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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Deborah Gist the New Michelle Rhee?

Has Eli Broad found himself another front girl to replace the hapless and snarling Michelle Rhee as the face of corporate ed deform, one who this time around exhibits cheery charm and a sweet smile while sawing off the spurting limbs of public education?

The signs are there, with corporate hack Amanda Ripley recruited to do Time's bio blurb for another List of Top Somethings, the same Amanda Ripley who did Rhee's coronation article in Time a couple years back.

And, oh yes, Gist is an alum of Broad's own training camp for superintendents (Class of '08). And, oh yes, she is Frances Gallo's boss, who directed the Central Falls Massacre. From Ripley's brief gush:

. . . . Recently, the rest of the nation took note when a superintendent, acting with Gist's support, fired all of the teachers at one of the state's worst schools after they rejected a series of proposed reforms. In March, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and President Obama enraged the teachers' union by voicing support for the move.

So now Gist is caught in a familiar storm. But so far, she is navigating the tumult with grace — talking about teachers with the respect that comes from having been one, while still putting students' interests first.

Duncan To Find Another Texas Miracle Later Today, or Is That An Educational Derivative I Smell

The intrepid turner-arounder, Arne Duncan, will be in Houston today, the home of the first Texas Miracle that got all the edu-fun started 10 years ago when the miracle some years later turned to mirage as the media finally ferreted out the details of Rod Paige's inspired (by Wall Street) leadership and phony numbers game. By then, of course, Rod had made the big time in Washington, left his crooked path of destruction, and departed before the bad news got too bad, leaving Margaret Spellings in charge of the store.

This heads-up on the latest Houston mirage to be celebrated later today by the Secretary in search of a miracle comes from Texas Ed, who left this insightful comment at Bridging Differences (ht to Monty Neill):
This is slightly off-topic, but gets at some of the issues related to those currently in power. Sec Duncan is visiting a "turnaround" school in Houston this Friday. Houston ISD is touting Sam Houston High School as evidence that reconstitution is successful. Indeed, the school was closed under a low-performing rating and achieved recognized status two years later. Good for them, right? But wait--here is what REALLY happened.

The school was low-performing because too few African American students could pass the state math test. After the shuttering and re-opening of the school, the school was now two schools--one a 9th grade center and the other a 10-12 school. Formerly, the school was 9-12. When the school was split, the number of African American students was less than 30 in each school which, in Texas, is too small to be considered i the accountability ratings. Viola--the school is now acceptable even though the combined African American scores would have made the school low-performing.

Further, a new initiative called the Texas Projection Measure (TPM) was applied to increase the rating from acceptable to recognized. The TPM uses a statistical analysis to see if students who did not pass are on track to pass at the end of that level of schooling. So, in this case, 48% of the students passed under the old rules (which would have triggered a low-performing status), yet 68% "passed" using TPM. Now the school, is recognized.

But, under the old rules, the school would STILL be LOW-PERFORMING. This is the type of Enron smoke-and-mirrors that our CEOs leaders are using in education like they used in business to provide "evidence" that their theories work.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Non-Profit, or For-Profit?

Dennis Bakke and his Imagine Schools management organization have responded to Stephanie Strom's recent NY Times article with a letter posted on their website. As expected, Imagine denies any wrongdoing and accuses Strom of biased coverage.

And, once again, Imagine denies they're a for-profit company and - once again - claims they're really, really close to getting 501c3 status (seriously, they've been saying this for AGES).

It was back in 2005 that Dennis was interviewed by the Washington Business Journal. In the interview, Bakke claims, "And we're close to converting to nonprofit status." But Dennis followed up that line with an equally perplexing statement: "I spent 20 years telling Wall Street that profit is not God, and now I'll probably spend 20 years in education telling people it's not Satan, either." [Imagine is registered as a nonprofit in VA; they still lack the federal 501c3 status. They're also registered as a corporation in DE with 60,000 shares as of 2008]

How you can claim to be converting to nonprofit status and then follow up that claim by supporting for-profit education is rather perplexing.

Think Twice, or More, About Depending on Think Tank Research

Ideological bilges like the Manhattan Institute, Fordham Institute, Hoover Institute, Achieve, Inc., and the Walmart-sponsored group at the University of Arkansas under the tutelage of Dean Jay Greene have been pumping out their sludge for years as research to support education policy decisions that were already made by ideologues long before any research data was collected. A new book published by Information Age examines this phenomenon. The press release below (ht to Monty Neill).

EAST LANSING, Mi., (April 29, 2010) – A new book exposes the bias and inaccuracies of much of the education research that drives policy decisions in the United States. Think Tank Research Quality: Lessons for Policy Makers, the Media, and the Public removes the veil from research produced by private advocacy think tanks and offers an alarming look into how these flawed reports heavily influence education policy.

The book is based on the work of the Think Twice/Think Tank Review Project, a collaboration of the Education and Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University. It is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice and has published expert third party reviews of research reports published by those think tanks.

Think Tank Research Quality demonstrates the importance of those independent expert reviews. Taken together, the reviews reveal that think tank publications have clear patterns of misleading, flawed, and even deceptive research practices. Yet this think tank research often serves as the foundation for federal and state programs. As the nation moves forward with Race to the Top, as well as the current effort to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind law also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, this book provides a cautionary tale. Meeting a critical need, Think Tank Research Quality provides policy makers, the media and the public with valuable insight into the quality of the research used to support these and other reform initiatives.

Unfortunately, according to the project's co-director Kevin Welner, professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, "Across the nation, think tanks are churning out a steady stream of often low-quality reports that use weak research methods, offer biased analyses, and make recommendations that do not fit the data." "Moreover," explains co-director Alex Molnar, professor at Arizona State University, "in the political process, the influence of a report often has little relation to its quality. As a result, new school policies and reform proposals frequently are based on research of questionable value."

