ALEC, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Koch Brothers, Trump-Pence ALEC, Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Koch Brothers, Trump-Pence
Thanks in no small part to Donald Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, the right-wing, corporate-funded, pro-privatization, anti-public education, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is meeting this week in Indianapolis.
At the top of their privatization agenda — More unaccountable charter schools.
The Center for Media and Democracy reports that at the meeting, “where corporate lobbyists sit side-by-side with state legislators in luxury hotels to vote as equals on ‘model bills’ that then get pushed to become law in states across the country,” a key issue will be the continued expansion of charter schools. CMD explains;
The for-profit education companies that help fund ALEC, like K12, Inc., have a track record of poor results that tends to result in a high rate of school closures. K12, which was founded in part by junk bond fraudster felon Michael Milken, has a seat and a vote on ALEC’s corporate board.
Two new bills being considered by what ALEC now dubs its “Education and Workforce Development Task Force” could help poorly performing charters stay open without having to improve.
Under the Assessment Choice Act, instead of using a uniform assessment for students statewide, charters’ authorizers would take their pick from a “menu” of tests, unlike traditional public schools.
If propping up test scores isn’t enough to save a charter from closure, the “Student and Family Fair Notice and Impact Statement Act” promises to add new hurdles. Before closing or restructuring a charter school, this act would not just require that families be notified. It would also create a public hearing process in which parents, teachers, and “experts” could give testimony about the school, and the charter board would be allowed to suggest a response plan.
So, the corporate education reformers who taught standardized testing as the mechanism to rank order children, teachers and schools is now proposing legislation that would allow charter schools to exempt themselves from the use of the Common Core testing scheme.
Meanwhile, Trump’s running mate, one of the most anti-public education, anti-teacher governors in the nation is ALEC’s keynote speaker and was also scheduled to speak at an evening reception on school “reform” hosted by some of the biggest names in the corporate education reform industry.
While Hillary Clinton has unfortunately been a major supporter of the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies, Trump-Pence are proving, yet again, that they would be a hundred times worse for the students, parents, teachers and public school of the nation.
Charter Schools, Education Reform, K12 Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, K12 Inc.
Writing in their 2015 Annual Report, K12 Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel Davis said;
Our strategy is simple: optimize student success, support market expansion in collaboration with current and future partners, and pursue targeted revenue growth.
Hyping their status as the leader in the for-profit corporate education reform industry, the company reported added;
The U.S. Market for K-12 education is large and online learning is gaining greater acceptance.
The notion that the country’s public school children are little more than lucrative profit centers for Wall Street investors has been growing since Rupert Murdoch famously called America’s public schools, a $500 billion untapped economic opportunity.
And by way of explaining the pro-charter environment and their ongoing success collecting public money, K12 Inc. explained;
Many parents and educators are seeking alternatives to traditional classroom-based education for a variety of reasons. Demand for these alternatives is evident in the expanding number of choices available to parents and students. For example, public charter schools emerged in 1988 to provide an alternative to traditional public schools and, have seen enrollments grow by 225% over the past 10 years….and there are approximately 6,400 public charter schools operating in 42 state and the District of Columbia with an estimated enrollment of over 2.5 million students.
While much of the attention related to education reform has focused on charter schools, the Common Core and the Common Core testing frenzy, Internet based, online virtual charter schools have become a significant part of the corporate education reform industry.
According to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), as of 2013, all 50 states “had established a significant form of online learning initiative, adding that, “1.82 million students participated in a formal online learning program.”
It was with this burgeoning sense of opportunity that a former Goldman Sacks executive and President Ronald Reagan’s former US Secretary of Education formed K12, Inc. in 2000.
With $40 million dollars from Wall Street investors, including $10 million from the infamous junk-bond dealer Michael Milken, Ronald Packard, a former Goldman Sacks executive and William Bennett, a former Secretary of Education, formed K12, Inc. so that they and their investors could profit off the children of the United States.
Other initial Wall Street investors included Andrew Tisch (Loews) and Larry Ellison (Oracle and Knowledge Universe), as well as Milken and his brother.
William Bennett, who by the 2000s had become a right-wing talk show host, served as the chairman of K12 Inc.’s board of directors until he resigned in 2005 following a series of racist comments that he made about African-Americans.
However, despite the controversy surrounding K12 and Bennett’s role in the company, the corporation’s profits have grown exponentially over the years, earning hundreds of millions of dollars for K12’s executives and shareholders.
K12 Inc. began by creating an online “education program” for children in Kindergarten through 2nd grade in Pennsylvania and Colorado.
Today, a decade and a half later, K12 Inc. owns, operates or manages virtual schools in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the District of Columbia. In addition, the company sells online products to schools in all 50 states and around the world.
The company has been so successful that in 2007 it owners decided to take the company public, raising millions in capital as it joined the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: LRN).
By 2015, the company’s revenue exceeded $948 million, a 5.1 percent increase over the preceding year. Since its inception, K12 Inc.’s revenue has exceeded $5 billion dollars, almost all of it paid for by American taxpayers.
