State Board of Education is tone-deaf to needs of the children

Wendy Lecker, fellow public school advocates and columnist has done it again!

In here latest MUST READ column published in this weekend’s Stamford Advocate and other Hearst media outlets, Wendy shines the light of truth on the Malloy administration’s unrelenting effort to undermine and privatize Connecticut public education system.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his political appointees have pushed their corporate education reform agenda.

While Malloy’s effort has paid off in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to fund his political aspirations, the blood money has come at the cost of our state’s students, teachers, parents and public schools.

As Wendy Lecker writes, the Malloy anti-public education effort was in full-swing this week as the “Connecticut State Board of Education demonstrated how not to make public policy.”

In a piece entitled “State board tone-deaf to needs of the child,” Wendy explains,

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s appointed board trampled local control and democracy by ramming through resolutions that completely disregarded the parents, teachers and communities impacted by their decisions.

Last month, Republican legislators forced a public hearing on legislation calling for a moratorium on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards until the state could assess the implementation’s financial and educational impact.

Ninety-five percent of parents submitting testimony favored a moratorium on the Common Core, as did 91 percent of teachers, 95 percent of citizens not identifying as parents or teachers and 87.5 percent of local elected officials.

Unfazed by the outpouring of concern, the State Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution demanding the immediate implementation of the Common Core and its tests.

In even more arrogant disregard for Connecticut communities, the board approved four new charter schools: Great Oaks Charter and Capital Harbor Prep Charter in Bridgeport, the Booker T. Washington Charter in New Haven and the Stamford Charter School for Excellence in Stamford.

Wendy Lecker adds,

“…the state will divert $85 million dollars over the next few years to charter schools in Bridgeport that serve only 1,600 children. The new charters would drain more than $13 million more from the public schools.

Bridgeport’s board of education and elected parent’s council passed resolutions calling for a moratorium on all charter schools in their city.

These local officials and citizens explained the duty to serve all children in Bridgeport. They noted the flaws in the charter applications, including the serious questions about the companies’ ability to serve students with disabilities or English Language Learners.

Yet the tone-deaf state board voted to force two more charter schools on Bridgeport.

The State Board of Education’s approval of a new charter school in Stamford was equally appalling.

Stamford’s elected board of education voted to oppose the Stamford charter application.

Stamford parents started a petition to oppose the charter school which garnered more than 800 signatures in 48 hours. The Bronx charter school company had a petition up for a month trying to drum up support for the charter, but could only muster 17 signatures.

At the SBE meeting, Stamford officials and parents were united in explaining that Stamford’s integrated schools have closed the achievement gap by double digits in the last seven years. By contrast, the Bronx charter operator has a large and growing achievement gap in its school and offered nothing new to Stamford. In fact, when asked by Stamford’s superintendent why she chose this city, the Bronx operator was unable to respond.

Despite the evidence, the state board voted to give the charter school company more than $4 million for a school of only 392 students while leaving Stamford’s 16,000 public school students underfunded.

Wendy Lecker concludes her column with,

As Bridgeport resident and former NAACP president Carolyn Nah testified, “all children” does not just mean all children in charter schools — it means all public school students. Something is wrong when political appointees in Hartford favor a handful of students, trampling the decisions of democratically elected representatives and parents who are in our schools every day, working to protect the educational interest of every child.

Please take the time to go read the full column and send it to families and friends by going to: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-State-board-tone-deaf-to-needs-of-the-5378068.php

 

Charter Company: We’re from the Bronx, NY and we are here to help

When it comes to Governor Malloy, his Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and the corporate education reform industry, perhaps the most absurd, inappropriate, insulting, and anti-local control privatization scheme is playing itself out in Stamford, Connecticut.

Fellow pro-public education advocate columnist Wendy Lecker lays out the facts about Bronx Charter School for Excellence effort to open a charter school in Stamford and the help they are getting from Commissioner Pryor’s office and Connecticut’s lobbying group dedicated to privatizing Connecticut’s system of public education.

As parents, teachers and pro-public education allies have learned, these ongoing efforts to undermine public education are not coming from some wing-nut Teabag Republican but from Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and his band of corporate education reform industry supporters.

