This Goes Under “Cashing In On Ed Reform”: Online charter school K12 Inc.

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K12 Online Learning is in Washington State  using tax dollars to cash in on the online charter school industry.

This was first published on the Seattle Education blog in 2012 and originally posted at Ed Week the same year but I think it’s time to bring attention back to this cash cow brought to you by ALEC.

K12 Online Learning is in Washington State and using millions of tax dollars to advertise their enterprise. K12 also has a full time lobbyist haunting the halls in Olympia.

Virtual ed. company faces critical press and a recent lawsuit

Ronald J. Packard, center, the chief executive of K12 Inc., and his son Chase celebrate the company’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 2007, along with John F. Baule, the chief operating officer of K12. Don’t they look happy.

In a scant few months, K12 Inc. and its fluctuating performance on Wall Street are proving that the combination of being a publicly traded company and operating in the school marketplace can lead to heightened levels of scrutiny in a growing but controversial sector of education.

On Dec. 12, the common stock price for the company, the nation’s largest for-profit operator of online K-12 schools, sat healthily at $28.79 per share, a dip from highs of $39.37 earlier in the year but a $10 increase from two years before.

The following day, The New York Times published a front-page article casting K12 Inc. as the center of a broken for-profit online school movement. K12, the newspaper said, yielded big profits despite data suggesting its students were performing well below average.

K12 Inc. has been able “to use education as a source of government-financed business, much as military contractors have capitalized on Pentagon spending,” the article said.

Three days later, K12 Inc. stock, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, had plummeted 34 percent, to $18.90 a share.

K12 at a Glance

Founded: 2000

Public Offering: 2007

New York Stock Exchange Symbol: LRN

Founders: Ronald J. Packard (formerly of Knowledge Schools, McKinsey & Co., Goldman Sachs), William J. Bennett (former U.S. Secretary of Education; no longer with the company)

FY 2011 Revenue: $522 million

FY 2011 Net Income: $12.8 million

Outstanding Shares: 36,381,336 (as of Dec. 31, 2011)

Current public school enrollment: 105,070

States with operations: 29, plus the District of Columbia

Employees: 2,500 (as of June 30, 2011)

SOURCE: Education Week

Some education experts excoriated the company, for-profit education, and online schools. Others have picked apart the criticism as one-sided and unempirical. Either way, the company occupies a complex space in education. K12 and other education providers can find it especially tricky to operate as public companies. (“Publicly Traded Ed.Companies Are Rare,” this issue.)

The Business Model

K12 Inc.’s contracts with school districts are paid for with public dollars. It must answer to taxpayers and navigate the increased focus on accountability and performance data in public schools. But as a publicly traded company, it also must answer to shareholders and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Just over a month after the New York Times article was published, a K12 Inc. shareholder filed a federal lawsuit against the company. The suit claims its executives, specifically Chief Executive Officer Ronald J. Packard and Chief Financial Officer Harry T. Hawks, pumped up stock prices by misleading investors with false student-performance claims.

Company officials say the criticisms are exaggerated.

“I’m a big believer in transparency and accountability. I do think the more visible you are, the easier it is to try and attack you,” Mr. Packard said in an interview last week. “For reasons I don’t fully understand, there are a lot of people who don’t like for-profit companies in education.”

K12 Inc. is expected to generate around $680 million in revenue this year, from a variety of sources. It sells K-12, college-preparatory, and foreign-language curricula to school districts, individual schools, and home-schoolers; operates online and blended-learning private schools domestically and abroad; and sells education software and learning-management systems to schools.

Recently, the company has bought all or part of companies that provide similar products, including online schools operator Kaplan Virtual Education, education software maker American Education Corp., and Web International Education Group, a China-based provider of English-language courses.

But its management of public online charter schools is by far its most-scrutinized line of business. K12 Inc. is the rare company where the performance of its end-users—students—can have an impact on the bottom line. A significant portion of the income for online school operators is tied to enrollment, and if student-performance numbers are down, parents may be less likely to enroll their children and the virtual schools could risk being shut down.

Legal Claims

According to the lawsuit filed against K12 Inc., the Herndon, Va.-based company misled shareholders and inflated stock prices by not disclosing data showing that K12 Inc. students perform below state averages and by not being truthful about student-to-teacher ratios and student-recruitment practices.

“I’m more convinced than ever that there are valid claims against the company, but also the business model has questions that need to be answered,” said Richard Gonnello, a lawyer with the New York City-based firm Faruqi & Faruqi LLP. Mr. Gonnello represents David Hoppaugh, a K12 Inc. shareholder from Cado Parish, La., who filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. After a 60-day window for other shareholders to join the suit as part of a class action, a lead plaintiff and trial court will be determined.

The suit says that “additional facts supporting the allegations” will be submitted after that window.

“K12 disputes the claims and will vigorously defend itself,” company spokesman Jeff Kwitowski said about the lawsuit. He and Mr. Packard declined to comment further on the suit because it is ongoing.

Most of the allegations in court documents center around the New York Times article, but specific instances in which Mr. Packard allegedly misled investors about test scores stand out.

In separate instances in February and March of 2011, Mr. Packard told investment analysts that K12 Inc. students’ performance exceeded state averages in terms of proficiency and test scores.

In a presentation given to investors at that time, a bar chart, titled “Academic Performance Relative to State Average Across Six States,” shows a purple bar with +18 next to it and “Math” beneath it, and a green bar with +20 and “Reading.” No source is listed for the data.

Mr. Kwitowski said he could not comment further on the data because that information is related to the lawsuit.

The suit also says that in October 2011, on a conference call with investors, Mr. Packard said the Agora Cyber Charter School in Pennsylvania (mislabeled in the suit as “Aurora Virtual Charter School”) produced test scores “higher than the typical school on state-administered tests for growth.”

The New York Times article that caused stock prices to drop precipitously cited data that Agora students performed well below the average for Pennsylvania students in reading and math. Agora enrolls more than 8,000 students and, in fiscal 2011, accounted for 13 percent of K12 Inc.’s overall revenue.

“Plaintiff would not otherwise have purchased or acquired K12 stock had plaintiff known the truth,” the suit says.

Following each of the February, March, and October 2011 instances cited in the suit, K12 Inc.’s stock prices improved negligibly.

In a Dec. 13 response to the Times article, the company said the student-performance measurement used for Agora—adequate yearly progress, or AYP, mandated under the No Child Left Behind Act—was “broken” and not representative of online schools that enroll large numbers of students across states.

In an interview with Education Week, Mr. Packard admitted that test scores had slipped. But he also pointed to data showing that arriving K12 Inc. students, typically from relatively low socioeconomic backgrounds, perform better on proficiency exams the longer they enroll in its schools.

A common criticism of online schools, however, including those run by K12 Inc., is high student-turnover rates.

In individual states, the company points to the K-12-operated Florida Virtual Academy’s rating of A on its state accountability report between 2006 and 2009. (That school is not to be confused with the Florida Virtual School, the largest state-sponsored virtual school.)

K12 also cites the above-state-average proficiency levels of most grade levels at the company-run Ohio Virtual Academy last year, though the school did not make AYP.

And University of Arkansas researchers found that a cohort of about 180 students at the K12-operated Arkansas Virtual Academy achieved larger performance gains on Arkansas Benchmark exams between 2008 and 2011 than a similar group of students in traditional schools.

But in Agora’s case, the school performed poorly on the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System for 2011. The school’s average growth index, which measures performance on state tests, is minus 12.1, among the lowest in the state.

More Contracts Signed

K12 Inc. has signed 200 local contracts nationwide since December, Mr. Packard said during a conference call with analysts Feb. 7, following the release of the company’s quarterly financial report. The company reported a 29.1 percent increase in revenue from the same quarter the previous year and an increase in enrollment from 98,300 students to 143,900, but a 50 percent decrease in operating income, attributed to increased costs.

In addition to the article by The New York Times, recent reports by The Arizona Republic, the Detroit Free Press, the Tampa Bay Times, and CNN have questioned the effectiveness of virtual schools.

“Do we see questions about it? Yes,” Mr. Packard said on the conference call, referring to the bad publicity. “Is it affecting us? I think it’s too early to tell.”

Mr. Packard was asked if the company would do more to seek out independent data to counteract poor performance numbers for online schools that have been reported recently.

“We’re planning to work more with outside researchers than we’d done previously,” Mr. Packard said.

On the Feb. 7 call, analysts also focused on an $8 million reduction in fiscal 2012 expected revenue (down to $680 million in revenue), related to potential budget cutbacks and policy changes on the state level.

Mr. Packard would not disclose details on the measures, including in what states they may occur. He did say the measures were not related specifically to K12 Inc.

Trend Eyed Warily

Overall, states are cautiously embracing online schools, including those with for-profit management. Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Oregon, and Tennessee recently passed measures making virtual schools more easily established, helping to spur K12 Inc.’s enrollment growth. Mississippi is considering a virtual charter school bill.

But other states are beginning to grapple with some of the ethical considerations that come with for-profit and virtual schooling.

In Pennsylvania, superintendents are asking the state legislature to examine the per-student costs being paid to cyber schools run by management organizations versus the costs of cyber schools run by districts.

Thomas Seidenberger, the superintendent of the 8,000-student East Penn school district, in Lehigh County, said his district pays $8,800 for each student who attends a cyber school, including Agora, despite “dismal” test scores. Twenty-six East Penn students attend Agora, he said.

Along with neighboring districts, East Penn offers its own cyber school with an in-house curriculum and technology services contracted to a Pittsburgh company. Thirty East Penn students are enrolled at the school at $4,400 per student, Mr. Seidenberger said.

“I’m not opposed to choice, but we think we’ve designed a model that’s fair to parents and students and fair to taxpayers,” he said.

In response to Mr. Seidenberger’s information on costs, Mr. Packard said: “My guess is they aren’t counting all of their costs.”

In Franklin County, Ohio, Judge John F. Bender made a potentially precedent-setting ruling on Feb. 6 that White Hat Management, a for-profit, privately held operator of online schools throughout Ohio, must disclose financial records with information on how it manages its schools. Ninety-six percent of White Hat’s payments derive from public funds, the ruling says.

Many of the schools that are plaintiffs in the lawsuit against White Hat have struggled academically, and a few of them have closed, said James D. Colner, a lawyer representing the Ohio schools.

Charles R. Saxbe, a lawyer representing White Hat, said the company plans to appeal the judge’s order, which he described as using “tortured reasoning.”

Judge Bender’s ruling that “the White Hat defendants are public officials” is a “groundbreaking decision” that could serve as a model in other states, Mr. Colner said. K12 Inc. must disclose its financial documents because it is a public company, but the Ohio order may have broader ramifications.

In Michigan, a bill that would remove a cap on online schools and enrollment has narrowly passed at the committee level in the legislature, but could stall before a full vote, according to local reports.

And an excerpt from PR Watch:

K12 Inc., the nation’s largest provider of online charter schools, where low-paid teachers manage as many as 250 students at a time and communicate with their pupils only through email and phone. The corporation, whose CEO Ron Packard received $5 million in total compensation in 2011 (and owns around $24 million in shares), is on the ALEC Education Task Force and its lobbyist Lisa Gillis has Chaired ALEC’s Special Needs Subcommittee. According to a report in the New York Times, students in K12, Inc. schools often perform very poorly, and some K12 teachers claim that they have been encouraged to pass failing students so that the company can receive more reimbursement from states. K12 receives an average of between $5,500 and $6,000 for every student on its rosters — the same amount that would be spent for students attending a brick-and-mortar school, despite K12 not having to pay for cafeteria, gyms, busing, or heat and air conditioning — and much of K12’s profits are spent on advertising targeted at increasing enrollment, rather than on investments in education. At K12’s Agora Cyber Charter School, which produces more than 10% of the company’s revenue, nearly 60% of students are behind grade level in math, nearly 50% are behind in reading, and a third do not graduate on time.

