Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, December 3, 2017

US charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation - ABC News

US charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation - ABC News:

US charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation

The California schools where the kids are all the same race, all in one map | 89.3 KPCC -

Charter schools are among the nation's most segregated, an Associated Press analysis finds — an outcome at odds, critics say, with their goal of offering a better alternative to failing traditional public schools.
National enrollment data shows that charters are vastly over-represented among schools where minorities study in the most extreme racial isolation. As of school year 2014-2015, more than 1,000 of the nation's 6,747 charter schools had minority enrollment of at least 99 percent, and the number has been rising steadily.

The problem: Those levels of segregation correspond with low achievement levels at schools of all kinds.
In the AP analysis of student achievement in the 42 states that have enacted charter school laws, along with the District of Columbia, the performance of students in charter schools varies widely. But schools that enroll 99 percent minorities — both charters and traditional public schools — on average have fewer students reaching state standards for proficiency in reading and math.
"Desegregation works. Nothing else does," said Daniel Shulman, a Minnesota civil rightsattorney. "There is no amount of money you can put into a segregated school that is going to make it equal."
Shulman singled out charter schools for blame in a lawsuit that accuses the state of Minnesota of allowing racially segregated schools to proliferate, along with achievement gaps for minority students. Minority-owned charters have been allowed wrongly to recruit only minorities, he said, as others wrongly have focused on attracting whites.
Even some charter school officials acknowledge this is a concern. Nearly all the students at Milwaukee's Bruce-Guadalupe Community School are Hispanic, and most speak little or no English when they begin elementary school. The school set out to serve Latinos, but it also decided against adding a high school in hopes that its students will go on to schools with more diversity.
"The beauty of our school is we're 97 percent Latino," said Pascual Rodriguez, the school's principal. "The drawback is we're 97 percent Latino ... Well, what happens when they go off into the real world where you may be part of an institution that's not 97 percent Latino?"
The charter school movement born a quarter of a century ago has thrived in large urban areas, where advocates say they often aim to serve students — by and large, minorities — who have been let down by their district schools. And on average, children in hyper-segregated charters do at least marginally better on tests than those in comparably segregated traditional schools.
For inner-city families with limited schooling options, the cultural homogeneity of some charters can boost their appeal as alternatives to traditional public schools that are sometimes seen as hostile environments.
They and other charter supporters insist that these are good schools, and dismiss concerns about racial balance.
Araseli Perez, a child of Mexican immigrants, sent her three children to Bruce-Guadalupe because she attended Milwaukee Public Schools and she wanted something different for her children. The schools in her family's neighborhood are more diverse racially, but she said race was not a factor in her decision to enroll her children at the charter school five miles away.
"We're just happy with the results," she said. Her youngest child, Eleazar, now in seventh grade, is on the soccer team and plays the trumpet at the school, which boasts test scores and graduation rates above city averages. Perez said her children frequently came home from Bruce-Guadalupe showing off an award they won.
Her daughter Monica Perez, 23, went on to a private school and then college before becoming a teacher's assistant.
"I don't think I felt the impact of going to an all-Latino school until I went to high school," Perez said. "When you go to a Latino school everyone is Roman Catholic and everyone knows the same stuff."
There is growing debate over just how much racial integration matters. For decades after US charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation - ABC News:

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Wendy Lecker: Education miracle was a lie - StamfordAdvocate

Wendy Lecker: Education miracle was a lie - StamfordAdvocate:

Wendy Lecker: Education miracle was a lie

Last week, the New Orleans Tribune, a venerable news magazine of the New Orleans African-American community, published a devastating editorial about the fallacy of New Orleans school reform.
After Hurricane Katrina, education reformers swooped in to transform New Orleans into an all-charter school district, operated by host of different charter companies. These reformers promised to improve New Orleans’ schools by enhancing autonomy and choice.
In the years that followed, pro-charter groups and pundits proclaimed the “miraculous” improvements in New Orleans schools. Nina Rees declared in U.S. News & World Report that the results were “nothing short of amazing.” Jonathan Chait called them “spectacular.” Then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared that Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans.”
Reformers across the country pushed to replicate the New Orleans model of state takeover and school privatization. Michigan established the Educational Achievement Authority, Tennessee, the Achievement School District. States closed struggling schools and opened charters in Chicago, Philadelphia and beyond. Even here in Connecticut the charter lobby ConnCAN featured New Orleans as a model for school turnaround, claiming that New Orleans’ “miracle” dramatically improved performance, particularly for African-American students.
The problem with this miracle, as the Tribune notes, is that it was a lie. The improvements were the result of manipulated cut scores and a lack of oversight. The state raised the bar to make New Orleans schools “fail” and thus be susceptible to state takeover, then lowered the bar to disguise charter school failures allow charter operators to retain control. Louisiana was castigated by the legislative auditor for relying on unverified self-reported data to renew charters, and for failing to ensure charters have fair admissions policies. The auditor also slammed New Orleans charters for financial improprieties.
The tragic story of New Orleans is the story of the past 20 years of American school reform: “some arbitrary determination (of school failure) that fits the end goal of those wielding power and influence — no matter the impact on our communities.” The impact was severe.
Parents are forced to navigate a complex admissions maze — where the schools are the ones exercising “choice” — and to send their children to schools far from their neighborhoods. Charters have astronomical suspension and expulsion rates. They also exclude students, especially students with disabilities. Families have nowhere to bring complaints, as each charter operates as its own district, with its own unelected board.
Veteran teachers of color were fired en masse, decimating the city’s black middle class. They were replaced by Wendy Lecker: Education miracle was a lie - StamfordAdvocate:

Wendy Lecker: Education miracle was a lie - StamfordAdvocate:

Friday, November 3, 2017

Astroturf School Board Electioneering | janresseger

Astroturf School Board Electioneering | janresseger:
Astroturf School Board Electioneering

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In many communities across the United States, school board elections are a local, grassroots affair. In my own community, for example, we will elect three new members to the board of education. I have signs in my front yard for three of the four candidates who are running for office and I have modestly donated to one of the campaigns. My choice of candidates is based on considerable conversation with one of the candidates and a careful study of the priorities of each of the others. I spent three hours last week at a local candidates’ night listening to candidates for local offices including all of those running for school board. My choices are based on my grasp of the issues in our local schools and personal information I’ve been able to gather.
But in a growing number of mostly bigger cities, school board elections are being dominated by Astroturf campaigns that merely pretend to be run on a grassroots level. Outside money, frequently from out of state and pooled anonymously by dark money super PACs, is being heavily invested in advertising for particular local candidates chosen for their corporate-reform, pro-privatization ideological purity.
This November an Astroturf school board election is happening in Denver, Colorado, where Raising Colorado, a super PAC, is bundling money. Carol Burris and Darcie Cimarusti, writing for the Network for Public Education, expose a national fund raising network working hard to influence local school board elections.
Burris and Cimarusti report: “Raising Colorado is the name of a super PAC that spends money in Colorado elections. According to the Office of the Colorado Secretary of State, Raising Colorado is run by Jennifer Walmer from an office in Littleton, Colo. Its stated purpose is to support Colorado candidates who ‘advocate for high-quality public education’ through ‘uncoordinated, independent expenditures.’  The reality of Raising Colorado, however, is something far more complex. Walmer is not a lone activist collecting donations to support candidates who advocate for public schools. The real action happens at Raising Colorado’s true address: 32 Gold Street in Brooklyn, New York.  At that same address, in the same suite, you will find: Democrats for Education Reform-Arizona, Philadelphia 30 PAC, and Fairness for Colorado.”
Then there is ERNA: “In 2014, that same address housed a ‘charitable nonprofit’ called Education Reform Now Advocacy (ERNA), from which Wolmar received part of her salary. ERNA listed its 2015 address as 222 Broadway, 19th Floor in NYC, the same address as the New Astroturf School Board Electioneering | janresseger:
Please read this expose of Astroturf money flowing into school board elections.

