Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, March 10, 2019

UPDATE More on Tony Thurmond’s Charter Task Force - Did Tony Thurmond Give the Charter Task Force to the Charter Lobby? | Diane Ravitch's blog

California: Did Tony Thurmond Give the Charter Task Force to the Charter Lobby? | Diane Ravitch's blog

UPDATE 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 two members of the task force who were active teachers: Erika Jones of the California Teachers Association and Cindy Marten, superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District.
I don’t understand why the task force has so  many representatives of the charter industry on a committee to study charter law, when only 10 percent of students in California schools are enrolled in charters. The charter industry is infamous for protecting its turf and fighting any regulation or accountability. This is like asking representatives of Big Tobacco to participate in a discussion of whether to regulate cigarette sales.
Charter law in the state is notoriously lax. A district with a tiny enrollment can open a charter in a district 500 miles away and collect a commission on the students who enroll. If a charter asks a district for permission to open or for a renewal, and the district rejects the application, the charter can appeal to the county board. If the county board says that its application or its record is deficient, the charter can appeal to the state board. Under Governor Jerry Brown, the state board rubberstamped applications despite rejections from the affected district and county. Under current law, the state need not consider the fiscal impact of charters on nearby public schools, a factor which has severely damaged Oakland, Inglewood, and other districts. Under current law, charters are parasites on the districts that are forced to host them, draining away students and resources and leaving “stranded costs” (fixed costs).
California has had a large number of scandals in the charter sector. The most recent occurred when the CEO of the Celerity Charter chain pled guilty to using the schools’ credit card to charge luxury items, including designer clothing, fancy hotels, haute cuisine and limousine service, as well as to fund her Ohio charter school.
These are issues the task force will consider. Will the large bloc of charter supporters on the task force acknowledge the fiscal problems caused by charters for the public schools that enroll most students? Or will they fight stubbornly to maintain the charters’ freedom from accountability? Why did the California Charter School Association get two members of the task force but the California Teachers Association get only one? If charter schools undermine public schools, it is a net loss for the children of the state. If failing charters are allowed to be renewed again and again, it is a disgrace.
Here is the complete task force:
The task force members are:
  • Cristina de Jesus, president and chief executive officer, Green Dot Public Schools California (charter chain);
  • Dolores Duran, California School Employees Association;
  • Margaret Fortune, California Charter Schools Association board chair; Fortune School of Education, president & CEO;
  • Lester Garcia, political director, SEIU Local 99 (Local 99 took $100,000 from Eli Broad to oppose Jackie Goldberg);
  • Alia Griffing, political director, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 57;
  • Beth Hunkapiller, educator and administrator, Aspire Public Schools (charter chain);
  • Erika Jones, board of directors, California Teachers Association;
  • Ed Manansala, superintendent, El Dorado County; board president, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association; 
  • Cindy Marten,  superintendent, San Diego Unified School District;
  • Gina Plate, vice president of special education, California Charter Schools Association (charter lobby);
  • Edgar Zazueta, senior director, policy & governmental relations, Association of California School Administrators (ACSA endorsed Marshall Tuck against Tony Thurmond). 
Recommended readings:

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, in Los Angeles and Oakland, teachers demanded a moratorium on new charters until the fiscal impact of charters on public schools was thoroughly studied.
In response, Governor Gavin Newsom asked State Superintendent Tony Thurmond to set up a task force to examine the issues that charters raise and consider any needed revisions in the law.
Thurmond appointed an 11-member panel. Not a single one of the 11 is a teacher, even though teachers raised the questions in their strikes.
Worse, a possible majority of the panel represent the charter lobby that fought so hard to defeat Thurmond, smeared him with negative ads, and lost.
Here are some of the members:
  • Cristina de Jesus, president and chief executive officer, Green Dot Public Schools California;
  • Margaret Fortune, California Charter Schools Association board chair; Fortune School of Education, president & CEO;
  • Lester Garcia, political director, SEIU Local 99; (Charter against Jackie 100K Broad IE)
  • Beth Hunkapiller, educator and administrator, Aspire Public Schools
  • Ed Manansala, superintendent, El Dorado County; board president, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association; (El Dorado Charter Officers. President. Marcy Guthrie … Ed Manansala, Ed.D., County Superintendent El Dorado Co. Office of Education
    Rite of Passage Charter High School – El Dorado County Office of Education …
  • Gina Plate, vice president of special education, California Charter Schools Association;
  • Edgar Zazueta, senior director, policy & governmental relations, Association of California School Administrators. (LED Endorsement of Marshall Tuck)
It appears that seven of the 11 task force members are in the tank for charter schools.
This is by no means a balanced or open-minded committee.
How likely are they to propose tighter regulation of charter schools?
How likely are they to propose that districts should not be allowed to open charter schools in other districts, a policy that has led to financial abuses?
How likely are they to curb the waste, fraud, and abuse that allow fly-by-night charter schools to open in strip malls, collect money, then disappear?
Tony Thurmond, what happened?
California: Did Tony Thurmond Give the Charter Task Force to the Charter Lobby? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Big Education Ape: DPE Forces are Over-Represented on Charter Law Review “Action Team” | tultican -

Big Education Ape: Torlakson’s California Charter Law ‘Action Team’ Has a Troubling Tilt -

Take All The Space You Need (For Now) | The Jose Vilson

Take All The Space You Need (For Now) | The Jose Vilson


It was a humid summer afternoon. I ventured with my son to a few stores along East 86th Street, enjoying parts of the city we don’t normally venture. I wore a black and orange Free Minds Free People shirt, my young one a white t-shirt and shorts. The sidewalks felt like people were walking shoulder to shoulder, two steps slower than their normal pace.
As we made our way up 3rd Avenue to Harlem, an elder white woman in a walker came to a stop and said “Excuse me.” My native New Yorker face belies my tendency towards hospitality and grace. “Do you need help?”
She says in , “You know the problem with you people is …” I already observed how she had already made a few snap judgments and my body already tightened up in anger. “… you really need to talk to your people about health and weight.” A handful of reactions ran through my mind as I clenched my fist. In the few seconds that felt like a few minutes, her voice had become a monotonous whistle waiting for me to break it. The faces around me had gone from minding their business to minding mine. NYC has any number of racial and intergenerational incidents daily, occurrences for people to film and cast judgments upon.
In that moment, I also recognized that my fist was holding my son’s hand. I mustered with furious eyes and bellicose tone: “THANK YOU! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!” My words rang out across the sidewalk as I rushed past the crowds. I took a seat in an emptier block just underneath a few CONTINUE READING: Take All The Space You Need (For Now) | The Jose Vilson

Schools Matter: The Mind Trust’s Neo-colonial War on Parents: Part One

Schools Matter: The Mind Trust’s Neo-colonial War on Parents: Part One

The Mind Trust’s Neo-colonial War on Parents: Part One

I am busy finishing my new book--a follow-up to Hoosier School Heist that will be released next year--and will be blogging again this summer. Please read John Harris Loflin's new and significant piece posted below. Thanks! Doug Martin

The Mind Trust’s Neo-colonial War on Parents: Part One 

By John Harris Loflin 

Due to the Mind Trust’s (MT) view that urban schools are broken and need fixing, this January the non-profit began looking for someone to launch “an independent parent advocacy organization” with emphasis on social justice and closing the Achievement Gap for communities of color in high poverty areas.

However, this commentary argues urban schools are not broken. As concluded in The White Architects of Black Education by Watkins, America’s public schools never meant to educate all children, especially children of color. We can’t call schools broken that were designed to fail.

Because America’s school system was designed to fail and/or mis-educate certain children, it was colonial. That is, its purpose was to colonize Native Americans and other non-whites, “fitting” them and settlers/immigrants into America’s “melting pot.”

