Wednesday, January 30, 2019

State officials say Thrive charter schools should be closed - The San Diego Union-Tribune

State officials say Thrive charter schools should be closed - The San Diego Union-Tribune

State officials say Thrive charter schools should be closed

he California Department of Education says the San Diego-based Thrive charter schools should not be renewed for another five years because of its poor academic performance, according to recently published department documents.
Thrive Public Schools perform worse academically than the district schools its students would have otherwise attended, and its petition to remain open “is not consistent with sound educational practice,” according to a 45-page report by state education department staff.
Since the first school site opened in 2014, Thrive has quickly grown to serve roughly 1,000 students on four campuses, including transitional kindergarten through 11th grade. The State Board of Education is its authorizer.
Thrive opened a new school building in Linda Vista last fall. It advertises a personalized and project-based learning approach.
The state department's recommendation does not yet mean that Thrive will be forced to close.
The State Board of Education will have the final vote on whether Thrive can stay open. However, the State Board has typically followed the department’s recommendations.
Since January of last year, the State Board has approved the establishment or renewal of 14 charter school petitions and denied five, according to meeting minutes. Only twice in the past year has the State Board approved a charter school for which the department recommended denial.
Thrive is seeking a five-year renewal of its charter, which is its required license to remain open, from the State Board after the San Diego Unified School Board voted unanimously to deny Thrive’s renewal request in November. Getting approval from the State Board this spring is Thrive’s last chance to remain open for next school year.
Thrive’s CEO and founder, Nicole Assisi, said in a statement that she expects the State Board will approve Thrive’s renewal despite the staff recommendation.
“Although we are disappointed with the California Department of Education’s recommendation, we remain confident that the State Board of Education will see the CONTINUE READING: State officials say Thrive charter schools should be closed - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Charter School Forces Can't Believe WE Don't Believe Their Bullshit - LA Progressive

Charter School Forces Can't Believe WE Don't Believe Their Bullshit - LA Progressive

Charter School Forces Can’t Believe WE Don’t Believe Their Bullshit




The polls say their cause took a heavy hit in the wake of the LA teacher strike, but don’t count them out. The charter school movement never takes “no” for an answer.
We saw the parents of charter school kids, some of the charter school teachers, and a larger complement of ideological allies descend on the LAUSD board meeting yesterday, expecting to intimidate an already charter-friendly board to renege on its agreement with UTLA to petition the state legislature for a moratorium (or “pause”) on authorizing more charters.
Likewise, the LA Times lost no time in giving prominent Sunday space to David Osborne, an ideological ally of the charter movement, who whined in his ill-tempered Op-Ed that the national teachers’ unions unfairly scapegoat charters for the problems facing conventional unionized schools.

On cost and on relative performance, less than half of charter school kids actually do better academically than children served by regular schools.

Osborne trotted out the familiar arguments developed over the years by the billionaire supporters of charter schools and the related privatization movement (people with names like Koch, Walton, Broad, DeVos, Bloomberg, etc.) To wit, that charter schools provide needed choice for the “victims” of underperforming conventional schools, that they represent liberation for low-income kids of color, and that they cost less to operate and produce better results (i.e., test scores) than conventional schools.
All of this is bullshit.
On “choice,” it’s always the most motivated and involved parents who tend to choose specialized charters for their kids. Relatively uninvolved parents, and the parents of special needs children, are often unable, in practical terms, to “choose” the charter path. There’s no question that the charter operators don’t want the kids of such parents; they choose the kids they want and leave the others behind. There is also no question that the next step, in the billionaires’ playbook, is giving parents nationwide the option of choosing fully private and religious schools while having taxpayers pick up CONTINUE READING: Charter School Forces Can't Believe WE Don't Believe Their Bullshit - LA Progressive

`Crumbling’ Schools Spur Democrats to Renew Infrastructure Push

`Crumbling’ Schools Spur Democrats to Renew Infrastructure Push

‘Crumbling’ Schools Spur Democrats to Renew Infrastructure Push

Students at Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre enter their school building through a shed, a safety precaution in case part of the school’s crumbling fa├žade falls at the wrong moment.
Two elementary schools closed in Arizona after the district found structural defects that could pose safety risks to students. And in Baltimore, students wore coats to class after heaters broke. Some schools didn’t bother to open.
“It’s hard to educate people in schools that are crumbling,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), who introduced a $100 billion school infrastructure bill in 2017 that was co-sponsored by 119 House Democrats but stalled in the GOP-run House. “In a lot of areas that’s unfortunately what’s happening.”
With the new Democratic majority this year, Scott holds the gavel of the House Education and Labor Committee and plans hearings to show the need for better buildings and how many jobs can be created. Infrastructure is also a major priority for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). They’ll need to persuade Republicans who traditionally view school buildings as a state and local responsibility.
The federal government currently spends money to repair schools only in cases of disasters. That leaves states and localities pouring billions of dollars into fixing buildings each year, about $46 billion short of the needs, according to a 2016 “State of Our Schools” study by three groups: 21st Century School Fund, the National Council on School Facilities, and the U.S. Green Building Council.