This week Wendy Lecker lays out the stunning facts in a Stamford Advocate column entitled, Charter school pitch not about helping community.

Wendy Lecker’s MUST READ piece follows,

Since my column appears in several papers, I was asked, when I started, not to write about Stamford. This week, I am writing about an application by Bronx Charter School for Excellence (BSCE) to open a school in Stamford.

But this is not about Stamford.

If this were about Stamford, BCSE would have taken care to describe Stamford in its application. Instead, it describes a city where, compared to its neighbors Darien, New Canaan, Westport and Greenwich, “racial isolation prevails.” You read that right — the application claims that compared to those predominately wealthy, white towns, Stamford is racially and economically isolated.

Not only is Stamford wonderfully diverse, our community has a proud commitment to integrated schools. For more than 40 years, Stamford has maintained its “10 percent rule,” requiring that our schools reflect the demographics of the community, plus or minus 10 percent. When our schools fall out of balance, we redistrict — a public and sometimes painful process. For our magnet schools, we long ago abandoned a “blind lottery” because we found that a lottery without demographic controls segregates. Decades of research and experience in schools across the nation confirm our experience.

BCSE plans to specifically target our children of color and low-income children and insists on admission by blind lottery. It completely discounts the research and Stamford’s experience, which almost guarantees that this school will be segregated.

But this is not about Stamford.

Stamford strives to serve all its more than 16,000 children — with little help from the state, which owes Stamford’s children millions of dollars in state education aid. Stamford’s school budget is almost 90 percent local money.

BCSE seeks about $4 million in state taxpayer dollars to serve at most 392 children, from pre-K through fifth grade. If this had been about Stamford, someone might have asked what Stamford needs.

But this is not about Stamford.

If this were about Stamford, BSCE would realize that its claim it will “eradicate” our achievement gap is empty. BCSE struggles with a large achievement gap in its own small school, and offers no educational practices that Stamford does not already do. The difference is that Stamford serves all children — not just a handful.

It is no wonder BCSE gets it all wrong. No one in BCSE bothered to learn about Stamford before completing the application. The entire process was conducted without consultation with or even notice to anyone in Stamford.

In November 2013, without informing Stamford, charter school chain founder and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor directed former charter school principal and State Department of Education “turnaround” director Morgan Barth to solicit charter applications targeting Stamford and select other cities.

BCSE prepared its application without contacting the superintendent, mayor or parent groups, and without visiting Stamford public schools. SDE scheduled a local hearing about this application with no notice to Stamford, during Stamford’s school vacation.

When the superintendent received the application, in February, she, the mayor and members of the Board of Education protested SDE’s lack of notice. In response, SDE postponed the hearing by three weeks. Only then did BCSE reach out to Stamford officials.

BCSE also held a well-advertised dinner the Saturday before the hearing. About five people showed up, three of whom were not supporters of the charter application. Had this been about Stamford, BCSE would have understood that Stamford parents are not interested in their version of “choice.”

But this is not about Stamford.

So, BCSE bused in parents, teachers and students from the Bronx to tell the state representatives at a local hearing that Stamford parents “need” this school.

Of the more than 50 people who spoke at the hearing, only one resident of Stamford spoke in favor of the application. A charter lobbyist read a supportive statement from another absent resident. The rest, Stamford parents, Board of Education members, community leaders and the mayor spoke in opposition to the application. The diverse Stamford community explained that this school is not what we need nor want.

But this is not about what Stamford needs or wants. This is about a charter school setting itself up to look good — receiving a hefty sum of state dollars for classes of 16 children, starting in pre-K, so it does not have to submit to state testing until 2018, well after it will be a “done deal.”

This is about ignoring community needs, community experience and community values.

When someone comes here pushing a school that does not reflect our commitment to equity and integration, we know — it is not about Stamford.

You can read column and Wendy Lecker’s other pieces via http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Charter-school-pitch-not-about-helping-5338987.php and by searhing www.stamfordadvocate.com

 

Malloy full steam ahead on Common Core, Common Core Testing and “education reforms”

Just over a month ago, Governor Malloy took the the microphone to announce his election year effort to persuade teachers, parents and public school advocates to overlook his three years of failed education policies and throw their support behind his re-election aspirations.