Early praise for Think Tank Research Quality:

"At a time when private think tanks seek to advance their ideological agendas through what is often shoddy research, this book is both a welcome corrective to and a reminder of the dangers of the misuse of data in significant educational policy debates," – Michael W. Apple, John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Democracy thrives when a nation insures itself of a well-informed populace. The Project helps our nation meet that goal by debunking bad social science, much of which emanates from the many highly partisan and well-funded think tanks that have developed over the last few decades. This book presents the best of the Project's reviews in a compelling indictment of think tank reports and their influence." – David Berliner, Regents' Professor at Arizona State University

Think Tank Research Quality, edited by Kevin Welner, Patricia H. Hinchey of Pennsylvania State University, Alex Molnar of Arizona State University, and independent researcher Don Weitzman, offers clearly written, jargon-free expert reviews of studies on topics such as vouchers, charter schools, and alternative teacher certification.

For more information on the book or the Think Twice/Think Tank Review Project, visit http://www.greatlakescenter.org.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Foundation $$$ + i3 = ???

From its very beginning, the i3 fund, a $650 million pot of cash set aside for competitive grants as part of the ARRA, was intended to be a public-private partnership between the Federal DOE and private philanthropy. The wording of the bill specifically states the i3 grants will only be given out to those able to secure matching funds.

Today it was announced that 12 major philanthropic donors - including the Gates Foundation and Walton Family Foundation - will put up $506 million in matching grants. It was hardly a surprise to see this formally announced; the Office of Innovation and Improvement, created under George W. Bush, was designed to operate like the various venture philanthropies.

From the AP:
Foundations offer $506M to match education grants

SEATTLE — A coalition of wealthy foundations is offering more than half a billion dollars to match federal grants meant to encourage education reform, taking the pressure off schools scrambling to find the matching dollars they need to get the money.

A dozen foundations plan to announce this week that they are investing $506 million in a matching fund for the $650 million federal government grant program, called Investing in Innovation.

The foundations also set up an Internet portal schools can use to apply for matching funds from all the foundations in one step, streamlining the task of seeking money from multiple sources. Schools have until May 12 to apply for the money, which will be paid out by the end of September.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he was ecstatic about the foundations' interest in the innovation program and called the partnership unprecedented.

"This is how we should be working together. This is how sectors should collaborate," Duncan said. "If this goes well, think of the possibilities going forward."

...

The group of foundations includes the Annie E. Casey Foundation; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Carnegie Corporation of New York; Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; Ford Foundation; John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Lumina Foundation; Robertson Foundation; The Wallace Foundation; Walton Family Foundation; William & Flora Hewlett Foundation; and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

More on this soon...

The President Asks for Our Help: We Ask the President to Stop Treating Us Like Idiots

Arne Duncan's federalized system of bribes called Race to the Top has all sorts of incentives for state education departments. It has incentives to develop constant data surveillance systems for both students and teachers, with tests to decide who gets to graduate, who gets rehired, who gets to move to the next grade, and which schools get needed cash. There are incentives, too, for the creation of unlimited numbers of the segregated corporate charter school test camps based on the Wall Street Model of Public Oversight, i. e. NONE. And, indeed, there are incentives for states and localities to dump their curriculum and standards into the trash in favor of a single nationalized curriculum and testing system based on the deep thinking of the MBAs, economists, and lawyers hired by the Business Roundtable to oversee the project.

Having entered and lost the first round of this Race to Serve the Oligarchs, many states and localities are balking at the thought of entering Round 2 of Judgment by the Plutocrats. By now all the states have figured out what Arne and Bill and Eli want--it's just a matter of who can craft the most morally irresponsible, pedagogically-suspect, and profession-damaging mode of getting there. In ed deform nomenclature, that's called Bold Planning.

Some states have pulled out of Arne's bribe game entirely, including Kansas, Indiana, Texas, and Alaska. Ohio is so desperate for local participation that it is using its own pathetic bribes to get LEAs to sign up for Round 2, with "the state . . . sweetening the pot . . . by guaranteeing a minimum of $100,000 to districts and $25,000 to charter schools - over four years." Could there be anything sadder!

So while Duncan, Gates, and Broad use bribes and extortion to circumvent the legislative process that was intended to make federal education policy, the nation's schools are on the brink of a nervous breakdown while losing up to 300,000 teachers in the coming Fall--that is, if developments in Greece do not trigger another worldwide economic Panic between now and then.

Meanwhile, the President, now running neck and neck in the polls with Ron Paul, tells us that he needs our help to save the Dems from a crushing defeat this coming November. Well, we need something from the President: we need him to stop treating us like idiots and to do something about education that would distinguish his approach from the past generations of failed reforms that preceded him and that are now being repackaged for, yet, another generation of failure. More corporate control and corporate welfare, test-and-punish child abuse, and anti-teacher policies are not the answers to the problem of renewing and strengthening the American public education system. So, Mr. President, let me respectfully remind you that when you get on the side of the people (the parents, students, and teachers) instead of the side of the billionaires, then the people will get on your side. Not until then. Only then. In the meantime, your Party be damned. It's just that simple.

And here are the People asking for the President's help--the children who, indeed, are looking for something a little more than the same "shitty deal" for education that Eli Broad, Walmart, and Bill Gates have in mind. From the New York Times:

It was a silent call to arms: an easy-to-overlook message urging New Jersey students to take a stand against the budget cuts that threaten class sizes and choices as well as after-school activities. But some 18,000 students accepted the invitation posted last month on Facebook, the social media site better known for publicizing parties and sporting events. And on Tuesday many of them — and many others — walked out of class in one of the largest grass-roots demonstrations to hit New Jersey in years.

The protest disrupted classroom routines and standardized testing in some of the state’s biggest and best-known school districts, offering a real-life civics lesson that unfolded on lawns, sidewalks, parking lots and football fields.

The mass walkouts were inspired by Michelle Ryan Lauto, an 18-year-old aspiring actress and a college freshman, and came a week after voters rejected 58 percent of school district budgets put to a vote across the state (not all districts have a direct budget vote).

“All I did was make a Facebook page,” said Ms. Lauto, who graduated last year from Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan, N.J. “Anyone who has an opinion could do that and have their opinion heard. I would love to see kids in high school step up and start their own protests and change things in their own way.”

At Columbia High School in Maplewood, that looked like 200 students marching around the building waving signs reading “We are the future” and “We love our teachers.”

