Latest News and Comment from Education

Friday, March 15, 2019

Teachers union votes to authorize strike against Sacramento City Unified #Unite4SACKids #WeAreSCTA #WeAreCTA #strikeready #REDFORED #SCTA #CTA

Teachers union votes to authorize strike against Sacramento City Unified

Teachers union votes to authorize strike against Sacramento City Unified

The teachers union at Sacramento City Unified School District announced Friday that its members have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.
The Sacramento City Teachers Association spent three weeks collecting votes, and said turnout was 70 percent. According to the union, 92 percent of its 2,500 members voted to approve the strike.
The move adds to the challenges faced by the district, which is under the threat of state takeoveras it wrestles with a $35 million budget gap.
The teachers union said it will call for a strike if Sacramento City Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, board President Jessie Ryan and the district “persist in their unlawful behavior and avoid taking measure to correct their unlawful behavior,” according to a statement.

The union accuses the district of refusing to honor their collective bargaining agreement, making unilateral changes, failing to send representatives to the bargaining table and meeting at unreasonable times and places.
The union also called the district’s recent decision to potentially lay off hundreds of employeesunlawful and in violation of California’s open-meeting law, the Brown Act. The union says many of its decisions happened in closed sessions and the Brown Act guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.
The district in a statement to The Sacramento Bee called the grounds for the strike “unfounded.” CONTINUE READING: Teachers union votes to authorize strike against Sacramento City Unified

Southwest Key, Known for Migrant Shelters, Cashes In on Charter Schools - The New York Times

Southwest Key, Known for Migrant Shelters, Cashes In on Charter Schools - The New York Times

Southwest Key, Known for Migrant Shelters, Cashes In on Charter Schools
The schools are struggling with debt even as the charity sits on tens of millions.

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 landlord is also its founder, Southwest Key Programs, a charity that is the nation’s largest provider of shelters for migrant children. The nonprofit says it formed the charter school and three others to help disadvantaged students get to college, but Southwest Key has financially benefited from the schools. Not only does it collect rent, but it has forced them to hire its for-profit companies, which have charged high fees for everything from maintenance to school lunches.
“We don’t even have a cafeteria — we eat in our gym,” said Yamilet Perez, 18, the student council president at the Austin secondary school. “You’re sitting there eating your lunch, and you can still smell the sweat of the class before.”

The operations of the charter schools, serving about 1,000 students, show how Southwest Key profits off public money, boosting compensation for charity leaders and stockpiling tens of millions of dollars.

The charity has been awarded almost $1.8 billion to run migrant shelters over the last decade, but is now under federal investigation for possible financial improprieties, prompted by an article last December in The New York Times. Two top officials, including the founder, Juan Sanchez, have stepped down. And a complaint about mismanagement at the schools, which have received more than $65 million in government money over the last decade, is under review by the Texas Education Agency. CONTINUE READING: Southwest Key, Known for Migrant Shelters, Cashes In on Charter Schools - The New York Times

Testimony at California SBOE about Gülen charter school | Cloaking Inequity

Testimony at California SBOE about Gülen charter school | Cloaking Inequity


On Thursday I went to the California Board of Education to offer public testimony about the California SBOE approval of Magnolia Science Academy Santa Ana. Here is my testimony:
I am Julian Vasquez Heilig, Professor and Education Chair for the California NAACP.

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have become the nation’s most prominent supporters of privately-managed charter schools and have proposed billions to open more.
The Gülen Organization runs the second largest network of charters— more than 200 schools, teaching over 80,000 students.
Last week, when Melania Trump visited Dove School of Discovery, a Gülen Organization school in Tulsa, a headline read: First Lady Visits a Gülen School Which Prefers to Hire Alien Teachers.
Why? Because all 200 Gülen schools have recruited H1-B visa teachers from Turkey thereby replacing fully qualified American teachers. Pay to play accusations have been made regarding these teachers.
In 2017, the California NAACP passed a resolution concerning Gülen charter schools. We call for federal, state and local authorities to conduct independent financial investigations of California Gülen Organization schools, because prior audits in other states have shown a pattern of accounting irregularities.
In fact, a former principal of Gülen Oakland’s BayTech school accused the Gülen Organization of using the school as a piggy bank. The principal is also accused of financial impropriety and fled to Australia.
After our resolution, by invitation, I visited Magnolia Science Academy-3 in Southern California. I was specifically disappointed by the class sizes and curriculum.
Considering our resolution, and the fact the California State Board of Education (SBOE) authorized charters have a nearly 40% failure rate over time (through 2018, 18 of 48 SBOE authorized charters had failed or closed), we concur with the local district and urge denial of the Magnolia Science Academy Santa Ana charter.