In essence, Malloy said, “I hear you and we’ll wait until after I’m re-elected” to proceed with some of our efforts to undermine Connecticut’s public education system.

But proving, yet again, that action speaks louder than words, Malloy has been pushing full steam ahead with some of the worst aspects of  his corporate education reform industry agenda.

A re-cap of Wait, What? posts from the weekend are a shocking reminder that Malloy has the habit of saying one thing and doing another.

Posts to read include,

Malloy Administration: Clark Elementary Parents – You must accept Friendship Charter School or else

Parents, teachers and the community that makes up Hartford’s Clark Elementary School in Hartford are still reeling from the Malloy Administration’s threat that the Clark “Turnaround Committee” must agree to turn their local Hartford neighborhood school over to Washington D.C.’s Friendship Charter School Inc or else they won’t get the funds necessary to improve their school.

But there is much that Clark School parents and the Clark School community have not been told.

This development comes despite a state law that requires an inclusive “turnaround” process in which parents, teachers, school officials and community members are supposed to play the primary role in deciding the future of their local school.

The Malloy Administration’s plan to force the “Clark School Turnaround Plan” to hand the day-to-day operation of the Hartford elementary school over to Friendship Public Charter School Inc. first came to light in a February 10, 2014 Wait, What? article entitled, “NEWS FLASH: Pryor reportedly giving Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Washington D.C. Charter School Chain (2/10/14).

 

The Brave New World of being ‘College and Career Ready (By Sarah Darer Littman)

One of the oft-stated goals of education reform is to ensure that students are “college and career ready.” Like “excellence,” it’s probably one of the most over-used phrases in the education reform movement.

But as I’ve asked before,  what does this phrase really mean? Do our policy makers even know?

Judging by their actions of late, I’m starting to think they don’t.

On March 18, the window opens for field tests of the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the computer-based adaptive test that will go live next year to replace the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT).

SBAC, or the Smarter Balanced Consortium, is one of the two consortiums that states have signed up with to develop new assessment systems for the Common Core State Standards. Funded by a four-year, $175 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education (which runs out in September of this year), SBAC claims its system “will measure mastery of the Common Core State Standards and provide timely information about student achievement and progress toward college and career readiness.”

But there’s a slight catch. They haven’t yet defined “college and career ready.”

“The Consortium also will establish performance benchmarks that define the level of content and skill mastery that marks students as college- and career-ready. These performance benchmarks will be determined through a deliberative and evidence-based standard-setting process, which will include input from K-12 educators and college and university faculty,” the website says. “Preliminary performance standards will be established in 2014 after student data have been collected through pilot and field testing. Following the Field Test in spring 2014, the Consortium will conduct standard setting for the summative assessments in grades 3-8 and grade 11 in ELA/literacy and mathematics. These performance standards will be validated in July/August 2015 using spring 2015 operational data.”

So basically the people who are pushing Common Core — Mssrs. Gates, Obama, Duncan et al, need our kids to be lab rats for this project, while their kids are safely ensconced in private schools, immune from such pedestrian concerns.

What does being an unpaid test subject for SBAC entail exactly?

Sarah Darer Littman’s entire piece can be found at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/the_brave_new_world_of_being_college_and_career_ready/

 

A crisis of low standards” (By Wendy Lecker)

Not poverty. Not inadequate resources. Not toxic stress. Not segregation. According to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, low standards are the cause of America’s educational disparities.

The solution, he maintains, is national standards, the Common Core State Standards, and the accompanying national tests.

“For far too long,” Duncan declared, “our school systems lied to kids, to families, and to communities.

They said the kids were all right — that they were on track to being successful — when in reality they were not even close.” Duncan claimed states’ low standards made “educators, administrators and especially politicians” look good but did not prepare students for the rigors of college work.

Before the Common Core, according to Duncan, high school success was a “lie” — it certainly did not mean that students were “college ready.”

What a compelling, but false, narrative. A new peer-reviewed longitudinal nationwide study confirmed that the most reliable predictor of cumulative college GPA and college graduation is a student’s high school GPA.

Read the Wendy Lecker’s entire piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-A-crisis-of-low-standards-5298374.php

Who is behind the effort to destroy Hartford’s Clark Elementary School?

