Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
I want to apologize to Schools Matter readers for my infrequent contributions. I thought once I graduated from law school and passed the most difficult bar examination in the country on my first attempt, that I'd have more time to write. Instead, in addition to my long-time day job, I now have an internship once a week at an education law firm, and I am teaching on Thursday nights at my law school. In a word — I'm swamped. However, I managed to piece together this twitter thread on Monday, that I thought was worth reposting here.
1/10 Researching for a case and came across a personal injury settlement between a charter school corporation in the Central Valley and multiple student plaintiffs for some $6-million+. The amount is on the low side considering the… #EdReform #SchoolChoice #EdChat @DianeRavitch— Robert D. Skeels, JD 🎏🇵🇸🔻 (@rdsathene) April 15, 2019
Researching for a case and came across a personal injury settlement between a charter school corporation in the Central Valley and multiple student plaintiffs for some $6-million+. The amount is on the low side considering the horrific injuries some of the students suffered.
It was the typical charter school money-making scam. They had a former employee form an unregistered and uninsured transportation company. The charter's Vice Principle provided one of their family's vehicles to that company. They paid themselves $6K a month from public money to operate a vehicle that had several defective seatbelts. Moreover, they consistently exceeded the vehicle's passenger capacity. Students had to share seats and some had to ride on the floor.
Struck by another vehicle traveling at high speed, the charter corporation's vehicle rolled multiple times and ejected several of the unrestrained students. The injuries were as bad as you could imagine them to be.
This was the inevitable result of putting public money into private hands. Because charter school corporations are privately managed with de minimis oversight, transparency, and accountability, they find ways to channel public revenue streams into their pockets, all the while cutting corners on students. Here, that cost cutting had drastic consequences that altered the lives of several students whose injuries were severe.
In this case it was a transportation company that the charter corporation created, but we've seen the same thing with Charter Management Organization real estate holding firms, and charter school side-companies like convicted felon and charter school mogul Refugio 'Ref' Rodriguez's Better 4 You Foods and Better 4 You Fundraising.
The diversion of public funds to private pockets doesn't stop at individual charter school corporations, as evidenced by their trade association—the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). CCSA sells its member charter schools products and services, paid for out of the public purse. One of them, which would later become known as CharterSafe, generated profits so lucrative, that large firms like Travelers and Gallagher & Co. partnered with them. Here's a quote from a CCSA executive:
"…generated 30% profit margins in subsequent years–with 20-30% lead generation and 20-50% close ratios."
The examples of charter corporation greed and self-dealing keep increasing. It's the inevitable result of putting public money into private hands.
As founders of a charter network, Parker and his wife cast themselves as philanthropists but schools paid them $800,000 in annual rent, contracted services to Parkers’ nonprofits and companies and hired Clark Parker for $575,000 to manage construction #CharterSchoolFail https://t.co/hm6GQo6FYB— Jeff Bryant (@jeffbcdm) April 16, 2019
Monday, April 15, 2019
So much lost. So much history, so much art, so much of the reality of the past going up in smoke. Tragic by any measure.
Now we must ask the question: what if we could have prevented that fire? Would we have done so? A stupid question, you snort, of course we would have done whatever was required to save this giant piece of our civilization.
And yet there is so much more of our civilization, our civilizations, that remain with us. Notre Dame, for all its grandeur, is a tiny thread in the vast tapestry of our collective cultures, histories, stories, lives.
Now listen: there is fire coming. We know it is coming, and we know when it is coming. There is no doubt about its coming. The tapestry will be burned, along with wall upon which it hangs. And the building that supports that wall, along with the surrounding city and countryside. All of it.
Now are you as sure that you would have acted to stop the burning of Notre Dame? Would you? Will you act to stop the burning of the world, all the art, the words, the works, the languages, the people and life itself?
Notre Dame's burning--how sad, how tragic, and how small in comparison to the conflagration that has been planned by us. Do we really care? Will we take action before the we see the flames on the horizon? Will we? For there will be no rebuilding.
Monday, April 08, 2019
Rosario Bonilla, a mother who lives next to proposed site said, “I’m excited we obtained the victory against KIPP that I know would have affected the lives of my children and my community. Also, I feel proud to say that billionaires can't teach our kids!”
