The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) gift likely means huge changes for schools across the country. We’ve known for a long time that Chicago school experimentation is usually the country’s pilot project. And the CZI isn’t just putting money into personalized learning in Chicago. It’s tied to all-tech Summit Charter Schools (unfairly called public schools) and the College Board. They are also working in Massachusetts.
The Chan-Zuckerberg website motto is “We believe in a future for everyone.” Here’s my question. Do they believe in a future for professional teachers?
Is the CZI goal to replace teachers? Ask them that question! Get them to tell us yes, or no. It’s a great question to start off Teacher Appreciation Week!
Many teachers will jump on the tech bandwagon. Technology is a useful tool. No one can deny that. But there’s no research to indicate that total tech without teachers will succeed in getting children ready for their college and career futures.
The CZI money in Chicago will also go to LEAP Inovations—a nonprofit that pushes tech with “Appy Hours” (tech instruction at the local bars?).
One of the CZI administrators is James H. Shelton. He used to work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and also had the powerful position of Assistant Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Education, under President Obama. Shelton oversaw the Office of Innovation and Improvement where he managed competitive programs involving teacher/leader quality, Promise Neighborhoods, school choice, and, of course, technology.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may appear to support teachers and public schools, but their past actions show otherwise. They have supported charter schools and groups like Stand for Children, Teach for America, and many other anti-public school, anti-teacher nonprofits. Their Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) was an insult to teachers everywhere. In Memphis, where Gates had a prominent presence, teachers wore ear budswith coaches (called experts) in the back of the room directing them how to teach!
The CZI gift likely means huge changes for schools across the country. We’ve known for a long time that Chicago school experimentation is usually the country’s pilot project. And the CZI isn’t just putting money into personalized learning in Chicago. It’s tied to all-tech Summit Charter Schools (unfairly called public schools) and the College Board. They are also working in Massachusetts.
LEAP Innovations was founded on the premise that our outdated, one-size-fits-all education system isn’t working. Instead, LEAP is driving toward a new paradigm, one that harnesses innovation—new teaching and learning approaches, along with technologies—to create a system that is tailored around each individual learner.
Isn’t it funny (not really), how those of us who disliked high-stakes testing for so many years, used to use the “one-size-fits-all” argument? Corporations were the ones that pushed that testing, now they are using that line to sell personalized learning.
It’s also funny (not really) how teachers have begged for years to have reasonably sized classrooms so they could individualize learning. It always fell on deaf ears.
The report goes on with the usual complaints about students not graduating and not doing well on tests, and how wonderful it is that edtech is growing. The citations in the report are from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, and an article from The Atlantic.
On the Leap website they also say:
LEAP first reviewed applications internally, selecting for companies that clearly personalized the learning experience for students in literacy, as well as demonstrated a record of prior success. An external curation panel of learning scientists, educators, and other subject-matter experts was then assembled to further evaluate the applicants and decide which would be made available to schools for selection. Their criteria included the potential for student impact; company strength and stability; alignment to learning science and Common Core standards; augmentation of teacher capacity; and functionality around student feedback and motivation.
I’d love to hear from teachers, principals or any friends from Chicago involved with this panel.
There’s also talk of merging social emotional learning with tech. SEL is becoming known for its assessments that call for personal student behavioral data that makes parents nervous.
So, when schools aren’t funded and rich people with big ideas, no matter how they will impact children, come into the school district with a lot of money, public schools lose a lot of their public feedback.
For those who still don’t believe there’s a movement underfoot to replace teachers with tech, and collect even more data concerning student progress that will benefit corporations, watch the CZI in Chicago. Time always tells. It might be too late, but sooner or later we’ll learn the truth.
Thanks to the tireless effort of education activist, the general public is on to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
People know Emanuel is bad news when it comes to public education.
Of course, Mayor Emanuel worked hard to cement his reputation – by closing schools, refusing to fund wrap around services, and praising charter schools.
In a city with nearly 800 homicides and more than 4,000 shootings last year, Emanuel refuses to fund wraparound services for students living with this trauma. His Chicago Housing Authority is hoarding a $379 million surplus while we have more than 18,000 homeless students in the city’s school district, according to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Special education cuts in the public schools have left our most vulnerable students without the services and resources they so desperately need. Seventy-five percent of public schools in Chicago do not have libraries, according to the Chicago Teachers Union (which I serve as president).
Emanuel led the largest mass public school closing ever in one U.S. city—mostly in African-American and Latino communities—and has been accused of fostering educational “apartheid” by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. He also is known for his Rolodex full of prominent businessmen and wealthy entrepreneurs who have funded charter school privatization, which set the stage for the aforementioned closures.
Not surprisingly, the only schools Emanuel celebrates in his opinion piece are charter schools. One of them is part of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, which named one of its campuses Rauner College Prep after Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. The multimillionaire governor, who supports Trump’s nomination of DeVos as secretary of education, is also on record saying that half of Chicago’s public school teachers are “virtually illiterate” and that half of the city’s principals are “incompetent.”
When Mayor Emanuel announced his new graduation requirements: an acceptance letter to a university or community college, proof of an apprenticeship or internship, acceptable to a trade school, or enlistment in the armed services, even Gas Station TV covered the story.
What’s worst, Mayor Emanuel claims he got his latest punitive idea for public education from – you guessed it – charter schools.
Chicago would be the first city to implement such a requirement, although Emanuel said it’s an idea he borrowed from charter schools.
Chris Reykdal Has His Own Plan to Force Students into a Career Path
What’s interesting is right around the same time – when Chicago Mayor Emmanuel was taking heat for his coercive plan for high school students – State Superintendent Chris Reykdal was pushing a similar plan in the Washington State Legislature.
High School and Beyond Learning Plans for Every Student
The transition from middle school to high school is a substantial risk for students. The research shows that if a students fails even one core course ( math, science, or English ), in the 9th grade, they are less likely to graduate from high school than their peers. Washington State will become a leader in adopting a robust universal High School and Beyond Plans (HSBP) for 8th graders on their way to high school. The middle school provides the plan to the student’s high school, which details the student’s strengths, areas of growth, initial career interests, and a road map of the courses required to graduate from high school successfully. The HSBP tool will be digital and accessible to parents, guardians, counselors, and students. It will also provide the framework for early warning messaging to parents via contemporary digital media tools. Authentic parent engagement needs to meet the needs of the 21st century. (bold mine)
First off, two side issues which need addressing:
Reykdal’s push as a legislator for a statewide requirement of 24 credits has made the issue of students not passing one core class and failing to graduate an even higher possibility.
Second, authentic parent engagement involves actual humans – like teachers- not a text message similar to the ones I get from the dentist reminding me to schedule my next cleaning.
Must Means Mandatory
Here’s the wording from HB 2224, which passed the House with a vote of 94 yeas and ZERO noes on June 27, 2017.
“Must have” means mandatory in my book; if it’s a requirement for 8th grade or 12th grade is, frankly, irrelevant.
Instead of coercion, why isn’t our State Superintendent demanding every school in Washington State have full time counselors, nurses, social workers, and all of the other wrap around services kids need to be successful in school and life.
Recent “philanthropic” interest in universal pre-kindergarten, early literacy interventions and post-graduation plans (college, career, military or certifications) does not stem from some benevolent impulse. Rather it is about creating opportunities to embed digital frameworks into our education systems that reduce children’s lives to datasets. Once education is simplified as 1s and 0s, global finance will be well-positioned to speculate (gamble) on the future prospects of any given child, school, or district.
That is what accounts for intrusive preschool assessments like TS Gold and the pressure for middle school students to complete Naviance strengths assessments. Impact investors need baseline data, growth data and “value added” data to assess ROI (return on investment). There are opportunities for profit all along this human-capital value chain. That is why end-of-year testing had to go in favor of constant, formative assessments. That is why they needed to implement VAM (Value Added Measures) and SLOs (Student Learning Objectives). These speculative markets will demand a constant influx of dynamic data. Where is this student, this class, this district compared with where they were projected to be? We need to know. Our bottom line depends on it.
We must recognize that beneath the propaganda of expanding opportunities for our most vulnerable populations, what is happening with “Future Ready” education is predatory and vile. It demeans education, turning it into a pipeline for human capital management at the very moment more and more experts are conveying grave concerns about the future of work in a world increasingly governed by artificial intelligence and automation.
Admission to university or community college – check.
Proof of an apprenticeship, internship, or acceptable to a trade school -check.
Enlistment in the armed services -check.
Forcing kids to enlist in the military because they can’t jump through all these state mandated requirements to graduate is coercion.
Remember, these extra requirements are in addition to high school students passing all of their classes and earning 24 credit.
I think it’s also important to point out that most adults reading this post never had to pass a standardized test to graduate or had to cope with the added pressure and stress ed-reform’s embrace of business discipline has added on today’s student academic experience.
In short, I will not accept the rationale that these “outs” to an already brutal system are somehow benevolent.
Don’t try explaining away this type of authoritarian pressure to me as a benign attempt by the state to step in and help kids living in poverty make plans for the future because they don’t get that help from their parents.
This excuse is downright insulting to parents trying to make ends meet in our society of ever widening economic inequity – not to mention our country’s continuing love affair with the lie that skin color is character.
How is Washington State’s plan not similar to Mayor Emmanuel’s plan? And if so, where’s the outrage?
It’s also not hard to see State Superintendent Chris Reykdal’s mandatory high school and beyond plans evolving to require even more invasive character and academic assessments in the future – just give the legislature a few more sessions to get the job done.
The legislature already got a good head start when they rewrote the assessment requirements needed to graduate – as requested by Reykdal.
After all, the Washington Legislature doesn’t give a damn about funding our public schools, but they sure do like to pile on the requirements for graduation.
Everyone is back in school, the privatizers are not letting up but parents, students and teachers are fighting back. Diane Ravitch is coming out with her new book on September 18th, a book that is totally awesome by the way. I will have a review posted on September 17th. We’ve got some great forums and events happening this Fall in Seattle, see the right hand column for information, and I am rested up, revved up and ready to go.
First up, It’s the poverty stupid.
Diane Ravitch in her new book, Reign of Error, points out very clearly how poverty is many times a determining factor in the success of a student. It’s common sense, I know, but the corporate reformers choose to ignore that fact.
To follow is an example of how poverty erodes at the bright promise of our children’s futures and therefore the future of our nation.
While Congress and President Obama are debating bombing Syria as part of their “bomb everything bad” program and the corporate media continues to focus on nothing more than mindless chatter, the rest of us, particularly our children, are hurting.
