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Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Mom Factor vs. Helicoptering

The Mom Factor vs. Helicoptering:

The Mom Factor vs. Helicoptering


 Happy Mother’s Day! I hope all moms and families have a beautiful Sunday.

Isn’t it interesting that Mother’s Day and Teacher Appreciation Week are close together? Perhaps it is because teaching and nurturing children (no matter how old a child is) are similar. When mothers (and dads) unite with teachers, there is no end to the positive influence they can have on students and schools. Yet, often such nurturing becomes fodder for school reformers to accuse parents of helicoptering.
This CNN article about the Opt Out movement is a good example. The report from a year ago describes how many New York parents kept their students from taking the high-stakes standardized tests. The article itself is quite good.
But CNN prefaces it with a video by the author, journalist Kelly Wallace, who talks about parents who overstep boundaries and don’t let their children experience failure. She indirectly accuses parents of keeping their children from something better by not permitting them to take the tests. She wants them to stop being helicopter parents.
But are parents, especially moms, helicoptering when they stand against harmful school reforms?
  • Are moms who keep their children from high-stakes testing helicopter parents? Or, are they savvy enough to realize the high-stakes testing scam is The Mom Factor vs. Helicoptering:

Newpoint Charter Schools: ‘A boondoggle for wealthy people to continue to be wealthy’ – Rick's Blog

Newpoint Charter Schools: ‘A boondoggle for wealthy people to continue to be wealthy’ – Rick's Blog:

Newpoint Charter Schools: ‘A boondoggle for wealthy people to continue to be wealthy’

 Yesterday, an Escambia County Grand Jury indicted Newpoint Education Partners, LLC; School Warehouse, Inc.; Red Ignition, LLC; and Epiphany Management, LLC for grand theft, money laundering and aggravated white collar crime in relation to the charter schools it ran in Escambia County.

Newpoint and three of its vendors – School Warehouse, Red Ignition and Epiphany–were charged with fraudulently billing the local charter schools for hundreds of thousands of dollars of supplies, equipment, and services. It is furthered alleged that Newpoint, in concert with the vendors, laundered the proceeds of the thefts through multiple bank accounts to conceal the criminal activity. The source of the funds was the charter school program grant funds appropriated by the State of Florida for charter schools to use to procure supplies, equipment, and services to start charter schools.
Last summer, I interviewed dozens of former teachers and administrators who worked for Newpoint in charter schools around the state of Florida that were run by Marcus May, President & CEO of Newpoint Education Partners. There wasn’t a lot about May in the media, but I found his bio in a 2010 charter school application for Pinellas County (Mystery man).
A former teacher in Bay County liked the challenge of teaching at a charter school but was quickly dismayed at how his Newpoint school was run.
“My perspective is that charter schools have a terrific opportunity to make a terrific difference for kids that really need this kind of environment,” he shared last June. “However, what very much disappoints me is that this has essentially become a boondoggle for wealthy people to continue to be wealthy.”
He said that May, who came from Ohio, looked down on people in Florida. “For some reason, I think Marcus got it into his mind that everybody down here in the south is dumb. I’ll tell you what, I’ve been in Ohio. They’ve got rednecks everywhere, Rick. Anyway, that’s why I think Marcus always, whenever he did show up with his very fashionable jeans and Corduroy jacket there, no tie. Anyway, he just tended to not show much respect for the people.”
The former teacher said that all financial decisions at the Bay County school had to be run through May. He said that several school vendors had ties to May
“I started to see that Newpoint is just a building, but it’s a 501(c)(3) (federal tax exempt non-profit). There’s nothing that the building has, nothing. Newpoint Education Partners is the business. All the money from the school goes to the business. The school itself has nothing. Everything goes through Newpoint.
It turns out that the IT providers is a business that Marcus had a vested interest in. It turns out that the people that were doing the website, and you’ll have to vet this of course, but it turned out that the people that were doing the website were also, Marcus had a vested interest in this. If I’m not mistaken, Ahola, which is the payroll company, Marcus also has a vested interest in it. Everybody’s getting paid and Marcus is sitting on the top of this pyramid.”
I’ve started pouring through my files and notes. I will post more next week. If any former Newpoint teachers want to contact me, please email me at
Here are the indictments:

After teachers union protest, tensions rise on shared LAUSD-charter campus | 89.3 KPCC

After teachers union protest, tensions rise on shared LAUSD-charter campus | 89.3 KPCC:

After teachers union protest, tensions rise on shared LAUSD-charter campus

Maisha Riley, school leader at Community Preparatory Academy, a charter school, pulls from her trunk a stack of protest signs left along the fence of the L.A. Unified campus in Carson where they're co-located.

