify their actions.  I plan on addressing those charges in the very near future. The first step, however, is to understand how CPS attempted to remove me.  That requires an understanding of the events in the two months prior to my reassignment.
One of my favorite films is a martial arts epic entitled, Hero.  The film stars Jet Li as a nameless warrior who carries out a meticulous plan to rid his kingdom of a ruthless would-be emperor.  The film takes place in three acts with each act telling the same story from a different—and better informed—view point; just when you thought you understood what was going on, another small detail changes your entire perspective.
That is how Wednesday April 20th unfolded. It was a strange day, even by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) standards.  There are three groups of facts you should know in order to grasp the implications of what CPS did. Some may seem unrelated at first, but by the time you finish reading, you’ll see the connections and—more importantly—you’ll see the corruption.
Fact 1: An Unprecedented Inquiry
In late February, it was announced that I was nominated to run for president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA).  Within days, the THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: How and Why CPS Removed Me from My School – Troy LaRaviere's blog:

ED: No Records on Closed Charters Mentioned in Its "Commitment to Transparency," CMD Appeals | PR Watch

ED: No Records on Closed Charters Mentioned in Its "Commitment to Transparency," CMD Appeals | PR Watch:

ED: No Records on Closed Charters Mentioned in Its "Commitment to Transparency," CMD Appeals -

Today the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is filing its appeal from a claim by the U.S. Department of Education that it has no records about closed or never-opened charter schools referenced in its "Commitment to Transparency" press release.
On December 23, ED publicly issued a statement called "A Commitment to Transparency: Learning More about the Charter School Program."
That statement noted that it had funded more than 2,600 charter schools that were "operational" in the last full school year and that it had funded 430 charters that had "subsequently closed," along with 699 "prospective schools."
However, ED released data for only the operational charters schools and did not list the 1,129 charters that either closed or had not yet opened since 2006.
So, in January, CMD requested records about those other charters.  
In April, ED denied CMD's request saying it had searched and found no records about the closed or not-opened charters that had received federal taxpayer moneys, despite the specific numbers it used in its release.
CMD's appeal notes that:
It strains credulity and common sense that, despite spending billions in taxpayer dollars on charters and putting out this press release—among several—on the accomplishments of the Charter Schools Program, the Department claims to have no databases, no data analyses, and no internal communications about the program mentioned in its press release and charters that received funds but closed or never opened, nor any external communications with charter school grant recipients about the success or failure of those charters.
The Department’s article states that, “CSP planning and startup capital facilitated the creation of over 2,600 charter schools that were operational as of SY 2013-14; approximately 430 charter schools that served students but subsequently closed by SY 2013-14; and approximately 699 “prospective schools.” Yet the Department claims that it was unable to locate any lists of what schools those are, how much federal funding they received, or any correspondence or other records relating to that data.
Similarly, the Department claims that is has no records relating to an assessment of the suitability or eligibility for financial support of “prospective schools” and no correspondence regarding charter schools that closed or never opened.
Accordingly, the search conducted by the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation & Improvement for records responsive to our requests must have been inadequate.
As CMD was first to document last year, the federal government has spent more than $3.7 billion in taxpayer dollars
- See more at:

“Tests Great”–“Less Knowing” | The Merrow Report

“Tests Great”–“Less Knowing” | The Merrow Report:

“Tests Great”–“Less Knowing”

Remember those funny television commercials where two sports celebrities faux-argued about the benefits of Miller Lite beer?  One would shout and pound the table to make the point that Miller Lite “Tastes Great,” and the other would (supposedly) disagree by responding with equal fervor that it was “Less Filling.”

