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Schools Matter

Updated: 2017-11-18T16:12:51.505-05:00


Indiana’s Sneaky SAT Agenda and the College Board


By Doug Martin In yet another sneak attack on Indiana public education and communities, the State Board of Education’s Graduation Pathways Panel, in a move to eliminate the abusive and redundant end-of-course assessments, “has recommended that students take the SAT, ACT or a similar college entrance exam instead” in order to finish high school, a move which would sit well with Hoosier Republican lawmaker and past Indiana State Board of Education member, Todd Huston, who is now Senior Vice President of State and District Partnerships at the College Board— the owner of SAT.   The Graduation Pathways Panel is chaired by Byron Ernest, the state board of education member who recently resigned as leader of K12, Inc’s “beleagueredHoosier Academies charter school network amid state sanctions due to years of failing academics.”Concerning the SAT recommendation, the South Bend Tribune notes: “The change was introduced to the draft proposal less than a day before the panel voted to send it to the state Board of Education. While other parts of the plan have been available for public comment for weeks, few schools, teachers or families have been able to give input about the exam requirement change.” The State Board will vote next month on new graduation requirements, and state lawmakers “would then codify the plan in the 2018 session.” The new recommendations, if approved, will start with the class of 2023. Since the U.S. Department of Education has declared that “Indiana will no longer be able to include students who earn the general diploma in calculating school graduation rates,” 30 percent of those being special needs students, the State Board, actually, is adding another assault by proposing an exam which will weaken schools’ graduation passing rates and prime them for possible takeover by charter school operators. And then there’s Todd Huston and the College Board.  Huston, who has received $36,000from the DeVos-Walton funded Hoosiers for Economic Growth PAC and $2,500from Charter Schools USA, along with $1,000from Michelle Rhee’s Students First PAC, was one of Al Hubbard’s “GOP Powerbrokers” who met privately years ago to hash out the Indiana school privatization plan before any laws were introduced.Not only is Huston paid handsomely by the College Board—for which he is listed as a lobbyist in New York—raking in $325,433 in the period from July 1, 2013 to June 31, 2014, with $47,000 listed as additional compensation from the organization and other related organizations, he promotes Silicon Valley’s online future-of-schools agenda by convincing schools to use “the SAT Suite of Assessments to give students a chance to show their best work and get better results with tools like Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy®,”  a tool which now has the blessing of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, whose Zuckerberg Initiative, in partnership with the College Board, seeks to give “students in lower-income communities and rural areas greater access to college pathway advisors and SAT prep mediums like Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy. Huston and the College Board both accept edtech’s dream of a future education system where there are no school buildings, Huston telling the media a few years ago that “educators must remake the high school day to catch up with evolving technologies and methods.”  In 2016, unsurprisingly, K12 Management, the online corporation from Herndon, Virginia, handed Huston’s campaign $500.Huston is also the past Indiana Charter School Board member who, after leaving his job as Tony Bennett’s chief of staff, went back to his old job with Cisco Systems.  Bennett, in turn, then used $1.7 million of state money to purchase video-conferencing equipment from Cisco which wasn't used.  Some of the equipment was never even delivered.  David Coleman, the leader of the College Board and the masterbehind the Bill Gates-funded Common Core, gave Huston $10,000for his 2012 Indiana House campaign and Tony Benn[...]

Guess Who Celebrated Election Night With Trump | The Resistance with Kei...


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Right-To-Work Billionaire Wins IPS’ Coca-Cola Property Deal


