Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Emails btwn Excelencia Charter Academy founder Ruben Alonzo & some lawyers at Young Minney Corr expose LA charter industry's nefarious tactics for stalling public records access! -Michael Kohlhaas dot org

Michael Kohlhaas dot org



In October 2018 I sent a California Public Records Act request for a bunch of emails to Ruben Alonzo, self-proclaimed founder of Excelencia Charter Academy, a creepy co-locating conspiracy currently occupying the Boyle Heights campus of Sunrise Elementary School. And about six weeks later, at the end of November, Alonzo handed over a suprisingly complete set of responsive records. And what important material it turned out to be.
From it we learned about a demand letter that the United Teachers of Los Angeles sent to Excelencia in June 2018 alleging violations of the Brown Act. And about how insidious privateer brigade the California Charter School Association provides free lawyers to charters to help them co-locate on the campuses of actual public schools. And about how charter school operators use all kinds of shenanaganistic financial maneuvers to skim money from the public funds they receive and funnel it into the coffers of their zillionaire sponsors. And about how Ruben Alonzo is a whiny crybaby stalker who hates democracy and freedom.
And not only was all that stuff revealed but Alonzo was kind enough to produce a set of emails between him and a couple of lawyers, Sarah Kollman and Kimberly Rodriguez, from metaphorically mobbed-up charter school law conspiracy Young Minney & Corr advising him on how to respond to my request and giving him apparently illegal suggestions for how to delay my access to the records. I’m exceedingly familiar with the end result of the anti-CPRA machinations of public agencies, but it’s rare, and very interesting, not to mention useful in deciding how to respond and proceed against them, to get a glimpse of the little folks behind the curtain who create the responses sent out over the signatures of their feckless clients.
The emails also include a series of weirdly puerile and self-serving CONTINUE READING: Michael Kohlhaas dot org

Wendy Lecker: Putting a price tag on public schools - StamfordAdvocate

Wendy Lecker: Putting a price tag on public schools - StamfordAdvocate

Wendy Lecker: Putting a price tag on public schools

When it comes to using one’s fortune to influence American policy, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch stand out.
The Kochs have spent a fortune pushing American politics and policy to the right. Their secretive organization, Americans for Prosperity, is a major player in anti-labor activities, such as Wisconsin’s slashing of union rights, and fighting minimum wage increases nationwide. The Kochs poured money into the American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”) a stealth lobby organization that writes bills that advance Koch industries’ interests specifically and the Koch’s extreme free market ideology in general, and then gets legislators all over the country to introduce them.
They have also donated millions of dollars to establish research centers at universities to push their brand of unregulated capitalism. They impose conditions and performance obligations on the donations, interfere in hiring decisions, and make curriculum and programming decisions. The Kochs often demand pre-approval of any public statements and include anti-transparency provisions in donor agreements. This research is then cited as the scholarly basis for Congressional decisions favoring the Kochs’ interests. The Kochs are proud of their integrated strategy to build a pipeline of influence. The president of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation boasted that “(n)o one else has this infrastructure.”
Eli Broad, a billionaire who made his fortune through real estate and insurance, seeks to build a Koch-style infrastructure to CONTINUE READING: Wendy Lecker: Putting a price tag on public schools - StamfordAdvocate

When Disruptive Students Are Coddled, the Whole Class Suffers - Quillette

When Disruptive Students Are Coddled, the Whole Class Suffers - Quillette

When Disruptive Students Are Coddled, the Whole Class Suffers

Last month, NBC Nightly News aired a segment on the latest classroom-management technique to sweep America’s schools: “room clears”: When a child throws a tantrum that could physically endanger his peers, teachers evacuate all of the other students from the classroom until the troublemaker has vented his rage upon empty desks, tables and chairs. The technique was virtually unheard of five years ago. But 56 percent of surveyed teachers and parents in Oregon now report having experienced a room clear in their or their child’s classroom over the last year.
Surrendering the classroom to a single student: The average reader might well ask why anyone thinks this would be a good idea. Yet the policies that make this approach inevitable have been applauded by a wide range of authorities, from the Southern Poverty Law Center to the Trump-administration’s Department of Education.
The emergence of room clears is a product of several fashionable education-policy trends designed to protect the rights of troubled students, often with little regard for the rights of their classmates. These include the provisions contained in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which mandates that special-education students be subject to the “least restrictive environment” possible. When it comes to students who are hard of hearing, dyslexic or CONTINUE READING: When Disruptive Students Are Coddled, the Whole Class Suffers - Quillette

CATCH UP WITH CURMUDGUCATION + ICYMI: Off To A Great New Year's Start Edition (1/5)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Off To A Great New Year's Start Edition (1/5)

Off To A Great New Year's Start Edition (1/5)

Marking the new year always strikes me as a bit odd-- we draw an arbitrary line in the chronological sand, then get all excited about examining it. Humans are fun.

In the meantime, this week's list is loaded with some exceptionally good readings. Remember to share the ons that speak to you. Amplifying voices is what the interwebz are all about.

The Surprising Source of the NPE Data
The pushback against NPE's report on charter waste and fraud has been considerable, but here Carol Burris provides a measured and detailed response. And guess where some of the data in question comes from...

The Dangers of Disinformation
Last Sunday I failed to do due diligence on one of the posts and recommended something from an untrustworthy source (the post is no longer on the list).  The up side is that it prompted this thoughtful post from Dad Gone Wild.

The Democrats' School Choice Problem
Jennifer Berkshire breaks it down for the Nation in a thoughtful take that spins off the Pittsburgh education forum. It's a good look at some of the political dynamics involved.