In West Orange, a district that is considering laying off 84 employees, reducing busing, cutting back on music and art, and dropping sports teams, it was high school students rallying in the football stands.

At Montclair High School, it meant nearly half of the 1,900 students gathered outside the school in the morning, with some chanting, “No more budget cuts.”

In the largest showing, thousands of high school students in Newark marched past honking cars stuck in midday traffic to fill the steps of City Hall under the watchful gaze of dozens of police officers.

With their protests, the students sought to send a message to Gov. Christopher J. Christie, a Republican whose reductions in state aid to education had led many districts to cut staff and programs and to ask for larger-than-usual property tax increases. Mr. Christie, who has taken on the state’s largest teachers’ union in his efforts to close an $11 billion deficit, has proposed reducing direct aid to nearly 600 districts by an amount equal to up to 5 percent of each district’s operating budget.

“It feels like he is taking money from us, and we’re already poor,” said Johanna Pagan, 16, a sophomore at West Side High School in Newark, who feared her school would lose teachers and extracurricular programs because of the governor’s cuts. “The schools here have bad reputations, and we need aid and we need programs to develop.” . . . .


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Jersey Students Role Models for Civil Disobedience

New Jersey students exhibit the intensity, determination, and focus that should serve to inspire students nationwide. What 18 year old or what parent will organize a nationwide walkout and boycott of the tests? That will change the political rhetoric overnight. Video from Star Ledger.




Newark students walk out of school, take City Hall

Waltons and Broad to DC Schools: No Rhee, No Funding

You might say that the attempted corporate coercion of public institutions has just been kicked up a notch. If DC teachers are stupid enough to approve the contract put together for them by Walmart lawyers with its $65 million in corporate sweetener, then they are stuck with Broom Michelle for as long as the oligarchs want her as their boardroom conduit. Simply put: A vote for the contract is a vote to keep Rhee at least for 2 more years and the oligarchs in control.

From Bill Turque at WaPo:

By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 27, 2010; 5:19 PM

Private foundations pledging $64.5 million for raises and bonuses in the District's proposed contract with the Washington Teachers' Union have attached a series of conditions to the grants, including the right to reconsider their support if there is a change in the leadership of the D.C. school system.

The leadership condition, set by the Walton Family Foundation, the Robertson Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Broad Foundation, makes it clear that they could withdraw their financial support if Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee leaves or is fired through the funding agreement's expiration in 2012.

"Implementing this contract will require significant support and leadership from DCPS' executive leadership," wrote Buddy D. Philpot, executive director of the Walton Family Foundation, in a March 17 letter to the D.C. Public Education Fund, the nonprofit group that coordinates private donations to the school system. "As such, the Foundation reserves the right to discontinue support for this initiative if there is a material change in DCPS' leadership."

Walton is the largest single donor to the contract, promising $25 million. Robertson has pledged $19.5 million; Arnold and Broad have pledged $10 million each.. . . .

And from the letter itself (click to enlarge).


Support the Courage of New Jersery High School Students As They March to Save Public Education

Tens of thousands of high school students are marching and protesting this morning to save their schools from the axe wielded by New Jersey's conservative governor. As Christie works to slash the most important public service in the state, he "has refused to renew the so-called millionaires’ income tax, which applies to incomes over $400,000."

From the Star-Ledger:
Thousands of New Jersey high school students are expected to walk out of classes today to protest education cuts proposed by Gov. Chris Christie.

"A lot of things are being cut, like clubs and after school activities," said Kathi Lloyd, a senior at Newark's University High School. "A lot of kids come to school for the clubs and if they cut those, school is really boring for them."

Lloyd, 17, joined thousands of fellow New Jersey students on Facebook, where the protest was first organized. According to the site, more than 16,000 students plan to leave school between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Students from seven high schools in Newark are expected to walk out at 1 p.m. and march to the school board building at 2 Cedar St. to protest cuts in after school programs and layoffs. Students from around the state are expected to participate in similar marches throughout the day.

The protests were initiated by Michelle Ryan Lauto, an 18-year-old college student who spent her high school years in Bergen County. Lauto, said she set up a Facebook event page about a month ago encouraging the walkouts.

By Monday evening, more than 16,000 people said they’d be participating — a number that was rising by hundreds every few hours.

“It’s insane,” she said of the interest. “I mean, I’m very excited.” Lauto has family members who will be affected by the cuts but said her aim was to show that students were genuinely concerned for the welfare of their schools.

“I think there’s this general stereotype about high schoolers being very apathetic,” she said. “We’re the ones that are going to be affected by this. So we have to show we don’t like what’s being done.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Does access to books mitigate the effects of poverty on reading achievement?

Does access to books mitigate the effects of poverty on reading achievement? A third study.

Schubert, F. and Becker, R. 2010. Social inequality of reading literacy:
A longitudinal analysis with cross-sectional data of PIRLS 2001and PISA 2000 utilizing the pair wise matching procedure. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 29:109-133.

Schubert and Becker (2010) matched nearly 3000 children in Germany with similar backgrounds and examined their performance on the 2001 PIRLS test (given at age 9 or 10), the 2000 PISA test (given age 15) and on their parents' estimation of their literacy level before starting school.

The home print environment was a strong predictor of reading achievement, even when income, parental education, aspects of schooling, language used at home, and other aspects of the home environment were controlled. This was the case at age 15 and also at age 10 in Germany. The home print environment was about as strong a predictor as SES.

This is the third recent study that shows that access to books is as strong a predictor of reading ability as poverty.

The others:

Achterman, D. 2008. Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California. PhD dissertation, University of North Texas. http://digital.library.unt.edu/permalink/meta-dc-9800:1
Krashen, S., Lee, SY, and McQuillan, J. 2010. An analysis of the PIRLS (2006) data: Can the school library reduce the effect of poverty on reading achievement? CSLA Journal, in press. California School Library Association.

US DOE Office of Inspector General: Charter School Fraud and Embezzlement Update

Click page to enlarge. Truly inspired by Wall Street banksters and casino capitalists. Download report here.

School For Sale!

Now that a major news outlet has finally paid attention to the business practices of Dennis Bakke and his management company (with a well-deserved round of applause for Stephanie Strom), reporters and school districts may begin to more carefully scrutinize the company's dealings.