Clark Elementary School’s parents, teachers and community have a right to know what is really going on behind the scenes in the ongoing effort to stifle parental involvement and hand Clark over to an out-of-state charter school company.

The corporate education reform industry has targeted Clark, but who exactly is pushing these unfair, discriminatory proposals that seek to take over the school, fire all the teachers and hand control of the school over to those who have no understanding of the community?

It is time to find out,

Pursuant to  the Connecticut Freedom of Information act, the proponents of this Clark takeover need to produce any and all memos, documents, notes, emails and attachments that have been sent, received or produced over the last 60 days and relate to the Clark Elementary School.

If elected and appointed officials won’t do the right thing for the Clark community then at least the community deserves to know the deals that have been cut behind the scenes.

This Freedom of Information request will cover Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Morgan Barth, Pryor “Turnaround Director” and Andrew Ferguson, Pryor and Barth’s point person on the effort to destroy Clark.

In addition FOI requests are being submitted for the same information from Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Hartford Portfolio Director Oliver Barton.

Clark parents should refuse to engage in further discussion until these materials are handed over.

The request for these documents are being submitted today, it will be noteworthy to see if Malloy administration and the City of Hartford fulfill their legal duty and hand over the requested information in a timely fashion.

The two “MUST READ” columns of the weekend

Fellow pro-pubic education advocates and commentators have done it again – with two more MUST READ pieces.

Sarah Darer Littman with “The Brave New World of being ‘College and Career Ready

and

Wendy Lecker with “A crisis of low standards

Wendy Lecker writes,

Not poverty. Not inadequate resources. Not toxic stress. Not segregation. According to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, low standards are the cause of America’s educational disparities. The solution, he maintains, is national standards, the Common Core State Standards, and the accompanying national tests.

“For far too long,” Duncan declared, “our school systems lied to kids, to families, and to communities. They said the kids were all right — that they were on track to being successful — when in reality they were not even close.” Duncan claimed states’ low standards made “educators, administrators and especially politicians” look good but did not prepare students for the rigors of college work.

Before the Common Core, according to Duncan, high school success was a “lie” — it certainly did not mean that students were “college ready.”

What a compelling, but false, narrative. A new peer-reviewed longitudinal nationwide study confirmed that the most reliable predictor of cumulative college GPA and college graduation is a student’s high school GPA.

Read the Wendy Lecker’s entire piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-A-crisis-of-low-standards-5298374.php

 

Sarah Darer Littman writes;

One of the oft-stated goals of education reform is to ensure that students are “college and career ready.” Like “excellence,” it’s probably one of the most over-used phrases in the education reform movement.

But as I’ve asked before,  what does this phrase really mean? Do our policy makers even know? Judging by their actions of late, I’m starting to think they don’t.

On March 18, the window opens for field tests of the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the computer-based adaptive test that will go live next year to replace the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT).

SBAC, or the Smarter Balanced Consortium, is one of the two consortiums that states have signed up with to develop new assessment systems for the Common Core State Standards. Funded by a four-year, $175 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education (which runs out in September of this year), SBAC claims its system “will measure mastery of the Common Core State Standards and provide timely information about student achievement and progress toward college and career readiness.”

But there’s a slight catch. They haven’t yet defined “college and career ready.”

“The Consortium also will establish performance benchmarks that define the level of content and skill mastery that marks students as college- and career-ready. These performance benchmarks will be determined through a deliberative and evidence-based standard-setting process, which will include input from K-12 educators and college and university faculty,” the website says. “Preliminary performance standards will be established in 2014 after student data have been collected through pilot and field testing. Following the Field Test in spring 2014, the Consortium will conduct standard setting for the summative assessments in grades 3-8 and grade 11 in ELA/literacy and mathematics. These performance standards will be validated in July/August 2015 using spring 2015 operational data.”

So basically the people who are pushing Common Core — Mssrs. Gates, Obama, Duncan et al, need our kids to be lab rats for this project, while their kids are safely ensconced in private schools, immune from such pedestrian concerns.

What does being an unpaid test subject for SBAC entail, exactly?