The policy landscape supporting virtual charter schools has grown substantially over the years K12 Inc. has been in existence. In just the last eight years, more than 157 bills passed in 39 states and the District of Columbia, all expanding the online school juggernaut.
In many cases, the anti-public school, pro-cyber school legislation was a result of aggressive lobbying and political involvement by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the member of its Digital Learning Subcommittee, a group of education reform entrepreneurs that includes K12 Inc.
Explaining an important aspect of its success, K12 Inc., its board of directors and staff have been especially active when it comes to political donations and lobbing activities at the federal and state level.
Federal Election Commission reports reveal that since its inception, individuals directly connected with K12 Inc. have donated well in excess of $1.5 million dollars to federal candidates and political action committees, helping to ensure that the company and cyber schools, in general, received a place of honor in both the administrations of President George W. Bush and Barak Obama.
The virtual school industry has received consistent and bi-partisan legislative and administrative support.
In fact, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Race to the Top initiative and the recently adopted, Every Student Succeeds Act, all make room for the significant expansion of virtual schools.
In addition to the company’s work at the federal level, the Center for Media and Democracy reports;
Since 2004, K12 Inc. and its employees have pumped almost $1.3 million into state-level politics in 23 states (as of 2012), including contributions to candidates for office, party committees, and ballot initiatives.
On top of K12’s direct involvement in political campaigns, K12 Inc. has also focused on direct lobbying activities, spending more than $120,000 spent on federal lobbyists in the last two years, all while hiring more than 150 lobbyists in 28 states between 2003 and 2012, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
A prime example of K12’s involvement in state politics can be found in the role it played in Georgia’s referendum to amend its state constitution in order to make it easier to open charter schools in that state. K12 was a major supporter of the effort, donating at least $300,000 in 2012 to “Families for Better Public Schools,” a Georgia political action committee behind a constitutional amendment that would further the charter school industry by bypassing the legislature and state board of education to create a new, politically appointed commission that would have the authority to independently override state and local control and approve new charter schools and online virtual schools.
With additional financial support from the Koch Brother’s Americans for Prosperity StudentsFirst, the Walton Family Foundation and other major corporate education reform players, the amendment passed with proponents outspending the opposition by about ten-to-one.
In yet another example, the Center For Media and Democracy reports,
In Pennsylvania, where ten percent of its revenue is generated, K12 Inc. has spent $681,000 on lobbying since 2007, according to the New York Times. It registered 11 lobbyists in the state from 2007 through 2012, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
K12 Inc. has also used ostensibly benign front groups to lobby and organize protests on its behalf. The K12 Inc. funded group Pennsylvania Families for Public Cyber Schools spent $250,000 on lobbying in the last five years, according to the Times.
The paper also reports that K12 Inc. is connected to My School, My Choice, a group that organized protests in Ohio against reforming the state formula for financing charter and online schools. The protesters turned out to be paid temp agency workers. Tim Dirrim, the founder of the organization, is the board president of the K12 Inc. managed Ohio Virtual Academy.
In states across the country and at the national level, political donations, lobbying, public relations and advocacy and extensive marketing campaigns have served as the building blocks of K12’s lucrative online schools.
However, perhaps the most telling points about how K12 Inc. and other online charter school succeed in the present economic and political climate can be found in the narrative that the company lists as “Risk Factors” in their most recent quarterly report to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), factors that make it clear that the for-profit education reform industry has become an active part of the advanced capitalist system.
Warning Wall Street and its investors, K12 Inc. outlined the potential barriers to its success, noting;
- From time to time, proposals are introduced in state legislatures that single out virtual or blended public schools for disparate treatment.
- We have been, and will likely continue to be, subject to public policy lawsuits filed against virtual and blended schools by those who do not share our belief in the value of this form of public education.
- Opponents of virtual and blended public schools have sought to challenge the establishment and expansion of such schools through the judicial process. If these interests prevail, it could damage our ability to sustain or grow our current business or expand in certain jurisdictions.
- Beyond academic performance issues, some virtual school operators have been subject to governmental investigations alleging the misuse of public funded or financial irregularities. These allegations have attracted significant adverse media coverage and have prompted legislative hearings and regulatory responses.
- As a public company, we are required to file periodic financial and other disclosure reports with the SEC…The disclosure of this information by a for-profit education company, regardless of parent satisfaction and student performance, may nonetheless be used by opponents of virtual and blended public schools to propose funding reductions or restrictions.
- As a non-traditional form of public education, online public school operators will be subject to scrutiny, perhaps even greater than that applied to traditional brick and mortar public schools or public charter schools. (A claim that is blatantly false considering there is little to no federal or state oversight of virtual charter schools.)
And finally, in what may be the most telling and honest observation of all, K12 reports;
- Parent and student satisfaction may decline as not all parents and students are able to devote the substantial time and effort necessary to complete our curriculum.
While these “risk factors” paint a picture of potential problems facing K12 Inc. and other virtual schools, the supposed legitimacy of the virtual school industry has allows them to expand operations and continue to rake in the cash, all at the expense of taxpayers and real public schools.