Someone in Arizona might want to keep their eyes on an Imagine School currently listed for sale in Sierra Vista. The asking price is $6.3 million, with 5 years left on the lease. The listing also claims Imagine makes $456,968/year in income from the tenant (Imagine School at Sierra Vista). Here's a PDF flier about the property.

I haven't been able to track down additional financial information about this particular school. Like quite a few other Imagine-run schools, Sierra Vista does not have a 990 tax form readily available online (even though it's been around since 2002). Without more information, it's hard to say if the occupancy fee is steep; right now, it's at about $1,050/kid/year (they have 435 students). Shoot me an e-mail or post a comment below if you have more info.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Virginia Demands More Failure from Disabled: Cancels Portfolio Assessments

From WaPo:

Virginia education leaders moved this week to introduce a standardized test for students with disabilities and phase out a widely used alternative that many officials say is undermining the state's accountability system.

The modified multiple-choice test is expected to be more objective than the flexible, portfolio-style exam that thousands of students in Northern Virginia are assessed with now. The online test will be implemented statewide in the 2011-12 school year in math and the following year in reading. A small sample of schools will try it this spring.

Critics have charged that the portfolio test inflates passing rates and obscures data the public relies on to understand gaps in student achievement. This winter the Virginia General Assembly approved a law to phase out the portfolio "as soon as is feasible."

This "is the first step in carrying out the will of the General Assembly and addressing my own concerns about overuse and misuse of the VGLA," Virginia's superintendent for public instruction, Patricia I. Wright, said in a statement, referring to the Virginia Grade Level Alternative, or portfolio test.

The number of portfolios given in Virginia more than doubled, to 47,000, in the past three years. One in five students with disabilities in grades three to eight was assessed with a portfolio in reading and math in the 2008-09 school year.

The test was originally meant for a small number of special-education students who learn grade-level material but cannot show what they know on a multiple-choice test. Many parents and analysts say that unclear criteria helped the numbers grow, as did the federal government's approval of the reading test in 2007 for use by non-native English speakers just beginning to learn the language.

Portfolios are essentially binders of student work, including quizzes, worksheets and other activities that demonstrate comprehension of each part of the required curriculum. Teachers spend hours compiling them each year.

Some educators say the individualized tests strengthen instruction for students with disabilities because they hold teachers accountable for showing that the youngsters understand a whole year's material.

But average passing rates for portfolios have exceeded those for multiple-choice tests in recent years, causing confusion and concern over why students with the greatest learning challenges were performing the best.. . .


Wall Street: Massively Fraudulent Sociopaths

Here's the link to the Bill Moyers interview with Bill Black. It runs about 25 minutes. Here is a clip:

. . . BILL MOYERS: Why did it take so long for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the SEC, to kick into gear on this? I mean, have they kicked into gear?

WILLIAM K. BLACK Well, they haven't kicked into gear fully, or they'd be naming Blankfein and other senior leaders of Goldman. And they've, as you just mentioned, they've only gone after a junior person. And there would be, if they were really in gear, there would be criminal charges here. And if they were really in gear, there'd be a broad investigation, not just of Goldman, but of all of these major entities.

In the last three weeks, we have finally done a half-baked investigation, mind you. Not -- nothing like we did in the Savings & Loan days -- of Washington Mutual (WaMu), Citicorp, Lehman, and Goldman. And we have found strong evidence of fraud at all four places.

And we have looked previously at Fannie and Freddie and found the same thing. So the only six places we've looked, at really elite institutions, we've found strong evidence of fraud. So where are the other investigations? Why are there no arrests? Why are there no convictions?

BILL MOYERS: Well, Bill, where are the other investigations? Why have there been no arrests? Why have there been no convictions?

WILLIAM K. BLACK Because we have still Bush's wrecking crew in charge of the key regulatory agencies. Why are they still in place? They have abysmal records as major causes of this crisis.

BILL MOYERS: You talk about the Bush appointees still being there, but Goldman's former lobbyist, his treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner's chief of staff, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler, who may soon have new power over derivatives, worked for Goldman.

So did the deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, the under Secretary of State is a former Goldman employee. Goldman's hired Barack Obama's recent chief counsel from the White House on his defense team. I mean--

WILLIAM K. BLACK Don't forget Rubin.

BILL MOYERS: Robert Rubin, whose influence is all over the place, who used to be--

WILLIAM K. BLACK It's his prot�g�s that are in charge of economic policy, under Obama.

BILL MOYERS: So is this administration, which still has some Bush holdovers in it, and now has a lot of Goldman people in it, is this administration going to be able to pass judgment on Goldman Sachs?

WILLIAM K. BLACK Well, so far, they haven't been able to do it. They can't even get themselves to use the word fraud.

There's a huge part that is economic ideology. And neoclassical economists don't believe that fraud can exist. I mean, they just flat out -- the leading textbook in corporate law from law and economics perspective by Easterbrook and Fischel, says -- I'll get pretty close to exact quotation. "A rule against fraud is neither necessary nor particularly important." Right?

Notice how extreme that statement is. We don't need laws. We don't need an FBI. We don't need a justice department. We don't even need rules like the SEC. The markets cleanse themselves automatically and prevent all frauds. This is a spectacularly na�ve thing. There is enormous ideological content. And it fits with class. And it fits with political contributions.

Do you want to look at these seemingly respectable huge financial institutions, which are your leading political contributors as crooks?

BILL MOYERS: TheHill.com website says Goldman Sachs is uniquely positioned to fight this case, that it spent $18 million over the last decade lobbying members of Congress, and put millions more in their campaigns. I mean, you've said elsewhere. That's smart business, right, to invest in the politicians who are going to be investigating you?

WILLIAM K. BLACK I would tell you, the Savings & Loan crisis, our phrase was, "The highest return on assets is always a political contribution."

BILL MOYERS: Well, all right. You're a member of Congress. The Supreme Court has said, "Goldman Sachs can spend all it wants in November to defeat you." Are you going to take them on?