PART 1 OF A BIGGER STORY By Doug Martin  “I’m in a male-dominated industry.  They like to see deer running by with big antlers.”                      Diane Hendricks, in reference to keeping a herd of deer on her 200-acre estate“In a videoshot on Jan. 18, 2011, days after Walker was sworn in as governor and shortly before he introduced his Act 10 bill ending collective bargaining rights for public sector workers,” billionaire Diane Hendricks, from Beloit, Wisconsin, asks the governor if there is “Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions....And become a right-to-work [state]?” She then adds, "What can we do to help you?"Scott Walker replies “The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer... That opens the door once we do that.”The owner of ABC Supply, “thelargest wholesale distributor of roofing, windows, siding and gutter materials” with “715stores across the United States”,  including four locations in Indianapolis, and many more in Terre Haute, Bloomington, Muncie, and other Indiana cities, Diane Hendricks, with a net worth of $4.9 billion, has given Scott Walker’s campaign at least $519,100, due to a fluke in Wisconsin law, which is more money than even the Koch Brothers have given Walker and more than any donor to a candidate in Wisconsin history.  The majority of this funding came afterHendricks' meeting with Walker captured on video.Hendricks prides herself on breaking unions.In 2014, she gave $1 million to Wisconsin Republicans to help move the right-to-work agenda forward.  With help from a Koch Brothers-affiliated group whose “website was registered by Kurt Luidhart of the Indiana-based ‘Prosper Group,’ a GOP digital media firm that Walker's campaign hired in 2014 to run his online fundraising”, it worked. Walker followed in Mitch Daniels’ footsteps, eliminating public workers’ rights (which led to protestors taking over the state capitol for weeks) and eventually signing a right-to-work bill for private sector workers into law in 2015, the same year Hendricks, recently a member of the Trump campaign’s economic advisoryteam, handed $1 million to the Koch Brothers-backed Freedom Partners Action Fund in September 2015, “enoughto make her one of its top eight donors”.Hendricks also sitson the boardof the Bradley Foundation, a school voucher-supporting and racist group I examine in Hoosier School Heist, and helped fundan anti-socialism/free market conference in Kohler, Wisconsin, where “the BradleyFoundation staff did the legwork” and Diane and Bradley’s Michael Grebe signed the invitation.Diane Hendricks owns Hendricks Commercial Properties, the company buying the Indianapolis Public Schools’ Coca-Cola property, where the 1930’s Art Deco Coca-Cola bottling plant, once the largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in the world, sits and has been used recently for IPS bus upkeep.Hendricks Commercial Properties competed with Strategic Capital Partners (highlighted in Hoosier School Heist), a charter school and gentrification organization with many political ties in Indianapolis.  Going under the name Mass Ave Partners, in partnership with Schmidt Associates, Gene Zink's Strategic Capital Partners offered IPS $17.5 million for the property.In May2016, however, the IPS board voted to sell the property, located on an 11-acre site in the Mass Ave. district, to Hendricks’ group for $12 million.Hendrick's company’s $260 million development proposal is for a hotel, dinner movie theater, retail, apartments, and office space, among other things. Many opposed the plan, and the Chatham Arch Neighborhood Association’s president said it was “the worstof the proposals” for local residents.In 2017, the City of Indianapolis said it was “prepared to com[...]

Co-Opted Language: Decoding Ed Reform's New Sales Pitch


by Wrench in the Gears
November 5, 2017

The words used to promote "future ready" public education do not mean to reformers what they mean to you. This post is intended to pull back the curtain and expose the truth behind venture capital's shiny promises of "personalized" tech-centered, data-driven learning. The list below features vocabulary that should be on everyone's radar. Short definitions link to more detailed descriptions written from the point of view of the reformers-if they had to tell the truth about their plans to swap neighborhood schools for learning ecosystems. Complete list of long form definitions are available here. One page PDF handout for sharing available here.

Schools Matter Archive: Diane Ravitch and the Suppression of the Sandia Re...


Schools Matter 2007: Diane Ravitch and the Suppression of the Sandia Re...: Ever heard of A Nation at Risk ? Of course you have--it proved the public schools are going to hell in a handbasket. How about the Sandia...

KIPP's "sheer arrogance" Leads to Rejected High School Bid


Beyond its uncontested reputation as creator of the punitive and paternalistic No Excuses corporate reform school model, KIPP continues to distinguish itself, too, for imbuing a uniquely confrontational kind of arrogance that would have comic effect if not for the human toll that accrues when an overabundance of hubris, self-interest, and ignorance are applied in equal and overwhelming doses to the schooling of children at public expense.   Unfortunately, the result has been the normalization of child abuse posing as education, along with the common practice of dehumanizing and discarding of teachers.

KIPP's trademark arrogance was clearly on display in California last week, where the KIPP Foundation's latest efforts to open another high school in San Jose were rejected by the Santa Clara County Board of Education.  

Why? Because the KIPP Foundation refuses to abide by state law, which includes required adherence to California Code 1090, which would ban KIPP managers from gaining financially from contracts made by those same KIPP managers:
(a) Members of the Legislature, state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members. Nor shall state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees be purchasers at any sale or vendors at any purchase made by them in their official capacity.
(b) An individual shall not aid or abet a Member of the Legislature or a state, county, district, judicial district, or city officer or employee in violating subdivision (a).
(c) As used in this article, “district” means any agency of the state formed pursuant to general law or special act, for the local performance of governmental or proprietary functions within limited boundaries.
(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 483, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2015.)
Again, such arrogance might be amusing if it did not have the potential to normalize the rejection of constraints on the corporate use of public dollars.  KIPP is appealing to the California State Board of Education.