KIPP, which is the United States’ largest charter school corporation, operates in multiple states. In Los Angeles, like many other cities, charter schools are promoted in poor working-class neighborhoods that are primarily Chicano and African American. With the backing of real estate billionaires like Eli Broad, they build new private charter schools that pull students from already existing public schools. As student enrollment from public schools declines, funding also declines, causing layoffs for teachers and support staff. Those jobs are almost always unionized, with good benefits. Charter schools are also a part of the wave of gentrification responsible for rent hikes, evictions and displacements. With a population of over 100,000 who reside in Boyle Heights, there are currently over a dozen charter schools. KIPP Charter Schools already have one school in Boyle Heights and three in East LA.
When word spread that KIPP was trying open up another school the community sprang into action. On January 4, Centro CSO supported a lawsuit filed by Boyle Heights Neighborhood Association and longtime activist and resident Carlos Montes. The lawsuit against KIPP Promesa and LA City was based on the environmental damage to the already existing bad conditions and failure to conduct an Environmental Impact Report.
Carlos Montes, of Centro CSO said, “The proposed mega-project would have an adverse impact by adding more pollution, traffic and noise to the already harmful conditions.”
Centro CSO, along with teachers from nearby schools like Breed St. Elementary and the groups like East LA Padres Contra Privatizacion, went to LA city hall and through the planning commission’s long process demanding they not build the new charter school. But the LA city council voted to approve the project, with the urging of Councilmember Jose Huizar.
KIPP also got letters of support from LAUSD Board member Monica Garcia, LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Maria Brenes of Inner City Struggle, which the community strongly criticized. Centro CSO led protests several times at the proposed site, demanding an end to privatization of public education.
In late January, Los Angeles teachers, overworked with huge classroom sizes, lack of support services, plagued with charter school co-locations and budget cuts went on a historic week-long strike. Over 30 thousand teachers fought against the attacks on public education, as more and more public funding went to private charter schools. The attacks were led by billionaires like Eli Broad, the Waltons of Wal-Mart and the Gates Foundation with their sellout lackeys on the LA school board like Monica Garcia and former board member and money-launderer Ref Rodriguez. During the strike, the United Teachers of Los Angeles led a protest on the headquarters of the California Charter Schools Association demanding a moratorium on charter schools within the district.
After the strike, teachers and parents in Boyle Heights continued the fight against privatization. They continued with protests, and on February 28 they went to KIPP Promesa offices demanding, “No new mega-KIPP!”
On the afternoon of April 4, at Mariachi Plaza, mothers, students and teachers of Boyle Heights and East LA announced the huge victory. Lupe Torres, an ELA resident, teacher and UTLA Chapter Chair at Marvin Avenue Elementary school, fired up the crowd, chanting “No mega KIPP!” CSO announced that the LA City Planning Department issued a termination letter on the proposed project.
Eloisa Galindo of Eastside Padres Contra Privatizacion said, “The people united will never be defeated! The power and money will never defeat people united!”
Carlos Cerdan, a teacher from nearby Breed Street Elementary said, “This win was a huge victory for the community. Centro CSO’s commitment to Boyle Heights is clear yet again, defeating a corporate charter behemoth. The fight doesn’t end here. We need to continue to inform and mobilize the community because privatizers are not going away easily. Charter schools serve to divide communities at an early age in order to destroy unity through false pretenses of choices. Schools not profits!”
This historic victory shows that the wave of charter schools can be stopped if communities stand up and fight back. Teachers, parents and community members will continue to struggle against co-locations and the invasion of private charter schools on the Eastside. Community leader Carlos Montes states, “This victory against KIPP will inspire others to fight back against privatization.”
New Zealand’s privacy commissioner is holding no punches in his criticism of Facebook in the wake of the deadly mosque shootings in Christchurch, part of which was livestreamed by the gunman on the social media platform.
Calling the tech giant “morally bankrupt pathological liars,” John Edwards said on Twitter on Sunday night that Facebook “cannot be trusted.”
The social media platform “enable[d] genocide” in Myanmar, Edwards tweeted, referring to Facebook’s role in inciting violence and promoting discrimination in the Southeast Asian nation, aimed particularly at the minority Rohingya people.