WILLIAM K. BLACK Absolutely, but I would never be elected to Congress because of that. So let me -- in terms of that Supreme Court decision, if corporations are going to be just like people, let me tell you my criminologist hat. Then let's use the three strike laws against them. Three strike laws, you go to prison for life, if you have three felonies. How many of these major corporations would still be allowed to exist, if we were to use the three strike laws, given what they've been convicted of in the past?

And in most states, they remove your civil rights when you're convicted of a felony. Well, let's take away their right to make political contributions that they're found guilty of a violation.

BILL MOYERS: Bill, are you describing a political culture, that is criminogenic?

WILLIAM K. BLACK It's deeply criminogenic. And this ideology that both parties are dominated by that says, "No, big corporations wouldn't cheat. Fraud can't happen. Market's automatically excluded," is insane. We now have the entitlement generation as CEOs. They just plain feel entitled to being wealthy as Croesus with no responsibility, no accountability. They have become literal sociopaths. So one of the things is, you clean up business schools, which right now are fraud factories at the senior levels, right?

They create the new monsters that take control and destroy massive enterprises and cause global economic crises, cause the great recession. And very, very close to causing the second Great Depression. We just barely missed that. And there's no assurance that we've missed it five years out.

BILL MOYERS: This brings us back to what the president said this week. He said the crisis was born of a failure of responsibility from Wall Street to Washington. You've just described that. That brought down many of the world's largest financial firms and nearly dragged our economy into a second Great Depression. But he didn't name names. He doesn't say who specifically was responsible. You have. But the president doesn't name names.

WILLIAM K. BLACK No, and one of the most important things a president has is the bully pulpit. We have not heard speeches by the president demanding that the frauds go to prison. We have not heard speeches from the attorney general of the United States of America, Eric Holder. Indeed, we haven't heard anything. It's like Sherlock Holmes, the dog that didn't bark. And that's the dog that is supposed to be our guard dog. It must bark. And it must have teeth, not just bark.

BILL MOYERS: Bill Black, thank you for being back on the Journal.

WILLIAM K. BLACK Thank you.

"The Cartel" Concludes Public Schools Greater Threat Than Terrorists

If there is any narrative the Boston Globe loves to push more than charter schools and corporate education deform, it would be someone who truly hates public education and public school teachers as much as the Boston Globe. A new corporate propaganda fear film entitled "The Cartel" fills the bill on both counts, and the Globe's drooling hyperbolic review by Brian MacQuarrie reads like an Eli Broad playtime fantasy:

When “The Cartel’’ opens Friday in the Boston area, it will take aim at what its creator calls the most important story in the country, one that the last person featured in his 90-minute documentary says is a greater threat to American civilization than terrorism.

It’s not the implosion of the financial system, the runaway national debt, or ideology-driven paralysis in Washington. The threat, instead, is the state of the nation’s public schools, and the powerful teacher unions that “The Cartel’’ believes are sabotaging the future.

It’s a subject that is familiar to countless parents, public officials, and even casual observers of the sausage-making of municipal government. But in “The Cartel,’’ a debut film by former television reporter Bob Bowdon, the causes and consequences of the failings of public education are chronicled in extraordinary detail.

Hideously low test scores in reading and math. Impenetrable obstacles to removing poor teachers. Insidious corruption and the related waste of massive amounts of taxpayer money. All this toxic fallout, Bowdon says, is the byproduct of an American education system that leads the world in per-pupil spending, yet lags many countries in performance.

The result, according to “The Cartel,’’ will be a national train wreck engineered by a woefully unprepared workforce. For Bowdon, who says he became bored reciting earnings reports on Bloomberg Television, “it struck me that this issue needed the long-form kind of treatment that a documentary could provide.’’

“The Cartel,’’ however, is more than a treatment. It’s a full-frontal assault, almost three years in the making, on the teacher unions and administrators whom Bowdon sees as stubborn stranglers of innovation. In his view, tenure often trumps learning, and the amalgamation of power can be a union’s top priority. . . .
So as the Wall Street banksters and casino capitalists have driven the American and world economies into the crapper, there is no more pressing diversion, it would seem, than to blame the teachers and the schools once again for failures of an economic system based on intermittent grand larceny and fraud by the managers of that economic system. From reading this review, however, we might conclude that unions are the reason for the national bankruptcy and for hundreds of thousands of teachers losing their jobs this coming fall, as class sizes become larger and more prescription drugs are ordered up to maintain student control.

Meanwhile, the systemically corrupt cartel that exported all the jobs, arranged the economic meltdown, collected the billions in bailouts, foreclosed on all the mortgages, and reclaimed all the properties remains in charge of the ramped up corporate ed reforms aimed now at turning dwindling public school expenditures into just another corporate revenue stream. And never mind that the "reform" represents, yet, one more generation of the same test and punish tactics that have brought American schools to brink of a nervous breakdown with not even improved test scores to recommend another round of the same treatment.

I like the Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge, but I hope teachers will out in force with picket signs when this piece of corporate progaganda opens on April 30.

Colorado's SB 191

With lots of attention being paid to the Perkins hearings, the Florida SB6 fiasco, and Duncan's "Race to Nowhere," a merit-pay bill in Colorado is slowly working it's way through the legislature. The Senate Education Committee on Friday passed Senate Bill 191 and will now head to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill has support from a number of groups - the Colorado branch of Democrats for Education Reform; the state's branch of Stand For Children; Education Reform Now; Colorado League of Charter Schools; and various other groups (some with good intentions, but misled into believing this will somehow improve public education).

The bill, "Ensuring Quality Instruction Through Educator Effectiveness" (EQuITEE) proposes using an evaluation system that would "provide a basis for making decisions in the areas of hiring, compensation, promotion, assignment, professional development, earning and retaining nonprobationary status, dismissal, and nonrenewal of contract." Here's the bit about these new evaluations:
Every teacher is evaluated using multiple, fair, transparent, timely, rigorous, and valid methods. The recommendations developed pursuant to this subparagraph (I) shall require that at least fifty percent of the evaluation is determined by the academic growth of the teacher's students and that each teacher is provided with an opportunity to improve his or her evaluation and level of effectiveness to professional development opportunities. The multiple measures to determine effectiveness of teachers shall include, but not be limited to, measures of student longitudinal academic growth that are consistent with the measures set forth in section 22-11-204 (2) and achievement levels on any statewide assessment in the relevant subject and grade level or any locally adopted interim assessments approved by the state board to assess student academic growth in the relevant subject and grade level.
Teachers gain nonprobation status with 3 years of "demonstrated effectiveness" and lose it based on two years of "demonstrated ineffectiveness".

