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Thursday, July 19, 2018

NAACP National Convention: Charter schools' access, transparency are concerns - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Charter schools' access, transparency are concerns - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Charter schools' access, transparency are concerns

Image result for NAACP 109th National Convention.

The topic of charter schools was in the spotlight at the 107th NAACP National Convention. A resolution calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion and for strengthening of governance and practice was passed at the 2016 convention and adopted by the NAACP Board of Directors. The NAACP board later created a Task Force on Quality Education.
I had the privilege of hearing directly from the task force at the NAACP 108th National Convention. The task force held public hearings in seven major cities and heard from proponents and opponents of charters in all hearings. After conducting these hearings, the task force released a report containing its findings and recommendations. The findings included several perceived problems with charters. They included but weren’t limited to: issues of access and retention, concerns about quality, and issues of accountability and transparency.

Some of these concerns have been echoed here in San Diego. I recently attended a San Diego County Board of Education meeting, and a community forum on charters. I am still perplexed and disturbed by what I witnessed at that board meeting. I attended a public hearing pertaining to the establishment of a charter school in Vista whose petition had been denied by the Vista Unified School District. In San Diego, a charter school whose petition has been denied by its local district can appeal to the county Board of Education. If the charter’s petition is also denied by the county, it can appeal to the state. This loss of local control by local school districts with regards to the authorization of charters is a concern that I have also heard in San Diego.

During the board meeting, I heard the superintendent of the district raise concerns about the demographics of the charter not reflecting those of the community, accessibility and the charter’s ability to meet the needs of students in the district. Despite those concerns, a board member gave a speech expressing strong support for the charter, the organization which manages the charter, and for charters in general. The superintendent’s concerns were dismissed by this board member, and the speech was met with a roaring applause from the charter’s supporters.
Had I only had access to the audio for the meeting, and not seen it with my own eyes, it would have been difficult to discern whether this individual was speaking as a board member or as a supporter for the charter, which is disturbing, as it was my understanding that the board is supposed to be neutral and impartial.
In addition, I heard concerns about the impact of charters, which are publicly funded schools that are usually privately operated, on traditional public school facilities, and the inability of local districts to take this impact into account when reviewing charter petitions. I also heard concerns raised about a lack of checks and balances for charters, safety concerns with regards to the individuals transporting charter students, and other concerns.
The concerns that have been raised, and the issues that have been brought to light regarding some charters continue to exist, as do concerns and issues with traditional public schools, which the NAACP has acknowledged. These concerns must be addressed, and these issues must be resolved, for both charters and traditional public schools.
It is simply irresponsible for the expansion of charters to continue with these issues being Continue reading: Charter schools' access, transparency are concerns - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Behind The Campaign To Get Teachers To Leave Their Unions | 89.3 KPCC

Behind The Campaign To Get Teachers To Leave Their Unions | 89.3 KPCC

Behind The Campaign To Get Teachers To Leave Their Unions
Rachael McRae, a fifth-grade teacher in central Illinois, was sitting on the couch the other day with her four-month-old when she saw the email.

"He was having a fussy day," she says, "so I was bouncing him in one arm, and started going through my emails on my phone, just to feel like I was getting something done." In her spam folder, she found an email from an organization called My Pay, My Say, urging her to drop her union membership.
Last month, the Supreme Court in Janus v. AFCSME dealt a major blow to public sector unions. The court ruled that these unions cannot collect money, known as agency fees, from nonmembers who are covered by collective bargaining agreements.
Organizations on both sides across the country sprung into action.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, based in Michigan, is running My Pay, My Say as a national campaign. The Freedom Foundation, headquartered in Washington state, is targeting teachers in Oregon, Washington and California with the slogan, Opt Out Today.
Other groups targeting teachers and public employees in specific states include: the Commonwealth Foundation, the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, the Center of the American Experiment, the Center for Union Facts and Americans for Prosperity.

The outreach tactics include paper mail, phone calls, emails, hotlines, Facebook ads, billboards, TV advertising and even door-to-door canvassing. Organizations are using publicly available email addresses to reach their targets, as well as purchasing mailing lists.
"The day after the decision was out," says Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, groups were already "spamming our members and trying to get them to opt out."
Her union just wrapped up its national convention, vowing to redouble its commitment to organizing and member outreach, with a pledge to "celebrate the activism and be somber about the challenges ahead." For the unions, the stakes are clear: Experts told NPR the decision could lead to a huge drop in membership and revenue in the 22 states where these fees had been allowed.
The groups behind the opt-out campaign, which describe themselves as conservative, libertarian or free-market, share many donors in common, such as the State Policy Network, the Donors' Fund and DonorsTrust. Many of these groups have long opposed not only agency fees, but teachers' unions in general, on the grounds that they inhibit education reforms such as vouchers and charter schools.

According to an analysis of tax filings by the web site Conservative Transparency, the top contributors to the Mackinac Center specifically include the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, and the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative (formerly the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation). These are the family foundations of the U.S. education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and her husband's parents.
DeVos reported resigning her position on the board of directors of her family Continue reading: Behind The Campaign To Get Teachers To Leave Their Unions | 89.3 KPCC