Systemic Math Fraud in Washington Public Schools

Update: Chris Reykdal will be holding a Town Hall to discuss the state of public education, on Wednesday, October 25th from 6-9 PM at the PUD Auditorium in Everett.  More details can be found on the Facebook event page here

 

 

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The result is that teachers have had to “dumb down” expectations – both breadth and depth of curriculum, and proficiency – in order to accommodate the influx of students ill-prepared for an Algebra 2 class.  Furthermore, the prevailing “more math is better” notion espoused by many administrators is pushing those ill-prepared Algebra 2 students into PreCalculus, which often is taught as a parallel to a college PreCalculus class (at UW this was Math 120, at Everett CC it is the Math 141/142 series).  “More math is better” is fine when is it achieved responsibly, but when the accountability system is geared towards minimal proficiency the result is widespread damage to math education.

Something has happened to math education in Washington over the last decade.  With the best of intentions, no doubt, the State Legislature changed the high school graduation requirements in 2007 to include a third year of math.  The relatively thoughtless application of this requirement has had a detrimental effect on math teaching and learning, and has essentially resulted in a fraudulent circumstance surrounding high school graduation.

Prior to 2007, students would have completed their math graduation requirement after a year of Algebra 1 and a year of Geometry.  If students wanted to continue with mathematics, it would be as an elective course and they would typically take Algebra 2, then continue on to PreCalculus and Calculus depending on years remaining.  These classes were considered as being on the college track.

Following the changes made in the 2007 law, districts were essentially forced to put all students into Algebra 2 to meet the graduation requirements.  Whether students had shown real proficiency in Algebra 1 or not, 99% of students were herded into a class that many were completely unprepared for.  Algebra 2 is pre-engineering math.  There is little in the course content that is independently applicable (as compared with Algebra 1, where an understanding of linear functions has widespread application).  The foundational math understanding for success in Algebra 2 is deep and varied.  Students need to understand equation solving and order of operations, they need to understand fractions and linear functions, and also the language and symbolism used to describe the math.  Not just in passing, but with competency.  These prerequisites have not been met, but far worse, the system of accountability through standardized testing has discouraged foundational competency.

The result is that teachers have had to “dumb down” expectations – both breadth and depth of curriculum, and proficiency – in order to accommodate the influx of students ill-prepared for an Algebra 2 class.  Furthermore, the prevailing “more math is better” notion espoused by many administrators is pushing those ill-prepared Algebra 2 students into PreCalculus, which often is taught as a parallel to a college PreCalculus class (at UW this was Math 120, at Everett CC it is the Math 141/142 series).  “More math is better” is fine when is it achieved responsibly, but when the accountability system is geared towards minimal proficiency the result is widespread damage to math education.

I first experienced this phenomenon when I taught at Marysville’s Arts and Tech HS, 2010-’11 school year.  I had 3 sections of Algebra 1, almost all freshmen who had not passed any of the middle school end of year exams for mathematics (more on this later).  I also had a section of PreCalculus that I was supposed to teach as a College in the High School class, meaning that students could pay reduced tuition, and with a C or better could get EvCC’s Math 141/142 credit.  However there was only one student, maybe two, out of the original class of 24 who were functionally prepared for that level of math, the same math I had taught for five years prior to 2007 at Kamiak HS in Mukilteo, where I had – with no hyperbole – zero unprepared students.

I spoke out about this immediately, first to my building administrator, then to the director of secondary education in Marysville.  I told them that it was a fraud to be connected with the CHS program at EvCC if, as a school and district, we could not ensure that our students were adequately prepared – both with skills and motivation – to be successful with college level material.  The message was received as a hostile one.  When I was transferred to Marysville Getchell HS (where I was math department chair for two of my three years), I had the exact same experience.  The majority of my students were wholly unprepared for what was supposed to be a college parallel math class – both in the scope of curriculum, and in the grading expectations.  Yet I was expected to pass all or most of the students, because according to the administrators, if the students had passed the state standardized tests in Algebra 1, they should be prepared to pass Algebra 2 (now a state graduation requirement) – most weren’t – and then passing Algebra 2 (even with a D) would open up the Precalculus option.  The administration was unwilling to listen to my concerns, or my ideas for restructuring course sequences to better meet the needs of students.  The situation was so thoroughly fraudulent that I had a meeting with the head of the EvCC CHS program and the math CHS supervisor and flat out told them that I couldn’t in good conscience continue to keep quiet, and I asked them to audit the program.

Then I voluntarily quit Marysville, because I figured that it was just a problem there.  What I discovered over the last four years, and over 3 subsequent school districts (Everett, Monroe, Edmonds) is that the Algebra 2/PreCalculus problem is manifesting everywhere.  Even my former colleagues at Kamiak said that the 2007 graduation requirement law has impacted them too.

The graduation requirement change is not the only problem.  Another aspect is that the state standardized test in Algebra does not identify Algebra proficiency meaningfully.  A Level 3 “proficient” score indicates a bare minimal proficiency.  A Level 4 “distinguished” score is a better indicator of Algebra 2 preparedness, but by and large that’s only 10% of students.  However, because most administrators have no personal academic connection to mathematics instruction, the general administrative interpretation is that anyone who “passes” the state exam in Algebra (my reference is prior to SBAC, but the notion translates) should be prepared for Algebra 2, which is a fallacy.

The other problem is that there is no way to remediate students once they get to high school.  If they have not been prepared for Algebra through their middle school experience there is no PreAlgebra option to attempt to prepare them, because PreAlgebra is not a creditable high school math course.  My first year at Marysville Getchell, well over 50% of my Algebra 1 students had not passed a single MSP exam through their 6th, 7th, and 8th grade years.  Most of those were at a Level 1 proficiency.  Those students were not prepared for Algebra, yet they were all forced to take it.  I was pulled off Algebra 1 detail after the 2011-12 year because I failed too many students.  Understand that this was not due to my teaching – I have had my students accepted to Harvard and MIT for math, and Totem MS in Marysville has a School of Distinction award from OPSI for 7th grade math improvement, which verifiably was due to my students’ test performance – this was due to a fundamental lack of preparation, compounded by the graduation requirements, the state testing, and the lack of a remediation option for freshmen.  Further compounded by administrators whose only concern is graduation rates, not learning.   I was told by the math department chair at Meadowdale in Edmonds last year “D is for Done.” In other words, pass them regardless.

As secondary math teachers in public schools, we are forced to manipulate both content and proficiency expectations to accommodate a systemic failure.  I have encountered it everywhere I have taught since the graduation law was changed.  The impact is definitely being felt at the college level.  Most teachers will comply because they fear being in the position I am now in.  As a known “whistleblower” I am virtually unemployable.  I do not have a contract this year, though I have applied for numerous positions that I am expertly qualified for, because past administrators have noted my resistance to the fraud by way of higher than average fail rates, and than I do not “collaborate” well, which is the current edu-euphemism for shutting up and doing what I’m told.

At this point, I do have the ear of SPI Chris Reykdal and he will be meeting with the 38th LD Democrats in Everett on October 25th to both hear and address the concerns I am raising.  The bottom line is that graduation rates are being inflated over math education.  The graduation requirement should go back to two years.  Teachers should be able to grade their students honestly and make appropriate recommendations for further math education with a variety of classes, instead of the majority being pushed into Algebra 2.  College in the High School classes should be just that.  PreAlgebra should be a creditable HS math class.

People should tell the truth.

-Jason Call

Jason Call is a public school teacher with 18 years experience. He has taught all levels of high school mathematics, including AP Calculus, AP Statistics, and PreCalculus as a “College in the High School” teacher.

 

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Pay for Success – Also Known as Social Impact Bonds, Senator Orrin Hatch & the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

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Back in the early 2000’s Sun Microsystems’ Scott McNealy described the pending merger between Hewlett-Packard and Compaq as “the sound of two garbage trucks colliding”.

Whenever I read through the 449 page abomination that is the 2016 re-write of the 1965 ESEA – later rebranded as the ESSA – I can’t help thinking of that phrase.

The law really is a never ending dumpster fire.

Thanks to boastful politicians, like Senator Orin Hatch, the public gets to learn in a round about way some of the awful things tucked into the ESSA.

For example:

From July 16th, 2015

Senate Passes Hatch “Pay for Success” Amendment

“With Pay for Success, state and local leaders will be empowered to fund initiatives that deliver real  results for their communities and schools. Rather than being limited by what federal bureaucrats at the Department of Education think best, funding should be more connected to local innovation and successful outcomes. I’m pleased the Senate has voted to approve my amendment, which builds on tremendous success leaders have already seen in my home state of Utah.”

What’s Pay for Success?

It’s telling that Hatch’s short statement is full of buzz works like “empowered”, “local innovation”, and “successful outcomes”, but really doesn’t explain what Pay for Success means or more importantly, how it works.

I think this is deliberate.

Pay for Success is an upbeat re-branding of social impact bonds or SIBs.

In the case of the ESSA, social impact bonds are a way for investors to speculate on education outcomes; essentially making bets on programs and then measuring if kids meet these benchmarks – which trigger a payout to investors by the state or local government agency that signed onto the contract.

In Utah, Hatch’s home state, Goldman Sachs and the investor J.B. Pritzker agreed to invest millions of dollars in an expansion of a preschool program in the Granite School District and later the state as a whole.

The payoff for investors would occur if the expansion of preschool to underserved populations cut down on the number of students requiring special education services later in their academic careers.

The bet was preschool would reduce the number of kids in special education based on scores determined by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test.

The sell to the school district was the potential savings of $2,600 dollars for every child who didn’t need special education or other remedial services.

The payout plan to Goldman Sacks and J.B. Pritzker is tricky, and makes me wonder if any of the politicians who supported the statewide preschool plan took the time to crunch the numbers and imagine worst case scenarios.

Here’s the terms for The Utah High Quality Preschool Program America’s First “Results-based Financing” for Early Childhood Education.

Determining Pay-for-Success Payments:

— Children participating in the high impact preschool program are given the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test which is a predictive evaluation that will serve as an indicator of their likely usage of special education and remedial services. Students that test below average and are therefore likely to use special education services will be tracked as they progress through 6th grade

— Every year that they do not use special education or remedial services will generate a Pay-forSuccess payment

— School districts receive a fixed per annum payment of approximately $2,600 per student to provide special education and remedial services for students in general education classrooms from the State of Utah. The amount of the Pay-for-Success payment is based on the actual avoided costs realized by the State of Utah

— Pay-for-Success payments will be made equal to 95% of the avoided costs or $2,470 per child for every year, Kindergarten through Sixth Grade, to repay the senior and subordinate debt plus a base interest rate of 5.0%

— Thereafter, Success Payments will equal 40% of the savings, or $1,040 per child per year of special education services avoided, to be paid as Success Fees to Goldman Sachs and Pritzker

And this disclaimer, which in my mind seems to contradict the point made above. I’m thinking interpretation will hinge on whether Goldman Sachs and Pritzker are making money on their investment at the 7 year mark:

— Pay-for-Success payments are only made through 6th grade for each student; but all savings that are generated after that point will be captured by the school district, state and other government entities.

The New York Times took a look at the first year results of the Utah program and found some troubling issues.

First off, Goldman Sachs reported a payout of $260,000 dollars by claiming their program helped 99% of the students enrolled avoid special education, even though the highest rate of prevention in well funded preschool programs is a 50% success rate. Oh, and the Goldman Sachs program isn’t considered to be well funded.

Goldman said its investment had helped almost 99 percent of the Utah children it was tracking avoid special education in kindergarten. The bank received a payment for each of those children.

The big problem, researchers say, is that even well-funded preschool programs — and the Utah program was not well funded — have been found to reduce the number of students needing special education by, at most, 50 percent. Most programs yield a reduction of closer to 10 or 20 percent.

The program’s unusual success — and the payments to Goldman that were in direct proportion to that success — were based on what researchers say was a faulty assumption that many of the children in the program would have needed special education without the preschool, despite there being little evidence or previous research to indicate that this was the case.

Another problem was the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test or P.P.V.T. overestimated the kids at risk for special education services, even though this test isn’t really used as a screener for special education in the first place.

Before Goldman executives made the investment, they could see that the Utah school district’s methodology was leading large numbers of children to be identified as at-risk, thus elevating the number of children whom the school district could later say were avoiding special education. From 2006 to 2009, 30 to 40 percent of the children in the preschool program scored below 70 on the P.P.V.T., even though typically just 3 percent of 4-year-olds score this low. Almost none of the children ended up needing special education.