The SBOE voted 7-1 to reapprove the Gülen charter in Santa Ana.
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Oh, and this happened to my face…

Testimony at California SBOE about Gülen charter school | Cloaking Inequity

CURMUDGUCATION: Micro-Credentials 101: Do We Need Badges?

CURMUDGUCATION: Micro-Credentials 101: Do We Need Badges?

Micro-Credentials 101: Do We Need Badges?

Micro-credentials are one of the hot rising ideas in the education space. To understand the basics, go look at your child's Xbox or PlayStation.
For most of the major games, there is an accompanying set of achievements, or badges. Every time a player achieves a particular task (kill 50 zombies without reloading, drive over every tree in the enchanted forest, smash every Lego fire hydrant, etc.) they get a small digital badge on their big page of achievements.
Micro-credentials take a similar approach to education. The root of the idea is simple--you demonstrate a very specific skill, and a badge certifying that micro-credential becomes part of your personal digital file. Some of the earliest micro-credentialing involved computer programming skills, but it has grown far beyond that. To see just how many types of micro-credentials are out there, take a look at Digital Promise.
Digital Promise was authorized by Congress in 2008 as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies. It offers micro-credentials of its own, but it also provides a platform for other entities to offer their own sets of micro-credentials. Right now over thirty-five other organizations offer micro-credentials through Digital Promise, including Arizona State University, Teaching Matters, and National Geographic. In 2017, Digital Promise hosted a Symposium on the Currency of Micro-credentials that attracted over 100 people, representing school systems, state departments of education, and the Institute for Personalized CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: Micro-Credentials 101: Do We Need Badges?

Judge Tells DeVos She Can’t Delay “Significant Disproportionality Rule” in Special Education | janresseger

Judge Tells DeVos She Can’t Delay “Significant Disproportionality Rule” in Special Education | janresseger

Judge Tells DeVos She Can’t Delay “Significant Disproportionality Rule” in Special Education

The goal at school ought to be providing appropriate curricula and support to enable each child to realize her or his promise. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, special education programs address the needs of children with disabilities. Over the years, however, it has become apparent that children of color have too often been assigned to special education. President Obama’s administration created a rule to address this situation, but Betsy DeVos delayed the rule’s implementation.  Now a federal judge says DeVos’s department must enforce the rule and investigate whether children of color are being disproportionately misdiagnosed.
The “significant disproportionality rule” was supposed to go into effect last summer, but Betsy DeVos delayed implementation of the law for two years—until 2020.  Last week, however,  a federal court ruled that Betsy DeVos cannot elect to delay the rule’s implementation. The NY Times’ Erica Green reports: “In a decision on Thursday, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia called the Education Department’s delay of the special education rule, ‘arbitrary and capricious.’… The rule, passed in the final weeks of the Obama administration, required districts to examine policies and practices that contributed to the disparities and fund remedies. The judge’s ruling vacates Ms. DeVos’s decision to put off the regulation by two years.  Instead it will take effect immediately.”
Green explains how the rule will now be implemented: “Under the Obama-era rule, states must apply a standardized methodology, and establish a formula called a ‘risk ratio,’ to identify districts with high levels of disparities. Those found to have wide disparities would be required to set aside 15 percent of their federal funding to examine their policies and take corrective measures.”
Education law expert, Derek Black disdains Betsy DeVos’s arrogant attitude about enforcing rules to protect students’ rights: “For the second time this school year, Betsy DeVos got a CONTINUE READING: Judge Tells DeVos She Can’t Delay “Significant Disproportionality Rule” in Special Education | janresseger

Teacher Tom: The Promise Of Democracy

Teacher Tom: The Promise Of Democracy

The Promise Of Democracy

A cooperative is an enterprise that is owned and operated by its customers. It's a model for organizing people toward common ends that's been around for centuries and over that time it has been successfully applied to both non-profit and for-profit ventures alike. I've spent the better part of the past two decades, more than half of my working life, in cooperative preschools, and because of that I often think that I must be, by now, one of the world's leading experts on how a small-scale cooperative works.