Sarah Darer Littman’s entire piece can be found at:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/the_brave_new_world_of_being_college_and_career_ready/

As Wait, What? readers know, Wendy and Sarah are playing the pivotal role in the battle against the corporate education reform industry and in the on-going effort to re-take control of our public education system.

Please take the time to read these two key commentary pieces.

Where Does Common Sense Fit Into Common Core? (By Barth Keck)

Earlier this week, Connecticut educator and CT Newsjunkie columnist Barth Keck published another important column about the problems associated with the Common Core and the utter failure in the way it is being implemented.

The Common Core fiasco was begun with President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind,” and continued under Barak Obama’s “Race to the Top.”  It has consistently had strong bi-partisan support from the “incumbent party” of Democratic and Republican elected and appointed officials.  The overall effort to create this monstrosity was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with hundreds of millions more coming from taxpayers via the federal and state governments.

In this week’s column, Barth Keck writes,

As we place more and more emphasis on computerized algorithms and Big Data to help us make Big Decisions, one question lingers: Where does common sense fit in?

The Hartford Courant’s Kathleen Megan recently reported that “new research shows that high school grades — not standardized tests — area much better predictor of college performance” for current high school juniors.

William C. Hiss, the principal investigator of the study, explains that good grades come from “long-term discipline, attention to detail, and doing your homework” — precisely the qualities needed for success in college.

As one of my colleagues quipped after reading Megan’s article, “I am completely surprised . . . said no teacher, ever.”

Put another way, isn’t this simply old-fashioned common sense?

Maybe so, but the current craving for more standardized testing in public education indicates a definitive lack of common sense.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 initiated this frenzy by requiring annual tests of all students in grades 3 through 8, and once in high school. Individual states were left to choose how to test their students.

By 2010, the future of standardized testing in schools became more complex through President Obama’s “Race to the Top” program in concert with the new Common Core State Standards.

“These new tests will be an absolute game-changer in public education,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the time. “They’ll be better, smarter assessments — the kind of tests our teachers want and our students need.”

Indeed, these “better, smarter assessments” are not your run-of-the-mill “bubble tests.” Instead, they are “adaptive tests” that automatically change as a test taker provides answers.

“Computer-adaptive assessments,” explains an Education Week article, “rely on complex algorithms to feed students questions targeted to their individual skill levels based on their prior responses. The more questions a student gets right, the harder the subsequent questions will be.”

Scheduled for official implementation by 2015, these adaptive tests sound much more individualized than the traditional standardized assessments. What could be so bad about that?

Ask the folks in Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. Their initial foray last year into these new tests was hardly reassuring.

“Thousands of students experienced slow loading times of test questions, students were closed out of testing in mid-answer, and some were unable to log in to the tests,” according to another Education Week piece. “Hundreds, if not thousands, of tests may be invalidated.”

Moreover, one school official in Oklahoma termed the testing problems as “absolutely horrible, in terms of kids being anxious. It was heartbreaking to watch them. Some of them were almost in tears.”

Thankfully, states have another year to get the situation straightened out. In Connecticut, students this spring will be taking a field test — a “test of the test” — to help work out the kinks.

“The Field Test is a trial run of the assessment system that helps ensure the assessments are valid, reliable, and fair for all students,” according to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the organization behind Common Core-aligned tests in 22 states.

“It also gives teachers and schools a chance to gauge their readiness in advance of the first operational assessment in spring 2015. Students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 — along with a small sample of students in grades 9 and 10 — will participate in the Field Test.”

For my school, that means three weeks of testing this spring — one each for 9th, 10th, and 11th graders — the results of which will be shared with neither the students nor the school. This spring’s test, after all, is testing the test, not the students.

College-bound juniors, no doubt, are thankful that their scores will count when they take the SAT around the same time they serve as guinea pigs for SBAC. You remember the SAT? It’s that other standardized test which research shows is a poor indicator of college performance.

Perhaps by next year, the algorithmically-enriched SBAC test will tell us if kids are — as the Common Core people would say — “college- and career-ready.”

Makes perfect sense to me — just not common sense.