When Goldman negotiated its investment, it adopted the school district’s methodology as the basis for its payments. It also gave itself a generous leeway to be paid pack. As long as 50 percent of the children in the program avoid special education, Goldman will earn back its money and 5 percent interest — more than Utah would have paid if it had borrowed the money through the bond market. If the current rate of success continues, it will easily make more than that. (bold mine)

Did you catch that, if the inflated rate of success continues – which it probably will based on a faulty benchmark not really used to screen for special education – the state of Utah will end up paying MORE than if it had just purchased a bond upfront to fund the preschool initiative.

Talk about selling snake oil to lawmakers who refuse to read the fine print.

Orrin Hatch and Goldman Sachs, Best Friends for Life.

Now that you know the setup and potential pitfalls of these risky investments, here’s some more information pertinent to Hatch’s fondness for social impact bonds.

First, Goldman Sachs is number 15 on Orin Hatch’s top 20 donor list. Second, Hatch has no qualms about going on Fox News to defend Goldman Sachs agains what the Senator claims to be suspicious government inquires into the investment firm’s behavior.

Another interesting aspect to Hatch’s detail-free praise of Pay for Success, was his demonization of federal bureaucrats.

Guess what?

Pay for Success just substitutes one group of bureaucrats for another. In the case of Utah’s preschool program, the bureaucrats come from the United Way, who act as the intermediary between investors and the district.

I find this troubling as well.

Incentives matter on Wall Street and what gets measured dictates the spoils.

Having the United Way run a program like the preschool initiative invites trouble. Who’s interests will be protected, the investors eager for a profit or a child’s right to an education.

By the way, since the United Way is private, they won’t have to answer to parents, school boards, or FOIA requests.

Would children be pressured to show success and be denied special education services? That’s a hard question with no easy answer.

The United Way also seems to be cozy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, so meting out some business disciple doesn’t seem out of the range of possibilities.

To sum up, Third Sector Capital has put together a nice graphic which explains how social impact bonds work. Get familiar with the concept. It may be closer to your school than you think.

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Next Up

In my next blog post I’ll explain how some members of the Washington State Legislature see social impact bonds as a way of meeting the funding mandate for McCleary.

Stay tuned.

-Carolyn Leith

State Superintendent Chris Reykdal’s Interview with Inside Olympia

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Editor’s Note: This is an important interview which slipped under the radar of many parents and educators.

In it, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal talks about McCleary and education funding, Plus, Reykdal explains parts of his plan to redesign K-12 education and the importance of technology to his vision.  

Please take the time to read the transcript and share your thoughts in the comment section. I think there’s a lot to talk about.  

The interview can be seen here. Below is a transcript of the interview. 

-Carolyn Leith

Well a couple things. On the political front I would say, look at our levy passage rate around the state, folks in our state love their schools, they trust their local schools, which is why as much of this has to be in local controls hands as possible. The the further you get from people on the ground the more skeptical they get. So they’ll tolerate a package in Olympia that supports schools but gives their districts the ability to have some flexibility. The further up you go the less they’re gonna trust that for one. The other thing is we’re doing things very differently in this state. I I mean I wish we could spend an hour on your show going through twenty years of education reform to talk about what we’re doing: more math, more science, more English language arts, more rigor in the curriculum, more expectation of teachers, a better evaluation system, a school rating system, our achievement index. All of that by the way is getting reimagined right now because we owe a consolidated accountability report if you will to the federal government by September. And we’re writing that plan now. You’re gonna see variables in that achievement index where we, where we look at schools way beyond test scores, which we oversimplified. You’re gonna see things like chronic absenteeism and whether or not they’re at this critical benchmark, 9th grade success…and whether they’re getting dual credit for courses in the 11th and 12th grade. We are doing things very differently in public schools. I would argue a little humorously, most of the cynics of reform have not stepped in a classroom. If you go into a classroom today and see what’s happening, from a, from a third grade teacher, all the way to a high school science teacher, you would see a very different experience than when you went to school.

-Chris Reykdal

Inside Olympia, April 27th 2017

Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal with Austin Jenkins.

Jenkins:  As you complete your first 100 days, a former state lawmaker yourself, what are your, there’s a little bit of déjà vu no doubt going on, but what is your thought, as we begin this special session, and legislators find themselves kind of right back where they were two years ago, in a budget standoff.

Reykdal: Well I don’t think it’s surprising, given the magnitude of what they’re dealing with. The good news is, the court I think is still abundantly clear in their original order, that this is about making sure that the state fully funds basic education. The court did not say it has to be a levy reduction, that process, although I think there’s lots of reason why I think people want to implicate local school levies. They didn’t say there had to be some massively different structure in collective bargaining, even though that’s a political interest of some in the conversation. So, I’m not surprised that this fairly straightforward requirement meets politics. That’s just the nature of this place. Our house and senate are not just dealing with education funding. There are those preserving the social safety net, there are those who want a tax conversation, or a tax reform conversation, or tax reduction conversation. So in the context of all that, probably the biggest education session in our history, I’m not surprised it’s taken more than 105 days. But we, we certainly want to keep supporting them as they as they get to that inevitable place where they have to give up things in order to get compromise. And that is, that is a tough word in America right now, but it’s necessary here.

Jenkins: How concerned are you that whatever compromise they come to, ultimately will, will fall short of the court mandate, and creating a constitutional system.

Reykdal: Well based on the size of the proposals that have been put forward on both sides, and again, you know in your intro you point out that they take a pretty different approach on how to pay for it, but the size and the magnitude of those investments for the state’s contribution, again, not considering local levy opportunity, they’re relatively similar. You’re talking about adding a couple billion dollars. That’s gonna be remarkable progress that the court can see is evidence of completing the task by next year.  It may not be down to every penny, but I believe there will be such inertia in the final deal that you will, you will sit here and say that’s, that along with some economic growth and a few changes next year, will get us there. Part of that is do they lump all the money in the second year of the biennium so that (byways?) into something significant and fully funds McCleary, or do they kind of spread that out over two years and have quite a task next biennium. That’s, those small decisions seem kind of technical, but they matter a lot.

Jenkins: Yeah, your predecessor Randy Dorn often used a number, a dollar amount, that he was looking for that he considered full funding. And he was always on the high side, I mean, above the governor, above just about anybody else, rolling in a lot of things. But when you ask the, the lead plaintiff’s lawyer on the McCleary case, whether either the house plan or the senate plan are sufficient, he’s skeptical. Is there a number that you’re using, and a number that your office has identified as the right target number for increased funding at least over the next two years?

Reykdal: Yeah, but I’m gonna be clear that there’s the absolute minimum in order to meet a court interest, which I think is sort of the least common denominator in this debate. Just satisfying the court is not our real purpose. But that number to me and based on what we have to do to ensure that compensation is covered by the state…

Jenkins: Maybe I should stop you there and maybe just explain that the key thing left to do, that the court has identified is for the state to take over, paying the full freight, for teacher and staff and administrator salaries, and benefits, some of which right now are being handled by local levies.

Reykdal: Right, and I think, our analysis of that number and we’ve refreshed those numbers in the last week, we think that a minimum, that’s a billion and a half dollars a year, so three billion a biennium, just to comply with the technical direction of the court, which is to pick up basic ed costs with the state. I think the reason the number gets higher for folks, and it ought to, is that’s gonna be the technical definition, but won’t fundamentally change our level of investment for special education. So you might technically argue that that number covers basic ed, but we know we’re underfunding special education. We know we don’t have career and tech ed programs funded to where they need to be. You have a dropout rate that persistently hangs at 20 percent. That doesn’t change the intervention strategies per se. So if, if we’re here to fund an education system and get better, and help students and close gaps, and help our business community, that number begins to get to 2 ½ or 3 billion dollars a year, and the metric that I use to just say well, what would be an objective thing that democrats and republicans can’t really argue with, and that is the level of investment of our economy that we put back into our public schools. And the rest of the country it’s 3.6 percent of the economy, in our state it’s about 2.9 or 3 percent. It seems small, but if you moved another ½ percent of GPD in our state into education, you’d be looking at about 3 billion dollars a year, six billion a biennium, twice as much as the technical number, to meet the court interest. And I think they ought to be shooting for that over the next couple biennium.

Jenkins: So, I know, asking you again to put your former lawmaker hat on, what would you do if you were in the legislature? How would you fund, at that level you’re talking about, which to your way of thinking is the optimal and right level?

Reykdal: Well I do think the answer sort of sits in front of them. I think between the house and senate they have the right combination. There’s no scenario where you don’t utilize some property tax in there, because, and I and I say this with a little bit of crystal balling, you have to at some point adopt something in a bi-partisan way that, that then potentially the voters say, well we want our say through referendum. The one tax in the state constitutionally dedicated public schools that you can make an absolutely crystal clear statement to the voters, we’ve raised this tax and it will be spent on it, is the state property tax.

Jenkins: And point in fact, the republican plan does create a new state property tax levy for this purpose.

Reykdal: It does indeed and so I think that’s part of the solution. But unfortunately, on balance it’s a significant tax shift and so to my earlier comments, if you’re here to do multiple things, not just fund schools, but tax fairness and all the rest of the the ambition, you can’t just lower taxes in some communities and raise them in others and say we’re good to go. So I think the house democrats have big concepts that should win out in the end. We should be collecting all of our sales tax in this state, tax fairness, and if somebody is being exempted for reasons we can’t quite justify anymore, internet sales, people in Oregon and Idaho purchasing, we ought to be doing that as well. So I think there’s a compromise here that really works.

Jenkins: And that is one of the proposals on the table that house democrats have come up with, a pretty significant tax package, including a new capital gains tax, changes to the B and O tax, but there is also talk of, I think they call it the Marketplace Fairness Act, which was thought to have, to be something that the feds would do, or congress would do, to capture internet sales. But now there’s some thought that the state could do it. So, one of the criticisms of the senate republican plan is that while they create this new property tax levy, they eliminate local levies. And then a question, the question becomes how much, what’s the net new dollars to my system, or is it just a a shift? How concerned are you about the elimination of the local levies?

Reykdal: Yeah, I’m I’m actually very concerned about that. Because again, you can meet the technical interest of the court and not add much new resource, and then we’re not actually changing results for kids and we’re not being more effective in public education. So, the court never said you had to lower local levies. That is a political desire, if you raise state property tax to fully fund, it’s a political interest to then say, and we’re gonna offer you tax relief over here, completely understandable. Again, I think there can be some of that. We probably don’t need 24 and 28% levies if you’re gonna add a billion and a half or two billion dollars to the state side. But I think 10% is too low, and that was their number. I would suspect in the end they might get awfully close in satisfying the court and leave the debate open to the final days and weeks of some special session on how much local levy they’re gonna allow. I would leave that number quite high actually. I don’t think it’s appropriate to ever tell a local community that you cannot, through a vote of the people, support your kids more. I think that’s a strange and artificial Olympia constraint that we ought not put on local communities.

Jenkins: Of course you occupy a non-partisan office today. You were, you are a former democratic state lawmaker. What do you say to your, to to democrats about the idea…’cause you mention this this notion that whatever they pass might be subject to a referendum. Either, I mean the senate republican plan actually calls for a a referendum clause, and voter approval on this property tax approach. It’s possible that voters who don’t like what they see could also force a referendum, on whatever comes out of this this legislature. What, what’s your message to democrats with respect to this idea, like a new tax, something like the capital gains tax which has been criticized as volatile, not necessarily reliable, perhaps doesn’t meet the test that the Supreme Court has set, which is amply fund, with a reliable source of funds?

Reykdal: Well it certainly can be volatile. I think they’ve got a notion that helps it out a lot. They only presume a certain percentage of that in the base, and then there’s some, some dedication of that volatility over time. That’s exactly the kind of resource though that if this state’s really serious about tax fairness, and and not sort of the President’s one pager he put out yesterday, but real substantive change in Washington, you gotta start walking down that path given that virtually all other states have something like that, it makes sense. It will be hard. It’s part of that compromise process. And I don’t worry about the voters rejecting something if it’s gone through really rigorous debate. In particularly if you get a bipartisan deal in the end. And there’s democrats and republicans and labor and business supporting the final package. That will carry the day. They will, they will make clear through their channels, the importance of this in the larger scheme of Washington’s tax code, not just supporting schools. So I, my advice to both sides is be courageous and be bold and stay at the table, and take risk, and listen to each other, and get a deal that you can both support, so that universally, you know, from the Idaho border to the Pacific Ocean, we can tell voters, this is really good for kids.