But it's not just teachers that will be evaluated with this system. Principals, too, will be even more test-driven now that a full 2/3 of their evaluation will be based on some form of test scores (or the effectiveness of their teachers, also measured mostly by test scores):
Every principal shall be evaluated using multiple fair, transparent, timely, rigorous, and valid methods. The recommendations developed pursuant to this subjection (7) shall require that at least sixty-six percent of the evaluation is determined by a combination of the academic growth of the students enrolled in the principal's school and the demonstrated effectiveness of the teachers in the principal's school.
It's possible for local districts to use their own assessments instead of the state-wide standardized versions, but high-quality tests are difficult and expensive to produce - and it's not like Colorado (or any other state, for that matter) has extra funding to spend on developing better tests (not to mention the extra expenses it'd take to administer high quality tests instead of simply the multiple choice variety).

And here's a bit of a puzzle:
"The three consecutive school years of demonstrated effectiveness and continuos employment required for the probationary period shall not be deemed to be interrupted by the acceptance of a probationary teacher of the position of chief administrative officer in said school district, but the period of time during which such teacher serves in such capacity shall not be included in computing said probationary period."
If I'm reading this correctly, a probationary teacher can become a chief administrative officer without having the three consecutive years required to earn the new tenure-but-not-tenure status. I don't know exactly what they mean by "chief administrative officer" - is that a legal definition of "principal"? - or is SB 191 making an exception for young teachers to skyrocket to high-up positions within a district? I don't get it. Then again, I don't understand the rest of this bill either.

Colorado parents and teachers can fight back, of course, as this bill is not yet up for a vote. They should look to their peers in Florida who effectively organized against SB6. The Colorado Education Association lays out their concerns here.

Submitted to Science

Submitted to Science
Taylor et. al. (Science vol 328, April 23) compared identical twins in different classes in grades 1 and 2. The twin in a class that made better gains on a reading test made better gains than the co-twin in the other class. This shows, the researchers claim, that instruction is a stronger force than genetics for learning to read.
The reading test asked children to pronounce texts rapidly and accurately, without necessarily understanding them. Reading is about comprehension, not pronunciation. Prof. Elaine Garan (2001, Phi Delta Kappan 82(7), 500-506) has shown that the kind of reading instruction that is aimed at improving pronunciation without understanding does not help children much on tests in which they have to understand what they read.
Reading is about understanding, not pronouncing. The Taylor et. al. study does not tell us much about reading.
Stephen Krashen

Reading is about understanding, not pronouncing

Sent to the New York Times, April 24
Reading is about understanding, not pronouncing

A Florida State study of twins in grades 1 and 2 claimed that "Better Teachers Help Children Read Faster" (April 22).

"Better teachers" were those whose students gained more on a test of pronouncing texts rapidly and accurately, without necessarily understanding them. Instruction that prepares students for these kinds of tests consists largely of intensive, heavy phonics. Prof. Elaine Garan of California State University Fresno has shown that heavy phonics will result in better performance on tests of "decoding" (pronouncing words) but has little influence on tests requiring children to understand what they read. Performance on tests of reading comprehension is related the amount children read, not heavy phonics instruction.

Teaching children to pronounce words quickly does not mean teaching them to understand what they read. And understanding what reading is all about.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Sources:

Florida State study:
Taylor, J., Roehrig, A., Soden Hensler, C, Conner, M. and Schatscheider, C. 2010. Science 23: 512-514.

Little influence on tests that require understanding:
Garan, E. 2001. Beyond the smoke and mirrors: A critique of the National Reading Panel report on phonics. Phi Delta Kappan 82(7), 500-506.
Krashen, S. 2009. Does intensive reading instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37(4), 72-74.

Related to the amount children read:
Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Portsmouth: Heinemann and Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

Original article:
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/04/22/us/AP-US-Learning-to-Read.html

Saturday, April 24, 2010

New Jersey Students Plan Statewide Walkout

Hey, guess what. Students like their school libraries, teachers, sports teams, school nurses and guidance counselors. So students in New Jersey are planning a statewide walkout to protest the cuts to the state education budget, which have created havoc across the Garden State.


The students are mobilizing via Facebook, and thousands have already signed up to support the walkout. Offer these students your support by going to their site. This is the kind of organized action that will get results, so let this kind of action spread across the nation.

When students stop going to these dumbed-down test factories run by corporations, maybe the pols in Trenton and Washington will begin to get the message. ht to Stan Karp.

NJ students plan statewide walkout Tuesday

By LESLIE BRODY The Record

04/23/2010

A Facebook page encouraging New Jersey students to cut class Tuesday to rally against state aid reductions has more than 13,000 signed up to participate.

The page, called "Protest NJ Education Cuts – State Wide School Walk Out," exhorts students – with incorrect spelling at times — to express their outrage against state funding cuts. The event was launched before voters rejected most school budgets on Tuesday, but after Governor Christie announced he was freezing aid promised to districts this year and cutting $820 million for fiscal 2011. Christie says the cuts are necessary to close an $11 billion state budget gap.

"This is one of the most serious things to ever happen in the state of New Jersey," the Facebook page says. "The only potential for change lies in the students. The youth who will be effected [sic] by all these cuts need to rise up and do something."

Students from Hackensack High School, Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, Academies@Englewood and Rutgers University are among those who pledged to join the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. walkout.

The Christie administration has insisted students belong in class and accused teachers of staging a recent student walkout in Cliffside Park. On Friday, New Jersey Education Association spokesman Stephen Wollmer echoed the view that students should stay in school.

"We do not endorse a student walkout," Wollmer said. "It would be totally inappropriate for any educator to endorse a student walkout. This just illustrates the power of social network sites."


Englewood schools Superintendent Richard Segall, however, said he was happy students were getting involved in politics and exercising their civil right to criticize budget cuts that would hurt them. "If they're doing it peacefully, within the law, and targeting their protest with a purpose, it shows somebody is educating them properly," he said.