Charter Schools, Education Reform, K12, Virtual Charter Schools Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, K12 Inc., virtual charter schools
While children play in the summer heat, parents in Massachusetts and 31 other states across the country are being bombarded with advertisements for the online “learning” giant, K12 Inc., a for-profit virtual school system that is part of the ongoing movement to divert public funds away from traditional schools and give the taxpayer money to privately owned and operated charter and on-line entities that supporters claim are the future of public education in the United States.
But the truth surrounding these corporate education reform strategies fall far short of their advertising claims, a fact that is especially true when it comes to the growing online or virtual charter school industry.
As California’s Mercury News explained in a major investigative series this past spring,
The TV ads pitch a new kind of school where the power of the Internet allows gifted and struggling students alike to “work at the level that’s just right for them” and thrive with one-on-one attention from teachers connecting through cyberspace. Thousands of California families, supported with hundreds of millions in state education dollars, have bought in.
But the Silicon Valley-influenced endeavor behind the lofty claims is leading a dubious revolution. The growing network of online academies, operated by a Virginia company traded on Wall Street called K12 Inc., is failing key tests used to measure educational success.
Fewer than half of the students who enroll in the online high schools earn diplomas, and almost none of them are qualified to attend the state’s public universities.
In fact, a series of academic studies have revealed that despite collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, most virtual schools are utterly failing when it comes to actually educating children.
Reporting on a major study conducted in 2015 by Stanford University, the Washington Post wrote,
Students in the nation’s virtual K-12 charter schools — who take all of their classes via computer from home — learn significantly less on average than students at traditional public schools, a new study has found.
The online charter students lost an average of about 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days of learning in math during the course of a 180-day school year, the study found. In other words, when it comes to math, it’s as if the students did not attend school at all.
In addition to outright corruption, the widespread academic failures plaguing virtual charter schools are leading to numerous state investigations into a significant number of the on-line schools, including some owned and operated by K12 Inc.
For example, earlier this month California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced that the Bureau of Children’s Justice and False Claims Unit of the California Department of Justice had reached a settlement agreement with K12 Inc. and its 14 affiliated California Virtual Academies over the company’s “violations of California’s false claims, false advertising and unfair competition laws.“
Covering the settlement agreement, the Mercury News reported;
Facing a torrent of accusations, a for-profit company that operates taxpayer-funded online charter schools throughout California has reached a $168.5 million settlement with the state over claims it manipulated attendance records and overstated its students’ success.
The deal, announced Friday by Attorney General Kamala Harris, comes almost three months after the Bay Area News Group published an investigation of K12 Inc., a publicly traded Virginia company, which raked in more than $310 million in state funding over the past 12 years operating a profitable but low-performing network of “virtual” schools for about 15,000 students.
Harris’ office found that K12 and the 14 California Virtual Academies used deceptive advertising to mislead families about students’ academic progress, parents’ satisfaction with the program and their graduates’ eligibility for University of California and California State University admission — issues that were exposed in this news organization’s April report.
The settlement could help spur legislation that would prevent for-profit companies like K12 from operating public schools in California.
The Attorney General’s office also found that K12 and its affiliated schools collected more state funding from the California Department of Education than they were entitled to by submitting inflated student attendance data and that the company leaned on the nonprofit schools to sign unfavorable contracts that put them in a deep financial hole.
“K12 and its schools misled parents and the State of California by claiming taxpayer dollars for questionable student attendance, misstating student success and parent satisfaction and loading nonprofit charities with debt,” Harris said in a statement. “This settlement ensures K12 and its schools are held accountable and make much-needed improvements.”
K12 Inc. and its 14 “non-profit” virtual charter schools enroll about 13,000 students in California. According to the Attorney General’s investigation, only about one in three students in the K12 Inc. schools actually graduate. The statewide graduation rate for California’s public schools is close to 80 percent.
The California controversy is just one of many surrounding K12 Inc.
Overall, about 315,000 students in the United States attend “virtual” schools and like those in California, the vast majority aren’t getting the quality education that the taxpayers are paying for.
But that doesn’t even slow down the cash flow.
In 2015, K12’s revenue exceeded $948 million, a 5.1 percent increase over the preceding year. Since its inception, K12 has collected over $5 billion dollars for its investors and executives.
K12’s false claims may have cost it money in California, but it continues to make similar claims of success in advertising that is presently running in a number of states.
If there was real truth in advertising, the K12 and other virtual charter schools would be using the tag line,
“America’s Virtual Schools – Ripping off the taxpayers, not even coming close to providing children with an adequate education.”
Check back for more on K12 and the virtual charter school industry.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bronx Charter School for Excellence, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), Education Reform, Families for Excellent Schools, Malloy, Northeast Charter Schools Network Achievement First Inc., CCER, ConnCAN, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Families for Excellent Schools, Malloy, Northeast Charter Schools Network
According to the latest lobbying reports filed with the Connecticut Ethics Commission, the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies spent another $555,000 during this year’s legislative session in their ongoing effort to support Governor Malloy and persuade Connecticut legislators to divert even more public money to the privately owned and operated charter schools in the state.