How Sequestration Is Scaling Back Early Childhood Education Programs
Sequestration is moving our country away from economic recovery. In the Head Start program alone, sequestration is costing tens of thousands of jobs and denying our youngest and most-vulnerable citizens the benefits of a high-quality early learning program. Rather than across-the-board cuts, Congress and the administration should focus on strategic investments in areas that will grow our economy and our workforce over the long term. Early childhood education offers both a short-term payoff by creating jobs and an opportunity to improve the workforce for the next generation.
As this summer draws to a close, children, parents, and teachers across the country have begun the annual ritual of returning to school. Stores are advertising sales on school supplies, and schools have reopened so that teachers can begin decorating classrooms and readying their lesson plans. Bright yellow school buses are once again a mainstay of the morning commute. Many children across the country are beginning a new school year, as their parents wave goodbye and send them off to new learning experiences.
Unfortunately, in many communities across the country, some children won’t be showing up for school this year. Classrooms will shut down and teachers will look for other employment opportunities. This school year approximately 57,000 of our youngest children in the Head Start program won’t be going back to school. These cuts are the result of sequestration. In March 2013 a sequester order canceled $85 billion in federal funds, which included a $405 million cut to the Head Start program. Looking ahead, another sequester is possible in the next fiscal year if Congress cannot agree on how to meet established spending caps.
The Head Start program, established in the 1960s as part of then-President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, provides comprehensive preschool services, along with medical, dental, and mental-health screenings and follow-up services, nutritional services, and social services for families. Head Start reaches nearly 1 million children across the country, the vast majority of whom are from families with incomes at or below the federal poverty level. In 2012 Head Start had a budget of almost $8 billion. In 1994 the Early Head Start program began serving pregnant women and children from ages 0–3; it now reaches more than 100,000 infants and toddlers.
While long lines at the airport and canceled White House tours have made national headlines, cuts to early childhood programs have been less visible. Media outlets have reported grim consequences, including a lottery in an Indiana Head Start program to determine which children were cut and program closures in Kansas and New York. When programs close their doors, children who attended them lose out on access to high-quality early learning opportunities, families aren’t able to work without access to child care, and staff are left looking for jobs.
Cuts to early childhood programs are particularly problematic because we know that early childhood education is a sound long-term investment that pays for itself and prepares our nation’s future workforce for success. Instead of discussing how to absorb cuts, the conversation should focus on how to expand early childhood education to more children, as President Barack Obama proposed in his FY 2014 budget. Sequestration’s impact on Head Start directly harms economic recovery by eliminating jobs and services to children and families that help them move into the middle class.
Children are losing early learning opportunities
As Head Start programs struggle to cut their budgets after the March sequester, the loss of children’s access to programs is an inevitable consequence. Families of the 57,000 children who completely lost access to Head Start will struggle to find alternate options, and most will likely lose access to high-quality early learning. In some communities—such as Neodesha, Kansas, where the Head Start program has to close down—Head Start is the only center-based program available to families. Families that live in states with robust preschool programs might be able to enroll their 4-year-olds, but nationally, only about one-fourth of children are enrolled in state-funded preschool programs, and only eight states serve more than half of their 4-year-olds in preschool. Three-year-olds are even less likely to find access to publicly funded programs, as only 4 percent of them are served nationwide. Low-income families that are unable to find state-funded preschool programs will be hard pressed to find other options. In the private child care market, the average annual cost of center-based care for a 4-year-old ranges from $4,000 per year in Mississippi to $12,000 per year in Massachusetts.
Of the children cut from Head Start, about 6,000 are infants and toddlers in the Early Head Start programs. These children are the least likely to find access to another program, as few states fund center-based programs for children under age 2. The average cost of center-based child care for an infant ranges from $5,000 per year in Mississippi to $15,000 per year in Massachusetts. Most children in Early Head Start come from poor families who cannot afford such high tuition rates. Many of these children will likely end up in unregulated or poor-quality care so that their parents can continue to work.
Latino and African American children are likely to be hit the hardest by cuts to Head Start. Of the 10 states that will lose the most children from the Head Start program, the top two states mostly serve Latino children. Two other states serve mostly African Americans, and the largest block of children served by most states are children of color. (see Table 1)
It’s hard to focus on your work when you’re hungry. Tell that to your representatives. Suggest that they try going without food for a day and continue to work and meet all of their responsibilities and then take a standardized test at the end of the day just to top it off. Then ask them to consider how children who go to school hungry can manage to get through a day, let alone score well on a test.
As a self-described “true Southern man” — and reluctant recipient of food stamps — Dustin Rigsby, a struggling mechanic, hunts deer, doves and squirrels to help feed his family. He shops for grocery bargains, cooks budget-stretching stews and limits himself to one meal a day. ….
When Congress officially returns to Washington next week, the diets of families like the Rigsbys and the Adamses will be caught up in a debate over deficit reduction. Republicans, alarmed by a rise in food stamp enrollment, are pushing to revamp and scale down the program. Democrats are resisting the cuts.
No matter what Congress decides, benefits will be reduced in November, when a provision in the 2009 stimulus bill expires.
Yet as lawmakers cast the fight in terms of spending, nonpartisan budget analysts and hunger relief advocates warn of a spike in “food insecurity” among Americans who, as Mr. Rigsby said recently, “look like we are fine,” but live on the edge of poverty, skipping meals and rationing food.
Surrounded by corn and soybean farms — including one owned by the local Republican congressman, Representative Stephen Fincher — Dyersburg, about 75 miles north of Memphis, provides an eye-opening view into Washington’s food stamp debate. Mr. Fincher, who was elected in 2010 on a Tea Party wave and collected nearly $3.5 million in farm subsidies from the government from 1999 to 2012, recently voted for a farm bill that omitted food stamps.
“The role of citizens, of Christianity, of humanity, is to take care of each other, not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country,” Mr. Fincher, whose office did not respond to interview requests, said after his vote in May. In response to a Democrat who invoked the Bible during the food stamp debate in Congress, Mr. Fincher cited his own biblical phrase. “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Department of Agriculture released a 2012 survey showing that nearly 49 million Americans were living in “food insecure” households — meaning, in the bureaucratic language of the agency, that some family members lacked “consistent access throughout the year to adequate food.” In short, many Americans went hungry. The agency found the figures essentially unchanged since the economic downturn began in 2008, but substantially higher than during the previous decade.
It looks like some of the 1% are beginning to understand that fiddling with things they know nothing about can cause more harm than good. Peter Buffett, author of “Life Is What You Make It” (particularly if you’re white, rich and male) seems to have had an epiphany of sorts.
Much of philanthropy today has become a weapon in the class warfare of the 1 percent.
Peter Buffett, the second son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, worries that the state of philanthropy in America “just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place.” At meetings of charitable foundations, he says “you witness heads of state meeting with investment managers and corporate leaders. All are searching for answers with their right hand to problems that others in the room have created with their left.”
Describing the stunning growth of what he calls a “charitable-industrial complex,” his recent New York Times op-ed reads in confessional style: “People (including me) who had very little knowledge of a particular place would think that they could solve a local problem.” … “Using measures of both absolute and relative inequality,” the study’s authors conclude, “we have shown that philanthropy may actually exacerbate inequality, instead of reducing it.”
So these wealthy individuals out of a sense of altruism, or greed, have decided to take on the public school system, making it into their own image, a business model with winners and losers. Problem is, that approach is not working. In fact it is becoming a spectacular failure and it’s unraveling before our eyes.
It’s not working because there are factors involved in a child’s life that are being willfully ignored, one of those factors is the impact of poverty on a family. Not having enough money means less opportunity, it means being hungry, cold, sick, afraid, and creates a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.
I sometimes also want to ask corporate reformers how it feels when they’re hungry and yet they still have to complete a task. Is it hard to focus? What if you’re sick? How sharp are you at picking up new information and assimilating it? What if you just had an argument with your partner or saw someone be violent to someone else in your home, how well then could you concentrate on your work?
The reality is either too harsh for these folks to take or they understand that they are part of the problem and it would be too difficult for them to deal with. After all, things in their world would then have to change as well.
Poor schools underperform largely because of economic forces, not because teachers have it too easy
In the great American debate over education, the education and technology corporations, bankrolled politicians and activist-profiteers who collectively comprise the so-called “reform” movement base their arguments on one central premise: that America should expect public schools to produce world-class academic achievement regardless of the negative forces bearing down on a school’s particular students. In recent days, though, the faults in that premise are being exposed by unavoidable reality.
Before getting to the big news, let’s review the dominant fairy tale: As embodied by New York City’s major education announcement this weekend, the “reform” fantasy pretends that a lack of teacher “accountability” is the major education problem and somehow wholly writes family economics out of the story (amazingly, this fantasy persists even in a place like the Big Apple where economic inequality is particularly crushing). That key — and deliberate — omission serves myriad political interests.
For education, technology and charter school companies and the Wall Streeters who back them, it lets them cite troubled public schools to argue that the current public education system is flawed, and to then argue that education can be improved if taxpayer money is funneled away from the public school system’s priorities (hiring teachers, training teachers, reducing class size, etc.) and into the private sector (replacing teachers with computers, replacing public schools with privately run charter schools, etc.). Likewise, for conservative politicians and activist-profiteers disproportionately bankrolled by these and other monied interests, the “reform” argument gives them a way to both talk about fixing education and to bash organized labor, all without having to mention an economic status quo that monied interests benefit from and thus do not want changed.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that many “reformers’” policies have spectacularly failed, prompted massive scandals and/or offered no actual proof of success, an elite media that typically amplifies — rather than challenges — power and money loyally casts “reformers’” systematic pillaging of public education as laudable courage (the most recent example of this is Time magazine’s cover cheering on wildly unpopular Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel after he cited budget austerity to justify the largest mass school closing in American history — all while he is also proposing to spend $100 million of taxpayer dollars on a new private sports stadium).
In other words, elite media organizations (which, in many cases, have their own vested financial interest in education “reform”) go out of their way to portray the anti-public-education movement as heroic rather than what it really is: just another get-rich-quick scheme shrouded in the veneer of altruism.
To read this article in full along with the links, go to Salon.
Speaking of the disastrous effect that corporate reform has had on students, particularly the most vulnerable, all you have to do is look to Chicago where “education reform” started in a big way when Arne Duncan was the CEO of the schools and established the Renaissance 2010 plan. The now Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is a man with no experience in a classroom and was a rube for the developers who wanted to gentrify urban neighborhoods in Chicago by moving the minority students out of their schools and converting the buildings into charter schools for the wealthier residents of the city.