Segall said students would suffer the consequences, however, if they failed to hand in assignments, for example, or missed an 18th class. A student cannot get credit for a course after 18 absences. Civil disobedience often required sacrifice, he said: "If we give them a free pass, they have suffered nothing … and that doesn't teach them anything."

Students listed on the Facebook page and its creator did not respond immediately to requests for comment. It is unclear how many will actually participate. Those signed up by Friday represent only a small fraction of the state's 1.4 million public school students.

Hearings on Charter Schools in NY Focus on Corruption

Valerie Strauss at WaPo has posted Diane Ravitch's testimony yesterday before the hearing called by State Senator, Bill Perkins. And while Ravitch provides good facts within her thumbnail history, she misses three crucial points that have to be considered in assessing any program receiving public dollars:

1) Charter schools operate without public oversight and are anti-democratic. Teachers, parents, and children are subjected to the will of a corporate CEO (non-profit or for-profit) and a hand-picked Board that is chosen for its capacity to rubber stamp CEO decisions.

2) Charter schools have a documented segregative effect on communities, a fact that has been documented by two recent studies (press release page here and here) and thoroughly ignored by everyone from Diane Ravitch to Arne Duncan.

3) Charter schools seek to destroy public education and replace it with a deregulated form of corporate welfare that will make our schools worse than they are now (see Wall Street).

With that, here's a clip from Ravitch's comments:

Mr. Perkins, you must be a very dangerous and powerful man. Yesterday the tabloids were filled with editorials and articles denouncing you for holding hearings about charter schools; today, there are even more.

If charters are public schools and receive public money, why should they object to oversight hearings by a legally constituted body of the New York State Senate?

I am a historian of education, so allow me to provide a brief overview of the origin of charter schools.

Charter schools were first envisioned in 1988 by two men who didn’t know one another. Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, had the idea, as did Professor Ray Budde of the University of Massachusetts.

Both of them thought that public school teachers could get permission from local authorities to open a small experimental school and then focus on the neediest students. The school would recruit students who had dropped out and who were likely to drop out. It would seek new ways to motivate the most challenging students and bring whatever lessons they learned back to public schools, to make them better able to educate these youngsters.

The original vision of charter schools was that they would help strengthen public schools, not compete with them.

By 1993, Shanker turned against his own idea. He concluded that charter schools had turned into a form of privatization that was not materially different from vouchers. From then until his death in 1996, he lumped vouchers and charters together as a threat to public education and a distraction from real school reform.

Today, there are 5,000 charter schools with 1.5 million students. This is 3% of the nation’s public school enrollment of 50 million. In New York City, charters enroll 30,000 students, or about 3% of the city’s enrollment of 1.1 million.

Charters vary widely in quality.

Last year a national evaluation by Margaret Raymond of Stanford University (including data from 2,403 charters and 70 percent of all charter students) found that only 17% outperformed regular public schools; that 46% had learning gains no different from regular public schools; and that 37% had gains that were worse than regular public schools.

Raymond concluded, “This study reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well as their TPS [traditional public school] counterparts. Further, tremendous variation in academic quality among charters is the norm, not the exception. The problem of quality is the most pressing issue that charter schools face.”

She went on to say that “If this study shows anything, it shows that we’ve got a two-to-one margin of bad charters to good charters.”

When Raymond studied New York City charters last year, she found a better record, but it was still a mixed record. She compared charters to regular public schools and concluded that 51% of charters got significant gains in math, while only 29% outperformed regular public schools in reading.

Conversely, 49% of New York City’s charter schools did not outperform regular public schools in math, and 71% produced no significant gains in reading. She also reported that students who were either special education or English language learners made no significant gains in New York City charter schools, nor did students who had previously been held back a grade.

She did not point out in her study that New York City’s charters have a smaller proportion of students in special education and students with limited English proficiency than the neighborhood public schools.

New York City has 50,000 homeless students, but only about 100 are enrolled in a charter school. If a proportionate number were in charters, there would be 1,500, not 100. In East New York, where there are nine homeless shelters, there is a successful charter that enrolls not a single homeless student.

We have to abandon the naïve belief that charters are a panacea for education; they are not. Since 2003, charter schools have been compared to regular public schools by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, the federal testing program.

In 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009, NAEP found no significant difference between students in charter schools and students in regular public schools. No significant difference for black students, Hispanic students, low-income students, or students in urban districts. Like Margaret Raymond’s study, NAEP shows that charters, in the aggregate, do not outperform regular public schools.

Some charters are as idealistic as the original vision, but many others now see themselves as competition for public schools. They want to take over public school space and replace public schools. They revel in stories about beating public schools, not helping them.

As the number of charters grows, public authorities must ensure that charter operators are responsible. We have seen stories in the press, especially the New York Daily News, about charters that produce astonishing profits for entrepreneurs and investors, while storing children in trailers with meager facilities. This is not right.

Just last month, on March 9, the New York Times described how public schools in Harlem now must market themselves to compete with charter schools for new students.

The regular public schools have less than $500 each to create brochures and fliers; the charter firm with which they compete has a marketing budget of $325,000. That’s not fair. We have seen stories about non-profit entrepreneurs who are paid $400,000 a year or more to run charters for 1,000 children.

That’s more than the Chancellor of the New York City schools is paid, and more than the U.S. Secretary of Education. That’s not right.. . . .


Friday, April 23, 2010

"For Charter School Company, Issues of Money and Control"

Excerpt from the New York Times:

For Charter School Company, Issues of Money and Control

When the energy executive Dennis Bakke retired with a fortune from the AES Corporation, the company he co-founded, he and his wife, Eileen, decided to direct their attention and money to education.

Mrs. Bakke, a former teacher, said she had been interested in education since the summer she was a 12-year-old and, together with a friend, opened the Humpty Dumpty Day School, charging $2 a week in “tuition” to parents of the children attending. Mr. Bakke was eager to experiment with applying business strategies and discipline to public schools.