Ravitch Bars Talk of DNC Rigging of 2016 Primary Race


Since last November, Diane Ravitch has spent an inordinate amount of time painting horns on Betsy DeVos and labeling her as the Chief Privatizer of American Schools.  While it is certainly important to point out the lunacy and danger of DeVos's fanciful plan to expand the small number of states that have voucher laws, Diane has ignored the privatizing role that she, herself, has played by giving approving to ESSA and by okaying the 7,600 existing charter schools and by refusing to repudiate charter school laws in 46 states.  More importantly, Diane refuses to talk about how she came to support these corporate ed reform policies.  She refuses to talk about Weingarten's authoritarian endorsement of CorpEd's calendar girl, Hillay Clinton, in July 2015, just a month before Hillary paid $20 million to gain control of the DNC during the Fall of 2015.In a post today, Dr. Ravitch reminds us that some things must remain secret and that the past is only important only if we all agree on it.  If the understanding of past is contentious and makes us uncomfortable about outcomes of events that we helped to shape, then it's best to keep quiet about it so that maybe people will forget about our culpability in making a reality that we now denounce.She tells her readers:Carry on your claims and counterclaims about the 2016 election elsewhere. All such comments will go into moderation as soon as I see them and may never be posted. It is my blog and I say enough is enough. The only person helped by the prolongation of this discussion is Trump. Right now, please focus on the Tuesday elections, especially in Virginia and New Jersey.  In Virginia, Republican Ed Gillespie has resorted to racist attacks on Ralph Northam.  Please look to saving what we can and building for the future, not wallowing in events that we can argue about endlessly, without any resolution. Wow--not much respect for history by someone often recognized as an historian. It's clear that DR has no respect for the old adage, "those who are unwilling to recall the past are doomed to repeat it." And because she refuses to remember the past, she is helping the DNC to continue the same mistakes that led to political positions that mealy-mouthed, amorphous, poorly-defined, and typically spineless.Ralph Northam is in trouble in Virginia because he sounds too much like the DNC candidates that were/are the Clinton choices: uninspiring, lifeless, patronizing, and cowardly.  As others have noted since this Donna Brazile's offered the clip from her book (please don't buy it) about Hillary's purchase of the DNC in August 2015, the most popular politician today is the guy who got the shaft from the DNC.  Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America not because he is left of center.  Bernie is most popular because he is proud of his positions, unwavering in his support for them, and people know what they are.To know where we are today requires that we know where we have been.  The outcome in the future depends upon it.  [...]

Would a Tech Exec Send Her Kid to a Summit School?



KIPP Rapist Prays as Children Pay


 As KIPP counselor prays, KIPP Houston's well-paid administrative dolts consider why KIPP did not have a plan in place to inform parents when female second graders are repeatedly taken out class, ostensibly to check for "lice," by a lone male "counselor." 

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Weingarten's Collusion with Bannon


If it were not for an awakening media from a long and profitable sleep that eventually left the Republic in the hands of Donald Trump, we would know nothing of the political dead bodies now being exhumed by some very good reporters around the country.  And so it is that we come to know now from reporters at The Intercept that Steve "Bad Otis" Bannon beckoned Randi Weingarten for a DC powwow in March of this year.  Of course, Randi said yes.

In order to avoid those aforementioned reporters, Randi insisted that the meeting not be in the White House.

Sure, sure, others in the "progressive" tent have taken meetings with Bannon, including Robert Kuttner from the American Prospect, who met with Bannon via phone.  The big difference, of course, is that Kuttner published a summary of his meeting, whereas Randi would have kept her meeting secret had not the reporter from The Intercept come knocking on her door.

But not to worry.  Randi stood strong and did not equivocate when it came to pointing out differences with Trumpism (well, not much equivocation, anyway):  "I was pretty clear with him about my criticism of the white nationalism philosophy.”  

For Randi to let Steve know that she is not Nazi, well, that's a positive sign.

Randi's excuse for taking this secret meeting in DC with Steve?  She wanted to try to reduce the cuts to the education budget that had been previously trumpeted by the Trumpists.  Really, Randi?  Are you the only one in DC who believes that those fanciful cuts will ever survive Congressional committees, and are you the only one in DC who believes that Steve Bannon could, or would, affect such an outcome?

I would guess Randi's real reasons had more to do with maintaining a place at the policy table, or corporate feeding trough, for AFT's management.  After all, Rhonda has played ball with every DC political team to come to Washington since Bloomberg made Weingarten AFT president.  Why should we expect something different now?  

In the end, however, the secret meeting proved that it was to be a bridge too far, one that would would not be crossed on that fateful day in March.  For when Bannon started to bad mouth the charter industry and DFER, which have done so much to make Randi what she is today and aspires to be, it was too much for Weingarten to take sitting down.

At that point, Randi knew that she must take back her olive branch and get back to business attacking Betsy DeVos and her crazy voucher plans.  Anyway, who could do business with a Nazi.  Right?  Particularly, one who seems smarter you are.

KIPP Admin Salaries Soar


Just as a point of comparison, New York City, which has the nation's largest school system with over 1,800 schools, pays the School Chancellor an annual salary of $212,614.

KIPP, Inc. has 209 schools.  The executive director of just one school, KIPP Academy in Lynn, MA, is paid $197,500.

Salaries for KIPP teachers, who work up to 80 hours per week, average just over 50K.