I’m suggesting an Education Reform version after a generation of high-stakes testing pressure brought on by No Child Left Behind and continued in the Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top” program.
If I were producing a series of ads, I would cast Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Kaya Henderson,  John King, Kati Haycock, Pearson Education President John Fallon, Eva Moskowitz, Campbell Brown and a few other prominent supporters of test-based reform.
One would pound the table and proclaim that our students “Test Great!”
Another would respond with equal fervor that our students are “Less Knowing!”
But yesterday I scrapped my plans for the campaign, because it turns out that, after years of test-based reform, our kids do NOT “Test Great,” although apparently they are “Less Knowing.”
Here’s what Jennifer Kerr reported for the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s not a promising picture for the nation’s high school seniors – they are slipping in math, not making strides in reading and only about one-third are prepared for the academic challenges of entry-level college courses.
Scores released Wednesday from the so-called Nation’s Report Card show one-quarter of 12th-graders taking the test performed proficiently or better in math. Only 37 percent of the “Tests Great”–“Less Knowing” | The Merrow Report:

If You Were Secretary of Ed for a Day, How would YOU Elevate the Teaching Profession? - Living in Dialogue

If You Were Secretary of Ed for a Day, How would YOU Elevate the Teaching Profession? - Living in Dialogue:

If You Were Secretary of Ed for a Day, How would YOU Elevate the Teaching Profession

By Anthony Cody.
This particular teacher appreciation week we seem to be getting an especially hard sell on the virtues of John King, who left behind a state full of angry parents and teachers in New York in order to seize the reins of President Obama’s Department of Education, just as the administration prepares to leave. The big theme we are hearing is that Secretary King wants to “elevate the teaching profession.” This story cites the Teach to Lead program, which is a Dept of Ed partnership with ASCD and the National Board. King says,
The idea is to empower teachers to lead from the classroom. Too often teachers feel that they have to leave the classroom to address policy issues. We wanted to create a pathway for teachers to develop initiatives while staying in the classroom.
In honor of Teacher Appreciation week, King released this statement. Much of it is the sort of praise we often hear from politicians. He also states:
…the Obama administration and I are invested in lifting up and honoring teaching. We understand that teacher voice is a crucial part of conversations that impact your classroom and your profession, and we are committed to ensuring you are supported so you can do your best work on behalf of our children every day. We believe strongly that teachers should have a voice in the policy decisions that affect you and your students.
This may not sound very new. King’s predecessor, Arne Duncan, also used his office to try to “elevate” teachers. In 2012 Duncan launched “Project RESPECT,” as described here. But for some reason teacher morale continued to plummet in spite of this. And we never seem to get policies that show evidence of real input from teachers.
At this point, in the eleventh hour of the Obama administration, I am not especially interested in trying to get teachers a “seat at the table,” since far too often this seems to be a symbolic gesture devoid of real meaning. Programs like “Teach to Lead” tend to confine teacher leadership to things like “help colleagues to implement the Common Core.” Support is rarely offered to leadership that actually challenges existing policies. For that sort of leadership, teachers need to get a bit outside the government and philanthropy-funded boxes, and work within their unions, or with groups like the Network for Public Education, or the BadAss Teachers.
We should be clear on what WOULD elevate the teaching profession, and push for it. I want to see changes in policies that would be obvious to anyone who spent a week or two in a school. I posted this question on my If You Were Secretary of Ed for a Day, How would YOU Elevate the Teaching Profession? - Living in Dialogue:

The grifters of corporate ed reform: KIPP charter schools with the aid of the DOE | Seattle Education

The grifters of corporate ed reform: KIPP charter schools with the aid of the DOE | Seattle Education:

The grifters of corporate ed reform: KIPP charter schools with the aid of the DOE
KIPP is a taxpayer-subsidized school franchise that pays no taxes on its revenue and provides a tax-deductible vehicle for uber-wealthy families to promote the school “choice” agenda.
KIPP charter schools has been touted in Washington State as the savior of all black children.
Among those people is the now State Representative (Charter School) Chad Magendanz who, while active in the Washington State PTA back in the day, sang their praises whenattempting to put a plank in the PTA platform on charter schools. (Also see: The Washington State PTA Convention: Be There.)
Others chimed in although year after year KIPP charter schools proved to be far less than perfect.
Of course, that didn’t stop the Washington State Charter School Commission, in their rush to get charter schools established in our state, from approving KIPP’s application to set up their green tent next to the highway.
Recently the following article was published by PR Watch and is well worth a read.
charter school oversight
By Lisa Graves and Dustin Beilke
Charter schools are big business, even when they are run by “non-profits” that pay no taxes on the revenue they receive from public taxes or other sources.
Take KIPP, which describes itself as a “national network of public schools.”
KIPP (an acronym for the phrase “knowledge is power program”) operates like a The grifters of corporate ed reform: KIPP charter schools with the aid of the DOE | Seattle Education:


Detroit School Crisis Goes Way Beyond A Couple Days Of Missed Class

Detroit School Crisis Goes Way Beyond A Couple Days Of Missed Class:
Detroit School Crisis Goes Way Beyond A Couple Days Of Missed Class
Schools reopened after two days of teacher protests, but the beleaguered district is still set to run out of cash.

After two days of protests and empty classrooms, Detroit public school teachersreturned to work Wednesday with new assurances from administration officials that they wouldn’t have their pay cut off — but the end to the conflict doesn’t resolve the district’s financial crisis or lingering concerns with leadership. 

Teachers were informed on the weekend that if the district runs out of cash in a few months — as it’s on track to, without financial aid from the state — they would not receive paychecks after June. Teachers have the option of spreading their pay throughout the year instead of just getting checks when school is in session; and as many choose the former they feared they would lose a chunk of their salary.
In protest, over a thousand teachers called in sick to work Monday and Tuesday, closing 94 of 97 schools as they rallied at district headquarters. The “sickouts” — a tactic that replaces striking, which is illegal — drew criticism from Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and concern from the White House.
But Tuesday evening, union leadership encouraged members to return to their classrooms because they had received “assurance” from the district’s state-appointed emergency manager that teacher pay was safe.
Teachers rally outside Detroit Public Schools district headquarters, Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Teachers calling in sick closed nearly all of the district’s schools after learning they may not get paid because the school system is set to run out of money.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (D) commended the resolution.
“I appreciate the hard work and dedication displayed by Detroit Federation of Teachers leadership, Judge Rhodes, and the Governor to resolve this issue so our children can return to class [Wednesday] morning,” he said in a statement.
Emma Howland-Bolton, a fifth-grade DPS teacher, was left frustrated that her colleagues’ other demand — an audit to determine the cause of the district’s deficit — was ignored.
“Being paid for the work that we do is not a win. That is a legal right and an expectation,” she said. “Without the forensic audit ... we could very easily find ourselves in the same position in a week, or a month or six months.”
And there is still no plan in place to fund the district after this year. The district’s projected year-end budget deficit is $320 million and its long-term debts total $3.5 billion, according to The New York Times. 
After sending nearly $49 million in emergency aid to DPS in March, Michigan’s legislature is considering controversial reforms that would direct up to $715 million to the district, cordon off its debt and create a new commission that would oversee school openings and closures in the city, including charter schools.
The plan has many detractors, including a number of Republican legislators,charter school advocates, and teachers like Howland-Bolton who believe continued state oversight will not solve financial problems. Others, including Duggan and Snyder, believe the reforms and funding laid out in the bills passed by the state Senate are the only viable steps to save the school system.
An alternate plan that advanced out of a state House committee Tuesday wouldDetroit School Crisis Goes Way Beyond A Couple Days Of Missed Class:

Kids to Admins: Charter Schools Have Got To Go | Mother Jones

Kids to Admins: Charter Schools Have Got To Go | Mother Jones:

Kids to Admins: Charter Schools Have Got To Go

Students across the nation join their parents and teachers to protest charters—and public school budget cuts.

Parents, teachers, and students of Longfellow Elementary in San Francisco joined thousands of schools across the country and demanded safer, more supported schools. 
In nearly 75 cities across the country, students, parents, and teachers marched at their public schools on Wednesday, protesting inadequate funding and charter school takeover, issues that especially impact Black and Latino students in urban areas.
The organization Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools is behind the "walk in" demonstrations, and is made up of large scale organizations such as teachers unions, and local community groups. The "walk ins" began last spring and have doubled in size since February.
The Alliance's executive director, Keron Blair, said when charter schools replace public schools, parents lose their ability to vote on school board members, something, he argues, hurts society at large. "We have to invest in public education if we want to fortify our democratic society," he said. "The two go hand-in-hand."
Charter schools have exploded in popularity since the 1990's; data show that today nearly five percent of all public school students attend one. Charters receive funding that many educators feel should go only toward traditional public schools.
"People are seeing and hearing and saying, 'We want to walk in,'" Blair said. "Resources are being pulled out of the public sector and privatized...the very people they're supposed to help have no say," Blair said.

