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Friday, August 24, 2018

California Legislature Approves McCarty Measure to Ban For-Profit Charter Schools | East County Today

California Legislature Approves McCarty Measure to Ban For-Profit Charter Schools | East County Today
California Legislature Approves McCarty Measure to Ban For-Profit Charter Schools

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SACRAMENTO, CA – The California State Legislature Thursday approved AB 406 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), which would prohibit for-profit corporations from managing and operating charter schools in the Golden State. This bipartisan measure was approved by the State Senate on a 28 to 7 vote and by the State Assembly on a 49 to 15 vote.
Throughout the United States, a number of corporations are seeking to privatize public education as an untapped market for increasing corporate profits. A disturbing trend in this effort to privatize our public schools has been in the charter school arena.  These corporations take public taxpayer dollars and use a percentage of those dollars for corporate profits and excessive salaries for their executives with little or no transparency and accountability – taking taxpayer money away from students.
In California, 34 charter schools run by for-profit corporations serve over 25,000 students and divert millions of dollars annually away from public schools and into the pockets of corporate investors.
“The privatization of public education must end,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. “Passage of AB 406 puts student success ahead of corporate profits and affirms California’s belief that public tax dollars should be spent to increase student success in the classroom, not to increase corporate wealth the boardroom. This is an historic day in California and I respectfully encourage Governor Brown to sign AB 406 into law.”
The Legislature’s passage of AB 406 created a unique coalition, rarely seen in education policy where the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), representing thousands of public school teachers and the California Charter School Association (CCSA), representing charter schools both supported AB 406.
“Assembly Bill 406 will prohibit for-profit corporations from creating and managing charter schools in California, thus stopping the practice of diverting public dollars away from students for corporate profits with little to no accountability or transparency,” said Joshua Pechthalt, President of the CFT.  “The State of California has clearly shown that these for-profit education management organizations are ripping off taxpayers, misleading parents Continue reading: California Legislature Approves McCarty Measure to Ban For-Profit Charter Schools | East County Today

'Radical Cram School' is Sesame Street for the Resistance

'Radical Cram School' is Sesame Street for the Resistance
Kristina Wong's kid-centric web series is badass and adorable.

How do we keep girls of color from internalizing the racist and misogynistic rhetoric amplified by the election of a presidential bully? How do we empower them to embrace their identities and become allies to other social movements? Forget Kumon. Your kid needs Radical Cram School.

Radical Cram School is a new web series that seeks answer to these questions through humor and fun. Hosted by comedian Kristina Wong, the unscripted six-episode series features Asian American kids, ages 7-11, eight of who identify as girls and one who identifies as gender fluid. Kristina and the kids play games, put on a puppet show and sing the blues to explore topics such as structural racism, misogyny, identity and bullying. 

Grounded in academic research and crafted with comedy, Radical Cram School aims to spark the kinds of conversations not happenindg in school to explore topics such as structural racism, misogyny, feminism, gender identity, income inequality, and how to practice self-expression to transform negative experiences. 

While the subject matter skews mature, the kids' unscripted reactions are hilarious and heartwarming. All six episodes of Radical Cram School are now available on YouTube. Check it out:

The idea for Radical Cram School came when co-producer Theodore Chao, a professor of Education at Ohio State University, realized his 9-year-old daughter Liberty and her friends were internalizing the racist and Continue reading: 'Radical Cram School' is Sesame Street for the Resistance

Do New School Report Cards Reveal Something Worth Knowing or Are They Just Statistical Magic?

Education Law Prof Blog

Do New School Report Cards Reveal Something Worth Knowing or Are They Just Statistical Magic?