What A. Lincoln and D. Ravitch Have in Common


The recent interview with Trump's Chief of Staff, John Kelly, got me thinking about compromise, the status quo, and resistance to the status quo.  Kelly seems to think that the failure to compromise resulted in the Civil War, and so it might seem to those who believe there was some way to preserve slavery and democracy at the same time in the same place. Kelly would like to suggest, of course, that there must be a way today to preserve segregation/white supremacy and the Union at the same time, and in the same place.  Some way to normalize Trump's most loyal supporters and to give their militant and lethal hate some equal place within American democracy as those who believe in equality.  After all, honoring the rights of white supremacists and fighting for those rights is what fine men like Robert E. Lee did, according to Kelly, and his service to his slave state in that cause should be revered and preserved.  In short, Kelly would have us believe that duty and honor are not dependent upon moral conduct and ethical principles in any way.  Apparently, Mr. Kelly believes as much.As a follow-up to an earlier piece in the Washington Post, an article today tells a bit of American history that Kelly should read, that we all should read, as I did today with open mouth.  As I read about the Constitutional Amendment that was passed by Congress and signed by Lincoln to block any federal effort to end slavery in the states, I was reminded of my own ignorance (stunned, I tell you!) regarding the debate and initiatives in 1861 to neutralize the hostile threats by slavery supporters and their secessionist political leaders. The WaPo article is based on research that Daniel Croft offers in his book, and it presents in compact fashion the story of the efforts during the first days of the the Lincoln Administration to stem talk of secession and civil war.  Having refused to entertain the idea of expanding slavery to the Territories, Lincoln did, in fact, accept a constitutional amendment put together by Senator Seward that would disallow any federal effort to interfere with slavery as it was then practiced by the existing states:  “No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of people held to labor or service by the laws of said State.” The amendment was approved by both houses of Congress early in 1861, signed by Lincoln before the end of February, and sent to the states for ratification by state legislatures.  In fact, Kentucky was able to ratify the constitutional Amendment before the War broke out in April 1861, with Ohio and Rhode Island following suit in the first bloody weeks of the War.  Compromise had not been enough, however.  The more important lesson is that if it had been enough, we would likely be living a slave nation today, rather than a nation where a large minority of white supremacists look back longingly to the era when owning humans was legal.The War reminds us that the realization of freedom and democracy carry a heavy cost that cannot be bargained down with cheap compromises.  Avoiding that heavy cost has always been the work of equivocators, cowards, and those who benefit from the status quo.  In recent years, in my tiny corner of the freedom debate in education, I have listened to FairTest talk about opposing the "overuse" of inhumane and racist testing in schools, while ignoring the need to end finally, after a hundred years, any such testing at all.  More recently, I have read NPE's statement that calls for a charter school moratorium, one that does not interfere wi[...]

Former Pence Higher-Up Lobbying for Gülen and Geo Foundation, Operators of the Charter School Betsy DeVos Visited


By Doug Martin Riding on the sudden fame of Mike Pence as Vice President, one of the former governor’s top officials is now lobbying in D.C. for the GEO Foundation and the Gülen-affiliated Washington Strategy Group, led by Bilal Eksili, a Pence campaign donorand Gülen’s chief operative for charter schools and Turkish affairs in Indiana who is detailed in my book Hoosier School Heist. Bill Smith, Mike Pence’s former chief of staff both in D.C. and at the statehouse, is cashing in bigtime, using his clout as Pence’s “trusted adviser—his closest” and his past connections as the chief of staff for another Indiana politician who has Gülen ties(detailed in Hoosier School Heist), Congressman Dan Burton.As the Journal Gazette’s Niki Kellyfirst noted, in May 2014 Smith left Governor Pence’s office to launch Sextons Creek LLC “to work with the governor's political campaign for re-election”, at that time the firm’s only client, and later raked in “almost $262,000 from May 2014 through April 2016” from Pence’s campaign chest.  In February 2015, Smith told the Indianapolis Monthly that although Pence was a client, “I’m actually trying to expand into more of a ministry-based area, working with people in need. That’s sort of where my heart has been leading me lately.” As past director of  the Indiana Family Institute, the rightwing, religious State Policy Network-connected organization, Smith’s “need” translated quickly into “greed.”  As Politicowrote in November 2016, Smith, “riding” Pence’s “coattails,” is now working with another former Indiana Family Institute friend Terry Allen, whose firm, Fidelis Government Relations, is registered to lobby for Microsoft, “Verizon and AT&T, for whom he is advocating on their proposed deal with Time Warner”.  In August 2017, the International Business Times’ Alex Kotch and David Sirota, in their piece “Who Is Lobbying Mike Pence And Why? Health Insurers and Big Oil Seek To Influence Vice President,” note that Smith is now “lobbying his former boss” and gave more details on Gülen and GEO: Smith is registered to lobby for Indianapolis-based Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation, a charter school management company that accepted a $1 million federal grant in 2010 and had a school closed for poor performance the following year. As Indiana governor, Pence pushed for increased funding for charter schools and for publicly funded vouchers for students to attend private schools, both key initiatives in Trump and Education Sec. Betsy DeVos’ education plan.Another client of Smith is the new Turkish-American lobbying firm Washington Strategy, which has links to the controversial Turkish-American imam, Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of being the mastermind behind the failed Turkish coup in 2016. Two members of Washington Strategy are former charter school administrators, according to pro-government Turkish paper, the Daily Sabah. One member is reportedly the former board president of a charter school company, Indiana-based Concept Schools, which was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2014.According to Open, the GEO Foundation, in 2017, paid Sextons Creek $43,710to lobby in D.C. on its behalf.  Smith is listed as a boardmember of the GEO Foundation.  The GEO Foundation, also highlighted in Hoosier School Heist, operates the 21st Century Charter School in Gary, Indiana, where secretary of education Betsy DeVos visitedlast month.  So far, Washington Strategy, the Turkish one, has slid $72,000 to Sextons Creek. Supposedly, for the group, Smith is lobbying on “international human rights.”But Bill Smith isn’[...]

