Friday, March 15, 2019

Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all

Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all

Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all

Texas: Owner of Migrant Shelters Cashes in on Charters

The New York Times published a searing account of the charter schools operated by Southwest Key. “At East Austin College Prep in Texas, raccoons and rats invade offices and classrooms. When it rains, the roof of the main building leaks. Room 106 was so rickety a chair leg fell through the floor. Yet for all this, the secondary school pays almost $900,000 in annual rent. “It has little choice: Its
John Merrow: “I Was Just Following Orders”

John Merrow asks, who makes the rules? Who decides? He describes the many elementary classrooms he has visited over the course of his four decade career. Usually there is a posted set of rules for behavior. Not at all complicated. Some classrooms, however, have rules that the children devise, which end up looking very similar to the rules posted in other classrooms. It seems everyone wants an atm
Toledo Blade Calls for an End to HB 70, the “State Takeover Bill”

The Toledo Blade wrote a commonsense editorial calling for repeal of HB 70, which allows the Ohio State Department of Education to take over and privatize the management of low-scoring school districts. Takeover has been tried and failed in Lorain and Youngstown. Now Toledo and other impoverished districts are threatened. Frankly, it is shocking to see such sound logic and reasoning, but it is al
Peter Greene: Do Teachers Need a Bug in Their Ear to Coach Them?

When I read this story in Education Week, I found it incredibly condescending. The thesis was that teachers really do well by having a little microphone in their ear, in which a coach whispers advice as they are teaching. I am not a teacher, and I never tell anyone how to teach, but I couldn’t imagine that many teachers would love to have an electronic coach in one of their ears. The only time I


California: Charter Advocates Rally to Fight Accountability and Regulation

While the State Board of Education was deliberating the fate of the low-performing Thrive Charter Schools, which they voted to close down, the charter lobby rallied thousands of allies in front of the State Capitol in Sacramento to fight any new laws. One of the speakers was Margaret Fortune, who is president of the powerful California Charter Schools Association and also a member of the state’s
California: State Board of Education Rejects Thrive Charter Schools Appeal for Renewal

Is it a new day in California? Too soon to know but there was one good sign today. The State Board of Education, which in the past had approved charters that had been rejected by districts and then by counties, rejected the appeal by Thrive charter schools of San Diego for renewal. Superintendent Cindy Marten came with staff and data to show that Thrive was not doing well by children. In the past
Connecticut: High Court Rules That Sandy Hook Families May Sue Gunmaker

It seems that the courts will act when legislators, influenced by NRA lobbying, refuse to do so. Connecticut’s highest state court overturned a lower court decision and concluded that the families of those murdered in the Sandy Hook massacre of 2012 may sue the manufacturer of the gun used in the killings. “Connecticut’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15 r
Kentucky: Vouchers are Dead This Year, Killed by Pastors and Teachers

The Kentucky Legislature will not enact a voucher bill this session! Here is one reason why: Pastors for Kentucky Children stood strongly against the bill and in favor of public schools. Reverend Sharon Felton led the way in Kentucky. Please read her wonderful letter in support of public schools and the principle of separation of church and state. She writes: Pastors for Kentucky Children is a gr
California: Who Chose the Members of the Charter Task Force?

The task force appointed to reform California’s weak charter school law has 11 members; six of them have ties to the charter industry. Two of the 11 are part of the California Charter School Association, the official lobbying group, which spends $20 million a year to prevent any accountability for charters. How likely is this task force to propose meaningful reforms to stop charter schools from d
Colorado: Why Did DFER Conceal Its Name in Texting Campaign to Undercut Teachers’ Strike

Chalkbeat reports that the hedge funders’ Democrats for Education Reform sent out text messages during the Denver teachers’ strike using the name of a non-existent organization (“Support Students, Support Teachers.”) Why? Obviously, DFER wanted to undercut the strike (“for the kids,” of course). Teachers have power when they strike. They lose that power when they go back to work without concrete
Charter Profiteer in Arizona Plans to Open Charter Chain in North Carolina

