The Weekly Update for the news and views you might have missed.
Bill Gates and the Waltons have had their way with Washington State.
With ads running continuously on TV channels for the last three weeks up to November 6th, Bill Gates and the Waltons finally got their way with us….unless there is a legal challenge regarding the state’s constitutional demand for oversight by OSPI.
The passage of I 1240 due to the financial backing of Stand for Children, Bill Gates, the Waltons and few other of the 1 percenters with the aid of the League of Education Voters, has opened the floodgates for the greedy.
As Diane Ravitch describes in her blog post:
Soon after the elections, the mega-corporation K12 convened a conference call with investors to boast about the opening of new markets for virtual charters in Georgia and Washington State.
K12 is the company founded by the Milken brothers to sell online schooling for-profit.
It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Its CEO, Ron Packard, has a background at McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. Last year, he was paid $5 million.
The academic results of its schools are poor. The National Education Policy Center reviewed K12 and found that its students fare poorly in relation to test scores and graduation rates. The NCAA won’t accept credits from one of its online schools. The New York Times wrote a blistering critique of K12.
But K12, like some other charter operators, makes campaign contributions (as it did in Georgia), and the politicians care more about those contributions than about the children of their state.
Remember Michael Milken of the milk ’em brothers?
Michael Robert Milken (born July 4, 1946) is an American ex-con business magnate, financier, and philanthropist noted for his role in the development of the market for high-yield bonds (also called “junk bonds”) during the 1970s and 1980s, for his 1990 guilty plea to felony charges for violating US securities laws, and for his funding of medical research.
Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and securities fraud in 1989 as the result of an insider trading investigation. After a plea bargain, he pled guilty to six securities and reporting violations but was never convicted of racketeering or insider trading. Milken was sentenced to ten years in prison and permanently barred from the securities industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission. After the presiding judge reduced his sentence for cooperating with testimony against his former colleagues and good behavior, he was released after less than two years.
His critics cited him as the epitome of Wall Street greed during the 1980s, and nicknamed him the “Junk Bond King”.
And now he’s ready to milk us.
While the rich get richer off of our taxes, the rest of us lose ground.
One major cause of the unemployment crisis. Ongoing cuts at the state and local level.
According to the latest BLS report local education jobs dropped by 14 in the last month, and over the last year, the number is down by over 100K, from 7.9 million in June 2011 to 7.8 million.
To view the table, go to Business Insider.
A new website sprung up last week called Charter Watch Washington.
This is the introduction of the website:
An $11 million political campaign by a small group of wealthy individuals, many from out-of-state, placed charter schools on the ballot in Washington this year and promoted it with television ads.
After rejecting charters three times already in the past 16 years, I-1240 appears to have passed in Washington this November by a razor-thin margin of 50-49%.
I-1240 is an extremely flawed and alarming (and unconstitutional) proposal, full of troubling loopholes and opportunities for private enterprises to profit from public funds and no genuine public oversight. It also allows for a simple majority of 51 percent of parents or teachers to stage a takeover of an existing school and convert it into a charter — with no recourse for the remaining 49% of parents or teachers who may oppose this “conversion.”
Clearly charter schools remain a divisive, controversial and unpopular concept in Washington State.
The election may be over, but our concerns have not gone away.
Keep an eye on it.
And speaking of charters, Edusyster, has coined yet another phabulous phrase, “achievement gaptivists” in this post:
Today’s topic: student racial demographics at some of Boston’s finest charter academies of excellence and innovation.
School name Total student enrollment # of white students
Smith Leadership Academy 202 1
Codman Academy Charter 149 3
Boston Renaissance Charter 1,027 12
MATCH Charter Public School 473 12
Boston Preparatory Charter 359 15
To read this article in full, go to Edushyster.
For more on Deborah Kenny and her experiment on little black children, see:
Other states faired better than Washington in terms of education in the last election. David Sarota describes three victories in his article:
The media barely noticed, but voters in three states rejected the profit-driven fraud that is education “reform”
If your only source of news about American education came from docu-propaganda like “Waiting for Superman,” Hollywood politi-schlock like “Won’t Back Down” and elite-focused national news outlets in Washington, D.C., and New York City, you might think that the so-called education “reform” (read: privatization) movement was a spontaneous grass-roots uprising of good-old-fashioned heartlanders generating ever more mass support throughout the country. You would have no reason to believe it was a top-down, corporate-driven coalition of conservative coastal elites trying to both generally undermine organized labor and specifically wring private profit out of public schools, and you would similarly have no reason to believe it was anything but wildly popular in an America clamoring for a better education system.
In other words, you would be utterly misinformed — especially after last week’s explosive election results in three key states.
In Colorado, the out-of-state, corporate-funded group Stand for Children, which previously made national headlines bragging about its corrupt legislative deal making, backed a campaign to hand the state Legislature to pro-privatization Republicans, specifically by trying to defeat Democratic legislators who have stood on the side of public education. Though the group and its affiliated anti-union, pro-privatization allies have become accustomed to getting their way in this state, 2012 saw them handily defeated, as the targeted Democrats won election, giving their party full control of the statehouse.