DC KIPP Teacher Sex Abuse Sentencing


Here is a guy who left KIPP in 2005 after allegations of sex abuse who, then, taught at another charter school for ten years before being outed.  Now, finally, he is about the face sentencing for his crimes against children over a decade ago.

KIPP and Mastery's Innovative Sexual Abuse of Children


 Just last week a school "counselor" at a Houston KIPP elementary school was charged with sex crimes against a second grader, who is just one among how many other children that he allegedly abused repeatedly by taking them out of class to his office for serial molestations:
"The girl's second-grade teacher told authorities McElveen took the child out of class five times for lice checks. He told her he had to check her for bites and lice, and according to court documents, also forced her to touch him. The child said the most recent incident was Sept. 26. The girl's technology and art teachers said McElveen removed the girl from their classes without telling them why. Her technology teacher added when she was taken out of class, it was for "a long while," according to court documents." 
Of course, everyone appears shocked, including KIPP co-founder, Mike Feinberg, who recently praised the alleged child rapist for his good work in rescuing stranded hurricane victims in Houston.  But anyone who has heard the stories of former No Excuses charter school teachers knows that classroom teachers are not in the position to question administrators or their henchmen in support roles.  As at-will employees, questions can get teachers fired at KIPP.

Meanwhile in Philadelphia where the Mastery Charter Schools emulate the KIPP Model that celebrates the same freedoms from any regulation, oversight, or management accountability, a 42 year old "school leader" has just been charged with rape for taking an 8th grader to an airport hotel and having his own innovative way with her on repeated occasions.

John Harris Loflin on the recent failure of an Indy mayor’s charter school, Indiana Math and Science Academy South--a Gulen network charter


Below is research that activist John Harris Loflin recently wrote concerning the failure of one of the Indy mayor's charter schools, the Indiana Math and Science-South.  John’s research, insight, and history into the Indiana Math & Science Academy—South is well worth examining. The Indiana Math and Science South was one of the Gulen-led schools in Indianapolis.   I devoted 10 pages to Gulen in Hoosier School Heist (you can read my interview with NUVO here) and have discovered that one of Mike Pence’s buddies is now lobbying for Gulen in D.C.  I will post more on that later.  I am busy writing the follow-up to Hoosier School Heist, which will detail the latest in Indiana school reform corruption.  There is a lot I missed the first time or didn’t have time to include, and many other billionaires have entered Indiana in the quest to dismantle public education.  Please read John’s piece (also available here) and visit his website.  Doug Martin A deconstruction of the closing of Indiana Math & Science Academy – SouthDear Chairperson Mr. John Mutz and members of the Indianapolis Charter School BoardI went to IPS Harry E. Wood High School in the mid-1950s with my peers from Barrington.  Since those days until now, I have had an interest in that neighborhood.  As an IPS teacher and amateur IPS historian, I followed the history of IPS 64 and that community’s proud support of their Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School.  Consequently, I was intrigued when I read in the Star that Indiana Math and Science Academy South (IMSAS) ( closed.  Please note the comments from readers.I went online to take a look at the school’s data to see if it gave any insights on why the school, which opened in the fall of 2013, closed. The IDOE’S Compass site has no records for IM&S South. IDOE told me they take defunct schools off the site., I am writing to get information about the closing so I can share it with my peers, and other concerned residents on the Southside and around our city. I know each would like all the details about the closure of the public school their tax dollars supported. I would appreciate receiving all missing data that would normally be on Compass and that is not already on the OEI’s very thorough collections of data Please send me data that would be present on Compass under the following categories: the teacher count by ethnicity and years of experience, average teacher salary, educator ratings, and Expanded Annual Performance Reports--covering the 2013-2017 school years of each category. Also, please send the names of Barrington residence and parents who were on the IMSAS Board and the Internet links to school’s financial records and its 501c3 status records.Without this information how can we citizen voters analyze  the status quo and make informed decisions about how the Office of  Educational Innovation’s bevy of charters are fulfilling the purpose of public education: critical citizenship?Please appreciate that public concerns about quality, and issues of accountability and transparency will be minimized as the community learns of the details of the IMSAS story.Money Matters: From $20.000 to $1,868,400This information will also be shared because of my concern with the finances surrounding the IPS No. 64 Harriet Beecher Stowe/Indiana Math & [...]