“Education’s indoctrination if you're white--subjugation if you're black.” -- James Baldwin

Thus, initial (and current) public schooling confused education with conformity via CONTINUE READING: 
Schools Matter: The Mind Trust’s Neo-colonial War on Parents: Part One

Big Education Ape: Schools Matter: Hoosier School Heist Author Doug Martin on Real Accountability (and Federal Prison) -

Big Education Ape: Subscribe to Hoosier School Heist TV - YouTube -

As the author of  Hoosier School Heist,  Doug Martin’s research has been used by or referenced in Salon, Alternet, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, PBS, and newspapers and radio shows across Indiana and America.  His newest book project deals with Big Pharma, Big Medicine, the Cancer Industry, hospital fraud, and nursing home and health care corruption in Indiana.

Hoosier School Heist TV is Doug Martin's channel featuring videos of his book tour across Indiana speaking on the corporate takeover of public education. Order Hoosier School Heist at
Follow Hoosier School Heist on Facebook:
Tweet with Doug Martin at:

ALL ABOARD THE CRAZY TRAIN: All about Fla SB 7070 - YouTube

All about Fla SB 7070 - YouTube


Already, on the second day of this year’s legislative session, the Florida Senate Education Committee decided it would be a good idea to advance another controversial omnibus education bill to the full senate floor. Sometimes referred to as a “train bill,” this type of legislation is expressly prohibited by the state constitution. “[E]very law shall embrace but one subject and matter properly connected therewith, and the subject shall be briefly expressed in the title.“ But for several years running, Republican leadership has been unable to advance their agenda piecemeal. So, in the closing days of each session, they’ve bundled everything together into one, unconstitutional mess and forced their members to vote either up or down on the entire package. Among its various proposals, SB 7070 expands on what’s already the nation’s largest voucher program. It allocates $422 million for another bonus program. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s the seventh of its kind, each of which has been deemed an abject failure. The bill also allows charter and private schools to circumvent safety and construction rules, unlike public schools, which must continue serving their communities as designated shelters during natural disasters. “[We] stand here today to vehemently oppose the introduction of SB 7070, a massive ‘Train Bill’ that caters solely to school ‘choice’ lobbyists and special interests. We reject the combining of a massive voucher expansion that will use public dollars […] to pay for private religious education…   “We believe the unfair ‘bonus’ money would be better placed in the base student allocation. We are annoyed that on day two of session we are facing a bill so packed with initiatives that meaningful public comment is impossible. SB 7070 should be broken up into individual bills that can be properly vetted and understood. Anything short of this betrays the trust of voters across Florida.” - Testimony of Catherine Baer, The Tea Party Network Committee Chair Manny Diaz, Jr, complained that “the definition of public education keeps getting twisted.” Yeah. By him and the education profiteers who’ve taken control of our state government. He claims teacher salaries are determined through collective bargaining between local school districts and teachers unions. What a cynical, disingenuous comment from a politician who’s repeatedly sabotaged local school districts’ ability to raise their own funds. This guy is a walking, talking conflict of interest, having personally cashed a $million in salary from the charter school industry he’s supposed to be regulating. @FLBaloney

All about Fla SB 7070 - YouTube

CURMUDGUCATION: Bug-In-Ear Coaching: Why Is This Still A Thing?

CURMUDGUCATION: Bug-In-Ear Coaching: Why Is This Still A Thing?

Bug-In-Ear Coaching: Why Is This Still A Thing?

You're a young teacher, working hard to get the hang of running a classroom, sequencing instruction, monitoring a roomful of students, tracking the clock, and otherwise managing your role as educational Boss Of The Room. It reminds you of when you first started driving, and it was taxing just to carefully monitor everything that needed to be monitored. Your hands are full and your brain is just this far from overloading.

Clearly what you need more than anything else is a voice in your ear offering back seat driving while you are trying to do your job.

