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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Washington, D.C., Teachers Union Wrestles with the Legacy of Michelle Rhee - Working In These Times

Washington, D.C., Teachers Union Wrestles with the Legacy of Michelle Rhee - Working In These Times:

Washington, D.C., Teachers Union Wrestles with the Legacy of Michelle Rhee

 It’s been five years since self-styled education reformer Michelle Rhee left her job as head of the District of Columbia Public Schools under a cloud of bitterness and controversy, but she is still throwing shade over the Washington city school system.

Rhee’s open hostility to unions was a hallmark of her tenure in D.C. and of her subsequent career as an executive of the education reform group StudentsFirst. That hostility continues to darken relations between city officials and the teachers union, labor advocates say.
That was clear earlier this month when some of the teachers took to the streets to protest current schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson for her years-long stalling on negotiations for a new union contract. Henderson, a Rhee protégé who took over when Rhee departed in 2010, won’t come settle a new contract, says Washington Teachers Union President Liz Davis, and is adding insult to injury by meddling in the internal affairs of the union.
“[Rhee] is still here, but in the form of Kaya Henderson,” Davis tells In These Times. Rhee’s schemes for re-vamping Washington public schools have largely failed, she says, but Henderson insists on continuing Rhee-like attacks on teachers as a way to scapegoat the failure of administrators to make better progress. Most recently, Henderson delayed further negotiations on contract talks on the pretext that an internal Washington Teachers Union election is taking place, which Davis says is a clearly improper attempt to influence the vote. 
“It’s Rheeism without Rhee,” remarks Leo Casey, executive director of the Albert Shanker Institute, a pro-union education research group funded by the American Federation of Teachers. (The WTU is an affiliate of the AFT.) Evidence that Rheeism has actually succeeded in improving D.C. public schools is hard to come by, Casey adds, and the city continues to rate poorlyin many national rankings.
One of Rhee’s most visible initiatives is at the heart of the current inability to reach a new contract, according to Davis. A teacher evaluation system called IMPACT rates teachers and provides generous financial bonuses for those teachers who make high scores. Low scores, on the other hand, can be the basis for dismissal. The WTU is fighting for changes to the contract’s grievance procedures, Davis says, so that members can fight unfair evaluations. Negotiations are currently deadlocked on this issue.
Disagreement over annual salary increases is the second roadblock to a new contract, according to Davis. Henderson’s most Washington, D.C., Teachers Union Wrestles with the Legacy of Michelle Rhee - Working In These Times:

THE BIG FRAUD: Newark students won’t have to meet state performance standards before state relinquishes control |

THE BIG FRAUD: Newark students won’t have to meet state performance standards before state relinquishes control |:

THE BIG FRAUD: Newark students won’t have to meet state performance standards before state relinquishes control

 Newark students will not have to meet state standards for academic performance before local control is returned, the Christie-appointed schools superintendent told a school board meeting Tuesday night.

Superintendent Christopher Cerf–who,  as state education commissioner in 2013,refused to return state control to the city’s schools because of the district’s failure to meet student performance standards–now says his successor won’t do the same thing. It’s apparently a done deal between Mayor Ras Baraka and Gov. Chris Christie.
Cerf, the superintendent and former commissioner,  said at the school board meeting he was confident the Newark school district would pass all standards needed for a return of local autonomy but one, student performance–and, hey no problem,  because he and state education Commissioner David Hespe will work that one out.
Hespe and Cerf can work it out through what’s called “an equivalency waiver,” Cerf said. That refers to the discretionary power of the state education commissioner to ignore state regulations in response to an application from a school district. Cerf is going to make that application, he said, and added:
“We have every reason to believe our application will be granted,” Cerf said.
The one standard the district will not meet deals with student scores on statewide tests, attendance figures, and graduation rates–rolled up in one category called “program and instruction.”
Although, in 2013, Cerf–as the state’s education commissioner–cited that category to deny a return to local control, he now believes the standard can be swept aside in an equivalency waiver application.   Cerf even dismissed some of these standards as “outmoded” and, therefore, irrelevant to the Newark’s effort to regain local control.
What is tragically ironic about Cerf’s prediction–and he is not stupid enough to THE BIG FRAUD: Newark students won’t have to meet state performance standards before state relinquishes control |:

Charter school groups spending big in California legislative races | 89.3 KPCC

Charter school groups spending big in California legislative races | 89.3 KPCC:

Charter school groups spending big in California legislative races

Groups that support the expansion of charter schools in California are spending big this year to support the campaigns of sympathetic Democrats vying for open seats in the state Legislature.
One charter group alone has spent more than $1 million in the Southern California contest to replace Assemblyman Mike Gatto. The committee bears a lengthy name: Parent Teacher Alliance, sponsored by California Charter Schools Association Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee.
Statewide, the Parent Teacher Alliance – which is not affiliated with the national volunteer organization Parent Teacher Association – has spent more than $3 million on legislative races so far this election cycle, according to records from the Secretary of State.
The California Charter Schools Association Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee has spent another $470,000. (The California Charter Schools Association and its political arm, CCSA Advocates, are major players in the state's education debates, including in Los Angeles. The group and its allies frequently battle teacher's union-backed groups.)
The spending by both groups has already outpaced the $1.65 million "dark money" spent by the CCSA independent expenditure committee in 2013 and 2014 races for state senate and assembly seats.
A third education reform group, EdVoice, has been spending heavily in a separate batch of Northern California races this year.
Spending by these groups are known as 'independent expenditures', because they're separate from campaigns themselves.
Colin Miller, acting Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at the CCSA, said that making it easier to charters to open and expand schools is the group's top legislative priority in Sacramento.
The power to open charters falls mostly to local school districts, which don't always support charter expansion. Charter advocates hope to create new paths.
A bill to transform charter authorizing stalled in the legislature this year, but Miller said it contains proposals his group hopes to return to. 
And charter advocates are also fending off legislative attacks on the schools, including an audit of whether Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, a network of 27 Los Angeles-area charters, improperly used public funds to battle a unionization effort. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted to authorize that audit on Tuesday.

Charters' interest in Sacramento

Todd Ziebarth of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools said that success for the charter movement involves engaging with lawmakers, not just school boards.
"If we're going to be successful in the long term and be a sustainable form of public schooling, you know, there's a political game that we need to engage in," Ziebarth said.
He said traditionally, charters haven't had the same oomph in Sacramento as the California Teachers Association, which often battles charters – a pattern in other states as well.
"We were fighting with relatively limited tools as compared to our opponents, who at least in some states have some of the deepest pockets in terms of political activity," he said, referring to teacher's unions.
The California Teachers Association has yet to spend in support or in opposition to candidates this year, not just in Southern California but anywhere in the state.
Legislative spending by charter-friendly groups this year has still not reached the $10 million that groups funneled into the 2014 state superintendent race, which became a flashpoint in K-12 politics.
The reform candidate, Marshall Tuck, was unsuccessful in his bid to unseat Tom Torlakson. A CTA-backed group supporting Torlakson spent more than $7.5 million that year.
Rob Pyers of the California Target Book, which analyzes legislative races, said that at Charter school groups spending big in California legislative races | 89.3 KPCC:

Why “21st Century Learning” is No More Than Status Quo | educationalchemy

Why “21st Century Learning” is No More Than Status Quo | educationalchemy:

Why “21st Century Learning” is No More Than Status Quo 

The proponents of 21st Century Learning (aka digital learning, aka competency-based education, aka personalized learning) claim that those of us who stand up for public education are little more than fossils clinging to the status quo. Further, through slick bait-and-switch advertising techniques the proponents of “innovation” disguise the facts that they are profiteering and privatizing education; using clever language to cast anyone NOT on board with their agenda, as being stuck in the past. Worse yet, we (anyone opposed to their 21st C framework) apparently want to trap kids in existing “divides” of race, culture, economics and geography, divides which they, the benevolent technologies of 21st century policy makers, will remediate.
Yeah. Sure.
So here’s something to consider. 21st century reformers are NOT new. They are NOT cutting-edge. They are nothing they propose to be. In a world dominated by digital services and programs, and in a time in which Silicon Valley is home to the new robber barons, how can selling our education system out to their corporate interests really be “cutting edge”? It’s what we have always done.
Let me explain:
Public schools (since their inception in the United States) have been a mirror reflection of the historical moment in which they are created. Really, we could argue this has ALWAYS been true of education going back to the Greeks and Plato, and the Monastic influences of literacy during the control of Europe by the Pope.
But let’s fast-forward a little bit. During the 1800’s when the United States was still largely made of agrarian Why “21st Century Learning” is No More Than Status Quo | educationalchemy:

Employment and disconnection among teens and young adults: The role of place, race, and education | Brookings Institution

Employment and disconnection among teens and young adults: The role of place, race, and education | Brookings Institution:

Employment and disconnection among teens and young adults: The role of place, race, and education

 Young people in their late teens and early 20s stand at a pivotal point as they transition into adulthood. Although they typically have higher unemployment rates than older workers, the Great Recession and slow recovery have focused attention on the challenges young people face when progressing from adolescence and school into full-time employment enabling self-sufficiency. 

The following analysis and related interactive examine employment trends among teens aged 16–19 and young adults aged 20–24, and compares these groups with adults aged 25–54—those typically considered to be in their prime working years. School is the primary activity for teens until high school graduation, but early work experiences (part-time and in the summer) can provide valuable opportunities for teens to learn new skills, gain experience, expand their networks, and develop positive relationships with adults. Young adults are typically in a different phase and engage in a broader mix of activities. Some continue in school full time, some combine work and school, and others work full time, or would like to do so.
Specifically, the analysis examines the employment and unemployment rates of teens, young adults, and prime-age workers, using microdata data from the American Community Survey for the years 2008–2014. The analysis also examines a key subpopulation among teens and young adult population: “disconnected youth” who are neither working nor in school. These young people are missing key educational and employment experiences and are at increased risk for a host of negative outcomes: long spells of unemployment, poverty, criminal behavior, substance abuse, and incarceration.1 Data on disconnected youth also comes from American Community Survey microdata, but to compensate for small sample sizes, the analysis uses a three-year estimate encompassing the years 2012–2014.
The research examines these three measures at the national level and in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. It updates previous work on labor market indicators among teens aged 16–19 and young adults aged 20–24.
Findings include:
• Whites typically have the highest employment rates and lowest unemployment rates among all ages. However, among prime-age workers, Asians have the lowest unemployment rates.
• Blacks consistently have lower employment rates and higher unemployment rates than other groups. Unlike Asians, their low employment and high unemployment rates do not improve with age. Asians’ low employment rates as young people are driven by high rates of school enrollment, and their subsequent high levels of educational attainment serve them well in the labor market as adults.
• Disparities by educational attainment are larger than disparities by race. People without post-secondary credentials do much worse in the labor market than those with higher levels of education.
• Employment and unemployment rates vary substantially by place; many of the best-performing metro areas are in the Midwest, West, or regions with highly educated residents, including state capitals and university towns.
• Nationally, an estimated 3 million young people aged 16–24 (7.6 percent) are disconnected. The majority of these young people are between 20 and 24 years old, suggesting that the problem becomes more acute after young people are of an age to have graduated high school. They are disproportionately people of color. Rates of disconnection vary widely by metropolitan area, and in some places, young blacks and Latinos are up to 3-to-6 times more likely to be disconnected than young whites.

Employment rates fell most dramatically among teens, and large disparities between whites and blacks persist, particularly among teens and young adults.