For more on ALEC, see Bill Moyers special United States of ALEC:

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On the Road with the ‪#‎OptOutBus2016:‬ Coast to Coast Free Books for Kids Tour

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Editor’s note: Susan and Shawn Dufresne are social justice and education activists. A brief introduction:

Susan DuFresne – Integrated Kindergarten Teacher with General Education and Special Education endorsements – 7 years in the Renton School District, Teacher of Professional Conscience, Co-Owner of the Opt Out Bus, Social Equality Educator, Artist, progressive and social justice education activist, unionist, mother and grandmother – The views I express are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer. #FreeSpeech

Shawn DuFresne – HVAC Technician, Co-Owner of the Opt Out Bus, progressive social justice and education activist, father, grandfather “I love giving free books to children who need them and allowing them to choose which book they’d like to read!”

My favorite part of the Opt Out Bus travel log are the personal stories Susan documents. They’re raw, honest, and sometimes heartbreaking. I hope you enjoy them as well and consider supporting the Opt Out Bus. -coeditor, Carolyn Leith

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Shawn and I are on the ‪#‎OptOutBus2016‬ Coast to Coast Free Books for Kids Tour.

We’re looking forward to meeting new families, giving books to kids along the way, sharing the #OptOut message, and getting together with fellow activists in cities hit hardest by corporate education reform.

Like the #OptOut movement- good things take time – and though we all want high stakes testing to be gone already, we accomplish more through standing strong together and living with each other through the process.

*You can follow their itinerary on the All aboard the Opt Out Bus Facebook page.

Day One

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We stopped in Spokane, Washington to visit a dear friend, who is a fellow teacher, and her two beautiful, brilliant, kind, and loving daughters.

They all added to the bus with their ideas, including Lacy – Mary’s 3 year old who was able to phonetically spell and write “Lion” after she drew one and had asked, “Can someone write on the bus?”

Briyana – a 5th grader – wrote two messages. “Don’t make school boring.” and “Multi-age rocks!”

Mary wrote, “I teach children, not test-takers.”

Mary has embraced Project Based Learning for several years now, and although she teaches 5th grade and I teach kindergarten – we are able to collaborate across the state. I’m looking forward to dipping into PBL more this year with my kinders!

Shawn visited with several people about high stakes testing and why it is important to have the freedom to ‪#‎OptOut‬. A retired teacher told him about her experiences teaching in both public and parochial schools. In parochial school she reported they only tested kids one time in 4th grade to see what they were missing. Imagine – one short test – no high stakes.

Day Two

We met a young man who had graduated from high school in Utah. He didn’t want his picture taken, but he agreed with our ‪#‎OptOut‬ protest because even though he was great at passing the tests, he had many friends who were not. These friends had been successful in their school work – but were denied graduation for missing a few questions on a stinking test. He felt all students should take art to learn about culture. He also thought kids needed more freedom in their schooling.

A 5th grade teacher stopped by to take photos of the ‪#‎OptOutBus2016‬ with some students. Even though she teaches full-time, she still needs to teach driver’s education in the summer to make ends meet.

“What do you think of the tests?”I asked…

She laughed and said, “That’s a tricky question. They’re mandatory. I taught 6th grade too… Always a testing grade.” 😞

“Check out www.UnitedOptOut.com .”, I said.

She took several more photos of the bus as her student drivers kept reading the bus and smiling as they read each note.

Later, we drove all day and into the night through Montana to reach Medora, North Dakota located in the Badlands of Teddy Roosevelt National Park. Teddy liked freedom too. The west drew people who liked freedom to it, but as they came, we took away the freedom of many tribes of indigenous peoples – more than that – their lives, their language, their identity, their cultures.

Day Three

Shawn and I pulled into Medora late last night after driving through Montana state. The campground was beautiful. Just a mile away we had enjoyed a stunning sunset – so I was surprised to see there was still enough light to take a short walk down to a stream running by some cliffs that served as the backdrop of the campground.

As I watched a child playing along the stream bank, I thought of how corporate reformers are sucking the lifeblood out of our public schools. Just like the mosquitos and ticks.

Campgrounds across America are so quiet at night, as a rule. Crowded, often filled to capacity in the summer -full of children and teenagers – no police or patrols threatening anyone to submit – yet everyone settles in to quiet in the early evening. How does this happen, I wonder? People clean up after themselves and leave the campground spots as they found them. People get along, are respectful, and friendly to folks from all over the world in these campgrounds. Some come in RV’s – some fancy – some decrepit, some sleep in tents, some sleep in cabins – thus campgrounds provide spaces for different socioeconomic classes. And still – we get along.

Day Four

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Today the ‪#‎OptOutBus2016‬ met up with a wrestling team. It started out with stares. Then they’re reading the bus. Next come the smiles, the nods of agreement, and the comments about testing. They break out their cameras. They take pictures of the bus and spread them on social media.

“Are you a teacher?”, they ask. “Yes, I teach kindergarten.” “Right on!”

“Do you want to write that on the bus?”, I ask. A wall of boys moves towards the bus. Their hands go up in the air. I break out the Sharpies.

My questions:

“What do you like about school?”

“I hear you agree, but what don’t you like about testing?”

“What would you like to see more of in school?”

“What would you like to change about school?”

Their answers:

“The testing takes too long. I’d rather be learning. I like math.”

“I want outdoor school.”

“More sports, less testing!”

“[Testing] makes me cry and hurt.”

“[Testing] makes my grades bad.”

Just prior to the time we needed to get packing for the #OptOutBus2016 Coast to Coast Free Books for Kids Tour, our nation was brought to its knees [again] by the back-to-back shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Then another tragedy in Dallas. Once again, the country’s focus turned to racism.

I was torn. Do we go forward with the tour? I seriously considered painting the‪#‎OptOutBus‬ and creating a ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ Bus. As I was packing, I looked at all the messages on the bus – the most recent being written predominantly by black and brown students and parents at Garfield High School.

I paused to reflect on 12 year old Asean Johnson’s speech at the Save Our Schools and ‪#‎PeoplesMarch16‬ in DC…on Jesse Hagopian’s speech there, Reverend Barber’s speech, Jitu Brown’s, Yohuru Williams’, and Julian Vasquez-Helig’s, to name a few.

Jesse said, ‘For black lives to matter, black ‪#‎education‬ has to matter.’ [link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/for-black-lives-to-matter…/ ]

Reverend Barber said, “Let the children see us trying.”

Like I’ve said before, we aren’t expecting the #OptOutBus to suddenly end high stakes testing. But as you can see – #BlackLivesMatter and corporate education reform are connected deeply. There was no need to start over on the bus, we simply needed to add on.

As a result of Philando Castile’s life mattering to so many children – to so many public school colleagues of his, to so many in his community – it felt important to visit St. Paul, MN. Today was the day.

I worried about stepping into a sacred circle, as an outsider to be honest. We weren’t coming as white saviors, but to demonstrate our compassion through a small act of kindness. How do I navigate this attempt – to what I know is to make a small gesture – towards demonstrating that black lives do matter to some of us whites? We wanted to “let the children see us trying”…

A stop at Subway enroute to Philando’s school brought us to Jen.

Jen was very receptive to our thoughts of giving books to the children from this neighborhood. She knew someone closely connected to Philando and immediately made a phone call. She said we had 3 options: 1) Philando’s family was having a picnic at the neighborhood park and we could give books to children there 2) We could go to his school where he worked and see if kids were at the playground, and 3) There was an ongoing protest at the Governor’s mansion and maybe some kids would be there.

Jen wrote out directions, we thanked her, and headed to the park. Turning into a parking lot we saw a small family picnic in action. I tend to be shy and wanted to be respectful. I approached, but not too closely – and chose to speak to what appeared to be the parent of the group of kids. I smiled and asked if I could ask her a question. She smiled and approached. I let her come closer to me. I told her we were on a cross country trip from Seattle and that we were looking for Philando’s family picnic to give children books as is small token of our caring.

She said she was a teacher too – Special Ed for St. Paul Public Schools – and that she had seen a large group of people wearing R.I.P. tee shirts across Horton. She told me her name is Mary.

I listened intently as she told me how she was a block and 1/2 away from the incident, watching Diamond’s narrative of Philando’s murder unfold live on Facebook, as a friend of hers had been tagged by Diamond in the original post.

Mary said her husband too, is often pulled over for no reason and how he and her 7 year old very politically aware son said – “No, we are all Philando. This killed a little bit in all of us today.”

We began talking about the bus and the connections of corporate reform to racism. As a teacher and a parent, she wholeheartedly agrees with the refusal of the state tests. She said, “My kids don’t take the tests and neither do my principals’, and you know, she’s a black principal.”

She talked about how she looks forward to looking up www.UnitedOptOut.com and how she hates having to comply with giving her students with special needs the computerized standardized tests, but she does it and follows the rules required of her.

Her three beautiful children each chose a book and began writing messages on the bus. Without a word – Black Lives Matter became part of the messages written by Mary’s children.

“Black Lives Matter”

“Love everyone.”

‪#‎BLM‬

“Be nice no matter WHAT.”

“I Love YOU.”

“Stop Bullying!”

“I love you, peeps!”

“Have a great education!”

“Love from St. Paul, MN.”, they wrote.

She asked more about our trip and she talked about how upset her 7 year old son gets when he hears anything about Trump. We told her that during this trip we’d be at the DNC protesting.

Mary and her children thanked us for the books and our work for both black lives and the ‪#‎optout‬ work.

What’s next:

 

This is just the beginning or our journey.

 

You can join our protest and continue on with the Opt Out Bus by liking All Aboard the Opt Out Bus (#OptOutBus2016) on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @OptOutBus (#OptOut).

If you really want to help share a little ‪#‎OptOutLOVE‬, there’s two more ways to assist:

Number one, you can donate money to our books fund. This money will be used to purchase books at local, independent book stores and will be given to children in need. Each book will include a handwritten personal ‪#‎optout‬ note and the www.unitedoptout.com message.

The second, donate money for gas to keep the Opt Out Bus rolling.

Books: https://www.gofundme.com/272unp54

Gas: https://www.gofundme.com/273mu2s

Thank you in advance for donating and sharing!

 

-Susan DuFresne

 

 

Beware of “the 74” and Campbell Brown

I wrote an article recently about a post in “the 74” on their preponderance of interest in charter schools in Washington State. With sponsors such as the Waltons and Michael Bloomberg, both proponents of charter schools, who could be surprised?

Because of the attention they were giving to the battle over charter schools in my state, I decided to set the record straight because of the echo chamber of mis-statements used throughout the corporate and privately owned media about charter schools and amplified by slick new websites like “the 74”. I responded in an article in the Progressive titled Washington’s Charter School Fight—Let’s Set the Record Straight.

Today I came across an article in AlterNet that describes how “the 74” was established and tells the story of how big money tries as best they can to control the media and the message.

Campbell Brown: The New Leader of the Propaganda Arm of School Privatization

by Kali Holloway

The former anchor is helping the billionaire-backed charter lobby spread the gospel of education reform.

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Campbell Brown

Perhaps guided by the old adage that you have to spend money to make money, the champions of education “reform” have poured billions into the effort to privatize and profit from America’s schools. Those funds are used on multiple fronts: launching charter schools, underwriting the political campaigns of politicians, and of course, investing in media to propagate the free-market privatization vision. Among the most visible properties in this effort is the Seventy Four, the well-funded, power broker-backed education news website run by former journalist-turned-school privatization activist Campbell Brown. Launched last year, the site’s reported $4 million annual budget comes from a collective of school privatization’s big hitters: The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Jonathan Sackler (of OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma) and the Walton Family Foundation.

Philanthropy of this sort has an endgame—the privatization of America’s public schools—and media manipulation is an essential part of a winning strategy. Brown, leveraging her longstanding image as a truth-seeking newsperson in service of her new brand as an earnest education reformer, has been indispensable to this effort. As the head of the Seventy Four, under the guise of providing hard-hitting education news, she leads one of the key media efforts to push the anti-union, pro-privatization message of the charterization movement, all while keeping its billionaire backers out of the picture and off the front page.

Among those betting on Brown’s brand, the Walton Foundation has been notoriously dogged in its efforts. Run by the family behind Walmart, the foundation has already spent $1 billion over the last 20 years on its education vision and recently committed an additional billion to bolster charter development. Thanks to their bottomless coffers, privatization pushers like Walton not only fund media entities that openly promote their agenda, but contribute to those that don’t seem to carry water for charter marketers at all. According to Walton’s most recent annual report, the foundation provides money to “shape public policy” to a list of grantees that includes the Atlantic Monthly Group, the New York Times and National Public Radio. The art of detecting if and how Walton money affects the editorial tone of these entities is at best imprecise. But for traditional public education defenders, it’s a relationship that merits interrogation.