While Governor Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly instituted the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public schools, Malloy and the Democrat’s new budget actually increased the amount of scarce public funds going to the charter schools.
At the same time, the charter school front groups were working with Malloy to fight off efforts to fix Connecticut’s flawed teacher evaluation program.
Malloy and the charter schools are intent on keeping the scores that student receive on the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC standardized tests as a prominent factor in determining teacher quality, despite the fact that every major academic study has revealed that individual teachers have an extremely small impact on how individual students do on standardized tests.
Rather than develop a teacher evaluation system based on how well that educator is actually doing, Malloy and the education reformers want to stick with a faulty system that will unfairly judge teachers on factors beyond their control.
Meanwhile, as Wait, What reported earlier this year, the charter school industry and their corporate funded front groups have spent in excess of $9 million on lobbying since Governor Malloy took office in 2011. See: Charter School Industry “invests” more than $9 million in Connecticut lobbying
The latest ethics reports indicate that, once again, the New York based Families for Excellent Schools continue to spend the most on lobbying in Connecticut, having reported an additional $300,000 in lobbying expenditures since the beginning of this year’s legislative session. The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) took the 2nd and 3rd spots on the charter school lobbying chart.
While Families for Excellent Schools and the entire charter school industry continue to expand their lobbying efforts, Neil Vigdor, of the Hearst Media Group, reports that Families for Excellent Schools and other so-called education reformers have set up another Political Action Committee that they will be using to reward and punish candidates who support or oppose their agenda.
In Charter schools step up political action Vigdor reports;
The charter school movement — backstopped by a billionaire club that includes Michael Bloomberg, Paul Tudor Jones and Ray Dalio — wants to put its stamp on the Legislature in Connecticut.
CT Forward, a newly launched nonprofit advocacy group, will survey House and Senate candidates across the state on their support for public charter schools. The litmus test will determine which candidates receive financial and grassroots support from the group’s dues-paying members, who will be made up heavily of parents.
Families for Excellent Schools, which has wrangled with Bridgeport administrators over education reform, is behind the election-year initiative.
For giants of the hedge fund industry such as Jones and Dalio, both Greenwich residents, charter schools have become a favorite cause. Each has contributed to Families for Excellent Schools, which reported $17.6 million in contributions and grants for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, to the IRS. [FES Director] Kittredge’s compensation was $222,297 for that time period, more than Connecticut’s state education commissioner and New York City’s schools chancellor.
A spokesman for Jones declined to comment. Multiple requests for comment were left for Dalio, whose Westport hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, is the largest in the world. Bloomberg has not contributed directly to FES, but has been strongly linked to the charter school movement.
Lobbying legislators, handing out campaign cash…it is all part of the effort to privatize public education in Connecticut and across the country.
Charter Schools, Education Reform, Mike Pence Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Mike Pence
As expected, the most unqualified candidate to be President of the United States has chosen a running mate who is equally unprepared, ill-equipped and incapable of representing the people of the nation.
Not only is Indiana Governor Mike Pence the most anti-choice governor in the country, he is nothing short of a puppet for the charter school industry and its corporate education reform allies.
As Indiana’s governor, Pence has driven an anti-teacher, anti-public education political and legislative agenda that has included dramatically expanding charter schools and diverting scarce public funds to voucher programs that, in turn, have allowed private individuals to use taxpayer money to send their children to religious schools.
As a gubernatorial candidate Pence has used his anti-public education agenda to raise massive amounts of money from wealthy corporate education reform donors both in and out of his state. Many of the most prominent anti-public school big donors appear on Pence’s fundraising reports.
As the Indianapolis Star and other Indiana based newspapers and blogs have reported, Pence has been collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from charter school owners and voucher supporters.
Pence’s education donors include;
- Fred Klipsch, founder and chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education, “a leading pro-voucher organization. Klipsch boasted in 2012 that he had put together the campaign funding to overcome teacher opposition and push through legislative approval of the Mitch Daniels-Tony Bennett education agenda, including vouchers and charter schools.”
- John D. Bryan, founder and director of Challenge Foundation, “which operators several charter schools, including the Indianapolis Academy of Excellence. He has given nearly $600,000 to Republican campaigns in Indiana, including $145,000 to Pence’s campaigns for governor.
- Roger Hertog, of Success Academy infamy. Hertog, a major right-wing donor has also given pro-charter school governor Andrew Cuomo at least $30,000.
- Robert L. Luddy, “who runs a group of private schools and who provided much of the campaign financing for school board candidates who overturned a model school desegregation program in Wake County, N.C., schools.
In July 2012, the education blog, In School Matters led with an article entitled, More on the money behind the Indiana school-voucher law. Pro-public education blogger Steve Hinnefeld wrote;
Hoosiers for Economic Growth chairman Fred Klipsch explained recently how his organization and several affiliated groups spent $4.4 million to push through the education policies that Indiana adopted in 2011, including a huge voucher program, expansion of charter schools and anti-union measures.