An internal TFA document shows plans for a dramatic charter expansion in the Windy City
When news broke this summer that Teach for America was expanding its presence inChicago amid the largest school closings in that city’s history and the layoffs of thousands of teachers and school staff, the reaction was swift, furious and extended well beyond the usual chorus of TFA detractors. At the time, I argued that the heated-back-and-forth, while welcome, missed the point. In city after city, TFA has largely abandoned its earlier mission of staffing hard-to-fill positions in public schools, serving instead as a placement agency for urban charters. In Chicago, however, TFA’s role appears to go far beyond providing labor for the fast-growing charter sector. An internal TFA document indicates that the organization has a plan to dramatically expand the number of charter schools in the city.
The document, a slide from Chicago TFA’s January 2013 Board of Directors meeting, is reproduced below. (You can view the original here or here). The five year charter management organization or CMO growth plan forecasts a dramatic expansion of privately-run charters in the city. The 52 new schools projected below would serve more than 30,000 students.
What we are experiencing in the US, the push to privatize our public schools, is spreading to other countries and fortunately many are resisting. One of those countries is Mexico.
Tens of Thousands March Against Mexico School Privatization
And why didn’t the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) take to the streets many years ago in protest of ed reform in the United States? Could it have been because the AFT President at the time, Randi Weingarten, also sat on the Board of Directors for the Broad Foundation and had other financial ties with the Broad Foundation?
Every day I read a large volume of articles, posts and op-eds on all things education and I have noticed a trend. People in all walks of life are beginning to see that the Four Horsemen of ed reform, charter schools, high stakes testing, closing public schools and the Common Core Standards are not working and were the brainchild of a moneyed few with little to no experience in public school education.
Common Core proponents are mounting a full court press in a belated recognition that their testing juggernaut is running into some serious obstacles around the country. Former TFA CEO Wendy Kopp shared her opinion today that the Common Core test results are a “welcome wake-up call” that will “…finally give families an accurate barometer of whether our kids are mastering the skills they need to succeed in a knowledge-based global economy, early enough that we can intervene.”
Meanwhile New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that “there has to be a death penalty for failing schools, so to speak,” making it clear that the dismal test scores will continue to be used to decimate schools in high poverty neighborhoods.
But some lawmakers have begun to connect the dots between the Common Core and the various people singing its praises. In Michigan, here is what representative Tom McMillin had to say two days ago, in response to testimony from Chester Finn, of the Fordham Institute, which can be counted among the architects of test-driven reform.
At around minute 26, McMillin points out that Chester Finn’s colleague at the Fordham Institute, Michael Petrilli, had stated that after Arne Duncan hired four Gates Foundation staffers to high level positions in the Department of Education, “the Gates Foundation’s agenda has become the country’s agenda in education.” Finn said he disagreed, however he acknowledged that “the Gates Foundation paid for the development of the Common Core standards. There’s no disputing that.”
And they also paid $6 million to Fordham (Institute) and then you guys evaluate the Common Core standards and decide if they’re any good or not. Don’t you see a real conflict there, when Fordham gets $6 million, and then they’re told to turn around and say Gates’ project is a great thing?
I have no idea where you got the $6 million figure from.
From the Gates Foundation web site.
Approximately three times too large in terms of any actual receipts that Fordham has gotten. We are evaluating the implementation of Common Core standards with Gates dollars, and that’s in the early stages ’cause implementation is only just beginning. The Gates Foundation had nothing whatsoever to do with our original 2010 evaluation of the standards themselves. We were not receiving any funds from Gates for that purpose at that time. Anybody that knows me and the Fordham track record knows we are not influenced by our funders.
NOTE: Since I posted this yesterday, it has come to my attention that the 2010 report that Chester Finn refers to above, available here, carries this acknowledgement on page 5:
Generous support for this massive undertaking came from four sources: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Louis Calder Foundation, The Brookhill Foundation, and our own sister organization, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. We are grateful to one and all.
Lawmakers will review New York’s recent education reform agenda, including Common Core national education standards, in public hearings this fall.
The quality of Common Core, state assessments, and student privacy are the main issues the hearings will address after widespread public outcry largely centered on testing.
“We are holding the hearings to see if we’re getting a good bang for our buck,” said Sen. John Flanagan (R-Smithtown), chairman of the Senate’s education committee.
In New York, education policy and administration is monitored by a Board of Regents consisting of 16 members the legislature elects. In 2010 it adopted a new reform agenda in line with President Obama’s education policy priorities, centered on Common Core, student data systems, teacher and principal evaluations, and overhauling failing schools.
The relationship between the board of regents and legislature is mostly financial, with the legislature funding the board’s plans, Flanagan said.
One Test to Rule Them All
Long Island principal Carol Burris hopes she can testify at the hearings on state testing and Common Core standards. She has emerged as a public critic of both. Burris oversees South Side High School. In 2010 she was named Educator of the Year, and she was honored as New York State High School Principal of the Year in 2013. In 2012, U.S. New and World Report named South Side High School the 22nd best high school in the nation.
Long before New York agreed to implement the upcoming national Common Core tests, Burris argued tying myriad policies to student test results harms education.
Although assessments are important tools that help educators measure what students know and what they do with information, it is unwise to use them for other things, she said.
“Test scores are used to close schools, evaluate teachers, and to retain students,” Burris said. “When that happens, you have to be careful. They can cause teacher behavioral changes [in the classroom] which [are] not in the interest of the child.”
‘Climate of Fear’
This can mean a teacher tends to focus on students whose scores will improve and boost his or her evaluation, she said. Burris says PARCC testing incorporates the dangers of high stakes testing, a system that has been proven to be inefficient. Mother and special education teacher Jia Lee, who teaches in New York City, said she became an activist because of testing research federal and local lawmakers have ignored.
“High stakes testing has made a climate of fear in schools,” she said. “It’s all about surviving.”
Other parents joined Lee to start Change the Stakes, an organization campaigning against high-stakes testing in New York.
Parents all over New York have also flocked to public meetings to complain about the state’s partnership with inBloom, a data-mining company partly funded by Bill Gates. The nonprofit initially partnered with eight states to use student information gained through academic tests. To date, five of the eight states have withdrawn from the partnership after public outcry over inBloom’s plans to amass data-points about millions of children, including Social Security numbers, hobbies, attitudes about school, learning disabilities, test scores, home addresses, and more.
“New York City has transferred the city’s information onto the data cloud without parents even knowing about it,” Lee said. “There is no transparency or accountability at the top.”
Mother Yvonne Gasperino, who initiated Stop Common Core in New York State, has partnered with parents in 36 of the state’s 62 counties to fight Common Core standards.
Good news: after sending an opt out letter (seen below) I received three letters back, from my high school student’s principal, math teacher and English teacher.
Each letter said that my child may take a paper-and-pencil alternative to the Common Core tests without any academic penalty. The school is apparently not enforcing the absurd current state law which states that schools must punish the student who opts out with a non-proficient score. Hooray!
I’m sharing this, so that anyone may create or adapt this letter for their use, if they like.
Dear Principal and Teachers,
Thank you for all you do for our kids. I sincerely appreciate your hard work, dedication and caring.
I am writing to let you know that ___________ my 11th grade child, will not be participating in the state’s new AIR/SAGE tests this year or next year. These are the Common Core aligned tests that feed into the federally funded State Longitudinal Database System and measure not only math and English, but also nonacademic, personal information including behavioral indicators (according to recent state law) and are to be used in grading schools.
I would like my child to have a pencil and paper alternative that is to be used ONLY at the school level, and not sent to the district or state levels.
I believe that this choice may be hurting this high school’s “school grade” so I apologize. It is not my wish to harm this excellent school in any way. I am also aware that it may hurt my child’s academic grade. Rather than getting an opt-out score, a non-test taker may get a non-proficient score. This is a tragedy for students and schools.
Our state leaders have created this situation that punishes schools and students when parents opt out of the tests.
*************************************************************************** (–You can quit reading here. But if you are interested in why I am writing this letter to opt my child out of the tests, please read on.)
Attached are PDF copies of the original bill SB175 and the amended bill put forth by the USOE at the Aug 2. meeting. On line 164 of the amended bill is what the USOE added. This is the part of the bill I find morally wrong.
164 (2) the parent makes a written request consistent with 165 LEA administrative timelines and procedures that the parent’s 166 student not be tested. Students not tested due to parent 167 request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be 168 used in school accountability calculations.
A parent should be able to opt their child out of the invasive computer adaptive testing without the child receiving a non-proficient score, after that child has spent an entire year in school and has received grades for the work that could easily determine proficiency.
A single test should not determine the success of a child’s school year in one swoop, any more than it should determine the grade for that school for the year. There are too many variables to consider yet testing is the only criteria by which a school (or student?) will be seriously graded. I realize there are other minor components that will factor into the grading of a school, but the main emphasis will be on the test scores.
There are many things wrong in education not the least of which are laws that tighten control over our children while telling parents what’s good for them. I should not have to pull my children out of school in order to protect them from invasive and experimental testing.
————————————————————————————————————— WHY DO PARENTS WANT TO OPT OUT OF COMMON CORE TESTING?
1. The AIR/SAGE/Utah Common Core tests, which test math and English, are nontransparent and secretive. 2. I don’t believe in the Common Core standards upon which these tests are based. They are experimental. They snub classic literature. They dilute classical math. They were developed and copyrighted by two D.C. private clubs who have no accountability to me as a teacher or as a voter– (the NGA and CCSSO). They give power to a centralized system that is contrary to the constitutional concept of separating powers and empowering local control. 3. The tests feed the national data collection beast via the 50 nationally interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS), feed the P-20 child tracking/surveillance program, and will gather nonacademic, private information on students, including “behavioral indicators” according to Utah state law HB5. 4. It’s nobody’s business, even in Utah, how my individual child does in math and English –except the teacher’s business, and mine. My child’s not to be counted as the government’s “human capital” and the government’s not an invited “stakeholder” in my child’s education, career, or life. Too bad for Governor Herbert’s darling, Prosperity 2020! Remember this: business leaders, governments and legislatures don’t have authority to use tests and data collection to snoop on any child (or adult) for “collective economic prosperity” or for any other reason. 5. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts kids and wastes instructional time. 6. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts teachers. They will be controlled by how students do on the tests; this limits teachers’ autonomy in the classroom and is an insult to teachers’ professional judgment.
I will leave you with this video of a student who feels as strongly as many of us do about what has been forced on us in what is supposed to be a democratic society. To know more about Ms Rhee, check out Michelle Rhee forum protest in Seattle.
A decade into the school accountability movement, pockets of resistance to standardized testing are sprouting up around the country, with parents and students opting out of the high-stakes tests used to evaluate schools and teachers.