Jenkins: Let me ask you about the skepticism I sometimes hear among members of the public. And it just happened last week. I was talking with somebody who was here in Olympia, lives up in Seattle. And, and just made an off-hand comment about, oh, they’re gonna put a bunch more money into education and we’re not gonna get, essentially we’re not gonna get much for that, for those dollars. It’s this notion that we pay for inputs but not outputs. You were starting to get to this a little bit in terms of what you think the system needs to elevate all students. But but stepping back from that even. There is a skepticism out there among some people that we are investing in a system that produces results. How do you respond to that?

Reykdal: Well a couple things. On the political front I would say, look at our levy passage rate around the state, folks in our state love their schools, they trust their local schools, which is why as much of this has to be in local controls hands as possible. The the further you get from people on the ground the more skeptical they get. So they’ll tolerate a package in Olympia that supports schools but gives their districts the ability to have some flexibility. The further up you go the less they’re gonna trust that for one. The other thing is we’re doing things very differently in this state. I I mean I wish we could spend an hour on your show going through twenty years of education reform to talk about what we’re doing: more math, more science, more English language arts, more rigor in the curriculum, more expectation of teachers, a better evaluation system, a school rating system, our achievement index. All of that by the way is getting reimagined right now because we owe a consolidated accountability report if you will to the federal government by September. And we’re writing that plan now. You’re gonna see variables in that achievement index where we, where we look at schools way beyond test scores, which we oversimplified. You’re gonna see things like chronic absenteeism and whether or not they’re at this critical benchmark, 9th grade success…and whether they’re getting dual credit for courses in the 11th and 12th grade. We are doing things very differently in public schools. I would argue a little humorously, most of the cynics of reform have not stepped in a classroom. If you go into a classroom today and see what’s happening, from a, from a third grade teacher, all the way to a high school science teacher, you would see a very different experience than when you went to school.

Jenkins: But it sounds like one of the areas that you are very concerned about is that you don’t think the supports are sufficient.

Reykdal: That’s exactly right. We’re we’re running the numbers now again and and the good news stories, our students are taking more core credits than they ever have, and why wouldn’t they? The new high school diploma requires that. Even our high school drop-outs are taking more math, science, and English language arts. The system is responding as policy makers have wanted, and we still have a 20 percent or so drop-out rate, and now we’re learning that two-thirds of those drop-outs are in the senior year. We keep them longer than we ever have, they take more of the classes that folks have asked them to take, and we still lose them in their senior year. That’s not because they’re cognitively struggling per se. They get to this place where they say, I’m not sure the relevancy of this. Or I gotta get to work because my family cannot afford to not have me doing that. There are wraparound services for kids that are the difference in their lives. Which is why I’m so sympathetic to the house democrats who say, yes this is hard work, but it shouldn’t just be revenue neutral, and it shouldn’t be cut everything else in state government just to fund K-12. It’s a move all of this together to support students.

Jenkins:  Well, let me ask you about that though because it, you’ve led to the next question that was in my mind. And I know the resistance, especially among many state lawmakers, to writing a state budget in comparisons to a home budget. But everybody gets the idea that every month, if you own a house, the first and foremost thing you have to do is pay your mortgage. And then after that, you kind of go from there, right? And if you have kids, sort of at that bottom of that list is there anything leftover for some summer camp, or for some, you know, music lessons, or for some extras, right? But you’ve gotta carry, you’ve gotta deal with the fundamentals first. The the state constitution, and the McCleary decision, in no uncertain terms say, the state’s paramount duty is to fund, amply fund basic education. Why can’t the approach be as, for budgeting, to do that first? And then, have a conversation about what else state government should do, and how we’re gonna pay for that, and perhaps ask tax payers what they’re willing to pony up in addition. It seems like that’s a logical approach and conversation, and yet when you ask that question, especially of democrats, no no no no no, we can’t do it that way. Why not?

Reykdal: Mmmmhm. Well actually I’d argue that the first obligation’s debt (laughing). There’s big consequences if you don’t pay debt service in this state…

Jenkins: Which I guess is sort of like paying your mortgage…

Reykdal: Right. Like paying your mortgage.  And then what do you do, you feed your family,right?

Jenkins: Right.

Reykdal: You do those basic essentials at home. So there is some appropriate comparison here. And education is the paramount duty. I mean, you’re not gonna get an argument here from me as state school superintendent. But it’s just naïve to believe that that the future of our state is to continue to grow that bucket at the expense of everything else, when we’re reaching record economic growth in our state.

Jenkins: But if, but if, as a former democratic office holder, again, now residing in a non-partisan role, when you think about talking to voters, why do democrats not wanna, or why are democrats so resistant to talking to voters about raising taxes for non-education items? Which actually if you think about it, at the local level, is usually the conversation. Were gonna pay for police and fire. If you want mental health, if you want to help the homeless, we’re gonna ask you to pay a little bit more. If you want mass transit…

Reykdal: Yeah.

Jenkins: …we’re gonna ask…right? But at the state level, if we’re gonna raise taxes, it’s always to pay for education.

Reykdal: I won’t speak for all democrats who want to raise taxes for some reason, nor will I speak for all republicans who wanna cut taxes in the middle of economic boom. I will say that there are communities all around the state who go directly to their voters and say, help us raise resources for homelessness or food programs, or supports, and the voters willingly do that. I would say it’s more an argument about the era of media, and maybe, and maybe this is a little bit on on you all, about the level of mistrust that accumulates in a voter, the further that decision gets away from them. They’ll support this stuff at the local level, they get more cynical in Olympia, and they’re absolutely cynical about the feds being able to solve problems. So you know, that’s, that’s for the politics of today to figure out, and and maybe there’s an appetite for it in a different way in the future. It’s also part of positioning. And that’s what democrats and republicans do, they they represent their base, and they come with their best argument. And right now this is I suppose where we are.

Jenkins: Let’s hit a few more issues here. One thing that the senate republicans do in their plan is they propose to move away with, from what’s been called the prototypical school model, where you fund the prototypical school. We won’t get into details about how you define that. They want to move to a per student funded model. I think ala Massachusetts. You get a base amount per student, and then students who have extra needs, special needs, homeless, would get additional dollars, based on those needs. Again, it seems like something that people can get. If you, if you tell the average member of the public, prototypical school model, or your kid gets this amount of money plus extras for their extra needs. Which one do they understand best? That one. Yet I’ve heard a lot of resistance to it. What, what are your thoughts on the, on the best approach?

Reykdal: Yeah, sometimes the simple message is the right one for politics, but probably not the right one for good policy. It is simple to say, hey every kid gets the same amount of money. The truth is it’s not even close to the Massachusetts model. In Massachusetts they start with the ability of the locals to raise money, so in Boston, in some of the urban areas with high values, the entire budget’s born by local voters. And then in the rest of the communities, the state’s picking that up, which is also a tax on those local or urban voters. And so the challenge in Massachusetts and this idea that, oh we love how simple it is because everyone knows their dollar amount, is is actually born back in that tax conversation. It’s because urban livers in Massachusetts are massively subsidizing folks in rural communities out there. And that might be the approach that some folks want. I mean the senate gets closer to that concept. I don’t think that’s the Washington way. I think our court has a very different expectation, our constitution does as well. It says it’s the state’s responsibility to amply and fully fund our paramount duty which is public education. So right or wrong we we have to work on solutions that the state picks up. And in that regard, the protypical school model kinda works. If you think about it. It does tell you how much money you’re getting in your school. And we are able to translate that down to per student. Now I think where the senate has a really important angle they’ve taken here is there’s so much conversation around English Language Learners, or special education students, or career and tech ed, or homeless youth, these things that we want to do, that are very targeted, where we wanna see a result and better accountability for the money. Having that be a factor, some percentage of basic ed, is not common sense. Telling students, if you are in this camp, your school’s gonna get an extra 500 dollars or thousand, or five thousand. People do, do understand that for that targeted reason, and I think that’s the compromise that’s coming.

Jenkins: Okay. We do have a teacher shortage in this state, and the governor just signed a bill aimed at addressing that. And it it deals with creating new, alternate pathways for someone to become certified to teach. As I understand it a board will actually be working on what those paths should be. But what optimism or confidence do you have that this, this new law will allow the state to start to address this shortage.

Reykdal: It’s part of the solution. And there’s no question we want really talented folks to come to the classroom. I I stand with lots of people on both sides of the aisle, that you still have to have a lot of rigor in that process and really competent folks, and the ability to evaluate them out if it doesn’t work out. Just because you’re a great software engineer, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gonna come to public school and be a great math teacher. Those are different skill sets so… But opening up the pipeline, and considering this, particularly people who are already working in schools, they’re support staff, they’re paraeducators, I think they demonstrate the passion and the want, and they see excellent teaching and so it’s a good pathway. The truth is, the market is broken. And if it were a private sector business, back to the private analogy, and you couldn’t keep employees, you’d say, I have a market problem, and the first place you’d look is compensation. So getting the state to solve McCleary and pick up the bill, is a big step, but if it’s just neutral, it doesn’t change that market reality for the teachers. So we have to go beyond that. Starting pay has to go up a lot, and we have to continue to create financial incentives for educators, particularly with the booming economy of the Puget Sound. Yes people leave high school today, it is not top of mind the way it was twenty years ago to become a teacher. And we have to change that through market.

Jenkins: So, that gets back to this house and senate plan. Both of which, which would raise pay, but they approach pay for more experienced teachers very differently. I think senate republicans have said they don’t feel like the salary schedule is broken. They say that they haven’t seen evidence that overall we’re not paying enough. What are you looking for in a final plan in terms of compensation and and, a a salary structure and model?

Reykdal: I’m looking for them to first and foremost define basic ed compensation. They have a definition of basic ed for lots of other things the court was able to point to. This was an area where the court looked and said, we’re not sure what basic ed compensation means. Which is why they essentially said every dime being paid by local levies must be basic ed. I don’t necessarily believe that’s true. So they need to define basic ed very clearly. They need to amply fund it. Which means have the entire cost of basic ed compensation born by the state. And then they need to recognize though hat there are reasons for local communities to want to pay more, or add more. And the analogy I always use is that the formulas are driving five kindergarten teachers in your community, but your voters and your school board want to lower class size even further, we should absolutely allow you to raise local levies to hire a sixth kindergarten teacher.  Is that kindergarten teacher basic ed? Probably not. Because the formula’s told us what basic ed was. But we shouldn’t get in the way of local communities. And I believe this is what’s coming. Is the definition of basic ed compensation that’s much clearer for the court, I believe they will amply fund that, and in the end they’re gonna have a long political debate about how much resource to leave local communities, and I think they should leave them a lot of local levy authority. And make clear that if you’re gonna pay additional compensation, or you’re gonna hire additional staff with that money, that’s outside of basic ed.

Jenkins: But on the flip side, the court has also been very clear, that one thing that the that the legislature in the state needs to do, is to to pick up the cost of salaries and compensation, and to fund those salaries at a level that allows you to recruit and retain competent educators. So what does, what does that look like? Aside from what the local levies might be…

Reykdal: Yeah. I think it’s…

Jenkins: Do they need to blow up the salary schedule?

Reykdal: Well I don’t think they need to blow it up. In fact I think they need some salary schedule. Because local collective bargaining is a right of workers, and I support that. I think it’s gotta be simpler, lots of those schedules locally that are bargained, are driven by this complex 16 by 12 schedule or whatever it is at the state. I think the governor had the right idea here to really skinny that down, have four or five simple steps. The bottom line is, is you gotta have a higher starting salary, and from there you’ve gotta have slightly higher tiers to create that incentive for folks to come in. The other benefit of having higher salaries early in career, besides recruitment, is that it’s a significant benefit to Plan 3 retirees, those younger folks who come in and pick a market based retirement plan. They…

Jenkins: As opposed to a traditional pension?

Reykdal: Right, they want their resources early in their career for lifetime earnings. And so there’s a lot…

Jenkins: Well…

Reykdal: …a lot of wins here.

Jenkins: Is 45,000 dollars a year for a base starting salary, which I think both sides are proposing…

Reykdal: Yeah…

Jenkins: …sufficient?

Reykdal: I think they’re in the right ballpark, again for that state defined basic ed. And then you’ll have communities who say, that’s not quite enough for us, they should have the authority to go higher.