While a federal study from the National Center for Educational Statistics found that three-fourths of schools were in good or excellent condition or better, at least half of all school districts said their facilitiesneeded major repair.
Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg, a staff attorney with the Public Interest Law Center which is suing Pennsylvania over inadequate funding for schools, said the state alone can’t get schools to where they need to be.
“Our federal government has the power to really knock this out,” he said. “There might not be a constitutional obligation, but there would sure seem like there’s a moral obligation to get it done.”

`LIKE AN OLD CAR’

About 32 percent of school districts reported there were fewer funds available in 2017 than 2016 in a survey of 133 school districts by the magazine School Planning and Management. Only 12 percent said more funding was CONTINUE READING: `Crumbling’ Schools Spur Democrats to Renew Infrastructure Push

States Key to Undoing School Reform’s Federal Era | Ray Domanico, City Journal

States Key to Undoing School Reform’s Federal Era | Ray Domanico, City Journal

School Reform’s Lost Momentum
The legacy of education’s federal era won’t be undone quickly, but states and localities should lead the way forward.

The 2018 midterms marked the second straight electoral cycle paring back the education reforms favored by the Barack Obama and George W. Bush presidential administrations. Education reform was relegated to the background in the 2016 election, but a well-funded effort to increase modestly the number of charter schools in Massachusetts went down to defeat. In 2018, Wisconsin voters replaced a strong supporter of school choice with a candidate more likely to raise educational spending. And New Yorkers flipped the state senate, the last refuge of charter school support, from Republican to Democrat. In these and other states, voters backed candidates promising more funding for traditional public schools.
Reformers set themselves up for these defeats with their bipartisan support for reforms driven from Washington, seemingly at the expense of local control. Prior to the mid-twentieth century, American educational policy had largely been a local matter. Schools operated under local and state control, in close collaboration with parents. This model had much to recommend it. Sociologist Anthony Bryk has shown that schools succeed where trust exists between school professionals and the local families they serve.
Starting in the mid-1960s, Washington took a growing role in education policy, culminating in large-scale efforts by the Bush and Obama administrations to establish local education directives at the federal level. We’re now seeing a reaction against those efforts. The Trump administration’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, seemed to grasp this at the outset of her term, stating: “You cannot fix what ails education by telling people how to do things from the Washington-level down; it really has to be a grassroots local initiative.” Yet the Education Department she leads has only begun to introduce the changes necessary to make this vision a reality. The divided government delivered by the midterms almost guarantees that we’ll be stuck with some of the legacy of education’s federal era, while lasting reform efforts will have to take place at the state and local levels. The diversity of outcomes that will likely mark these initiatives should not be feared, however; it is truer to America’s historical approach to education policy.
At the height of 1960s federal activism, Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration had to fight hard to enact a major education-funding program, Title I, as part of its War on Poverty. Given the venerable American tradition of local control of schools, the 1965 legislation established only a limited federal role: “In recognition of the special educational needs of children of low-income families and the impact that concentrations of low-income families have on the ability of local educational agencies to support adequate educational programs, the Congress hereby declares it to be the policy of the United States to provide CONTINUE READING: States Key to Undoing School Reform’s Federal Era | Ray Domanico, City Journal

L.A. school board calls for moratorium on new local charter schools - Los Angeles Times

L.A. school board calls for moratorium on new local charter schools - Los Angeles Times

L.A. school board calls for moratorium on new local charter schools

Los Angeles school officials made good on a deal with the teachers union on Tuesday, bringing forward and passing a resolution that calls for a local moratorium on new charter schools until their impact can be studied.
The resolution is non-binding for state officials, but it was vigorously opposed by charter supporters — more than 1,000 turned out to protest at district headquarters. The resolution was one product of a deal to end this month’s six-day teachers’ strike.
Earlier in the same meeting on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Board of Education unanimously approved a contract with the teachers’ union, despite a warning from an oversight agency that the costs of it are “unsustainable.”
Just before school board members voted, they received a report from the L.A. County Office of Education, which provides financial oversight for local school districts. While the agency stopped short of urging a rejection of the new contract, it did issue a warning, saying the district would have to submit a revised three-year budget plan that meets the county’s parameters.
Under the new contract, the school system appears to be unable to meet all of its budget obligations. The pact is “not sustainable on an ongoing basis,” according to the county agency’s analysis.
If the district does not take the necessary steps to avoid financial risk, then the county agency can appoint a fiscal advisor who will have the authority to override district spending decisions.
The sober analysis did not prevent the L.A. school board from approving the new contract quickly and with little discussion.
L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner said he was well aware of the district’s financial challenges— indeed, he had repeatedly called attention to them during contract negotiations. Still, he said, the contract was the right step forward and that all parties had compromised to get to an agreement. Resolving the labor conflict would allow all groups to focus on shared challenges, such as cutting costs, winning more revenue from the state and voter initiatives.
“We are at a historic moment to start addressing these issues,” Beutner said. “This contract is not an end. It is a beginning.”
Board member Nick Melvoin said the district would have to make sure that its budget remained solvent.
“It’s up to us, collectively, to make it sustainable,” Melvoin said of the new contract.
The bigger drama inside the building and outside on the streets Tuesday was over another part of the deal that brought teachers back to the classroom this month — a resolution calling on state officials to place a moratorium on the opening of new local charter schools.
Well over 1,000 charter school supporters rallied Tuesday outside district headquarters, west of downtown.
“I felt that it was important to be here today because students and families should have the choice of where to go to school,” said Lexi Hopp, 18, a senior at Granada Hills Charter High School. “Not every school is perfect. So every school, every family, needs to have their choice of where to send their student, to have the best fit possible for them.”
Charters are privately operated public schools that compete with L.A. Unified — and with CONTINUE READING: L.A. school board calls for moratorium on new local charter schools - Los Angeles Times