From Seattle, where 600 high school students refused to take a standardized test in January, to Texas, where 86 percent of school districts say the tests are “strangling our public schools,” anti-testing groups argue that bubble exams have proliferated beyond reason, delivering more angst than benefits.
“Over the last couple of years, they’ve turned this one test into the all and everything,” said Cindy Hamilton, a 50-year-old mother of three in Florida who founded Opt Out Orlando in response to the annual Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which starts again Monday. Her group is one of dozens of new organizations opposed to such testing.
The opt-out movement is nascent but growing, propelled by parents, students and some educators using social media to swap tips on ways to spurn the tests. They argue that the exams cause stress for young children, narrow classroom curricula, and, in the worst scenarios, have led to cheating because of the stakes involved — teacher compensation and job security.
A group of Chicago high school students plans to boycott part of next week’s state exam, because they’re upset with how their results are being used.
They said it’s unfair to judge whether their schools are good or not based on one test. (Chicago Public Schools uses a complicated formula to judge performance, but more than half of the possible points are based on parts of the PSAE)
Two student-led groups, Voices of Youth in Chicago Education and Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools, called on their classmates to walk out of the second day of testing for the Prairie State Achievement Exam, or PSAE, Wednesday. Students take the ACT during the first day and many don’t want to jeopardize their chances at college.
Isaac Velasquez, a junior at Curie High School and part of the group: Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools, said he’s sick of test prep.
“Throughout the year, most of my teachers insisted on preparing us with EXPLORE quizzes as the administration believed it is efficient to prep us for the ‘big day,’” he said. “As a student, I found myself baffled, as I felt I had to make a decision between keeping up with current events and debates and doing well in school.”
Where there is a lot of money involved, as there is with the testing industry, there will be bribes and scams. I have learned that there is no such thing as a free lunch even though some “education officials” would say otherwise.
New York State’s attorney general is investigating whether the Pearson Foundation, the nonprofit arm of one of the nation’s largest educational publishers, acted improperly to influence state education officials by paying for overseas trips and other perks.
The office of the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, issued subpoenas this week to the foundation and to Pearson Education seeking documents and information related to their activities with state education officials, including at least four education conferences — in London, Helsinki, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro — since 2008, according to people familiar with the investigation.
At issue is whether the activities of the tax-exempt Pearson Foundation, which is prohibited by state law from engaging in undisclosed lobbying, were used to benefit Pearson Education, a for-profit company, according to these people. Pearson sells standardized tests, packaged curriculums and Prentice Hall textbooks.
Specifically, the attorney general’s investigation is looking at whether foundation employees improperly sought to influence state officials or procurement processes to obtain lucrative state contracts, and whether the employees failed to disclose lobbying activities in annual filings with the attorney general’s office. The inquiry follows twocolumns about the conferences by Michael Winerip in The New York Times this fall.
If there is evidence that the foundation engaged in substantial lobbying and failed to disclose it, it could face fines and lose its tax-exempt status under state and federal laws. No subpoenas were issued to state education officials, the people with knowledge of the matter said.
In a statement Wednesday, a Pearson Education spokeswoman said, “As a matter of policy, Pearson does not comment on government inquiries or potential legal proceedings.” A spokesman said the foundation “does not currently have a comment” about the inquiry, and added, “nor is it our practice to offer comment on legal proceedings or government inquiries.”
In New York, Pearson Education most recently won a five-year, $32 million contract to administer state tests, and it maintains a $1 million contract for testing services with the State Education Department, according to state records. The last contract was awarded after David M. Steiner, then the state education commissioner, attended a conference in London in June 2010 that was organized by the Council of Chief State School Officers and underwritten by the Pearson Foundation.
John White, Louisiana State Superintendent, announced that he was recalling all confidential student data from inBloom, the massive data warehouse funded by the Gates Foundation with $100 million.
Is this for real? Time will tell.
Parents in the state loudly protested the release of their children’s identifying information to the data warehouse, which was developed by Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify. Murdoch’s News Corporation is under investigation in England for hacking into people’s cell phones and computers. The most egregious case, which he settled for an undisclosed amount, involved hacking into the cell phone of a dead girl, in hopes of getting information about her killer.
Calling school closings “racist” and saying they could lead to “children dying,” dozens of students held a march Downtown Monday to protest last week’s announcement that 54 schools would close.
Declaring themselves the Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools, they marched from Chicago Public Schools headquarters to City Hall to deliver a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel demanding a moratorium on school closings and a publicly elected Board of Education.
“We represent the thousands of students in Chicago Public Schools that will be directly affected by school closings,” the letter stated.
Closings would lead to “more violence and more children dying,” as students walk to school across gang boundaries, the letter said. It said low-income African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods were unfairly targeted by the “racist decision” to close schools.
Although most of the two dozen students were high-schoolers, and no high schools are slated to be closed, they said they were speaking for younger students without an established voice.
“We are united and we are fighting for public schools,” said Israel Munoz, a senior at Kelly High School.
“It is our responsibility to stick up for them,” added Malachi Hoye, a senior at North Grand High School.
“As a student from Englewood, I can speak firsthand to the danger that lies ahead if these schools are closed,” said Brian Stirgus, a senior at Robeson High School. He said his elementary alma mater, Banneker, was being closed to merge with Mays Elementary Academy. The two schools, he said, are on opposite sides of Halsted Street, a gang boundary in that area. “Why potentially put kids in more danger?”
Isis Hernandez, an eighth-grader at Stowe Elementary, said her school had avoided the closure list, but “it’s not just about my school. It’s about saving all our schools.”
She said the closings would have a dramatic impact on neighborhoods. “This means more abandoned houses and more families moving away,” Hernandez said, adding, “We have the same right to a decent education as a rich kid.”
Thousands of Chicagoans filled downtown streets on Wednesday evening denouncing the city’s plans to close 54 schools, most of them in African-American neighborhoods. Protesters called the closings a “racist” move that will slash jobs and destabilize communities.
In an act of planned civil disobedience, more than 100 people were arrested sitting in the street outside City Hall. Among them were church leaders, school janitors, cafeteria workers and teachers. People cheered loudly as the arrestees walked along a gauntlet of supporters, their hands cuffed behind their backs. One woman in a purple SEIU T-shirt gave a kiss on the cheek to one of the officers after being arrested.
There was a sense of déjà vu to the protests: In September during the Chicago Teachers Union strike, crowds filled the same streets and likewise waved signs attacking Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his plans to revamp the public education system. At the start of the rally, CTU President Karen Lewis described the school closings as an unjust move.
“We’ll have one set of schools for children being taught to be [Wal-Mart] greeters, and we’ll have one set of schools for children being taught to rule the world,” said Lewis. “Let’s not pretend that’s not racist.”
School social worker Marie Smith’s handmade sign featured three prominent African Americans involved in the school closings: Board of Education member and Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp, former ComEd CEO and charter school founder Frank Clark and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett. “Modern day Judases, selling out black children for a few pieces of silver,” the sign said.
“I think he’s a great manipulator and liar,” Smith said of Emanuel. “And Andrea Zopp—she should be out in our communities creating jobs, not closing schools.”
Zakkiyyah Muhammad, a home healthcare worker and SEIU member, sees the closings as part of a larger trend. She worked for the Board of Education in the 1980s, before the mayor’s office took control of the school system and got the power to appoint the school board.
“[Emanuel’s] plan is to run black people out of these communities and clear the land, so they can bring in people who don’t look like us,” she said. “I agree with Karen Lewis that he’s a racist and a murderer.”
A student marching band performed a Michael Jackson medley as protesters marched around City Hall. In a city that is divided into a crazy quilt of gang allegiances, numerous students told In These Times they think gang and violence problems will get worse as some neighborhood schools are closed and others are combined into one building.
Rehab Ghasin, 20, worries about the safety of her 15-year-old sister once the plan goes into effect. “They’re not acquainted with our neighborhoods,” she said of the board. “This doesn’t matter to our mayor.”
“Kids will drop out and violence will go up,” predicted Rehab’s sister, Asalh. “It’s a stupid decision.”
“The shootings and killings will increase,” added Niaira Marshall, 18, a high school senior who plans to study elementary education in college. “As a future elementary school teacher this affects me. And there are generations that grew up in these schools. My principal also went to the school. Parents and grandparents, a lot of memories.”
“Students and parents are the ones being affected and they didn’t have a voice in this,” added her friend Christopher Canady, 17.
Alberto Guzman, 10, carried a sign celebrating his school, William H. King Elementary, which is closing. “It’s the best school I’ve ever known, I’ve been there five years,” he said somberly. His sign read: “What happened to all the dreams of becoming the next president? Barack Obama this is your city, why we aren’t getting no support?”
During his 35 years as a Georgia state investigator, Richard Hyde has persuaded all sorts of criminals — corrupt judges, drug dealers, money launderers, racketeers — to turn state’s evidence, but until Jackie Parks, he had never tried to flip an elementary school teacher.
In the fall of 2010, Ms. Parks, a third-grade teacher at Venetian Hills Elementary School in southwest Atlanta, agreed to become Witness No. 1 for Mr. Hyde, in what would develop into the most widespread public school cheating scandal in memory.
Ms. Parks admitted to Mr. Hyde that she was one of seven teachers — nicknamed “the chosen” — who sat in a locked windowless room every afternoon during the week of state testing, raising students’ scores by erasing wrong answers and making them right. She then agreed to wear a hidden electronic wire to school, and for weeks she secretly recorded the conversations of her fellow teachers for Mr. Hyde.
In the two and a half years since, the state’s investigation reached from Ms. Parks’s third-grade classroom all the way to the district superintendent at the time, Beverly L. Hall, who was one of 35 Atlanta educators indicted Friday by a Fulton County grand jury.
Dr. Hall, who retired in 2011, was charged with racketeering, theft, influencing witnesses, conspiracy and making false statements. Prosecutors recommended a $7.5 million bond for her; she could face up to 45 years in prison.
During the decade she led the district of 52,000 children, many of them poor and African-American, Atlanta students often outperformed wealthier suburban districts on state tests.
Those test scores brought her fame — in 2009, the American Association of School Administrators named her superintendent of the year and Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, hosted her at the White House.
And fortune — she earned more than $500,000 in performance bonuses while superintendent.
…a group of unelected, corporate oriented, “education reform leaders” have announced that they are pushing to develop 20 more charter schools in Minneapolis. Last year, Charter School Partners, a pro-charter school lobbying and advocacy group rolled out their “Charters 2.0” initiative, in which they will use public funds to finance “the creation and growth” of charter schools and fast-track the approval process for new charter schools.
Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul owner of Fox News and dozens of other companies around the world, recently announced he was moving into the “education” business. He said, “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the US alone.”
Murdoch is part of a growing list of corporate executives who see schools as profit centers. The education reform industry and their privatization efforts that have virtually destroyed the public education systems in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans have been quietly, and not so quietly, targeting the Twin Cities.
Since 1995, budget cuts and poor policy decisions have closed at least two dozen public elementary schools in Minneapolis, according to Eric Myott, research fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity (IMO). The impact has been larger class sizes and fewer neighborhood schools.
At the same time, the number of taxpayer funded charter school slots in Minneapolis has skyrocketed by over 600 percent from 1,529 in 2000 to 10,895 in 2010. In St. Paul, the increase in public funded charter seats has grown from 3,721 to 8,339, a 124 percent increase, according to school enrolment data compiled by IMO.
As our public schools deal with insufficient resources and increasing challenges, they need more support, not less.
But a group of unelected, corporate oriented, “education reform leaders” have announced that they are pushing to develop 20 more charter schools in Minneapolis. Last year, Charter School Partners, a pro-charter school lobbying and advocacy group rolled out their “Charters 2.0” initiative, in which they will use public funds to finance “the creation and growth” of charter schools and fast-track the approval process for new charter schools.
As part of their coordinated “Education Reform” effort, organizations from around the country are pouring money into an aggressive lobbying and public relations efforts to promote the expansion of charters.
According to recent lobbying reports, StudentsFirst, Inc., the controversial Sacramento-based education reform group headed by Michele Rhee, spent $99,122 over the past two years on media advertising to “influence legislative action” and other lobbying efforts. Meanwhile, the New York City-based 50CAN, Inc. spent $144,396 to lobby here. The chair of 50-CAN, Minnesota’s own Matthew Kramer, is also the CEO of Teach for America, a group that has also been spending money in Minnesota to impact legislation and campaigns.
What the national and state charter school proponents fail to reveal is that their “solution” to the challenges facing public education in America is failing.
For example, charter schools in the Twin Cities are even more racially isolated than our public schools. As of 2011, fewer than one in five Twin Cities’ charter schools qualified as “integrated.” As our cities grapple with the negative effects of segregation, charter schools in Minneapolis are making the problem significantly worse.
Just as troubling is the fact that studies continue to prove that charter schools are not “high achieving.” A major study conducted by the University of Minnesota School of Law’s non-profit; non-partisan Institute on Race & Poverty determined that “traditional schools outperformed charter schools after controlling for student poverty, race, special education needs, limited language abilities, student mobility rates and school size.”
The greatest threat of all is that charter schools are undermining the fundamental American principle that public schools should be governed by the communities they were built to serve. But one need only look at the Board of Directors of these various charter schools to see where education reform is taking us. Hiawatha Academies, for example, has a board of executives from major corporate entities such as United Health, Best Buy, Standard Health, and U.S. Bank. Similar evidence can be found with dozens of other charters. In some cases, the charter chain headquarters are not even located in Minnesota.
I will leave you with Diane Ravitch where she spoke at an event sponsored by the North Carolina Justice Center’s Education & Law Project and Public Schools First NC.
What is the future of public education in the United States? Sadly, if policy developments of the kind underway in North Carolina and several other states continue to take hold, it could be quite bleak. Where once we viewed and treated public schools as both an essential “common good” institution and a critical bulwark of our democracy, today they are increasingly marginalized as just another consumer “product” to be consigned to the vagaries of “the market.”
The results of this attitude shift are palpable and destructive: Privatization, vouchers, unfettered charter schools and re-segregation are all on the rise as families, schools and communities scramble to “compete” to protect their own narrow, short-term interests.Fortunately, more and more groups and individuals are standing up to resist these trends. And among this group no one is more visible or effective than Diane Ravitch.
These two bills represent what has become the favored process for privatizing our public schools; label schools as “failing” and then turn them into charter schools.
The Republican dominated Washington State Senate recently passed the bills and now they are sitting on the desks of our education committee members in the House.
I and other Parents Across America affiliated members visited with our House Education committee members last week and discussed our concerns about the two bills.
Everyone who we visited was glad to see us and they all said the same thing…they are not hearing from parents as a whole. They hear a lot from Stand for Children but not from the rest of us.
If you are reading this blog, you understand the issues of our day, far better than most. Please call or e-mail your representatives as informed citizens and let them know what you think. It’s one thing to agree with what I’m saying but now it’s time to take the next step and contact folks in Olympia.
CReATE just came out with a study brief on school closures that I would recommend reading. The effects that school closings are having in Chicago and Philadelphia would be the same in Seattle. Instead of supporting schools, the corporate privatizers simply want to close them and open them as charter schools or walk away from schools, abandoning the communities as well.
To follow are excerpts from the brief, the highlighted text is mine. Don’t miss the kicker at the end of this report in the conclusion section.
When a school is closed, the facility is shut down, school staff is displaced, children are sent to other schools, and the community loses a vital resource. If Chicago Public Schools (CPS) follows the city’s Commission on School Utilization March 2013 recommendations, 80 CPS neighborhood schools (13% of the entire system) will be closed, disrupting the lives of nearly 25,000 children. CPS expects that students will need to travel an added 1 to 1½ miles to get to their new schools. Over the years, CPS has mobilized three different types of arguments to justify school closings: underperformance, cost savings, and underutilization. In this new brief CReATE researchers examine each of these arguments in relation to current educational research.
Students from turnaround or closed CPS schools who moved to academically stronger schools, and/or schools with strong student-teacher relationships, experienced the greatest gains from school closures.
However, the reality of school closures in the CPS system suggests that students accessing academically stronger schools are the exception, not the rule. A 2009 study by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) found that 82% of students from 18 elementary schools closed in Chicago moved from one underperforming school to another underperforming school, including schools already on probation.
In a follow up 2012 report, the CCSR determined that 94% of students from closed Chicago schools did not go to “academically strong” new schools.
According to the 2009 CCSR study, “One year after students left their closed schools, their achievement in reading and math was not significantly different from what we would have expected had their schools not been closed.”
The authors conclude that, overall, there were no significant positive or negative effects on academic achievement resulting from the closure when students transferred to comparable schools.
On the other hand, a study by Kirshner, Gaertner, and Pozzoboni (2010) contradicts the no-effect findings when examining comparable transition schools.
The authors found that students who transitioned into new schools following closure scored lower on tests one year after closure; they were at an increased risk of dropping out, as well as an increased risk of not graduating. Interview data from this study suggests closure was viewed negatively by transitioning students and imposed a stigma upon them that followed them into their new schools. The researchers found that test score trends on standardized tests for transfer students declined after the closure was announced.
Test scores for students from the cohort that transferred to other schools continued to decline for two standardized test administrations after the closure announcement.
School closings will also negatively affect the achievement levels for students in the receiving schools. A Michigan State University study found that “while the closing of low-performing schools may generate some achievement gains for displaced students, part of these gains will likely be offset by spillover effects onto receiving schools.” For one thing, closings often lead to increased class sizes and overcrowding in receiving schools. As a result, the pace of instruction is slower and the test scores of both mobile students and non-mobile students tend to be lower in schools with high student mobility rates. One study comparing the curricular pace of stable schools and highly mobile schools in Chicago found that highly mobile schools lagged behind stable schools by one grade level on average.
In various cities, school closures have led to several negative experiences for displaced students, including a doubling of the likelihood of dropping out of school, increased school violence, lowered likelihood of enrolling in summer school programs in the summer following school closure, higher rates of school-to-school mobility, disrupted peer relationships, and weaker relationships with adults.
Closures disrupted relationships students had established with adults and other students at their closed schools, leaving the students with few social and emotional supports to help them adjust to the challenges of the new school.
Relation between closures and charters Chicago Public Schools and charter schools operators consistently claim that school closures have nothing to do with charter schools and that CPS will not repurpose the closed schools into charter schools….
There are many reasons to believe that school closures are directly related to the expansion of the charter school system. First, the budget deficit, in part, can be attributed to the costs of expanding the charter school system. In FY 2012, $350 million was budgeted for the Office of New Schools, the office devoted to developing new charter and contract schools. For the upcoming fiscal year, CPS allocated an additional $23 million to fund new charter schools, nearly half of what they estimate they will save if they close 80 neighborhood schools. In addition, the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) was successful in lobbying the Illinois General Assembly for an additional $35 million to expand their charter school network in 2012, at a time when the state cut over $200 million from the public school budget.
Second, there is a strong local and national trend of converting closed public schools into privately operated charter schools. Forty-two percent of all closed public schools across the U.S. have been turned into charter schools. Chicago parallels that trend, with 40% of its closed public schools converted into privately operated charter schools.
Moreover, the reopened charter schools did not necessarily benefit neighborhood children. A study of closed neighborhood schools that were reopened as charter schools in Chicago showed a transformation in the student body attending these reopened schools. The new students tended to be more affluent, with higher prior achievement, and fewer of them had special needs. The schools also served fewer students from the neighborhoods in which the schools were situated.
Third, Chicago Public Schools currently has plans to expand their charter system. In 2012, CPS signed the Gates Compact with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (a non-profit that financially supports the expansion of charter schools). As part of the Gates Compact, CPS pledged to open an additional 60 charter schools in the near future. Already CPS has plans to open 13 new charters in 2013, despite their claim that the system is underutilized. If the future location of charter schools mirrors the existing trends, then the new charter schools will be located in the neighborhoods facing traditional public school closures…
Finally, the people in charge of the closure process and Chicago Public Schools leadership are supporters of charter school expansion. The current CPS CEO, Barbara Byrd- Bennett, is a Broad Foundation executive coach, training superintendents in the principles of business model school reform. The Broad Foundation invests millions in transforming schools into more privately controlled entities and seeks to train the next generation of leaders to realize the charter school takeover of the public schools. A recent memo issued by the Foundation proposes what the Washington Post quotes as “a series of strategic shifts in the foundation’s education programs designed to ‘accelerate’ the pace of ‘disruptive’ and ‘transformational’ change in big city school districts.”
The Broad Foundation released a 2009 report detailing the political tactics and strategies public officials should employ when conducting mass school closures. We see many of their recommendations implemented in this current round of school closures in Chicago, including: using the language of how a school is designed for X number of children but only Y number are using it; emphasizing declining enrollment; stating that the current use is an inefficient utilization of facilities; and insisting that closures will allow officials to “right-size” the system.