Is Your Local School Board A Wholly Owned Broad/CCSA Board

Alameda County Board of Education 
  • Trustee Area 2 - Amber Childress
  • Trustee Area 3 - Ken Berrick
  • Trustee Area 5 - Fred Simms
  • Trustee Area 6 - Eileen McDonald 
Alum Rock Union Elementary School District
  • Karen Martinez
Antioch Unified School District
  • Alonzo Terry
  • Fernando Navarro
  • Crystal Sawyer-Wright
Calistoga Unified School District
  • Matt Reid
Capistrano Unified School District
  • Area 1 - Wendy Shrove
  • Area 2 - Jim Reardon
  • Area 3 -Laura Ferguson
  • Area 4 - Jake Vollegregt          
Centralia Elementary School District
  • Irv Tinkle
Chico Unified School District
  • Linda Hovey
  • Liz Griffin
Chino Valley Unified School District
  • James Na
Contra Costa County Board of Education
  • Fatima Alleye
  • Vikki Chavez
Coronado Unified School District
  • Julie Russell
Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District
  • Tim Nonn
  • Chrissa Gillies
Desert Sands Unified School District
  • Cheryll Dahlin
Elk Grove Unified School District
  • Chris Baker
  • Marlon Hill
Encinitas Unified School District
  • Anne-Katherine Pingree
  • Leslie Schneider
Evergreen Unified School District
  • Tony Qin
Fontana Unified School District
  • Barbara Chavez
  • Lorena Corena
Fresno Unified School District
  • Elizabeth Jonasson
  • Carol Mills
  • Claudia Suarez
Irvine Unified School District
  • Mark Newgent
Live Oak School District
  • Mike Lelieur
Morgan Hill Unified School District
  • Rick Badillo
  • Thomas Arnett
Mount Baldy Joint School District
  • Ronald Thomas
Mount Diablo Unified School District
  • Herbert Lee
Napa Valley Unified School District
  • Susan Larson-Bouwer
Natomas Unified School District
  • Susan Heredia
  • Scott Dosick
  • Michah Grant
Nevada County Board of Education
  • Caleb Buckley
Oakland Unified School District
  • District 3 - Jumoke Hinton Hodge
  • District 5 - Huber Trenado / Michael Hassid
  • District 7 - James Harris
Orange Unified School District
  • Brenda Lebsack
  • John Ortega
Pajaro Valley Unified School District
  • Georgia Acosta
Panama-Buena Vista Union School District
  • John Lake
Palm Springs Unified School District
  • Kari Middleton
Paradise Unified School District
  • Donna Nichols
  • Roger Bylund
Placer County Board of Education
  • Dave Patterson
  • Kelly Gnile
Poway Unified School District
  • Debra Cooper
Redlands Unified School District
  • Enson Mason
Rincon Valley Unified School District
  • Mike Cook
Riverside County Board of Education
  • Trustee Area 4 - Bruce Dennis
  • Trustee Area 5 - Ray "Coach" Curtis
  • Trustee Area 7 - Barbara Hale
Roseville Joint Unified School District
  • Andrew Tagg
Rocklin Unified School District
  • Kathy Turner
Sacramento City Unified School District
  • Christina Prichett
  • Michael Minnick
  • Jessie Ryan
Sacramento County Board of Education 
  • Trustee Area 4 - Joanne Ahola
  • Trustee Area 5 - Al Brown
  • Trustee Area 6 - Heather Davis
  • Trustee Area 7 - Roy Grimes, Jr.
Santa Ana Unified School District
  • Cecilia Iglesias
  • Angie Cano
Santa Clara County Board of Education 
San Diego County Board of Education
San Diego Unified School District
  • District E - LaShae Collins
San Diego Unified School District
San Dieguita Unified High School District
  • Lucille Lynch
  • Randy Berholtz
San Francisco Unified School District
  • Phil Kim
  • Ian Kalin
San Jose Unified School District
San Juan Unified School District
  • Saul Hernandez
San Bernardino County Board of Education
  • Ben Rich
Solano County Board of Education
  • Amy Sharp
Stockton City Council
  • Jesus Andrade
Tustin Unified School District
  • Matthew Singer
Valley Unified School District
  • Marianne Kearny-Brown
Valverde School District
  • Alesia Fuller
Ventura Unified School District
  • Lou Cunningham
Vista Unified School District
  • Bud Balmer
Washington Unified School District
  • Alicia Cruz
West Contra Costa Unified School District
Does Your Board Look Like This: 

See Which Of Your Elected Officials Are On The Broad Payroll and Who Is Promoting Charter Schools And Privatization! 
2016 Elections - CCSA Advocates - 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Jersey Jazzman: Education "Reform" Is a Right-Wing Movement

Jersey Jazzman: Education "Reform" Is a Right-Wing Movement:

Education "Reform" Is a Right-Wing Movement

One of the perils of "success" is that it opens you up to increased scrutiny. Just ask Eva Moskowitz, the founder of the "successful" Success Academies chain of charter schools. Her constant self-promotion was nothing less than an open invitation to the press and others to take a look at how her schools achieved their "success."