It wasn't until students at Community Preparatory Academy ran out to the playground on Wednesday morning that their teacher noticed the posters — dozens of signs hanging on the school’s perimeter fence, facing inward so kids and staff could read them.
“We Can’t Grow, So Charter Must Go,” one read. The teacher sent the kids elsewhere to play.
CPA, a charter school in Carson, occupies a corner of Ambler Ave. Elementary, sharing that playground on the L.A. Unified campus. The charter school’s co-leader, Maisha Riley, said the signs appeared after a rally outside Ambler on Wednesday morning, one of more than 150 organized by United Teachers Los Angeles.
Though many of the 150 rallies UTLA held on Wednesday took place at campuses that host co-located charters, the union's talking points also called for lower class sizes and more counselors and nurses. UTLA spokesperson Ana Bakalis said in an e-mail the intention of Wednesday's rallies "was not to target charter schools."
But perhaps 100 yards from the rooms CPA occupies at Ambler, Riley took down protest signs with messages that read, "It's Not Fair That We Have To Share."
"I think the staff or the UTLA folks on this campus used this as an opportunity to vent and talk about things that they were already feeling," said Janis Bucknor, also co-leader of CPA.
Ambler Avenue Elementary staff did not respond to KPCC's request for comment.
In a statement, L.A. Unified spokesperson Shannon Haber said district officials "take seriously all complaints and our staff will fully investigate these concerns."
Charter school co-locations appear to be the latest flashpoint in the ongoing political battle between charter schools and L.A.'s teachers union.
UTLA says its beef is really with L.A. Unified, which is compelled under the state law known as Proposition 39 to accommodate charter schools who wish to share space. But teachers union's leaders said charter schools game the system, over-estimating how much space they need and the district has failed to levy financial penalties against them — penalties the union claims would climb into the millions.
"Collecting these monies is not only the right thing to do," UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl wrote, "it is also a crucial step in the movement toward standards for all publicly funded schools, and it is a critical down payment toward class-size reduction and increases in staffing in LAUSD schools."
Co-locations are often the most expedient way for a charter school to find classroom After teachers union protest, tensions rise on shared LAUSD-charter campus | 89.3 KPCC:
 Charter Schools - Dividing Communities since 1991

Senators Hatch and Warner: What Congress Can Do to Make Every Day Teacher Appreciation Day | TIME

Senators Hatch and Warner: What Congress Can Do to Make Every Day Teacher Appreciation Day | TIME:
Senators Hatch and Warner: What Congress Can Do to Make Every Day Teacher Appreciation Day