The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade
This Audrey Watters post is the bomb, and if you somehow haven't read it yet, then stop procrastinating. It's a horrifying stroll down memory lane.

Teachers "Never Broke The Law"
Remember when Matt "Sore Loser" Bevin tried to throw some laws at teachers who walked out? It's one more bad policy that his successor has reversed.

Closing the Minority Teacher Gap
Bill Tucker at the St. Louis Post Dispatch takes another look at this continued problem. There's lots of good stuff here, including this sentence: "Teachers are known for working for less pay and respect, but that is a big ask for a minority student, whose family has been underpaid and not respected." There's also another look at the issue in the Washington Post this week.

Novelist Cormac McCarthy paper writing tips 
McCarthy has been helping faculty and students at Santa Fe Institute with editing. Who knew? Here's a distillation of some of his writing advice.

School Grade Cards Gotta Go
The editorial board of the Toledo Blade argues for an end to Ohio's letter grade policy for schools.

Why the Charter School Proposals by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Shouldn’t Be Controversial
Gotham Gazette has this piece from a former charter teacher and a former charter parent (the parent involved in an infamous Success Academy discipline scandal). Clear and compelling.

Lies, Lies, and More Lies
In the Troy Daily News, a former Ohio superintendent has some blistering words for Ohio's ed reform. He may be late to the party, but he is not holding back a bit.

Economists Ate My School 
Steven Singer looks at the damage done by imagining that teaching is simply one more transaction .

The Greatest Ed Tech Goof of All Time
Ed historian Adam Laats takes us back to an early example of terrible tech ideas for education, showing once again that hardly any modern innovations are actually innovations.

Montessori schools embrace kid-tracking devices  
What would make Montessori schools even better? How about constant student surveillance. This is your hate read for the week.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Off To A Great New Year's Start Edition (1/5)


The Ed Reform Glossary You Need

If that Amazon gift certificate is burning a hole in your pocket, I have a few suggestions. Let's start with this one. In 2006, education historian Diane Ravitch published EdSpeak , a glossary of education policy jargon to help those folks who found it all, well, jargonny. But the education world has shifted around just a tad since 2006, and it is time for a brand new version of the critical guid
Michelle Rhee Has Been Robbed

As the various lists of faces, names, moments that defined the education policy debates of the last decade have been tallied up, one name has been, I think, unfairly overlooked-- Michelle Rhee. No, really, bear with me. The very fact that I don't really need to review her story makes part of my point. Rhee was the previous decade's best-known public face of education reform, culminating in that in
New Report: Charter Fraud And Waste Worse Than We Thought

Last March, the Network for Public Education released a report showing that the federal government has lost a billion dollars to charter school waste and fraud . But the organization had not stopped sifting through the data. Their follow-up report , “ Still Asleep At The Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Results in as Pileup of Fraud ands Waste ,” reveals that the situation is even w
I Have One Good New Years Story

New Year's Eve is not one of my favorite holidays, and some of them have been downright unpleasant, but I have one good story. It involves the Olympic torch. This was the route. I wasn't kidding with "circuitous." Back on New Year's Day of 2002, the Olympic flame was on its way to Salt Lake City, and on its long circuitous route out West, the flame passed through Erie, Pennsylvania, which is just
OH: Ohio Excels and the Hostile Takeover of Education

Ohio is one of many states in which business leaders have appointed themselves education overseers. The most recent version of this phenomenon is Ohio Excels , a lobbying group that believes that Ohio's education system owes them better meat widgets for job fodder. "improving the quality of education will give students a better chance to succeed and will help Ohio businesses grow and innovate, fue
The Ground Level Ed Reform Decade Retrospective

Yeah, it's time for everyone to do decade lists (including "Ten Reasons The New Decade Doesn't Start For Another Year") from the list of education faces that Alexander Russo is doing on Twitter to this absolutely-the-only-list-you-need-to-read from Audrey Watters, " The 100 Worst Ed Tech Debacles of the Decade. " I'm not going to try to sum up the decade in education. Or rather, I'm going to sum u
The Height Of A Dead Salmon

A while back someone sent me an article with a striking lead : The methodology is straightforward. You take your subject and slide them into an fMRI machine, a humongous sleek, white ring, like a donut designed by Apple. Then you show the subject images of people engaging in social activities — shopping, talking, eating dinner. You flash 48 different photos in front of your subject's eyes, and ask
ICYMI: Almost A New Decade Edition (12/29)

Yep, soon anything from the 1900s will be "a long time ago." But we can meditate on how experience fades into the dim past some other day. Right now we'll just worry about last week. Here's some of the worthwhile reading; it's a short list because holiday time. Remember to amplify the stuff that speaks to you! How Ibram X. Kendi's Definition of Antiracism Applies to Schools If you don't know Kendi
Dana Goldstein's Common Core Ten Year Tale, Annotated

Dana Goldstein's NYT ten year retrospective of Common Core has been sitting on my desktop since it was published, making me grumpy. It's yet another example of how the stories we are told about modern disruptive education reform are subtly sugared and carefully crafted to avoid discussing some of the larger issues. I don't know-- after all, Goldstein is a published book author and writes for the A
VA: Ideas About How To Recruit and Retain Teachers

As squawking about the teacher "shortage" many states have developed methods to either take advantage of the situation ("Now we can finally break the teachers union and public education by letting any warm body stand in front of a classroom because, hey, there's a shortage") or try to figure out a way to actually solve the problem. In Virginia, a coalition appears to be t aking a shot at the latte

Big Brother U & The Surveillance State

If you missed this article at Washington Post about on campus surveillance of students-- well, congratulations on having one less troubling thought in your head over the past week. Because the surveillance is continuing its slow,