The billionaires and hedge fund millionaires heavily investing in the charter industry, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Eli Broad and beyond, are engaged in a multi-pronged strategy to take over public schools while building an editorial army of proselytizers to spread the gospel of privatization. Like her partners in the site, Brown has spent years challenging tenure rules, attacking teachers unions and pushing for market-driven education. Unlike her partners, who quietly funnel money into corporate education reform from the shadows, Brown has been both vocal and visible in her advocacy. Though she’s not the only one, she has become the primary media mouthpiece for the school privatization agenda.

How did Brown go from journalist to one of the loudest voices for education reform?

Two years after leaving television news in 2010, Brown penned a controversial op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. In it, she accused teachers unions of “resisting almost any change aimed at improving our public schools,” and suggested that the New York City teachers union helps sexual predators remain in the classroom. Brown wrote that union officials, whom she paints as almost cartoonishly nefarious, have created an arbitration process rigged to favor the guilty. Citing three cases over two school years in which wholly independent arbitrators made poor calls, Brown argued that “New York City’s schools chancellor and districts statewide must have the power to fire sexual predators.” In the end, she seemed to suggest the arbitration process should be scrapped altogether.

Brown left a lot out of the discussion to make her case stand. For starters, every teacher deserves due process, which unions, the clear target of much of Brown’s ire, fought hard for them to obtain. She ignores the fact that the union contract—an agreement made between the union and the schools chancellor—already includes a zero-tolerance policy for educators found guilty of sexual misconduct. As American Federation of Teachers head Randi Weingarten pointed out to Brown via Twitter, the union only defends teachers against allegations that are found to be false. Arbitrators, it cannot be stressed enough, are independent, and are selected jointly by the union and the New York City Department of Education, both of which can call for removal should they see fit.

Andy Kroll, writing in Mother Jones, notes that while Brown makes it seem as if the union pulls the strings in these cases, there’s little about the process it controls. “New York state law…mandates that any teacher convicted of a sex crime be automatically fired. It is the law, not union contracts, that requires that an independent arbitrator hear and mete out punishment in cases of sexual misconduct that fall outside criminal law. The quickest route to changing that policy may be lobbying lawmakers in Albany, not hammering teachers and their unions.”

There was one more item Brown neglected to mention in her piece, a bit of information that drew the most attention of all. Her husband, Dan Senor, was at the time an advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and a board member of StudentsFirst. The latter group, founded by former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, has been on the frontlines of the school privatization fight against teachers unions and in favor of charterization. Media Matters pointed out that Brown’s failure to disclose that information seemed odd, not only because she is a seasoned journalist, but because she had pointed out her connection in a previous editorial she’d written that was critical of Barack Obama.

Brown responded with a piece in Slate in which she suggested she was just learning the ropes about this whole journalism thing. “I never thought I was harboring a dark secret. But if you live in the overlapping world of politics and media, as I am learning, anything less than full transparency can potentially do you in.” As Kroll notes, Brown directed a healthy dose of snark at the teachers union, writing, “Here I failed to disclose because I stupidly did not connect the teachers’ unions’ opposition to charter schools to their support for a system that protects teachers who engage in sexual misconduct. My sincerest apologies to the teachers unions for not fully appreciating how wrong they are on not one but two issues. As you may have guessed, I am not feeling very apologetic.”

Pressing on in her mission, Brown founded and funded a “watchdog group” called the Parents Transparency Project, which in 2013 went so far as to create a $100,000 television ad challenging New York City mayoral candidates to “stand up to the teachers unions.” The commercial essentially accused the union of allowing 128 teachers accused of sexual misconduct to remain in the classroom without facing repercussions. But as the Washington Post noted, those allegations were misleading.

While some teachers accused of misconduct had remained on the job, the ad distorted several aspects of the emotional issue. One is that 33 of them had been fired. The balance were either fined, suspended or transferred for minor, non-criminal complaints. The other was the ad’s implication that the city’s main teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, had impeded the disciplinary process. As the union pointed out, however, under state law, non-criminal complaints against teachers are handled by independent arbitrators. Neither the union nor the mayor had a say in such cases.

The ad had little impact on the mayoral race, but Brown was undeterred. In late 2013, she established the Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ), a nonprofit singularly dedicated to filing lawsuits to overturn New York’s tenure laws. This was a broader strike on teachers and teachers unions, one which relied on the erroneous idea that student failure could largely be chalked up to educators who remain in the system too long yet fail to do their jobs. Brown’s supporters in this campaign were precisely who you might expect. Though getting her to admit it would prove to be difficult.

Who else is backing Brown’s website and advocacy groups?

Stay with me here, because this can get a little confusing.

In 2014, Brown appeared on The Colbert Report to promote the Partnership for Educational Justice, which had just filed a lawsuit to strike down teacher tenure laws in New York State. The suit was modeled on a California case in which a court ruled teacher job protection laws in the state were unconstitutional. (The case is currently being appealed.) Brown cited a number of “facts” in opposition to teacher tenure that have already been refuted by research. Then, when asked by the Comedy Central host where her organization’s money comes from, Brown deflected the question twice, then flat out refused to answer.

“I’m not going to reveal who the donors are,” Brown stated, because people opposed to her efforts “are also going to go after people who are funding this.”

Despite heading up an organization that claims its mission is to “bring transparency” to education policy, Brown seemed to have decided that same transparency wasn’t required on her part. Oddly, the trusted newsperson-cum-determined privatization proponent steadfastly refused to live up to the principles that ostensibly define both.

Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll had by then already reported that Brown’s group had worked with Tusk Strategies, the same consulting firm that previously worked with StudentsFirst, the Michelle Rhee organization where Brown’s husband is a boardmember. Brown’s organization also worked with a Republican consulting firm, Revolution Agency, whose partners, “include Mike Murphy, a well-known pundit and former Romney strategist; Mark Dion, former chief of staff to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.); and Evan Kozlow, former deputy director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.” (“The domain name for Parents Transparency Project’s website was registered by two Revolution employees: Jeff Bechdel, Mitt Romney’s former Florida spokesman, and Matt Leonardo, who describes himself as ‘happily in self-imposed exile from advising Republican candidates.'”)

Based on IRS filings, Politico determined that between December 2013 and November 2014, Brown’s Partnership for Educational Justice raised $3 million. A chunk of those funds, $300,000, was paid to the Incite Agency, a public relations firm founded by former Obama administration press secretary Robert Gibbs and campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. Perhaps this is what Brown means when she says her work is nonpartisan: her efforts are supported by numerous entities pushing to privatize our schools across party lines.

It’s worth noting that Brown’s Partnership for Educational Justice is also working with Mercury Public Affairs; Stefan Friedman, a partner in the company, sits on the Partnership for Educational Justice’s board. Mercury’s clients include Alliance Charter Schools in Los Angeles, which a court recently ordered to cease its anti-union organizing efforts. Mercury also counts among its clients Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan (who presumably hired it to handle spin as he attempts to retain political power despite allowing thousands to be poisoned by lead-tainted water).

Another former client of Mercury? Walmart, which fired the agency after one of its staffers pretended to be a reporter to infiltrate a press conference by a pro-labor group. United Teachers Los Angeles union also notes that Mercury currently handles PR for Great Public Schools Now, an initiative backed by billionaire Eli Broad and the Waltons to privatize a significant portion of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Despite her initial refusal to name donor sources, the Walton Family Foundation’s 2014 Annual Report also lists Brown’s Partnership for Educational Justice as a grantee, one given the task of “shap[ing] public policy.” (A 2015 New York Magazine interview with Brown also identifies the Broad family as a contributor.) That’s the same Walton Family Foundation that, as previously noted, has invested in Campbell Brown’s education news website the Seventy Four. An investigation by Edushyster also found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that Mercury handles PR for the Seventy Four.

There are myriad connections between Brown and the pro-charter, anti-union lobby. It’s just a matter of unraveling them.

Beyond Brown: Who’s funding your education media?

It’s not just Brown, though. A look at the back end of education media reveals plenty of outlets that are funded by those seeking to displace public schools in favor of a market-driven system. Media Bullpen, published by Walton grantee Center for Education Reform, bills itself as an education “media watchdog,” and receives funds from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Walton family and the Gates Foundation. (The Columbia Journalism Review notes a managing editor job ad explicitly sought a “passionate advocate for education reform.”)  Education Post, “a nonprofit, nonpartisan communications organization,” launched with promises to promote “an honest and civil [education] conversation,” as well as $12 million in startup fundsprovided in part by “the Broad Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies [and] the Walton Family Foundation.” (Per the Washington Post, the site’s three areas of focus are “K-12 academic standards, high-quality charter schools and how best to hold teachers and schools accountable for educating students,” the Holy Trinity of education reform.) Brown’s Seventy-Four, it turns out, is just another holding in the portfolio of the education reform lobby.

Not every group is so nakedly apparent in its goals. Well-respected education blogs including Chalkbeat and Education Week both receive funds from the Walton Family Foundation (in the latter case, specifically for “coverage of school choice and parent-empowerment issues,” a long-winded way of saying pro-charter pieces.) The 3,000-strong Education Writers Association receives money from Gates and Walton, while the L.A. Times—which maintains that it retains editorial control—receives funds from Broad for its Education Matters Digital initiative. As mentioned above, the Walton foundation provides money to an unexpected list of progressive entities. As Inside Philanthropy puts it “[i]t’s heartening to see philanthropy coming to the rescue of journalism. But the trend is also problematic…Nowhere is the influence of private money over public life more pronounced than in K-12 education and yet, as it turns out, the specialized media most likely to raise questions about the trend are themselves supported by foundations.”

We haven’t even gotten to various other media campaigns guided by the invisible hand of school privatizers and built on a foundation of billionaire corporate reform stacks. Gates and Broad both underwrote the multi-year “Education Nation” broadcasting initiative, which brought education-focused programming to NBC staples “such as ‘Nightly News’ and ‘Today’ and on the MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo TV network.” The Walton Family Foundation reportedly provided the cash for Chicago Public Schools to purchase ad space for videos to spin the closures of 50 traditional public school even as charters increased in the city.

Walton was also among the funders for ads pillorying New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio after he rejected three charter proposals from Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies charter chain. (Education blogger Diane Ravitch writes thatthe commercials “showed the faces of adorable children, all of them being kicked out of ‘their’ school by a vengeful mayor who hates charter schools.”) From union-bashing, teacher-blaming film Waiting For Superman (outreach and engagement funds by Walton; additional supporting monies from a host of school privatizers) to its brethren Won’t Back Down (Walton and other playersfactor in here, too), the level of media infiltration stunning.

The Seventy Four and the takeover of America’s schools

“Our public education system is in crisis” warns the Seventy Four in its mission statement, echoing the refrain of billionaire school privatizers over the last decade plus. It’s evidence that Brown’s latest venture is dedicated to pushing what has become known as the “awfulizing narrative” that America’s schools are broken beyond repair; that teachers, unions and locally elected school boards are to blame; and that the only way to fix our education problem is by dumping one of America’s oldest democratic institutions—public schools—in favor of a market-driven system.

After Brown announced the Seventy Four was coming and the site’s backers were named, numerous education watchers wondered aloud whether an education news website underwritten by a collective that has poured billions into school privatization would even attempt to offer impartial journalism.

“It is always wise to know who is funding something,” John F. Jennings, founder of the Center on Education Policy at George Washington University, told theWashington Post. “If the ‘new reformers’ are funding [Brown’s] site, and there is no balance of funding from others, I believe the site will be suspect. Sorry, but as they used to say, ‘Money makes the world go ’round,’ and in this instance it may wobble in the direction that the new reformers like. I presume [the site has] integrity, but questions will always be asked about how the topics were picked [and] presented.”

In response to the buzz of questions about potential bias in the Seventy Four’s reporting, Brown posted an open letter of sorts to the site.