Our political candidates are being asked these days if they are "capitalists" or "socialists." They've scrambled to figure out a palatable answer, but when I put myself in their shoes, I think I'd be inclined to answer that I'm "none of the above." If I had to put a label on it (and I'd rather not), I reckon I'd say that I'm a "cooperative-ist." Unlike with capitalism, which requires an impossibly level playing field in order to operate as the sort of meritocratic utopia envisioned by its supporters, and socialism, which requires an impossibly benevolent and uncorrupted bureaucratic apparatus to fairly distribute prosperity, cooperatives have the advantage of actually having been tested successfully in the real world. In other words, the world has never experienced a pure enough capitalistic system, nor a pure enough socialistic system, while purely cooperative systems not only exist, but thrive.

The strength of the model is that individuals have voluntarily come together toward a common end, in our case to educate our own young children. Our school is owned by some eighty CONTINUE READING: 
Teacher Tom: The Promise Of Democracy

About That College Admissions Scandal: Use of a Fake Nonprofit Was Critical | deutsch29

About That College Admissions Scandal: Use of a Fake Nonprofit Was Critical | deutsch29

About That College Admissions Scandal: Use of a Fake Nonprofit Was Critical

On March 12, 2019, I happened to be discussing with a few of my students the extent to which some individuals will go in order to benefit from academic fraud because college admission is a high-stakes issue.
Little did we know, that very day, the story broke about numerous individuals– among them the famous and moneyed– who have been implicated in a massive self-serving, deceptive, fraudulent network of college admission scamming known to date, as CNN reports:
Fifty people — from Hollywood stars and top industry CEOs to college coaches and standardized test administrators — stand accused of participating in a scheme to cheat on admissions tests and admit students to leading institutions as athletes regardless of their abilities, prosecutors revealed Tuesday in a federal indictment. The scandal is being called the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted.
As the alleged culprits, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, position their defenses, the fallout continues for players across this wide-ranging case, which spans six states and raises seminal questions about how level the postsecondary playing field really is. …
Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on “Full House,” faces felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Her husband, Giannulli has been charged with the same offense.
At the center of the scheme is a fake nonprofit, California-based The Key Worldwide Foundation, operated by William Rick Singer, as CNN continues:
Huffman, who is best known for her role on TV’s “Desperate Housewives,” is accused of paying $15,000 to Singer’s fake charity, the Key Worldwide Foundation, to facilitate cheating for her daughter on the SATs, the complaint says. …
Much of the indictment revolves around William Rick Singer, the founder of a for-profit college counseling and preparation business known as The Key. …
Singer was paid roughly $25 million by parents to help their children get CONTINUE READING: About That College Admissions Scandal: Use of a Fake Nonprofit Was Critical | deutsch29

California: Charter Advocates Rally to Fight Accountability and Regulation | Diane Ravitch's blog

California: Charter Advocates Rally to Fight Accountability and Regulation | Diane Ravitch's blog

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 task force that is supposed to decide whether to reform the state’s weak charter law and whether charter schools have a negative fiscal impact on public schools.
The charter industry sees any effort to restrict its actions or regulate its policies as a mortal threat to its existence.
“Dubbed the “Stand for All Students Rally,” it was hosted by the California Charter Schools Association and was a highlight of the organization’s annual four-day conference that ends in Sacramento on Thursday. Speakers included Arne Duncan, the U.S. secretary of education during the Obama administration.
“At the rally were charter school administrators, teachers, parents and students, many of whom came by bus from schools across the state. They held signs that said “#kidsnotpolitics” and “Defend Great Schools” and were led in chants by adults on a stage flanked by giant screens projecting their images across the park.”
Since charters enroll about 10% of the students in the state, they should have had a slogan “Stand for 10% of Students,” since they have no concern for non-charter students, who are the vast majority of students in the state.
In addition to Arne Duncan, the CCSA had Steve Perry as a keynote speaker. Perry, who has one or two charter schools, is noted for his vehement hatred of teachers’ unions, whom he has likened to cockroaches.
The rally was a response to four proposed bills that would CONTINUE READING: California: Charter Advocates Rally to Fight Accountability and Regulation | Diane Ravitch's blog