Sure enough, a hard look at SA reveals disturbing disciplinary practices, a highly questionable curriculum, huge resource advantages (gained by appealing to wealthy donors and by wage "free riding" on public district schools), a distinctly different student population compared to neighboring public district schools, and patterns of significant student cohort attrition.

In other words: the "success" of Success Academies is largely attributable to the chain's ability to game the system. There's just no evidence Moskowitz and her staff have found any innovative, let alone scalable, methods to improve schooling for urban students.

But more recent scrutiny of SA has revealed something else: Moskowitz's financial patrons are much more closely aligned with the far political right than the current "reform" narrative would like us to believe.

The problems for Moskowitz on this front started last August, when the chairman of SA's board, Dan Loeb, compared an African-American New York state senator to the KKK:
The hedge fund manager Daniel S. Loeb, a prominent supporter of charter schools and a major financial backer of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and congressional Republicans, accused the African-American woman who leads the Democrats in the New York State Senate of having done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” [emphasis mine]
Somewhat lost in the outrage, however, was the fact that this wasn't Loeb's first time getting caught saying something offensive and stupid. As Chalkbeat notes:

This isn’t the first offensive comment he’s made. Far from it, in fact. Loeb is fast-fingered on Facebook and frequently uses derogatory language to lash out at people who have made him unhappy. Here are a few of the examples that have been reported previously:

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sarah Mondale talks Backpack Full of Cash | Westword

Sarah Mondale talks Backpack Full of Cash | Westword:

Documentary Backpack Full of Cash Explores School Choice

Sarah Mondale.
Sarah Mondale.Courtesy of Stone Lantern Films

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New York-based filmmaker Sarah Mondale is no stranger to education. As a teacher, she's spent years seeing firsthand what makes public schools in the United States tick. And as a filmmaker, she's devoted much of her career to two documentaries exploring America's public schools. The latest, Backpack Full of Cashwhich premiered late last year, takes viewers inside public school systems on the East Coast to examine how the pivot toward "school choice" initiatives like charter schools and voucher programs impact the education system as a whole. In advance of a film screening tonight, Wednesday, September 27, at 7 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter, Westword spoke with Mondale about the project's motivations and lessons.
Westword: Your family history is intertwined with public education. How does that inspire your work?
Sarah Mondale: My father was an American Studies professor. I come from a family of teachers. My mother taught English as a Second Language to adult students in the D.C. public schools, my grandmother taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Minnesota, I believe, and I was a teacher myself. And I had grown up with my father, who was from rural Minnesota originally, telling us kids that public schools were a pillar of American democracy.
And you’ve filmed education documentaries before?
I worked on a series called School: The Story of American Public Educationthat aired on PBS in 2001, and it was about the history of the democratic promise of public schools. It was narrated by Meryl Streep.
What are you seeing in education that pushed you into this project?
I’ve been a filmmaker all of my adult life, but I went into teaching after the PBS series aired and taught for about seven years. And after it aired, I began hearing this narrative that the public school system is broken, American public schools are failing, they are way below schools in other countries, and we need to get rid of this system and try something else – which means turning the schools over to the private sector in the form of charter schools [which are public schools that are privately run], vouchers to religious schools and private schools, and cyber-charter schools.
So the film explores privatization of the school system. But to be fair, public education isn't a perfect system.
While public schools do face challenges, especially in areas where there are large numbers of poor kids who are being educated, by and large the system is successful. I’m not downplaying the challenges that we face – we have to make public schools better – but the issue in this country is not that public schools are failing; they are unequal. We don’t want to throw away the school system that we have.
I saw this film called Waiting for Superman, which I felt to be kind of a propaganda piece about how charter schools have been a positive force in the lives of some children. And that’s true, I’m not denying that, but I felt what I wanted to look at was really, what is the impact of these programs on the kids in the public schools? We wanted to flip the perspective, and that was the goal of the film.
What is the "backpack full of cash?"
The idea of [charter-school advocates] is individual market-based choice – that you should be able to take money from the government and go shop for a school. Schools are not a consumer good like restaurants or supermarkets; they’re civic institutions. Once you reduce schooling to a mere “backpack full of cash,” this is draining and undermining public schools.
In the film, you explore change inSarah Mondale talks Backpack Full of Cash | Westword:
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Backpack Full of Cash -