NYC Public School Parents: Hudson Yards Success charter parents to Eva Moskow...


NYC Public School Parents: Hudson Yards Success charter parents to Eva Moskow...: Ben Chapman of the Daily News reported yesterday that a group of parents whose children attend a new Hudson Yards middle school in the Suc...

Pick a Side and Stick to It


In response to an earlier post on NPE, CTA, and TURN, a school board member responded by noting  "what a mess."  As an antidote, she suggested that those in the fight for public education should "pick a side and stick to it." I concur.I concur.  In the battle against the privatizers, corporate welfare schemers, and ideologues of greed, there is no room for fence straddling or Janus-faced policy talk that tries to claim a non-existent middle ground between public school advocates and the enemies of public education.  Pick a side and stick with it, indeed.Sadly, the NPE/AFT/NEA alliance tries to pick all sides, while sticking to none of them.  Sadder, still, NPE’s annual talkathons (as in Oakland) are exemplars of how to mollify, co-opt,  and contain those who would, otherwise, resist the corporate reformists, if they were not being misled by NPE policy actions aimed to appease Democratic and Republican oligarchs who sit on the left and right aisles, respectively, of the same corporate jet.NPE's mirage of resistance has been perfected over the past quarter century by AFT and NEA, long before Diane’s self-proclaimed abandonment in 2008 of her role as a chief architect of corporate education reform. On the topic of charter schools, for instance, AFT and NEA were for them before they were against them, and before being for them again, at least for those charters whose corporate CEOs allow their under-prepared teachers to become union members.The charter policy schizophrenia reaches its zenith, we may suspect, in the recent NPE “position statement” on charters—or positions statement would be a better descriptor.  In the following two paragraphs that appear one after the other, it is clear that NPE prefers to have their cake and eat it, too (bolds in the original):For all of the reasons above and more, the Network for Public Education regards charter schools as a failed experiment that our organization cannot support. If the strength of charter schools is the freedom to innovate, then that same freedom can be offered to public schools by the district or the state.At the same time, we recognize that many families have come to depend on charter schools and that many charter school teachers are dedicated professionals who serve their students well. It is also true that some charter schools are successful. We do not, therefore, call for the immediate closure of all charter schools, but rather we advocate for their eventual absorption into the public school system. We look forward to the day when charter schools are governed not by private boards, but by those elected by the community, at the district, city or county level.So let's leave in place almost 8,000 of these segregated public money sinks, even though they represent a failed experiment??  And what is to trigger this eventual absorption?  And what will NPE do to trigger it??NPE’s embrace of a moratorium on charters fits their Janus-faced charter policy perfectly, and it allows those attending this year’s Oakland event to have some vague sense, perhaps, that something has been done to slow the public school steamroller.  And talk of a moratorium, even though no moratorium exists, allows the bloggers and Facebook folks in Ravitch’s Basecamp to remain entirely contented to hold up in their cozy tent and continue to chat about someday striking out to claim the summit.  Pure theatre.Talk of moratoriums by Diane Ravitch's flock has all the power of spitting into the wildfires that were raging in Sonoma and Napa last week.  The greater strength of thi[...]

The Silicon Valley Menace


If technology is ever to be a solution to any social problem, Silicon Valley first must stop being the problem.  Until then, these technopolies must be seen as enemies of free people everywhere:

. . . . Facebook has endured a drip, drip of revelations concerning Russian operatives who used its platform to influence the 2016 presidential election by stirring up racist anger. Google had a similar role in carrying targeted, inflammatory messages during the election, and this summer, it appeared to play the heavy when an important liberal think tank, New America, cut ties with a prominent scholar who is critical of the power of digital monopolies. Some within the organization questioned whether he was dismissed to appease Google and its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, both longstanding donors, though New America’s executive president and a Google representative denied a connection.
Meanwhile, Amazon, with its purchase of the Whole Foods supermarket chain and the construction of brick-and-mortar stores, pursues the breathtakingly lucrative strategy of parlaying a monopoly position online into an offline one, too.. . .