Jenkins: Except for those districts who could still be starting at 60, or 55, right?

Reykdal: Right.

Jenkins: With those add-ons. Okay. You had briefly touched on a moment ago, the chronically absent students, and how that can lead to lots of troubles, including dropouts. But a statistic that came out in April, that really surprised a lot of people, is that Washington was recently ranked 2nd worst in the nation for its number of chronically absent students. Washington State? How is this possible? How did that happen?

Reykdal: (laughs) Two things: A, we think there is a big problem and the research is really clear. So we’re building an achievement index, and an accountability data system that every voter, every person in the state can go look at their school district, and hopefully eventually their school, and drill in on those things that really matter. Kindergarten readiness, third-grade reading, and ninth grade failure, chronic absentee, we’re gonna give them the best thinking in education, so right down to their school they can see how they’re doing. Specifically to that issue, the one thing I would caution about is there is fifty different state definitions of what absent is, and even in our state there’s some big differences. So if, if in your school you’re ten minutes late, we say, hey, you’re absent from that class. In another school we go, ahh, our policy is fifteen minutes, you’re on time. We have a lot of definitional alignment to do in the next couple of years, and and we know there are states who say, if you’re on a school-sanctioned field trip, if you’re, if you’re at the Science Center on a school field trip, that’s not an absence. And in our state, we count that as an absence, for reporting. So, so I’d be careful of the ranking, but do not walk away from the importance of that data metric, and I think the legislature’s all over this. I think they’re gonna help us attack this problem. And you’re gonna see us keep putting resources into getting students there. And I know it sounds simple, but the old adage is, half the battle’s showin’ up.

Jenkins: Yeah. Well, so, in some places I think, you know a truancy officer will show up at your door. You come up with a slightly different approach. A call from one of your favorite Seahawks players. Let’s listen to, what some students who are missing school, are missing class, are hearing on their telephones. (plays audio clip)

    “Wake up, it’s Jermaine Kearse from the Seattle Seahawks. Get up and get to school. Don’t be left on   

     the sidelines. The future is all yours. All you have to do is show up. “

 

So this is a voicemail call that’s a robo-call, that you can send out. What’s the thinking here?

Reykdal: Well our schools, once again, have used technology in innovative ways to reach parents, almost real-time, when their student isn’t showing up. So that we don’t have that long gap. Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t show up, maybe your parents knew and maybe they didn’t? Maybe they got home at the end of the day and listened to a message. We have these real time systems now that are really powerful, that connect parents to school. And in this case, you know, we find somebody who’s got name recognition and and Jermaine’s really passionate about this. He’s a Washington kid, went to Lakes High School, Seahawk. And he’s helping us be one of many systems that say to kids, this is a big deal. They may not think it’s a big deal if it’s just the vice principal recording the message, but when a Seattle Seahawk calls you and says, you know, get to school, it matters, we think it has impact and we’re gonna keep doing more of that.

Jenkins: Okay, I know that, kind of, you are completing, like a lot of new elected office holders, your first hundred days. And you spent a lot of time on the campaign talking about career technical education, and a a need to give students avenues and pathways that may not entail a four-year degree. What have you been able to accomplish, in your first hundred days toward that goal.

Reykdal: Yeah, so one of the exciting things at OSPI is we we have new leadership in our CTE team and we’re actually merging that and our teaching and learning team, or learning and teaching team, depending on who you ask. Because we think CTE has this pathway of huge importance that needs to be elevated but it also has to be integrated well. We can’t see it as this separate thing, or this lesser thing. So we’re merging it with the team that’s really focused on high math standards and English standards and other standards. And so we think we’ve gotta get our house in order a little bit. We’re also partnering a course with the public and private sector on core plus and these other things where we are building certifications for students while they’re in high school that tells the employer community, and the higher ed community, this student is ready with a different set of skills than they’ve ever had and it’s industry and standards based. So that’s happening on the private sector side. And then in the legislature we’re continuing to say to them, you you you do have a test problem in this state. (laughs) We can have lots of debates on the weight of tests. It’s too much, quite frankly. We’re one of only a couple states with a comprehensive, high stakes exit exam. And the biggest problem isn’t that it drives students away in the end, which it does. Its biggest problem is that much earlier in their in their school career, they all believe that they are one-size-fits-all, and they must follow the same math pathway, the same ELA pathway, the same science pathway. And you’re losing students who’d say, I’d stay in school if you’d put me in a consruction trades program. I still wanna take math, but I want it applied to my job. That’s really not a viable pathway for kids. So we still have a legislative effort to get this straightened out.

Jenkins: Okay, and just in the last minute we have, what is the biggest surprise or lesson you have learned, as a candidate for office, you sort of had these visions of what it might be, but now that you’ve actually occupied the office for 100 days, what surprised you, or struck you.

Reykdal: Well what hasn’t, the good news is that I was in higher education for a long time in a state agency, so I understand a little bit of that culture. And then being a legislator, I get their world. So that’s been a really nice marriage to put to work right away. The surprise honestly is how receptive folks are to change that matters. They don’t just want you to spin the wheels because someone’s new in the seat. They want to see evidence, and and the employees at OSPI are so good at what they do, but they have high expectations that we connect this to better outcomes for kids. And that’s where the pressure is on me everyday, and I love that. They are really a remarkable group and I think we’re making big change fast.

Jenkins: Have you hit any barriers?

Reykdal: Well you do in a legislature, because you want the resources to flow. You want flexibility. And you wanna go up there with data and say this is the answer. But politics doesn’t always use empirical answers. Sometimes they use very political answers and so, it’s a barrier but it’s one I understand because maybe I was guilty of that myself at one point in time. So it’s, it’s okay though.

Why Delinking Graduation from the Smarter Balanced Assessment & Other Tests is the Right Thing to Do.

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I am writing to encourage everyone who values the 13 years of hard work completed by students as they reach their senior year to call their state legislators. My request is simple: ask your legislator to pass HB 1046. This bill will serve to delink all high stakes testing requirements in all subjects from high school graduation.

While this bill does not eliminate the state tests, it DOES eliminate the high stakes attached to these tests, which is a big step forward in supporting students whose futures have been severely damaged by high stakes testing.

In 2013, Seattle Times writer Donna Blankenship notified her readers about some stark facts tied to the state’s End of Course Math tests:

“But that doesn’t make life any easier for the nearly 7,000 students in the Class of 2013 who have yet to pass the newly required math test and didn’t get their diplomas last month.”

2013 was the first year the state required students to pass an end of course math test in order to graduate and earn their diploma.

This got me thinking. Since 2013, how many students in Washington State have been denied a diploma for failing a high stakes tests required for graduation? I don’t see the numbers posted clearly anywhere, despite the state’s creation of these high stakes.

It gets worst. In 2017-18, students will  be required to pass three high stakes tests in order to receive their diplomas, per OSPI:

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I wrote OSPI and asked them about the number of students who will be denied a diploma because of end of course tests required by the state. After all, we know approximately 7,000 students were denied graduation in 2013 because of one math test. What will happen when three tests are required?

Hello OSPI Communications and Community Outreach,

I have a question about SHB1046. Does OSPI have an estimate of how many students will fail to graduate if testing is not delinked from graduation, please?  How many failed to graduate last year due to testing?

Thank you kindly, Susan DuFresne

OSPI’s  response:

“As of late April, there were 15,645 students in the Class of 2017 who had not met the assessment graduation requirements.  Students are required to pass an assessment – or a graduation alternative – in each of the three subject areas ELA, math, and science.  The 15,645 number includes students who may have passed 0, 1, or 2 of the requirements, but haven’t met all 3.  Also note that these numbers only reflect their status with respect to the assessment grad requirements; it does not include information about whether the student has met other graduation requirements such as credits.”

15,645 students in Washington State are at risk of being denied graduation after investing 13 years of their lives in school.  In years past, a child attended 13 years of school, received passing or failing grades by their professional educators, earned their credits, and graduated with their diploma.

Shannon Ergun, ESL 9-12 Mt Tahoma High School, Tacoma Public Schools is highly concerned about the undue stress level these high stakes create for students and she states:

“I estimate based on there being 1.1 million students in WA that there are 70K-75K seniors that means that about 20% of current seniors are waiting on test scores to know if they can walk at graduation in 4-5 weeks. That is an inappropriate level of stress for a 17 or 28 year old to carry while still faced with AP exams, final exams, and final plans for beyond high school.

Until large numbers of kids are actually impacted everyone will continue to believe it will all be ok.”

I think Shannon makes a great point: What about the ordeal our kids experience just by taking these high stakes tests, knowing graduation is on the line? As adults, it’s sometimes easier to ignore rather than face the pressure these tests place on our kids.

For instance, did you know some students find these tests so stressful there’s an actual protocol for what to do should a student vomit on a test? That’s a lot of pressure. When was the last time you vomited at work over the pressure you felt to perform? I’m guessing this would be a highly unusual occurrence, not likely covered by a particular protocol in the employee handbook.

And what’s the message we’re sending to those kids born without the very particular gift of being a good test takers? You only have value if you can score high on a standardized test?

The State Board of Education is offering a compromise solution: delinking the biology end of course exam, while continuing to use the other end of year course exams as graduation requirements.

Why would it be acceptable to offer a deal to 3,302 students but leave 12,343 behind?

As an educator, I want ALL students who have otherwise completed their graduation requirements based on grades and credits earned to receive their diplomas – despite failing one or more of any of the three high stakes tests imposed by the state.

And what happens to the chances of bright futures for those left behind?

High school exit exams contribute greatly to the school-to-prison pipeline as noted here by FairTest:

“High school exit exams (FairTest, 2008) push many thousands of students out of school. As a result of these factors, urban graduation rates decreased. Some students see no realistic option other than dropping out; some are deliberately pushed out or fail the tests. Either way, these young people are much more likely to end up in trouble or in prison. One study found that high school exit exams increase incarceration rates by 12.5 percent (Baker & Lang, 2013).”

Sadly, youth who are unable to acquire a diploma are often relegated to minimum wage employment, live with state support through DSHS, or become homeless. In 2012, for example, DSHS reported that 69% of their “Opportunity Youth” did not have a high school diploma.

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And what about earnings for youth who do not receive a high school diploma?

“The average dropout can expect to earn an annual income of $20,241, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (PDF). That’s a full $10,386 less than the typical high school graduate, and $36,424 less than someone with a bachelor’s degree.

PBS Frontline reports in Dropout Nation by Jason Breslow and per the 2012 US Census here:

“The challenges hardly end there, particularly among young dropouts. Among those between the ages of 18 and 24, dropouts were more than twice as likely as college graduates to live in poverty according to the Department of Education. Dropouts experienced a poverty rate of 30.8 percent, while those with at least a bachelor’s degree had a poverty rate of 13.5 percent.

Among dropouts between the ages of 16 and 24, incarceration rates were a whopping 63 times higher than among college graduates, according to a study (PDF) by researchers at Northeastern University. “

Conclusion

Are we OK with throwing away the futures of kids who are unable to perform on high stakes tests – after they’ve devoted 13 years of hard work to their education? What message does this send to kids about hard work when it doesn’t payoff and they end up rejected by the system.

What if OSPI was required to report how many students have been denied graduation due to high stakes testing each year? What if our US Department of Education had to file a yearly report which focused on the living conditions of each state’s youth denied a diploma due to high stakes tests?

Perhaps outraged parents, educators, and students would rise up and stop the high stakes testing; the state’s means to punish children, educators, and schools would be lost forever.

By delinking ALL high stakes tests from graduation we can protect thousands of students in Washington from being denied their rightfully earned diploma for simply missing a few questions on a test.

Also by delinking these tests from graduation requirements, we will also save our state between $9-$11 million dollars. Money that could be better spent on actual teaching vs testing.

Call 1-800-562-6000 and ask your legislators to protect our students by delinking high stakes testing from graduation – vote YES on SHB1046! Delink them all! Give our youth the bright futures they deserve!

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

The Ugly Facts About Ed-Reform, Partisan Bickering and the Resistance

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I find it disturbing how quickly basic facts are flushed down the memory hole.

Yes, Betsy Devos is the extreme example of the type of privatizer destroying public education, but the Democrats – with Obama at the helm – opened the door.

Don’t believe me?

Take a look at Obama’s Digital Promise Initiative, whose purpose was to break open the education market for companies to sell personalized learning products to school districts. Why employ actual teachers, when computers and software can do the job.