Employment rates are typically lowest among teens and steadily increase with age as people seek to find full-time work, usually after completing their education (whether or not they earned a credential). Employment rates among all age groups fell between 2008–2014, typically bottoming out in 2010 or 2011 and then increasing, although not back to pre-recession levels.
The decline was most dramatic among teens aged 16–19: Employment rates fell from 35 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2014. While most teens do not need to work to support themselves or their families, the decline raises concern in some quarters that teens are missing out on opportunities to learn new skills and gain experience and contacts that will improve their job prospects later in life.2 Both young adults aged 20–24 and prime-age workers aged 25–54 registered employment rate declines of three percentage points, landing in 2014 at 65 percent and 77 percent, respectively.
Among all three age groups, whites consistently had the highest employment rates, followed by Asians among prime-age adults and Latinos among teens and young adults. Among teens and young adults, blacks and Asians had similar rates at the low end, although more blacks started working post-recession than Asians did. The white teen employment rate in 2014 was 34 percent, compared to 26 percent among Latinos, 21 percent among blacks, and 19 percent among Asians. White young adults had an employment rate of 69 percent in 2014, compared to 66 percent among Latinos, 57 percent among blacks, and 51 percent among Asians. The gap by race/ethnicity narrows when adults are in their prime working years of 25–54, although the black-white gap remains a still-sizable seven to nine percentage points over the 2008–2014 time period. In 2014, the employment rate of white prime age workers was 79 percent, compared to 77 percent among Asians, 75 percent among Latinos, and 72 percent among blacks. The low employment rates among Asian teens and young adults is related to their high levels of school enrollment. While those enrolled in school can and do work, they do so at a lower rate than those who are not in school (with the exception of those with the lowest levels of education—less than a high school diploma). 92 percent of Asian teens and 63 percent of Asian young adults are enrolled in school, compared to 81 percent of all teens and 38 percent among all young adults.Among adults 25 and over, 54 percent of Asians have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 33 percent among all adults. As shown in the next section, those with bachelor’s degrees fare much better in the labor market than other groups.Employment and disconnection among teens and young adults: The role of place, race, and education | Brookings Institution:


Jersey Jazzman: The True History of NJ Teachers Getting Shafted On Their Benefits (for @BillSpadea)

Jersey Jazzman: The True History of NJ Teachers Getting Shafted On Their Benefits (for @BillSpadea):
The True History of NJ Teachers Getting Shafted On Their Benefits (for @BillSpadea)

When Former NJ Education Commissioner Jim Gearhart* left NJ 101.5, I thought there might be a chance for some sanity to return to New Jersey's #1 teacher-bashing talk radio station. Gearhart, of course, reveled in beating up on the NJEA, all while making the laughable claim that teachers didn't really want their union to protect their workplace rights, health insurance, and pensions.

When Gearhart left the airwaves, I thought the station might moderate the tone of its drive-time show. It had before: the truly odious Casey Bartholomew had been axed in 2011 to make way for the much more reasonable Deminski & Doyle (I've heard they each have relatives who are teachers). Maybe Gearhart's replacement would be less likely to take pot shots at teachers and their unions.

Looks like I was wrong:

"For the governor to talk about a $250 million cost cutting effort -- which is truthfully a drop in the bucket but still you've got to start somewhere -- and the NJEA just puts their foot down and says: 'No, we're not even going to discuss it,' is, I think, outrageous. I think it's time for teachers to start pushing back."
Bill, I'm a teacher, and I'm happy to push back -- at you.

You see, Bill, I talk to a lot of teachers too. And those teachers have watched while their take home pay has eroded and their health care costs have skyrocketed and their pensions have been devalued, even as their jobs have become more demanding. And they've all come to the same conclusion that I have:

For years, we were forced to pay more and get less on our benefits and pensions with the promise that the state would finally start paying what it promised us for work we have already done. But the state has never followed through. So we're not going to make
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“Telegenic” Is Not a Sexist Term | deutsch29

“Telegenic” Is Not a Sexist Term | deutsch29:
“Telegenic” Is Not a Sexist Term

On a number of occasions, education historian Diane Ravitch has referred to former CNN anchor and corporate reform advocate Campbell Brown as “telegenic” or “pretty.”
Apparently Brown hates this, and she views such references to her appearance as “sexist.”
It seems she was willing to overlook being referred to as “telegenic” in this November 2014 Observer gush piece. But for others to use the term (i.e., Ravitch): sexist.
However, the term “telegenic” is not sexist.
According to Merriam-Webster, the term “telegenic” first appeared in print in 1939 and is a hybrid of the terms “television” and “photogenic.” It means,
Well-suited to the medium of televisionespecially:  having an appearance and manner that are markedly attractive to television viewers.
It is not a term reserved for women.
I remember studying about the televised, Kennedy-Nixon debates. Kennedy had a telegenic advantage over Nixon, which is captured in this article:
Before the first debate, both men declined the services of CBS’s top makeup artist, who had been summoned from New York for the event. Bronzed and glowing from weeks of open-air campaigning, Kennedy was more than ready for his close-up–though sources later claimed that the naturally telegenic senator still got a touch-up from his team. Nixon, on the other hand, had a pale complexion and fast-growing stubble that together lent him a perpetually grayish pallor; during an interview with Walter Cronkite two weeks before the debate, the vice president had confided, “I can shave within 30 seconds before I go on television and still have a beard.”At his aides’ urging, Nixon submitted to a coat of Lazy Shave, a drugstore pancake makeup he had used in the past to mask his five o’clock shadow. But when the candidate started sweating under the hot studio lights, the powder seemed to melt off his face, giving way to visible beads of perspiration. It didn’t help that Nixon had chosen a light gray suit for the occasion, which faded into the backdrop of the set and seemed to match his ashen skin tone. Reacting to the vice president’s on-air appearance, Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley reportedly said, “My God, they’ve embalmed him before he even died.”
For those presenting themselves to the public via the TV camera, being telegenic is “Telegenic” Is Not a Sexist Term | deutsch29:

“Transforming” Public Schools: Enough already with an Overhyped Word! | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

“Transforming” Public Schools: Enough already with an Overhyped Word! | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

“Transforming” Public Schools: Enough already with an Overhyped Word!

We have the opportunity to completely reform our nation’s schools. We’re not talking about tinkering around the edges here. We’re talking about a fundamental re-thinking of how our schools function—and placing a focus on teaching and learning like never before…. With the first decade of the 21st century now history, we’ve committed to securing the vitality of our nation by transforming the way we teach our students.  U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, 2010
Transform the way teachers teach and how children learn by replacing group-based, teacher-centered instruction with personalized, learner-centered instruction….
Transform the quality of work life for teachers, administrators, and support staff by transforming a school system’s organization culture, its reward system, job descriptions, and so on, to align with the requirements of the new teaching and learning processes….
Transform the way in which educators’ create change by replacing piecemeal change strategies with whole-system change strategies....Francis Duffy, 2010
Computers, the Internet, online courses, smart phones, cameras, interactive whiteboards, and other digital tools play an important role in improving and, yes, transforming schools.  The role of technology in schools will increase, and as we use these new tools wisely, they help make schools more effective and engaging.   Andrew Zucker, 2012
Harness Technology to transform your School: With technology, anything is possible and today’s students experience and use technology every hour of every day. Shouldn’t your classrooms have the technology products and solutions to help your students move forward?    Advertisement for conference on technology held by HB Communications, 2016

If you enter “school reform” in a Google search you will get 12, 100,000 hits. But were you to type in “transformed schools,” you would get 111,000,000 hits (as of May 17, 2016). When it comes to school reform, as the quotes above indicate, the “Transforming” Public Schools: Enough already with an Overhyped Word! | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Report Demonstrates that Greater Investment, Well Distributed, Raises School Achievement | janresseger

Report Demonstrates that Greater Investment, Well Distributed, Raises School Achievement | janresseger:
Report Demonstrates that Greater Investment, Well Distributed, Raises School Achievement

This blog will take a short late-spring break for the rest of the week.  Look for a new post on Tuesday, May 31.
Last week the Educational Testing Service published an important report, Mind the Gap: 20 Years of Progress and Retrenchment in School Funding, Staffing Resources, and Achievement Gaps, on why it is important for school districts to have sufficient funding and more specifically the ways in which funding matters most.  The report’s authors are Bruce Baker, the school finance expert at Rutgers University and David Sciarra and Danielle Farrie of the Education Law Center.
The report is technical, but one is struck by its clarity and its plain good sense: “How much you spend in a labor intensive industry dictates how many individuals you can employ, the wage you can pay them, and in turn the quality of individuals you can recruit and retain.  But in this modern era of resource-free school reforms, the connections between revenue, spending, and real, tangible resources are often ignored, or, worse, argued to be irrelevant… The primary resources involved in the production of schooling outcomes are human resources—or quantities and qualities of teachers, administrators, support, and other staff in schools.  Quantities of school staff are reflected in pupil-to-teacher ratios and average class sizes.  Reduction of class sizes or reductions of overall pupil-to-staff ratios require additional staff, thus additional money, assuming the wages and benefits for additional staff remain constant.  Qualities of school staff depend in part on the compensation available to recruit and retain the staff—specifically salaries and benefits, in addition to working conditions.  Notably, working conditions may be reflected in part through measures of workload, such as average class sizes, as well as the composition of the student population.”
The authors investigate several revenue-related issues over time and report that school revenues from state and local taxes grew on average between 4.5 and 5.5 percent between 1992 and the high point in 2008 and then, by 2012 fell back, on average, to the level of funding in 2000.  As one might expect, “(S)tates with higher per pupil spending tend, on average, to have more teachers per 100 pupils, that is, on balance, across states, higher spending on schools is leveraged to increase staffing quantities.”  Further, “(S)tates with more progressive distribution of current spending also had more progressive distribution of staffing; that is, in states where higher poverty districts are able to spend more per pupil than lower poverty districts, those higher poverty districts are able to leverage that spending to have more teaching staff per pupil than lower poverty districts.”  “In other words, as one might expect, state aid and federal revenue can improve the progressiveness of current spending across districts within states.  These relationships hold not only across states but also over time.  When state aid and federal aid are increased, fairness generally increases… 20 years of data Report Demonstrates that Greater Investment, Well Distributed, Raises School Achievement | janresseger:

Big Education Ape: How the Supreme Court Upheld Education Funding Inequity

New Jersey's Failure to Assess Effects of Charter School Expansion on Already Underresourced Newark Schools Moves to Court of Appeals Education Law Prof Blog

Education Law Prof Blog:

New Jersey's Failure to Assess Effects of Charter School Expansion on Already Underresourced Newark Schools Moves to Court of Appeals

 This from the Education Law Center:

Acting on behalf of Newark school children, Education Law Center has filed an appeal of NJ Commissioner of Education David Hespe’s February 2016 approval of a massive enrollment increase in seven Newark charter schools over the next five years.
At issue in the appeal is the data and research evidence presented by ELC to the Commissioner demonstrating that expanding charter enrollments at this time would exacerbate the budget crisis in the State-operated Newark public schools (NPS) and trigger even deeper cuts to teachers, support staff and programs in already under-resourced NPS schools. ELC also presented evidence to show that expanding charters would further concentrate at-risk students in district schools, especially students with disabilities and English language learners (ELLs). These students require additional programs and interventions that have been reduced and cut in NPS schools over the last several years.
“This appeal is not about the merits of charter schools or district schools, but rather about the State’s overarching obligation to ensure a thorough and efficient education for all public school students in Newark,” said David G. Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “This appeal raises the abject failure of the Commissioner to perform his mandated constitutional duty to make certain that before charter schools can expand, all Newark children have the resources they need to succeed in school, whether they attend a district or charter school.”
“The Commissioner simply ignored the overwhelming evidence in the record that a further increase in charter enrollment at this time will harm children and schools throughout the city,” Mr. Sciarra added.
In their applications for renewal, seven Newark charter schools submitted requests to Commissioner Hespe that, taken together, would greatly increase overall charter enrollments over the next five years. The Commissioner approved these requests without explanation and without providing reasons. The approved charter increase totals nearly 9,000 additional students over five years, from just under 10,000 to almost 19,000 students. 
Several of the charters sought substantial increases. For example, Team charter school, operated by the New York-based KIPP network, secured the green light to increase enrollment from 3196 to almost 8000 students and to add up to six new charter schools. The Commissioner’s approvals will almost double the current enrollment in these seven charters by the 2020-21 school year.
The approved expansion will also increase the seven charters’ share of Newark’s total charter population from 20% to approximately 37%. If enrollment in the district and in the fourteen other charters remains stable, the Commissioner’s decision will mean that by 2020-21, nearly half of all Newark’s school children will be enrolled in the charter sector.
Before the Commissioner, ELC submitted extensive comments on the charters’ requests for expansion, including detailed research documenting how the State’s decision to rapidly expand charter enrollments from 2009 through Education Law Prof Blog:

Retired school administrator bills Detroit $1.3 million for nonexistent tutoring services

Retired school administrator bills Detroit $1.3 million for nonexistent tutoring services:

This Woman Billed Detroit Schools a Small Fortune for Nonexistent Tutoring. Great Work If You Can Get It!