“I have learned that not every story has two sides,” the former reporter wrote. “[I]s The Seventy Four journalism or advocacy? For 74 million reasons, we are both.”

This vague admission that the Seventy Four would be taking a side came as no surprise to those who have watched Brown’s trajectory over recent years. And while it hews as close to transparency as can realistically be expected from Brown, it still remains a good distance from full disclosure.

The former anchor speaks openly and often in favor of charter schools. She once called herself a “soldier in Eva’s army,” a reference to Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of New York City’s Success Academy Charter Schools. (The chain has been criticized for putting so much pressure on children that they wet themselves during testing, and video recently surfaced of a teacher—whom Moskowitz has since defended—harshly berating a first-grader for a math mistake.) Last year, Brown loudly applauded UK Prime Minister David Cameron’scall “for an end to the country’s traditional public school system, endorsing instead a nationwide conversion to academies, which are essentially the British equivalent of charter schools.” The Seventy Four rarely covers charter missteps, but Brown dedicated an entire article to the demise of three New York City unionized charters, somehow surmising that the problem lies with teachers unions and not charters themselves.

“Ms. Brown [has] transformed into the most recognizable face of the combustible school-reform fight,” a New York Times article declared in 2012, back when Brown was still rising to become the full-throated public voice of education reform. Since then, she has become a key media operative in the billionaire-backed effort to push the idea of school privatization. In many ways, thanks to two decades in television and an image as a truth-seeking reporter, it’s a role she was made for.

The real cost to taxpayers, parents, students and traditional public schools

It is not incidental that those who fund Brown’s groups and projects are the same figures who’ve been instrumental in charterizing school districts across the country. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, there are now 3 million children enrolled in charter schools across 42 states and the District of Columbia. Since 1992, by its own estimation, Brown backer the Walton Family Foundation has “supported a quarter of the 6,700 charter schools created in the United States.” A critical element of the charter campaign lies in convincing Americans that free-market “school choice” is the only route to good schools, and threading that narrative into the mainstream education conversation has helped contribute to the wildfire spread of charters in places like Detroit, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. But charter expansion has also had a downside for the school privatization movement, in the form of increased scrutiny on charter performance and delivery on promises made.

In study after study, researchers have determined that, on average, charters don’t outperform traditional public schools, and not infrequently fare worse. They accept public funds, but in many cases give day-to-day oversight to private, for-profit organizations. They’re exempt from many regulations that govern traditional public schools, which, depending on the state, can include “‘minimum standards’ covering such things as training and qualifications of personnel; public disclosure of instructional materials, equipment, and facilities; organization, administration, and supervision of schools; and ‘reporting requirements.’”

This ability to opt out of the very rules that make public education accessible to all helps further contribute to issues that already plague our schools, such as racial segregation and the achievement gap between white and minority students. A recent Mother Jones piece on the “no excuses” philosophy—the belief by some charter officials “that the smallest infraction…is to be met with an immediate consequence”—notes that punitive measures disproportionately target black children and students with disabilities. And perhaps unsurprisingly, widespread deregulation has led to charges of corruption at charter institutions around the country.

“[The] model requires firing all the teachers, no matter their performance, allowing them to reapply for a job, and replacing many of them with inexperienced [Teach For America] recruits,” Ravitch told In These Times, speaking to the charterization of New Orleans schools. “That model requires wiping out public schools and replacing them with privately managed schools that set their own standards for admission, discipline, expulsion, and are financially opaque. These heavy-handed tactics require a suspension of democracy that would not be tolerated in a white suburb, but can be done to powerless urban districts where the children are black and Hispanic.”

Despite the light now being cast on school privatization negatives, the Walton Family Foundation and other wealthy privatization advocates continue to promote and support charter schools instead of refocusing most of their giving on the nation’s perpetually underfunded public schools. It’s a strategy that has been questioned by numerous education experts.

“What returns have we all seen as a society?” asks Kim Anderson of the National Education Association, the largest teachers union in the country, speaking to theAssociated Press. “A billion dollars would provide a tremendous amount of services to a number of school districts around the country. Eyeglasses. Hearing exams. It is not as though we have things in the [traditional] public school systems that don’t need to be improved.”

In fact, school privatizers have relentlessly promoted the idea that putting more money into traditional public schools is actually a bad idea. Yet if you doubt that the education fight is fundamentally about money, consider that Walton recentlyheld a symposium to help hedge funders and other wealthy investors learn how best to get a crack at the $500 billion spent each year on K-12 public education. (Organizers expressly billed the event as a way for attendees to “[l]earn and understand the value of investing in charter schools and best practices for assessing their credit.”) The Nation quotes a presenter at the conference, hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson, saying it’s “not rocket science” that we shouldn’t put any more money into our public schools. The article goes on to note that New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, echoed this idea when discussing school spending in his State of the Union address last January.

“Why do Cuomo and these hedge funders say money doesn’t matter?” Zakiyah Ansari, a parent who also works with the Alliance for Quality Education, asked the Nation. “I’m sure it matters in Scarsdale. I’m sure it matters where the Waltons send their kids. They don’t send their kids to schools with overcrowded classrooms, over-testing, no art, no music, no sports programs, etc. Does money only ‘not matter’ when it comes to black and brown kids?”

Instead of more money for schools, school privatizers argue, “school choice” is the solution to underperforming schools. Vouchers and charters, they suggest, are the kids’ best hope. Campbell Brown, who like so many in the top-down world of corporate education reform sends her own children to private school, suggests that choice for all is why she has enlisted in the school privatization battle.

“Because my kids go to private school, I need to be in the fight,” Brown said in an interview with local television station NY1 late last year. “Because I have a choice, I need to make sure everyone else gets a choice, too.”

But here’s the fallacy at the root of this argument: Many parents choose charters not because they want to, but because without fully funded, high-functioning local public schools, they feel they have to. If your community schools are riddled with problems, of course you’re likely to take a chance on a charter. But that’s a false choice. If we funded education the way we should, across the board, for every student, we wouldn’t need charters. It’s easier to talk about privatizing schools than it is to discuss poverty, racism and other socioeconomic factors that led to the problems in our most struggling schools. Problems which educators are somehow expected to overcome, often without basic provisions. (See:Detroit.)

Growing awareness of evidence showing charters are not the miraculous cure-alls they’ve long been touted as has contributed to a slow but growing—and meaningful—resistance to school privatization. Billionaire backers of charters are aware of this mounting pushback and are also increasingly aware that they need messengers to counter it. Brown is the media face of that effort, and her backers are putting money on her ability to use her media skills and credentials to give their cause mainstream validity. The Seventy Four, under the guise of delivering news, is among the most recent developments in that campaign.

The Seventy Four takeover of LA School Report

In February, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Seventy Four had taken over LA School Report, which is focused on news related to the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the country behind New York City. The deal reportedly was a cash-free exchange, with Brown’s outlet absorbing the education site and its staffers. Defenders of traditional public education across the board were dismayed by the news, for multiple reasons.

There was, of course, the matter of editorial integrity. Brown’s track record, along with those of her funders, and the pro-charter tone of the Seventy Four thus far, suggested that LA School Report would likely turn into yet another tool of the charter industry. But it was impossible to ignore the timing of the acquisition, which made the whole deal seem suspect and even cynical.

In September 2015, the Los Angeles Times managed to get its hands on and make public a confidential 44-page document from the Broad Foundation outlining a plan to double the number of Los Angeles-based charter schools. A list of potential partners in funding the “Great Public Schools Now” initiative included, among many others, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the Walton family. With a proposed collective investment of half a billion dollars, the document makes the case (mostly by obfuscating results from existing charters so they outpace reality) for the privatization of one of the country’s largest school districts.

After the leak, and the groundswell of criticism it received, Broad backed off its plan, softening its target goals and shying away from hard and fast numbers. But stakeholders remain suspicious of the plan—now referred to popularly as the Broad-Walmart scheme—and for good reason. The United Teachers Los Angeles blog makes clear why educators and others shouldn’t let down their guard down:

Although the Broad-Walmart public message has changed, their goal to defund, deregulate, and dismantle public schools has not. You only have to look at the team they hired to lead the disingenuously named Great Public Schools Now. If they were truly backing off their plan to push a massive expansion of unregulated charter schools across LAUSD, would they have put investment banker Bill Siart in charge? Siart is a founder of ExEd, a company that specializes in (and profits from) supporting new charters. Would they have hired Myrna Castrejon, a former lobbyist for California Charter Schools Association, as executive director? And if this effort was not truly about breaking the union, would they have hired Mercury Public Affairs?

UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl sees in the Seventy Four’s takeover of LA School Report a clear parallel to the ongoing effort to take over L.A.’s public schools.

“Is there a connection between the Seventy Four’s takeover of LA School Report and the Broad-Walmart plan to privatize LAUSD schools? Of course there is,” Caputo-Pearl told the Los Angeles Times. “Campbell Brown is not about fair coverage. She is about ‘reform,’ which is often a code word for criticizing teachers and advocating that public schools get turned into charter corporations.”

Steve Zimmer, president of the LA Unified School Board, spoke with LA School Report last year about the Broad-Walmart plan, describing it as terribly flawed. (“To submit a business plan that focuses on market share,” Zimmer told the publication, “is tantamount to commodifying our children.”) Upon learning of the site’s absorption by the Seventy Four, in an email to its outgoing editor, he lamented what the deal would mean for coverage of the school district. “Truth itself, as it relates to public education in Los Angeles, will be filtered through an orthodox reform lens at every turn,” Zimmer wrote, according to the Times.

According to the California Charter Schools Association, the state already has “the most charter schools and charter school students in the country.” Charter school enrollment in California grew 7 percent during the 2015-2016 school year, an increase of 36,100 students. The Los Angeles area leads all others around the state for charter school expansion. If the free-market charter school advocates win the next round—and they are prepared to spend a lot of money to ensure they do—those numbers will likely grow exponentially in the coming years.

The potential for this increases as the charter contingent builds steam, picking up properties along the way, including local education news sites. “LA School Report has been a legitimate and credible news organization,” Randi Weingarten told the Los Angeles Times. “The 74 million is not.”

That’s sobering news for watchers of Los Angeles public schools, and schools nationwide, who know that a win for privatization is a loss for student, teachers, public schools and democracy.

KIPP charter schools and the behavior modification of…teachers

“The No-Nonsense Nurturer Program has transformed the lives of thousands of students by transforming the practices of their teachers… It is simply a must-learn set of new skills for every teacher in America.”

Dave Levin
Co-Founder, KIPP Schools

Remember that quote while you read this edushyster post:

“I Am Not Tom Brady”

Why are urban teachers being trained to be robots?

By Amy Berard
*Give him a warning,* said the voice through the earpiece I was wearing. I did Tom Bradyas instructed, speaking in the emotionless monotone I’d been coached to use. But the student, a sixth grader with some impulsivity issues and whose trust I’d spent months working to gain, was excited and spoke out of turn again. *Tell him he has a detention,* my earpiece commanded. At which point the boy stood up and pointed to the back of the room, where the three classroom *coaches* huddled around a walkie talkie. *Miss: don’t listen to them! You be you. Talk to me! I’m a person! Be a person, Miss. Be you!*

Meet C3PO
Last year, my school contracted with the Center for Transformational Training or CT3 to train teachers using an approach called No Nonsense Nurturing. It c3powas supposed to make us more effective instructors by providing *immediate, non-distracting feedback to teachers using wireless technology.* In other words, earpieces and walkie talkies. I wore a bug in my ear. I didn’t have a mouthpiece. Meanwhile an official No Nonsense Nurturer, along with the school’s first year assistant principal and first year behavior intervention coach, controlled me remotely from the corner of the room where they shared a walkie talkie. I referred to the CT3 training as C-3PO after the Star Wars robot, but C-3PO actually had more personality than we were allowed. The robot also spoke his mind.