Additionally, CPS’ communications department acknowledged that the Walton Foundation, founded by the family who owns Wal-Mart, gave CPS a grant for $478,000 to finance the community engagement process around the “utilization crisis.”
The Walton Foundation is an avid supporter of charter school proliferation, giving $700 million to “choice” schools in a bid to transform public education into a privately controlled domain.
Racial Disparities of School Closings
…Disinvestment in public schools and empty buildings will deepen the hardship confronting neighborhoods already suffering from community disinvestment and may contribute to even further population loss of African Americans in Chicago. For example, WBEZ aggregated data on abandoned properties, city-owned vacant lots, and community area census figures from the city’s data portal site, and mapped them on top of the locations of the schools targeted for potential closure.
They found that school closures directly correspond to the locations of troubled mortgages, foreclosures, and population loss. Closing neighborhood schools will discourage people from moving back into these disinvested communities.
Furthermore, closures may exacerbate tensions between communities and lead to violence. Since 2004, school closures that transfer students to schools outside their immediate neighborhoods have resulted in spikes of violence in and around elementary and high schools.
We strongly caution policy makers to consider the added stressors that closures bring to these communities.
School closures also disproportionately impact African American teachers. The Chicago Teachers Union reports that African Americans made up nearly 40% of all CPS teachers in the 1990s. By 2012, that proportion was reduced to under 20%.
In previous rounds of Chicago school closings, 65% of the teachers displaced were African American women.
A 2012 report by the Consortium on Chicago School Research on school closings and turnarounds determined that, “The teacher workforce after intervention across all models was more likely to be white, younger, and less experienced, and was more likely to have provisional certification than the teachers who were at those schools before the intervention.”
At present, the data reviewed in this research brief does not support Chicago Public Schools’ claim that closures are a viable solution to the current issues in the district.
Instead, their greatest potential is to inflict deeper harm on African American and Latino/a communities. In addition to the current issues of privatization (via charter school expansion) and displacement, massive school closings are poised to continue the legacy of mass displacement, marginalization and isolation of low-income communities of color in Chicago.
Contributing to our concern is the revelation by the Chicago Sun-Times that Tom Tyrell, a former Marine colonel whose military credentials include hostage negotiation in the war in Kosovo, has been appointed by CPS as the official in charge of administering school closings. As CReATE, we are charged to pose the following question: If CPS has hired a former military official to administer school closings, what is the assumption of the central office regarding the potential of conflict if the closures are implemented? In so doing, we predict a heavy-handed response from law enforcement if the current closures, which do not even serve their stated purposes, are implemented.
How to convince the public to abandon the wishy-washy notion of education for all in three easy steps.
It is an indisputably true fact that our public schools are *hopelessly* failing beyond any hope of excellence. Yet the public remains strangely attached to the idea that publicly-funded schools have an obligation to educate all kids. Alas, that old-fashioned notion of equity is like the Lindsay Lohan of principles: washed-up and of waning interest. Today’s edu-visionary is all about excellence: the laser-honed vision of a 21st century skills-lined path to prosperity for a few outstanding strivers. But how to convince the public to abandon the wishy-washy notion of education for all?
Step One: Bad News Bears
The news is bad folks. In fact it’s worse than bad. It’s *terrible.* You thought you knew just how badly our union-stifled public schools were doing? Take what you thought you knew and ratchet up (or is that down?) the failure by a factor of 9—no, make that 10. While there may be astonishing news to the contrary (like the fact that African American 8th graders in Massachusetts outscored the Finns in math on last year’s TIMSS tests, the global equivalent of March Madness), I can’t think of any reason to report that—can you?
As for long-term good news trends which contradict the daily barrage of bad news about our hopelessly failing public schools TO AN ALMOST COMICAL DEGREE, forget about those too. High school graduation rates in Boston at their highest level in history? Nothing to see here folks, move it along. College enrollment and completion numbers way up too? Yawn…And don’t even get me going on that non-story about the unprecedented math gains recorded by students in the Boston Public Schools between 2003-2011. While *technically* the largest ever recorded anywhere in the US in the 30 year history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, this does not change the fact that the news is bad. Did I say bad? I meant worse than even bad. I meant “F minus,” “fall into the achievement gap,” “vote with your feet” bad.
Step Two: Hype, Hype, Hooray
The good news is that there is some great news about schools that are achieving outstanding results with the exact same students being failed on a daily basis by our failing public schools (see above). Reader: join me as we traverse the peak up high expectations mountain to Boston’s City on a Hill Charter Public School, one of the most outstanding academies of excellence in the entire nation. In fact none other than Arne Duncan proclaimed City on a Hill a Blue Ribbon School for outstandingness just last year. City on a Hill has attracted particular praise for its trajectory of excellence that catapults students to college and directly into 21st century careers. As for that silly nonsense about the tiny number of students who actually graduate from City on a Hill, nothing to see here folks. Please completely disregard the following. In fact, I recommend closing your eyes and humming a gentle tune until this next section is over.
Number of ninth graders in the City on a Hill 2012 cohort: 130
Number in that cohort who made it to 12th grade: 47
But she does have a few thoughts on the matter. Like: What are they thinking?
“I talked to a member of the school board that I knew and said what a terrible idea I thought it was,” Preckwinkle told me in an interview. “You know, schools are community anchors. They’re social centers. They’re part of a community’s identity. And often kids go half a dozen blocks and they’re in different gang territory.
“The closings are going to take place almost entirely within the African-American community, and given the problems we already have with violence, I think it’s very problematic.”
This report reveals that eight in 10 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students displaced by school closings transferred to schools ranking in the bottom half of system schools on standardized tests. However, because most displaced students transferred from one low-performing school to another, the move did not, on average, significantly affect student achievement.
The report demonstrates that the success of a school closing policy hinges on the quality of the receiving schools that accept the displaced students. One year after school closings, displaced students who re-enrolled in the weakest receiving schools (those with test scores in the bottom quartile of all system schools) experienced an achievement loss of more than a month in reading and half-a-month in math. Meanwhile, students who re-enrolled in the strongest receiving schools (those in the top quartile) experienced an achievement gain of nearly one month in reading and more than two months in math.
The next stop on TFA’s “listening tour” should be CEO Matt Kramer’s hometown: Minneapolis
The first stop on today’s Minnsanity tour is the Minneapolis board of education, a topic of near EduShyster obsession due to the recent purchase of a school board seat by Teach for America, whose co-CEO happens to reside in the city. So what do board meetings look like when everyone agrees that the achievement gap is the civil right$ issue of our time? At one recent meeting:
Eli Kramer (brother of TFA co-CEO Matt Kramer) urged the board to sell a shuttered public school to Hiawatha Academy, the outstanding and innovative charter that he runs.
Hiawatha Academy’s expansion is backed by Charter School Partners, which employs TFA co-CEO Matt Kramer’s wife.
The TFA-backed school board member who moved to Minneapolis to run for office had to recuse himself from the vote because his girlfriend will be the principal of the new Hiawatha facility.
A second board member also recused himself from the vote because he sits on the board of Hiawatha Academy.
The board voted to sell the shuttered public school to Hiawatha Academy. According to the MinnPost, the newspaper owned by TFA co-CEO Matt Kramer’s father, the sale heralds a new era of collaboration. I’ll say.
There’s more. To find out all of the machinations of this group, go to edushyster.
A long post that is worth a read here on the rise and influence of Pearson and corporate influence in education reform. Take pause, friends. Take pause but feel free to share and post comments here. Thoughts?
The Pearson Monopoly Jennifer Job, UNC Chapel Hill
If you haven’t heard of Pearson, perhaps you have heard of one of the publishers they own, like Adobe, Scott Foresman, Penguin, Longman, Wharton, Harcourt, Puffin, Prentice Hall, or Allyn & Bacon (among others). If you haven’t heard of Pearson, perhaps you have heard of one of their tests, like the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the Stanford Achievement Test, the Millar Analogy Test, or the G.E.D. Or their data systems, like PowerSchool and SASI. 
In a little over a decade, Pearson has practically taken over education as we know it. Currently, it is the largest educational assessment company in the U.S. Twenty-five states use them as their only source of large-scale testing, and they give and mark over a billion multiple choice tests every year. They are one of the largest suppliers of textbooks, especially as they look to acquire Random House this year. Their British imprint EdExcel is the largest examination board in the UK to be held in non-government hands.
Pearson has realized that education is big business. Last year, they did 2.6 billion pounds of business, with a profit of 500 million pounds (close to a billion dollars). And business is looking up, which I will return to in a minute. First, I want to talk about the vicious cycle that Pearson drives through education.
Pearson’s first big jump was acquiring Harcourt’s testing arm in 2008, taking Harcourt’s 40% market share and parlaying it into controlling more than half of all assessments taking place that year. At this point, Pearson began to coordinate all of the textbook imprints it owns (as one of the three biggest textbook publishers in the U.S.) with its tests, completing its own equation of curriculum and assessment. It was just a matter of locking down their territory and growing it.
To grow into the multibillion-dollar corporation they are today, Pearson blurs every line among for profit, nonprofit, and government systems. They have prominently partnered with University of Phoenix, whose parent company’s CEO also sits on the board of Teach for America. They acquired America’s Choice, which partners with the Lumina, Broad, and Walton Foundations. The Chief Education Advisor for Pearson is Sir Michael Barber, a lobbyist who pushes for free-market reforms to education. And the list of executives and partnerships goes on.
What are some of the benefits of these partnerships? Pearson’s advocates for education reform were instrumental in the development of the Race to the Top initiative, from which they have benefitted in numerous ways. For example, Race to the Top requires significant data accumulation, and thus Pearson partnered with the Gates Foundation to be the ones to store the data. Pearson also is a key partner of the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State Schools Officers. When the plan for the Common Core Standards was hatched, Pearson paid to fly the policymakers to Singapore for luxurious “education” trips to promote the educational methods they promote. 
As a result of their work with the NGA, the Common Core Standards and Race to the Top assessment requirements for those standards work heavily in Pearson’s favor. It doesn’t matter that Stephen Krashen found that 53% of educators oppose the Common Core—nearly every state has adopted it anyway, and they encourage a 20-fold increase in the number of tests given every age from preschool to grade 12.  Tests that will be administered by Pearson.
I confess that I was naïve. I should have known in an age in which standardized tests direct teaching and learning, that the standards themselves would quickly become operationalized by tests. Testing, coupled with the evaluation of teachers by scores, is driving its implementation. The promise of the Common Core is dying and teaching and learning are being distorted. The well that should sustain the Core has been poisoned.