Klipsch spoke in May at a national policy summit in Jersey City, N.J., hosted by the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice, organizations that promote taxpayer funding of private schools.
You can download a PowerPoint of Klipsch’s presentation from the website of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options. You can also watch a video of Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett receiving the John T. Walton Champion of School Choice Award at the summit.
Hoosiers for Economic Growth spent almost $1.3 million during Indiana’s 2010 election cycle, most of it targeted to producing a Republican majority in the Indiana House. Organizations like School Choice Indiana and Gov. Mitch Daniels’ Aiming Higher also contributed to the effort, according to Klipsch’s presentation.
The goal was to overcome what Klipsch referred to as “the problem” – the Indiana State Teachers Association, which his presentation calls “the most powerful political force at the Statehouse and at the ballot box” and “the biggest spender by far” in Indiana politics.
The ISTA’s political action committee, the Indiana PAC for Education or I-PACE, spent $792,683 in 2010, according to campaign finance reports.
Hoosiers for Economic Growth gets much of its money from the Indiana PAC of American Federation for Children, a pro-voucher outfit headed by Michigan Republican activist Betsy DeVos. The PAC’s money comes from Philadelphia and New York hedge-fund managers and Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton.
More about Pence in the coming days
Charter Schools, Education Reform, Relay Graduate School of Education, Teacher Certification, Teachers, Wendy Lecker Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Relay Graduate School of Education, Teacher Certification, Teachers, Wendy Lecker
In her latest commentary piece, Connecticut education advocate Wendy Lecker explains that latest fade from the corporate education reform industry. In, A blind acceptance of the robot teacher, Lecker takes on the charter school industry advocates who claim that teachers don’t need all those education and child development courses. All they need, they say, is a quick, fly-by-night crash course on how to make children sit and succeed at taking standardized tests scores.
Wendy Lecker writes;
Connecticut seems to accept a constricted vision of education for its neediest children that is never imposed on more affluent districts. The most recent example of this disparity is the recent partnership between the New Haven Public Schools and an outfit called Relay Graduate School of Education, to provide alternative certification for would-be teachers.
Relay was founded by representatives of three charter school chains, Achievement First, KIPP and Uncommon Schools — chains with a troubling record of suspensions, harsh discipline and attrition. It was founded to train charter school teachers. Relay employs not one professor of education.
The Relay vision of teaching is narrow. Its primary goal is to train teachers to raise test scores. Consequently, Relay focuses on giving its trainees a prepackaged set of “skills” that focus mainly on classroom management and getting students to do what teachers want. The contrast between Relay’s methods and goals and those of existing Connecticut schools of education is stark.
For example, UConn’s teacher education program strives to “establish a safe and positive learning environment” and “promote democratic participation and community. UConn’s core practice principles focus on helping prospective teachers learn to use their professional judgment, and to help students develop into independent thinkers. UConn’s principles help teachers develop “strategies, activities and approaches that are responsive to cultural, linguistic, ability and other student differences,” “plan learning opportunities that teach content through inquiry” and “use knowledge of students as individuals and members of cultural and social groups to inform instruction.” The aim is to help teachers meet students where they are and develop each student’s capabilities.
Relay employs the principles of one of its “star” faculty, Uncommon Schools’ Doug Lemov. Those principles focus on control and compliance. For instance, Lemov instructs trainees that “(a) sequence that begins with a student unwilling or unable to answer a question ends with that student giving the right answer as often as possible even if they only repeat it.” Even if they only repeat it!
The principles also instruct trainees to “set and defend a high standard of correctness in your classroom” and “control the physical environment to support the specific lesson goal for the day.” Relay’s prescriptive, robotic methods churn out teachers focused on getting students not to think for themselves, but to regurgitate the one “correct” answer.
Relay falsely claims its methods are proven. As University of Washington Professor Kenneth Zeichner has found, there is no peer-reviewed evidence demonstrating the success of Relay Graduate School of Education. In fact, even education reformers have called into question Relay’s methods. Katherine Porter Magee, of the conservative Fordham Institute, criticized one Relay lesson video, noting it “included low-level questions and inadequate wait time, and was generally rushed and superficial.”
Connecticut has several university-based schools of education. Three — Albertus Magnus, Southern Connecticut and Quinnipiac — are in the New Haven area. Yet New Haven partnered with Relay. Why do New Haven’s children, the majority of whom are poor children of color, need teachers trained only to control them, when Connecticut’s schools of education focus on developing children based on their individual needs and strengths?
This partnership must be seen in the larger context of Connecticut’s abandonment of its previous deep commitment to robust teacher training. Connecticut used to be a national model for teacher education. Its BEST program was state-funded and developed by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) over 15 years, in conjunction with developing the state’s academic standards. CSDE ensured that a robust teacher induction system was designed, implemented, researched and evaluated. The state raised teacher salaries; required, funded and trained experienced teachers as mentors; developed licensing requirements and a staged licensing process; and required ongoing professional development.