How about the ESSA’s inclusion of “innovative assessments” – which edutech predators like iNACOL can’t wait to leverage into more online learning software and continuous testing in the classroom.

The ESSA also gave the charter lobby everything they wanted, and then some.

How can financially stressed public schools, always under the threat of being labeled “failures” based on test scores, compete with flush and unaccountable charter schools? Answer: They can’t.

I believe facts still matter and will fight alongside anyone who wants to protect our public schools, but I refuse to be a cog in anyone’s machine.

I won’t be participating in the partisan blame game, where public education plays the pawn. I’m over the constant maneuvering to score political points – while our schools burn to the ground, but neither of this country’s two cynical political parties seem to smell the smoke.

I’m also convinced it’s impossible to fight and win using the same structure that makes neoliberalism so destructive.

So don’t ask me to become a faceless member of your public education defending non-profit. Paying dues and then walking away isn’t enough for me now.

I’m also sick of powerful, god-like leaders sitting atop hierarchies which rob members of their voice, conscience, and agency.

How can we claim to care about democracy when we refuse to practice it?

If we are truly fighting against the commodification of public education, why would it be acceptable to treat members of our own groups as objects – either as an unintelligent mass that needs to be lead to the truth by an “enlightened” leadership or – at the most cynical – a captive audience to be manipulated for personal gain and advancement by the vanguard of a revolutionary dictatorship.

How can we claim to care about the unique gifts of every child and at the same time be afraid of our own individuality and power?

Barbara Deming – deep thinker, feminist, and champion of nonviolent social change – had this to say about the power of individuals:

If greater gains have not been won by nonviolent action it is because most of those trying it have, quite as Oglesby charges, expected too much from “the powerful”; and so, I would add, they have stopped short of really exercising their peculiar powers – those powers one discovers when one refuses any longer simply to do another’s will. They have stopped far too short not only of widespread nonviolent disruption but of that form of noncooperation which is assertive, constructive – that confronts those who are “running everything” with independent activity, particularly independent economic activity. There is leverage for change here that has scarcely begun to be applied.

If the solution was easy; we’d already have done it.

These are trying times. What used to work has failed us.

We’re scared. The question is what to do with this fear? I see two choices:

We can allow this fear to push us into a panic-stricken frenzy; forever reacting to the latest crisis, allowing those we oppose to set the agenda.

Fear also has a way of justifying tactics which compromise our integrity and over time robs us of our humanity.

Or

We can pause, go deep, and really consider Barbara Deming’s challenge to come up with a new “form of noncooperation which is assertive, constructive – that confronts those who are ‘running everything’ with independent activity…”

In it for the long haul.

Fighting back against ed-reform is going to take a lifetime. Undoing the damage and creating schools which foster face-t0-face democracy, will take even longer.

This is good news. We have the time to get it right.

Since the United States was built on the double fault line of genocide and racism, this is an opportunity to begin to right those wrongs; build on the lesson that ignoring past oppression guarantees more oppression in the future.

Flattening hierarchy, promoting individual agency, and increasing the public good means no one or any group gets tossed aside in the name of expediency.

There’s time to do our homework, to dig down and learn what has worked in the past and the powerful insights mixing in with the failures.

This is an opening to deeply learn our history. Get to know the labor radicals, socialists, populists, anarchists, and all the other colorful rebels of the past.

It’s also an opportunity to face and understand the ugly facts buried in the past: Manifest Destiny and genocide, lynching, eugenics, and the human/environmental carnage brought about by the industrial revolution and perpetuated by modern capitalism.

The architects of ed-reform have given us one clue to their system’s weakness: They love the idea of highly processed children, who will grow up to be widget-like adults.

Why?

Because beaten-down children, all taught from the same script, have the potential to create the most compliant worker class the world has even seen; afraid of authority, accepting of the master’s world view, and willing settle for anything.

Bootlicking is the career our business pleasing politicians are really getting our children ready for.

If there’s going to be any hope for a sane and equitable future, we desperately need to encourage and develop the independent, divergent thinkers among us. These are the individuals who will be the first to shake things up.

Want to be a rebel? Start buying books and reading. If you want to be a revolutionary, organize a reading group.

Crisis of courage. 

Unfortunately, teaching, as a profession, is on a different timeline.

I believe due to the recent alignment of technology and federal law, the United States is now on an accelerated track to diminish and ultimately eliminate the role of teacher as a professional career.

Instead, the idea of the teacher will be re-purposed. First, as digital facilitators. Later, the human component will be replaced all together with digital mentors and tutors. 

Teachers, at this point, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by standing up and fighting back against the push to destroy our public schools.

The only thing missing is the courage to do so.

Final thoughts.

The small bit of success I’ve experience as an activist has occurred by refusing to play the game and forcing my opponent to engage using my parameters and rules. Other critical elements have been: fearless friends, humor, and the willingness to let others join in and put their own spin on the action.

I believe all of us already have what’s needed to make change possible: a conscience and the ability to act. All we need is the courage to use these gifts.

-Carolyn Leith

 

 

 

 

The Doublespeak of Ed Reform Regarding Charter Schools

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Originally published in The Huffington Post, by co-editor Sue Peters

I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t an intentional Catch 22 that some people are trying to trap our public schools in– setting them up to fail, making it impossible for them to be creative or independent, and then saying: “See! They’re losers! They don’t ‘innovate’! Sell them off to private enterprises!” 

While watching part of NBC’s “Education Nation” (aka the week-long made-for-TV ad for Waiting for ‘Superman) last month, I tuned into the Teacher Town Hall where a teacher from a charter school was asked what made her school successful. “Teachers at our school are given the freedom to innovate!” she replied brightly.

Hmm, I thought. Sounds great. So why aren’t the teachers in my children’s public schools given that same freedom?

Instead, they are increasingly being slipped into the full nelson of a standardized curriculum measured by an ever-increasing barrage of computerized tests, all imposed by a top-down district management. (It feels stifling just to write about it.) Then the education reformers point an accusatory finger at our schools, call them “failing,” and hold up charter schools as exemplars of “innovation.”

And that’s one of the first ironies — or hypocrisies — of the current national dialogue on education reform.

The biggest players in ed reform — President Obama, Ed Secretary Arne Duncan, billionaires Bill Gates and Eli Broad: the “Superman” crowd, let’s call them — keep pushing privately run charter schools as the answer to all that ails our public schools (the central theme of ‘Superman’). One of the main winning traits of charters, they say, is their freedom to “innovate.” Indeed, free of public and school district oversight and mandates, privately run charter schools are granted the right to create their own curricula and empower their teachers to, allegedly, “innovate.” (They’ve also been allowed to exclude and expel students who don’t perform to their liking, a serious flaw of charters that even Secretary Duncan has acknowledged.)

Understandably, charter operations like to tout this precious autonomy they are given. Green Dot School’s site states:

3. Local Control with Extensive Professional Development and Accountability Principals and teachers own critical decisions at their schools related to budgeting, hiring and curriculum customization.

Now, why aren’t our non-charter public schools being given the creative and managerial autonomy that these reformers value in charters? Instead, when it comes to influencing or running our school districts with their corporate management trained superintendents, or their agenda-laden grants, these same reformers impose strictures on our schools and kids that quash innovation.

For example, here in Seattle, why is our district, led by a reformist Broad Academy-trained superintendent, taking autonomy steadily away from individual schools and principals and centralizing it? Why is it telling our teachers they need to follow the central office mandated curriculum exactly? Why is it sending “visitors” from the central office to escort the school principal on pop-ins into classrooms to monitor teachers? (I’ve heard these are called “Learning Walks” — apparently a trademarked term.) I can understand a principal checking on her/his staff, but why the accompanying Thought Police?)

Some researchers are even determining where exactly in the classroom a teacher should stand in order to deliver the “perfect lesson.”

I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t an intentional Catch 22 that some people are trying to trap our public schools in: setting them up to fail, making it impossible for them to be creative or independent, and then saying: “See! They’re losers! They don’t innovate! Let’s sell these schools to the private enterprises of KIPP charters, Green Dot charters, Billy Bob’s Acme Charters & Co.!”

Unfortunately this is just one of many conflicting messages coming from this latest breed of ed reformers. Those who are driving the national dialogue about the direction of our kids’ public education — from President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and lurking in the shadows with their open checkbooks, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Waltons, the Fishers and the Dells — are saying one thing out of one side of their mouths and another thing out of the other.

Here are some other examples of ed reform doublespeak:

“CLASS SIZE DOESN’T MATTER (except in charters)”

How many times have we heard the reformers declare that “class size doesn’t matter”? They claim that an “excellent” teacher can somehow transcend overstuffed classrooms and reach all kids. If this were true, then why do private schools and charters tout smaller class sizes and individualized attention as a key advantage over public schools?

Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone reportedly has a school with class sizes that average 15 kids, with two licensed teachers to every classroom! That’s a private school — and every parent’s — dream. From the Oct. 13, 2010, New York Times:

In the tiny high school of the zone’s Promise Academy I, which teaches 66 sophomores and 65 juniors (it grows by one grade per year), the average class size is under 15, generally with two licensed teachers in every room. There are three student advocates to provide guidance and advice, as well as a social worker, a guidance counselor and a college counselor, and one-on-one tutoring after school.

And from the Green Dot charter company web site:

1. Small, Safe, Personalized Schools All Green Dot schools are small (no more than 560 students when fully developed), ensuring that each student will not go unnoticed. In addition, small schools are safe and allow students to receive the personalized attention they need to learn effectively. Classes at each school will be kept as small as financially possible with a target student to teacher ratio of 27:1.

So apparently class size does matter to ed reformers when it comes to charters, but somehow not when it comes to the rest of the kids in regular schools.

“AN ‘EXCELLENT’ TEACHER CAN TRANSCEND EVERYTHING!”

How often have we heard the line: “The single most important factor in a child’s academic success is the teacher”? Here it is in the recent “manifesto” of (soon to be former) District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and NY schools chief Joel Klein et al:

As President Obama has emphasized, the single most important factor determining whether students succeed in school is not the color of their skin or their ZIP code or even their parents’ income — it is the quality of their teacher.

And here’s NBC (in an Education Nation press release) parroting this line:

Research and school-based evidence around the country now confirms that the most important variable affecting the success of the student is the effectiveness of the teacher, and the second most important variable is the effectiveness of the principal. Those two factors far outweigh the socioeconomic status, the impact of parental involvement or class size.

Problem is, these statements are false.

The most significant indicators and influences on a child’s success in school are what’s going on in these kids’ lives at home. In other words, their socioeconomic background and home life. Of course academic ability is not determined by race, gender or economic status. But success — the possibility of a child being allowed to fulfill her or his potential — is necessarily influenced by how much support they get at home, the stability of this home life and whether or not this child comes to school hungry each morning.

For the ed reformers to say that none of this matters — all you need is an “excellent” teacher — is false and another rigged scheme: rigged for failure. They may as well be dunking teachers in water to see if they are witches.

It defies common sense to say that a teacher, however brilliant, can transcend all challenges a child brings to school, can navigate a classroom of any size and any needs, and if the child does not succeed in school (in ed reformspeak that only means doing well on standardized tests), it is clearly unfair and inaccurate to lay the blame entirely on the teachers.

A great teacher does make a difference, for sure. But a teacher alone cannot determine a child’s academic success.

Despite this repeated canard, it’s clear that Geoffrey Canada, one of ed reforms’ heroes, recognizes these facts. Why else would his HCZ offer all the wraparound services that it does — Baby College, medical and dental care for students and their families? This is a clear acknowledgment of the fact that a child in poverty needs a great deal more than a stellar teacher to have a fair shot at educational success.

“AN ‘EFFECTIVE’ TEACHER IN EVERY CLASSROOM (but 5 five weeks of training will do!)”

I also find it rather hypocritical for the ed reformers to say they care about pushing academic achievement for all kids, and measure the success of their reforms by how many kids go to college — one of Canada’s benchmarks for HCZ — and then turn around and utterly dismiss the higher education of professional teachers.

Returning to the increasingly silly “manifesto”:

A 7-year-old girl won’t make it to college someday because her teacher has two decades of experience or a master’s degree — she will make it to college if her teacher is effective and engaging and compels her to reach for success.

If master’s degrees are so useless, then why don’t we just eliminate all academic degrees in all fields and just hire “effective, engaging” young credentialed dentists and doctors too? Does anyone really need an MBA? Or a law degree, for that matter?

On the one hand the reformers say they want an “effective” or “excellent” teacher in every classroom. On the other hand they promote sending Wendy Kopp’s Teach for America, Inc. trainees — who have only five weeks of training and are only required to commit to two years on the job — into the most struggling and challenging urban schools in the nation. Only 34 percent of TFA recruits stay in the field for a third year. Teachers don’t hit their stride until about the fifth. So most TFA-ers quit before they have even become “effective” teachers. (Michelle Rhee herself is a TFA graduate who only stayed for a few years in the field, and tells some pretty damning stories about her own mistakes as an inexperienced teacher.)

If the ed reformers were serious about promoting and supporting excellent teachers in every classroom, they would support well-trained professionals who are committed to the kids and the profession for the long term. Instead they disparage dedicated lifetime teachers as dead wood and promote young short-termers as the salvation. And their incessant teacher-bashing utterly undermines any claims they may have of “supporting” teachers.

“MONEY DOESN’T MATTER (except in the Harlem Children’s Zone)”

“Money doesn’t matter” the reformers like to say. I think I even heard President Obama say that recently, alas. And yet, the most comprehensive example of a charter model, Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone, has an operating budget and net assets in the multi-millions.

Reports the New York Times:

In 2009, the Harlem Children’s Zone had assets of nearly $200 million, and the project’s operating budget this year is $84 million, two-thirds of it from private donations. Last month, the Goldman Sachs Foundation pledged $20 million toward constructing an additional school building. With two billionaires, Stanley Druckenmiller and Kenneth Langone, on the board, its access to capital is unusually strong.

Canada’s Zone, at least acknowledges that underprivileged kids need a great deal of support inside and out of the classroom and school in order to succeed. His program offers social support services and medical services to these kids and their families for years, which is great. But he is given millions and millions of dollars to do it. That gives the lie to all those who say that money is not part of the solution to creating better schools. It also gives the lie to the reformers’ teacher-bashing mantra that somehow an “effective” or even “excellent” teacher can transcend all society’s ills.

It does take money to hire enough teachers to reduce class sizes, to maintain safe and clean facilities, invest in solid and inspiring curricula and enrichment. That’s an indisputable fact. We as a nation have not made education a funding priority. All my life, schools have been holding bake sales, as the famous bumper sticker laments, scrambling to pay for basics. It is a national shame. And the Obama/Duncan lottery of Race to the Top is unconscionable in that it does not fund all 50 states equally or at all.

So here’s where I’m at with this: Everything good the reformers tout about private control of our public schools via charters could be given to our existing public schools without handing over the control and finances of our schools to private charter franchise operators.

Smaller class sizes, more creative autonomy for teachers, local autonomy for schools, non-standardizing curricula that allow for more innovation, better resources for the kids from greater allocations of money — all of this is possible in our existing schools, if our superintendent, school board and central administration office would allocate our school district’s resources properly. But they don’t — as the recent damning state audit of Seattle’s School District revealed. (That’s why a growing number of parents and The Seattle Times support a “No” vote on the school levy Nov. 2 — unprecedented in a town that always backs school levies).

ALL public schools should offer ALL these things to ALL kids, no private-charter franchise middlemen required, and no lottery required either.

— Sue Peters

Originally published in The Huffington Post, 10/25/10 by co-editor Sue Peters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following the charter school cash in the Washington State Primary: The latest money scheme

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UPDATE: Two mistakes have been corrected from the original post.

Voters for Washington Children spent $15,000 in digital ads AGAINST Luis Moscoso in the District 1 Senate race. In addition, Voters for Washington Children spent $10,000 AGAINST Branden Durst in the Legislative District 29, Representative race.

Our sincerest apologies to Luis Moscoso and Branden Durst.

————————————————————————-

Nowhere is the chasm between the hard reality of our political system and the American ideals of merit, choice, and freedom more on display than during an election cycle.

Money matters – a lot.

The challenge for large money donors is how to spend big on your candidate(s) without offending the voters you’re trying to persuade. Voters understand politics is a dirty game, but they still believe in the idea that democracy should work for everyone.

Big donors have come up with a practical two step solution to this problem:

  1. Keep the money moving through various PACs.
  2. When it’s time to spend the money, use independent expenditures to further mask the source.

Openly supporting charter schools is a still a risky position for many politicians in Washington State. Let’s take a look at how pro-charter PACs supported their preferred candidates through the use of a PAC with a different name and independent expenditures.

The Name Game

Between July and August of 2016, three PACs contributed $265,500 dollars to Voters for Washington Children. They were:

Stand for Children Washington PAC

7/14    $76,000

7/25    $10,000     

Total: $86,000

Washington Charters PAC

7/15   $70,000

7/25   $27,500

7/25   $10,000

8/03   $15,000    

Total:$122,500

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) Washington PAC

7/14   $40,000

7/18   $  7,500

7/25   $10,000    

Total:$57,500

The Independent Expenditure Shell Game

Voters for Washington Children contracted with a group called RALLY in San Francisco to produce digital ads and mailers for the candidates Stand for Children, DFER, and Washington Charters PAC supported.

Never heard of RALLY?

Their clients include: Teach for America, Inc. (TFA), TFA-Bay Area, the Green Dot charter chain, National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), Students Matter (of the lawsuit Vergara v. California), and Act Now for Washington Students.

Remember the charter school ads that ran during Seahawks games last year? RALLY was behind them. They also bused kids to Olympia to testify for the charter bill and coordinated all of those heartfelt cards and letters sent to the state Legislature.

From RALLY’s website:

The Washington State Charter Schools Association, along with coalition members Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), Stand for Children, the League of Education Voters, and leaders from the business community, partnered with RALLY to find and drive a solution that saved the existing schools and reinstated the will of the voters. RALLY developed and managed a high-impact legislative advocacy campaign that forced legislators, especially elected Democrats, to confront the prospect of being held responsible for closing public schools that serve a racially and economically diverse student population – or taking action to support their constituents.

To deliver our message, RALLY created a campaign that truly put parents and students front and center. We built, encouraged, and supported a strong grassroots advocacy team that made more than 1,000 calls per week to elected officials, flooded legislative offices with homemade postcards and letters, and brought hundreds of people to Olympia for multiple rallies to keep schools open. A statewide petition activated 20,000 new public charter supporters and created a backbone for a strategic digital effort that augmented the on-the-ground tactics.

Grassroots efforts were coupled with an aggressive paid media campaign designed to make it impossible for state leaders to ignore the plight of public charters. RALLY produced four television ads, which aired during Seattle Seahawks games and nightly newscasts. Additionally, voters in key swing districts around the state received a series of direct mail, robo-calls, and targeted earned media. Statewide, every major newspaper endorsed saving the schools and called on Democrats to stay true to their social justice roots. These tactics were combined with a PAC fundraising effort, a relentless online digital presence, and a robust social media strategy.

RALLY’s Independent Expenditure Ads and Mailings

How did the candidates supported by the pro-charter PACs do in the primary? Let’s take a look at the races where RALLY’s services were put to use:

Legislative District 29-State Representative Pos. 1

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.38.27 PM

David Sawyer, Democrat, Representative, 29th District

7/26   $10,000 for digital ads AGAINST Branden Durst, Democrat

7/27    $10,000 for digital ads

Total: $20,000

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.12.30 AM

Legislative District 1-State Senator

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Guy Palumbo, Democrat, State Senate, District 1

7/21   $10,925 for digital ads

7/23   $11,714.55 for mailing

7/26   $15,000 for digital ads AGAINST Luis Moscoso, Democrat

Total: 37,639.55

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.29.17 AM

Legislative District 5-State Senator

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Mark Mullet, Democrat, State Senate, District 5

7/21    $10,658.19  direct mail

7/23    $16,189.83  two mailings

7/26    $11,525.07  direct mail  

Total: $38,373.09

Legislative District 41-State Senator

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Stephen Litzow, Republican, District 41, Senate

7/22    $4,000  digital ads

7/25    $19,930.28  direct mail

7/26    $16,782.63  direct mail

Total: $40,712.91

Not to be forgotten, 0n 7/27 RALLY was contracted to produced $30,000 worth of digital ads for Steven Hobbs, Democrat, who ran for the Lieutenant Governor position during the primary. Hobbs ended up coming in fourth after Cyrus Habib, Marty McClendon, and Karen Fraser.

Conclusion

Besides the Lieutenant Governor’s race, every campaign where RALLY’s services were engaged resulted in one of Voters for Washington Children’s candidates advancing to the general election.

Seems like Stand for Children Washington PAC, Washington Charters PAC, and Democrats for Education Reform Washington PAC got a solid return on their investment.

-Carolyn Leith

 

 

 

The ESSA: A renewed attack on parents’ and students’ rights

Reposted from SocialistWorker.org:

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John King, Secretary of Education, with President Obama

 

The education deform empire strikes back

by Marilena Marchetti

The battle over high-stakes testing and the future of public education is back in play after the Obama administration’s latest moves.

THE PROPOSED regulations for national implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signal that new Education Secretary John King is determined to continue the Obama administration’s relentless emphasis on high-stakes testing–by financial blackmail if necessary.

The passage of ESSA in late 2015 appeared to offer a concession to the growing concern that public schools are being taken over by high-stakes testing, which degrade curriculums and are misused to shame and blame teachers for the outcomes of an impoverished public education system and justify closing public schools in order to privatize the system with charters.

Enacted after a spring of historically high boycotts of exams around the country, ESSA gives each state the ability to determine how to meet the prescribed 95 percent participation rate in federally mandated tests that are given each year from 3rd to 8th grade and once in high school.

But in what can only be read as a tightening of the noose around the growing movement to “opt out” of state tests, King’s new regulations threaten states with financial sanctions should they fail to put a stop to test boycotting.

Here is how a Department of Education (DOE) summary puts it:

The proposed regulations do not prescribe how those rates must be factored into accountability systems, but they do require states to take robust action for schools that do not meet the 95 percent participation requirement. States may choose among options or propose their own equally rigorous strategy for addressing the low participation rate. In addition, schools missing participation rates would need to develop a plan, approved by the district, to improve participation rates in the future.

For many supporters and participants in the opt-out movement who believed that the tide was finally beginning to turn in their favor, these regulations are a sobering alert that the fight to ensure that students are treated as more than a score is far from over.

King might be the new Education Secretary, but he is making the same old mistakes: not respecting the voices of parents, teachers and students; doubling down on threats to financially punish students for boycotting tests; and digging in his heels to prevent the long overdue termination of standardized testing.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

NEW YORK, where King was the state education commissioner before his promotion this January, has been at the center of these swirling crosscurrents as officials scrambled to contain the crisis of testing legitimacy.

More than 200,000 students opted out of the New York’s standardized tests in 2015, and it’s estimated that similar numbers refused the tests this spring–one of the largest test boycotts in U.S. history.

When the record-breaking opt-out numbers were released last August, King’s successor as state education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, warned that schools with high test refusal numbers could lose funding, but then quickly backpeddled in the face of public pressure.

Then in December, momentum seemed to decisively shift away from over-testing. On the national level, there was the passage of ESSA, an updated version of George W. Bush’s awful No Child Left Behind Act that maintains the overall testing apparatus, but at least reduces the power of the federal government to use test scores as a weapon against schools.

Meanwhile, the New York Board of Regents unexpectedly voted to suspend some of the harmful practices associated with the tests, like tying teacher evaluations to student scores.

But now what looked like significant victories for the opt-out movement on both a local and national level appear to have been just temporary respites. Soon after the DOE’s punitive new regulations were announced, DNAInfo reported that 16 New York City schools had been ruled ineligible for up to $75,000 in grants because of their high test refusal numbers.

Betty Rosa, the new state Board of Regents Chancellor, who is widely seen as sympathetic to the opt-out movement, claimed that the loss of potential funding wasn’t a punishment from the state, but was instead an “unintended consequence” of the grants being tied to test scores.

Semantics aside, it appears that these schools might be the test case for New York to determine whether “robust actions” are capable of reining in the powerful opt-out movement.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

SO IT looks like the heated battle over public education is still on. It’s a battle that pits those who work for and/or send their children to public schools against those with a stake in seeing more funding diverted to testing companies and charter schools.

High-stakes standardized tests imbue toxic levels of stress into a school–as anyone who works in one knows quite well–bringing profit to education corporations at the expense of children’s well-being. John King is the mediator of this conflict between everyday people and a hugely profitable testing industry, and it’s clear what side he is on.

The opt-out movement has its work cut out for it, not least because both leading presidential candidates have dismal platforms for public education.