Detroit Public Schools can’t seem to get anything right. As if the system’s forever-looming bankruptcy, the black mold in its classrooms, and the constant sickouts by frustrated teachers weren’t bad enough, now just two months after a dozen current and former DPS principals were charged with pocketing hundred of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from a school-supply vendor, it transpires that the school district paid a former administrator close to $1.3 million for tutoring services that she never provided. Ouch. 
Carolyn Starkey-Darden, DPS’ director of grant development, retired in 2005 after nearly four decades with the district. According to court documents, she proceeded to spend the next seven years submitting fraudulent tutoring invoices through several companies—one of which, “Grants ‘N Such,” gets my enthusiastic vote for best shell company name of the month—that totaled $1.27 million. 
Starkey-Darden’s scam was nothing if not elaborately executed, according to aDetroit Free Press report on the latest scandal to beset Motor City schools: 
She did this, court records show, by submitting phony documents to the district that included doctored test scores, forged attendance records and parental signatures and fake individual learning plans—all of which went on forms that were required by DPS before payment could be made.
Starkey-Darden’s companies, which the FBI has been investigating since 2011, received $6.1 million in federal programming money, at least $1.2 million of which was “ill-gotten,” per the Free Press.Retired school administrator bills Detroit $1.3 million for nonexistent tutoring services:
Big Education Ape: SES IS A MESS: 
 Tutor center scammed $2M in federal funds |

California charter schools involved in multiple political battles | The Sacramento Bee

California charter schools involved in multiple political battles | The Sacramento Bee:

California charter schools involved in multiple political battles

A major front in the perpetual war between California’s educational establishment and school reform groups is the role of charter schools, which function outside the traditional structure and are semi-free to experiment with new methods of teaching.

Read more here:
Like the larger conflict, the charter school battle is waged in multiple venues – within school districts, in the Legislature, in the courts and, ultimately, in the electoral arena.
It pits charter school advocates, who range from billionaire Eli Broad to immigrant parents, against the California Teachers Association and union-allied school officials.
It is almost entirely a battle within the Democratic Party, as this year’s elections in a number of legislative and school board elections will demonstrate anew. Broad and other wealthy reformers are backing Democrats who agree with them on charters and other reform issues while the CTA and its allies have their own slates of candidates.
A fierce clash in the state’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, typifies the highly emotional issue.
L.A. Unified has seen tens of thousands of its students move into charters, and Broad’s foundation has proposed that charters take in half of the district’s mostly Latino and black students, saying it will give them better shots at high-quality educations.
The district’s board, most of whose members are allied with United Teachers Los Angeles, has unanimously opposed Broad, saying it would “view our communities as a public education marketplace and our children as commodities.”
This month, UTLA issued a report blaming leakage of students to charters for the district’s deep financial problems because charter students take their state and local support with them when they transfer.
Furthermore, L.A. Unified has rejected petitions for new charters based on the state’s “parent trigger” law that allows parents to seek control of their poor-performing schools.
The rationale for rejection is that the Academic Performance Index, which rates schools and has been the basis for parental intervention, has been suspended by the state pending the creation of a new accountability system.
Reformers have accused the state Board of Education of dragging its feet and favoring a “multiple measures” system that, critics say, would not give parents a clear picture of their schools and thus undercut the parent trigger process.
A similar battle is raging in Oakland Unified, whose superintendent, Antwan Wilson, received training at a Broad-supported academy and has tried to make it easier for parents to shift their kids into charters. Wilson has become a lightning rod for criticism by Oakland’s teachers union.
Meanwhile, in the Capitol, legislators allied with the unions have introduced several bills that would hamstring the charter school movement, and one is seeking a critical audit of a college prep charter network in Los Angeles.
However, charters have a friend – most of the time – in Gov. Jerry Brown. As mayor of Oakland, he founded a charter school and he’s placed $20 million in “startup funds” for new charters in his 2016-17 budget.California charter schools involved in multiple political battles | The Sacramento Bee:
Big Education Ape: Charter school advocates flood Sacramento education races with $300,000 | The Sacramento Bee

Read more here:

Ethnic Studies Bill Gaining Momentum in California - Higher Education

Ethnic Studies Bill Gaining Momentum in California - Higher Education:

Ethnic Studies Bill Gaining Momentum in California

Ethnic Studies Now Coalition

Seven months after California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a controversial bill that would mandate the teaching of ethnic studies in public schools across the state, a new bill calling for the instruction of ethnic studies is gaining momentum, with sources close to Brown saying he will likely sign it if it appears on his desk.
Assemblyman Luis Alejo, a Democrat, has sponsored a bill (AB 2016) that would require every school district and charter school serving high school students to offer an ethnic studies course beginning in the 2020-21 academic school year. The bill was approved by the Assembly Education Committee in April, and now requires approvals from the Assembly Appropriations Committee, the entire Assembly and from their counterparts in the state Senate before it reaches Brown’s desk for a signature.
Some activists and educators say that the proposed mandate is long overdue.
“Why is it that I learned more about George Washington than Booker T. Washington?” asks Rev. Shane Harris, the 23-year-old president of the San Diego chapter of National Action Network, the civil rights group founded in 1991 by the Reverend Al Sharpton. “Students should not have to wait until they go to college to learn about the spirituality, humanity, and cultural history of ethnic communities in the United States.”
Harris, who has been leading the charge in support of Alejo’s bill, recently met with Brown in Sacramento about the pending legislation and said that the Governor told him that he was supportive of the bill.
“He’s open and willing to sign off on the bill,” says Harris. “And when this happens, it will be a history making moment for California.”
While there have been individualized efforts by school districts across California to push an ethnic studies curriculum, there has been no state issued mandate so far. Last year, Brown vetoed the last piece of legislation saying that it duplicated the work of the Instructional Quality Commission, another state panel that was charged with revising standards to include guidance on ethnic studies courses.
Still, in recent years, Los Angeles Unified—California’s  largest school district—and  San Francisco Unified school district  have added courses in their high schools designed to broaden understanding of the roles played by African-Americans, Latinos and other racial and ethnic groups.
In this regard, the school districts have surpassed heir public university counterparts who have been slashing ethnic studies programs over the past decade.
Last month, San Francisco State University and student hunger strikers reached an agreement regarding the College of Ethnic Studies Bill Gaining Momentum in California - Higher Education:

Turkey Links Texas Charter Schools to Dissident - WSJ

Turkey Links Texas Charter Schools to Dissident - WSJ:

Turkey Links Texas Charter Schools to Dissident

Complaint says charter chain has ties to imam wanted in Turkey; schools deny the allegation

Big Education Ape: Every parent and community member should see the Killing Ed film | Parents Across America

 Lawyers for the government of Turkey filed a complaint with Texas officials that accuses a Houston-based charter school system of discriminatory hiring practices and of having ties to an influential Turkish dissident.

The complaint claims that Harmony Public Schools, a network of 46 Texas campuses started by Turkish graduate students, illegally hired Turkish teachers and favored Turkish contractors. It also alleges the schools are an arm of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic preacher who lives in the U.S. and is wanted in Turkey for allegedly trying to overthrow the government there.
The complaint, filed with the Texas Education Agency, is the latest legal effort by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to combat an opposition movement led by Mr. Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.
The international political drama is playing out against the unusual backdrop of U.S. charter schools, which lawyers for the Erdogan government says Mr. Gulen’s followers use to amass money and influence.
Allegations against Mr. Gulen and schools allegedly affiliated with his movement have been gathering momentum since Turkey retained Amsterdam & Partners, a Washington, D.C., law firm, in December, expanding its quest to prosecute and destroy the imam’s network.
The influential cleric was once a supporter of Mr. Erdogan, but the two had a falling out in 2013 after Gulen backers accused Erdogan allies of corruption. Mr. Erdogan charged Mr. Gulen with leading a terrorist organization; Mr. Gulen denies the charge.
Mr. Gulen couldn’t be reached comment on Tuesday. Last year, he wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal that urged Muslims to combat terrorism.
Alp Aslandogan, a spokesman for Mr. Gulen’s movement in the U.S., accused Mr. Erdogan of using the Texas complaint to send a message to Turkish-Americans, many of whom Turkey Links Texas Charter Schools to Dissident - WSJ:
Big Education Ape: Update: Gulen Harmony charter school network accused of bias and self-dealing Dallas Morning News
Big Education Ape: Republic of Turkey Targets Houston-Based Charter School | The Texas Tribune