"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, November 20, 2017

KIPP Franchise Fees Worth $6,000,000 Annually to Execs

Few people know that the KIPP Foundation's home office in San Francisco collects an ongoing franchise fee of $30,000 per year from each of its 200+ schools. 

I know that $6,000,000 doesn't sound like a lot of money when we consider that KIPP schools collect over 600,000,000 public dollars each year to support KIPP's segregated and dehumanizing enterprises, but $6 million is almost enough to make payroll for the execs at the KIPP Foundation home office (and don't feel sorry for Mike Feinberg--he gets paid hundreds thousands more from KIPP Houston each year).  

Of course, $6 million would also pay salaries for librarians for all KIPP's 90,000 students, none of whom now have real libraries.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Indiana’s Sneaky SAT Agenda and the College Board

By Doug Martin 

In yet another sneak attack on Indiana public education and communities, the State Board of Education’s Graduation Pathways Panel, in a move to eliminate the abusive and redundant end-of-course assessments, “has recommended that students take the SAT, ACT or a similar college entrance exam instead” in order to finish high school, a move which would sit well with Hoosier Republican lawmaker and past Indiana State Board of Education member, Todd Huston, who is now Senior Vice President of State and District Partnerships at the College Board— the owner of SAT.   

The Graduation Pathways Panel is chaired by Byron Ernest, the state board of education member who recently resigned as leader of K12, Inc’s “beleaguered Hoosier Academies charter school network amid state sanctions due to years of failing academics.”

Concerning the SAT recommendation, the South Bend Tribune notes: “The change was introduced to the draft proposal less than a day before the panel voted to send it to the state Board of Education. While other parts of the plan have been available for public comment for weeks, few schools, teachers or families have been able to give input about the exam requirement change.” The State Board will vote next month on new graduation requirements, and state lawmakers “would then codify the plan in the 2018 session.” The new recommendations, if approved, will start with the class of 2023. 

Since the U.S. Department of Education has declared that “Indiana will no longer be able to include students who earn the general diploma in calculating school graduation rates,” 30 percent of those being special needs students, the State Board, actually, is adding another assault by proposing an exam which will weaken schools’ graduation passing rates and prime them for possible takeover by charter school operators. 

And then there’s Todd Huston and the College Board.  Huston, who has received $36,000 from the DeVos-Walton funded Hoosiers for Economic Growth PAC and $2,500 from Charter Schools USA, along with $1,000 from Michelle Rhee’s Students First PAC, was one of Al Hubbard’s “GOP Powerbrokers” who met privately years ago to hash out the Indiana school privatization plan before any laws were introduced.

Not only is Huston paid handsomely by the College Board—for which he is listed as a lobbyist in New York—raking in $325,433 in the period from July 1, 2013 to June 31, 2014, with $47,000 listed as additional compensation from the organization and other related organizations, he promotes Silicon Valley’s online future-of-schools agenda by convincing schools to use “the SAT Suite of Assessments to give students a chance to show their best work and get better results with tools like Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy®,”  a tool which now has the blessing of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, whose Zuckerberg Initiative, in partnership with the College Board, seeks to give “students in lower-income communities and rural areas greater access to college pathway advisors and SAT prep mediums like Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy. 

Huston and the College Board both accept edtech’s dream of a future education system where there are no school buildings, Huston telling the media a few years ago that “educators must remake the high school day to catch up with evolving technologies and methods.”  In 2016, unsurprisingly, K12 Management, the online corporation from Herndon, Virginia, handed Huston’s campaign $500.

Huston is also the past Indiana Charter School Board member who, after leaving his job as Tony Bennett’s chief of staff, went back to his old job with Cisco Systems.  Bennett, in turn, then used $1.7 million of state money to purchase video-conferencing equipment from Cisco which wasn't used.  Some of the equipment was never even delivered.
David Coleman, the leader of the College Board and the master behind the Bill Gates-funded Common Core, gave Huston $10,000 for his 2012 Indiana House campaign and Tony Bennett received $2,500 from Coleman the same year.  Coleman, in 2015,  made $742,278 for his role as the College Board CEO and a little over $155, 000 in other compensation from the organization and related organizations.        

Huston went to work for the College Board in October 2012 , and Lewis Ferebee, the Indianapolis Public Schools supt., has been a member of the College Board’s board of trustees since November 2015. 