Excellent. Do your anticipatory set, then dance for me.
Somehow bug-in-ear coaching continues to be a thing. EdWeek wrote this puffy promotional piece for the practice just last month. But the practice has been around for a while. Here's an extensive piece of happy talk about it back in 2011-- and it cites sources going back to 1994. The writers at least have the sense to acknowledge that "the virtual coach's role can quickly deteriorate into a Big Brother or a nagging mother." Well, yes. They also advise to keep things short, maybe just using key words.

Coaches advocating for this approach insist that teachers love it, which is not exactly a shocker. It's younger teachers or struggling teachers who are mostly likely to have the bug-ear thrust upon them and who are also least likely to say, "Are you kidding me?" But if you want to read an account of someone who went through it and hated it, here's a piece from Ann Berard, a former charter teacher who decided that she did not want to be "just like Tom Brady."

The students were also perplexed by my new earpiece accessory. "Um, Miss, what’s that in your ear?" they asked. I looked over to the three adults in the far back corner of the room for my CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Bug-In-Ear Coaching: Why Is This Still A Thing?

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Actually Nice Out Edition (3/10)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Actually Nice Out Edition (3/10)

ICYMI: Actually Nice Out Edition (3/10)

Here's an assortment of goodies to read from last week. I know I say this all the time, but it takes readers to make a piece of writing spread. So always share what you think needs to be shared. Everyone can amplify the important voices, and these days that is super-important.

Winning At Any Cost   

Arkansas gives prize money to its top schools. How far did the charter Haas Hall Academy go to stay on top? Too far, by quite a bit. This is a pretty appalling story.

Cybercharters Widespread Reports of Trouble

This is not exactly a new resource, but I discovered it for the first time this week and it deserves a bookmark. EdWeek has collected numerous reports, sorted state by state, of cybercharter problems.

People Who Regulate Charters Make Millions From Them

This time we go to Utah, where a television news department has discovered that lawmakers writing charter regulations also have a financial stake in the charter industry.

Diverting Funds From Public Schools Hurts The Community

An op-ed in the Palm Beach Post argues that Florida's choice programs are not good for public education.

Lies You Have Been Told About Education Technology

A good set of rebuttals for the "Oh, but you must" crowd.

Strange Things Happening in Newark

In Newark, the state is losing control of the local school system, leading to an assortment of odd other shenanigans. Bob Braun is covering it all.

Jonathan Sackler’s Bouncer Foundation: Opioid-Funded Ed Reform

The same family that brought us the opioid problem is also working on charters. The indispensable Mercedes Schneider has been working it all out, and she shows her work.

The Bible Bill

Oh, Florida. A new bill proposes Bible courses in every school. One teacher imagines how the course might not live up to its sponsor's hopes.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Actually Nice Out Edition (3/10)

TX: Charters Don't Want To Serve All Students
The charter school pitch often focuses on the idea that all students deserve choices, that families should be able to explore options. Here's the CEO of KIPP Texa s, speaking about the big Texas KIPP merger: We realized our organizations wanted to improve student success across the state and we wanted to create an environment to serve more KIPPsters. And here's Starlee Coleman, CEO of the Texas Ch

MAR 07

Can HAL 3000 Take Your Class Notes For You (And Is EdWeek Starved For Story Ideas?)
Can a piece of computer software take notes for students in a K-12 classroom? No. Okay, we should be done here, but Benjamin Herold, staff writer, has posted a curious article at EdWeek. The headline (Could Artificial Intelligence Automate Student Note-Taking?) might have alarmed you if you saw it, but I'm going to explain why you can relax. Here's how he leads off: "I'm afraid I missed the part a
Why Do Teachers Have Such Lousy Parental Leave?
At Working Mother, Amy Sherman asks a really good question-- It's a Mom-Dominated Profession. So Why Are Teachers Getting the Shaft on Maternity Leave? Of course, we're talking about US teachers, because we rank at the very bottom of the barrel for developed (or in some cases, even semi-developed) countries when it comes to maternity leave. For all our noise about babies and motherhood and how par