No Nonsense Nurturing
If you’re not familiar with No Nonsense Nurturing or NNN, let’s just say that there is more nonsense than nurturing. The approach starts from the view that no nonsenseurban students, like my Lawrence, MA middle schoolers, benefit from a robotic style of teaching that treats, and disciplines, all students the same. This translated into the specific instruction that forbade us from speaking to our students in full sentences. Instead, we were to communicate with them using precise directions. As my students entered the room, I was supposed to say: *In seats, zero talking, page 6 questions 1-4.* But I don’t even talk to my dog like that. Constant narration of what the students are doing is also key to the NNN teaching style.  *Noel is is finishing question 3. Marjorie is sitting silently. Alfredo is on page 6.*

Robot moves
My efforts to make the narration seem less robotic—*I see Victor is on page 6. I see Natalie is on question 3*—triggered flashbacks to Miss Jean and Romper Room. All that was missing was the magic mirror. But even this was too much for the NNN squad in the corner. *Drop the ‘I see’* came through my earpiece. All this narration was incredibly distracting for the students, by the way, to the point where they started narrating me. *Mrs. Berard is passing out the exit tickets.* *Mrs. Berard is helping Christian.* *Mrs. Berard is reviewing the answer to question 4*

*Tell them you are like Tom Brady*
The students were also perplexed by my new earpiece accessory. *Um, Miss, what’s that in your ear?* they asked. I looked over to the three adults in the far bill-belichickback corner of the room for my scripted answer. *Tell them you are like Tom Brady. Tom Brady wears an earpiece to be coached remotely and so do you,* was the response. I never would have said that, and mumbled instead *But I’m not Tom Brady. No I’m Tom Brady.* The students, who could hear me, but not what I was hearing through my earpiece, were more confused than ever. At which point I explained to the students that I was being trained by the people in the corner who were telling me what to say via their walkie talkie. I’m all for transparency and simple answers to simple questions.

What kind of message does this send to students? I wondered. That their teachers are so incompetent that they need an ear piece and 3 people sharing a walkie talkie in the corner to tell them what to say?

What kind of message does this send to students? I wondered. That their teachers are so incompetent that they need an ear piece and 3 people sharing a walkie talkie in the corner to tell them what to say?

Joyless joy
I struggled to adopt the emotionless monotone that NNN required. I was told that my tone was wrong. My voice was too high, and that I came across as too happy—I smile a lot; I celebrate a lot, including every two weeks when the flowers on my cactus bloom, again. When I asked the NNN trainer to elaborate on what she meant by my tone being off, a critique she delivered just hours after meeting me for the first time, her response included a full blown, and exaggerated, impersonation of me delivered in front of my behavior intervention coach and assistant principal. When her performance was done, the NNN trainer winked at me. *But don’t lose your joy,* she said.

Mountain pose
I was told to stand in mountain pose and not to favor one leg over another. I C-3PO-3was told not to cross my legs. My body language must be in no way casual (or human). And I needed to stop conveying so much excitement at the students’ accomplishments. After one session of C3PO training, I was told that I was too happy that a student had legible writing. I shouldn’t praise basic things that should be expected. Another time I was chastised for pointing out to a child: *Woah, this is great. This is your best work so far this year!*

*Don’t turn*
I felt awful after that critique, like I had let my students down with my excessive enthusiasm. I went back and apologized to them. The student whose handwriting I’d praised said it had made him happy to be complimented. *I didn’t take what you said in a bad way.* *Just be yourself,* another student told me. *Don’t be who that want you to be. Don’t become like the rest.* You see, the students were old enough to see what the school and the trainers wanted the teachers to be and what their teachers were becoming.

They begged me not to turn.

Amy Berard grew up in Lawrence, a half a mile away from the Guilmette Middle School where she taught ELA last year. She was let go at the end of the school year after administrators determined that she was not the *right fit* for Lawrence.

The complement post to this is KIPP charter chain and torture adviser Marty Seligman: A match made in hell?

To follow are comments from the edusyster post.

Dienne July 22, 2015 at 4:44 pm

OMG, Edushyster, this is about the most horrifying thing you’ve published (and you’ve published a lot of horrifying things.

I’m somewhere between speechless and I could fill 20 volumes, but I’ll limit myself to this for now: There is nothing nurturing about punishment, there is nothing nurturing about being a robot, and there is nothing nurturing about treating all students the same. But I’m sure they all know that, because they’d never treat their own flesh and blood that way.

Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:23 pm

OMG is right. Horrifying came to my mind as well. Withholding teacher enthusiasm is in no way indicative of nurturing. This method is the opposite of the nomenclature, as typical in corporate reform bizarro world. KIPP turned Social Learning Theory positive approach into senseless tragedy.

Reply

Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Of all the absurd, corrupted, inane and just plain wrong things you have reported on, Edu, this just has to be the most awful (not to use stronger language like what got Ralphie’s mouth washed out with soap for in A Christmas Story).

Let me guess, is this what my state taxpayer dollars are going for now that Lawrence has been put in receivership? It’s as racist, as classist and as colonist an attitude as I have ever seen. WHAT IS THE COST? God help Amy, she’s got three grown-ups kibbitzing in the corner – put them to work as paras doing small group instruction!

In the video, Liz Gore, in singing its praises, says she would come into the classroom every day worried about how she was going to control everything. WRONG! Answer: being controlled is NOT what kids are supposed to get from education; they are supposed, in a democracy, to gain autonomy by mastering self-control – most particularly in middle school, because developmentally, that is where they are. This lack of knowledge about kids is evident because the kids KNOW the gambit. Amy’s kids try to rescue her because they like her.

Selling newbies to the teaching profession, especially alt-certified ones (Here’s looking at you TFA!) this product completely undermines their relationship with their students and sabotages anything valuable in the classroom.

I can imagine these bamboozled teachers narrating the rest of their lives outside school: Liz (to herself): I see Liz is in the store. I see Liz is replacing the milk carton on the shelf. I see Liz is taking down a winebox and putting it in her shopping cart. I see Liz is going to the check out counter. I see Liz is moving back to the shelf. I see Liz is loading another winebox into her shopping cart. I see Liz drinking in her car at home in the driveway because she is adlepated after listening to the narration of her own misery.

Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:46 pm

The narration is a warped take on Bandura. I don’t think they are capable of grasping the dynamics of relationship-based teaching and learning, because they are so entrenched in punitive approaches.

Jason Davidson July 22, 2015 at 5:59 pm

As a local school board member (not in Lawrence or Massachusetts), this scares me deeply. The thought that any educator should distance themselves from the students in their care is absurd and against any rationale thought. I for one would NOT permit this in my district, and I would fight against this in ANY school district.

Reply

Sarah Blaine July 22, 2015 at 6:05 pm

This is like bad science fiction brought to life. Yes, yes, and yes to all of the comments above. This is yet another reason I can’t see myself returning to the classroom, despite how much more I feel I’d have to offer after 15 years away.

Lloyd Lofthouse July 22, 2015 at 6:14 pm

My first thoughts were of the Hitler Youth and Mao’s Little Red Guard that devastated China in every way possible during his Cultural Revolution. And many outside of China don’t realize that even Chiang Kai-shek, the guy the US supported for decades, had a movement called the Chinese Youth League that was modeled after the Nazi youth movement. I read about it in the book The China Mirage by James Bradley.

http://www.amazon.com/The-China-Mirage-American-Disaster/dp/0316196673

Let’s turn children into psychopaths who will be totally obedient to the oligarchs and the state that they own—children who will turn on their own parents and spy on everyone else.

Reply

Steve Lee July 22, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Anything really bad happening in education right now is less than 2 clicks away from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They don’t even try to hide it.

On the CEO’s page: KRISTYN KLEI BORRERO, ED.D. CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER

As Director of Innovation, she was responsible for writing the curriculum and teaching a master’s program in conjunction with San Jose State University and for leading the development and the award of an $80M Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant.

Dienne July 22, 2015 at 6:28 pm

In case anyone needs a humor break, I tried googling no nonsense nurturin and here was the first hit I got: http://www.nnnlv.org/ (no nonsense *neutering*). Same thing really if you think about it.

Reply

Mary July 22, 2015 at 6:58 pm

This looks like the step just before replacing human teachers with computers. They can instantly give the monotone feedback on the pace and correctness of the students work. All they’ll need is a robot to go around and slap them upside the head (or pass out purple warnings) every now and then and they’ll be all set.

Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm

I went away, had a drink (no, too early for the wine box) and thought a bit more about why this is so horrifying: choice.

Choosey parents choose choice in charters, right? So in theory, a parent might choose KIPP Obedience Schools for their children, which would be their choice. But this is the public school system, the one based on trained teachers with a degree in education, with courses in child development and psychology , back up by real research by real researchers. How is it lawful to impose this NNN on kids and parents who have not signed up for experimental indoctrination? Why are my tax dollars being spent by the state receiver for this

    1. Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      OMG is right. “Horrifying” came to my mind as well. Withholding teacher enthusiasm is in no way indicative of nurturing. This method is the opposite of the nomenclature, as typical in corporate reform bizarro world. KIPP turned Social Learning Theory’s positive approach into senseless tragedy.

      Reply

  • Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Of all the absurd, corrupted, inane and just plain wrong things you have reported on, Edu, this just has to be the most awful (not to use stronger language like what got Ralphie’s mouth washed out with soap for in A Christmas Story).

    Let me guess, is this what my state taxpayer dollars are going for now that Lawrence has been put in receivership? It’s as racist, as classist and as colonist an attitude as I have ever seen. WHAT IS THE COST? God help Amy, she’s got three grown-ups kibbitzing in the corner – put them to work as paras doing small group instruction!

    In the video, Liz Gore, in singing its praises, says she would come into the classroom every day worried about how she was going to control everything. WRONG! Answer: being “controlled” is NOT what kids are supposed to get from education; they are supposed, in a democracy, to gain autonomy by mastering self-control – most particularly in middle school, because developmentally, that is where they are. This lack of knowledge about kids is evident because the kids KNOW the gambit. Amy’s kids try to rescue her because they like her.

    Selling newbies to the teaching profession, especially alt-certified ones (Here’s looking at you TFA!) this product completely undermines their relationship with their students and sabotages anything valuable in the classroom.

    I can imagine these bamboozled teachers “narrating” the rest of their lives outside school: Liz (to herself): I see Liz is in the store. I see Liz is replacing the milk carton on the shelf. I see Liz is taking down a winebox and putting it in her shopping cart. I see Liz is going to the check out counter. I see Liz is moving back to the shelf. I see Liz is loading another winebox into her shopping cart. I see Liz drinking in her car at home in the driveway because she is adlepated after listening to the narration of her own misery.

      1. Reteach 4 America July 22, 2015 at 6:46 pm

        The narration is a warped take on Bandura. I don’t think they are capable of grasping the dynamics of relationship-based teaching and learning, because they are so entrenched in punitive approaches.

  • As a local school board member (not in Lawrence or Massachusetts), this scares me deeply. The thought that any educator should ‘distance’ themselves from the students in their care is absurd and against any rationale thought. I for one would NOT permit this in my district, and I would fight against this in ANY school district.

    Reply

  • This is like bad science fiction brought to life. Yes, yes, and yes to all of the comments above. This is yet another reason I can’t see myself returning to the classroom, despite how much more I feel I’d have to offer after 15 years away.

    Reply

  • My first thoughts were of the Hitler Youth and Mao’s Little Red Guard that devastated China in every way possible during his Cultural Revolution. And many outside of China don’t realize that even Chiang Kai-shek, the guy the US supported for decades, had a movement called the Chinese Youth League that was modeled after the Nazi youth movement. I read about it in the book “The China Mirage” by James Bradley.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-China-Mirage-American-Disaster/dp/0316196673

    Let’s turn children into psychopaths who will be totally obedient to the oligarchs and the state that they own—children who will turn on their own parents and spy on everyone else.

    Reply

  • Anything really bad happening in education right now is less than 2 clicks away from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They don’t even try to hide it.

    On the CEO’s page: KRISTYN KLEI BORRERO, ED.D. CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER

    “As Director of Innovation, she was responsible for writing the curriculum and teaching a master’s program in conjunction with San Jose State University and for leading the development and the award of an $80M Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant”

  • In case anyone needs a humor break, I tried googling “no nonsense nurturing” and here was the first hit I got: http://www.nnnlv.org/ (no nonsense *neutering*). Same thing really if you think about it.

  • This looks like the step just before replacing human teachers with computers. They can instantly give the monotone feedback on the pace and correctness of the students’ work. All they’ll need is a robot to go around and slap them upside the head (or pass out purple warnings) every now and then and they’ll be all set.