Texas has released its statewide grading of public schools, using a grading scale of A to F.  The grades would appear to be a reflection of school poverty levels than anything else.   The Texas Tribune’s analysis shows that “No school district with a rate of low-income students lower than 30 percent received an overall rating of C, D or F.”  And as the level of poor students in the schools increase, the letter grades become more variable, but the clear trend is that letter grades substantially decline.  Almost the entire cluster of Cs, Ds, and Fs is with schools with poverty rates in excess of 50%.Texas
This data poses crucial questions and possibilities.  First, is the variability in letter grades among high poverty schools an indication that the system really is distinguishing between higher and lower quality schools.  Second, do schools have any way to predict, understand, and respond to their overall poor performance?  If they don’t, this system is no better than the statically teacher evaluation systems that state leaders claimed would magically transform the teaching profession, but which were shown to be pretty much pointless, if not harmful, within just a few years. 
Third, even if schools understand these results, do those at the bottom end actually have the resources they need to make change.  As research increasingly shows, money does, in fact, matter to student outcomes and it matters a lot.  Unfortunately, Texas schools are way short on it.  Recent school finance litigation has shown how Texas has been dramatically underfunding its education system.  The largest scale snapshot shows school funding is down roughly 16% in real dollar terms in Texas since 2008.
The whole system, however, might be nothing more than voodoo magic.  States adopted their new rating systems pursuant to the Every Student Succeeds Act.  And as I emphasize in Abandoning the Federal Role in Education,
under the ESSA, states have enormous flexibility in the amount of weight they assign to particular tests and to student achievement factors overall. Not only does this flexibility permit an individual state to minimize the weight it assigns, but it also allows every state to do something different.  One state might make student proficiency tests the dominant measure of student achievement while another state uses student growth.    And regardless of the approach a state takes, states can assign significantly different weights to tests and other student achievement measures. A state might, for instance, assign test results 95 percent in their accountability metric and any number of non-test factors 5 percent or less collectively.  Another state might assign test results 60 percent in its accountability metric while assigning 40 percent to softer factors, such as student engagement, teacher engagement, and school climate.  With a number of options, states will have the ability to manipulate their accountability systems so as to produce desired outcomes. 
None of the foregoing means to suggest that testing is an effective means to promote equal education opportunity or that some optimum weight should be afforded to test results. The point here is that the ESSA maintains the NCLB’s notion that there is merit to testing and accountability, but undermines its own premise. If testing and accountability are plausible tools for achieving equality, leaving states’ testing regimes to random variability undermines equality. Rather than tracking a single proficiency standard as in the NCLB, the ESSA affords disadvantaged students educational opportunities that more closely track the approach of their home state rather than any mandate in statute. In this respect, the ESSA does little to continue the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s historic mission to promote improvements in academic achievement for disadvantaged students."
It seems to me the overarching problem is that we don’t really know if the system is a statistical sleight of hand, a reflection of inadequate funding, or a reflection of socio-economic segregation (which is the biggest driver of student achievement).  And if we don’t know that, then these report cards cannot really tell us anything worth knowing—even if the underlying data and method is right on target.  In other words, transparency is worth its Continue reading: Education Law Prof Blog




The collapse of Newark’s Lady Liberty Academy Charter School hurt  the nearly 500 inner-city children who attended the privately-run, publicly-funded school–but the debacle also exposed a reckless  financing scheme used by former Gov. Chris Christie to help political allies in the charter school movement.
The scheme–known as “conduit bonds”– is so complicated even the spokeswoman for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), the agency that devised it,  conceded she doesn’t understand it.
But the scheme’s fiscally unhinged methods are easy to describe: The Republican Christie administration loaned $10 million to a private real estate estate developer.  The developer–BWP School  Partners LLC of  Metuchen–formed a partnership with a trouble-plagued but politically connected charter school, Lady Liberty Academy, to create a new facility at the site of a closed religious school in the Vailsburg section of Newark.
BWP–a for profit spin-off of a non-profit called Build With Purpose–promised to pay the $10 million  from the state back to the state with the funds generated by the annual rent it charged to Lady Liberty. In 2016, the annual rent reached more than $871,000.
That’s $871,000 in public money that would otherwise have gone to Newark’s resource-starved public schools.
The money kept rolling in despite clear indications the school was in academic trouble. A Rutgers report in 2003 warned of “challenges.”  The school was twice put on academic probation by the state.   Despite the red flags, Christie loaned the money to Lady Liberty and its private real estate developer partner.
Now that the school has been closed by the state under a new political administration, the money for rent is no longer available–not to the school and not to BWP, a company headed by Brian Keenan of Metuchen. And not to the state that loaned it out.
The disaster gets even gets worse:  The Christie scheme, explained in a detailed Continue reading: HOW NJ BOOSTS PROFITS FOR CHARTER SCHOOL DEVELOPERS |