Donald Trump wants to gut the DOE and bust teachers’ unions, and Trump University is an infamous example of the horrors of privatized education. But Hillary Clinton has a long record of backing charter schools and high-stakes testing. She should be confronted at every turn this fall by public education supporters demanding that she oppose these DOE regulations.

Parents, teachers and students fighting for everyone to have the right to a rich and meaningful education are going to have to continue building on the grassroots strategies that have made the movement to into the impressive force that it is today in order to meet this next round of challenges.

 

The original post can be found here:

https://socialistworker.org/2016/06/15/the-education-deformers-strike-back.

Parents Across America-Portland Myth Busting Series: “50 Myths and Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools”

David Berliner 

50 Myths and Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools

March 31, 2016

7:00 P.M.

Concordia University

Come join us for an evening of discovery as we listen to Dr. David Berliner dispel myths about America’s public schools.

You can RSVP at Eventbrite.

 Welcome David Berliner, one of the most respected voices in education, as he comes to Portland to dispel 50 Myths and Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools. His book, co-authored by Gene Glass has sparked many a lively debate about our public schools. Berliner argues that many citizens’ conception of K-12 public education in the United States is more myth than reality. Warped opinions about our nation’s public schools include: they are inferior to private schools; they are among the worst in the world in math and science; teachers should be fired if their students don’t score at the national average, and on and on.

With more than a little humor, Berliner separates fact from fiction as he focuses our attention on modern education reform and explains how the mythical failure of public education has been created and perpetuated in large part by political and economic interests who stand to gain from its destruction. His method of debunking these falsehoods is to argue against their logic, criticize the data supporting them, and present more credible contradictory data.

Bring your critical thinking skills and join in the debate to debunk the myths about our public schools! The event is free but seats are limited. Let us know you are coming by registering for a free ticket at Eventbrite.

Corporate Education Reform is modern day eugenics

eugenics-testing

Blinded by Pseudoscience: Standardized Testing is Modern Day Eugenics

by Steven Singer at gadfly on the wall blog

Make no mistake. Corporate Education Reform is modern day eugenics. It pretends to justify increasing standardization and privatization of public schools through flawed and biased assessments. Its claims that any of this is actually supported by research are spurious. At heart, these are articles of faith – not science. Neither Common Core nor high stakes testing nor charterizing impoverished schools nor putting districts into receivership nor evaluating teachers based on student test scores – none of it has ever been shown in peer-reviewed studies to help students learn.

Adolph Hitler was a big fan of standardized testing.

It helped justify much of the horrors of the Nazi regime.

National Socialism is nothing but applied biology,” he said.

In other words, it’s just science, people. Some races are simply inferior to others. Black people, Jews, Gypsies, Hispanics – they just can’t hold a candle to the superior races of Northwestern Europe.

And Hitler based much of this on the “science” of Eugenics, especially the work done in America in the 1910s and ‘20s.

Eugenicists used a flawed and biased interpretation of Gregor Mendel’s laws on heredity to argue that lawlessness, intelligence, and even economic success are passed down in families due to dominant or recessive genes. Moreover, the negative traits are widespread in certain races and the positive ones in others.

Practitioners like Carl Brigham used IQ tests to PROVE white people were just the best and everyone else, well, maybe they should just stop breeding. (In fact, laws were passed in the U.S. imposing mandatory sterilization on thousands based on the conclusions of these “scientists.”)

Brigham was a U.S. Army psychologist who used WWI data to declare that whites (especially those born inside the United States) were the most intelligent of all peoples and that immigrants were genetically inferior. He went on to refine his work into an even better indicator of intelligence the he called the Scholastic Aptitude Test or S.A.T.

Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

In his seminal work, A Study of American Intelligence, Brigham concluded that American education is declining and “will proceed with an accelerating rate as the racial mixture becomes more and more extensive.”

To combat this mixture, eugenicist education reformers encouraged schools to rigidly track students into low, middle and high level classes – similar to the way many of our schools are organized today.

Lewis Terman, Professor of Education at Stanford University and originator of theStanford-Binet intelligence test, expressed these views in his textbook, The Measurement of Intelligence (1916). He wrote:

“Among laboring men and servant girls there are thousands like them [feebleminded individuals]. They are the world’s “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” And yet, as far as intelligence is concerned, the tests have told the truth. … No amount of school instruction will ever make them intelligent voters or capable voters in the true sense of the word.”

… The fact that one meets this type with such frequency among Indians, Mexicans, and negroes suggests quite forcibly that the whole question of racial differences in mental traits will have to be taken up anew and by experimental methods.

Children of this group should be segregated in special classes and be given instruction which is concrete and practical. They cannot master, but they can often be made efficient workers, able to look out for themselves. There is no possibility at present of convincing society that they should not be allowed to reproduce, although from a eugenic point of view they constitute a grave problem because of their unusually prolific breeding” (91-92).

This was the original justification for academic tracking. Terman and other educational psychologists convinced many schools to use high-stakes and culturally-biased tests to place “slow” students into special classes or separate schools while placing more advanced students of European ancestry into the college preparatory courses.

Compare that ideal to the increasingly segregated American schools of today. We have schools for the rich and schools for the poor. We have schools for black and brown kids and schools for whites.

Terman would have been in heaven!

It was the work of patriots like Brigham and Terman that the Nazis relied on heavilyto justify their forced sterilization programs and ultimately the Holocaust, itself.

Does that sound extreme? It isn’t.

At the Nuremberg Trials, Nazi scientists repeatedly praised the work of American eugenicists, who uncoincidentally also created the standardized test model of education favored by corporate education reformers today.

It’s easy to follow their logic. If certain races can be scientifically proven to be inferior, it is a small step to thinking that they should be stopped from breeding or eradicated from the face of the planet altogether.

And the pseudo-scientific justification for this scheme was standardized testing. The IQ test – which has since been shown to be incredibly biased – was used to justify mass murder. And then Brigham refined that same test into our most popular current standardized assessment – the SAT. In fact, all standardized tests that students are forced to take today owe a huge debt to the SAT and other standardized assessments used by Terman and other eugenicist educators.

The resemblance between testing in the 1910s and the 2010s is obvious to those who will but look.

Similar to the IQ test, modern standardized exams like the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) repeatedly have been shown to be biased in favor of affluent and white test takers. Supporters bemoan the “racial proficiency gap,” but that’s just a nice way of wondering why the same folks Hitler thought were “inferior” don’t do well on our modern tests.

This is no accident. It’s how the assessments are designed.

The IQ test is supposed to demonstrate an innate intelligence. However, modern psychologists have become increasingly skeptical that intelligence is fixed. So standardized assessments like the SAT are supposed to somehow show BOTH what students have learned AND their innate intelligence. That’s the justification behind the high stakes. You have to pass the SAT to show you’re smart enough to do well in college.

Such outright racism would not be tolerated today, so it becomes cloaked in doublespeak. It’s good that poor black students don’t score well on standardized tests because that shows us they need extra help. And then, instead of providing any help, we close their schools or turn them over to fly-by-night charter operators.

Once again, standardized tests are used as the justification for doing something obviously racist. If anyone said, “We’re going to close and privatize all the schools serving minorities and the poor,” people would revolt. However, when you say we’re doing it because of standardized tests – because of “science” – people just shrug and say, “You can’t argue with that!”

The same goes for Common Core State Standards. States were bribed to enact them so that the reasons for attacking public schools would be uniform across the country. This provides another level of pseudo-scientific justification.

They are supposed to ensure every student who graduates high school will be “college and career ready.” However, now that Common Core has been adopted in 46 states and their tests have become aligned with the standards, we’ve seen studentscores take a nosedive. Only our rich white kids apparently are ready for college.

So what will we do with those who fall below the mark? We’re sending no additional resources to help them increase their achievement. We’ll just close their schools and/or privatize. And to make sure none of them escape, we’ll make passing the Common Core tests a graduation requirement.

This does not level the playing field. This does not – as some corporate education reformers claim – ensure the sanctity of students Civil Rights. It extensively violates them!

The education model of Test and Punish is a modern eugenics movement. We’re shellacking over class divides so that those below a certain point have no possibility of ever rising to the white place. And I do mean “white.”

Standardized testing is not a ladder of social mobility. It is a means of keeping certain people in their proper place.

Some try to deny the racial component by pointing to the intersection with class. Testing impacts poor white children as it does poor black ones.

To a degree this is true, but remember our eugenic forerunners saw everything in purely racial terms. For instance, today, few people would claim Judaism is a race. It is a religion. It is essentially a belief system, not a set of shared genes even though some adherents do share genetic characteristics after centuries of segregation. But the Nazis considered them a race and, thus, systematically murdered 6 million of them.

The same goes for the poor. Brigham and his Nazi admirers thought that people were poor mainly because of their genes. They are genetically predisposed to being lazy and good for nothing, so they can’t keep a job or advance themselves. Therefore, they’re poor. Pause for a moment to consider the large numbers of people in America today who would agree with them.

Standardized testing treats the poor the same way it does minorities. In fact, it is justthe lack of opportunities that come with poverty that cause the very scores that are being used to denigrate these people. Lack of proper nutrition, food insecurity, lack of prenatal care, early childcare, fewer books in the home, exposure to violence – all of these and more combine to result in lower academic outcomes.

But standardized testing puts the blame on the victim. Students score badly because they aren’t working hard enough, corporate reformers say. These kids don’t have enough “rigor.”

To make sure few people actually volunteer to help, we blame their teachers, as well. We make the education profession as unattractive as possible, indicting teachers for all societies ills knowing full well that this will result – as it has – in a nationwide teacher shortage. Then we can deprofessionalize the field and replace educators who have four-year-degrees with lightly trained Teach for America temps.

These kinds of shenanigans didn’t fool the anti-racists of the past.

The great African American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois remarked in 1940, “It was not until I was long out of school and indeed after the [First] World War that there came the hurried use of the new technique of psychological tests, which were quickly adjusted so as to put black folk absolutely beyond the possibility of civilization.”

He could be talking about No Child Left Behind.

In “Intelligence Tests and Propaganda,” scholar Horace Mann Bond issued a warning about the misuse of IQ tests:

“But so long as any group of men attempts to use these tests as funds of information for the approximation of crude and inaccurate generalizations, so long must we continue to cry “Hold!” To compare the crowded millions of New York’s East Side with the children of Morningside Heights [an upper class neighborhood at the time] indeed involves a great contradiction; and to claim that the results of the tests given to such diverse groups, drawn from such varying strata of the social complex, are in any wise accurate, is to expose a fatuous sense of unfairness and lack of appreciation of the great environmental factors of modern urban life.”

He could be talking about Race to the Top.

Karen Lewis, a present-day Chicago teacher and president of her union, says this:

“What many people do not know is that the use of standardized tests has its origins in the Eugenics movement …we have to be clear about the original purpose of standardized tests.

In a society fascinated by statistics, we are often compelled to reduce everything to a single number. Those of us who work with children know that there are so many characteristics that cannot be quantified.

Ask yourselves whether you want to be part of a legacy born of the unholy alliance between the concept of  “natural inequality” and the drudgery that has been imposed on many of our classrooms.”

Make no mistake. Corporate Education Reform is modern day eugenics. It pretends to justify increasing standardization and privatization of public schools through flawed and biased assessments. Its claims that any of this is actually supported by research are spurious. At heart, these are articles of faith – not science. Neither Common Core nor high stakes testing nor charterizing impoverished schools nor putting districts into receivership nor evaluating teachers based on student test scores – none of it has ever been shown in peer-reviewed studies to help students learn.

Corporate Education Reformers are asking all of us to have faith in a racial and economic social order that benefits those already at the top and keeps the rest of us in our place.

And for anyone who questions it, we are continually blinded by their pseudoscientific justifications.

The Black “Mis-Leadership” Class Including Cory Booker

 

 

About Cory Booker:

From Seattle Education:

Cory Booker and the $100M gift to Newark Public Schools

This goes into the OMG category because that is what I kept saying to myself as I read this article.

From FireDogLake:

ACLU Wins Lawsuit Against Cory Booker, Forcing Release Of Emails with Facebook Executives

By: DSWright, posted on Wednesday December 26, 2012

bookerzuk
Cory Booker (left) and Mark Zuckerberg

It started on Oprah.

Facebook founder and Winklevii nemesis Mark Zuckerberg announced a $100 million donation to Newark schools to blunt PR damage from the release of The Social Network to help school children. The money would not be going into the struggling city’s budget but would be privately controlled with Newark Mayor Cory Booker providing guidance.

Yes, money used to transform Newark public schools would be administered privately and, until recently, in secret from the people of Newark.

Privatizing schools in Newark was already a tough task this year after the crown jewel of charter schools in the city was caught up in a cheating scandal. Apparently telling teachers they get paid more/remain employed if their students do better on tests leads to gaming the test system – who knew monetary incentives lead to the pursuit of self-interest? The strategy was clear, use the private money to launch attacks on public schools and keep anyone from seeing how.

That last part of the strategy just hit the wall. The American Civil Liberties Union won a lawsuit forcing the release of emails between Mayor Booker and Facebook executives:

NEWARK – A Superior Court judge has ordered the City of Newark to release emails that were exchanged about the $100 million pledge that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made to Newark schools in September 2010.

The ruling was issued in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) on behalf of the Secondary Parent Council (SPC), a group of Newark parents and grandparents seeking more transparency about the donation.

There is an interesting twist here as the Booker administration originally claimed there were no emails.

The city originally stated it did not have any documents about the donation. It later admitted in a January court hearing that emails existed, but argued they did not have to release them because they were shielded by mayoral executive privilege, contain personal information and are deliberative in nature. The city also argued Newark Mayor Cory Booker was not acting in his official capacity as mayor when he accepted Zuckerberg’s pledge on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Judge Rachel N. Davidson rejected all those arguments, noting for instance that a press release on the City of Newark’s own website touts Booker’s involvement in the donation as mayor and that all of the emails in dispute are maintained by Booker’s executive assistant in Newark City Hall. The judge also noted that Booker’s role as mayor is repeated in statements about the donation that are mentioned on his campaign website, as well as in some of the emails that are being sought.

As for the emails themselves they show the typical anxieties and pathologies of corporate executives and politicians when embarking on any hostile takeover, as reported by The Wall Street Journal:

In the days leading up to the announcement of a $100 million gift to Newark schools Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and Newark officials identified three areas that could be hurdles to a smooth implementation: building community support, attracting other donors and hiring a new superintendent…

A week before the September 2010 donation was public, Sandberg asked Booker in an email about spending plans for the first 100 days and details of how the mayor planned to obtain support from residents.

Booker wrote: “This is one of our biggest concerns right now as we must be ahead of the game on community organizing by next week.” A mayoral adviser outlined a rough plan to spend $315,000 on efforts such as polling, focus groups, mailing and consultants. The foundation has spent at least $2 million on such efforts since.

Newark residents who are critical of Booker at school board meetings often say they are wary of outsiders and would rather have a superintendent who has some connection to the city. Sandberg appears to have been concerned about how the gift would be viewed. In an email to Booker and other Newark officials, she wrote that a draft of a press release about the donation used “too much ‘national’ language.”

“I wonder if we should basically make this focused on Newark with just a touch of ‘and this will be a national model,’” she wrote.

The irony is rich – even the corporate executive trying to market philanthropy for brand benefit thinks the plan is not local enough. If only Sandberg knew Booker was getting ready to ditch Newark for higher office, then maybe she would realize it was never about Newark and all about Cory Booker sucking up to his donors on Wall Street.

About the Bradley Foundation:

bradley_foundation

 

From Source Watch:

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (LHBF), formerly known as the Allen-Bradley Foundation, was established in 1942, describing itself as “a private, independent grantmaking organization based in Milwaukee.”According to the foundation’s 1998 Annual Report and a 2011 report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation gives away more than $30 million per year. In November 2013, One Wisconsin Now and the Center for Media and Democracy reported that the Bradley Foundation had given over $500 million to conservative “public-policy experiments” since 2000.

For a full list of groups the foundation has funded, please see Contributions of the Bradley Foundation.

Harry Bradley was one of the original charter members of the far right-wing John Birch Society, along with another Birch Society board member, Fred Koch, the father of Koch Industries‘ billionaire brothers and owners, Charles and David Koch.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “from 2001 to 2009, it [Bradley] doled out nearly as much money as the seven Koch and Scaife foundations combined.”

Ties to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Governor Scott Walker signed a right-to-work bill into law on March 9, 2015 with some help from the Bradley Foundation. The foundation “doled out over $8 million in 2012 and 2013, the latest years for which information available, to support the operations of a web of nearly three dozen groups promoting right to work laws and radical privatization policies that empower the wealthy and corporate CEOs at the expense of the middle class,” according to a report by One Wisconsin Now published on February 25, 2015. “TheBradley Foundation, having nearly half a billion dollars in assets, regularly hands out $30-40 million a year, making it perhaps the largest right wing funding foundation in America. Groups operating in Wisconsin, including the MacIver Institute, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, Media Trackers and theWisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation, took in excess of $2.9 million.[7]

Walker proposed his 2013-2015 budget, which contained plans to massively expand Wisconsin’s school voucher program, in February 2013. Congruent with the efforts of the Bradley Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), this would provide state subsidies for students to leave public schools in exchange for private schools, effectively transfering substantial government public education funding to the private sector.

The Center for Union Facts, an anti-union organization that is part of lobbyist Rick Berman‘s family of front groups, received $1.55 million between 2007 and 2010 from the Bradley Foundation and spent heavily to support Walker and smear teachers unions with an anti-union website during the 2011 fight over public sector collective bargaining rights.

For additional information on the Bradley Foundation, go to Source Watch.

The charter school shell game in Washington State: Money laundering at its best (or worst?) by way of OSPI

 

money laundering.jpg

If you haven’t been keeping up with the fight over charter schools in our state, for now just know that the Washington State Supreme Court recently ruled that charter schools are not common schools and therefore unconstitutional and cannot receive public money.

With so much money spent on preparing for charter schools in our state with funding from Bill Gates through organizations such as the League of Education Voters (LEV) and Stand for Children (SFC) and through political donations, and the money to be made by charter school franchises, Teach for America, Inc. and online learning corporations, the fight is still on in our state but now the deals are being made behind the scenes and under the table in a way that looks, sounds and smells like contempt of court to me.

Honestly, if Bill Gates wants to determine the fate of our schools, he should simply run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). It would be far more democratic than providing OSPI with over $14+M since 2009 and strong-arming a publicly funded state office into doing his bidding.

So let’s get to the deets.

OSPI, with lame duck State Superintendent Randy Dorn at the helm, has been receiving millions from Gates for the last six years.  It is questionable whether a state office can legally or ethically receive private money but that’s worthy of another investigation and post.

In a memo issued on December 3, 2015 by State Superintendent Randy Dorn regarding “Transitioning charter school students to Alternative Learning Experience  (ALE) students”. The memo states:

“Several of the approved charter schools intend to contract with public school districts for the purpose of providing education services to the students formally enrolled in the charter schools. The school districts intend to provide the services either through traditional methods of instruction or as alternative learning experiences (ALE).”

The memo continues:

January through August Apportionment– Districts will be provided an allocation based on their actual annual average full-time equivalent (ALETE) reported enrollment, including students formerly enrolled in charter schools who have WSLP in place by the February enrollment count day. Students enrolled in ALE programs will generate an allocation based on the non-vocational Running Start rate for the 2015-2016 year, which is $6,308.69.” (That’s $6,938,800 for 1,100 charter school students.)

School districts have been contacted by the MWSD requesting consideration of charter schools that opened in their district to be under the ALE umbrella. Those districts are Seattle, Highline and Tacoma.

All of this maneuvering for 500-1,100 students when there are 1.5M students in Washington State?

At this time, Bill Gates, via OSPI and the MWSD, is attempting to have school districts take on the charter schools and PAY FOR THEM through the remainder of the school year while during this legislative session in Olympia, corporate owned legislators will attempt to hold public school funding hostage to get charter schools in our state even though the Supreme Court has said charter schools are unconstitutional in Washington.

Talk about contempt of court!

Now about the Mary Walker School District (MWSD) which is a tiny district outside of Spokane in Springdale, Washington with an enrollment of 508 students.

In a letter dated December 9, 2015, the district Superintendent, Kevin Jacka, announced to their community that the MWSD will be taking on the charter schools.

The Mary Walker School district has been through some financial hard times recently.

In Feb. 2014, the Mary Walker School District considered requesting a loan from Stevens County Treasurer. In minutes for a meeting held on February 19, 2014:

BUSINESS MANAGER REPORT

  1. Miller presented the monthly budget report and answered relevant questions from the Board. Also discussed was the need to prepare for the possibility of acquiring a temporary loan from Stevens County Treasurer (to General Fund) to cover expenses, due to the cash flow timing constraints (see Resolution #13-04).

So the MWSD is ripe for the picking and has agreed to take on as many charter schools as possible into their district.

Of course, it helps when you start to receive Gates’ money to take on the charter schools to the tune of $2,800,000.

This is the set-up. The MWSD will have agreements with school districts to keep the charter schools in place. The charter schools will be operated by the MWSD and will take a cut of the funding provided by the state for each student which is  $6,308.69 per student and the remainder will go to the charter school owners. The MWSD will theoretically operate the schools.

Sweet deal for all except the taxpayers.

By the way, in late 2015, Dick Conley, a former MWSD superintendent, was flown into our state to assist in setting up the  MWSD with charter schools through the ALE program.

And then there is a matter of an audit done of the ALE programs. From The Spokesman Review:

Audits of home school programs raise eyebrows

OLYMPIA – Under a state education program designed as a blend of classrooms and home school, Washington taxpayers have in recent years paid for:

  • Bible-based texts and videos,
  • Private gym memberships,
  • Horseback-riding lessons,
  • Church repairs,…

Those were among the eyebrow-raising expenditures discovered by state auditors looking into Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) programs at 18 school districts, including several across Eastern Washington. At least 158 districts around the state run such programs, which last year cost state taxpayers about $80 million.

  • Mary Walker School District: The district spent thousands of tax dollars in renovations at the Springdale CommunityChurchas well as $3,700 in computer video editing equipment for two children.

The church renovations included a fence and stairway that were needed because the district leases space for alternative-school classes there, Superintendent Kevin Jacka said.”

There’s some loosy-goosy spending going on under the radar and just the way charter schools like it.

Is it illegal to play this shell game? Is it ethical? One can start with the questionable ethics of OSPI receiving private foundation money via Bill Gates for the last six years.

Regarding OSPI and the charter schools involved. There are no publicly available meeting minutes or memos and yet this is a state funded issue and therefore should be open to public scrutiny.

In terms of the Mary Walker School District, there have been no Board Resolutions to research incorporating charter schools into the ALE program and no fiscal notes or analysis available to the public. In fact, the MWSD hasn’t provided budget information, on their web page, since the 2014-2015 school year.

There are no school board meeting notes listed regarding the Highline School District’s decision to incorporate charter schools within their district and there are no Board Action Reports regarding this with all the school districts that were contacted by OSPI/MWSD. There has been no public comment or a description of the governance structure and responsibilities of  the school districts and charter school operators, there are no documents to be found on the Washington State Charter School Commission’s website regarding this issue or information provided by the Washington State Board of Education.

I would call this a lack of public disclosure and oversight which is exactly why the Supreme Court Justices ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional.

It looks like contempt of court to me.

And where is the Washington Education Association (WEA)? They’ve been silent for too long. Don’t they want to protect their members from charter schools that hire only Teach for America, Inc. recruits? So far almost all of the Chicago public schools are closed and replaced with charter schools, in Los Angeles Eli Broad wants to close 50% of the public schools and convert them into charter schools, Philadelphia is going that way as well and New Orleans is almost completely converted to charter schools leaving experienced and certified teachers out in the cold.  And don’t think that this can’t happen in Washington State. Once privatizers get their foot in the door, it’s all over.

This is the perfect environment for charter schools to establish themselves and spread, under the radar and using taxpayer dollars.

Take a moment to contact Randy Dorn, the State Attorney, your legislators, your school board members, your district’s superintendent and even send an open letter to the Supreme Court providing them with your opinion on the open defiance of the Supreme Court ruling on charter schools.

Dora Taylor

Contact information for our elected state representatives:

State Superintendent Randy Dorn
360-725-6000
Superintendent@k12.wa.us

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson
(360) 753-6200

Washington State Legislators
You can leave a short message using the in-state toll-free Hotline number 800.562.6000
or send an email via the legislator e-mail services at http://app.leg.wa.gov/memberemail/.

For more on this story, see

Emails reveal OSPI in contempt of Supreme Court ruling on charter schools in Washington State