The latest cash grab : Teacher/charter school villages

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TFA recognizes the value of the Centers concept and has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Seawall Development Company to replicate the Centers for Educational Excellence model across the country. Philadelphia, along with Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, is a TFA-identified growth area, and TFA has committed to being the lead commercial tenant in these developments, with their corps members making up the majority of residential tenants.

TFA: The New Gentrifiers

As I noted in a previous article titled The Battle in Seattle Against Yet Another Charter School Invasion, a developer plans to build a project that includes retail, low income housing and at one time, a charter school, the Green Dot charter school chain, in Southeast Seattle.

Based on further research, I found this is not an anomaly but a national trend.

Bankers, developers and real estate brokers are working together with Teach for America (TFA) and charter school enterprises to offer low income housing mainly for Teach for America recruits and other teachers who do not have adequate pay for clean and safe housing along with free space for charter schools through city and state support. These are our tax dollars paying for highly lucrative business ventures where all the profit goes back to the bankers, developers and brokers.

These people are not developing these projects out of the goodness of their hearts, they are doing it for, of course, the money.

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So how does this work?

Basically, developers will get money from the city or state to provide low income housing in blighted areas or low-income communities. A charter school is brought in to sweeten the pot along with teachers who will begin the process of gentrification.

In a few years, the local community becomes popular for basically the creative class or white middle and upper classes and before you know it, you have a Soho, a Mission district in San Francisco, a Northeast Portland.

Property values begin to rise and an investment made with public money goes into the pockets of the bankers, developers and brokers.

For Teach for America, Inc. it’s a perk. They can retain recruits at very low pay because they now have “affordable housing” for the working poor and charter schools can come in with little to no cash required because of city and/or state subsidies.

Sweet deal for the 1%, not so good for the rest of us.

When the value of the property around the school begins to skyrocket, those who were to benefit from the developments will not be able to afford to live anywhere near the original charter school/low income housing sites.

And, if a charter school goes belly up, as a large percentage of them do, less money has been lost and the space is move-in ready for the next charter school venture.

According to an article titled Why Are Community Development Lenders Financing Charter Schools?  published in ShelterForce:

Some CDLF [Community Development Lenders] practitioners also believe that charter schools are conducive to urban revitalization because they provide middle-class families with “safe” educational alternatives that encourage them to move to and stay in urban areas, helping to break up the concentrated poverty found in many of those areas. Research documents that charter schools are used by higher-income, primarily white urban residents who do not want to send their children to local public schools serving large numbers of low-income, black and brown students.

Other studies provide evidence that charter schools are used by more affluent whites in non-urban communities as well, as a means of facilitating segregation. More generally, numerous studies have found that charter schools lead to increases in segregation in education by race, ethnicity, and income, across metropolitan areas

  1. It’s Where the Money Is

CDLFs are mission-driven organizations, but they also respond to the market. There are substantial and growing public and private incentives for investing in charter schools. Those incentives are particularly attractive given the limited availability of other forms of subsidy.

One of the most effective forms of subsidy to encourage CDLFs to support charter school expansion is the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDOE) Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities (CECSF) program. The USDOE awarded $280.9 million in CECSF grants between 2002 and 2015 “to public and nonprofit entities to develop innovative credit enhancement models that assist charter schools in leveraging capital from the private sector.” CDLFs received at least 75 percent of these CECSF grant dollars

Indeed, the program has been very successful in leveraging private capital with federal funding sources. LISC calculated that, through 2012, approximately $250 million in CECSF dollars leveraged an additional $3.2 billion in charter school facility financing, with private investors attracted by the lower risk and greater financial profitability.

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Before heading to other cities where this is happening, I thought it would be worth noting that the Homesight low-income housing development in Southeast Seattle that was to house Green Dot charter school and populated by Teach for America recruits has one financial backer of note, Bill Gates. Bill Gates is a proponent of school privatization. The Gates Foundation provided Homesight with $100,000 to support the Regional Equity Network to advance a community-led agenda in the Puget Sound region”* and $16 million to Green Dot “to support the expansion of Green Dot Public Schools into the state of Washington”. Also of note, two of Washington Teach for America’s “Supporters” are Goldman Sachs (who finances several of these charter school/low income developments around the country) and Avenue Properties.

So, let’s see what’s been happening elsewhere.

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One of the first examples of these business ventures was one Cory Booker pushed back in 2012. Cory Booker is no friend of public education because of his ties to the donor class so this comes as no surprise to those who have been following him.

As the then Mayor of Newark, Cory Booker stated at the groundbreaking of the Teachers Village per NBC New York:

“This is how we reinvent and rebuild a great American city,” Mayor Cory Booker declared when ground was broken for Teachers Village, a downtown development of eight buildings planned to have 200 apartments for teachers, three charter schools, a day care center and stores. It’s being designed by architect Richard Meier, a Newark native best known for designing the Getty Center in Los Angeles. The $150 million price is being covered by a combination of private and public funds.

In the next paragraph, the reporter writes:

The hope is that schools will be better with teachers who live in the community, and that it will create a middle-class enclave in a city where nearly one-third of families with children live in poverty. Middle-class residents can bring neighborhoods stability, attract more businesses and ultimately improve tax revenue.

Per New Jersey Business:

The project was awarded nearly $40 million in Urban Transit Hub tax credits from the state Economic Development Authority and allocated $60 million in federal New Markets tax credits for the school portion. Other public financing came from the city of Newark, the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, and federal Qualified School Construction Bonds, according to an EDA memo. Private financing came from Goldman Sachs, Prudential Financial Corp., TD Bank and New Jersey Community Capital, Beit said. In the early months of the recession, Beit said, Berggruen’s unwavering commitment to the project — Berggruen said he considers his investment “long-term” — brought everyone else together.

Teachers Village now has three charter schools.

All of this out of public coffers at an estimated $200 million.

Originally, leaders of the teachers’ unions were all for Teachers Village until they came to realize the concept was not for public school teachers but for Teach for America recruits. (It’s hard to imagine these folks were that naïve.)

According to Ed Week in an article titled Projects Couple Affordable Teacher Housing With New School Construction:

Newark Teachers Union President John M. Abeigon says the union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, initially backed the project because it thought it would benefit more traditional public school teachers. At the start, he says, the developers had emphasized its planned support for such educators.

But Abeigon contends that the project then became aligned with what he calls the “corporate charter school movement.” For evidence, he cites the complex’s three charter schools and the fact that most of the apartments are rented to charter teachers and staff.

Abeigon’s concerns are echoed by Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT.

“This was supposed to be a way to recruit and support and retain Newark public school teachers,” she said. “That was the basis on which then-president of the Newark Teachers Union Joe Del Grosso [now deceased] and the AFT said this makes sense, because we really do believe in the idea of teachers living in the communities in which they teach. But Teachers Village came to be about charter teachers alone and that was dead wrong.”

Abeigon also argues that the complex’s close ties to charter schools belie the developers’ professed commitment to the long-term health of the community—a sentiment shared by other critics of the project.

“It’s a known fact that traditional public school teachers, who I refer to as career educators, stay longer than charter school teachers, so their commitment and investment in the community is that much greater,” he said. “Those living in Teachers Village are going to be turnaround tenants. They’ll do their two-year stints with [Teach For America] or a charter school, beef up their résumés, and then go get a job elsewhere. They aren’t going to really be invested in Newark.”

And in New York, another housing development. Per Affordable Housing Finance:

A new vibrant, mixed-use development that is providing much-needed affordable housing, a charter school for underserved students, and nonprofit office space has been built on an underutilized area of a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) site in East Harlem.

Jonathan Rose Cos., Harlem RBI, and Civic Builders partnered to create the East Harlem Center for Living & Learning on the site of George Washington Houses. The development includes the 89-unit Yomo Toro Apartments; the DREAM Charter School…

The total development cost for the project was approximately $84 million, including $30 million for the Yomo Toro Apartments. The affordable housing portion was financed through low-income housing tax credit equity provided by Enterprise Community Investment and sourced by JPMorgan Capital Corp., first and second mortgages from the New York City Housing Development Corp. (HDC), a loan from New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Reso A funding from City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

In San Diego, there was a push to revise code requirements that would allow a charter school to be a part of a low-income housing development.

The community had issues with the school bringing with it additional unwanted traffic to the neighborhood causing the variance for the charter school to be tabled.

The difference between what happened in San Diego and what occurred in Seattle is that the variance request was reviewed by way public meetings in San Diego, not behind closed doors as was done in Seattle.

Thanks to the efforts of former School Board Director Sue Peters, the school board and the public were alerted to the second attempt by Green Dot charter school to receive special treatment by the City of Seattle in terms of receiving a code variance.

RBHGroup-logoThe RBH Group, who were the developers for the Newark project and whose CEO Ron Beit sits on the board of Teach for America, Inc. in New Jersey, then went to Hartford, Connecticut.

According to a report published by Goldman Sachs:

RBH Group, the developer of Newark’s Teachers Village, announced the completion of financing and the start of construction on Hartford’s Teachers Corner, a mixed-use apartment complex in downtown Hartford aimed specifically at teachers

RBH Group’s founder and president Ron Beit said, “Teachers Corner represents a public and private partnership committed to urban reinvestment, building affordable and workforce housing and contributing to revitalizing the center of the city.

Following the Teachers Village project in Newark, NJ, the RBH Group, through its joint venture with the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, partnered with Prudential Social Investment Group, the City of Hartford and State of Connecticut to build the $20M project

Funders include City of Hartford, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, State Department of Housing, Capital Region Development Authority CRDA, State Department of Economic and Community Development, Prudential Social Investment Group and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group.

In Baltimore, per Urban Land magazine:

The $21 million renovation of a long-vacant, century-old former tin box manufacturing plant in Baltimore’s Charles Village neighborhood was completed in summer 2009 by Seawall, founded by father and son Donald [Previously on the Teach for America, Baltimore Advisory Board] and Thibault Manekin. The project includes 40 apartments—ten reserved as affordable—and 35,000 square feet (3,250 sq m) of commercial space.

All the apartments are rented to school teachers at substantial discounts to market rental rates, and all office space—with the exception of Seawall’s headquarters—is leased to education-related organizations, including Teach for America.

Over 70 percent of the residents are members of Teach for America who work in Baltimore’s public school system, Morville notes. Several others are participating in the Baltimore system’s City Teacher Residency program, and some teach in parochial schools…

The financing mechanism that really made the project pencil out was the pairing of the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) with federal and state historic tax credits, Morville says. The project is located in a census tract defined as “highly distressed” under the NMTC program.

And in San Jose:

Developer proposes project with charter school, affordable housing for San Jose ‘urban village’.

With affordable housing and a [Aspire] charter school, the mixed-use project would be a first for San Jose and transform a currently vacant industrial property in the Alum Rock area.

As with charter schools and the Common Core Standards, venture capitalists are cashing in on public school funding making school districts even more strapped for cash while desperately trying to keep schools together, employ certified teachers and adequately staff their schools.

Make no mistake about it, these “teacher villages” are not about the children or the communities they live in. This is yet another big grab for cash by financial enterprises.

Dora Taylor

*Post Script:

It’s a devious web that Bill Gates and others weave particularly in the Seattle area where many of us caught on several years ago to the efforts by a few to privatize public schools in the US.

For that reason, it’s important to explain some connections.

Homesight and Regional Equity Network (REN):

Tony To, the Executive Director of Homesight is a co-chair for REN. Thus, the grant from Gates describes two receiving parties, Homesight and REN.

 

Recommended articles:

SIX REASONS WHY WE DON’T WANT GREEN DOT CHARTER SCHOOLS IN SEATTLE

This Is What Happens When You Criticize Teach for America: An internal memo reveals how TFA’s obsessive PR game covers up its lack of results in order to justify greater expansion.

Why Are Community Development Lenders Financing Charter Schools?

Public Schools to Community Development (A highly recommended deep dive into what the thinking is on the part of the moneyed community.)


Critics rip plans for $22M charter school at Cayce Homes

Who Will Live In Newark’s Teachers Village? TFAers

TFA: The New Gentrifiers

Policy Link: A recent find that shows who is connected to what organizations in Washington State

Projects Couple Affordable Teacher Housing With New School Construction

WHEDco Bard Academy Charter School to share space in Bronx with affordable housing and music center in 2013  

It’s an East Harlem DREAM come true: a new charter school beneath affordable housing 

EMAILS REVEAL THE “GATES MACHINE” IN ACTION AFTER THE WASHINGTON STATE SUPREME COURT’S DECISION THAT CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL

BILL GATES IN WASHINGTON STATE: MAYORAL CONTROL AND CHARTER SCHOOLS

WHAT BILL GATES HAS SPENT SO FAR IN OUR STATE TO SUPPORT CHARTER SCHOOLS

Washington State: Charter School Backers Want to Oust Judge Who Authored Anti-Charter Decision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Interview with Kenneth Zeichner: Relay Graduate School of Education

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The reason that I use Lisa Delpit’s term “other people’s children” here is to underline the point that few if any Relay staff and advocates for the program in the policy community would accept a Relay teacher for their own children.

Ken Zeichner is the Boeing Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Washington. He is a member of the National Academy of Education and a Fellow at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado.

A former elementary teacher and longtime teacher educator in NY, Wisconsin, and Seattle, his work has focused on creating and implementing more democratic models of teacher preparation that engage the expertise of local communities, K-12 educators and university academics in preparing high quality professional teachers for everyone’s children.

He has also challenged the privatization of K-12 schools and teacher education by exposing the ways in which venture philanthropy has sought to steer public policy in education, and the ways in which research has been misused to support the privatization process. His new book “The Struggle for the Soul of Teacher Education” will be published later this year by Routledge.

This interview took place via email between January and February of 2017. It’s presented in full, with only very slight editing for style.

Editor’s Note: On March 8th, the Senate  voted to roll back the Obama Administration teacher education regulations. Ken contacted me to say this regulatory change will NOT affect what he said in this interview about Relay and the teacher preparation academy provisions in ESSA.  -Carolyn Leith

As an introduction, could you explain for our readers: What is the Relay Graduate School of Education and why we should be concerned.

Relay Graduate School of Education is an independent institution not affiliated with a legitimate college or university that prepares new teachers and principals and provides professional development services for teachers and principals to school districts and charter networks. It was founded in 2007 by three charter school networks (Uncommon Schools, KIPP, and Achievement First) within Hunter College’s Education School and became independent in 2012 changing its name to Relay Graduate School of Education.

Until recently, its teacher preparation programs were all “fast tracks” preparing uncertified teachers who were fully responsible for classrooms after only a few weeks of preparation. Among those who they prepared were many TFA (Teach for America) teachers in NYC. Recently, they have begin offering a “residency” option in certain locations where during the first year of the two year program their teachers are not fully responsible for classrooms and are mentored by a licensed teacher. In both the fast track and residency versions of the program teachers receive a very narrow preparation to engage in a very controlling and insensitive form of teaching that is focused almost entirely on raising student test scores. Relay teachers work exclusively with ‘other people’s children’ and provide the kind of education that Relay staff would never accept for their own children. The reason that I use Lisa Delpit’s term “other people’s children” here is to underline the point that few if any Relay staff and advocates for the program in the policy community would accept a Relay teacher for their own children. Most parents want more than a focus on standardized test scores for their children and this measure becomes the only definition of success in schools attended by students living in poverty.

The evidence is clear that the kind of controlling teaching advocated and taught by Relay has often resulted in a narrowing of the curriculum (1), and in some cases in “no excuses” charters, in damage to the psychological health of children as evidenced in research of Joan Goodman at Penn in Philadelphia.(2)

We should be worried about Relay because it prepares teachers who offer a second class education to students living in poverty, and in my opinion based on examining the evidence, it contributes to exacerbating existing educational inequities in both student opportunities to learn and in the equitable distribution of fully prepared professional teachers.(3)

According to their website, it appears Relay was founded by three charter
school networks: Uncommon Schools, KIPP, and Achievement First. Can you explain for our readers what student populations these charters serve and their approach to student instruction?

These charters exclusively serve students living in poverty, most of whom are of color. Relay teachers also work in other charters however, and in some cases they may also teach in public schools.

Relay originally received NY State approval when they were still part of Hunter College.They have used this approval and their accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Accreditation to gain approval to operate in other states. One could legitimately raise the question- how can a program gain approval from states and accrediting agencies that prides itself in having no theory, where few if any of its instructors have advanced degrees in education, and where much of what most people believe teachers need to know and learn how to do is missing from their curriculum, The answer is that Relay is very good at packaging and selling itself to others as offering successful teacher education programs despite the lack of any credible evidence supporting their claims. Their mumbo jumbo and smoke and mirrors game did not work however, in either CA or PA where the states ruled that Relay’s programs did not meet their state standards for teacher education programs.

One of the more shocking parts of the Relay story is the use of Doug Lemov’s book Teach Like A Champion (TLC) as an instructional bible for the Relay program. Can you explain who Doug Lemov is and why TLC is such a toxic approach to student instruction.

Doug LeMov is currently a “faculty member” at Relay and the managing director at Uncommon Schools, one of the charter networks that formed Relay. Lemov’s “Teaching like a Champion” is the basis for the Relay teacher education curriculum. These generic management strategies are highly controlling and are dangerous when they are the main part of what teachers receive in their preparation. Relay has argued that the choice is between theory or practice and that they focus on practice. This is a false choice, and while I agree that teacher education needs to focus on practice, and that some of these strategies are useful if they are used in the proper context, it matters what practices you focus on. Additionally, teacher preparation also has to provide teachers with theoretical background in learning, development, assessment, language, and so on. There is no attention to context, culture, or even subject matter content in LeMov’s strategies. There is also no credible research that supports their use with students.

Relay’s list of philanthropic investors reads like a who’s who of education reform. The Gates Foundation is on the list, along with the Walton Foundation, and The Learning Accelerator – which is all about blended learning and the development of human capital. What do you think these groups hope to gain by supporting Relay?

Yes, Relay has been heavily supported by philanthropists like the Gates and Schusterman Foundations and by venture philanthropists such as the New Schools Venture Fund as well as by individual hedge fund managers.(4) The funding of non-college and university programs that are linked to charter school networks helps these individuals and organizations further their goals of deregulating and privatizing public schools. As the charter networks continue to expand across the country and replace real public schools, there is more of a need for teachers who want to work in these schools that are often tightly regimented.  Many graduates of professional teacher preparation programs in colleges and university do not want to work in these charter schools. Foundations that want to expand the proportion of charter schools throughout the country must help create a parallel set of charter- teacher education programs to prepare teachers for charter schools.

The failing school narrative is one of the media’s go to frameworks when covering public schools. In contrast, reporters give Relay the hands-off approach. Hard questions about Relay’s questionable credentialing, focus on test scores, and the use of Teach Like A Champion don’t get asked.

I agree. The hard questions do not get asked about Relay. This is because Relay has done a very effective job of branding and marketing its programs and in getting the Education Department in the Obama administration to do the same. They have flooded the media with “puff pieces” that tout the alleged success of their programs in preparing high quality teachers. The fact is however, that there is a total lack of credible evidence that supports their claims. My recent policy brief published by the National Education Policy Center in September details the inadequacies of Relay’s claims.(5)

Can you explain Relay’s credentialing process and instructional focus? Also, why do you think reporters let Relay off the hook?

I think that the media has let Relay off the hook because they have been taken in by the slick “puff pieces” that keep rolling out about how great the program supposedly is. Most media outlets do not have the capacity to do a more in depth look at the program. Relay also has been very good in linking to currently popular issues such as teacher residency programs, diversifying the teaching force, and addressing teacher shortages. As I argue in my testimony to the CT State Board of Education, it makes no sense to accept Relay’s claims about being able to help districts and states address teacher shortages and diversify their teaching staff without examining retention data on Relay program graduates.(6)

Another media favorite is the “bad teacher” narrative. For instance, under NCLB Title 1 schools had to provide parents the opportunity to review the credentials of their kid’s teachers. The unspoken message being “bad teachers” have traditionally hidden out in Title 1 schools.

Under NCLB the U.S. Education Department violated an order of the 9th Circuit Court in CA that ruled against the Department’s waiver in administrative rule of the requirement that  “highly qualified teachers” have completed their certification programs.(7) They implemented this rule after being urged to do so by TFA and other fast-track programs that send underprepared teachers into public schools as teachers of record. The court had ruled that the certification status of teachers had to be made transparent to families and that only certified teachers could be called “highly qualified.” The court ruling would not have prevented TFA teachers from teaching in public schools, but it would only have required schools to be transparent with families about the certification status of teachers. After the court ruling, the Department inserted waivers to the court ruling three times (for one year at a time) as one of hundreds of amendments in general spending bills that were designed to keep the government operating. The real goal of the Department of Ed and programs like TFA and Relay was to get rid of the label highly qualified and focus on teachers’ effectiveness that was defined as teachers’ abilities to raise student test scores. In the new elementary and secondary education act, ESSA, the term highly qualified teacher has been eliminated.

Here’s the ironic twist, at least in Colorado. Relay – with all its questionable credentialing practices – is allowed by Colorado’s Department of Education to provide intervention services for public schools that fall under the turnaround school designation. How can this be?

This is the case because they were approved by the Colorado state education department to provide these services. Yes, their practices are very questionable, but because of their very strong branding and marketing they have managed to convince states (with the exception of PA and CA) to let them operate. Relay also has very influential supporters in CT including the governor, the state superintendent, and the director of Achievement First, one of its three founding charter school networks. In CO, they went through the approval process under the radar and the colleges and universities that operate teacher education programs did not find out about it until it was too late.

Relay operates schools in Baton Rouge, Chicago, Denver,Houston, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Newark, Philly/Camden, San Antonio and the state of Delaware.

Yes, Relay has programs operating in these places, but the schools in which they teach are not necessarily those in the original three charter networks. For example, in Chicago Relay partners with the Noble charter network. Also, because Relay was denied approval in PA their Camden/ Philly site can only operate in NJ. They were also recently approved to operate in CT and will be opening a program soon there. In addition to having their application to operate programs rejected in PA, their application was also rejected in CA. Last year they doubled the number of program sites and they plan to continue to expand.

Finally, can you speak to the recent controversial approval of Relay by the Connecticut Board of Education? Also, do you know of any plans to introduce the Relay Graduate Program in Washington State?

Relay’s application to operate a program in CT was strongly opposed by K-12 educators and teacher educators throughout the state because of the program’s performance elsewhere. I was asked to submit written testimony in opposition to their application and did so. (8)

Despite the lack of any evidence about the claims that that Relay makes about the performance of its teachers, and their failure to release any retention data on program graduates, their application was approved.  One of the arguments that they made to support their application was that they will bring more teachers of color into the state. Given the increased attention and funding available in the nation to teacher residency programs and recruiting and preparing more teachers of color. Relay has very influential supporters in CT including the governor, the state superintendent, and the director of Achievement First, one of its three founding charter school networks. I think that these connections made the difference between the outcome in CA and PA and the outcome in CT.

I do not believe that Relay would gain approval to operate a teacher education program in Washington. Our state standards for teacher education are too high and the standards board unlike states like TX and FL does not allow lower standards for alternative programs. All programs, including the TFA program at UW have to meet the same PESB standards to gain and maintain approval. A few years ago when they were only operating fast track teacher education programs, I learned that they were considering coming to Washington. It was my impression that the tremendous opposition to TFA in Seattle discouraged them from coming. 

Notes

1. https://globalconversationsinliteracy.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/berliner-d_2011_rational-responses-to-high-stakes-testing.pdf

2. http://edushyster.com/the-high-cost-of-no-excuses/

3. http://www.kenzeichner.com/uploads/6/9/8/7/69877251/tcr_kv_2016.pdf

4. http://www.kenzeichner.com/uploads/6/9/8/7/69877251/2015-zeichner_pena-sandoval-venture_.pdf

5. http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/teacher-education

6. http://www.kenzeichner.com/uploads/6/9/8/7/69877251/zeichner_-_revised_statement_for_ct.pdf

7. http://www.kenzeichner.com/uploads/6/9/8/7/69877251/how_the_public_is_deceived_about_%E2%80%98highly_qualified_teachers%E2%80%99_-_the_washington_post.pdf

8. http://www.kenzeichner.com/uploads/6/9/8/7/69877251/how_the_public_is_deceived_about_%E2%80%98highly_qualified_teachers%E2%80%99_-_the_washington_post.pdf

 

The Endgame of Corporate Reform, Part 3: Online Learning, Social, Emotional Learning and the Department of Defense

This is the third and final post in the series.

Part 1: The endgame of corporate reform in public school education: What do Betsy DeVos and Seattle Public School’s IT Lead John Krull have in common?

Part 2: The endgame of corporate reform in public school education : Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and the Federal Government

Part 3: Online Learning, Social, Emotional Learning and the Department of Defense

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was a major contributor to the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development and in 2014, Bill Gates was also busy contributing to IMS Global.

Per the in-depth article How exactly did the Department of Defense end up in my child’s classroom? at Wrench in the Gears, the work in the Department of Defense has begun to be intertwined with companies developing software to teach, track and assess K-12 students.

In 1999, just as cloud-based computing was coming onto the scene, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13111 and created the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative or ADL with the purpose of oversight, research, and development of online learning.

ADL is located within the U.S. Department of Defense and was initially used by the National Guard for electronic learning and training.

In 2011 ADL developed software that could track a student’s activities while using a computer. The program was called xAPI or Tin Can API. The original version of Tin Can API was part of a research project commissioned by ADL.

According to ADL’s website:

The Tin Can API (sometimes known as the Experience API or xAPI) is a brand new specification for learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has (online and offline). This API captures data in a consistent format about a person or group’s activities from many technologies. Very different systems are able to securely communicate by capturing and sharing this stream of activities using Tin Can’s simple vocabulary.

Now we are back to the notion of “anytime, anywhere” education making it easy to plug into a gig economy of piece work employment without benefits as explained by Carolyn Leith in her article “Learning is Earning” the Rand Corporation way with digital badges and Edublocks.

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This is where IMS comes into the picture.

According to their website:

IMS Global is a non-profit member collaborative inventing the future of educational and learning technology.  IMS enables a plug & play architecture and ecosystem that provides a foundation on which innovative products are rapidly deployed and work together. IMS suppliers are the market leaders in innovation. IMS institutions are getting to the future of digital learning faster.  

IMS established the IMS Digital Credentialing Initiative providing “digital badges” to signify work accomplished by students as they are taught and assessed by a computer.

These badges can be used by companies to access a job applicant before an interview to see not only what they have purportedly learned but also their emotional and psychological makeup.

Per the article How exactly did the Department of Defense end up in my child’s classroom? , in the 1990’s:

IMS Global began to advance implementation of e-learning systems. This non-profit began as a higher education trade group and now has over 150 contributing members, including IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Pearson, and hundreds upon hundreds of affiliated companies and institutions that use its open source specifications. The Gates Foundation is a platinum level sponsor of four major IMS Global initiatives.

IMS partnered with the Department of Defense on various projects including with Learning Management Systems “to track information about the learner’s experience with learning content”.

In 2002, IMS partnered with the Department of Defense division ADL. The goal of the partnership was basically, and in layman’s terms, to keep a student on a fixed set of learning paths of classwork and assessments and also allow a student to bookmark their progress when taking breaks. This software is called Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM). SCORM is a set of specifications based on an Initiative from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense.

SCORM can be used in conjunction with Dreambox, another start-up funded by Bill Gates that provides software lessons in math for grades kindergarten through 8th grade. With Dreambox, a student receives tokens as prizes for answering questions correctly.

The Office of Naval Research rewarded a contract in 2014 for:

The Alternate Reality Teaching:

OurSpace project will be designed to capture the imagination of children while embracing modern educational research on learning progressions, gender and gaming, and social emotinal learning.  The project is designed to engage students, teachers, and families.  It is a multi-student online learning environment, populated with an ever-expanding variety of games using and educational game authoring toolkit that lets students and teachers create their own future and have learning tailored to their chosen field.

Now that lessons are online using videos and video games to keep a child’s attention, people owning businesses like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, are jumping on the gravy train. Zuckerberg and his wife set up the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative which Zuckerberg describes in a Facebook post, the “education initiative would focus on “personalized learning” — the idea of using various technologies to help students customize their educational pathways”. Jeff Bezos’ Amazon developed “Inspire”, a platform that “works like a search engine for educational videos, lesson plans and games”.

Conclusion

The same people who are selling software to school districts so students can learn “anywhere, anytime” and be assessed using markers for academic performance and their emotional state, also espouse the importance of “21st century skills” which they describe as:

  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Global and cultural awareness
  • Information literacy
  • Leadership
  • Civic literacy and citizenship
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Social responsibility and ethics
  • Initiative

I’m not sure where these ideals fit for children who work in isolation in front of a computer six to eight hours a day working on prescribed lesson plans with online tutors but I suppose that is not for public school students to concern themselves with.

This is a cautionary tale.

We are being sold on the idea of a golden key that, even though it will cost school districts millions of dollars, will open the door to learning for all students using packaged programs and assessments, but don’t be fooled, there is not only a monetary price to be paid.

Your child’s privacy will be lost and their information sold to the highest bidder. Your student will not receive a well-rounded education and the promise of a “career ready” curriculum will more than likely land your child a contract job with no benefits and no future.

This vision benefits the few with little interest in helping the many.

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Alison McDowell breaks it down further in her video about the DOD and public education.

The Doublespeak of Ed Reform Regarding Charter Schools

Double-speak-2-300x200.jpg

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An interview with Washington State Superintendent Candidate Erin Jones

 

erin jonesErin Jones is running for Washington State Superintendent to be in charge of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). According to the OSPI webpage, it is “the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 public education in Washington state”.

Presently, Ms. Jones is School Director for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) in Tacoma. Erin Jones is NOT a public school district director as is implied by her in all of the information she provides to the public. AVID is a product sold to school districts that promises students will be able to achieve through self-discipline and focusing on the Common Core Standards. The work is done with hired tutors.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Erin Jones was a volunteer in a public school in North Philadelphia, a substitute in South Bend, IN, a private school teacher, an ELL instructor, a classroom teacher in English and French Immersion in Tacoma, an instructional coach and AVID tutor in Spokane, an assistant State Superintendent (working for the current superintendent, Randy Dorn), and now a school district director for AVID in Tacoma.

Ms. Jones received the (Michael) Millken Educator of the Year Award as an educator while teaching at a high school in Spokane, WA. Today, Milken is a leading figure in the education reform movement and is one of the founders of the nation’s largest cyber charter chain, K12.

For more on K12, which is in our state now under the Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) umbrella, see:

From Junk Bonds to Junk Schools: Cyber Schools Fleece Taxpayers for Phantom Students and Failing Grades

Cashing in on Kids: K12

Diane Ravitch: What is Legal Fraud?

Two years ago, Ms. Jones testified in favor of Rainier Prep charter school in front of the Charter School Commission and now says she regrets that action. Rainier Prep charter school is enrolling students for next year.

Ms. Jones largest donors so far include Teach for America, Inc. (TFA), the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children but at the time of the interview Ms. Jones said she was not aware of who her donors were.

Editor’s Note: The up-to-date list of donors can be found in the post OSPI State Superintendent Candidate Erin Jones’ list of donors: A who’s who of corporate ed reformers thanks to Stand for Children lobbyist Jim Kainber.

Ms. Jones attended the ultra-conservative Roanoke Conference but said during the interview she knew nothing about the conference until she arrived and found out who was attending. Ms. Jones said she went to hear the panel on education. The panel on education was titled “What strategies can work to save charter schools” featuring Chad Magendanz, Lisa MacFarlane with Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), the Chairman of Summit charter schools and Beth Sigall with the Eastside Education Network.

Jones received an endorsement from Jami Lund with the anti-union Freedom Foundation who wants to see teachers’ salaries decided by the state and, coincidentally (?) Erin Jones agrees with him.

Erin Jones states she’s against the amount of standardized testing and teaching to the test and yet sees no problem with the Common Core Standards.

Ms. Jones stated in the interview that Teach for America, Inc. (TFA) could be a credible substitute for districts that may have a teacher shortage and are better than substitute teachers although substitute teachers are required to be certified, but TFA, Inc. recruits have only five weeks of rudimentary training and a college degree in any subject. TFA, Inc. recruits are not certified.

Ms. Jones sat on the Parent’s Union’s board, but did not know who the funders were. The Parents Union was originally formed in Los Angeles by Steve Barr, founder of the Greendot charter school chain to promote charter schools and bust the teachers union.

Most recently she said that “teaching transgenderism” in school was not appropriate and that such instruction could cause students to “feel additional pressure to ‘choose an orientation’”, as if it were a choice, or as she later states, choosing a “lifestyle”.

Since then she has also tried to walk that statement back but it looks like the die has been cast. You can only fool some of the people some of the time.

Erin Jones is very adept at telling people what they want to hear.

With so much at stake and the pressure of Gates’ money that has been granted to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Gates’ $2M grant to the Mary Walker School District to explore the option of expanding charter schools in our state, we need to be thoughtful about who we want to run our schools statewide.

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Post Script:

From a reader’s comment:

According to the PDC, Jones has received a $1,000 contribution from a David Yunger. The PDC lists Yunger as an entrepreneur, but a LinkedIn search reveals that he is a VP for Pearson.

http://web.pdc.wa.gov/MvcQuerySystem/CandidateData/contributions?param=Sk9ORUUgIDEwOQ====&year=2016&type=statewide

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidyunger

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To follow are excerpts from the interview I had with Ms. Jones on Saturday, February 27, 2016. A transcript of the entire interview can be found here.

Carolyn Leith, my co-editor, and I spent an hour with Erin Jones, asking her questions on the following topics.

Teach for America, Inc.

Dora: The first (question) is about Teach for America. They’re your biggest contributor, your largest donor so far in your PDC file. Tell me what your thoughts are about Teach for America.

Erin: So, first of all, I didn’t even know who the donor was when he donated.  So he donated I think, I think it’s Sean, who donated?

…And he wasn’t somebody that I asked for a donation from. He donated as soon as my website went up. I used to know the original director of Teach for America, Lindsey Hill. So I knew her, or I know Lindsey and I have a student that was a Teach for America student, who now actually teaches, I just hired him this year in Tacoma. I’ve done some training for them. I don’t want them to take over.

Dora: As State Superintendent how would you feel about them (TFA recruits) teaching in public schools?

Erin: So, how would I feel about them teaching? I think that we, for right now, need to figure out some ways, whether it is Teach for America…I would prefer that we in district, figure out ways to recruit, whether it’s from Para-educators, whether it’s from our substitute teachers, we’re gonna have to address our teacher shortage somehow.

Dora: You believe there is really a teacher shortage?

Erin: I know in Tacoma there’s a teacher shortage, we still have five buildings right now that I know of, and I don’t know all of the buildings in Tacoma, because I just work in middle and high school, but we still have five buildings that have had subs. This year. All year. So there’s definitely a shortage of teachers. And sixty percent of our teachers are retirement age in Tacoma. So it’s gonna be an issue that we have to address.

Dora: Okay. Well, Teach for America (recruits are) trained basically to teach in charter schools, are you aware of that?

Erin: Well, they’re not though. They’re trained here…and I understand other places in the country…but I have worked with their training model, because one of my students that I’ve taught as a middle school kid who went to Whitworth, became Teach for America, and so they actually had me come in and teach Cultural Competence to them. And it wasn’t to teach in charter schools, they were to teach in, they were teaching in Federal Way, they were teaching in Seattle at the time.

Dora: Well, you understand that they have about five weeks of training before they go into basically high needs schools.

Erin: Yes.

Dora: You think that’s okay?

Erin: No, I don’t think that’s the best thing at all…I think people need to have years of training and being in buildings. I guess what I’m saying though, right now, in Tacoma I’m saying that subs who’ve had zero training who are teaching outside of their field, and going in for two and three weeks without any lesson plans… That also is not a good solution. So, my preference would be that we… So right now what we’re doing in Tacoma is that we’re actually training our subs over the summer. So, I led training this summer for substitute teachers…so that at least we’re sending people in, with more training than they’re getting. Most districts don’t have any training for subs, which I think is criminal.

About the League of Education Voters (LEV) and charter schools

Dora: The third person on your list of donors, another one of your larger donors, is Kelly Munn with the League of Education Voters. They also feature you on their blog occasionally. So, what are your thoughts on that organization?

Erin: So, I have done a lot of work…when I first went to OSPI after my last year in the classroom, I ran their Center for the Improvement of Student Learning … it used to be the family and community engagement arm of OSPI, but it was defunded. From that I met Kelly Munn for children and family engagement work. And so, I did a lot of speaking for them (LEV), especially with immigrant families, and particularly talking about the transition from middle school to high school, because that’s my expertise area. I taught middle school and I moved to high school, and at the time I had three kids that were middle school transitioning. So, that is my connection to them. I think they do really great work around community engagement, with a population that is not served well by PTA. Now, at the time that I was doing work with them at OSPI, charter schools was not part of their big push.

Dora: It has been for a long time.

Erin: Right, but… the part of the work that I did, had nothing to do with charter schools. It was all around transition, it was all around, how do we engage families who don’t speak English, or don’t feel like they connect with school. And so, Kelly Munn is, it’s ironic because she had an event, maybe about eight months ago, and one of the things she said is, “you know I love Erin.” “She doesn’t support our charter school work.” And it was funny, because she started out…the introduction of me, with the group by saying, “Erin and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, she doesn’t support charter schools, and yet I still think she wants what’s best for kids and teachers.” And that’s why I support Kelly. Now, I’ve been pretty vocal about being anti charter schools, so I have an email from her that I could show you, that she is pretty upset with me right now. Which I’m fine with. She knew from the beginning, I don’t support charter schools. And, she was clear about that in the very beginning.

About testifying for Rainier Prep charter school in 2014

Dora: Well, you were in front of the Charter School Commission in 2014.

Erin: Mmm. In front of their leadership team…

Dora: …where you spoke in support of Rainier Prep charter school.

Erin: Yes, in support of Maggie, yes…

Dora: No, you said you were in support of Rainier Prep.

Erin: Yes, who’s Maggie. Maggie is one of my principals.

Dora: Well okay, but it was a charter school, you were in front of the Charter School Commission.

Erin: Yes…

Dora: So, you’re against charter schools but…

Erin: And that’s probably the most unfortunate presentation. To be really honest with you. Maggie and I have talked about that, many times. She is one of probably the best principals that I worked with in Federal Way. Do you know Maggie O’Sullivan?

She hired me. Yeah, she was my principal at Wildwood Elementary too. One of my favorite principals. And I should not have done that. Because I realized, and at the time I wasn’t thinking about this work, and so it was just really supporting her and I feel really badly about that. I’ve told her, I love her as a principal, and I think she is going to do great work. The movement itself I don’t support. And it’s really unfortunate, that was a mistake for me. Politically that was a mistake that I made and it is really unfortunate and she and I have had many conversations since then, about that, and I felt like I was going to support a great friend, who took an entire year off, didn’t take a salary, to plan a school. And what I told her is I wish every principal had the opportunity to take a year, to plan a school, and, not have regulations…

Dora: It (Rainier Prep) could have been under the ALE umbrella.

Erin: It could have. No and I agree with that now. I realize that, I realized that afterwards. I talked to, also to the superintendent, why am I blanking of Highline, oh my gosh, Susan?

Dora: Susan Enfield

Erin: Yes, Susan Enfield. So Susan and I have talked about that over time too… probably the board could have taken that school…she loved Maggie, and the board probably should have taken that school and made it part of, and made it an alternative learning environment, and so Susan and I have had long words about that too because now it’s really tarnished Maggie’s reputation and even Highline, it’s put them in a complicated position.

About the donations given by Stand for Children, Don Nielson and Greendot charter schools

Dora: Okay, now you’ve got other supporters, you’ve got  Stand for Children, Green Dot, Don Nielsen…

Erin: They are people…

Dora: Yes.. I understand they are people…

Erin: But I have 400 some odd thousand contributors.

Dora: But the thing is that these people expect a return on their investment.

Erin: If, okay, if I’m gonna make $300,000, their little $200 or $300 or $1500, is not gonna buy…I didn’t ask for the money. People gave me money.

Dora: Well, would you give it back to them? Would you say, “You know what, I really don’t want to be, at all related to your group at this point. I think it would be better, if you just took the money back.”

Erin: So I guess, I guess what I would say is if I lived my life…I know what I stand for and I’ve been pretty clear verbally and in public about what I stand for, and there’s nobody that can buy me.  It’s just, there’s nobody that can buy who I’m gonna be and what I’m gonna stand for.

The Roanoke Conference

Dora: What about the Roanoke Conference? Did you attend that?

Erin: I did, yeah. So, and my whole purpose of attending is this is a non-partisan position. I need to hear from both sides. And actually I’ll be really honest, I was mortified by what I heard. So their whole conversation around education, I just went for one hour to hear their education panel. Because actually the organizer of Roanoke …was my former pastor’s son, out in Spokane. And he invited me to speak on the panel, and I said, “Well, you know, I’m not a Republican, and I don’t support charter schools.” So suddenly I wasn’t on the panel anymore. And I said well, I’d be interested in hearing though, what they had to say because, I was just curious…I was more mortified by what they had to say than I was before I arrived. And one of the pieces that I think people need to know, Chad Magendanz is really open about, “I’m going for vouchers.” And I’m glad I was sitting there, because, people could say, “oh, vouchers aren’t coming up.” But to hear him physically say it in front of a whole audience of people was, um, pretty profound and disturbing. So I did go.

So I used to train with the students and Teri Hickel was the director of that program in Federal Way. And she happened to be there, and so she invited me to sit with her, and I did. And I’ve been mentoring her student(s) through Federal Way for the last four years.

About the Common Core Standards

Dora: There was, on the Teachers United site…a couple of quotes that they attributed to you. One was on the Common Core Standards. You said, “As a teacher, I don’t think that Common Core necessarily will help or hurt us,” Jones said in an interview. “The content is fine, but really it’s all about the teaching. People are really panicking about Common Core. While I don’t think that Common Core is the right thing to panic about, it’s become a distraction.”

Erin: And I still believe that. I think that the test is a problem. So I think for me right now what I worry about, because I’m with teachers all the time, I’m worried about changing the standards yet again, in four years. I would prefer to have different standards right now, but I feel like right now the test is the thing that we’ve really got to worry about, and the test and the standards are two very different things in my mind. Standards are just a road map. They’re not curriculum, they’re not content, it’s the roadmap for, here are the different elements that you, that need to be covered in a year. At some point. The test is I think what’s putting undue pressure on teachers, and on students…When I’m called in to talk to third graders who are crying because they’re stressed out about a test…if we could take away the high stakes of testing, so that people don’t feel like we’re on this crazy path to “I’m gonna be evaluated by this”, and yeah, evaluation also shouldn’t be associated with testing, but I think the test is really for me, the biggest, the bigger problem than the standards. We need to have standards, at some level. Are Common Core the best? I don’t think they’re the best, but I think right now, where our focus needs to be is paring back the test, and making sure that it’s a usable tool for classroom teachers, and it gives them information to help them inform their practice.

Dora: Well the SBAC can’t be modified. It’s trademarked. It’s registered.

Erin: Well we don’t have to use it then. We don’t have to use it, then.

Dora: It’s kind of a gray area, right now.

About Gates money and OSPI

Dora: How do you feel about Randy Dorn and OSPI accepting money from Bill Gates?

Erin: So I think, Gates money is everywhere. And so I feel really conflicted about that. I think there are things Gates does that are good, and I think there are things Gates does that are bad. I don’t think it’s all around, Bill Gates is evil, but I think what’s dangerous about Gates is this assumption that because I’m rich, I know everything about education. He’s not an educator. I think, he does live in Washington State, so this notion that he could give money to the state is…but when it becomes such large sums that it now drives what’s happening, politically, that’s a problem.

Dora: If you ever can get ahold of one of their grant summaries, like we did for the Mary Walker School District, there are a lot of strings attached. He (Bill Gates) doesn’t just give money. He wants, what he expects is very clear, very clearly defined.

Erin: And I’m not sure, what did he recently give money for, besides Mary Walker?

Dora: He’s been giving millions to OSPI (over) the last several years.

Erin: I mean, I think that’s problematic, when there’s, there’s a person who’s giving millions, I think there’s an assumption then that there’s something he wants.

On McCleary and the funding of education

Dora: Another quote attributed to you on their (Teachers United) website about McCleary… “It’s important that we fund education at a higher level. Washington being 40th in the nation is to me criminal. But money is not our biggest issue. It’s how we spend the money we have and how we will support our teachers.”

So, do we have adequate funding here (in Washington State)?

Erin: No. We don’t. No. But what I guess what I’m saying though is untiI…I don’t think the legislature’s gonna move, to be really transparent, until, we actually value teachers, and that’s the, culturally, as an  American culture, that’s where I think our biggest problem is. I think we have a bunch of legislators, who think this is not an issue they need to deal with. Because they don’t see teachers as being really all that important. And that’s what I think we need to get to, is how do we value teachers and see them as the most important adults in the life of our children? And when we can see that… So, do we need funding? Heck yeah. But I don’t see the legislature really feeling any crisis or urgency until they actually see our profession as one that’s the greatest profession on the planet. And that’s really what I was trying to say with that.

About standardized testing

Carolyn: How could you restructure testing to help people gain some time during the day for less coverage the (class) material. So, instead of covering five chapters, we would be back to the normal two. …So those are things that you would be in control of.

Erin: Well, not exactly. The legislature’s more in control of that.

Carolyn: With the ESSA, roughly, you’re supposedly going to have more control if you’re the head of the OSPI.

Erin: Hopefully they will not have made those decisions until I get there. You know what I’m saying, because a lot of those decisions are being made right now, by the current state superintendent. And what I’m hoping is that they will all not be made. Every day there are new changes being made by OSPI. And so it remains to be seen what will be left open. But I guess my opinion as a classroom teacher, is, we’ve gotta pare back on the testing… In Tacoma took us 4-6 weeks on average to test kids. And so, for example, kids would take a test for two hours in the morning. Well, guess what, kids aren’t doing any work after that. So if I’m a second grader and I’ve been sittin’ at a computer for two hours, you are not getting any more learning outta me. So we’ve now lost that entire day. And so one of the things that I, I wanna talk about, is how do we pare that back.. My preference would be two days of testing a year. That would be my dream, my dream length: a pre-test in the fall, and a post test in the spring. And something that’s usable by teachers. I think what pains me right now, being at a district level, is the tests don’t even come back until kids are gone. And so what is the point? Right? So we’ve just spent 4-6 weeks testing, and you don’t even get that data back until after kids have gone home for the year. So what’s the point? …We’ve gotta have that honest conversation. What’s the point? What is the test for then? ‘Cause it’s not helping me as a teacher with the kids I have right now. And if I’m just getting those kids, what does that test even mean for me? As I get them for the next year. That is problematic.

About recess

Carolyn: So my ten year old has a question…She wants to know, what you’re going to do for recess.

Erin: Oh, yay. I love that question.

Carolyn: For actually kids getting recess… when it comes to recess, it doesn’t happen. So how are we going to do that for every kid?…So, in the state, so they all get recess, and we document it, and it if there’s a problem, we come to you, and what do you do?

Erin: So I think there are a couple things that I think about recess. Number one, I think it’s problematic how we’re instructing right now. So, we’re asking kids from early on to high school to sit for five to six hours a day. Which, just development…even for adults, it’s just, that’s criminal. We can’t, we as adults, know how to play that game. So we can play the game, but even if we’re asked to sit for four or five hours or two hours, we’re not listening, we’re checked out, right? And so, one of the things, I didn’t need to read research about this, I just needed to have my own children, is every ten to fifteen minutes, we need as teachers, to be getting kids up and moving. So I think that’s part of the problem, that we’re asking kids to sit all day. And so, you know what, they’re squirrelly now, right? If we are, we’re just squirrelly inside. We know how to hold it down really well. So I think part of the problem is that we are not moving kids around, enough. And so I learned that, as a French immersion teacher, my kids were dancing…I knew. Like every twelve minutes a bell would go off and if I hadn’t moved my kids, I was moving my students, and we were doing something physical. So I think that’s problem one. We need to talk about the importance of physical movement, and not keeping kids, sitting in a chair, for five hours. That’s just crazy-making. Problem two: they’ve gotta get outside. I mean it’s just, it has to happen. And really the younger the kids, probably the more times in a day they need to get outside. And so that needs to built into every system. And that’s something again, I don’t get to make those laws, but as the bully pulpit, this is stuff that’s important to me, because I watched my own kids. I have a son who’s ADD, he’s not ADHD. But he needed that, like just get up and move. He’s also dysgraphic. He can’t physically write. So imagine what it’s like for a kid like that, who can’t physically write, is now frustrated, ‘cause I have to sit here for six hours. I can’t do this well, and now you’ve got me stuck. And guess what, I’m staring out the window, ‘cause now I’m not engaged. And so I learned from my own kids, we need to be up and moving, and we need to create spaces for every kid to feel successful. And that’s what I want to talk about, as the state superintendent.

Carolyn: What would you say about withholding recess as a punishment?

Erin: Oh, it’s ridiculous. That is, that’s criminal. Because the very kids that we tend to withhold it from, are the very ones who need to move. And I believe the kids who get in trouble, right, are the kids who don’t do well sitting still. I, we’re over diagnosing ADHD, and ADD. And part of it is because we’re asking kids to sit still for so long. We wonder why they get fidgety. Well maybe that’s your sign that they need to be moving. But again as administrators, we need to give our teachers permission, and encourage them, get kids up and moving. This is how our brains learn.

Carolyn: I think there’s a problem though that teachers feel like they have so much pressure…to do all the curriculum, that they’re stuck in the middle… and they’re behind, and to do more work so the kids are sitting for an hour…and they’re second graders. And then they act up…and then they miss recess…

Erin: Exactly. And that’s criminal. And now you’re compounding the problem. I think the other reality is…um, we just know this as adults too… So, we’ve got all this curriculum to get through, right? That we have five pages we’re supposed to get through today. I’m just gonna push through. Have the kids learned any of that? No. ‘Cause they’ve just sat still, and they are taxed out. So maybe you got to page five, but nobody learned page five. Actually people stopped learning after about page three. And so really having those honest conversations about what, how does, how do we learn, as human beings, both as children and as adults?

Carolyn: How would you solve that problem though, ‘cause we are confined by the amount of money we have for teachers, by the length of the school day…So part of the problem I think with recess is people feel this pressure to cover the material, and we only pay for so much time, and so recess is lost…or eroded. Lunch is lost or eroded… So I think from the upper level, things need to be changed.

Erin: Right, and I think at the top, as the state leader, I need to model, and talk with…so I’m not in charge of building administrators, but you know what, the leader at the top models what superintendents do, and then that trickles down. And guess what? This is not a conversation that Randy Dorn is having. He’s not talking about this stuff. I think this is stuff that needs to be talked about. I think we need to have professors come and talk about the actual brain chemistry that happens when kids…I mean we’ve got all of it, right here at UW, we have folks who could talk with us about the fact that just covering material is not, it’s not doing us any good. It’s killing our kids, and we’re frustrated as teachers. ‘Cause we, we know our kids aren’t learning.

Submitted by Dora Taylor

Post Script:

We will be interviewing all of the candidates for State Superintendent.

Next up is Larry Seaquist.

 

 

 

 

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

illegal-operation-red-grungy-stamp-on-white-background

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled last fall that charter schools are unconstitutional in the state due to a lack of public oversight but that wasn’t going to stop someone like Bill Gates, a private citizen and billionaire, from getting his way.

As described in a recent post titled Emails reveal the “Gates Machine” in action after the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision that charter schools are unconstitutional, I showed the timeline of emails that involved the Gates Foundation, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) headed by Randy Dorn, the Washington State Charter School Association (WA charters) and the Mary Walker School District (MWSD) in getting public money funneled through the MWSD,  a 500-student school district in eastern Washington, to the charter schools scattered around the state to keep them open. WA charters stated last year that they received $14M to keep the charter schools open but apparently that was just a ruse. The plan was to keep the charter schools open with tax payer dollars even though the Supreme Court ruled they were unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

A second set of emails has emerged showing OSPI’s involvement in this scheme to keep the charter schools open in defiance of the ruling.

Do remember that OSPI has received millions directly from the Gates Foundation which at the time I thought was to grease the wheels for the Common Core Standards to be instituted in our state by State Superintendent Randy Dorn, I did not foresee that Dorn would be accommodating charter schools to stay open using tax payer dollars within a month of the Supreme Court ruling.

To follow is a timeline of correspondence that took place between WA charters, OSPI, MWSD and the Gates Foundation during November and December of last year when Gates and WA charters were scrambling to keep charter schools open through December.

10/21/2015: “Meeting notes and next steps” sent to MWSD and OSPI by WA charters.

11/18/2015 and 11/19/2015: Emails show the Gates Foundation put together yet another grant draft for MWSD to receive money, this time from the National Association of Charter Schools Authorizers. Think about it. The Gates Foundation wrote a grant proposal for the MWSD to submit to another organization. This is not how it works beyond the walls of the Gates Foundation.

Per a previous post on this subject, MWSD is to receive $2.1M from Gates in one grant and $250,000 from another grant from Gates.

11/20/2015: Email from WA charters to MWSD:”OSPI is motivated to get moving on planning though the open ALE items, particularly apportionment.”

(ALE stands for Alternative Learning Experience which is a public school program offered to students as an alternative to the traditional public schools. The difference is the ALE schools in Seattle are under the purview of the Seattle Public School board, not a charter operator and a district in a far-flung remote area of the state.)

11/20/2015: Email from WA charters to MWSD: A reminder for MWSD to reach out “to local districts about brick and mortar ALE’s opening within their boundaries (though OSPI said today explicit approval isn’t needed, they’d just appreciate the effort).”

11/20/2015: Email from OSPI to MWSD: “We are doing our best to answer all of your questions we are getting. Right now it looks like you should be prepared to bring the kids in as of December 1st and count them in December. Talk to you on Monday.”

11/23/2015: Email from MWSD to OSPI: Detailed questions from MWSD to OSPI including “How does OSPI see the transition occurring?”

11/23/2015: Email from MWSD to OSPI: “Will the “Host” districts (Seattle, Tacoma, etc.) release their Charter School students to become ALE students with Mary Walker? We believe so. OSPI will be encouraging them.”

11/24/2015: Email from WA charters to MWSD with attached agenda for a conference call between OSPI, WA charters, the Washington State Charter School Commission (which by this time should have been defunct) and MWSD.

(Part of the agenda was a list of detailed questions for OSPI about various subjects such as transportation reimbursement to charter schools, “How will charter operators current assets be transitioned?”, “How would apportionment payment flow from MW to the Providers?”, “Would OSPI be able to engage in emergency rulemaking for WAC 392-1347-145 or -135 to include charter scenario as a reason to transfer SHALL be granted?”.)

12/15/2015: From Gates Foundation to MWSD: The Execution copy of the Gates grant to $2.1M.

(Merry Christmas)

Post Script:

There are more emails and documents that have been received and they will be posted as I and others go through them.

Articles relating to this post:

An Audit of Bill Gates’ Common Core Spending

Bill Gates has spent $440M to push charter schools: Here is the list of recipients

Have you received a robo-call from Ready Washington about the wonders of Common Core Standards and the SBAC? If so, this is why

Emails reveal the “Gates Machine” in action after the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision that charter schools are unconstitutional

Dora Taylor

Emails reveal the “Gates Machine” in action after the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision that charter schools are unconstitutional

 

money_machine

 

Is the Gates Foundation an invisible fourth branch of Washington’s state government?

(Please note, as of 8:40 PM on 2/8/2015, more emails have been received. I will go through them as quickly as possible and provide a link to additional information as soon as I can. -Dora Taylor)

In a previous post titled The charter school shell game in Washington State: Money laundering at its best (or worst?) by way of OSPI, I described how first private and now public money is being laundered through the Mary Walker School District and to charter schools. The first charter school to enjoy this set up is Rainier Prep which is located in the Highline School District and is listed as a corporation in the state of Washington.

In this post I will provide the specifics of where this scheme originated, how it evolved and the players involved. This is an explicit example of how Bill Gates, through his foundation, is able to manipulate people and policies to fit his agenda, using millions of dollars to grease the wheels. This is also an example of Gates making an end run around the Democratic and legal processes.

Within days of the Supreme Court determining that charter schools are unconstitutional in Washington State, the Gates Foundation got busy working with the Washington State Charter School Association (WA charters).  WA charters contacted Superintendent Kevin Jacka with the Mary Walker School District (MWSD) as well as the State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to get the ball rolling on keeping charter schools open.

This is how it went. The Gates Foundation, contacted the Washington Charter Association and had them contact the Mary Walker School District to discuss with the Superintendent, Kevin Jacka, the idea of taking on the charter schools that had opened in the state and placing them under the umbrella of the Alternative Learning Experience program (ALE).

The Mary Walker School District is located in Springdale, Washington, which is a rural community in the northeast corner of Washington State. The district consists of eight traditional and Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) schools.

The plan was to have the Mary Walker School District provide oversight for the charter schools scattered around the state and receive a percentage of the per student state allocation before sending the money onto the charter school therefore providing tax dollars to the charter schools.

According to the contract between the Mary Walker School District and Rainier Prep charter school, the Mary Walker School District will receive 4% of the per student state allocation of approximately $6,000 per student and the remaining 96% will go to the charter school.

Remember, this is state money, tax payer money, going to a charter school that has established itself as a corporation in the state of Washington. This is not the $14M that the Washington Charter School Association and others promised to provide to charter schools to keep their doors open.

After charter school visits made by Superintendent Jacka, representatives of Washington State Charter School Association and the Gates Foundation, a meeting was held at a Starbucks between the Gates Foundation and Superintendent Jacka where they worked out a financial agreement. As shown in the emails, the Gates Foundation wrote the grant proposal for the Mary Walker School District and after the school district’s review and approval, a check was sent to MWSD in December, for the first of two grants to the MWSD. The first grant was for $250,000 and the second grant totals $2.1M.

That grant money did not include an additional $160,000 paid to MWSD from the Gates Foundation via the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

It would behoove all to read the grant proposal written by the Gates Foundation for the Mary Walker School District. It reflects the fact that there are well-defined strings attached to any money that Gates “donates”. They do want a return on their investment.

The key players in this end run around the Supreme Court decision were:

Rekha Bhatt: Director of School Services at the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

Kevin Jacka: Superintendent of the Mary Walker School District (MWSD) and previous member of the Washington State Charter School Commission who resigned from the Commission in December of 2015. (The Commission was to shut down after the Supreme Court decision in September.)

Thomas Kelley (referred to as TJ in the emails): Director of School Apportionment and Financial Services, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Kelley spoke at a session of the WA charters in May, 2015 on the Fundamentals in Washington K-12 School Funding for Charter Schools

Bill Kiolbasa: COO and CEO of the Washington State Charter School Association (WA charters)

(Note: Kiolbasa is married to Melia Burns who is the Principal of Summit charter school that opened in Seattle.)

Kiolbasa seemed to have run into some trouble in New Orleans where he was CFO of a charter school owned by Steve Barr who also owns the Greendot charter franchise. Greendot opened a charter school in Washington State last year. There was a wee bit of discrepancy between what Kiolbasa reported as revenue for the charter school and what was found in a subsequent audit to the tune of $1M.

Telca Porras: Gates Foundation (GF) Program Officer for the Washington Charter Association.

Jen Wickens: Chief Regional Officer, Summit charter school

Below is a timeline based on emails provided in response to a public disclosure request. After the timeline is additional information on the topics covered in this post and additional links in the form of notes.

The attachments in the emails include:

  • “A Resolution Authorizing the Superintendent to Investigate the Feasibility of Former Charter Schools Becoming ALE Programs or Other Programs of the District and to Hire Consultants to Assist in this Exploration Program”
  • The “Grant Proposal Narrative” “Proposal Details” and “Budget Narrative” created by the Gates Foundation and sent to the MWSD for their review
  • A letter from the American Association of Charter Schools stating that the MWSD would be provided a check through their organization
  • A “Mary Walker Visit Agenda” created by Summit charter schools for a visit by the GF, MWSD and WSCSC on November 10, 2015
  • A “Gates Foundation/Mary Walker School District/WA Charters Working Agenda” created by the Washington State Charter School Association for a meeting held on November 11, 2015.

For reference to the abbreviations I give in the timeline:

Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI),

Gates Foundation (GF)

Washington Charter Association (WA charters)

Mary Walker School District (MWSD).

On September 4, 2015, the Washington State Supreme Court published their decision that charter schools are unconstitutional in Washington State.

On November 19, 2015 the Washington State Supreme Court determined that their ruling would not be reconsidered.

 

(I have provided a brief summary of each email.)

10/28/2015

From WA charters to MWSD:

The WA charters offers to coordinate a visit to a charter school for MWSD.

10/28/2015

From MWSD to WA charters:

Jacka replies that he wants to visit SOAR and Greendot charter schools on Monday and Summit and Rainier Prep charter schools on Tuesday.

10/30/2015

From WA charters to MWSD:

Follow up on invitation to MWSD to visit a charter school (Summit charter school) and two Tacoma schools and a possible meeting with the Gates Foundation.

11/2/2015

From MWSD to Summit charter school

Confirmation of meeting at Summit and MWSD staff that would attend.

11/2/2015

From Summit to MWSD:

A request for MWSD to review the agenda proposed by Summit charter school, see agenda attached in doc file, for a meeting to be held on 11/10/2015 and a description of other guests who might attend including representatives from the Gates Foundation and the WSCSC. (According to the agenda, there was to be a “Happy Hour” at the McKinstry Innovation Center. More on McKinstry later.)

11/6/2015

From WA charters to MWSD:

A reminder of a meeting at a Starbucks in Tacoma with “our Gates program officer” Telca and the “NW counterpart” Eide, to “discuss grant opportunities”.

11/6/2015

From WA charters to MWSD:

A google calendar invitation “Gates, WA charters & Mary Walker” for meeting on November 9, 2015 at a Starbucks in Tacoma.

11/6/2015

MWSD expresses interest in “grant partnerships with charter schools”.

11/8/2015

From WA charters to MWSD and Gates Foundation:

Agenda for meeting on 11/11/2015 for the Gates Foundation, MWSD and the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

The agenda items included:

  • Employee state regarding unions
  • “Remaining questions with OSPI”.
  • Schedule a meeting with OSPI, the Washington State Charter Association and MWSD about the ALE agreement.

11/9/2015

Google invitation reminder to Gates, MWSD and WA charters to meet at Starbucks in Tacoma on 11/9/2015.

Agenda included:

“Consensus on charter-ALE employee status: union”

“Typical elements of a charter-district compact (Gates Foundation)”

11/12/2015

From WA charters to MWSD, subject: “”MW/OSPI/WA Charters Meeting”.

Setting date to meet in Olympia and WA charters is “working to draft your NACSA planning grant”.

(Again, grants written by the grantor for the grantee.)

11/13/2015

From WA charters to MWSD:

According to email WA charters will “reach out to OSPI” and have the Gates Foundaton “prep me in advance”. WA charters “will have Rehka (Gates) send an intro email (to OSPI) so they can set a visit”.

11/13/2015

From Gates Foundation to MWSD:

Links to the Spring Branch Independent School District and the Center for Reinventing Public Education. (CRPE).

11/17/2015

Email from WA charters to MWSD

Regarding: getting their attorney’s to “chat through the union issue”, “PR support”, a “Heads up” about First Place charter school being “too risky” and letting MWSD know a draft of the grant budget and application would be coming to MWSD soon. (This is the first time I have heard of a grantor preparing the application for the grantee.)

11/18/2015

From WA charters to Gates Foundation and MWSD:

Draft of grant budget and application for MWSD to review. (What service!)

11/24/2015

Working out how to make up the loss by MWSD for the small school bonus revenue with increase in funding charter school students enroll via MWSD.

Communication between Gates, OSPI and MWSD

Direct email from OSPI to Gates on funding gains and losses to the MWSD.

12/10/2015

Grant proposal from Gates to MWSD (isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?) requesting MWSD to review the proposed narrative and budget update request.

Anyone who thinks there are no strings attached to a Gates grant needs to look at the proposal that the Gates Foundation put together for MWSD to sign, specifically under “Planned Activities Include” on starting on page 3.

12/11/2015

Gates provides National Association of Charter School Authorizers with a check for $160K to support MWSD.

NACSA letter to MWSD about Gates grant. (This money is not listed on the awarded grants page of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation so I suppose this is just loose change for Superintendent Jacka and the MWSD.)

12/15/2015

Gates to MWSD, please sign grant agreement

Gates receives signed form from MWSD

NOTES:

Note 1:

Randy Dorn, in a KPLU interview in 2013, Critics say alternative learning program raises red flags, once sought to crack down on school districts that misuse the Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) law to entice students from distant districts to enroll with them so they can access their public funding stream.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Mixed motives

State Rep. Ross Hunter said the way state payouts work is at the heart of the problem.

“The money from the state comes in a chunk. You either get it or you don’t. If the educational program that you’re providing to that kid is a $200 program, and you’re bringing in $5,000 or whatever it is from the state, you have a really big incentive to bring in a lot of kids,” Rep. Hunter said.

Now throw in another factor: Districts that run ALE programs can enroll kids from anywhere in the state, so they wind up competing for students and the state dollars that follow them. State superintendent Randy Dorn said some have tried to lure students with lavish perks.

“There were concerns that some of these were paying for private horseback riding lessons, private music lessons. If you signed up for a certain program, that you got a stipend for $1,200. Do those feel right? So we’re trying to correct those in our new bill going forward,” Dorn said.

(Now he is enabling this scheme for charter schools that refuse to close and the Mary Walker School District.)

Note 2:

To follow are excerpts from the post The charter school shell game in Washington State: Money laundering at its best (or worst?) by way of OSPI, about the Wary Walker School District:

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 taking and has agreed to sign on as many charter schools as possible into their district.

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.”https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/my-first-progressive-article-what-the-washington-state-supreme-court-decision-on-charter-schools-achieved/

Note 3:
A complaint has been filed with the State Auditor regarding MWSD. The complaint is regarding MWSD not adhering to Open Public Meetings Act because the district has not  put their board meeting minutes, board agendas and budgets on their web page, concerns about MWSD’s  May 21, 2015 audit, a lack of oversight regarding ALE dollars, and the fact that Randy Dorn is using ALE in an unprecedented manner.

In response to a follow-up phone call, the auditor’s office acknowledged the fact that MWSD had a concerning audit and there are complexities regarding the use of ALE dollars for charter schools that are questionable.

The audit team will consider auditing MWSD to ascertain whether or not they are in compliance with Open Public Meetings Act.

The auditor’s office doesn’t have the capacity to investigate whether or not Dorn worked within his rule making authority and whether or not he followed appropriate processes to accommodate charter schools.

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

Many thanks to all who contributed to this article by providing research information, articles and their thoughts on the subject of undercutting the Democratic process in our state and privatization of a public good.

Dora Taylor

 

 

 

The NAEP Scores: It doesn’t look like the “education reform” policies are working

…and much to the detriment of millions of students who have spent most of their school years slogging through it.

bill-gates (1)

From the National Education Policy Center:

NAEPscuses: Making Sense of Excuse-Making from the No-Excuses Contingent

BOULDER, CO (October 28, 2015) – This morning’s release of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reports a dip in scores, according to multiple sources. These lower grades on the Nation’s Report Card are not good news for anyone, but they are particularly bad news for those who have been vigorously advocating for “no excuses” approaches — standards-based testing and accountability policies like No Child Left Behind. Such policies follow a predictable logic: (a) schools are failing; and (b) schools will quickly and somewhat miraculously improve if we implement a high-stakes regime that makes educators responsible for increasing students’ test scores.

To be sure, the sampling approach used by NAEP and the lack of student-level data prohibit direct causal inferences about specific policies. Although such causal claims are made all the time, they are not warranted. It is not legitimate to point to a favored policy in Massachusetts and validly claim that this policy caused that state to do well, or to a disfavored policy in West Virginia and claim that it caused that state to do poorly.

However, as Dr. Bill Mathis and I explained eight months ago in an NEPC Policy Memo, it is possible to validly assert, based in part on NAEP trends, that the promises of education’s test-driven reformers over the past couple decades have been unfulfilled. The potpourri of education “reform” policy has not moved the needle—even though reformers, from Bush to Duncan, repeatedly assured us that it would.

This is the tragedy. It has distracted policymakers’ attention away from the extensive research showing that, in a very meaningful way, achievement is caused by opportunities to learn. It has diverted them from the truth that the achievement gap is caused by the opportunity gap. Those advocating for today’s policies have pushed policymakers to disregard the reality that the opportunity gap arises more from out-of-school factors than inside-of-school factors.

Instead, they assured us that success was a simple matter of adults looking beyond crumbling buildings and looking away from the real-life challenges of living with racism or poverty. As a substitute, we were told to look toward a “no excuses” expectation for all children. This mantra has driven policy for an entire generation of students. The mantra was so powerful that we as a nation were able to ignore the facts and fail to provide our children with opportunities to learn.

So schools with low test scores were labeled “failing” and were shut down or reconstituted or turned over to private operators of charter schools. Voucher and neovoucher policies pulled students out of “failing schools” (again, those with low test scores) and moved them to private schools. Teachers whose students’ test scores didn’t meet targets were publicly shamed or denied pay or even dismissed. Our entire public schooling structure became intensely focused on increasing test scores.

But once we admit that those test scores are driven overwhelmingly by students’ poverty- and racism-related experiences outside of school, then “failing” schools are little more than schools enrolling the children in the communities that we as a society have failed.

In the face of the mounting evidence that “reform” policies have come up short, what are advocates saying now? The first sign came a week ago, when Mike Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, heard rumors about lower NAEP scores andpre-emptively announced that the dip was likely caused by the recession triggered by the 2008 financial crisis. (He neglected to mention that this crisis was due to the same sort of deregulatory policies promoted for education by Fordham and similar advocates.) We must, he tells us, “acknowledge the strong link between students’ socioeconomic status and their academic achievement.” In short, he gave the same “excuse” that “no-excuses” reformers have condemned year after year.

To read the memo in full, go to the NAEP website.

Submitted by Dora Taylor

Six months and counting. No Common Core Standards SBAC test results yet

hmmm-44540_1280

Remember the Common Core SBAC test that was given to students in Seattle during the month of April and May, the test that was sooo important for students to take, the test that certain school administrators threatened, coerced and embarrassed students into taking, that SBAC test? Well, parents and students have yet to see the results of the test.

So then the question is, why haven’t the results been published? Does OSPI or our superintendent hope we’ll forget about the test? That it will be just a vague and very bad memory when precious class time was lost and millions of dollars spent on a test that is of no value to teachers or their students? Even if and when we see the results, will it matter? Teachers, students and parents cannot see the questions or the answers.

Is it because the results were so bad that a narrative is being created by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction OSPI/Bill Gates (Bill Gates has provided OSPI with $14M in grants since 2009)? We know that the Common Core Standards test results in other states were so low that parents began to question the test’s validity.

Or does it just take this long for the tests to be reviewed and graded by a computer?

Inquiring minds want to know.

And by the way, is it OK for Bill Gates to be feeding millions to our Office of Public Instruction? It’s a governmental agency, paid for by our tax dollars and seemingly run by one individual who is not an employee of the state.

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

The day after I posted this, on October 3, 2015, a notice was received by parents at Garfield High School that they can go to the school to see the results of the tests. Per the email to parents, it’s too costly to mail the results. So far no one is sure why the scores cannot be posted on the Source.

Here is an excerpt from the email:

I now have all of the test results from last spring and am happy to distribute those to students and families.  Unfortunately postage costs prohibit us from mailing them home, but I would LOVE to hand them out to students/families so they can share the results.  All copies are in my office and anyone can stop by anytime to pick them up.  My office is in the counseling center and good times to stop by are before school, during lunch, and after school. 

For a related post, see Have you received a robo-call from Ready Washington about the wonders of Common Core Standards and the SBAC? If so, this is why.

The “Cancel your subscription to the Seattle Times” parent campaign is on

seattle times

The majority of people I speak to are thoroughly disgusted with the Times and its biased editorials and selection  of topics headlined that seem to reflect the views and opinions of the moneyed few rather than providing real information.

Bill Gates bought a section of the Seattle Times and titled it the Education Lab. Yes, “Lab” as in a laboratory where he can do his experiments on our students.  It seemed it wasn’t enough that the Seattle Times was already a shill for charter schools and merit pay for teachers based on test scores, Gates now had his own pull-out section of the newspaper.

Now parents of students in Seattle Public Schools are fighting mad about the one-sided reporting and editorializing of the teachers’ strike and they are taking action.

Several parents I have come across in the first week of the Seattle teachers’ strike on various Facebook pages have stated they have cancelled their subscriptions to the Seattle Times and are urging others to do so as well.

There is a Facebook page “Cancel your Seattle Times subscription” that popped up over the weekend asking subscribers to cancel their subscriptions on Monday, September 14th.

The sticky post states:

Money talks. If you’re fed up with pathetic coverage of the Seattle teachers strike in The Seattle Times, join parents & supporters as we cancel our subscriptions on the same day.

Seattle Times customer service numbers:

206-464-2121 or 1-800-542-0820

And here is one comment:

Seattle teachers have voted to strike. Seattle Times will tell you that the strike hurts students. You know what hurts students? Racist, classist, standardized tests. 15 minutes to eat lunch. No recess. Under-resourced schools. Overworked teachers. Crumbling infrastructure. Growing class size. Reduced art, music, and foreign language instruction. Selling out kids and their curricula to the highest corporate bidder. That’s what hurts students. So I fly a big middle finger to the Seattle Times and a big thumbs up to the Seattle teachers. Go, go, go!

It’s because of a lack of real reporting anymore from mainstream media and corporate owned newspapers that blogs such as Seattle Education and Save Seattle Schools have flourished along with other websites and blogs around the country.

Dora Taylor

Bill Gates has spent $440M to push charter schools: Here is the list of recipients

Male Hand Holding Stack of Cash Over Clouds and Sky

Per a previous post titled, “Before you can fund the charter school, you have to fund an advocacy organization that can create a climate for the charter school to exist”, Bill Gates has been busy for several years funding established organizations or creating new ones to funnel cash into a push to establish charter schools in Washington State and around the country.

To follow is a list of organizations and schools that have received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The organizations and schools with figures shown in bold relate directly to charter school promotional activity in Seattle and surrounding areas. For the amounts given to all other recipients, go to Google docs.

Stand for Children: $9,000,000 +/- (I got tired of counting and recounting)

Aspire Charter Schools: $21M +/-

National Council of La Raza : $32M +/-

Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (CPPS): $159,440 (per the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website , “Purpose: to develop a strategic plan for building a dynamic parent network that can embrace and catalyze change within Seattle Public Schools”, meaning integrating charter schools into Seattle, particularly in the minority communities.)

Charter School Growth Fund: $5M

University of Minnesota

New York Charter School Resource Center Inc

Chicago Charter School Foundation

Success Academy Charter School: $400,000

Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund

St. HOPE Academy

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Thomas B. Fordham Institute: $7M

New Schools Fund dba New Schools Venture Fund: $93M +New Schools Fund dba New Schools Venture Fund: $93M +/-

Progressive Policy Institute

University of Washington Foundation: $1,089,761 (Lot of papers and “studies” came out of the UW supporting charter schools. Also a Teach for America, Inc. training ground was set up in the School of Education.)

GreatSchools, Inc.: $9M +/

Perspectives Charter School

Noble Network of Charter Schools: $2M +/-

California Charter Schools Association: $6M +/-

NCB Capital Impact

Progress Analytics Institute

High Tech High Foundation

Keys to Improving Dayton Schools, Inc.

Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter High School: $1.6M +/-

Pacific Charter School Development Inc.

Charter Schools Policy Institute: $200,000

Charter School Leadership Council: $800,000

Illinois Network Of Charter Schools: $1.4M +/-

Stanford University: $12M +/- (Charter school “studies” were produced here. Unfortunately for Gates, the most well known study Stanford produced, the CREDO Report, stated charter schools were either the same or lower performing than public schools.)

RAND Corporation: $7.5M +/-

National Alliance For Public Charter Schools: $12.5M +/-

Green Dot Public Schools: $9,675,588 (One  was approved for Seattle.)