  • Christine Langhoff July 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    I went away, had a drink (no, too early for the wine box) and thought a bit more about why this is so horrifying: choice.

    Choosey parents choose choice in charters, right? So in theory, a parent might choose KIPP Obedience Schools for their children, which would be their choice. But this is the public school system, the one based on trained teachers with a degree in education, with courses in child development and psychology , back up by real research by real researchers. How is it lawful to impose this NNN on kids and parents who have not signed up for experimental indoctrination? Why are my tax dollars being spent by the state receiver for this?

    -Submitted by Dora Taylor

The Gates owned Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) right here in Seattle

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Whenever Bill Gates wants to justify the ideas he imposes on public school children around the country, he relies on the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) to appear with a research paper or study, that is not peer reviewed, to prove his point. They do as he bids.

Recently CRPE held a forum on charter schools at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The panel was made up of pro-charter folks with the notable exception of School Board Director Sue Peters who is also co-editor of this blog.

Apparently the forum did not go as planned and everyone in the audience who had an opportunity to speak or ask a question was against charter schools being in our city.

I heard Sue was brilliant but I would expect nothing less.

Recently an article describing CRPE in the Progressive was posted online and is the best description I have found so far of this corporate backed group.

Some of their backers include:

So without further ado:

The Secret Group That Wants to Take Over Your School

Don’t look now, but there’s something creepy coming toward you, and it wants to take over your public school system. Sure, it’s connected—through all-important grants—to many of the big names in today’s education reform movement (Gates, Walton, Broad), but most people have probably never heard of it.

This “education reform powerhouse” is the Center on Reinventing Public Education, which goes by the acronym CRPE—or “creepy.” How fitting. While there are many individuals and organizations on the front lines of the free-market education reform movement—from Teach for America, to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, to the Recovery School District in New Orleans—CRPE has not been publicly outed. Instead, it has steadily carved out an influential role for itself behind the scenes.

In fact, CRPE operates in a manner that is strikingly similar to ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), the secretive, powerful group funded by the Koch brothers and a large roster of corporations. Here’s a look at how the two organizations work:

  1. Member networks: Both CRPE and ALEC have a “secret club” component, through their member networks. With ALEC, the members are state legislators. With CRPE, they are school districts from across the United States (there are currently thirty-nine of them).
  2. Network meetings: Both CRPE and ALEC host member network meetings or conferences, where a common philosophy (based on a distinct rightwing ideology) is honed, articulated, and shared.
  3. Model legislation: Both CRPE and ALEC create sample, model policies (CRPE) or “cookie-cutter bills” (ALEC) for the districts or legislators who are part of their member networks.
  4. Free-market funders: Like ALEC, CRPE is funded by very wealthy, free-market-focused special interests, including the Walton Foundation.
CRPE Founder Paul T. Hill stepped down as center Director and named Robin Lake to succeed him.
CRPE Founder Paul T. Hill stepped down as center Director and named Robin Lake to succeed him.

One difference is that ALEC has been around since the early 1970s while CRPE is a more recent concoction. University of Washington political science professor Paul T. Hill founded the group in 1993, just as the “accountability” movement in public education was taking off, and it is housed at the University of Washington-Bothell. CRPE is affiliated with the university, but Hill explains, “Our work is funded through private philanthropic dollars, federal grants, and contracts.” And, although CRPE describes itself as engaging in “independent research and policy analysis,” in 2011 the Center for Media and Democracy’s Source Watch website tagged the group as an “industry-funded research center that . . . receives funding from corporate and billionaire philanthropists as well as the U.S. Department of Education.”

While Hill may not be well known nationally, he is no shrinking violet when it comes to agenda-driven policy work. Beyond CRPE, he has been affiliated with the right-leaning Hoover Institute and its Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, which focuses on vouchers and other market-based, privatization-centered reforms for public schools.

And that right-leaning stamp is all over CRPE, which has built a network of “portfolio school districts” from New York City to New Orleans and beyond. It promises to run these districts like a stock portfolio. Under this model, schools are to become more “autonomous,” and districts will be decentralized for a more “hands-off” approach. In an eighteen-month portfolio implementation guide that CRPE provides school districts, a suggested strategy for the first two months is to “announce the district will replace five schools with charter schools.” Schools will be closed for such failures as “negative labor-management relations.”

Many people in progressive-minded Minneapolis would be shocked to know that the Minneapolis public school system has been part of the CRPE network since 2010 (thanks to a makeover, led, for free, by consultants from the global consulting firm McKinsey and Company). Today, this shadowy organization is on the verge of completely overhauling the public school district’s entire operation.

Anyone needing proof should look no further than the 2013 CRPE meeting for Portfolio Network members that was held in Seattle. A video from that meeting lays bare the competitive, resource-scarce mindset behind CRPE, and it even uses the Minneapolis public schools—albeit superficially—as a test case for the presentation.

Margarite Roza
Marguerite Roza

The video—available on YouTube as “Dollars and Sense Accountability”—offers attendees lots of suggestions for how schools can expand their limited pots of money. The assumption always seems to be that schools just need to do more with less, so the suggestions are pragmatic. They include encouraging schools to grow their enrollment (the presenter, Marguerite Roza, who now works for CRPE, recommends pushing schools on this, because they’ll always say they’re too full). CRPE also suggests paying teachers extra to teach more kids, and pitting schools against one another in a battle for resources. All of this is based around a central question: What does it look like when a district starts to view schools like businesses?

To begin, Roza praises Minneapolis for its “enormous cooperation,” because the district has offered its data for use as an example of how to view schools “in terms of cost and outcomes.” Roza then shows participants a graph, where Minneapolis school sites (unnamed) are splayed out according to how much money they spend in comparison to how “high performing” they are. Before she delves in too deeply, however, Roza makes one point very clear: “I hope when you leave this session, you realize that the money part of the equation has to be part of the accountability bit, so you have to start connecting the spending and the outcomes together,” she says.

Throughout the video, it becomes clear that what Roza means is that the ideal school is one which spends less money but gets high test scores. It also becomes clear that, to Roza, and by extension CRPE, kids and schools are mere widgets in the Hunger Games-like landscape of school finance that CRPE promotes.

At one point, Roza points to the graph full of Minneapolis examples and says, “Look at the relationship between spending and outcomes! It’s pretty dismal, right?” Roza acknowledges that “schools are messy,” but then veers back to CRPE’s market-driven ideology: “If we’re trying to get to a system where we’re leveraging our money to get the best possible outcomes we could get, we need a more robust relationship between spending and outcomes than we have.”

In the video, Roza zeros in on the concept of “nice” schools, which fall into the high-spending, high-performing part of her graph, and she then makes a whole lot of creepy allegations about them. In her Minneapolis example, there is only one such school, which sits by itself up in the lonely far corner of the graph.

Roza seems to assume that this school is a high-spending hog, feeding off the trough, and getting great outcomes on every other school’s “dime.” If such a school exists in your district, Roza tells the hushed crowd, “You should figure out how much extra you’re spending for those kids,” because this is not a “replicable model.” It’s just too expensive, Roza concludes.

Her solution? Force such schools to “take more kids,” and don’t listen when they tell you they’re too full. In fact, when they do tell you they are too full, simply ask them, “All right, did you want to give up the jazz band or the golf team?” Because, it seems, they must be lying about their ability to “cram more kids in,” as Roza puts it, just so they can protect their elite, district-funded programs. (Roza seems not to understand that, in Minneapolis, there are wealthy neighborhoods, but there are no wealthy schools rolling in district dollars.)

It turns out that the school Roza was referring to is Minneapolis’s Dowling Elementary, a K-5 site that indeed spends a lot of money. But it spends a lot because it serves an “unusually large percent of special needs kids,” according to Minneapolis’s former budget director Sarah Snapp, who was at the CRPE meeting. Snapp shared this information after Roza gave her fiscally conservative spiel.

Dowling Elementary is named after educator and legislator Michael Dowling, who, according to the school’s website, “succeeded in having the first bill passed providing state aid for handicapped children in 1919. Being handicapped himself, Mr. Dowling realized the importance of equal access to education for all people.” Even today, the school has a program for students with health-related disabilities. These students have their own special education classification, and Dowling was—and is—designed to meet their needs, alongside Dowling’s non-special-needs population.

At the CRPE meeting, Snapp tells Roza that Dowling does have a “unique set of factors” that make it look like a big spender, and also warns that lumping all students in a district together “might mask some of what’s going on.”

Still, Roza moves on in her presentation, and makes a joke about the next section, called “Performance Funding,” saying wryly, “This is where the school does well and we give them more money.”

Not quite. This would be a dangerous path to go down, Roza warns, because if you give a school “cash” for doing well (on standardized tests, of course), then that “high-performing” school will also become a “higher spending” school. Forget that, says Roza. Instead, she advises redefining “accountability” as, simply, the “right to continue to operate” according to a “continuous improvement model.”

Roza persists with her, and CRPE’s, definition of accountability, saying schools will—no, must—“seek to continuously go up,” with no “threshold” or end in sight, in terms of test-based measurements. The stakes are very high in this model. Roza explains that it is “constantly the lowest-performing, at a particular spending level, schools . . . that should go away or improve . . . and then you get a system that’s constantly striving for higher performance.”

The overall goal is to strip schools down from their messy, complicated “overspending” heights, and collapse them all into a pure “student-based” funding model. (CRPE shares their love of funding students, not programs, with ALEC, which has a model “Student-Centered Funding” bill, essentially a school voucher program.) Then, says Roza, districts will have arrived at a cost and outcomes Nirvana, where they can “just manage on performance.”

This, she explains, will yield a “vertical line full of dots” on a graph.

That may be the ideal way to view schools, students, and teachers from a CRPE point of view. On the ground, in Minneapolis, community members would probably object if it were known that their schools are being guided by the CRPE’s rightwing ideology.

But this may be changing.

At an April 14 Minneapolis school board meeting, parents, teachers, and students from across the city came to express their frustration with the district and its latest plans.

First up, there was a contingent from Roosevelt High School, an old-time school in south Minneapolis that has 80 percent students of color and a high proportion of kids in poverty (76 percent). In March, Roosevelt parents and staff received their school’s budget for the upcoming school year; it was $248,000 short of what they needed. The worst part? The budget cut—which was deceptively framed as an increase—came as Roosevelt stands to grow, by adding 100 new students to its incoming freshman class after years of being seen as one of Minneapolis’s “less desirable” schools.

It also came just as Minneapolis Public Schools Interim Superintendent Michael Goar was making very public claims about “right-sizing” the district’s budget, in order to send millions of dollars back into the pockets of the district’s schools.

This strategy—of “right-sizing,” with the promise that this will bring autonomy and funds straight to the schools—is CRPE all the way. Tellingly, a brief CRPE video about the virtues of school autonomy includes the insistence that schools must be given the “freedom” to control their money, as the ultimate goal, in the words of CRPE founder Paul Hill, is for a school to be “as free about what it does as a charter school.”

But the Roosevelt parents and students are not buying it. For the first time in years, under the energetic leadership of parent Jeanette Bower, the school has been getting organized—and vocal. School supporters went to the school board meeting to rally for Roosevelt, and to continue changing the school’s image from that of a “ghetto school,” in the words of ninth grade student Lewis Martin, to that of a school people choose to come to.

Their list of complaints about the lack of funding for Roosevelt were long, and will sound familiar to anyone who has been watching the move to defund and privatize America’s public schools:

Roosevelt is the only high school in Minneapolis with no theater program, and the district is not providing any funds to remedy this.

With budget cuts, the school will have to lay off its community liaisons, who have been going out into the community to change the narrative of “failure” (due to test scores) that hovers over the school.

The school will have to let its librarian go, and class sizes may increase.

Also, the district will only provide funding for the 100 new students who have signed up to attend Roosevelt next year in the fall, when the students actually show up. The problem with this, in the eyes of the Roosevelt community, is that the school can’t hire extra teachers because the hiring season is happening now, in the spring. (This is CRPE’s preferred way to fund schools: only according to the numbers of students who show up.)