In 2017, the College Board’s board of trustees was highly criticized by nonprofit governance experts for not doing anything to rein in “the College Board, which had about $77 million in annual profit and $916 million in revenue in 2015” and a whole slew of problems in 2016.  As Reuters notes in 2016, there were “cheating rings in Asia that exploit security weaknesses in the SAT and enable some students to gain unfair advantages on the exam.”  In 2016, a  “massive security breach” exposed around 400 questions “for upcoming SATs,” and College Board members knew that a redesigned test “was overloaded with wordy math questions, a problem that handicaps non-native English speakers and reinforces race and income disparities that Coleman has vowed to diminish.” Lloyd Thacker, from the Education Conservancy, asked “What is the mechanism that holds them accountable? I’m scratching my head.  There doesn’t seem to be a countervailing voice here at all.”  Reuters found that many trustees were sent an email in 2015 telling them not to do interviews with the news outlet concerning the SAT.  

In July 2017, San Diego's school board took legal action against the College Board “after the Advanced Placement tests of more than 500 of the city's high school students were declared invalid because their seats were too close together.”  The College Board didn’t notify Scripps Ranch High, where the test was given, about its new seating arrangement protocol, according to the school, “until two days before the testing.”

The College Board has a history of questionable practices.  In 2008, it settled with New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo’s office after an investigation found that the College Board was running a kickback scheme where “the College Board, which developed and marketed numerous products and services related to student financial assistance, gave significant discounts on those products and services to certain colleges which agreed to place the College Board's loans on their 'preferred lender' list. This effectively directed students towards loans that might not be the best or least expensive option for them."  The College Board “is no longer a lender,” for other unrelated reasons, “although it continues to provide financial aid advisement services to students,” ABC News wrote at the time.

The College Board, too, came under fire for not giving better oversight when a cheating scandal in New York in 2011 led lawmakers to ask questions, and in June 2015, a printing error which gave some SAT takers extra time to finish sections of the test involved 487,000 students. 
The College Board (and the makers of ACT) sell your children’s data freely.  As the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy’s Rachael Stickland and Leonie Haimson write, students, while taking the SAT, may be asked to hand over personal information (which may include social security number, “grade point average, religious affiliation, ethnicity, family income, interests, citizenship, disabilities  and more”) on an opt-in questionnaire and click a box which says they agree to be a part of the College Board’s Student Search Service. The College Board and ACT then sell some of the information to colleges and universities, which can use the data against students applying for admission.  

According to recent information on the College Board website, the social security numbers, disability information, grades, scores, and parental income are off limits, but POLITICO in 2014 wrote that these marketed "profiles can include information about the students’ grades and academic coursework — and also religion, ethnicity, citizenship status and expected need for financial aid in college. The ACT also lets customers filter student profiles by family income, parents’ education levels and student disabilities."  

POLITICO, in 2014, also noted that "the College Board did recently update its privacy policy, after Vice President John McGrath told POLITICO it might not have been clear to students exactly how much information is shared with third parties."

POLITICO also stated that a woman from Illinois sued both the College Board and ACT for selling her personal information, but the case was dropped when it was discovered that the woman "had never even taken a College Board exam".  

In 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago rejected another lawsuit against the College Board and ACT (which a federal judge had thrown out earlier) which sought damages for the selling of personal information which may have included "name, address, sex, birthdate, school, grade level, ethnic group, email address, and intended college major."  EdWeek summed up the verdict by writing that “The court said the plaintiffs could not show that the test organizations' profiting from their information deprived them of any economic value of that information.”
Although the College Board would not disclose how much it makes from such information, Stickland and Haimson, using POLITICO figures, estimate that “ACT’s profits generated from selling student profiles were approximately $15 million in 2012.”  The College Board, according to information on its website, now sells student personal information at 43 cents per name.

A lot of Indiana taxpayer money will be wasted on SAT fees, if this issue goes through.  According to Eric Weddle, the “state education department has estimated a $5 million cost for every high school student to take the SAT or ACT.”  Although the actual cost of the changes being proposed is unknown, “the panel avoided answering concerns from local districts about the fiscal impact.” Bob Behning “suggested state agencies would put together budget requests for the General Assembly if additional funds are required.” 

As Furman University education professor and researcher Paul Thomas writes concerning the SAT in South Carolina schools in his “New SAT, but same old problems” piece published on October 22 2017, “SAT average scores should never be used to rank schools, districts, or states in terms of academic quality; this caution, in fact, comes from the College Board itself.”  Regardless of what promoters say of the new and supposedly approved SAT, the research still shows that “High-stakes test scores are mostly markers for race, social class, and gender; and are in only small ways reflections of achievement. Most standardized test data are 60 percent or more correlated with factors outside the schools, teachers, and students,” Thomas writes.  Better yet, as Thomas sums up, “we need the political will to address crippling social issues related to food insecurity, stable work and housing, and healthcare, but we also need the political will to stop changing standards and tests every few years and, instead, confront directly the inequities of our schools (such as tracking and teacher assignments) that mirror the inequities of our communities.”