Although the general theme of the "walk ins" revolved around charter school takeovers, the demonstrations also allowed students and parents to voice their own local issues. Educators and parents from Oakland Unified School District protested an enrollment policy that has public schools and charters grouped together when parents sign their kids up for school; some parents and educators are concerned the policy favors charter schools. Organizers from San Francisco Unified School District protested the rising cost of living that has pushed teachers out of a city where a 2-bedroom apartment typically runs upward of $2,000 per month.
"The affordability crisis in San Francisco is raging out of control and turn-over is happening at a breakneck pace," said Matthew Hardy, the communications manager for Unified Educators of San Francisco. "This is pushing too many educators out of the city and out of the school system."
For Detroit, a city continually plagued by public education budget battles, Wednesday's "walk in" came on the tail-end of more teacher "sick outs" earlier this week. Since it is illegal to strike in Michigan, frustrated educators have been using their sick days to protest unpaid work days. Education advocacy groups like 482 Forward, a city-wide education organizing network, used the national momentum against charters to present a list of demands that includes manageable class sizes and more multi-cultural curriculums. Nearly 84 percent of the public school student population in Detroit is African American.
"There's not a lot in the curriculum where kids can self identify," said Wytrice Harris, a parent and school activist. "It doesn't reflect the lives that they see everyday."
Keron Blair of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools said small changes are being seen across the country and that the organization will plan more "walk ins" for the fall of the coming school year. Kids to Admins: Charter Schools Have Got To Go | Mother Jones:

Big Education Ape: Join the May 4 National Walk-Ins! | Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools

Do Charter Schools Really Do Better? Let's Look at Los Angeles

Do Charter Schools Really Do Better? Let's Look at Los Angeles:
Do Charter Schools Really Do Better? Let’s Look at Los Angeles

Advocates for charters schools like to talk about their unwavering commitment to student success, parental choice and the benefits of privatization, but their main argument for charter schools is that with their “no excuses“ approach they can do a better job than public schools educating inner-city minority youth.
In 2009, the Board of Education of the Los Angeles Unified School District passed a Public School Choice Motion that expanded the number of charter schools in the district.
While in my Huffington Post blogs I frequently complain about both charter schoolsand the way high-stakes testing is perverting education in the United States, sometimes the data the tests produce can be useful. So to answer the question “Do Charter Schools Really Do Better?” let’s look at some test score numbers from Los Angeles.
On SAT exams administered to high school juniors 2400 is the maximum possible score. A score of 1500 is considered the minimum threshold signifying college readiness. Top colleges demand much more. In 2013, 2052 was the average SAT grade for freshmen accepted into UCLA.
The Los Angeles Times published a list of the average SAT scores at the 100 lowest performing high schools in Los Angeles County. Eight of the ten worst performing schools, including one that has already been closed, are charter schools. This includes the Animo Locke Charter High School #1 operated by the Green Dot Corporate Charter Schools chain whose founder, Steve Barr wants to run for mayor of Los Angeles in 2017 based on his record of educational “success.” Green Dot also operates four other charter high schools among the bottom twenty SAT performers and a total of nine schools in the bottom fifty.
Critics have long charged that the SAT primarily measures the socio-economic status of students, a charge the College Board, which operates the SAT refutes. However Los Angles high school SAT test scores seem to confirm what critics are saying. In each of the ten worst performing schools, the student population is more than 90% Latino and Black and in some cases it is 100%. The number of students eligible for free or reduced price lunch at these schools, a major indicator of poverty level, ranges from 84% to 99%. In some of the schools the number of English Do Charter Schools Really Do Better? Let's Look at Los Angeles: