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Monday, March 11, 2019

‘Common sense regulations’ or ‘an extended middle finger’— How far will California go on charter schools?

How far will California go on charter schools?

‘Common sense regulations’ or ‘an extended middle finger’—how far will California go on charter schools?

With new fast-tracked transparency rules for charter schools in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has fulfilled a January pledge to bring “long overdue” accountability measures to this growing sector of public schools.
But the open meeting and disclosure law signed Tuesday, March 5 — after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar bills twice in prior years — may turn out to be the least controversial part of the Capitol push for tighter charter school regulation.
Several bills, introduced as teachers strikes have amplified the issue, would impose far more consequential and politically loaded restrictions on the state’s 1,300-plus charters, publicly-funded schools that operate outside of the control of school districts and are mostly non-union.
Among them:
  • A cap on charter schools at their current level.
  • Strict limits on charter school locations and the appeal of charters denied by local school districts.
  • New rules that would let districts deny a charter based, at least in part, on the potential financial impact on traditional public schools.
Assembly Bills 150515061507 and 1508 would curb the growth of California’s charter schools, which educate about 10 percent of the state’s 6.2 million public-school students. Legislators pushing the proposals say they are long-needed revisions to laws that have gone mostly unchanged for decades.
But unlike Senate Bill 126, which Newsom signed Tuesday, and on which most charter advocates were neutral, the forthcoming proposals can expect vigorous and organized pushback.

“These are the policy equivalent of an extended middle finger,” said Eric Premack, executive director and founder of the Sacramento-based Charter Schools Development Center.  “This is not the type of legislation that is designed to engender constructive discussion.”
Unions were equally adamant.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said of the proposed bills, which he called “common-sense regulations.”
“The massive community support that was seen in both the L.A. and Oakland teachers’ strikes showed that parents and communities and the public are willing to fight for the sustainability of public schools,” Caputo-Pearl said. He added that the charter cap bill sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty of Sacramento was the “most important” CONTINUE READING: How far will California go on charter schools?

Education Reform’s Deep Blue Hue: Are School Reformers Right-Wingers or Centrists—or Neither? - Education Next : Education Next

Education Reform’s Deep Blue Hue: Are School Reformers Right-Wingers or Centrists—or Neither? - Education Next : Education Next

Education Reform’s Deep Blue Hue
Are school reformers right-wingers or centrists — or neither?

Close observers of 21st-century education reform know that champions of charter schooling, teacher evaluation, and accountability are routinely characterized as right-wingers bent on undermining public education. Thus, the education-reform battles tend to be depicted as left versus right or blue versus red, with progressive teachers unions and their allies fending off the attacks of right-wing reformers.
These tropes are omnipresent. The most visible symbols of education reform—such as Teach for America (TFA) and various charter school networks and the foundations that fund them—are characterized as neoliberal, corporatist, conservative, and right-wing. In the Atlantic, the KIPP charter schools have been attacked for their role “in the project of neoliberalizing public goods.” [1] Success Academies founder Eva Moskowitz has been excoriated for promoting a Trojan horse that contains “Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos.” [2] The Walton Family Foundation has been dismissed as “conservative” or “deeply conservative” by the Huffington Post [3] and historian Diane Ravitch. [4]
Regarding Teach for America, Rethinking Schools has published “An Open Letter to New Teach for America Recruits,” which reads: “Many of you no doubt believe you are joining a progressive education justice movement; that is the message TFA sells so well. But TFA is not progressive. The data-driven pedagogy, the fast-track preparation, the union-busting, the forced exploitation of your labor, the deep-pocketed affiliation with corporate education reform are all very conservative, very anti-progressive ideas.” [5]
Meanwhile, education-reform advocates describe their efforts as bipartisan, nonpartisan, and centrist. For instance, Chiefs for Change describes itself as a “bipartisan network of diverse state and district education Chiefs.” [6] Stand for Children touts its “bold independence” and bills itself as “non-partisan and child-focused.” [7]Advocacy group 50CAN explains that it is a “nonpartisan, research-backed organization driven forward by the work of a talented, energetic and diverse staff.” [8] As one Teach for America board member put it a couple years ago, “We’re not living in pragmatic centrist times, but TFA is a pragmatic, centrist-oriented solution.” [9]
So, who is right? Is 21st-century education reform a right-wing project or a purple, bipartisan one? Well, if one considers the candidates whom education reformers support for public office, the answer turns out to be neither.
While it is not practicable to examine the voting habits or partisan affiliations of education reformers, we can identify the candidates and political causes to which they contribute. And the pattern of their political giving suggests that the people who work at the education-reform organizations that the biggest and best-known education-reform foundations support are almost uniformly left-leaning. In other words, education reform turns out to be neither a red nor a purple enterprise—but a deep blue one.
Of course, after a moment’s reflection, this ought not be so surprising. Teach for America chapters, charter school groups, and education-advocacy groups such as the Education Trust and Stand for Children have gone out of their way in recent years to demonstrate their progressive bona fides (and disagreement with Republicans) on issues such as immigration, [10] school discipline, [11] transgender access, [12] and school vouchers.[13]
In this new analysis, which examines the political campaign contributions from those most active in education CONTINUE READING: Education Reform’s Deep Blue Hue: Are School Reformers Right-Wingers or Centrists—or Neither? - Education Next : Education Next

CURMUDGUCATION: Gigging, Progress, and the Unmaking of American Work

CURMUDGUCATION: Gigging, Progress, and the Unmaking of American Work

Gigging, Progress, and the Unmaking of American Work

This is not really about education, and it is totally about education.

Over at The Nation, Malcolm Harris has written a review of Sarah Kessler's Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work. It's a thoughtful and worthwhile read, even if you decide not to tackle the entire book.

Harris opens with the cautionary tale of failed start-up Webvan, and notes the lessons that the founder Peter Relan gleaned from their collapse:

The first problem, he wrote, was customer targeting. Webvan’s strategy was to offer “the quality and selection of Whole Foods, the pricing of Safeway, and the convenience of home delivery,” a combination that attracted working- and middle-class shoppers. What it should have been doing instead, Relan concluded, was “providing a luxury” to a smaller, richer customer base. Second, he wrote, the company shouldn’t have invested in all that infrastructure. Webvan built cutting-edge distribution systems from scratch: giant networks of new algorithms, miles of conveyor belts, fleets of custom trucks with PalmPilot-wielding delivery drivers. At its peak, Webvan had a billion-dollar contract with the construction firm Bechtel for new distribution facilities around the country. Relan named Instacart and Postmates as lean start-ups that were learning from Webvan’s failure.

Look at my flexible income!
Webvan is a signpost from another era (twenty whole years ago) when the idea was that techno-companies would make life better for everyone, workers included. Now, says Harris, Americans have given up on the idea that "progress should improve everyone's life." Every step forward benefits only a few and costs someone, somewhere.

Progress is especially costly for workers, and Kessler tells the stories from the workers point of view. This, via Harris, offers some troubling insights. For instance, all that creative innovative thought that's supposed be a critical skill in the 21st century? Turns out that's important because companies find it efficient and inexpensive to leave their gigployees to solve their own problems. That saves money, because it shifts both the problems of management and the costs of running the business to the gigployees. Imagine if Uber had to CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Gigging, Progress, and the Unmaking of American Work

Ensuring Racial Equality – from Classrooms to Bathrooms – Depends on Federal Regulations Trump Wants to Roll Back Education Law Prof Blog

Education Law Prof Blog

Ensuring Racial Equality – from Classrooms to Bathrooms – Depends on Federal Regulations Trump Wants to Roll Back

The Trump administration is considering eliminating one of the federal government’s most basic tools for preventing racial discrimination.
When the government runs or funds programs, those programs are obligated to ensure that everyone gets equal access and treatment. This duty comes from something called “disparate impact regulations.” These regulations require the programs to pay careful attention to whether their policies cause racial disparities.
From my perspective as a scholar of discrimination law, abandoning these regulations would be a major departure from the federal government’s mission since the 1960s of ensuring racial equality.

Historical roots

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson reaches to shake hands with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after presenting the civil rights leader with one of the 72 pens used to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964 AP Photo

In the 1950s and 60s, civil rights advocates challenged racial segregation and inequality in every facet of public life – from schools, buses and bathrooms to employment, housing and restaurants. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to stamp out as much of that discrimination as possible, prohibiting discrimination in all those areas and more.
But Congress went beyond just prohibiting “discrimination.” It recognized that prohibiting policies with obvious or explicit intent to discriminate was not enough to ensure equality.
Following Congress’s lead, the Department of Justice concluded in a 1966 report that policies that impact one racial group more than another should also be prohibited. Numerous other agencies agreed and put in place what we now call “disparate impact regulations.”
The fact that some policy or practice disproportionately affects a racial group does not alone violate the regulations. The disparity, if serious enough, simply triggers further investigation by a federal agency. That investigation involves two key additional questions.
First, does the program have a good reason, or “legitimate justification,” for the policy that is causing the racial disparities? If not, the agency can block the policy because the disparities are unjustified.
But if the program has a good reason, which it often does, the second question is: Can an alternative policy achieve the program’s goals without producing egregious racial disparities? If so, the program should pursue the less discriminatory alternative because the disparities are clearly unnecessary.