Facebook also facilitates “foreign undermining of democratic institutions,” and allows the livestreaming “of suicides, rapes, and murders,” Edwards continued, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Facebook leaders “continue to host and publish the mosque attack video, allow advertisers to target ‘Jew haters’ and other hateful market segments, and refuse to accept any responsibility for any content or harm. They #DontGiveAZuck,” Edwards concluded in a jibe aimed at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Friday, April 05, 2019
Wednesday, April 03, 2019
Bottom line: there is no future college benefit accruing from attending these hell schools:
A study from the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) obtained college enrollment and completion data for students who — more than a decade ago — entered lotteries to be admitted to 31 charter middle schools across the United States. College outcomes were compared for 1,723 randomly selected "lottery winners" and 1,150 randomly selected "lottery losers". The study found that being admitted to a charter middle school did not affect college outcomes. Also, there was not a consistent relationship between a charter school's impact on middle school achievement and the school's impact on college outcomes.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Included in the cuts are after-school programs and mental health services for America's poorest communities. Because the program previously have had so little money spread so thin, DeVos said, we may as well just kill the whole thing. After all, as Trumpian reason goes, if a most people are starving, we should go ahead and eliminate food for the ones that we're feeding.
If you're still uncertain about where the Trump/Devos ed budget registers on the inhumanity meter, it also zeroes out federal funding for Special Olympics. All of it. By the way, the entire $17.5 million federal commitment to Special Olympics would pay for 5 Trump trips to Mar-a-Lago.
We should prepare for more of this kind of brazen cruelty masked as fiscal responsibility. After all, this week, we saw, too, the opening salvos in a new war to be waged in the courts, this time, to take away health care away for millions of Americans and to allow insurance companies, once again, to make insurance unaffordable for those with pre-existing conditions. Does the Trump Party really believe that an effort to kill Obamacare will make its likely preservation the default choice among the populace, rather than the hugely popular option of Medicare-for-All? Probably.
Meanwhile, the spiriting away of the Mueller Report by Trump's AG has left much of the Resistance in a stunned whimper. I am wondering when Barr's well-choreographed castration attempt will register among the vast majority of citizens who we might have been expected to be marching on the White House for a lesser crime against justice just a week ago.
If you want a larger future that is not ruled by a smaller past, it's time to force all of that generalized disappointment and sadness into a righteous anger that the moral universe demands. The voting that culminates next year has to begin today. See below.
→ It would end protections for preexisting conditions.
→ It would end coverage for young people who’d otherwise be able to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.
→ It would end required coverage of preventive care -- like cancer screenings, vaccines, birth control, blood pressure tests and more.
Look, we know we don’t need to tell you what’s at stake -- you’ve been fighting this fight with us for the last two years. But, we’ve got three things we can do right now to beat back these latest Republican attempts to take away our healthcare, and we need your help. We’re making an urgent appeal to ensure our movement has everything it needs to respond in full force. So, if you’re ready to pitch in $5, $10, $25, or more to help fund this work, click here. Otherwise, read more about our plan below.
- Pressure House Democrats to use their oversight and investigatory power to hold the Trump administration accountable for their sabotage. Call them and demand that they ask the tough questions -- ask them what they’re doing about Trump’s attack on our health care right now.
- Keep calling to get your members of Congress to commit to building on the success of the ACA and lay the groundwork for a single-payer system. Yes, ask your representatives to cosponsor Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare For All Act (we’ve got a call script!), but go a step further. Demand your members of Congress lay the groundwork now for what comes next: that means holding hearings, hearing from experts, working through the policy debates, building consensus, and drafting legislation so that it’s ready when we take power. Your continued pressure can ensure that they do this.
- Organize, organize, organize to reverse the radical, conservative transformation of our judicial system (read: win in 2020). Right now, that means asking your senators to fight like hell to block additional Trump appointees to district and circuit courts. It also means knocking doors to take back power in the Senate and the White House to ensure that our district and federal courts are occupied by qualified judges dedicated to safeguarding our rights and promoting justice -- not advancing partisan political goals.
→ Rolling out a state-of-the-art membership management platform for Indivisible groups, allowing them to better engage with their members, organize their events, and build long-term power.
→ Putting the final touches on our new click to call tool to make it easier for people to get connected to their members of Congress and get the right information to make the most strategic ask with a single click of a button.
→ AND we’re planning major campaigns to double down on oversight efforts, protect communities under attack by the administration, and strengthen our democracy.