In Indiana, the results were even more explicit. There, as the Indianapolis Star reports, Superintendent for Public Instruction Tony Bennett became “the darling of the reform movement” by “enthusiastically implement(ing) such major reforms as the nation’s most expansive private school voucher program; greater accountability measures for schools that led to the unprecedented state takeover of six schools last year; an expansion of charter schools; and an evaluation system for teachers that bases their raises, at least in part, on student test scores.” For waging such a scorched-earth campaign against teachers and public education, Bennett was rewarded with a whopping $1.3 million in campaign contributions, much of which came from out of state. According to Stateline, Bennett was underwritten by “some of the biggest supporters of education reform in the country, including Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, billionaire financier Eli Broad and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg,” and NPR reports that he also received big donations from private corporations that stood to profit off his school takeover policies.
Ultimately, he was able to grossly outspend his underfinanced opponent, local educator Glenda Ritz, by more than $1 million. Yet, in the conservative union-averse state of Indiana, he was nonetheless booted out of office in what the Star called “the Election Night shocker.” That was thanks not to some brilliantly vague personality campaign by Ritz, but to a substantive, laser-focused assault on Bennett’s corporate-driven privatization agenda. As the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported, she “attack(ed) Bennett for his school and district accountability system, voucher program and use of student testing data for teacher evaluations”; “criticiz(ed) Bennett’s policies as funneling taxpayer dollars to private companies”; and slammed Bennett’s corporate donors — all while she “advocated returning local control to districts, ending the current administration’s focus on standardized testing and spending more on early childhood education”; and pushed to “provide more support for low-performing schools instead of threatening them with sanctions.”
A skeptic might say that crushing defeats in Colorado and Indiana are just a coincidence, and no proof of any transpartisan, national trend in support of public education and against the forces trying to destroy our schools. But then came ultraconservative Idaho. Even more historically hostile to unions than even Colorado and Indiana (and that’s saying a lot), Idaho delivered perhaps the most humiliating blow to the education “reform” movement in recent memory.
Back in 2011, Republicans in the crimson-red state’s Legislature rammed through a slate of laws that would have limited teachers’ collective bargaining rights, tied teacher pay to standardized test results, raised class sizes and replaced teachers with computers in schools (the latter a $180 million boondoggle to the high tech industry without any substantive proof that it would actually improve student achievement). The legislative initiative was led by State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, a former Bush administration official whose own election campaign had been financed by firms who stood to make money off his policy agenda.
For its radicalism, the Idaho effort attracted national headlines and billing as a possible model for other states. In response, grass-roots opponents scraped together enough signatures to put veto referendums on the 2012 ballots.
According to EdWeek, the ensuing campaign was fueled by a flood of anonymous out-of-state money laundered through a group called Education Voters of Idaho. Anonymous, that is, until a lawsuit forced the group to disclose its donation list, which (not surprisingly) “included $200,000 from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and $250,000 from Joe Scott, an heir to Albertsons, a grocery-store chain.” Also backing the measures was ultraconservative Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot who “put $1.4 million of support behind the propositions.” And yet, despite all the money to ratify corporate “reformers’” education agenda, voters overwhelmingly backed the vetoes.
Inveighing against a political culture that too often demonizes teachers, the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board said the election results were a clear message about the education “reform” movement’s overall anti-teacher agenda.
To read this article in full, go to Salon.
How far will people go to make a buck?
Louisiana, which has become the national laboratory for bringing business-minded accountability to education—an effort that has come to full flower in New Orleans where charter schools educate close to 90 percent of its students—is turning its accountability lens onto publicly funded preschools and the education of its youngest children.
In a move that worries some early childhood experts, Louisiana’s new Early Childhood Education Act is set to make major changes in the way publicly funded preschool programs are managed and evaluated. The aim of the law, also known as Act 3, is to improve the quality of early childhood education, which educators agree is key to ensuring later academic success; currently, close to 50 percent of children entering kindergarten in Louisiana are unprepared.
To do so, the Louisiana Department of Education is developing an outcomes-based rating system, including letter grades–much like the grading system it uses for K-12 schools–which will reward high-performing programs and “intervene” in under-performing ones.
While Louisiana’s preschool grading system includes the accountability components of the federal government’s Race-to-the-Top contest, Louisiana did not apply for the latest round of funding. Part of the reason Act 3 has early childhood experts worried is that it omits what they consider the best elements of RTTT, including requirements related to process improvement and raising the qualifications of early childhood educators. These requirements, the state said, were too onerous.
Indeed, at a time when standards-and-testing regimes are coming to kindergarten classrooms, and even some programs for four year olds, around the country, education experts fear that Louisiana’s Act 3 marks an escalation of the trend. They say the law could lead to developmentally inappropriate efforts to teach children below age four how to read, standardized tests for toddlers, as well as a test-prep approach to preschool curriculum.
To read this article in full, go to Andrea Gabor’s blog.
Now for some good news.
Great teachers in New York City
The good news is that there are great and dedicated teachers throughout this country. Here are three of them.
You can go to Teaching Social Issues in Elementary School and view the videos in full of each teacher