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Guess Who Celebrated Election Night With Trump | The Resistance with Kei...

Right-To-Work Billionaire Wins IPS’ Coca-Cola Property Deal


By Doug Martin 

 “I’m in a male-dominated industry.  They like to see deer running by with big antlers.”
                      Diane Hendricks, in reference to keeping a herd of deer on her 200-acre estate

“In a video shot on Jan. 18, 2011, days after Walker was sworn in as governor and shortly before he introduced his Act 10 bill ending collective bargaining rights for public sector workers,” billionaire Diane Hendricks, from Beloit, Wisconsin, asks the governor if there is “Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions....And become a right-to-work [state]?” She then adds, "What can we do to help you?"

Scott Walker replies “The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer... That opens the door once we do that.”

The owner of ABC Supply, “the largest wholesale distributor of roofing, windows, siding and gutter materials” with “715 stores across the United States”,  including four locations in Indianapolis, and many more in Terre Haute, Bloomington, Muncie, and other Indiana cities, Diane Hendricks, with a net worth of $4.9 billion, has given Scott Walker’s campaign at least $519,100, due to a fluke in Wisconsin law, which is more money than even the Koch Brothers have given Walker and more than any donor to a candidate in Wisconsin history.  The majority of this funding came after Hendricks' meeting with Walker captured on video.

Hendricks prides herself on breaking unions.

In 2014, she gave $1 million to Wisconsin Republicans to help move the right-to-work agenda forward.  With help from a Koch Brothers-affiliated group whose “website was registered by Kurt Luidhart of the Indiana-based ‘Prosper Group,’ a GOP digital media firm that Walker's campaign hired in 2014 to run his online fundraising”, it worked.

Walker followed in Mitch Daniels’ footsteps, eliminating public workers’ rights (which led to protestors taking over the state capitol for weeks) and eventually signing a right-to-work bill for private sector workers into law in 2015, the same year Hendricks, recently a member of the Trump campaign’s economic advisory team, handed $1 million to the Koch Brothers-backed Freedom Partners Action Fund in September 2015, “enough to make her one of its top eight donors”.

Hendricks also sits on the board of the Bradley Foundation, a school voucher-supporting and racist group I examine in Hoosier School Heist, and helped fund an anti-socialism/free market conference in Kohler, Wisconsin, where “the Bradley Foundation staff did the legwork” and Diane and Bradley’s Michael Grebe signed the invitation.

Diane Hendricks owns Hendricks Commercial Properties, the company buying the Indianapolis Public Schools’ Coca-Cola property, where the 1930’s Art Deco Coca-Cola bottling plant, once the largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in the world, sits and has been used recently for IPS bus upkeep.

Hendricks Commercial Properties competed with Strategic Capital Partners (highlighted in Hoosier School Heist), a charter school and gentrification organization with many political ties in Indianapolis.  Going under the name Mass Ave Partners, in partnership with Schmidt Associates, Gene Zink's Strategic Capital Partners offered IPS $17.5 million for the property.

In May 2016, however, the IPS board voted to sell the property, located on an 11-acre site in the Mass Ave. district, to Hendricks’ group for $12 million.

Hendrick's company’s $260 million development proposal is for a hotel, dinner movie theater, retail, apartments, and office space, among other things. Many opposed the plan, and the Chatham Arch Neighborhood Association’s president said it was “the worst of the proposals” for local residents.

In 2017, the City of Indianapolis said it was “prepared to commit up to $4.6 million to the downtown Bottleworks project,” the name given to the development by Hendricks Commercial Properties.  Diane Hendricks’ company also “is seeking $2.4 million in site work from the state”.  Hendricks Commercial Properties’ proposal has “68,000 square feet dedicated to day care and ‘other schooling options.’”

Will these "other schooling options" include charter schools?  Maybe even ones which partner with IPS?

The Hendricks Education Center, in Beloit, in the past has housed two charter schools which have partnered with the school district.  At a ceremony for the re-opening of the center in  2010 after renovation, Diane Hendricks was honored. “From the district perspective, we appreciate everything Diane and the Hendricks group has done in developing this marvelous facility,” uttered Milt Thompson, the School District of Beloit Superintendent.  “Today’s a chance for the public to see what charter schools are all about.  This is the first charter school in Beloit and that’s due to the efforts of the Hendricks family for their contributions.”