Last year, the Arizona Republic wrote an expose of the millions made by Glenn Way, founder of a charter chain in Arizona, primarily by real estate deals and construction of the schools by “related” companies. He previously ran charters in Utah. Now Way plans to launch a charter chain in North Carolina, which welcomes for-profit charters. Way’s chain in Arizona has a red-white-and-blue patriotic t
North Carolina: “White Flight Academy” Turns into a Charter School to Get Public Funding

In this post on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet, North Carolina educators Justin Parmenter and Rodney D. Pierce report that a “white flight academy” is turning itself into a charter school so it can collect public funding. More than two-thirds of the state’s charter schools are more than 80% black or white. Hobgood Academy opened in 1970 as an escape route for white children whose parents wanted t

MAR 13

Texas: Mayor Bans STAAR Test from His Town

The mayor of Devers, Texas, happens to be a fifth-grade teacher. Steve Horelica knows how phony the state test (STAAR) is. He has proclaimed that it won’t be allowed in his town. Very likely, the Texas Education Agency won’t let him get away with it. But what can they do? Send in the Texas Rangers and force kids to takethe Tests? Imagine: what If he announced that no student in Devers would take
The College Admissions Scandal: Why Am I Not Surprised?

When I first heard about a federal investigation of cheating and rigging of the college admissions process on behalf of wealthy people willing to pay, I completely misjudged the ramifications. I was not surprised. Why was I not surprised? I was not surprised because admission to elite colleges and universities has long been rigged, though not as blatantly as the latest scheme. In the present stor
Oklahoma: Virtual Charter School is an EPIC Failure

John Thompson, historian and recently retired teacher, wonders how much longer Oklahoma’s low-performing Epic virtual charter school can survive scrutiny and continue raking in the big bucks. Even Republicans are beginning to wonder why they are pouring good money into this sinkhole. How long can a failing school avoid accountability? Even many of the staunchest pro-charter corporate reformers ar
NEPC: Reviewing The Myths About Vouchers

The National Education Policy Center published a review of a pro-voucher brief by the Institute for Justice, which publishes advocacy pieces on behalf of school choice. The author of the review, Christopher Lubienski of the University of Indiana, is a national authority on the subject. There is one fact about vouchers that discredits all the debates: In Florida, which has an expansive voucher pro
Texas: More Than 100,000 Students Affected by Computer Glitches on State Tests

The Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath (non-educator) revealed that more than 100,000 students were affected by computer glitches on state tests. “More than 100,000 Texas students were affected by computer glitches on standardized tests this year, tens of thousands more than previously estimated, Education Commissioner Mike Morath told the State Board of Education during a briefing on We
Florida: Why Are There More than 2,000 Teaching Vacancies?

Writing in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog in the Washington Post, Fed Ingram explains why Florida has a massive teacher shortage. Ingram was Miami-Dade County’s Teacher of the Year in 2006 and he is now president of the Florida Education Association. He writes that conditions for teachers are so bad that the state is experiencing a “silent strike” as teachers leave. Halfway through this sc

MAR 12

Trump Seeks to Slash Medicare and Medicaid Funding, Which He Promised Not to Do

John Cassidy of The New Yorker describes the most important broken promise in the Trump budget proposal. We should all fall to our knees and thank whatever deity we choose that the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives last fall. It is doubtful that even his own party would want to own these budget proposals, which slash the social safety net that so many millions of Americans dep
Trump Budget Would Cut Education Programs by 10%, While Expanding $$ for Vouchers, Charters

Education Week describes Trump’s proposed cuts for programs in the U.S. Department of Education. Trump proposes eliminating 29 federal education programs while maintaining level funding for Title 1 and Special Education. The key quote in this article is the one from Secretary DeVos, who says the budget is about “education freedom,” by which she means, “So long, you are on your own, don’t expect t
California: Tony Thurmond Called Me

Many of the readers of this blog were disappointed, as was I, to see that the new Superintendent of Public Instruction in California, Tony Thurmond, appointed a task force to review charter law in which six of the 11 members are or were connected to the charter industry. We know how hard that industry has opposed any regulation or accountability. We know how many billionaires have used their infl
Nancy Bailey: Why Don’t Bill and Melinda Gates Talk About Their Failed Efforts to Take Over America’s Public Schools