Although the successful BEST program was lauded nationwide, Connecticut abandoned BEST, because it was seen as too costly. Apparently, Connecticut’s leaders viewed providing tax subsidies to insurance companies and hedge funds as more worthwhile than investing in Connecticut’s children. Connecticut has also in recent years cut state programs for alternative teacher certification. Thus, the burden and cost of certification increasingly falls to school districts.
At the same time, Connecticut has imposed more mandates on university-based teacher education programs. It is almost as if the state wants to drive existing schools with a proven track record into the ground and replace them with cheap, fly-by-night operations.
Connecticut children deserve teachers who can help them reach their potential, not parrot from canned scripts. They deserve better than teachers trained in five-week Teach for America training programs or quick certification factories such as Relay.
You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s column at : http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-A-blind-acceptance-of-the-robot-8348106.php
Charter Schools, Common Core, ConnCAN, Education Reform, Jeffrey Vilar, Jennifer Alexander CCER, Charter Schools, Common Core, ConnCAN, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Jeffrey Villar, Jennifer Alexander
Jennifer Alexander, the CEO of the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) gets paid a lot of money to be the spokesperson for the Connecticut charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies.
Doing that job earned her $224,000 in salary and benefits in 2014. Her board of corporate elite even gave her a $25,000 bonus that year, all so that she could continue to push their pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher political agenda.
However, while Jennifer Alexander spends plenty of time inside the Capitol lobbying legislators and working with the Malloy administration, she has refused, to date, to accept an offer to debate the real problems and issues facing Connecticut’s public school children, parents, teachers and schools.
Not that long ago, UConn actually invited me to participate in a panel discussion about the very issues facing Connecticut’s public schools. Other participants were to include both Jennifer Alexander and Jeffrey Villar, the highly paid executive of the Connecticut Council on Education Reform, another charter school industry front group.
However, within 48 hours of the invitation being sent, UConn suddenly cancelled the panel. And when it was rescheduled months later, no invitation to me was forthcoming.
Meanwhile, thanks to Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly, while Connecticut’s public schools are being hit with the deepest cuts in state history, Malloy and his administration are shoveling even more scarce taxpayer dollars to privately owned and operated charter schools that have consistently refused to educate their fair share of children who require special education services or those who need extra help learning the English language. These charter schools even allow a significant number of uncertified teachers and staff to “educate” the children they claim to serve.
One would think that being paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year would give Jennifer Alexander the courage and conviction, or at least the obligation, to actually come out and debate the issues.
But in Malloy’s Connecticut, honesty and transparency are useless terms and those paid to defend his positions choose to remain hidden inside their golden temples.
Thus, I renew my request and offer.
Ms. Alexander, we’re waiting with baited breath. Come out and debate.
Or perhaps Mr. Villar would be willing to defend the reformers’ indefensible positions.
How about it Jen or Jeffrey?
This is an important election year, why not accept my challenge and debate the issues so that Connecticut’s voters have the information they need to make informed decisions.
Billionaires for Education Reform, Charter Schools, Common Core, Education Reform, PARCC, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing Billionaires for Education Reform, Charter Schools, Common Core, Corporate Education Reform Industry, PARCC, SBAC, Standardized Testing
The colossal and disastrous effort to privatize public education in the United States is alive and well thanks to a plethora of billionaires who, although they’d never send their own children to a public school, have decided that individually and collectively, they know what is best for the nation’s students, parents, teachers and public schools.
From New York City to Los Angeles and Washington State to Florida, the “billionaire boys club,” as Diane Ravitch, the country’s leading public education advocate, has dubbed them, are spending hundreds of millions of dollars via campaign contributions, Dark Money expenditures and their personal foundations to “fix” what they claim are the problems plaguing the country’s public schools.
These neo-gilded age philanthropists claim that the solution is for parents, teachers and education advocates to step aside so that the billionaires and their groupies can transform public education by creating privately owned and operated – but taxpayer funded – charter schools.
In addition, they pontificate that students learn best when schools are mandated to use the ill-conceived Common Core standards so classrooms become little more than Common Core testing factories and the teaching profession is opened up to those who haven’t been burdened by lengthy college based education programs designed to provide educators with the comprehensive skill sets necessary to work with and teach the broad range of children who attend the country’s public schools.
The billionaire’s proclaim that the solution to creating successful schools is really rather simple.
They say that public schools run best when they are run like a business…
Cut through their rhetoric and the billionaires want us to believe that by introducing competition and the concept of “profit” they can turnaround any school, no matter the challenges it or its students may face….
Privatization, they argue, will lead to greater efficiencies while opening up the public purse to those who have products that they seek to sell to our children and our public schools.
And, the billionaires would have us believe, that the best teachers are those who get five weeks of training via a high-profile Teach for America program and are then thrown into the classroom where they, like all teachers, should be evaluated based on how well their students do on those unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core standardized tests.
Like the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about more than 55 years ago, the billionaires, the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies want us to believe that providing children with the skills and knowledge to succeed and prosper in the 21st Century is nothing more than an opportunity to “wage war” and make money, all at the same time.