New Truth For America podcast episode: How TFA network to make $$ | Cloaking Inequity

New Truth For America podcast episode: How TFA network to make $$ | Cloaking Inequity


Truth For America is a podcast about Teach For America (TFA) that provides voice to educators, parents, students, and other key stakeholders. Truth For America is co-hosted by Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig and Dr. T. Jameson Brewer.
Episode 18 featured Lynn Davenport, a Dallas public school parent. She discusses her research on no-bid contracts, social impact bonds, and how Teach For America corps members use networks to make $$ after they leave the classroom.
Truth For America is sponsored by the Network for Public Education Action.
Copyright permission from REM for use of song “World Leader Pretend” in Truth For America podcast worldwide:…rmission.pdf?dl=0
See all of Cloaking Inequity’s posts about Teach For America here.
Please Facebook Like, Tweet, etc below and/or reblog to share this discussion with others.
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Twitter: @ProfessorJVH
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Jersey Jazzman: Only You Can Prevent Bad Tax Policy Discussions

Jersey Jazzman: Only You Can Prevent Bad Tax Policy Discussions

Only You Can Prevent Bad Tax Policy Discussions

When I started this blog up again earlier this year, I told myself I wasn't going to waste a lot of time debunking nonsense in the local media. Life is short and there's a lot to write about.

But some stuff I come across is so bad, I just can't let it go:

Q. Gov. Phil Murphy wants to raise the tax on incomes over $1 million, but Legislative leaders say they oppose that. Polls show overwhelming support among voters, so what gives on the politics? 
DuHaime: New Jersey families are overtaxed, and everyone knows if Trenton is talking about higher taxes, they’re eventually coming for you, too. Our elected leaders are supposed to do what’s right, not just what works in class warfare polling. From a policy perspective, New Jersey is too heavily reliant on our top earners. 1% of the taxpayers pay nearly 40% of the income taxes; 10% of the taxpayers pay nearly 70% of the income taxes. Look what happened when the financial markets nosedived a decade ago. The treasury of New Jersey took a huge hit because we rely so heavily on the highest earners. Finally, those with means can and do move to states, and they take their jobs, their spending, their philanthropy and their families with them. [emphasis mine]
We'll leave aside the myth of wealth migration and focus instead on the claim that the state is too reliant on the wealthy for tax revenue. There are at least three major problems with the statement above:

1) You must account for local taxes as well as state taxes in any meaningful analysis of tax burdens.

States vary significantly in what revenues for governmental services are provided by the state or by localities. That's why nearly every credible analysis of tax burdens by state combines local and state taxes.

2) Income taxes are only one source of revenue for the state.

States and localities have a variety of ways to collect revenues: income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, fees, tolls, etc. Isolating income taxes, which tend to be less CONTINUE READING:
 Jersey Jazzman: Only You Can Prevent Bad Tax Policy Discussions

Marie Corfield: @NJSenatePres 's @Path2ProgressNJ & the 800lb Gorillas In The Room

Marie Corfield: @NJSenatePres 's @Path2ProgressNJ & the 800lb Gorillas In The Room

@NJSenatePres 's @Path2ProgressNJ & the 800lb Gorillas In The Room

Expert analysis and witnesses are essential to the successful outcome of a trial, but in the court of public opinion, politicians often fail to enlist experts who may raise red flags about the policies they're trying to sell to the general public. In my little corner of the universe—education—it happens too frequently. Analysis is done by study groups and commissions that often lack any real, working K-12 educators.

The latest example is Senate President Steve Sweeney's 'Path to Progress', which touts, among other things, regionalizing many of the state's school districts and slashing (yet again) retired public employees' deferred compensation.