Regulations matter

Today, discrimination and inequality continue largely due to subconscious racial biases. These biases are rampantand affect everything from who gets a job to who gets suspended from school.
These regulations alleviate the need to dig into individuals’ minds and search for very difficult to prove racial CONTINUE READING: Education Law Prof Blog

The Math Of Finite Resources And Fixed Margins – redqueeninla

The Math Of Finite Resources And Fixed Margins – redqueeninla

The Math Of Finite Resources And Fixed Margins

In a moral society, “Single Payer” is the singular, optimal solution.
Steve Lopez says:  “…There’s a place for both [innovative, popular charters and regular district schools], and a need for greater support of all public schools”.
These are separate, and non-touching, concepts. The latter is a question of funding, more funding, being sent down the Education pipeline.  That is well, good and necessary. Learn more and sign the petition here.
But whatever you send down the chute, is what’s there in that chute.  When you set up a school system with that public money, what you’ve got is a “fixed margin” of monies:  that’s all you’ve got. The apportionment of monies within the system is “zero sum”: giving to Paul takes away from Peter.  Period.
There may be a place for both “types” of schools, but an innovative, popular school is what any and every child wants, nay deserves. There is no moral justification for isolating the offering. What is being asked by the charter school system, is a pass for allowing some to have more than others by pretending there is “Choice” involved. By privileging some at the expense of others.
This is why the conversation about charters is not and never can be about “excellence”. Never mind the uncomfortable truth that “excellence” will always be a subjective term no matter how much you paint it in quantitative metrics. Never mind the structural aspect to charters that is an inherent driver of segregation.
What Lopez is referring to in invoking funding in a democratic educational system, CONTINUE READING: The Math Of Finite Resources And Fixed Margins – redqueeninla

Federal Judge Vacates Betsy DeVos’ Special Education Regulation “Delay” | deutsch29

Federal Judge Vacates Betsy DeVos’ Special Education Regulation “Delay” | deutsch29

Federal Judge Vacates Betsy DeVos’ Special Education Regulation “Delay”

On July 1, 2018, states and local education agencies (LEAs) receiving federal funding were supposed to be in compliance with US Department of Education (USDOE) “2016 Regulations” in order to demonstrate consistency across states in determining special education eligibility. The USDOE motivation behind its 2016 Regulations was to have states effectively address and modify special education determination that resulted in disproportionate numbers of children of color in special education.

Betsy DeVos
Two days after the July 1, 2018, deadline for 2016 Regulations compliance, on July 3, 2018, US ed sec, Betsy DeVos, decided to issue her own “delay regulation,” in which she and her USDOE questioned the issue of the 2016 Regulations producing quotas– an issue addressed in depth in the 2016 Regulations– even as she undercut her own professed concerns about the 2016 Regulations producing quotas by allowing states to still use the 2016 Regulations if they so chose.
On July 12, 2018, DeVos and the USDOE were sued by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), an organization that US District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan determined to have standing in the case.
USDOE filed a motion to dismiss, and Chutkan said no. Instead, Chutkan found that DeVos’ USDOE (also referred to as “the government”) issuance of a “delay CONTINUE READING: Federal Judge Vacates Betsy DeVos’ Special Education Regulation “Delay” | deutsch29

How Sacramento City Unified got into financial crisis By The Sacramento Bee (NOT A WORD ABOUT CORPORATE DARK MONEY AND THE IMPACT ON SAC CITY SCHOOLS)

How Sacramento City Unified got into financial crisis 
How Sacramento City Unified got into financial crisis 

RELATED: California: More Information About the Foxes Who Guard the Henhouse | Diane Ravitch's blog - via @dianeravitch

Sacramento City Unified School District is chipping away at expenses in a last-ditch effort to close its $35 million budget gap, but time is running out and a state takeover seems imminent.
The unprecedented rejection of the district’s budget in August by the Sacramento County Office of Education appeared to take many by surprise – but Sacramento City’s fiscal problems didn’t happen overnight.
Auditors have noted that sharp turn toward insolvency came on the heels of the 2017 labor contract between the district and teachers, which narrowly averted a strike. They said that deal combined with other factors, including a decade of financial missteps, leadership problems, labor strife and shrinking student enrollment, to take the district to the brink of disaster.
Here’s who is involved in the budget crisis, how the finances went off the rails, what the future might hold, and what it could mean for the district’s students and their families.


Sacramento City Unified School District: The district is home to more than 42,000 students and 3,000 teachers in 81 schools. It’s the 11th-largest school district in California, with an annual budget of nearly $400 million.
Sacramento City Teachers Association: The SCTA is one of five unions in the district. Representing about 2,500 teachers, it’s the seventh-largest teachers union in California, according to its website. It is an affiliate of the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association. The union and the district are at odds over contract negotiations, with SCTA members currently voting whether to authorize a strike.
California Department of Education: If Sacramento City Unified determines it has become insolvent and needs an emergency loan to pay its bills, it will request one from the state Education Department. That request triggers a state takeover. The department has appointed a trustee for all previous state takeovers, including Oakland Unified in 2003 and Inglewood Unified in 2012. But that responsibility has shifted. Since the passage of Assembly Bill 1840, signed into law last year, the authority to appoint an administrator lies with the school district’s county superintendent.
Sacramento County Office of Education: The county education department, led by Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools Dave Gordon, has been monitoring Sacramento City Unified closely since it started showing signs of financial duress a decade ago. If the district requests a loan from the state, Gordon will assume all legal rights, duties and powers of the school board. He would then appoint an administrator.
Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Jorge Aguilar: Aguilar arrived after a long period of management turnover. The district had gone through six superintendents, some temporary, during the past 15 years. When Aguilar joined the district in mid-2017, it had a $5-million budget surplus, but the relationship between the district and its teachers was poor. A teachers strike was narrowly averted in November 2017 after more than a year of bitter contract negotiations. But labor tensions are again running high amid the financial turmoil.
Sacramento City Unified Board of Education: The board has eight members, including seven trustees elected by trustee area to four-year terms. The eighth member is a high school student selected to a one-year term by the Student Advisory Committee. The board is responsible for general district oversight, including hiring the superintendent. It approves or rejects the administration’s policy, budget and personnel decisions. If the district goes into state receivership, fiscal decisions will be taken out of its hands. The board selected Area 7 trustee Jessie Ryan as its president in 2017.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg: Steinberg joined the budget wrangling that averted a teacher strike in 2017. He scribbled a back-of-the-napkin deal that included an 11 percent increase to teacher salaries – an agreement that the union says the district has walked away from.

FCMAT: The state-created Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team provides financial advice, administrative help and training at the request of school districts and county offices of education. In December 2018, FCMAT presented an audit that warned Sacramento City Unified that if it failed to correct its budget deficit, it would face a state takeover in six months. The independent team faulted the district, which announced it would run out of money by November 2019.
California Legislature: Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, requested a state audit of the district, which was approved Wednesday by the Joint Committee on Legislative Audit. The audit is scheduled to begin on May 1. If the district requests an emergency loan, it must be appropriated by the state Legislature.


In the last four fiscal years, between 2013 and 2017, Sacramento City Unified ran surpluses, according to its financial statements and FCMAT.
And then in 2017-18, the district suddenly ran a deficit of nearly $10 million. What caused the crisis?
Insufficient cuts: In April 2008, the county office of education changed Sacramento City Unified’s certification from positive to qualified because the district had not identified enough cuts, and some of the millions targeted still needed board approval.
In 2010, when Jonathan Raymond assumed the role of district superintendent, Gordon noted in a letter that some big-ticket items identified by the district for cuts – namely, furlough days and health benefits – required union negotiations.
“Our understanding is that formal negotiations have only just begun,” read Gordon’s letter. “The timeline is tight and there is little or no room for deadline modifications.”
The county’s Office of Education showed signs of faith in the district. In 2012, it concurred with the district’s qualified certification despite some reservations.
“Our decision to not downgrade the district budget to a negative certification was based on our reliance on the district’s implementation of its budget reduction plan,” read Gordon’s letter.
But the district took risks. Lots of them.
Cash flow estimates submitted by the district in 2012 showed that it would require $50 million in tax revenue anticipation notes – money that it didn’t have in hand, but that it expected from tax increases proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Gordon asked the district to prepare a contingency plan if the governor’s tax increases failed to materialize. Ultimately, the money did not come through, forcing the district to spend down millions of dollars from its general funds.
‘Leadership issues’: The December FCMAT audit criticized Sacramento City Unified for past mismanagement, communication failures and inexperienced staff that contributed to its ongoing budget problems.
“It is a governance and leadership problem, period,” FCMAT CEO Mike Fine said when he delivered the audit. “And it’s many years of governance and leadership issues – not purely the last twelve months.”
The audit found that the district’s business team did not communicate enough with other departments, making it more difficult to solve fiscal problems. It also said the district’s staff underutilized software and lacked understanding of how to maintain and analyze data.
Salary agreement, continuing labor strife: While Sacramento City Unified traveled a long road into fiscal trouble, with many warning signs along the way, its finances took a precipitous turn after the district and teachers signed a new labor contract.
The deal was brokered by Steinberg, Aguilar and the union at the mayor’s Greenhaven house over a weekend in November 2017 as a strike loomed. It provided a 7.5 percent salary increase for teachers with an additional 3.5 percent adjustment to mid-range salaries.
At the time, it was lauded as balance between fiscal prudence and paying teachers fairly.
But independent auditors now say that while the salary increases weren’t solely to blame for Sacramento City’s fiscal woes, after the deal was signed, the district quickly slid toward insolvency.
“What happened in 2017 was the tipping point. That seems to have changed the financial CONTINUE READING: How Sacramento City Unified got into financial crisis