I hear about those distortions every day. Many of the teachers in my high school are also the parents of young children. They come into my office with horror stories regarding the incessant pre-testing, testing and test prep that is taking place in their own children’s classrooms. Last month, a colleague gave me a multiple-choice quiz taken by his seven-year old son during music. Here is a question:
Kings and queens COMMISSIONED Mozart to write symphonies for celebrations and ceremonies. What does COMMISSION mean?
to force someone to do work against his or her will
to divide a piece of music into different movements
to perform a long song accompanied by an orchestra
to pay someone to create artwork or a piece of music
Whether or not learning the word ‘commission’ is appropriate for second graders could be debated—I personally think it is a bit over the top. What is of deeper concern, however, is that during a time when 7 year olds should be listening to and making music, they are instead taking a vocabulary quiz.
Here’s another case of a frustrated mother and distraught child – another child who is being taught to hate school from the start.
Sara Wottawa is a parent in New York who is highly conscientious of her kids’ school work and progress. Today, she posted the following on Facebook:
Today I am very emotional and upset. My son, who is in kindergarten, is very cooperative in school but when he comes home he emotionally falls apart. Today after trying to assist him with his developmentally inappropriate homework I reached my breaking point. I decided for the remainder of the year he will no longer take part in completing developmentally inappropriate homework.
Here is his Kindergarten homework, brought to you by the Pearson Envision math program (which, according to Pearson, is very well aligned to the Common Core State Standards):
The Pending Rejection states are so marked as a result of serious discussion or action taken towards withdrawing from the Common Core State Standards, withdrawing from PARCC or SBAC, delaying implementation of standards or assessments, or not funding the implementation. The discussions or actions considered include public forums, legislative bills, and hearings on state legislative floors in 2012 or 2013.
Now for something that works, A year at Mission Hill
This is a 10-part series, which chronicles a year in the life of one of America’s most successful public schools. Guiding Question for Chapter 1: What characterizes a great school, and how do schools sustain greatness over time?
This has been a ghastly and heart wrenching week in education around the country but particularly in Philadelphia and Chicago where hundreds of schools are slated for closing.
The dream of a charter school in every pot, or rather every community, is coming to past for Eli Broad and his ilk.Just close the public schools and open up charter schools. Mission Accomplished. Squeeze out the funding for public schools, grade schools with an A through F, label schools as failing and voila! You have closed as many public schools as necessary to keep those charter schools afloat. But unfortunately, the reality is much different. Communities lose their anchor when the public school closes, students have to leave their neighborhoods to find another, possibly “failing” school, and a part of one’s history and ties with a school and its surrounding community dissipates and eventually disappears.
“The racial breakdown of the schools that are eligible to be closed is really an indictment on the fact that the district has operated without accountability in a two-tiered education system.
“What we should be saying instead of blaming parents, instead of blaming teachers or having low expectations, is, ‘Why can the school district set up excellent public schools on one side of town because it wants to keep that demographic there but starve out neighborhood schools in another community that’s African-American, and after the district neglects those schools, say ‘Look your schools are under-utilized, your test scores aren’t where they should be.”
– Jitu Brown, Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization
An analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times shows that 88%, 119 of the 129 schools that are on the list for possible closing are in Black neighborhoods.
That compares with 41.7% of CPS students district-wide who are African-American.
If Rosa Parks were alive today, she would be standing with the good people of Philadelphia and not having a “Rosa Parks moment” with Arne Duncan who brought all of this upon communities around the nation.
I have a hard time with the following title, particularly “rational decisions”. The NY Times is blurring the lines between objective journalism and corporate propaganda but for me, the photo says it all.
“In my heart, I didn’t want to accept it,” said Glen Casey, 18, a senior, at the end of the school day Friday. “It broke my heart, it hit me hard.”
Around the country, districts including Chicago, Newark and Washington have been echoing that rationale, with officials citing budget gaps as they draw up lists of schools to close at the end of the school year. District officials also say they need to close underperforming schools so that students can move to schools where they have a better chance of succeeding. (Charter schools)
But critics say that while the spreadsheets or test scores might say one thing, even lower-performing, underused schools can serve as refuges in communities that have little else.
“The school is one of the foundations of the community,” said Rosemarie Hatcher, president of the Philadelphia Home and School Council, which represents local home and school associations. “It’s like a village. The schools know our kids and they look out for our kids.”
In emotional speeches on Thursday night to Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission, more than 30 teachers, students and parents said that children at schools scheduled for closing would have to walk long distances through dangerous neighborhoods to reach their new schools, some of which have poor records on academics, discipline and safety. In Chicago, where about 100 schools have been closed since 2001, Professor Lipman said that all but two were in low-income communities, and that 88 percent of the students affected were African-American.
According to Parents Across America Founding Member Helen Gym who lives in Philadelphia and has battled the closing of schools:
Among the impact of the closings are nine high schools and a whole neighborhood (historic Germantown) being wiped out of all but one middle school. The SRC had originally put one of two elementary schools, the middle school AND the high school on the closings list. It spared only the middle school. The second elementary school in the neighborhood is being converted to charter in September, leaving no public elementary school for Germantown.
A study by Research for Action found that 75% of the 9,000+ students impacted by school closings will move into a school that’s no better or worse in reading, and 84% will move into a school no better or worse in math. What’s clear is that none of us – whether we were in a school that closed or not – will have any level of substantial or adequate resources next year…
VIERA — A lawsuit filed today seeking to keep open three Brevard schools slotted for closure claims that the matter is an issue of civil rights.
Closing Gardendale and South Lake elementary schools and Clearlake Middle School would disproportionally affect low-income minority students, it says – while keeping a school in a more affluent area open.
“Today we have sought the protection of the judge,” said Attorney Shayan Elahi during the press conference held at the Moore Justice Center after the lawsuit was filed.
“We’ve asked the judge to stop these closures and give everyone involved some time to look into exactly what is going to behind the scenes.”
The lawsuit names two South Lake students and their guardians, a grandmother and mother. It seeks to prevent all three schools scheduled for closure, including Gardendale Elementary and Clearlake Middle.
“It seems to us, and my clients, that there is some ulterior motive behind rushing and bulldozing these changes through,” said Elahi, a prominent civil rights attorney based in Orlando. “We all know that once these changes take place, it’s very hard to reverse them.”
Rev. Glenn Dames of St. James AME Church in Titusville said that the closures will have a “profound and distressing impact” on the community. About 30 parents, grandparents and community members, dressed in red to symbolize a “human stop sign,” came to support the lawsuit.
Chicago’s Board of Education creates a crisis, and charter school operators reap the benefits.
In public policy circles, crises are called “focusing events”—bringing to light a particular failing in government policy. They require government agencies to switch rapidly into crisis mode to implement solutions. Creating the crisis itself is more novel.
The right-wing, free market vision of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman informed the blueprint for the rapid privatization of municipal services throughout the world due in no small part to what author Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism.” Friedman wrote in his 1982 treatise Capitalism and Freedom, “When [a] crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around”
In Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine, she explains how immediately after Hurricane Katrina, Friedman used the decimation of New Orleans’ infrastructure to push for charter schools, a market-based policy preference of Friedman acolytes. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the CEO of Chicago Public Schools at the time, and later described Hurricane Katrina as “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans.” Duncan is of the liberal wing of the free market project and a major supporter of charter schools.
There aren’t any hurricanes in the Midwest, so how can proponents of privatization like Mayor Rahm Emanuel sell off schools to the highest bidder?
They create a crisis.
Each year, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) projects a billion dollar deficit. The announcement grabs headlines and the Board of Education announces that they must make serious cuts. These cutbacks are never at the top. The Board cuts education programs, after-school activities, and forces more classroom costs onto its employees.
School closings are announced tangentially to the deficit announcement. In years past, the manufactured budget crisis was used as an excuse to lay off teachers. People were fired, class sizes swelled to epic proportions and—after the budget was reconciled—CPS miraculously found a surplus. This past year’s final audited budget showed a surplus of $344 million.
The Chicago Board of Education announced that it must close “underutilized” schools and consolidate students into “receiving schools” to save the district from the projected deficit. The Board argues that some schools simply do not enroll enough students to stay open. A local teacher and parent published ten questions to Chicago Public Schools regarding how much can actually be saved by closing these schools. The Board’s responses revolved around the idea that previous administrations have let the problem get so bad they must act fast and close these schools or else the district will fall over a fiscal cliff—sorry, wrong manufactured crisis—but you get the idea.
So now we have a crisis. Schools closed and students shifted around the city. Many of them may have to cross gang territories to get to their receiving schools. School violence spikes. As Rahm Emanuel said in 2008, “You never want a good crisis to go to waste.”
If only there were a solution “lying around” to attach to this crisis.
At the end of 2012, the Chicago Board of Education approved additional charter schools. The Walton Family Foundation provided seed money for some of these schools. Charter school proliferation can take part of the blame for schools being “underutilized,” as they draw students from other schools, but the Board’s metric for calculating utilization is also suspect.
Charter schools become the “solution” lying around for parents who want to keep their students close to home in a school that will not be closed the following year. Many charter schools have been infused with additional resources, making their facilities look shiny and new. Parents, through the market-based “choice” system (which is revered by Friedmanites), may enroll their children in these new schools. That is, unless their children have special needs, are learning English, or are simply bad at taking tests. Reuters recently published a report that showed how charter schools “cream” students to get the kids they want.
Charter schools that invest heavily in public relations campaigns receive positive press, but when stacked against magnet schools, which are public schools (staffed by union teachers) with barriers to access, they do not outperform.
Students with special needs, limited English proficiency, or without a regular place to call home are forced to fight over limited resources in the public schools.
This scene is playing out at school closing hearings held by CPS, underwritten by the Walton Family Foundation. School communities are forced to make the case for keeping their schools open. At a recent meeting on Chicago’s north side, schools that take in homeless students from the blighted Uptown community were pitted against schools with programs that address special needs. Some observers likened the scene to the young adult novel-turned-film The Hunger Games, where children are forced to fight to the death for the amusement of the 1%.
In real life, our rulers don’t bother to stick around and watch the fruits of their policy. But they’re more than happy to benefit. The Chicago elites’ charter schools are self-perpetuating gifts. The recent UNO Charter School Scandal shows how people connected to charters can dole out contracts to friends and family. The UNO network was the recent recipient of $98 million in state aid to build more schools.
The head of UNO, Juan Rangel, was co-chair of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s election campaign. Members of Rangel’s organization are now in the business of installing Illinois state representatives, the very people who hold the purse strings of these state grants. This is the face of the new municipal political machine.