Ravitch Embraces TURN Agenda, Openly This Time


The Union Reform Network (TURN) was established as a joint venture among Eli Broad, Bill Gates, and the leadership of NEA and AFT.  TURN was created with millions of dollars from Gates and Broad, and the new "reform network" they created aimed to co-opt and use the teachers' unions as essential levers to advance corporate education reform agendas and the corporate political agenda of dismantling the hard-earned rights and benefits of teachers.Those goals have not changed over the past 20 years, even if the rhetoric has been fine-tuned to appeal to unsuspecting teachers enticed by phrases like "teacher-led visions."Earlier this month, TURN issued its most explicit version yet of its long-standing goals, this time with objectives included, along with some of the strategies that TURN intends to use.  Within a few days of TURN's publication of its new document, Diane Ravitch posted her support of the TURN agenda, as spelled out in the latest proclamation, Our TURN: Revitalizing Public Education . . .:It is a good report. It refutes the common refrain from corporate reformers that there is no alternative to their cramped and toxic practice of high-stakes testing and school choice. It is a public school response to the Betsy DeVos’ belief in the free market of charter schools and vouchers for religious schools.This is a worthy presentation of a well-resourced public school system, staffed by experienced teachers whose collective voices are represented in the policymaking process, and whose voices carry more weight than those of the politicians who write unreasonable and impossible mandates.  Along with her glowing assessment, Ravitch posted a most saccharine "Rationale" from the TURN document, along with even more syrupy "Vision" from Our TURN . . . Here's the "Vision:"As teachers and teacher unionists, we believe that teaching and learning can be transformed if we embrace a new vision of education that rests on four pillars, each of which bears equal weight: 1. If we want schools to prepare student to be career and college ready, thoughtful citizens, and reflective human beings, then schools should be safe, learner-centered and well-resourced to serve the needs of each individual student. 2. If teachers are the most important in-school determinant of student learning, then teaching must be recognized as a true profession. 3. If America needs to tap into the talents of all students, irrespective of their background, then educational excellence must be inclusive and education redesign must be accompanied by changes in other aspects of students’ lives. 4. If all education policy must ultimately be about enhancing opportunities for students to learn, then collective bargaining (and other forms of collaborative decision-making) between teachers and management should always aim to advance student learning. The Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN), a coalition of teachers and teacher union leaders from AFT and NEA union locals, was founded 20 years ago “to promote progressive reforms in education and in teacher unions.” To all who are engaged in the debate about the future of public education – whether practitioners or policymakers — this document lays out precisely what we aspire to.We begin with our idea of what education, schools and classrooms could and should look like, then turn to the policies needed to bring about that vision.What's not to love, right?  Sounds like something we can all get in bed on board with.What Ravitch does not post or even ment[...]

Preparing the Next Generation of Racists


Last updated: October 12 Betsy Devos can usually be counted on the embrace school vouchers over charter schools as the preferred method of privatizing public education, but there is one notable exception.  DeVos and her alt-right handlers from the White House have a special place their "hearts" for online charter schools, which provide parents free rein to educate or miseducate their children in a home school environment.  In order to build a future majority of white U. S. nationalists, Trumpists need an education model like online charters in rural areas that allows white supremacist moms and dad the opportunity to indoctrinate their children in the requisite levels of hate that may sustain and grow the white supremacist movement.The fact that online charter schools have long-established records of being utterly ineffective in providing academic and social skills to children appears entirely irrelevant to the renewed federal enthusiasm among Trumpists for these intellectual black holes:Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has touted online learning as a school-choice solution for rural America, saying that virtual charter schools provide educational options that wouldn’t otherwise exist.But in Pennsylvania, an early adopter where more than 30,000 kids log into virtual charter schools from home most days, the graduation rate is a dismal 48 percent. Not one virtual charter school meets the state’s “passing” benchmark. And the founder of one of the state’s largest virtual schools pleaded guilty to a tax crime last year. A recent issue of Harper's has a story on women of the alt-right, which includes this clip that helps us understand the Trumpist enthusiasms for choosing cyber charters as an enabler for the most damaging forms of home schooling:In January, Mary Grey self-published an illustrated children’s book called Walls and Fences. “Why do we build walls? We have walls for protection,” the text begins, set against a colorful image of the biblical city of Jericho as its walls tumble down at God’s behest. Grey said she wrote the book “to help explain to my children why having a wall around our country” — like the one Trump has pledged to build along the U.S.?Mexico border — “is justified and a good and normal thing.”There is a long legacy of pro-white extremists trying to create illusions of normalcy. Kathleen Blee, a sociology professor at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote in her book Inside Organized Racism that “much about racist groups appears disturbingly ordinary, especially their evocation of community, family, and social ties.” In a two-year study of thirty-four women across the United States, Blee found that her subjects, many of whom were educated and held good jobs, were “responsible for socializing their children into racial and religious bigotry.”Stewart told me she has read Walls and Fences to her children. Her younger ones — she has six in all — regularly crawl into view in her videos. She homeschools them to ensure that their education is Christian and pro-white; she discourages interracial relationships and no longer supports gay rights. In one YouTube post, she included an image of her smiling, toddler-age daughter wearing a frog outfit. This was a homage to Pepe the Frog, one of the alt-right’s signature memes, with bulging eyes, red lips, and an oversize green head. . . .Note for homeschoolers:  One home school parent posted an anonymous comment (I don't publish anonymous comments) that indicated she[...]