Here We Go: Another Billionaire Push to “Remake” K12 Ed from the Koch Network | deutsch29

Here We Go: Another Billionaire Push to “Remake” K12 Ed from the Koch Network | deutsch29

Here We Go: Another Billionaire Push to “Remake” K12 Ed from the Koch Network

Some more billionaire experimentation with K12 ed, as the January 29, 2019, Washington Post reports (sort of— guinea pig districts still not revealed)– this time by the American legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) money funnel, Charles Koch:
THE BIG IDEA:
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — The donor network led by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch will launch a new organization next month to focus on changing K-12 education as we know it.
The effort will begin as a pilot project focused on five states with a combined school-age population of 16 million kids, but officials said Monday that they aren’t ready to identify them yet because they’re still finalizing partnerships with some of the country’s leading educational organizations.
The still-unnamed entity purportedly plans to focus on three buckets: changing public policy to address “the root causes” of failing schools, developing new technologies to promote individualized learning, and investing in teachers and classrooms.
The announcement came Monday at the end of a three-day seminar where 634 donors who have each committed to contribute at least $100,000 annually to Koch-linked groups gathered under palm trees at a luxury resort in the Coachella Valley.
The article later has the phrase, “questions their motives” in the same paragraph as’ “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a longtime ally”– which does nothing to bolster confidence in this billionaire, the-world-is-our-laboratory, uh-oh:
[Koch chairman Brian] Hooks recognizes that many will question their motives, but he said the goal is to “really shake things up” by “coming alongside concerned teachers” to “find a better way.” Teachers union leaders, who are closely aligned with the Democratic Party, have accused CONTINUE READING: Here We Go: Another Billionaire Push to “Remake” K12 Ed from the Koch Network | deutsch29

By Striking, Teachers Are Demonstrating Society’s Failure to Value our Children and Their Schools | janresseger

By Striking, Teachers Are Demonstrating Society’s Failure to Value our Children and Their Schools | janresseger

By Striking, Teachers Are Demonstrating Society’s Failure to Value our Children and Their Schools


The 30,000 striking teachers in Los Angeles won better conditions for their students —smaller class size maximums, more counselors, librarians and nurses and an addition of 30 Community Schools with wraparound medical and social services for families. This week teachers in Virginia, a state where strikes are technically illegal, walked out for the day to rally at the state capitol in Richmond.  And school teachers in Denver had voted to go on strike this week, although their action was delayed when Denver Public Schools filed a request for intervention from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. It is evident that last spring’s teachers’ walkouts were not a mere blip.
Nineteen-year labor and workplace reporter for the NY TimesSteven Greenhouse commentsin the Washington Post about the meaning of this year’s actions by masses of school teachers fed up with the collapse of state budgets and the working and learning conditions they have been telling us ought to be unacceptable in the wealthiest society in the world: “The overall number of strikes by American labor unions has declined sharply decade by decade, an unmistakable measure of organized labor’s diminished clout.  But last week’s strike by more than 30,000 Los Angeles teachers belongs to an extraordinary surge in recent union militancy—a surge that includes statewide teachers’ strikes last year in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona… The L.A. walkout was particularly unusual in that the teachers won more for the kids than for themselves—the school district agreed to hire 300 more nurses so that every elementary school would have a nurse five days a week, and 84 more librarians so that every middle school and high school would have one. Even though much of labor remains in a defensive crouch, the unions and workers joining the recent strike wave took to the streets with picket signs because they were fed up… The teachers and their students were lagging badly behind, their pay stagnating, their school budgets squeezed when so many parts of the economy were booming, when corporate profits, the stock market, the incomes of the richest Americans were at or near record levels, and Congress and many states were handing out big tax cuts to business and the rich.”
Writing for The GuardianMike Elk details the complaints by Virginia teachers: “Due to overcrowding, more than 22,000 students in Fairfax county receive their education in cheaply constructed plywood trailers, often with visible signs of green mold, like those parked next to CONTINUE READING:  By Striking, Teachers Are Demonstrating Society’s Failure to Value our Children and Their Schools | janresseger