Nancy Bailey read Bill and Melinda Gates’ annual letter, recounting their work of the past year and she noticed a curious omission: They forgot to mention their failed efforts to take control of America’s public schools and privatize them! Their education philanthropy has been a disaster for public schools and teachers. Do they ever listen to critics or only to fawning sycophants? She writes: Bil
RAND vs. Leonie Haimson on “Teach to One” Evaluation

I recently posted Leonie Haimson’s critique of the program called “Teach to One.” John Pane, one of the authors of the RAND evaluation, wrote to say that he did not agree with Leonie’s characterization. I told him that I would publish his letter and Leonie’s response. He wrote this letter: On March 4, 2018 you published this blog entry, “ Leonie Haimson: Reality Vs. Hype in “Teach to One” Program
California: Will the State Board Renew a Failing Charter School?

On Thursday the California State Board will decide about the fate of Thrive Charter School in San Diego. The district refused to renew the charter, saying that it is a failing school. The County Office of Education rejected Thrive’s appeal. Thrive now goes to the State Board with a final appeal. Thursday’s meeting will be the first in which Linda Darling-Hammond will chair the State Board. So we
Arkansas: Who’s Who in the Charter Movement (Hint: Everyone Is Owned by the Waltons)

I can’t tell you how angry this post made me. I felt outraged and frustrated. It is not just about privatization. It is about the purchase of an entire state by one family. How can anyone teach civics in Arkansas when one family owns everything? This post will make your head spin. Public schools in communities of color are taken over by the state, and charter schools open. One high-powered chain.

MAR 11

Rep. Rosa DeLauro Denounces Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts

When the Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives last fall, a great champion of working people, children, and public schools was restored as chair of a key committee overseeing the social safety net. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut is determined to protect the federal funding on which millions of people depend. Trump wants to increase military spending. FOR IMMEDIATE
California: More Information About the Foxes Who Guard the Henhouse

Basketball Star Kevin Johnson was Mayor of Sacramento. He married Michele Rhee, ex-face of the privatization movement. Before their marriage, Johnson founded St. Hope Academy charter schools in Sacramento. What has St.Hope got to do with Tony Thurmond’s Task Force on the fiscal impact of charters? One member of the task force, Margaret Fortune, was the superintendent of St. Hope Academy. A gradua
Arizona: The State’s Lack of Oversight Removes Protections from Students, Part 2

Craig Harris of the Arizona Republic is part of the Polk Award-winning team that investigated charter school frauds, scams, and abuses. This is the second part of an article in which he describes the mistreatment of students and the state’s failure to investigate complaints. He writes: “Charter and district schools are both publicly funded schools, but they are vastly different in how they’re gov
Arizona: At Charter Schools, No One Responds to Parent Complaints, Part 1

The Arizona Republic recently won a Polk Award for its outstanding coverage of charter corruption. Craig Harris, a member of the investigative team, writes here about how charters ignore parents’ complaints. When a student is mistreated, there is no re ourse. The boarddoesnt care. It protects the school,not the student. Students in charter schools have no rights. The parents of the student in the
The Sacklers, Opioids, and Charter Schools

We know a few things about the Sackler family. Their family fortune is vast, about $14 billion. Their fortune was derived primarily from the sale of highly addictive opioids. More than 200,000 people have died due to opioid addiction. The Sackler nameis emblazoned on museums, libraries, and universities. Curiously, Jonathan Sackler has been a major finder of charter schools in Connecticut, Rhode
Mercedes Schneider Tracks the Sackler Billions and Support for Charter Schools

Mercedes Schneider is a master at tracking down financial records. In this post, she shows the direct connections between the Sackler’s billions–derived from the sale of OxyContin–and the growth of the charter movement. OxyContin is a highly addictive painkiller. It has been responsible thus far for more than 200,000 deaths. The Sackler family is now being sued individually by the State Attorney
Opioid Manufacturer Considers Bankruptcy to Stop 1,600 Lawsuits. Rhode Island Governor Won’t Return Sackler Campaign Donations.

Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturers of killer drug OxyContin, is considering bankruptcy to cancel the 1,600 lawsuits against it. More than 200,000 people have died because of opioid addiction. Governor Raimondo of Rhode Island is not returning contributions from Jonathan Sackler, although other elected officials have done so. The Sackler family is worth about $14 billion based on the succes

MAR 10

California: Thurmond and Newsom Put the Fox in Charge of the Henhouse

The story of the task force charged with reviewing the charter law and the fiscal impact of charters on public schools continues to evolve, and not in a good way. Of the 11 members of the task force appointed by Tony Thurmond, in consultation with Governor Gavin Newsom, at least six are directly connected to the charter industry. How can this be possible when the charter industry supported former
California: More on Tony Thurmond’s Charter Task Force

I posted earlier that there are no teachers on the task force appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent Tony Thurmond to study charter law in California, but that’s not quite right. The task force is meeting regularly and it would likely be impossible for a working teacher to leave her or his classroom on a weekly basis to attend task force meetings. However, there are at least
California: Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in the Charter Sector

Carol Burris did a thorough analysis of the abuses committed by the charter industry in California. Please read this report and send a copy to Tony Thurmond, who just appointed a task force to study charter schools and stacked it with charter allies.
California: Did Tony Thurmond Give the Charter Task Force to the Charter Lobby?

Last November, there was a bitter contest for the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction in California. The charter lobby pumped millions of dollars into the campaign of Marshall Tuck, former CEO of Green Dot charter schools. The charters spent twice as much as the California Teachers Association, which backed Tony Thurmond. In a tight race, Thurmond won. In two recent teachers’ strikes
California Considers Bill to Ban TFA from Low-Income Schools

In this brief radio interview, Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig of California State University in Sacramento explains the rationale behind Assembly Bill 221, which would ban TFA teachers from teaching in schools with high numbers of impoverished students. He says that the neediest students need well-prepared, experienced teachers, not novices. A description of the bill is here .
California: Tony Thurmond Appoints Task Force to Study Fiscal Impact of Charters

State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond appointed an 11-member task force to study the fiscal impact of charter schools on public schools. He did so at the request of Governor Newsom. Four members of the task force are part of the charter industry. Thurmond is amazingly evenhanded. In the race for the office last fall, the charter industry outspent him 2-1 and smeared him with negative
Ohio: Another Reason Why Charter Schools Should Not Get More Funding

Ohio charter schools are very low-performing. They have also had numerous scandals. And then there is the story of the Richard Allen Charter Schools. The Dayton Daily News conducted an investigation and found that the charters “are still being run by a person who was sued by the state attorney general 18 months ago for her role in misspending $2.2 million in school money.” The school leased a Mas
Another For-Profit ”College” Chain Collapses, Students Left with Debt

Another for-profit chain of colleges has gone into bankruptcy and its students ar3 left holding the bag, loaded with debt and worthless degrees. Policing these institutions is the job of the Education Department. For years, the for-profit colllege Industry has hiredlobbyists from both parties to protect them. The New York Times reports: “When the Education Department approved a proposal by Dream

MAR 09

Gun Debate in Arkansas: And She Persisted.

This story in today’s Washington Post moved me. If I had been in the room, I would have jumped up and applauded Senator Flowers. Debate on gun legislation reached a crescendo at the Arkansas State Capitol on Wednesday when a senator fervently denounced a bill that would make it easier to use lethal force in the name of self-defense. The bill , sponsored by three Republican state senators, would r
Philadelphia: New School Board Rejected Three Charter Applications

Lisa Haver, a pro-public school activist in Philadelphia wrote to tell me that “It’s a new day in Philadelphia!” The old School Reform Commission, appointed by the governor and mayor, routinely approved charter school applications, no matter what the charter operator’s performance or record. Last week, the new school board turned down three charter applications. She wrote: Hi Diane, The new Board
Why Did Trump Hide His Academic Records if He Did as Well As He Claimed?

