Friday, April 5, 2019

The LAUSD School Board’s Secret Committee – Carl J. Petersen – Medium

The LAUSD School Board’s Secret Committee – Carl J. Petersen – Medium

The LAUSD School Board’s Secret Committee
Board President Monica Garcia and Vice-President Nick Melvoin both make reference to a Rules Committee that has not held any public meetings. Where is the transparency?

Let’s go to that committee.”
- LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia


At the April 2, 2019 “special” meeting of the LAUSD School Board, the charter school industry was once again permitted to stack the public speaker list so that only their viewpoint was heard before action was taken on the renewal of Summit Preparatory Charter. Knowing that there was at least one person who was denied the ability speak against this renewal, Board Member Scott Schmerelson asked how he could institute a pilot program that would enable speakers to use Skype to address the Board remotely from local district offices. In response, Board President Monica Garcia suggested that “Mr. Melvoin’s group and Mr. Crain (the Board’s Secretary)…could probably figure out how to do a pilot.” Melvoin followed up by saying “I think that it’s a great thing for the Board Rule Committee to consider.” Garcia agreed by saying “Let’s go to that committee.”
The committee is coming back with their recommendations before the end of April
- LAUSD Board Vice-President Nick Melvoin

According to Melvoin, the committee is supposed to present proposed new rules to the Board at the end of this month (before a representative for Board District 5 can be seated), but the official calendardoes not show that any public hearings have been held by this committee, nor have any been scheduled. This committee has not released any agendas or minutes from their meetings. Therefore, the public has no idea what is being discussed by Melvoin’s group or what entities are presenting information to CONTINUE READING: The LAUSD School Board’s Secret Committee – Carl J. Petersen – Medium

Standardized Testing is a Tool of White Supremacy | gadflyonthewallblog

Standardized Testing is a Tool of White Supremacy | gadflyonthewallblog

Standardized Testing is a Tool of White Supremacy


Let’s say you punched me in the face.
I wouldn’t like it. I’d protest. I’d complain.
And then you might apologize and say it was just an accident.
Maybe I’d believe you.
Until the next time when we met and you punched me again.
That’s the problem we, as a society, have with standardized tests.
We keep using them to justify treating students of color as inferior and/or subordinate to white children. And we never stop or even bothered to say, “I’m sorry.”
It’s called the racial achievement gap and it’s been going on for nearly a century.
Today we’re told that it means our public schools are deficient. There’s something more they need to be doing.
But if this phenomenon has been happening for nearly 100 years, is it really a product of today’s public schools or a product of the testing that identifies it in the first place?
After all, teachers and schools have changed. They no longer educate children today the same way they did in the 1920s when the first large scale standardized tests were given to students in the US. There are no more one-room schoolhouses. Kids can’t CONTINUE READING: Standardized Testing is a Tool of White Supremacy | gadflyonthewallblog





Jeff Bryant: I asked these 3 simple questions of Betsy DeVos’ Education Department. It ‘created havoc’ among the staff. – Alternet.org

I asked these 3 simple questions of Betsy DeVos’ Education Department. It ‘created havoc’ among the staff. – Alternet.org

I asked these 3 simple questions of Betsy DeVos’ Education Department. It ‘created havoc’ among the staff.



U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is famous for giving nonresponses to fairly straightforward questions. More than one commentator has had fun with her contorted evasions, but her inability to…


U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is famous for giving nonresponses to fairly straightforward questions. More than one commentator has had fun with her contorted evasions, but her inability to explain the rationale for current education policies isn’t confined to her own personality and ideology. It’s actually been endemic in the education policy world for years, particularly in how the federal government continues to hide its agenda to further privatize the nation’s public school system by creating and expanding charter schools.
Arne Duncan, who served as secretary for the longest period of time before DeVos, was famous for being the consummate non-listener, often talking over people with his prepared remarks and ignoring the advice of teachers and education experts.
This is not a partisan issue. Teachers demanded Duncan’s resignation, and Republican members of Congress have complained that DeVos’ department isn’t responsive to requests for information.
Of course, any comparison between DeVos and Duncan can find some very big differences, but a constant throughout both administrations has been to ignore, wall-off, or obfuscate when confronted with any inquiry aimed at the federal government’s efforts to create and expand charter schools.
A History of Hiding
My latest brush with the education policy edifice’s imperviousness to outside inquiry occurred while researching and writing a new report on the education department’s Charter School Program (CSP). I coauthored the report “Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Recklessly Takes Taxpayers and Students for a Ride” with Network for Public Education Executive Director Carol Burris.
Burris and I found that up to $1 billion awarded by the CSP—in more than 1,000 grants—was wasted on charter schools that never opened or opened for only brief periods before being shut down for mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment, and CONTINUE READING: I asked these 3 simple questions of Betsy DeVos’ Education Department. It ‘created havoc’ among the staff. – Alternet.org

New Oversight Law Won’t Prevent Charter School Financial Difficulties | Capital & Main

New Oversight Law Won’t Prevent Charter School Financial Difficulties | Capital & Main

New Oversight Law Won’t Prevent Charter School Financial Difficulties
Gavin Newsom hailed a new charter school transparency law he signed. Why won’t the law prevent charters from failing?


California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed into law Senate Bill 126, written to hold the state’s charter schools to the same transparency as other public schools. (Charter schools are funded by tax dollars but privately administered.) The bill, among other provisions, clarifies that charter schools are subject to existing state financial disclosure and conflict-of-interest laws. It’s a significant break from Newsom’s charter school-friendly predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, who twice vetoed similar legislation.
Still, the California Charter Schools Association, the well-funded charter lobbying group, praised the bill as a “balanced, fair application” of the state’s transparency laws, while preserving charter schools’ autonomy.

Some 31% of charter schools authorized by the state between Jan. 2002 and May 2018 are no longer open.


The fact that the bill sailed through the legislature without opposition strikes Julian Vasquez Heilig, a professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University, Sacramento, as “one small, small step for mankind.”
“[Senate Bill 126] is two pages long,” he says. “The governor and Democrats are using it to say they’re doing something. But we are still spending hundreds of millions to build charters next to failing public schools. And many of those charters are not doing anything innovative that public schools are not already doing.”
And, despite protestations of “failing public schools” voiced by charter school supporters, many more charter schools are failing due to lack of oversight that the new law is not set up to fix. Not only would additional laws to provide rules for and financial scrutiny of charter schools protect district schools, they might shore up charter schools as well. CONTINUE READING: New Oversight Law Won’t Prevent Charter School Financial Difficulties | Capital & Main


CURMUDGUCATION: MO: Bipartisan Fight Against Charter Expansion

CURMUDGUCATION: MO: Bipartisan Fight Against Charter Expansion

MO: Bipartisan Fight Against Charter Expansion


Rep. Rebecca Roeber (R) of Lee's Summit, Missouri has proposed a bill to expand charter reach; the state has basically confined charter schools to the Kansas City and St. Louis districts. But response to the bill has not been exactly a slam dunk.

The bill would allow charters to open in communities of greater than 30,000 people or an accredited-without-provisions school district. The feelings about the bill are tight enough that both sides were feeling cautiously optimistic.


Roeber is a former public teacher (and seventeen years in the classroom, not some TFA two-year temp). Her voting record is-- well, she tried to expand charters in 2017, voted against the authority of local government to set minimum wage, voted to keep language that says marriage is only between a man and a woman (but voted against closing the loophole that allows a sexual predator to avoid criminal charges by marrying their teenaged victims), and voted for Right-to-Work in the state. She appears to be married to Barefoot Rick, a well-known barefoot runner and Christian speaker. Nine days ago she was left in serious condition after the car she was driving crossed the center line and hit another head on.

Roeber's position on charters has been pretty simple:

This idea about how education works is not reflected by reality, and lots of Missourians know it.  CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: MO: Bipartisan Fight Against Charter Expansion


Q&A: Sacramento City Unified School District budget crisis | The Sacramento Bee

Q&A: Sacramento City Unified School District budget crisis | The Sacramento Bee

You asked us about the Sac City Unified crisis. Here are answers to your top questions



With a teachers strike and a possible state takeover looming for the Sacramento City Unified School District, The Sacramento Bee put out a call this week for our readers’ most pressing questions about the crisis. Dozens have responded so far through our website, Facebook and Twitter.
Here are answers to some of your top questions:
Where are we with the strike? What do the district and the union say?
The strike by the Sacramento City Teachers Association is set for Thursday, April 11. The district says it will be a normally scheduled school day. Parents can expect some teachers in the classrooms, certificated substitutes and replacements.

The teachers union, however, says it is confident that teachers won’t cross the picket line. The overwhelming majority of its 2,500 members who voted approved the strike.
Why strike for just one day, and will it be effective? Will the teachers strike again?
The district and the United Professional Educators union, which represents administrators, are asking the same question: What does a one-day strike accomplish?
The union says it kept the strike to a day to minimize the impact on students. Union officials said they hope that will be enough to get the district to meet with them and “agree to honoring the contract and obeying the law.”
There have been changes to the state receivership process. Maybe it won’t be like the Oakland situation?
Oakland Unified School District went into state receivership in 2003 – a process in which the district takes an emergency loan from the state and is taken over by the California Department of Education. Since that time, state receivership has changed. Most significantly, the administrator who takes charge of the district’s finances is appointed by the county, not the state. If a takeover happens, this will be the first time a county superintendent – in this case, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David Gordon – will appoint the administrator.
Oakland Unified still owes the state about $30 million, which is roughly the amount Sacramento City Unified is in the red. By the time its receivership ends in 2026, Oakland will have paid tens of millions of dollars in interest on its state loan. Sacramento City Unified will faces interest payments as well.

If the school district goes into receivership, what does that do to those in positions like superintendent, and those on the board?
The new administrator appointed by Gordon would assume power and responsibilities of the governing board. The new administrator does not have to consult with the school board or the superintendent.
Over time, Gordon can replace the appointed administrator with a trustee, and the school board will slowly regain some of its powers. After at least three years, the trustee could be removed if the district has a recovery plan in place.
What will insolvency mean in real terms for students and families? What will we lose, specifically? And how will it hurt 40,000 students? Is it possible that it won’t be like the Oakland situation?
Sacramento is one of the most diverse cities in the country, with families from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Activists and community leaders are speaking out, saying the crisis will harm Sacramento City Unified’s most disadvantaged students first.
Officials from the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, a state-created financial adviser for school districts, said that districts strive to keep cuts away from the classroom. But cuts that affect students are inevitable, especially during a state takeover, because the administrator will prioritize balancing the budget.
Cuts to after-school programs, athletics and health centers would be likely. The district just sent layoff notices to its preschool teachers in the Head Start program, which helps single mothers go back to work by offering free or affordable care for their children.
Is it true that a change to the teachers’ health care plan could close the budget gap? What is the rationale behind refusing a new plan?
A change in the teachers’ health care plan won’t close a $35 million gap, but it would significantly help. The union says it did not refuse a new plan – a key dispute behind the upcoming strike.
The union said it went into an agreement last year with the district to identify savings from the CONTINUE READING: Q&A: Sacramento City Unified School District budget crisis | The Sacramento Bee



30 Days To Make a Way! THE JOURNEY FOR JUSTICE ALLIANCE (J4J)

30 Days To Make a Way!
30 Days To Make a Way!
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Weingarten calls DeVos a liar over teachers’ union comments | New York Amsterdam News: The new Black view

Weingarten calls DeVos a liar over teachers’ union comments | New York Amsterdam News: The new Black view

Weingarten calls DeVos a liar over teachers’ union comments



American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called out Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, saying she lied about the teachers’ unions losing members in the wake of the Janus v. AFSCME decision.
Weingarten said that while DeVos is secretly cheerleading the Janus decision and is anti-union, they actually added new members.
“The reality is the AFT has added 100,000 members from February 2018 to February 2019, and we’ve tallied 14 organizing wins since June,” stated Weingarten. “We are close to 1.7 million members again and have added a quarter of a million members in the last decade.”
Weingarten said that the Supreme Court decision ignited a “which side are you on?” moment for teachers instead of the reverse.
“The real reason DeVos is attacking us is because her antipathy toward public schools, public school children and the Special Olympics has been on front street this week,” said Weingarten. “Her disastrous testimony before Congress showed just how far she would go to privatize the schools that 91 percent of kids attend. Betsy isn’t concerned about fixing mold and crumbling classrooms because it gets in the way of her political project to syphon public money into private hands. And she wants to silence people like us who champion the aspirations of working families for a better life.”
Last month, DeVos unveiled a $64 billion proposed budget for the Department of Education that would take away $17.6 million in federal funds earmarked for the Special Olympics.
After the outcry, DeVos said she supports the Special Olympics, but it isn’t a federal program. She said it’s a private organization and she wants to CONTINUE READING: Weingarten calls DeVos a liar over teachers’ union comments | New York Amsterdam News: The new Black view

Alan Singer: Is Promesa the “Worst Charter Chain” in the Nation? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Alan Singer: Is Promesa the “Worst Charter Chain” in the Nation? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Alan Singer: Is Promesa the “Worst Charter Chain” in the Nation?