For Roosevelt High School senior Shahmar Dennis, who also spoke out at the April 14 board meeting, the lack of clear information from the district around Roosevelt’s budget is troubling.

“We are a school on the rise, but our music program will suffer,” he says. “We have more students coming next year, but we can’t buy new instruments.”

Dennis explained that he is going off to college in the fall, but that he still deeply cares about his school: “I won’t be here next year but I want to see Roosevelt High School growing and doing well academically, with a good theater program.”

That desire is diametrically opposed to the CRPE agenda.

************************

Sarah Lahm is a Minneapolis-based writer and former English instructor. She blogs about education at brightlightsmallcity.com.

The Heroes at Sandy Hook

I am reposting several articles as a composite of the heroes of Sandy Hook.

 Dawn Hocksprung, 47, (left), Anne Marie Murphy, 52, (center) and Lauren Rousseau, 30, (right) who are among the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Dawn Hocksprung, 47, (left), Anne Marie Murphy, 52, (center) and Lauren Rousseau, 30, (right) who are among the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

America’s Teachers: Heroes or Greedy Moochers at the Public Trough?

I’ll be brief here. Let’s just note that the heroic teachers who died while courageously trying to protect their kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and the others who survived but stayed to protect the kids, were all part of a school system where the employees are members of the American Federation of Teachers.

Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. Those teachers, who are routinely being accused by our politicians of being drones and selfish, incompetent money grubbers worried more about their pensions than about teaching our children (though most, even after 10 years, earn less than $55,000 a year for doing a very difficult job that involves at least 12-14 hours a day of work and prep time counting meetings with parents), stood their ground when confronted with a psychotic assailant armed with semi-automatic pistols and an automatic rifle, and protected their kids. The principal too, a veteran teacher herself, stood her ground, reportedly suicidally charging at the assailant along with the school’s psychologist in a doomed effort to tackle him and stop the carnage.

How many of us would have had to the courage to stand in front of a closet door to keep an armed madman from finding the kids hidden behind it, as one slain teacher died doing? How many of us would charge at an armed shooter, to almost certain death, in an effort top stop him from further killing? How many would bravely hide in a bathroom with a class of kids when we could have run away and saved ourselves?

Article image

And this: How many of the politicians in Washington and in state capitals and how many conservative think-tank “researchers” who attack teachers as leeches and drones would have shown such heroism under fire?

My guess is damned few — if any. Yet it appears from the news reports that not one teacher in that unionized school fled the scene and abandoned the children to their fate. They all stuck with their kids. So did the custodian — no doubt a unionized worker earning poverty wages — who ran through the building warning everyone of the attacker’s presence.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Newtown school board, like school boards all over this country, was considering cutting the school’s elementary music program and library program. It should be noted that both the school librarian and the school music teacher, whose jobs were on the line at the school board, stayed with the kids they were teaching when the attack began.

Yet in an attitude all too typical of many Americans’ thinking, one man, in a discussion section of the local paper, discussing the local School Board’s $1-million budget cutting plans last spring, wrote to a teacher last spring:

You, as a public sector employee, don’t generate ANY revenue. Every penny of the budget of your public sector enterprise is TAKEN from producers. It’s other people’s money versus money your organization EARNED. Your salary is not market based. Your salary, nor your benefits, nor your job, is in jeopardy during contracting economic times. If I want a raise I have to prove I have contributed more to the bottom line, and then it doesn’t matter unless the entire firm has grown the bottom line sufficiently to give me that raise. You are insulated from that reality. Your private (sic) sector salary only goes up. How is that fair? Especially in light of the fact that you don’t even generate the revenue that pays for your constantly rising salary?

Some of those “non-revenue-generating” unionized teachers, and the school’s non-revenue-generating principal, just died defending those kids.

I wonder if their tax-obsessed critics would have done the same?

From Fox News:

Sandy Hook Elementary staff members hailed for heroics during shooting

A worker who turned on the intercom, alerting others in the building that something was very wrong. A custodian who risked his life by running through the halls warning of danger. A clerk who led 18 children on their hands and knees to safety, then gave them paper and crayons to keep them calm and quiet.

Out of the ruins of families that lost a precious child, sister or mother, out of a tight-knit town roiling with grief, glows one bright spot: the stories of staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School who may have prevented further carnage through selfless actions and smart snap judgments.

Superintendent Janet Robinson
Superintendent Janet Robinson

District Superintendent Janet Robinson noted “incredible acts of heroism” that “ultimately saved so many lives.”

“The teachers were really, really focused on their students,” she told reporters Saturday.

Some of them made the ultimate sacrifice.

After gunman Adam Lanza broke through the school door, gun blazing, school psychologist Mary Sherlach and principal Dawn Hochsprung ran toward him, Robinson said. Hochsprung died while lunging at the gunman, officials said.

The 56-year-old Sherlach, who would have been tasked with helping survivors cope with the tragedy, died doing what she loved, her son-in-law, Eric Schwartz, told the South Jersey Times.

“Mary felt like she was doing God’s work,” he said, “working with the children.”

Just this past October, Hochsprung had tweeted a picture of the school’s evacuation drill with the message “Safety first.”

victoria-soto-newtown-ct-sandy-hookVictoria Soto, a 27-year-old teacher, reportedly hid some students in a bathroom or closet and died trying to shield them from bullets, a cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News. Those who knew Soto said they weren’t surprised.

“You have a teacher who cared more about her students than herself,” said John Harkins, mayor of Stratford, Soto’s hometown. “That speaks volumes to her character, and her commitment and dedication.”

In other cases, staffers both saved students and managed to escape with their own lives.

Teacher said that as gunfire echoed through the school, a custodian ran around, warning people. He appears to have survived; all the adults killed were women.

“He said, ‘Guys! Get down! Hide!'” Varga said. “So he was actually a hero.”

Someone switched on the intercom, alerting people in the building to the attack by letting them hear the chaos in the school office, a teacher said. Teachers locked their doors and ordered children to huddle in a corner or hide in closets as shots echoed through the building.

In a classroom, teacher Kaitlin Roig barricaded her 15 students into a tiny bathroom, pulled a bookshelf across the door and locked it. She told the kids to be “absolutely quiet.”

“I said, ‘There are bad guys out there now. We need to wait for the good guys,'” she told ABC News.

One student claimed to know karate. “It’s OK. I’ll lead the way out,” the student said.

Library clerk Marianne Jacob with her husband.
Library clerk Marianne Jacob with her husband.

Clerk Maryann Jacob was working with a group of 18 fourth-graders in the library when the shooting broke out. She herded the children into a classroom in the library, but then realized the door wouldn’t lock.

They crawled across the room into a storage space, locked the door and barricaded it with a filing cabinet. There happened to be materials for coloring, she said, “so we set them up with paper and crayons.”

One person who wasn’t in the school at all also is being lauded for his grace: Robbie Parker, whose daughter Emilie died.

Speaking to reporters Saturday, he said he was not mad and offered sympathy for Lanza’s family.

“I can’t imagine,” he said, “how hard this experience must be for you.”

From Newsday

Sandy Hook educators died trying to save the children

Teachers tried to shield children in the line of fire with their own bodies.

The school principal and school psychologist sprinted from a meeting to try to stop the gunman. A woman who, relatives said, was born to be a teacher gave her life doing what she loved.

When shots rang out at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, educators and school staff faced danger, clearly motivated by one overriding concern: The children.


Dawn Hochsprung

Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung lost her life lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overpower him, Newtown officials said.

Hochsprung’s pride in Sandy Hook Elementary was clear. She regularly tweeted photos from her time as principal there, giving indelible glimpses of life at a place now known for tragedy. Just this week, it was an image of fourth-graders rehearsing for their winter concert; days before that, of the tiny hands of kindergartners exchanging play money at their makeshift grocery store.

She viewed her school as a model, telling The Newtown Bee newspaper in 2010 that “I don’t think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day.”

She had worked to make Sandy Hook a place of safety, too, and in October, Hochsprung, 47, shared a picture of the school’s evacuation drill with the message “Safety first.”

When the unthinkable came, she was ready to defend.

Diane Day, a therapist at the school, told The Wall Street Journal that she was in a meeting with Hochsprung about 9:30 a.m. when they heard shots. Hochsprung and a school psychologist ran toward the sound of the gunfire, Day said.

“She had an extremely likable style about her,” said Gerald Stomski, first selectman of Woodbury, where Hochsprung lived and had taught. “She was an extremely charismatic principal while she was here.”

A month ago, she dressed up as the Sandy Hook Book Fairy — wearing a crown and a dress that lighted up — to inspire first-graders to read.

“She was always enthusiastic, always smiling, always game to do anything,” said Kristin Larson, the former secretary of the school’s PTA. “When I saw her at the beginning of the school year, she was hugging everyone.”

“She was an educator,” Larson said, her voice choked with emotion as she spoke by phone. “She wanted them to do well in school, but she also wanted them to have fun.”

Hochsprung was married to George Hochsprung, and is the mother of two daughters and three stepdaughters, according to a 2010 article in the Newtown Bee. She became Sandy Hook’s principal in 2010. Before that, she had worked for 12 years as an administrator in public schools.

Lynn Wasik, whose daughter attends Sandy Hook, said Hochsprung could often be seen crouching down to speak to her students at eye level. “She connected with the children,” Wasik said.

Mary Sherlach

Friday morning, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, threw herself into the danger.

Janet Robinson, the superintendent of Newtown Public Schools, said Sherlach and the school’s principal ran toward the gunman.

Even as Sherlach neared retirement, her job at Sandy Hook was one she loved. Those who knew her called her a wonderful neighbor, a beautiful person, a dedicated educator.

Her son-in-law, Eric Schwartz, told the South Jersey Times that Sherlach rooted for the Miami Dolphins, enjoyed visiting the Finger Lakes, and relished helping children overcome their problems. She had planned to leave work early on Friday, he said.

In a news conference Saturday, he told reporters the loss was devastating.

“Mary felt like she was doing God’s work,” he said, “working with the children.”

Lauren Rousseau

LaureRousseau had always wanted to be a teacher and was living the life she wanted when she found herself in the killer’s path Friday.

Her parents said that the 30-year-old substitute teacher lived in nearby Danbury with her mother, and was a loving and hardworking woman who cared about the children she taught and was planning for her future.

“She didn’t leave school at 3 o’clock or whatever and went home and forgot about them,” said her father, Gilles Rousseau, of Southbury, Conn. “It was on her mind the whole night.”

And that was because she was truly living her life’s dream, her parents said.

“Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten,” said her mother, Teresa Rousseau, in a statement. “We will miss her terribly and will take comfort knowing that she had achieved that dream.”

Rousseau had worked hard to get to where she was. She got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut, where she had lived on campus, and had a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Bridgeport.

She had worked as a substitute teacher in Danbury, New Milford and Newtown before she was hired in November as a permanent substitute teacher at Sandy Hook.

Her father said that she had trouble getting a full-time job and was so happy when she landed the Sandy Hook job. She also worked at Starbucks in Danbury and catered, he said.

Rousseau had two younger brothers, Matthew, 27, and Andrew, 24, her father said. Her father described her as a caring person, suited to her profession.

“She has a cat that she treats like a little baby,” said her father. “She just needs to mother things . . . she mothers those little kids.”

Gilles Rousseau also shared some of the family’s ordeal of the family as relatives sent text messages and left voice mails trying to reach her Friday. Her parents had told several police officers Lauren’s name Friday, as they waited for the news.

Confirmation finally came at about 1 a.m. Saturday when a Connecticut State Police officer, a minister and two counselors rang the doorbell and knocked on his door.

“They had confirmed her death,” he said, choking back tears.

Gilles Rousseau said he called the mortuary where his daughter was, requesting to see her. But he was told he couldn’t come because she had been shot in the face.

Victoria Soto

She beams in snapshots. Her enthusiasm and cheer was evident. She was doing, those who knew her say, what she loved.

She’s also being called a hero.

When she realized there was danger outside her classroom, first-grade teacher Victoria Soto, 27, rounded up her students and hid them in a closet.

“She went into lockdown mode and got those kids out of harm’s way and, unfortunately, lost her life doing so,” said a cousin, James Wiltsie, 39, a policeman from Stratford, Conn.