photo of Orrin G. Hatch
Teachers touch lives and transform communities by helping children realize their full potential. We believe America’s educators deserve greater recognition and support for their service, which is why we are joining millions of families across the country in commemorating National Teacher Appreciation Week. This week, and throughout the year, we can show teachers our appreciation by ensuring that they have the resources they need to succeed—both in life and in the classroom.
To that end, we have spearheaded efforts in Congress to bolster the teaching profession. Just last summer, we introduced the Teacher Loan Repayment Act (TELORA), a bipartisan bill that will make it easier for teachers to pay off their student loans. Our legislation improves loan forgiveness options for educators in several important ways:
First, it provides teachers entering high-needs schools with a monthly loan repayment that continues for up to six years, or for the length of the teacher’s employment. This monthly loan repayment increases each year an educator spends teaching—from $250 in years one and two up to $400 by years five and six. By increasing repayment amounts over time, we can incentivize and reward teachers who choose to stay in the classroom. This reform will help our most promising educators supplement their often paltry paychecks and alleviate the burden of student debt.
Second, our bill removes the current patchwork of wasteful loan assistance programs and replaces the current mess with one streamlined process that results in a single monthly sum for teachers. This periodic lump sum not only supplements a teacher’s pay in the cash-strapped period after graduation; it also eliminates much of the complexity, uncertainty, and delay that plagues existing loan forgiveness options. The promise of consistent and immediate loan assistance will also benefit students by encouraging more talented teachers to stay in the classroom. Ultimately, this reform will improve our schools and address the needs of students and teachers alike. Leveraging education dollars to attract, support, and retain high-quality teachers is an investment that will yield meaningful returns for decades to come.
In addition to reforming the loan repayment process, we must also increase professional development opportunities for educators. The first few years in the classroom can be overwhelming for many teachers, but we can support them by using valuable federal resources to expand access to education training programs. With this goal in mind, we helped author theElevating Educator Preparation through Innovation Act. This bill allows schools in high-needs districts the ability to partner with a broader range of organizations to provide more professional development opportunities for educators and help prepare them for a career in the classroom. In short, this proposal ensures that teachers have greater access to the resources they need to thrive in their professions and inspire a new generation of Americans.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which passed Congress last fall, also strengthens teacher training programs by allowing schools to use Senators Hatch and Warner: What Congress Can Do to Make Every Day Teacher Appreciation Day | TIME:

Charter school lobbyists blind legislators from coming up with fix for Detroit schools | Michigan Radio

Charter school lobbyists blind legislators from coming up with fix for Detroit schools | Michigan Radio:

Charter school lobbyists blind legislators from coming up with fix for Detroit schools


If you’ve been paying attention to Lansing over the past several years, you know that the Michigan legislature seldom ever misses an opportunity to do the wrong thing.
This is due in large part to ideological fanaticism, strengthened by gerrymandering and term limits, which has given massive powers to lobbyists and special interests. In recent years, the House has been considerably worse than the Senate.
This is why, for example, the roads haven’t really been fixed. There are many other such examples, and here’s the newest: The Detroit public schools are about to run out of money.
Michigan has a constitutional obligation to provide an education for all its children. The state house of representatives, under pressure from the so-called “school choice lobby,” passed a plan that:
A) doesn’t provide enough money to fix the problem,
B) rejects the governor’s plea to provide some oversight over the proliferation of out-of-control charter schools, and
C) is more interested in punishing teachers and especially their unions than in helping children, most of whom are poor, black, and in districts that never vote Republican.
That is the cold, hard truth. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Detroit schools, which were once among the finest in the nation.
Detroiters did much of it to themselves, by electing a series of incompetent and politicized school boards, who wasted vast amounts on huge contracts for failed superintendents.
The state then appointed a series of emergency managers who got lots of favorable press, but failed to fix the finances. What also baffles me is the recent story of the thirteen Detroit school principals charged with taking bribes and kickbacks on school supplies, black people stealing from the poor black children it is their supposed mission to help.
Probably the worst plague of all has been the charters, which I see as essentially private schools running on government money siphoned off from the public schools.
Some of these do provide a good education. Many are substandard, as a massive Detroit newspaper study has shown, and some run out of money and close down mid-year.
Under my government, I’d eliminate state funding to every charter in the state, and return that money to public education. Charters would be welcome to try and survive as private schools.
That may never happen, but Governor Snyder did propose as part of his Detroit school bailout plan a Detroit Education Commission that would have a role in determining where any new school would be allowed to open.
This makes a great deal of sense, largely for the same reason McDonald’s doesn’t allow two of its franchises on the same block. But the charters don’t want any oversight, and they got their puppets in the House to pass a bill without any Democratic support. This stands in stark contrast to the Senate, where both parties worked hard on a reasonable, bipartisan proposal.
The Senate plan would cost a little more, but actually might save the schools. Anyone who knows anything about this will tell you the House bill would be a disaster.
Now, we have to see if reason prevails. What happens won’t be important just for Detroit’s kids, but for the economic future of our state. I’m hoping for the best.
But I wouldn’t say I’m optimistic.
Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.Charter school lobbyists blind legislators from coming up with fix for Detroit schools | Michigan Radio: