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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Growing Scandal at Sacramento School District: Additional Email Reveals More Deception - Sacramento City Teachers Association

FCMAT Emails Show District Deceived Community - Sacramento City Teachers Association

Growing Scandal at Sacramento School District:

Additional Email Reveals More Deception, Hiding Facts and Fiscal Mismanagement From the Public 

District aware of $7 million per year windfall due to undercounting students on April 1,
but pushed ahead with layoffs in May and higher class sizes for students

Link Available Here to the Sacramento City Teachers Association Website
Sacramento, July 25, 2019– A recently-obtained email from Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) Superintendent Jose Aguilar – in addition to those released last week – shows a growing scandal at the district.

Emails, sent in March, discovered by the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) through a public documents request, released last week, show that the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) ignored warnings from a state of California fiscal monitor about false and misleading budget data.

An additional email, dated April 1, also discovered by SCTA, from Aguilar to Sacramento County Education Superintendent David Gordon shows that top SCUSD officials knew as early as April 1 that they had undercounted enrollment by 730 students, resulting in $7 million in additional funds available in each of the next two school years, and in subsequent years.

Despite availability of these funds, Aguilar and SCUSD officials knowingly deceived the community, including some school board members, about its financial condition. The misleading data was used to justify important decisions, including the layoff of hundreds of teachers and other school employees in May. Hundreds of teachers and staff were sent pink slips. The district refused to honor its contract with SCTA resulting in a strike by educators.

Later the district acknowledged that instead of a projected $54 million negative ending fund balance for 2020-21, it would have a surplus of $15 million—a $69 million turnaround.

In March, Mike Fine of the state of California’s Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team wrote in an email to SCUSD Superintendent Jorge Aguilar and board President Jessie Ryan that“[Y]our staff has again demonstrated that they don’t have the capacity or willingness to produce accurate data.” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg also was copied on the email correspondences.

Fine informed SCUSD officials in writing that he has “no confidence’ in the district’s business staff. At the time these emails were written district officials had claimed that SCUSD was on the brink of a state takeover.

The additional emails and those released last week indicate that district officials knew much earlier that the information that they were sharing with the community was not accurate.

The March email exchange was reported last week in the Sacramento Bee . Copies of the emails, including the April 1 email, can be found here on the SCTA website. 

With 40,000 students, the Sacramento City Unified School District is the 13th largest school district in California. The Sacramento City Teachers Association is an affiliate of the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association.
About the Sacramento City Teachers Association
Since 1921, the Sacramento City Teachers Association has represented teachers, school nurses, psychologists, language speech and hearing specialists, social workers, librarians and other certificated professionals who work for the Sacramento City Unified School District. SCTA represents 2800 professional educators.
Sacramento City Teachers Association
 5300 Elvas Avenue | 916.452.4591

FCMAT Emails Show District Deceived Community - Sacramento City Teachers Association

Big Education Ape: UPDATE: Sacramento City Unified officials slammed by fiscal adviser | The Sacramento Bee #REDFORED #SCTA #SCUSD #CTA -

Inside Betsy DeVos’ Billions: Just How Rich Is The Education Secretary?

Inside Betsy DeVos’ Billions: Just How Rich Is The Education Secretary?

Inside Betsy DeVos’ Billions: Just How Rich Is The Education Secretary?

This is the fifth in a series that explores the personal fortunes of President Trump’s cabinet officials. See more on Mike PenceWilliam BarrSteven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross.
Among Donald Trump’s historically rich cabinet members, Betsy DeVos is the richest. But for more than two years, the extent of her finances has been a mystery. Now Forbes has zeroed in on the root of the DeVos family fortune, Amway, to come up with what we believe is the most realistic estimate of the size of her fortune published so far. Together, Betsy DeVos, her husband and their four adult children are worth roughly $2 billion.
The key to untangling DeVos’ empire appears to lie in Securities and Exchange Commission filings from the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Amway’s Asia-Pacific business operated through a publicly traded subsidiary. Those documents indicate that Betsy’s husband Dick DeVos and his three siblings had equal interests in the subsidiary, an indication that they equally split their ownership of the rest of Amway. Given that his parents have both passed away and the DeVos family continues to own half of the business, it seems reasonable to assume that Betsy, her husband and their kids now control one quarter of the family’s stake, or about 12% of Amway. That share is worth an estimated $1.3 billion.
Assuming they also own 25% of the family’s second-largest asset, the Orlando Magic basketball team, that’s another $300 million or so. Their slice of the family’s portfolio of commercial real estate, private equity investments, mansions and yachts makes up the rest of the education secretary’s net worth.

Betsy's Billons

Betsy DeVos is the richest member of Donald Trump's cabinet. She, her husband and their four adult children are worth an estimated $2 billion—mostly in Amway stock.

Betsy, the daughter of auto parts magnate Edgar Prince and sister of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, owes the vast majority of her fortune to her marriage to Dick DeVos. His father, Richard DeVos Sr., cofounded Amway in 1959 alongside his high school friend, Jay Van Andel. What began as two buddies selling an all-purpose cleaner door-to-door quickly grew into an army of independent salespeople hawking vitamins, soaps and other household goods to friends and family—and, controversially, earning money by signing others up as distributors too. Dick DeVos ran the company from 1993 to 2002. Today one DeVos (Dick’s brother Doug) and one Van Andel co-chair the board. The families split ownership 50/50, according to a spokesperson of the DeVos family. CONTINUE READING: Inside Betsy DeVos’ Billions: Just How Rich Is The Education Secretary?

Does Twitter’s new design make you grumpy? Use this extension to turn back time | Digital Trends #newtwitter #newtwitterdesign

Craving the Old Twitter Design? This Browser Extension Will Help | Digital Trends

Does Twitter’s new design make you grumpy? Use this extension to turn back time

Twitter for desktop now looks a bit more like the Twitter app — but not everyone is in love with the new design. For the change-wary users already referring to Twitter’s “good old days,” there’s a new browser extension that will make look like, well, Twitter again.
he new Mozilla Firefox add-on GoodTwitter forces the web browser to return back to Twitter’s previous design. As an OpenSource extension, the free download adjusts browser requests so that, on Firefox, Twitter looks like the more familiar social network. 
The extension, created by user Zusor, is already in version 1.7 after launching just a few days after the new design began rolling out. It also fixes a few bugs from the original extension, including the inability to copy and paste. The extension now has a 4.7 star rating.
Along with adapting a more app-like look, Twitter’s redesign rearranges the desktop home page. The top navigation bar is gone, replaced by navigation options on the left-hand side, while standards like trends and “who to follow” jump over to the opposite side. The redesign also brings Explore from the mobile app to desktop, along with the bookmark option
One of the most anticipated updates, however, launched without replacing the old CONTINUE READING: Craving the Old Twitter Design? This Browser Extension Will Help | Digital Trends
Hate Twitter’s new design? Here’s how to get the old look back - by @Mixtatiq on @thenextweb

Dissent within statewide task force adds tension to California’s charter school debate | EdSource

Dissent within statewide task force adds tension to California’s charter school debate | EdSource

Dissent within statewide task force adds tension to California’s charter school debate

There was disagreement over which proposals to forward to Gov. Newsom

Sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk is a document that has added fuel to the roiling debate over legislation that would limit the growth of charter schools in California.
Newsom hasn’t taken a public position on the 13-page report by the California Charter School Policy Task Force, which he asked State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to convene.
But the four members affiliated with charter schools on the 11-member task force say they’re concerned that the report misconstrues what the group supported. They are particularly critical of a package of proposals that Thurmond presented to the task force, put to a vote and then included in the report. Thurmond ran the task force meetings and oversaw the writing of the report.
Thurmond dismissed the criticisms as off-base and defends the wording of the report and the decisions behind it. Some committee members agree with him.

The disagreement highlights the struggle Newsom and the Legislature are having as they determine the future role and growth of charter schools. California has more than 1,300 charter schools. They serve more than 10 percent of the state’s 6 million public school students.
During the next two months, Newsom’s advisers, charter school advocates and detractors will be negotiating language in Assembly Bill 1505, which could substantially restrict charter school growth. Its author, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, and its co-sponsor, the California Teachers Association, are citing some of the contentious proposals in the task force report to support their positions. Their ability and that of charter advocates to sway public opinion on charter school reform could shape a potential deal on the legislation.
Earlier this year Newsom asked Thurmond to create the task force and report back by July 1 on two key issues: how to weigh a charter school’s fiscal impact on school districts and how to change the way a school receives authorization to operate.
In consultation with the governor’s office, Thurmond appointed representatives from both sides of the charter controversy. The task force’s meetings were not open to the public, with Thurmond’s staff taking notes but with no formal minutes.
EdSource reached out to all 11
members and spoke with the eight who responded. They differ on some pivotal details.
After meeting weekly for nearly three months, the task force issued a report with 13 proposals considered by the group: four recommendations, listed first, reached by CONTINUE READING: Dissent within statewide task force adds tension to California’s charter school debate | EdSource

Big Education Ape: Hired Guns, Scholars and the California School Policy Task Force | tultican -

Milliken v. Bradley: Supreme Court Case Has Helped Keep Schools Segregated : NPR

Milliken v. Bradley: Supreme Court Case Has Helped Keep Schools Segregated : NPR

This Supreme Court Case Made School District Lines A Tool For Segregation

Roughly 9 million children — nearly 1 in 5 public school students in the U.S. — attend schools that are racially isolated and receive far less money than schools just a few miles away. That's according to a sweeping new review of the nation's most divisive school district borders from EdBuild, a nonprofit that investigates school funding inequities.
"Inequality is endemic" in America's public schools, the report says, identifying nearly 1,000 school district borders where schools on one side receive at least 10% less money per student than schools on the other side and where the racial makeup of the two sides' students varies by 25 percentage points or more. It is the story of segregation, in 2019.
EdBuild says the disadvantaged districts in these cross-district comparisons receive, on average, about $4,200 less per student than their wealthier neighbors, largely because of differences in what they're able to raise through local property taxes. To put that gap into perspective, schools spent an average of $12,000 per student in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This means that disadvantaged districts have about one-third fewer dollars per student than their peers up the street.

Imagine you're a principal with one-third less funding to pay for teachers, textbooks, buses and counselors.
Now imagine you're a child living at the center of that inequity.
"You know it as soon as you look at the school. You know it the minute you walk into a classroom," says Rebecca Sibilia, EdBuild's founder and CEO, of these funding differences. "There are kids who see this every day, and they understand."
They understand, Sibilia says, that the scales are tipped against them. Their schools are still segregated and underfunded more than 60 years after the Supreme Court issued one of its most famous rulings, in Brown v. Board of Education, unanimously CONTINUE READING: Milliken v. Bradley: Supreme Court Case Has Helped Keep Schools Segregated : NPR

Jersey Jazzman: What's Really Happening In Camden's Schools

Jersey Jazzman: What's Really Happening In Camden's Schools

What's Really Happening In Camden's Schools

This latest series on Camden's schools is in three parts:

Part I

Part II

Part III (this post)

I want to wrap up this series of posts about Camden's schools with a look at the latest CREDO report, which the supporters of recent "reforms" keep citing as proof of those reforms' success.

Long time readers know the CREDO reports, issued by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, have been perhaps the best known of all research studies on the effectiveness of charter schools. The reports, which are not peer-reviewed, look at the differences in growth in test scores between charter schools and public district schools, or between different school operators within the charter sector. CREDO often issues reports for a particular city's or state's charter sector; they last produced a statewide report for New Jersey in 2013.

I and others have written a great deal over the years about the inherent limitations and flaws in CREDO's methodology. A quick summary:

-- The CREDO reports rely on data that is too crude to do the job properly. At the heart of CREDOs methodology is their supposed ability to virtually "match" students who do and don't attend charter schools, and compare their progress. The match is made on two factors: first, student characteristics, including whether students qualify for free lunch, whether they are classified as English language learners (in New Jersey, the designation is "LEP," or "limited English proficient"), whether they have a special education disability, race/ethnicity, and gender.

The problem is that these classifications are not finely-grained enough to make a useful CONTINUE READING: 
Jersey Jazzman: What's Really Happening In Camden's Schools

How segregation keeps students of color out of richer nearby districts - Vox

How segregation keeps students of color out of richer nearby districts - Vox

How segregation keeps poor students of color out of whiter, richer nearby districts
See how your local school district compares.

Much of the conversation about school segregation in America is about how to lessen segregation within a school district, ensuring students of all races in the same district can study together in the same school.
That’s the kind of policy Joe Biden opposed in the 1970s, which he was called out for during the first Democratic presidential debates. These policies tried to ban federal courts from forcing districts to bus children from one neighborhood to another to desegregate schools.
But many districts are so segregated that they can’t be integrated just by moving students around within their borders. School district boundaries that draw a sharp line between two separate and unequal districts — one majority-white and well-funded, one nonwhite and underfunded — are quite common in the United States.
Here’s the border that separates two school districts in Connecticut — Lebanon and Windham.

Lebanon is 90 percent white, and it spends about $22,000 per pupil each year. Windham is about 25 percent white, and it spends $3,000 less per pupil than Lebanon.
There are nearly 1,000 borders like this in the US, according to a new report from the education nonprofit EdBuild. It looked for bordering districts where there was at least a 25 percentage-point gap in white students, as well as at least a 10 percent gap in funding.

On the disadvantaged side of the border, there are nearly 9 million students who attend schools that are, on average, 65 percent nonwhite. These schools received about $13,000 per pupil.

On the advantaged side, there are nearly 3 million students who attend schools that are, on average, 25 percent nonwhite. These schools receive about $17,000 per pupil.
And there are about 133 borders that are extremely unequal, with a 50 percentage-point difference in nonwhite students and a 20 percent funding gap.
By talking about integration only in the context of what happens within school districts, “We’re missing an entire part of this debate,” EdBuild CEO Rebecca Sibilia said.
Truly integrated schools would require integration between districts. But 45 years ago, the courts made this exceedingly hard.

Is your district one of the disadvantaged? Or advantaged?

The map below shows every American district on either side of one of these borders.
We’ve zoomed into your area to give you a better look, but you can explore the entire US. CONTINUE READING: How segregation keeps students of color out of richer nearby districts - Vox

CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Trees and the Taj Mahal

CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Trees and the Taj Mahal

FL: Trees and the Taj Mahal

Image result for Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene

Florida Education Commissioner is angry with Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene. Grr mad. Really really mad.

Corcoran was previously the speaker of the house, where he pushed a variety of privatization moves. In particular, he pushed the "Schools of Hope," a cool plan in which public schools that were having trouble would be targeted for direct charter competition, with lots of incentives for big out-of-state operators to come and rake in some Florida taxpayer bucks. In other words, when the state finds a public school that needs some extra help and support, they instead call in private operators. Like finding a traveler beaten and hurt beside the road, and instead of calling a doctor, you call some vultures.

Yes, if you haven't been following events in Florida, they really are the worst. But then, they have installed a group of strongly anti-public education folks in all the education oversight positions, as well as powerful advocacy groups with lots of clout,  so none of this comes out of left field. If any state is well-positioned to completely eliminate public education, it is Florida (even if they do attempt to hide the attempt by redefining "public").

Anyway, Duval school system includes several schools that are struggling, and they have a brand new superintendent, Dr. Diana Greene (with a background in actual education).

Corcoran gave her three choices. One of the choices was hand over some schools to IDEA, a Texas corporate charter chain founded by a pair of Teach for America products devoted to the No Excuses model.

That was the choice Greene was supposed to pick, but instead she went with working with the local community to salvage the schools they were committed to. Corcoran was not happy. In fact, he stewed aloud that perhaps it was time for the state to take over the schools that he wanted to hand off to IDEA. IDEA is on Corcoran's favorites list-- they have been given the green light to start moving into Florida and start opening those Schools of Hope.

Actually, I'm not sure this would make a very good school.
Meanwhile, this summer has seen Corcoran throwing more snits in Greene's direction. The school district has been working on a proposal to use a half-cent sales tax to fund a major capital improvement program for the district. Corcoran is not a fan, and in explaining his non-fanness, he also shared some of CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Trees and the Taj Mahal

‘Home-school charters’ let families use state dollars for Disneyland, horseback riding lessons and more - Los Angeles Times

‘Home-school charters’ let families use state dollars for Disneyland, horseback riding lessons and more - Los Angeles Times

‘Home-school charters’ let families use state dollars for Disneyland, horseback riding lessons and more 

In California, there’s a way parents can use money from the government to buy multi-day Disneyland Park Hopper passes, San Diego Zoo family memberships, tickets to Medieval Times and dolphin encounters at SeaWorld.
There are a handful of charter schools that give students’ families as much as $2,800 to $3,200 — tax dollars sent to the charter schools — every year to spend on anything they want from a list of thousands of home-school vendors approved by the charters, according to the schools’ websites.

Some home-school vendors offer tutoring, curricula, books and other traditional educational services. Other vendors sell tickets to theme parks that are billed as field trips, or extracurricular activities that are billed as P.E., including parkour classes, acting classes, ice skating lessons, horseback riding lessons and more.
It’s such a popular deal that some home-school bloggers have written articles explaining how California parents can take advantage of the schools’ money.
“If you live in California and you’re not taking advantage of this, I don’t know what to say,” said Karen Akpan, a home-school charter parent of four who lives in Beaumont. She wrote a recent blog article describing how she used the educational funds to pay for a family trip to Disneyland, Chicago CityPASSes and Legoland tickets, as well as computer coding kits, educational toys, books and subscription cooking kits for her kids.
The idea behind these charters, which some call “home-school charters,” is that families can customize their children’s education — just like regular home school — but with state education money.

These charters differ from other, more typical independent study schools or hybrid schools or virtual charter schools, which often assign a structured curriculum of courses for students to complete or offer in-person classes at resource centers.
With home-school charters, there doesn’t have to be a set curriculum. Students only have to meet virtually with a teacher once a month and turn in one work sample for each meeting — a sample that the teacher doesn’t grade, according to parents.
It is difficult to know how many charter schools operate this way. The state doesn’t track them. The California School Boards Assn., which has been critical of charter schools, says it has not researched these kinds of charters because relatively few students enroll in them.
These home-school charters are an uncommon marriage between public charter schools and home schooling, which California considers to be private schooling.
They are an extreme but little-known form of school choice that home-school advocates say is unique to California.
“I don’t know of any states where they’re paying for the kinds of things they’re paying for in California,” said Mike Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Assn. a national group that advocates for home-schooling families.
Two of the most popular home-school charters that work this way are Valiant Prep and Inspire Charter School South, both of which were authorized to operate by the CONTINUE READING:  ‘Home-school charters’ let families use state dollars for Disneyland, horseback riding lessons and more - Los Angeles Times