Photos of Soto, known to her friends as Vicki, show her always with a wide smile, in pictures of her at her college graduation and in mundane daily life. She looks so young, barely an adult herself. Her goal was simply to be a teacher.

A graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University, she was studying for her master’s in education at Southern Connecticut State. She had been teaching at Sandy Hook for five years.

“She just absolutely adored being a teacher,” Wiltsie said.

Anne Marie Murphy

Teacher Anne Marie Murphy, a mother of four children herself, gave her life for the children that were in her care, her loved ones said.

The body of the Sandy Hook Elementary teacher, who grew up in Katonah in Westchester County, was found in a classroom, covering those of children also killed in the shooting, said her father, Hugh McGowan.

“One of the first responders said she was a hero,” McGowan said.

Amid their sadness, her parents recalled Murphy, the sixth of seven children, as a caring person who loved art and was devoted to her family.

“I’ll miss her presence,” her mother, Alice McGowan, said Saturday. “She died doing what she loved. She was serving children and serving God.”

Saturday morning, the couple attended Mass at St. Mary’s of the Assumption in Katonah, where their sorrow devastated the congregation.

The Rev. Paul Waddell said he was preparing to pray at the start of Mass. “But I looked up and saw a lot of teary eyes,” the priest recounted. “They told us about their daughter, that she was a teacher, she was killed in Connecticut. So we prayed at this 8 o’clock Mass for all of them and for her.”

From Buzz Feed:

The Heroes of Sandy Hook

First-Grade Teacher Victoria Soto, Age 27

First-Grade Teacher Victoria Soto, Age 27

Victoria Soto’s lifelong dream was to become a teacher. Her last moments were spent rushing her students into a closet when gunshots started going off. When the gunman entered her classroom, she shielded her students from incoming bullets.

Soto graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with an elementary education and history degree and was studying for a master’s degree in special education at Southern Connecticut State University. Soto loved spending time with her family and her dog, a black Labrador named Roxie. She had been at Sandy Hook for more than five years, having started as an intern before becoming a teacher.

“It brings peace to know that Vicki was doing what she loved, protecting the children, and in our eyes, she’s a hero,” her cousin Jim Wiltsie said. “She lost her life doing what she loved. I don’t think she would have it any other way. She loved kids. Her goal in life was to be a teacher and to mold young minds, and that’s what she achieved, and unfortunately lost her life protecting those children.”

First-Grade Teacher Kaitlin Roig, Age 29

First-Grade Teacher Kaitlin Roig, Age 29

Kaitlin Roig survived the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary school. Thanks to her heroism, so did 15 children. When she first heard gunshots, she quickly ushered 15 students into a tiny bathroom and pulled a bookshelf across the door before locking it. Roig told her students to be “absolutely quiet.”

“I just knew we had to get in there, I just kept telling them it’s going to be OK. We are going to be alright,” said Roig.

Roig, who has been a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School for more than five years, refused to even unlock the bathroom door for police. “I didn’t believe them,” she said to ABC News, holding back tears. “I told them if they were cops, they could get the key. They did and then [they] unlocked the bathroom.”

Source: images.watoday.com.au

School Psychologist Mary Sherlach, Age 56

School Psychologist Mary Sherlach, Age 56

Mary Sherlach had worked at Sandy Hook Elementary School since 1994 and was one year away from retirement. She enjoyed her work as a psychologist and helping young kids. When gunshots rang out, her first instinct was to head toward the danger. Like principal Dawn Hochsprung, she died protecting kids by confronting the gunman.

She was married for 31 years to her husband, Bill, and had two adult daughters, ages 25 and 28. Her older daughter was a high school choir teacher. She had a website where she kept parents informed on the school’s special education system.

Former school superintendent John Reed praised her as a friendly, smart, and loving person.

“If there ever was a person, by qualifications and personality, to work with children, to be a school psychologist, it was Mary,’’ Reed said.

Music Teacher Maryrose Kristopik, Age 50

Music Teacher Maryrose Kristopik, Age 50

Maryrose Kristopik’s actions during the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting can’t be described as anything but heroic. Thanks to her, 20 students survived Friday’s tragic events.

When the first shots rang out, the quick-thinking Kristopik moved her class of 20 into a nearby closet and barricaded the door.

“I did take the children into the closet and talked with them to keep them quiet. I told them that I loved them,” Kristopik said in an interview with the Daily Mail. “I said there was a bad person in the school. I didn’t want to tell them anything past that.” Kristopik held the door tightly closed even as the gunman reportedly was yelling “Let me in! Let me in!”

One mother of an 8-year-old student in Krisopik’s class said her daughter was safe due to her heroic actions. “My daughter’s teacher is my hero,” the mother said to the Newtown Patch. “She locked all the kids in a closet and that saved their lives.”

“All of the staff members worked hard at our school to help our children,” Kristopik said to the NY Daily News. “Now it’s time to focus on helping the families who lost their children today.”

School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, Age 47

School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, Age 47

Dawn Hochsprung ended her life in the same way she lived, helping children. When the gunman forced his way into the school, Hochsprung died while lunging at him in an attempt to take him down.

She spent her life as an educator. Before becoming the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School, she was an assistant principal at a local middle school and spent one year in the same post at Connecticut’s Danbury High School.

Hochsprung had the school organize days called “Wacky Wednesdays,” where students were allowed to wear goofy clothes that deliberately didn’t match. Sometimes she let students dress up as their favorite storybook characters and would dress up herself. She believed the school was a community. When she sent letters home to parents, she would address them to the “Sandy Hook family.” Her Twitter feed is inspiring and offers insight into an educator who truly cared for her students. One photo she tweeted showed a teacher dressed as a fairy reading a book to her students.

Hochsprung worked as hard in her own life as she did as a principal. Besides being a mom to two daughters and three stepdaughters, she was enrolled in a post-graduate program at Esteves School of Education in New York.

Jeff Hamel, the first selectman for nearby Bethlehem in Connecticut, said she “touched many of our hearts with her professionalism and love for her students.”

Special Education Teacher Anne Marie Murphy, Age 52

Special Education Teacher Anne Marie Murphy, Age 52

Anne Marie Murphy was “a light in the darkness” when the shooting first began in Sandy Hook Elementary School. Her job was to provide students with one-on-one care, but her life tragically ended trying save a handful of children. She was found by first responders shielding her students from gunfire.

“She died doing what she loved,” said Murphy’s mother, Alice McGowan.

Murphy was a special education teacher at the school and was raised Katonah, NY. She was the sixth of seven children and a mother of four.

Anna Marie Murphy is remembered on Facebook as a protector of her students, the “little angels.

And one final thought.

According to the latest reports, the shooter’s mom loved her guns and one if not several were used in this horrific incident.

hand guns

Oh yeah and  I don’t want to hear any other frickin’ ed reform rats talk about teachers ever again. That list includes the B(ill) Gates paid crowd including Stand for Children and the League of Education Voters, Our Schools Coalition, NCTQ, Teachers United,  the Alliance for Education, the Walton’s and any of their ilk, Michelle Rhee, anyone from TFA, Inc., CCER,  Eli Broad or anyone paid by or has anything to do with him or his ill gotten gains and Arne Duncan, the crown prince of idiocy and puppet of all of the above.

Dora Taylor

Chris Hedges: Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System

Posted originally on April 11, 2012 on truthdig.

Chris Hedges

A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.

Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers—those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potential—and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.

Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They don’t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts—those who march to the beat of their own drum—are weeded out.

“Imagine,” said a public school teacher in New York City, who asked that I not use his name, “going to work each day knowing a great deal of what you are doing is fraudulent, knowing in no way are you preparing your students for life in an ever more brutal world, knowing that if you don’t continue along your scripted test prep course and indeed get better at it you will be out of a job. Up until very recently, the principal of a school was something like the conductor of an orchestra: a person who had deep experience and knowledge of the part and place of every member and every instrument. In the past 10 years we’ve had the emergence of both [Mayor] Mike Bloomberg’s Leadership Academy and Eli Broad’s Superintendents Academy, both created exclusively to produce instant principals and superintendents who model themselves after CEOs. How is this kind of thing even legal? How are such ‘academies’ accredited? What quality of leader needs a ‘leadership academy’? What kind of society would allow such people to run their children’s schools? The high-stakes tests may be worthless as pedagogy but they are a brilliant mechanism for undermining the school systems, instilling fear and creating a rationale for corporate takeover. There is something grotesque about the fact the education reform is being led not by educators but by financers and speculators and billionaires.”

Teachers, under assault from every direction, are fleeing the profession. Even before the “reform” blitzkrieg we were losing half of all teachers within five years after they started work—and these were people who spent years in school and many thousands of dollars to become teachers. How does the country expect to retain dignified, trained professionals under the hostility of current conditions? I suspect that the hedge fund managers behind our charter schools system—whose primary concern is certainly not with education—are delighted to replace real teachers with nonunionized, poorly trained instructors. To truly teach is to instill the values and knowledge which promote the common good and protect a society from the folly of historical amnesia. The utilitarian, corporate ideology embraced by the system of standardized tests and leadership academies has no time for the nuances and moral ambiguities inherent in a liberal arts education. Corporatism is about the cult of the self. It is about personal enrichment and profit as the sole aim of human existence. And those who do not conform are pushed aside.

“It is extremely dispiriting to realize that you are in effect lying to these kids by insinuating that this diet of corporate reading programs and standardized tests are preparing them for anything,” said this teacher, who feared he would suffer reprisals from school administrators if they knew he was speaking out. “It is even more dispiriting to know that your livelihood depends increasingly on maintaining this lie. You have to ask yourself why are hedge fund managers suddenly so interested in the education of the urban poor? The main purpose of the testing craze is not to grade the students but to grade the teacher.”

“I cannot say for certain—not with the certainty of a Bill Gates or a Mike Bloomberg who pontificate with utter certainty over a field in which they know absolutely nothing—but more and more I suspect that a major goal of the reform campaign is to make the work of a teacher so degrading and insulting that the dignified and the truly educated teachers will simply leave while they still retain a modicum of self-respect,” he added. “In less than a decade we been stripped of autonomy and are increasingly micromanaged. Students have been given the power to fire us by failing their tests. Teachers have been likened to pigs at a trough and blamed for the economic collapse of the United States. In New York, principals have been given every incentive, both financial and in terms of control, to replace experienced teachers with 22-year-old untenured rookies. They cost less. They know nothing. They are malleable and they are vulnerable to termination.”

To read this post in full, go to Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System.

Dora Taylor

Achievement First Charter School Parents Speak Out : A must watch

WhateverItTakes

“Whatever it takes”, the motto of Achievement First.

I have read and heard stories about charter schools that are geared toward minority students, as most are, but this is the first time that I have watched in-depth interviews of parents who had their children in these charter school franchises.

“Behavior modification training” is a term that one parent described her son’s first experience in this charter school.

May Taliaferrow, former parent at Achievement First, Brooklyn, NY starts out as an avid charter school supporter but finds parents are shut out and children are subjected to severe discipline and ends up telling her son how sorry she was for putting him the school.

“My child was made to sit on the floor until he
‘earned’ a seat.” A revealing interview on how all too many charter schools view children of color when it comes to discipline: total repression.
When Leslie-Anne Byfield “won” the lottery for a charter school in Brooklyn she felt her prayers for her child’s education had been answered. Until the horror stories began.

Anyone who hasn’t already, please contact our governor and let her know that charter schools are an unacceptable option in our state.

Dora Taylor

And you wonder why children can’t learn!?

From “A rising hunger among children” from boston.com.

Doctors at a major Boston hospital report they are seeing more hungry and dangerously thin young children in the emergency room than at any time in more than a decade of surveying families.

Many families are unable to afford enough healthy food to feed their children, say the Boston Medical Center doctors. The resulting chronic hunger threatens to leave scores of infants and toddlers with lasting learning and developmental problems.

Before the economy soured in 2007, 12 percent of youngsters age 3 and under whose families were randomly surveyed in the hospital’s emergency department were significantly underweight. In 2010, that percentage jumped to 18 percent, and the tide does not appear to be abating, said Dr. Megan Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics and public health at BMC.

While the rich get fatter. This is an atrocity!

Dora