MAR 06

Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea
Florida's governor is planning to boost the state bonus program for teachers , even as Denver teachers walked off the job over their district's version of an incentive program. So it's worth taking a moment to step back and remember why teacher merit pay and bonus systems are just a bad idea. First, they can't work like a private sector bonus system. In the business world, bonuses and incentives

MAR 04

The $5 Billion DeVos Money Laundromat
You have read by now that Betsy DeVos is finally going to get one of her favorite policy ideas floated past Congress . But what the heck is it, and why is it a problem? To understand, we have to look first at what's been happening in some states. The financial device we're talking about is a Tax Credit Scholarship, and it's a bit of a clever dodge. Let's say I'm the State of New West Virkota. The

MAR 03

ICYMI: In Like A Snow-Covered Lion Edition (3/3)
Things to read from this week. Keep sharing. Keep posting. Keep putting the word out there. And don't forget to keep an eye on the bloglist in the right hand column. The more you read, the more you know. When Will We Stop Blaming Teachers Another look at TNTP's Opportunity Myth-- one more attempt to explain that education problems are teachers' fault. Why Did Indiana Teachers Leave the Classroom A

MAR 02

Will Florida Abolish The Common Core
This post ran at Forbes three weeks ago. Anyone notice anything happening since then that would change my mind? Didn't think so. Newly-elected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced last week that he will, via executive order, remove every "vestige" of Common Core from the state. Unless he changes his announced plan, he probably won't. Yeah, probably not. Florida is unique in the US when it come

MAR 01

Teach For America: Now With Less Teaching
Teach for America has always been a work in progress, an evolving enterprise in search of a reason to keep existing. Once upon a time it was all about teaching and plugging holes in the system. Then it was about supplanting traditional teachers (and trying not to say out loud that they needed to be supplanted because they sucked and the Best and the Brightest had better swoop in like a shining whi

FEB 28

OK: Voting With 60,000 Feet
Fans of market dynamics have a deep and abiding faith in the power of the podiatric plebiscite. When parents vote with their feet, schools will get better. Unions and minimum wage are not necessary, because if workers vote with their feet, employers will be forced to improve their offer. And yet, we have Oklahoma and teachers. The red flags have been numerous. The Oklahoma State School Boards Asso

FEB 27

OH: Lorain Schools In State Of Emergency
The state takeover of Lorain City Schools continues to spiral out of control (if you are joining us for this ongoing mess, you can start the story here ). Here's what has happened in the last couple of days. After announcing last Thursday that teachers at Lorain High School would have to reapply for their jobs, CEO David Hardy went on the television box to do an interview to try to-- well, it's no

FEB 25

FL: Further Dismantling Public Education
Here are two not-entirely-academic questions: Is it possible to end public education in an entire state? Can Florida become any more hostile to public education than it already is? Newly-minted Governor Ron DeSantis and a wild cast of privatization cronies seem to answer a resounding "yes" to both questions. But how would you do it? What resources would you need? What tactical moves would you make

FEB 24

OH: Lorain CEO's Purge Announcement Raises Fury
Last Thursday night, David Hardy, the state-appointed takeover CEO for Lorain City Schools told the public that all teachers at the high school would have to reapply for their jobs. If you want to read about how they arrived at this point, that story is here . This is just the next chapter in the story. After telling the public, Hardy then sent a letter to staff (because when you want to drop thi
ICYMI: So Long, February Edition (2/24)
Well, that just flew by. Here's a good batch of reading from the week. Remember, if it speaks to you, help it speak to somebody else. Betsy DeVos vs. Student Veterans By easing up on predatory for-profit colleges, DeVos has really stuck it to veterans trying to get an education. TFA Celebrates New