KIPP, Inc charter schools.: $10,000,000 (KIPP charter schools were touted by state legislators as the best thing since sliced bread. Sad day for them, they’re not and none were approved for Washington State.)

Institute for Research and Reform in Education Inc.: $11M +/-

Marquette University

Aspira Inc of Illinois

Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools: $670,000 +/-

Charter Fund Inc dba Charter School Growth Fund: $57.5M +/-

California Charter Schools Association: $6.5M +/-

New Schools for New Orleans Inc: $8.6M +/-

Houston Area Urban League Inc

District of Columbia College Access Program

Newark Charter School Fund, Inc.: $3,595,070

National Association Of Charter School Authorizers: $15M +/-

Trustees of Dartmouth College

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Texas Charter School Association: $1.6M

FSG, Inc.

New York City Charter School Center: $4.7M +/-

Friendship Public Charter School

New Visions for Public Schools, Inc: $73.5M +/-

School District of Philadelphia

Denver School of Science and Technology Inc

The Arizona Charter Schools Association: $200,000

New York Charter Schools Association Inc: $204,988

Partners for Developing Futures Inc.

Mastery Charter High School

Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools: $650,000

League of Education Voters (LEV) Foundation: $2,586,378

Colorado Education Initiative

Black Alliance for Educational Options Inc.

100 Black Men of America, Inc.

Colorado League of Charter Schools: $818,471

The Boston Educational Development Foundation, Inc.

E.L. Haynes Public Charter School

The King Center Charter School

Rocketship Education: $200,000

Georgia Charter Schools Association Inc.: $250,000

Jumoke Academy Inc

Denver Public Schools: $4,001,999 (The Seattle Public School board members took a trip to Denver a few years ago to visit charter schools. They came back with rave reviews about KIPP charter schools.)

Hartford Public Schools

Spring Branch Independent School District

Achievement First Inc.

Philadelphia Schools Project

Boston Private Industry Council Inc

American Federation Of Teachers Educational Foundation: $10M The AFT had Bill Gates as their main speaker when their convention was in Seattle.

Harvard University: $33.6M +/- (Lots of papers and “studies” favorable to charter schools were produced at Harvard for Eli Broad and Bill Gates.This number is based on grants tagged for K12 education and doesn’t include community grants)

Washington State Charter Schools Association: $10.5M +/-

Mississippi First Inc.

CHIME Institute

Seneca Family of Agencies

Summit Public Schools: $8,000,000

Spokane School District #81: $525,000 

Children’s First Fund, The Chicago Public School Foundation

LEAP Innovations

East Lake Foundation, Inc.

New Schools for Chicago

Low Income Investment Fund

Fund for Public Schools Inc

Friends of Breakthrough Schools

Puget Sound Educational Service District: $27.5M +/- (See CCER, the Road Map Project and the loss of student privacy)

Franklin-McKinley School District

Craft3

The list above does not include Teach for America which Bill Gates granted $2.5M to open an office in Seattle and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) that came to town with their dog and pony show bashing teachers and trying to make way for Teach for America. Bill Gates has granted that group $12M+/- between 2009 and 2013.

Also see The Fordham Institute and the National Council on Teacher Quality: Manipulating Teacher Layoffs (& Union-Busting?).

It is also interesting to note that the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) recently received $1,743,064.

For the list with all of the numbers see Google docs. The list was put together by a Parents Across America Portland member using information provided at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Awarded Grants website.

So, if Gates paid his fair share of taxes in our state rather than be the man behind the curtain, would it help us fund public schools adequately?

My guess is “YES!”.

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

Check out Mercedes Schneider’s post to find additional expenditures made by Bill Gates pertaining to charter schools:

Who Does Gates Fund for “General Operating Support”?

 

Just when you thought you had enough, the Seattle Public School district bought another standardized test, Amplify

test-protest

Created and funded by the Gates and Carnegie Foundations with $100 million, inBloom Inc. was designed to collect a maximum amount of confidential and personally identifiable student and teacher data from school districts and states throughout the country. This information — including student names, addresses, grades, test scores, economic, race, special education status, disciplinary status and more — was to be stored on a data cloud run by Amazon.com, with an operating system by Wireless/Amplify, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. InBloom Inc. planned to share this highly sensitive information with software companies and other for-profit vendors.

Leonie Haimson, InBloom and the need to protect student privacy

Just when you thought you had enough, the district is spending more money on more standardized tests. The Seattle Public School district wants to buy Amplify’s mClass Beacon to implement it district-wide in 2016. It is to be administered at the end of the school year but because of the testing that is already set into place, there is no time for students to take it in May or June so it will be given in February.

The cost of the pilot program implemented in 50 schools in 2014 came just under $250k. That is under the $250,000 threshold required for approval by the Seattle school board. Coincidence? I think not. This was the same tactic used when folks at the Stanford Center decided we needed more of the MAP test. The school board and public were not given the opportunity to discuss, debate or vote on either battery of tests.

Now the district wants to implement Amplify across the district at an estimated cost of $433,160.

Unfortunately there are those at the Stanford Center who have different agendas from that of the public’s best interest, but more on that later.

I asked Leonie Haimson with NPE, who is a founding member of Parents Across America and who also founded Class Size Matters, recently about Amplify. It was to be a part of a data collection and sharing system in New York State called in-Bloom until parents pressured the state to pull out of the agreement.

In Leonie Haimson’s post InBloom and the need to protect student privacy:

The backers of inBloom pitched the project as an effort to help students by providing more personalized learning tools, yet there are no proven benefits to online learning and there are huge risks involved in commercializing this data and storing it on a vulnerable data cloud.  In fact, inBloom’s privacy policy originally stated that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored in inBloom or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted,”  though it has now taken that statement off its website.

When it launched, InBloom Inc.  announced that nine states were “partners” in its data-sharing plan. However, after protests from parents and privacy advocates, three of these states have pulled out completely (LA, CO, NC), put their their data-sharing plans on indefinite hold (MA for its one “pilot” district, Everett), make data-sharing completely voluntary on the part of districts (IL) or  now say they never planned to share personal student data in the first place (KY, DE, GA).  New York was the last inBloom participant to share data statewide, involving the personal information of 2.7 million students, and intended to do this without any parental notification or consent.  

Because of the egregious over-reaching of the Gates Foundation and inBloom, parents throughout the country have now been awakened to the myriad threats to student privacy as a result of the weakening of FERPA, the federal legislation to protect student privacy,  the wide variety of data-sharing practices that districts and states are engaged in, the P12  state longitudinal data systems required by federal law, and the huge push for data-collecting, data-sharing and data-mining, all in the  name of “personalized learning.”

Leonie’s response to me when I asked about Amplify being used in Washington States was the following:

You need the agreement that Seattle has made with Amplify; you should demand this, especially as it supercedes whatever info is only their privacy policy, which is very weak and allows them to hand off personal student information to others and to use it to develop new products and for marketing purposes.  You can also ask Amplify directly by emailing them at privacy@amplify.com.

From Amplify’s website:

Please note that when you use certain (Amplify) products, services, applications or other websites, our use of your information may be governed by a separate legal agreement or a privacy policy specifically posted in connection with those offerings. If you have any question as to what legal agreement or privacy policy controls the collection and use of your information, please contact us using the contact information below….

To improve our products and services.
We may use your personal information for our business purposes, such as data analysis, audits, developing new products and services, enhancing the Site, improving our services, identifying usage trends, and determining the effectiveness of our promotional campaigns.

To share with our affiliated education companies.
Amplify may share your information with Amplify’s affiliated education companies for the purposes described in this Privacy Policy.

To allow service providers to assist us.
We may engage third party service providers, agents and partners (“Third Party Agents”) to perform functions on our behalf, such as marketing, analytics, credit card processing, shipping or stocking orders and providing customer service. We may disclose your personal information to such Third Party Agents to enable them to assist us in these efforts.

To protect the rights of Amplify and our users.
There may be instances when Amplify may disclose your information, in situations where Amplify has a good faith belief that such disclosure is necessary or appropriate in order to: (i) protect, enforce, or defend the legal rights, privacy, safety, operations, or property of Amplify, our parents, subsidiaries or affiliates or our or their employees, agents and contractors (including enforcement of our agreements, including our terms of use); (ii) protect the rights, safety, privacy, security or property of users of the Site or others; (iii) protect against fraud or for risk management purposes; (iv) comply with the law or legal process, including laws outside your country of residence; (v) respond to requests from public and government authorities, including those outside your country of residence; or (vi) allow us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain.

To complete a merger or sale of assets.
If Amplify sells all or part of its business or makes a sale or transfer of its assets or is otherwise involved in a merger, transfer or other disposition of all or part of its business, assets or stock (including in connection with any bankruptcy or similar proceedings), Amplify may transfer your information to the party or parties involved in the transaction.

*****

5. Security
Amplify uses commercially reasonable administrative, technical, personnel and physical measures to safeguard information in its possession against loss, theft and unauthorized use, disclosure or modification.

6. User control
If you would like to review, correct, update, suppress or otherwise limit our use of your personal information you have previously provided directly to us, you may contact us using the contact information provided below. In your request, please make clear what information you would like to have changed, whether you would like to have your personal information suppressed from our database, or if you have other questions about your personal information. We will try to comply with your request as soon as reasonably practicable.

7. Data retention
We will retain your personal information for the period necessary to fulfill the purposes outlined in this Privacy Policy unless a longer retention period is required or allowed by law.

Even after we have deleted your information from our systems, copies of some information from your account may remain viewable in some circumstances – where, for example, you have shared information with social media platforms and other unaffiliated services. We may also retain backup information related to your account on our servers for some time after cancelation for fraud detection or to comply with applicable law or our internal security policies. Because of the nature of caching technology, your account may not be instantly inaccessible to others, and there may be a delay in the removal of the content from elsewhere on the Internet and from search engines.

8. Sensitive information
We ask that you not send us, and you not disclose, any sensitive personal information (e.g., social security numbers, information related to racial or ethnic origin, health, or criminal background) on or through the Site or otherwise.

9. Your California Privacy Rights
If you are a resident of California, you may request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to our affiliated education companies for their direct marketing purposes. To make such a request, please write to us at:
Amplify – California Privacy Rights 55 Washington St., Ste. 900 Brooklyn, NY 11201 Attn: General Counsel

10. Contact us
If you have questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us at:
Email: privacy@amplify.com Mail: Amplify, 55 Washington St., Ste 900, Brooklyn, NY, 11201 Attn: General Counsel

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My suggestion to all parents who have children in the Seattle public school system, contact your school board members and ask them what privacy protections are in place if you decide to allow your student to take Amplify.

Your school board members:

Sharon Peaslee:  sharon.peaslee@seattleschools.org

Sherry Carr:  sherry.carr@seattleschools.org

Harium Martin-Morris:  harium.martin-morris@seattleschools.org

Sue Peters:  sue.peters@seattleschools.org

Stephan Blanford:  stephan.blanford@seattleschools.org

Marty McLaren:  martha.mclaren@seattleschools.org

Betty Patu:  betty.patu@seattleschools.org

Dora Taylor