Charter operators push back on any efforts of their staffs to unionize. When public schools close and charters open, teachers unions become weaker. Teachers unions are democratic institutions with ties to the communities they serve. When the public is disempowered, the small patronage army of the mayor becomes more entrenched.
The sale of public schools to charter operators cannot be done slowly. The fast pace of crisis management obscures the graft from the public. UNO specifically needs to operate under these crisis management conditions.
UNO operates under $67,800,000 in outstanding debt. The $98 million state gift cannot be used to pay back this debt because it has been earmarked for capital projects, namely building or improving schools. The only way to keep the UNO patronage train rolling is by continuously expanding and opening schools, with construction contractors serving as potential allies come election time.
The free-market think tank American Enterprise Institute recently praised this particular brand of charter school. The use of patronage in government hiring was a major argument Friedmanites used for privatizing public services. AEI praises UNO’s “assimilationist” philosophy of teaching immigrant youth so perhaps AEI finds more merit in diluting non-European cultures than in ending patronage. I’m not exactly sure where that fits into the free market orthodoxy, but then again, the contradictions in the philosophy far from end there.
Friedmanites often criticize redistributive policies as “picking winners and losers.” From the manufactured schools crisis to the market-based solution of charter schools, it appears that the “free market” model picks winners and losers; the winners being the politically connected and the losers being the rest of us.
Chicago is not the only place where Education Reform, Inc. is quickly reshaping the teaching force into one that is fresher and more innovative younger and whiter. In urban areas across the country, middle-aged, middle class African American teachers are being pushed out to make room for the flavor of the day: vanilla.
As for Massachusetts’ other charters-on-the-move, the mini empires of excellence and innovation that are aggressively expanding through the state’s urban areas, their teaching staffs are incredibly young and overwhelmingly white, even as the students they teach are almost exclusively African American and Hispanic.
Speaking of Chicago, most of you are aware of Jonah Edelman and the video when he boasted about how he and his political buddies along with Stand for Children’s wealthy supporters did what they thought they needed to do to crush the rights of teachers in Illinois.
Two years later, the Chicago Teachers Union with Karen Lewis at the helm, took on Mayor Rahmney and won.
This article highlights that point. To follow is an excerpt from:
Less than two months into a new school year, teacher strikes have popped up in Chicago and four suburbs — with a handful of potential walkouts on the horizon — despite a new state law that was expected to make it harder for work stoppages to occur.
Similar themes have surfaced in each district — the latest during last week’s one-day strike in Highland Park’s North Shore School District 112 — but officials on both sides agree that often, the issues go beyond disputes over raises. Before this year, there had been only one Chicago-area strike since 2009.
…District 112’s brief strike ended after 17 hours of negotiations. Chicago Public Schools and districts in Lake Forest, Evergreen Park and Crystal Lake have largely settled on new contracts after walkouts. Meanwhile, unions in Carpentersville, Geneva, Grayslake and Huntley each have authorized strikes while continuing negotiations. [emphasis mine]
But wait a minute: the plutocrats who run the New Chicago Mob hired Jonah Edelman to make sure this would never, ever happen. He told them strikes were now impossible in Illinois:
With the unions then on board, the IEA and the IFT were relieved to have a deal. They came out strongly in support of this agreement, which was this wholesale transformational change, and with that support there was no reason for any politician to oppose it. So the Senate backed it 59-0, and then the Chicago Teachers Union leader started getting pushback from her membership for a deal that really probably wasn’t from their perspective strategic. She backed off for a little while but the die had been cast – she had publicly been supportive – so we did some face-saving technical fixes in a separate bill – but the House approved it 112-1. And a liberal Democratic governor who was elected by public sector unions – that’s not even debatable – in fact signed it and took credit for it. So we talk about a process that ends up achieving transformational change – it’s going to allow the new mayor and the new CEO [of Chicago schools] to lengthen the day and year as much as they want. The unions cannot strike in Chicago. They will never be able to muster the 75% threshold necessary to strike. And the whole framework for discussing impact – you know, what compensation is necessary – is set up through the fine print that we approved to ensure that the fact-finding recommendations, which are nonbinding, will favor what we would consider to be common sense. [emphasis mine]
Talk about a complete failure. If a teacher was as bad at her job as Edelman is at his, she wouldn’t last even one school year.
I’ll say it again: why do these extremely wealthy “reformers” keep hiring people who are really, really bad at their jobs?
The charter operator said the space could only handle 75 students, but he had enrolled 400.
The parents were not happy. They said the school had collected $2 million or so.
They were puzzled.
So am I.
Hey, that’s the free market. Stores come and go.
Go shop somewhere else, consumers.
You get to “choose” another school. Isn’t that what “school choice” is all about?
This weekend I will leave you with Noam Chomsky and the video titled
Corporate Attack on Public Education, Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky talks of the longstanding hostility of the rich to truly educating the public so they don’t realize they are victims of an economic system they need to replace with one that truly serves the public. March 16, 2012 at St. Philip’s Church of Harlem
This article was originally published in the Wall Street Journal. It was written by Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), and Randi Weingarten, president of the CTU’s national union, the American Federation of Teachers.
After more than a decade of top-down dictates, disruptive school closures, disregard of teachers’ and parents’ input, testing that squeezes out teaching, and cuts to the arts, physical education and libraries, educators in Chicago said “enough is enough.” With strong support from parents and many in the community, teachers challenged a flawed vision of education reform that has not helped schoolchildren in Chicago or around the country. It took a seven-day strike—something no one does without cause—but with it educators in Chicago have changed the conversation about education reform.
These years of dictates imposed upon teachers left children in Chicago without the rich curriculum, facilities and social services they need. On picket lines, with their handmade signs, teachers provided first-person accounts of the challenges confronting students and educators. They made it impossible to turn a blind eye to the unacceptable conditions in many of the city’s public schools.
Teachers and parents were united in the frustration that led to the strike. Nearly nine out of 10 students in Chicago Public Schools live in poverty, a shameful fact that so-called reformers too often ignore, yet most schools lack even one full-time nurse or social worker. The district has made cuts where it shouldn’t (in art, music, physical education and libraries) but hasn’t cut where it should (class sizes and excessive standardized testing and test prep). The tentative agreement reached in Chicago aims to address all these issues.
Chicago’s teachers see this as an opportunity to move past the random acts of “reform” that have failed to move the needle and toward actual systemic school improvement. The tentative agreement focuses on improving quality so that every public school in Chicago is a place where parents want to send their children and educators want to teach.
Its key tenets:
First, use time wisely. The proposed contract lengthens the school day and year. A key demand by educators during the strike was that the district focus not just on instituting a longer school day, but on making it a better school day. Additional seat time doesn’t constitute a good education. A well-rounded and rich curriculum, regular opportunities for teachers to plan and confer with colleagues, and time to engage students through discussions, group work and project-based learning—all these contribute to a high-quality education, and these should be priorities going forward.
The students gather outside Benjamin E. Mays Academy after Chicago teachers voted to suspend their first strike in 25 years.
Second, get evaluation right and don’t fixate on testing. Effective school systems use data to inform instruction, not as a “scarlet number” that does nothing to improve teaching and learning. One placard seen on Chicago’s picket lines captured the sentiment of countless educators: “I want to teach to the student, not to the test.” If implemented correctly, evaluations can help Chicago promote the continuous development of teachers’ skills and of students’ intellectual abilities (and not just their test-taking skills).
Third, fix—don’t close—struggling schools. Chicago’s teachers echoed the concerns of numerous parents and civil rights groups that the closing of struggling schools creates turmoil and instability but doesn’t improve achievement. Low-performing schools improve not only by instituting changes to academics and enrichment, but also by becoming centers of their communities.
Schools that provide wraparound services—medical and mental-health services, mentoring, enrichment programs and social services—create an environment in which kids are better able to learn and teachers can focus more on instruction, knowing their students’ needs are being met. Chicago, with an 87% child-poverty rate, should make these effective—and cost-effective—approaches broadly available.
Fourth, morale matters. Teachers who work with students in some of the most difficult environments deserve support and respect. Yet they often pay for their dedication by enduring daily denigration for not single-handedly overcoming society’s shortcomings. These indignities and lack of trust risk making a great profession an impossible one.
In a period when many officials have sought to strip workers of any contractual rights or even a collective voice, the Chicago teachers strike showed that collective action is a powerful force for change and that collective bargaining is an effective tool to strengthen public schools. Chicago’s public-school teachers—backed by countless educators across the country—changed the conversation from the blaming and shaming of teachers to the promotion of strategies that parents and teachers believe are necessary to help children succeed.
It is a powerful example of solution-driven unionism and a reminder that when people come together to deal with matters affecting education, those who work in the schools need to be heard. When they are, students, parents and communities are better for it.
One lesson made abundantly clear by the recent Chicago teachers’ strike was that our nation suffers from a dearth of African-American hedge fund managers and venture capitalists. What can we do about this shameful scourge? I have no idea, but what I do know is that the strike revealed a fascinating split along race and class lines over what white hedge fund managers like to call priming the edu-pump for future profits education reform.
Warning: I am about to use some polling data to back up my claims so those of you whose own educational prospects were damaged by having LIFO lifer teachers in public schools, or who lost valuable edu-days due to a strike will probably need to call on a tutor at this point.
52 percent majority of whites disapprove of the strike. Whites were the only ethnic group that expressed a majority disapproval of the strike.
African Americans approved 63-32 and Latino support was even higher at 65-32.
A majority of parents with kids in private schools opposed the strike, 52 percent to 43 percent, while parents with public school kids approved of the strike 66-31.
Now the news that African American parents overwhelmingly supported the strike came as something of an unwelcome surprise to the hedge fund billionaire education reform crowd, which flooded the airwaves with anti-strike ads. Democrats for Education Reform got increasingly snippy during the strike, lamenting the difficulty of getting anti-strike parents to show up at DFER rallies. DFER even came up with a compelling explanation for its small, all-white crowds. You see, unlike the greedy, lazy teachers who are paid an average of $760,000 a year for a school day just 7.5 minutes long, parents don’t have a union.
The McCaw’s- a wealthy and prominent family in Seattle – $100k
Now, look in the right hand column of this page and see who is against charter schools in our state. Those organizations and individuals have skin in the game so to speak. They also know what public education is all about and what schools really need.
Chicago Public School teachers are returning to the classroom today, nine days after launching their first strike in a quarter century. On Tuesday, 800 delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union voted overwhelmingly to suspend the strike to put an agreement with the city before the entire membership. The deal calls for a double-digit salary increase over the next three years, including raises for cost of living, while maintaining other increases for experience and advanced education.