Why is this “stable genius” hiding his academic records? This story appeared in the Washington Post: ‘Grab that record’: How Trump’s high school transcript was hidden A portrait of Donald Trump hangs on the wall at the New York Military Academy, in Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y. (Mike Groll/AP) By Marc Fisher March 5 at 4:27 PM In 2011, days after Donald Trump challenged President Barack Obama to “show
Jan Resseger: Why Ohio Should Not Give More Money to Charter Schools

Jan Resseger explains here why Ohio should not give more money to charter schools and their sponsors (in Ohio, the authorizers of charter schools get a 3% commission for every student enrolled in their charters). Their most vocal advocate is the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which sponsors charters. When its Ohio office writes editorials supporting an increase in revenue, it is arguing for its ban
Atlanta: A Public Protest Against the “Portfolio Model”

The Atlanta School Board is controlled by a slate of former Teach for America teachers. They are devoted to privately managed charter schools. They don’t seem to have any ideas about how to improve public schools other than to outsource them. They are determined to impose a portfolio district model that welcomes more charter operators staffed by temps like they once were. A group of Atlanta citiz
Remember the Congressman That AOC Beat?

There was much gnashing of teeth in establishment Democratic circles when 29-year-Old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes beat high-ranking Congressman Joe Crowley. Upstart! How dare she? But don’t cry for Joe Crowley. He has landed a job at one of DC’s top lobbying firms, which represents fossil fuels, private prisons, and other distinctly non-liberal corporations. Since I’m meeting AOC in a week to talk a

MAR 08

D.C.: Teachers Unfairly Terminated by Michelle Rhee Win $5 Million Settlement: VICTORY!

The Washington Teachers Union won a long-standing battle with the D.C. public schools caused by the unfair implementation of Michelle Rhee’s teacher evaluation program called IMPACT. W
Los Angeles: More About the Billionaire Boys Club, Who Are Adrift and Forlorn

I have been posting a lot about the race for the empty seat on the LAUSD school board because it is the second largest district in the nation, the largest with an elected board, and the Billionaire Boys Club has been trying to buy control of it. Eli Broad wants half the students in LAUSD in charter schools, and “only” 20% are now in charters. The BBC thought they won control when they put Ref Rod
On Paul Manafort’s Sentence of 47 Months

From this morning’s Washington Post: — A string of defense attorneys, especially public defenders, pointed to much harsher sentences doled out to people for non-white-collar crimes than what Manafort got from Ellis. Mueller’s team laid out evidence during the Virginia trial that Manafort, by concealing $16 million in income, didn’t pay $6 million he would have owed in federal taxes, among other c
Los Angeles: Jackie!

Howard Blume wrote an incisive analysis of the race for the LAUSD seat in District 5, where Jackie Goldberg won 48% of the vote in a crowded field. He writes that UTLA put $660,000 into the race on behalf of Jackie, who is a progressive fighter for kids and public schools. She raised another $200,000 on her own. But she did not spend the most. The biggest spender (Heather Repenning) had a kitty o
Jan Resseger: Why Is America Underinvesting in Education?

Jan Resseger writes one astonishingly smart post after another. We can all learn from her. Having dedicated her career to social justice and especially to education justice, she is steeped in the issues. But she has a way of putting together information from different sources that brings new light on old discussions. This post about our national underinvestment in education is exemplary. She begi
Missouri: Stop Privatization Now!

The legislature in Missouri is considering bills for charters and vouchers, which will defund public schools. if you live in Missouri, contact your legislator and express your support for yourcomm7nity’s Public s hoops.
Utah: Expose of Legislators Who Are Cashing in on the Charter Industry

This report from television station KUTV in Salt Lake City points out a bizarre contradiction in Charter World. Plenty of legislators are cashing in on charter schools In Utah: State Sen. Lincoln Fillmore (Dist. 10) is one of the foremost experts on charter schools in the state legislature. That makes sense given that he runs Charter Solutions, a company that from 2015 to 2018 has collected $5.7

New York City: A Forum on Education Issues with AOC

Want to meet Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez? So do I. If you are in New York City or its environs, here is your chance. Public Education Town Hall A conversation on a bold new vision for public school justice and equity Featured