Alan Singer writes here about Promesa, a charter chain in Texas owned by Southwest Key, the same company that runs detention center for immigrant children.
As is often the case, the big profits are in real estate.
Here is an excerpt from a powerful article:
At one Texas Promesa charter school site, vermin roam the halls, offices, and classrooms and the roof leaks when it rains. The non-profit Southwest Key school pays its non-profit Southwest Key Foundation landlord almost a million dollars a year in state tax money for use of the building. Not only does Southwest Key collect rent from its four Southwest Key charters, but it forces them to purchase services including maintenance and school lunches from Southwest Key affiliate companies at above market rates. Southwest Key Maintenance charges almost $200,000 for janitorial work that an outside company offered to do for $93,000. The food served at Promesa’s schools is purchased from Southwest Key’s for-profit food company, Café del Sol. It is so bad that students have gone on a hunger strike. In addition, Southwest Key charged Promesa over $300,000 this year as a “management” fee and bills the schools for “accounting.”
Southwest Key uses its “non-profit” profits to pay hefty salaries to corporate and charity leaders and to stockpile tens of millions of dollars in reserves. Its former president and his wife were paid a combined $2 million a year. The foundation is now under federal investigation.
Texas Promesea schools are so badly run that when teachers quit they are not replaced. At one school CONTINUE READING: Alan Singer: Is Promesa the “Worst Charter Chain” in the Nation? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Defining “Educator” During a Teacher Shortage and the Privatization of Public Education

Defining “Educator” During a Teacher Shortage and the Privatization of Public Education

Defining “Educator” During a Teacher Shortage and the Privatization of Public Education

Define educator for America’s schools. It’s critical to nail this down during a teacher shortage and when there are attempts to privatize public schools. We don’t want people with inappropriate or no credentials teaching America’s children and directing their public schools.
Ensuring that teachers and administrators are qualified used to be required. Since NCLB, alternative routes to teaching and educational leadership have blurred the lines and deregulated the profession. Tampering with education credentials lessens their importance. This is a trick of those who want school privatization.
It’s no accident that there’s a teacher shortage at the same time teaching requirements have weakened. With a worsening problem to keep teachers in the classroom, some states relax teaching requirements!
If teacher preparation continues to be diminished by ill-defined teacher preparation and credentialing programs, children will get teachers who don’t understand what they teach, or how children learn.
For example, recent reports referred to Beta O’Rourke’s wife, Amy, as an educator. Mrs. O’Rourke taught kindergarten in Guatemala, but she has a degree in psychology. She is CONTINUE READING: Defining “Educator” During a Teacher Shortage and the Privatization of Public Education

Let’s fact-check this Betsy DeVos tweet about Trump’s $5 billion school tax credit proposal - The Washington Post

Let’s fact-check this Betsy DeVos tweet about Trump’s $5 billion school tax credit proposal - The Washington Post

Let’s fact-check this Betsy DeVos tweet about Trump’s $5 billion school tax credit proposal


Despite what some may try to tell you . . . Education Freedom Scholarships are privately funded and do not take any money from public schools. #EducationFreedom
That comes from a tweet that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos posted in an attempt to sell the public on the Trump administration’s newest plan to expand alternatives to traditional public schools. And, for the record, it’s not true.
The Trump administration has included in its proposed 2020 budget spending up to $5 billion on tax credits for individuals and groups who donate to help children attend private and religious schools.
The donations, which would receive a 100 percent tax credit, could go for other education-related purposes — all aimed at expanding what DeVos now calls “education freedom” but used to more frequently refer to as “school choice."
The plan, called the Education Freedom Scholarships, has no chance of passing Congress with Democrats in control of the House, and with some Republican opposition.
That hasn’t stopped DeVos from talking and tweeting about it. In the following tweet, she presents a mini flow chart she says shows how the Education Freedom Scholarships would be funded, showing how individuals and organizations could donate to a state-approved organization that can grant scholarships to students.



Despite what some may try to tell you…Education Freedom Scholarships are privately funded and do not take any money from public schools.

And she says because these scholarships are privately funded, they “do not take any money from public schools.”
But donors can get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit to donate. That means up to $5 billion of federal taxpayer money will go back to private individuals and groups that donate for scholarships.
That isn’t what many people would call private funding.
Her claim that the scholarships “do not take any money from public schools” is misleading, too.
For one thing, any diminution of federal revenue could affect public school funding. For another, using CONTINUE READING: Let’s fact-check this Betsy DeVos tweet about Trump’s $5 billion school tax credit proposal - The Washington Post