You can read this column and Barth Keck’s other pieces at CT Newsjunkie

WNPR’s John Dankosky to host panel with real educators – Liz Natale and Ebony Murphy-Root

WNPR’s John Dankosky to host panel with hero teachers Liz Natale and Ebony Murphy-Root

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” – Buddha

Stefan Pryor and the corporate education reform industry should be worried because teacher’s voices will finally be heard when WNPR’s Where We Live will record and then broadcast a panel discussion with real teachers.

Here is the notice from WNPR:

Calling All Connecticut Teachers! Evening Panel Discussion With WNPR

Here’s the problem with covering education issues on Where We Live: We broadcast live at 9:00 am on weekdays. If you’re a middle school or high school teacher, you might know that time as second or third period.

Our discussions on education frequently lack one key voice: teachers. On February 25, we fix that. Join us for an evening panel discussion in WNPR’s building.

Liz Natale joins us, a West Hartford teacher who wrote a popular op-ed for The Hartford Courant in January called, “Why I Want To Give Up Teaching.”

Ebony Murphy-Root will also be on the panel. She is a lifelong Nutmegger and middle school humanities teacher on the faculty of a private school in New York City. She’s owned a home in Hartford since 2008 and has taught in the capital city. She recently wrote for EduShyster.com, “‘Did You Grow Up Around Black People?’ My Year Working for ‘America’s Most Trusted Educator.'”

What’s it like to be a Connecticut educator in 2014?

How do teachers think we can make schools better?

We want you to join us, too. The event is free, but please email Tucker Ives ([email protected]) to let him know if you plan to attend. There is plenty of parking available behind the building.

WHEN: February 25, 2014, 6:30 pm

WHERE: CPBN’s Learning Lab, 1049 Asylum Avenue in Hartford, 4th floor

Can’t make it? Follow us on Twitter at @wherewelive and join the conversation as it happens

People interested in attending should probably sign up soon since my guess is seats will fill up fast.

 

PBS/WNET took money for pension coverage, now check out the Gates Foundation and the Common Core

David Sirota’s recent series of investigative articles about the extraordinary conflict of interest displayed by the Public Broadcasting Service and WNET has sent shock-waves through across the country.

Sirota’s articles include;

The Wolf of Sesame Street responds to Pando – much bark, no bite, still stonewalling

The Wolf of Sesame Street: Revealing the secret corruption inside PBS’s news division

Why won’t PBS release details of its $3.5m deal with a billionaire? Here’s a possible answer.

BREAKING: PBS to return John Arnold’s $3.5 million, following Pando exposé

How PBS is becoming the Plutocratic Broadcasting Service

The articles revealed that the Public Broadcasting Service accepted $3.5 million from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to pay for a series called The Pension Peril.  John Arnold being the billionaire, former Enron trader.

The PBS series appeared to be slanted in such a way as to represent the conservative, anti-public employee sentiment of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

After Sirota’s story broke, PBS announced that it would return the money and hold off running any more episodes of the pension series.

Diane Ravitch and Jan Resseger, two of the country’s leading pro-public education advocates blogged about the story.  (Wait What? readers had a chance to read Resseger’s piece cross-posted at UPDATE: PBS sells out to Corporate Education Reform Industry?).

In a post today entitled, More on Conflicts of Interest When Philanthropists Sponsor the News, Jan Resseger observes:

“Attacks on public pensions are central to the corporate school deform agenda to lower salaries and reduce due process for teachers.  This is all part of the attack on teachers unions.  After all, if we economize by paying teachers less, have an easier time getting rid of those expensive older teachers, and deny teachers things like fringe benefits including pensions, we can all pay less taxes.

Make no mistake, this is central to the attack on the price we pay for being the civilized society we like to believe we are.”

But the relationship between the corporate education reform industry and elements of the public broadcasting community go much deeper than the Laura and John Arnold Foundation’s $3.5 million pay to play maneuver with PBS on pensions.

While the news about PBS and the pension series debacle is shocking, the relationship between public broadcasting and the Gates Foundation funded Common Core mouth piece known as The Teaching Chanel (Tch) is even more troubling.

Thanks to an email from a Wait, What? reader named Susan this morning and the earlier investigative work of Susan Ohanian; we can see that the corporate education reform industry’s manipulation of public broadcasting goes much, much deeper than the pension issue.

The Teaching Channel is one of the most vocal proponents of the Common Core.