And who are these billionaires?
They are the self-professed greatest names in the United States.
The following is a partial and growing list of the super elite who deem to dabble in remaking our public schools.
Or as they would put it, blessed are the wealthy for they shall reform our public schools, with or without our consent.
||Relationship with Corporate Education Reform and Charter School Industry (Partial list)
||How They got their billions
||Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform Now, EdVoice, New Teacher Project
||Hedge Fund Owner – Centaurus Advisors LLC
||StudentsFirst, Cuomo Donor, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Hedge Fund Owner – Moore Capital Management
||Stand for Children, Major Dark Money Donor
||Achievement First, Inc.
||WR Berkley Corporation Founder Chairman CEO – insurance sports and entertainment companies
||Leadership for Educational Equity, Teach for America, Stand for Children, New Leaders for New Schools, California Charter School Advocates, Major Dark Money Donor
||Co-founder, Bloomberg LP Owner, former Mayor of New York City
||The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, EDVoice, California Charter School, Cuomo Donor, Malloy Donor, Major Dark Money Donor
||Sun Life Insurance Company of America – (Retired)
||Steve and Alexandra Cohn Foundation, Harlem Children’s Zone, Achievement First, NE Charter School Network, Teach for America
||Hedge Fund Owner – SAC Capital Advisors
||Dalio Foundation, Teach for America,
||Hedge Fund Owner – Bridgewater Associates Owner Founder – hedge
||DeVos Family Foundation, Alliance for School Choice, American Federation for Children, Stand for Children, All Children Matter, Children’s Scholarship Fund, Major Dark Money Donor
||Amway Owner Co-Founder – Orlando Magic NBA Team Owner
||New Schools Venture Fund, EdVoice,
||Venture Capitalist – Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byera
||Children’s Scholarship Fund,
||Hedge Fund Owner – Duquesne Capital – Retired
||Democrats for Education Reform,
||Hedge Fund Owner – Greenlight Capital
||Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, KIPP Foundation, Ed Voice,
||Gap Inc. Co-Founder
||Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, KIPP Foundation, Charter School Growth Fund, Silicon Valley Growth Fund, Ed Voice,
||Gap Inc. Heir Owner – Oakland Athletics Owner
||Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
||KIPP Foundation, Ed Voice, California Charter School Association, Major Funder
||Netflix Co-Founder Facebook Board Member
||National Heritage Academies, Inc. (NHA) for-profit charter school management organization, Stand for Children
||Investor, Waste Management- Blockbuster Video – AutoNation – Swisher Hygiene
||Texans for Education Reform,
||Hunt Oil Co-Owner Heir – son of founder H L Hunt – oil
||Icahn Charter Schools, StudentsFirst, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Icahn Enterprises Owner
||Charles and Ann Johnson Foundation, Alliance for School Choice, American Education Reform Council
||Chairman, Franklin Resources – Owner of San Francisco Giants
||Tudor Jones III
||Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, Cuomo Donor
||Hedge Fund Owner – Tudor Investment Corporation
||KIPP Foundation, Teach for America
||Hedge Fund Owner – Oaktree Capital Management
||Families of Excellent Schools, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Hedge Fund Owner – Baupost Group Investments
||American for Prosperity, American Encore, Major Dark Money Donor
||American for Prosperity, American Encore, , Major Dark Money Donor
||Thomas T Fordham Institute (former), Bronx Preparatory Charter School,
||Hedge Fund Owner – Caxton Associates
||Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, Harlem Children’s Zone, Republicans for Cuomo
||Home Depot Co-Founder
||Success Academy, Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, Cuomo Donor, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Hedge Fund Owner – Third Point LLC
||Teach for America, Excel Bridgeport,
||Hedge Fund Owner – Lone Pine Capital
||Texans for Education Reform,
||Chairman, McNair Group
||News Corporation Founder Chairman, CEO
||NewSchools Venture Fund, Teach for America,
||University of Chicago Charter School,
||Pritzker Organization Chairman CEO – Hyatt Hotels Corp Executive Chairman
||Noble Charter Schools,
||Hyatt Hotels Heir –
||KIPP New York, Relay Graduate School of Education, Teach for America New York, Harlem Village Academies, Harlem Children’s Zone
||Hedge Fund Owner -Glenview Capital Management
||Robertson Foundation, Pave Charter Schools, Families for Excellent Schools, iMentor, Teach for America, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Hedge Fund Owner – Tiger Management Corporation
||Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Charter School Growth Fund, Ed Voice, Stand for Children, Teach for America
||Samson Investment Company (oil & gas)
||Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Teach for America, Aspire, KIPP Foundation,
||Charles Schwab Corp Founder
||Paul Singer Family Foundation, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Elliott Management Corporation Founder Owner – distressed debt acquisitions
||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor
||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir-Widow of John-who was son Of Founder Sam Walton
||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor
||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Youngest Son Of Founder Sam Walton
||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor
||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Daughter of Founder Sam Walton
|Carrie Walton Penner (S Robson)
||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor
||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Son Of Founder Sam Walton
||Zell Family Foundation, Teach for America
||Equity Group Investments Chairman -real estate – private equity
||Zuckerberg Foundation, Newark Project
||Facebook Chairman CEO
Education Reform, Russ Walsh A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Russ Walsh
Russ Walsh, an educator, public education advocate and fellow education blogger has written a new MUST READ book.