Here is the complete list of the commission's members:



  • Senator Paul Sarlo – Chairman, Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
  • Senator Steven Oroho – Senate Republican Conference Chair
  • Assemblyman Louis Greenwald – Assembly Majority Leader
Legislative Members:
  • Senator Steve Sweeney – Senate President
  • Senator Dawn Addiego – State Senator
  • Senator Anthony Bucco – Senate Minority Budget Officer
  • Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin – Chairwoman, Assembly Budget
  • Senator Troy Singleton – Chairman, Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs
Subcommittee Chairs:
  • Dr. Ray Caprio – Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy; Bloustein Local Government Research Center
  • Frank Chin – Managing Director, American Public Infrastructure
  • Richard Keevey – Rutgers University Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
  • Dr. Michael Lahr – Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy and Rutgers Economic Advisory Service
  • Marc Pfeiffer – Rutgers University, Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy; Bloustein Local Government Research Center
Non-Legislative Members:
  • Dr. Henry Coleman – Rutgers University, Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy
  • Lucille Davy – Of Counsel, Mason, Griffin & Pierson
  • Feather O’Connor Houstoun – Adviser for Public media and journalism at Wyncote Foundation
  • Ray Kljajic – American Public Infrastructure Inc.
  • Robert Landolfi – Business Administrator, Woodbridge Township (retired)
  • Senator Raymond Lesniak – Chair, Lesniak Institute for American Leadership
  • Jerry Maginnis – Rowan University, William G. Rohrer College of Business
  • Dr. Donald Moliver – Monmouth University, Kislak Real Estate Institute
  • Dr. Joel Naroff – President, Naroff Economic Advisers Inc.
  • Peter Reinhart – Monmouth University Kislak Real Estate Institute
  • Kurt Stroemel – President, HR&S Financial Services
  • Ralph Thomas – CEO/Executive Director, New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants
While this list reads like a Who's Who of New Jersey public policy experts, notice the one highlighted name: Robert Landolfi. He is the only K-12 representative on the commission—and he's retired. There are no real K-12 voices here, and none from South Hunterdon Regional School District, the only district in the past 25 years to successfully consolidate.

While Sen. Sweeney exults in the plan's proposed successes at town hall meetings across the state, he and his cohorts fail to address the three 800 lb gorillas in the room:

1. Public schools are not businesses:

While consolidation may bring about some savings in certain situations, we must not forget that school districts are not convenience store chains. We don't sell soda and lottery tickets; we teach children, each of whom comes with different needs, and each district strives to meet those needs. Before we go down this road, the study commission CONTINUE READING: Marie Corfield: @NJSenatePres 's @Path2ProgressNJ & the 800lb Gorillas In The Room

Badass Teachers Association Blog: Public Education Funding MUST become a National Priority!

Badass Teachers Association Blog: Public Education Funding MUST become a National Priority!

Public Education Funding MUST become a National Priority!

It is clear that President Trump has an agenda that does not support public education. His recent budget proposal is evidence of this. This year’s 2019 budget proposal includes the following cuts: - $2 billion from the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grant Program - $1.2 billion from Afterschool programs - $1.2 billion from Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant - $29 million from Arts in Education - $17.6 million from the Special Olympic - $840 million from Supplemental Opportunity Grants - $630 million from the Federal Work Study Program Additionally, Trump is proposing $5 billion for the expansion and creation of new private school voucher programs in the form of tax credit scholarships. It is a fact that our public school system can not sustain budgetary cuts of this size. The truth is, the Federal Government actually owes our states and our schools millions, if not billions, of dollars in IDEA funding. We need our Federal Legislators to speak out against this budget proposal and demand a shift in the prioritization of spending that puts the focus on our future. Our BATs Board of Directors had a few comments about the recent budget proposal. Cutting education funding is a symbol of how much disdain this administration has for public education. It is clear that with Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, this administration will continue to push neoliberal privatization policies that weaken the ability of states to provide high-quality public education for all. If we truly want to see America be a great country, we must invest in a democratic free public education system that provides equity to the most marginalized children and their families. Denisha Jones, Assistant Executive Director, BATS Why would Trump make radical cuts to public education in his proposed budget? Trump’s cuts to public education are a direct attack on democracy, freedom, and equality. Public education creates a well-educated civil society, a society engaged and informed in our democracy, and America’s best hope for equality. A well educated society is an existential threat to Trump’s authoritarian world view. DeVos plans to remove the separation between church and State by any means necessary. These draconian budget cuts, along with the Trump and DeVos’ policies, are further steps that would deliver America deeper into authoritarianism. We must protect our public schools by refusing Trump’s budget and their policies. Susan DuFresne, Director, BATs If budgets are moral documents, this budget is evidence of the moral bankruptcy of this CONTINUE READING: Badass Teachers Association Blog: Public Education Funding MUST become a National Priority!

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