NPE and CTA Converge Behind Eli Broad Agenda


CTA [California Teachers Association] knows charter school teachers, like traditional public school teachers, care deeply about their students and work hard to help them succeed. Many charter schools are locally driven, provide an excellent education and deserve our support. For example, Green Dot Public Schools California is a Los Angeles charter operator that strives to be open, equitable and inclusive. –California Educator, May-June 2017, p. 19Steve Barr (left) and Eli Broad (center) in 2007 with $10 million for Green Dot, Inc. The program is set, the CTA's welcome mat is rolled out, and NPE is trying fill seats for Diane Ravitch's 4th NPE talkathon on October 14-15 in Oakland, CA. If you don’t have the $1000 to attend, you should check with your corporate NEA or AFT affiliates for available "scholarships."  CTA is behind this year’s conference, and with their growing charter teacher membership in California, there should be plenty of cash on hand to fill the 500 seats for this withering cause. Looking at this year's NPE program presentations related to charter schools, there is clear evidence that NPE's policy schizophrenia has become even more pronounced and ingrained.  We find there are scheduled presentations and discussions by those who promote charter schools, by those who would limit charter schools, and by those who vow to end charter schools.  With so many clamoring and disparate voices to hear at once, it becomes harder and harder to discern a clear message from NPE/AFT/NEA other than, of course, the clarion call new AFT and NEA and NPE members. This year's NPE meet-up continues a self-contradictory effort to expand a shrinking coalition that, essentially, stands for nothing and will fall for anything. It is a dysfunctional group that is run by Clinton charter supporters, AFT and NEA chiefs, and fronted by Diane Ravitch and her bloggers at Basecamp.  This motley crew can be counted on to advocate for and/or against charter schools, depending upon whose wallet that AFT/NEA/NPE is trying to pry open at the moment. When Ravitch's host, the California Teachers Association, joins Diane this week to talk about the evils of charter schools, the focus will be on the handful of for-profit charter schools in California. This year, however, it is harder than ever for the AFT/NEA/NPE to make a convincing case that their qualified opposition to “for-profit” charters carries any remaining weight at all, especially given the fact that California has just 34 of these “for-profit” charters for CTA to oppose.  In California as elsewhere, for-profit charter schools make up a small percentage of the total number of the resource-draining corporate charter schools that are bleeding out public systems wherever they operate. In fact, California has over 1,200 of the “non-profit” charter schools for CTA to mine for members, and CTA has shown its support for these charter schools, as it eagerly tries to sign up more and more of these charter teachers. The "non-profit" charters are the ones that CTA, Ravitch, and their faux resistance movement continue to embrace.  CTA has signed up almost a third of the 7,500 charter teachers in California, thanks to the promotion by NEA/AFT of Green Dot Schools, which is the creation of Eli Broad and his corporate school enforcer, Steve Barr.The same year that Eli Broad handed Barr $10 million for Green Dot, Barr said this about then-UFT President, Randi Weingarten: "Rand[...]

Jeanne Allen: Reactionary Right-Wing Extremist



Allen: On board with ALEC

It’s general knowledge that Center for Education Reform (CER), and its CEO Jeanne Allen, are extremely right-wing. Sourcewatch documents their connection with American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Allen: Funded by the fringe

Jeanne Allen’s CER is funded by reactionary extremist billionaires, here’s a a sampling of their fringe-right supporters:

  • The Anschutz Foundation
  • The Laura and John Arnold Foundation
  • The Honorable and Mrs. Frank Baxter
  • The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
  • The Broad Foundation
  • The Doris and Donald Fisher Fund
  • The L & S Milken Family Foundation
  • Mr. Whitney Tilson
  • The Walton Family Foundation

Allen: Writing for the Fringe-Right

Jeanne Allen is a frequent contributor for reactionary publications like National Review. Additionally, she expressed enthusiastic support, in writing, for the policies of Donald J. Trump and his arch-reactionary Secretary of Education, religious extremist Betsy DeVos. Moreover, Allen was called out on Crooks and Liars for her full-throated support of DeVos’ segregationist policies.

Allen: Reactionary Republican

Jeanne Allen ran as the GOP candidate in 2010 for Maryland’s District 16 race for House of Delegates. She received funding from right-wing republicans like Jeb Bush, dark-money investors, and charter school profiteers. Jeanne Allen was Executive Director of the extreme-right Heritage Foundation’s “Town Hall.”

Brief history on how this meme came about. I recently tweeted about Allen in connection to an article I saw another activist post about her.

Charter Teacher Floors Six Year Old, Knocking Out Tooth


At the Exploration Elementary Charter School for Science Technology, the school's "hands on, minds on" philosophy has turned into hands on practice--by an out-of-control teacher who will face charges to be filed by the child's mother. One of Exploration's teachers, as yet unnamed, is "accused of slamming a 6-year-old student, Marlon K’Harii Williams, to the ground, knocking out his front tooth."

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Why I Quit Twitter


1.  Same variety of corrupt, lying, traitorous, and greedy bastards who run Facebook.

2.  As with Facebook, Twitter has turned social media into an anti-social platform that further fixates and isolates people from real interactions with other humans.

3.  It's really bad for my writing.