According to its website, The Teaching Channel is “A video showcase—on the Internet and TV—of inspiring and effective teaching practices in America’s schools.”

“Teaching Channel Presents” is the title of the weekly broadcast television show that airs on public television stations across the nation. The series was created in 2011 and bills itself as “an unprecedented series that opens up classroom doors and showcases inspiring teaching across America.”

WNET Thirteen appears to be the lead station when it comes to airing “Teaching Channel Presents” on public television.

So who is the Teaching Channel?

The Teaching Channel’s Board of Directors is made up of Steve Arnold (Co-Founder and Venture Partner, Polaris Venture Partners),  Louise Henry Bryson (former chair of the J. Paul Getty Trust),  Lisa Gersh (former President and Chief Executive Officer of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.), Ted Mitchell (President and CEO, NewSchools Venture Fund) and Vicki Phillips (Director of Education, College Ready, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).

Over the past three years, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given the Teaching Channel over $20.2 million dollars.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is Teaching Channel’s primary funder.

In fact, in a bizarre twist, while the Teaching Channel reported to the IRS on their annual 990 report that they had received a total of $11.7 million in donations in 2011 and 2012, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation reported that they gave the Teaching Channel a total of $12.9 million during that time period.

Regardless, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is not only the single most important player behind the development and implementation of the Common Core, but along with the Walton Foundation and the Broad Foundation, Gates is among the most important funders of the entire corporate education reform industry.

And the relationship with public broadcasting?

The Teaching Channel’s 2012 IRS 990 filing reveals a $370,091 payment to none-other-than PBS’s WNET in New York.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

You can read Susan Ohanian’s October 3, 2012 piece about the Teaching Channel and the Gates Foundation in her article entitled, Gates Foundation Money at Work.

UPDATE: PBS sells out to Corporate Education Reform Industry?

News Update:  PBS is returning $3.5 million to former Enron trader John Arnold, in response to stories by investigative journalist David Sirota about a likely conflict of interest. Arnold was underwriting a series on pension reform, and Sirota warned that PBS was abandoning its impartiality because of Arnold’s strong views.

Of course, the money is being returned AFTER THE PBS HAS DEVELOPED THE SHOWS.

PBS Strategy appears to be… Conflict?  What conflict?

Here was the story before this late breaking news…

From fellow blogger Jan Resseger, a vital pro-public education voice at the national level;

Here is a quick weekend update on an important development about media coverage of issues connected to school reform. This time the topic is so-called news coverage of public pensions, the kind of pensions school teachers pay into throughout their careers.  Attacks on teachers’ fringe benefits including pensions are central to the political agenda of the corporate school deformers.

On Wednesday, David Sirota published an in depth investigation exposing that the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) sought out a $3.5 million grant from the John and Laura Arnold Foundation to sponsor a long running series that began last fall, “The Pension Peril.”  Sirota reported that PBS kept the grant a secret, never announcing the sponsor as the segments were aired.

Nobody mentioned that the series was being paid for by “former Enron trader John Arnold, a billionaire political powerbroker who is actively trying to shape the very pension policy that the series claims to be dispassionately covering…  Arnold has been using massive contributions to politicians, Super PACs, ballot initiative efforts, think tanks and local front groups to finance a nationwide political campaign aimed at slashing public employees’ retirement benefits.  His foundation which backs his efforts employs top Republican political operatives, including the former chief of staff to GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey (TX).  According to its own promotional materials, the Arnold Foundation is pushing lawmakers in states across the country ‘to stop promising a (retirement) benefit’ to public employees.”

In this instance Sirota’s exposure brought a happy ending.  Last night the NY Times reported, WNET to Return $3.5 Million Grant for Pension Series.  According to the newspaper’s report, “In the absence of the funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the project, called “Pension Peril,” will go on hiatus, although WNET will continue to report on the topic.”  PBS and WNET  claim they have discontinued the series “in order to eliminate any perception on the part of the public, our viewers and donors that the foundation’s interests influenced the editorial integrity of the reporting for this program.”

You can read David Sirota’s piece at:  http://pando.com/2014/02/12/the-wolf-of-sesame-street-revealing-the-secret-corruption-inside-pbss-news-division/