Every parent or prospective parent of a public school student, along with every elected official, should take the time to read Russ Walsh’s “A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century.”
Russ Walsh’s well-researched, substantive and accessible description of the state of public education and the very serious threat posed by the charter school industry and its corporate education reform allies, serves as a powerful guide for those who seek to advocate on behalf of their children and the children of their community.
The knowledge and tools Russ Walsh provides his readers serve as the antidote to the rhetoric and false narrative that is being spewed by the corporate education reformer movement and those who seek to privatize public education.
Available at local bookstores, , on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and as an Ebook, A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century provides parents with extremely important information about what is taking place in the nation’s public schools.
The nation’s federal, state and local officials would also find Walsh’s book a useful primer for what to do and not to do if they are truly dedicated to supporting a comprehensive public education system that ensure that every child has access to an education that allows that to live broader and more fulfilling lives.
As Carol Burris, the Executive Director of Diane Ravtich’s Network for Public Education wrote in her review of the book;
“When a parent walks their kindergartener through a schoolhouse door for the first time, their heart goes with them. They want to feel secure that they are entrusting their child to a learning environment in which they will thrive. As they listen to sensational reports about ‘failing schools’, it is no wonder that many parents feel doubt. That is why Russ Walsh’s Parent’s Guide is a must read for any parent who is trying to make the best educational decision for their children. It is a clear, thoughtful response that will give parents wisdom, confidence and ease. Walsh is not only a professional, life-long educator, he is a beautiful writer whose style is thoughtful, clear and easy to read. A Parent’s Guide is the best guide for anyone who cares about public schools.”
– Carol Corbett Burris, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education.
And Garn Press, the publisher of A PARENT’S GUIDE TO PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY adds;
What is a parent to make of the current narrative about public education in the United States? We hear that our public schools are mediocre at best and dysfunctional and unsafe at worst. We hear politicians and pundits arguing that the country will fall behind economic competitors like China and Japan, if our schools do not improve. We hear education reformers, well-funded by corporate lions like Bill Gates and the Walton family, suggesting a smorgasbord of solutions from school choice to more rigorous standards and from increased standardized tests to test-based teacher accountability.
What is education reform and how will it impact schools, children and parents? What are charter schools and should I send my child to one? What is the impact of standardized testing on my child? Should I opt my child out of standardized testing? How can I make sure my child gets a good teacher? What does good reading and writing instruction look like? How should technology be used in the schools and at home?
A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century is written to answer these questions and help today’s parents sort through the weeds of educational reform to make informed decisions designed to get the best possible education for their children. The book starts from the point of view that public education is a vital institution, central to our democracy and economic independence, and then suggests ways that parents can not only get the best of education for their own children, but also support policies that will make the institution of public education stronger for future generations.
Charter Schools, Education Reform, Families for Excellent Schools Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Families for Excellent Schools
Families for Excellent Schools, the corporate funded, New York based charter school lobby group, with chapters in Connecticut and Massachusetts, is looking for a manager of tactics.
A Manager of Tactics?
Not just any Manager of Tactics. They are hiring a National Director of Tactics…
Perhaps they find their calling in the words of Sun Tzu, who wrote about tactics in his epic entitled, The Art of War;
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
So it is that the billionaire funded Families for Excellent Schools has posted a job listing searching for a National Manager of Tactics.
What an incredible and disturbing commentary about the charter school industry and its corporate education reform allies.
According to the FES job posting, the pro-charter schools, anti-public education, anti-teacher lobby group’s job posting states;
As National Manager of Tactics, you will support the Tactics team in strengthening best practices and logistics around campaign tactics, such as rallies, press conferences, and other field tactics in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. Your primary responsibilities will be producing internal reports on campaign tactics and organizing resources, such as event assets and project tools. You will report to and work closely with the Director of Tactics and work closely with the Managing Director of Tactics as well as collaborate with the rest of the organization on executing its mission.
So there you go…
“As National Manager of Tactics, you will support the Tactics team in strengthening best practices and logistics around campaign tactics…”
And to do that, you will called upon to “produce internal reports on campaign tactics.”
And sadly, these people are for real and their job post is no joke.
They love corporate and military terms, interspersed with as much hyperbole as possible.
Their “non-profit” lobbying groups are headed by people with titles of CEO and make in excess of $150,000, along with plenty of COO and CFOs added for good measure.
And now they are hiring for titles like Director of Tactics, Managing Director of Tactics and other positions within “tactical” teams.
And this is how they intend to provide the nation’s children with the comprehensive education they will need to succeed in the 21st Century?
Me thinks they have watched too many made-for-TV movies about Seal Team Six.
God Help Us.