The Bakkes became part of the nation’s new crop of education entrepreneurs, founding a commercial charter school company called Imagine Schools. Beginning with one failed charter school company they acquired in 2004, they have built an organization that has contracts with 71 schools in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Imagine is now the largest commercial manager of charter schools in the country.

But as Imagine continues to expand, it is coming under growing scrutiny from school boards and state regulators questioning how public money is spent and whether the company exerts too much control over the schools.

The concerns are being raised as charters, designed by education reformers to create alternatives to hidebound and failing public schools, are becoming an indelible part of the nation’s education landscape. Such schools are among the biggest beneficiaries of the billions of dollars the Obama administration plans to spend to improve public education.

[Continued here]

The only downside of the article? It didn't get the many, many pages needed to fully outline and document the myriad of problems with Imagine, but particularly the real estate deals and management fees (not to mention how these concerns relate to their governance).

Three cheers for Stephanie Strom. We certainly don't get this kind of coverage very often.

Sandy Kress: Lobbyist

Here's a list of companies that pay NCLB architect Sandy Kress to push their interests.

Citizen Schools Inc.
$10,000 - $24,999
Client Start Date: 03/10/2010
Client Term Date: 12/31/2010

Edvance Research Inc.
Less Than $10,000
Client Start Date: 1/22/2010
Client Term Date: 12/31/2010

National Council on Teacher Quality
Less Than $10,000
Client Start Date: 1/22/2010
Client Term Date: 12/31/2010

Pearson Education
$10,000 - $24,999
Client Start Date: 1/22/2010
Client Term Date: 12/31/2010

Teach For America
Less Than $10,000
Client Start Date: 1/22/2010
Client Term Date: 12/31/2010

Texas Charter Schools Association
Less Than $10,000
Client Start Date: 1/22/2010
Client Term Date: 12/31/2010

Wireless Generation Inc
$25,000 - $49,999
Client Start Date: 1/22/2010
Client Term Date: 12/31/2010

KIPP Delta's Student Loss Rate 3 to 4 Times Higher Than Helana Public Schools

Bill Gates is winding up a quick PR swing through five exclusive campuses to drum up support for the total compliance segregated KIPP cults and the permanent stream of teacher temps provided by TFA to staff them. And even though Gates like to talk about the scandalous 50 percent rate of minority high school completion across the nation, if Gates's KIPP solution were to replace public schools, that completion rate would be much, much lower. From Bill Hewitt for the Arkansas Times:
. . . .The KIPP Delta College Preparatory Academy in Helena-West Helena reports, according to state Education Department figures, a “student loss” rate in the eighth and ninth grade that is between three and four times that of the Helena-West Helena School District. The “student loss” occurring at KIPP would be a scandal if it took place at a regular public school, but charter schools seem to remain under the radar when it comes to serious scrutiny. This process leaves the KIPP schools with only the most dedicated students and parents, while the rest go back to public schools. . . . .

Bakke Backs Bozo; Whittle's Wacky Waxings

Imagine Schools CEO Dennis Bakke sure know how to pick 'em. He recently gave $10,000 to support John Kasich, the former FOX host (Heartland with John Kasich) who pulled in over $500k as a Lehman Brothers employee while the pension fund for Ohio took a $480 million hit from their investment in the financial services firm. Not that it'd make him blush, but Kasich's online ads wound up on a Michigan militia's website (thanks to Google Content Network) - the guy claims he was a Tea Partier before it was even cool.

In other Imagine news, students at a Florida school donned yellow t-shirts and recreated the
Imagine Schools' logo (image from Bradenton.com). This reminds me of Kenneth Saltman's account of Edison students reciting a pledge (in part) to their corporate schoolmaster.

And, since we're on the topic of for-profit education providers, check out this paper, "The Rise of Global Schooling," written - of course - by Chris Whittle. It was released in late 2009 and has some serious gems in it. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kentucky Weighs RTTT Bribe Against Potential Damage By Charter Schools

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

. . . . That leaves charter schools as the "well, now, not so fast" possible addition to the session agenda. Where the dropout bill was subjected to three months-plus of public debate, charter schools didn't generate much conversation until the session's closing days, if not its closing hours, and only then because they were seen as being helpful in qualifying Kentucky for $175 million in federal Race to the Top funds.

Despite support from President Barack Obama, charter schools remain a divisive issue. Studies of them in various parts of the country have produced mixed results at best.

As a divisive issue, charter schools have the potential for once again blowing up budget negotiations because of lines drawn in the political sands. Passing a budget that averts a shutdown of large segments of state government is far too important to take that risk.

Charter schools may be a path Kentucky eventually wants to take. But rushing down that path with minimal debate and study on the hope — and hope is all it is at the moment — that we'll win a prize could result in far more damage to Kentucky education than $175 million can repair.



Dear Harvard Gazette: Please Fact Check Bill Gates

Bill Gates has a lot of money to give away in ways that shape the world in the image of Bill Gates. Microsoft received $12 billion in tax breaks between 1996 and 2000, and between 2000 and 2002, Microsoft's tax rate was 1.8% on almost $22 billion of pre-tax profits (Anyon, 2005). So Gates has lots and lots of money, certainly enough to turn the heads of Harvard's reporters, sent out to do a gush on the oligarch's visit yesterday.

Gates, it seems, is doing a five campus tour (the Ivys?) preaching the virtues of Teach for America and KIPP. After all, graduation is rolling around in a few weeks and, with no jobs to be had for this year's graduating legacies, TFA is looking to land a bumper crop of white female missionaries to become the next group of expendable indoctrinators for the segregated KIPP camps. A couple of clips:

There are exceptions and signs of hope, he said, mentioning the work at Harvard of George Whitesides (nanoscale science) and Paul Farmer (medical care), “an exemplar,” said Gates, “who’s drawn a lot of people into global health.”

And 324 members of the Class of 2010 at Harvard — 18 percent of seniors — have applied for jobs with Teach for America.

. . . .

In education, online learning will help improve the situation, with links to videos on key concepts, along with ways to develop online advising, forums, and testing. “That’s a very doable thing,” said Gates. “Technology is going to have a role there.” And innovative education does not have to cost a lot, he said, referring to his sometimes controversial support of charter and nontraditional solutions.

“Every time I get discouraged,” he told one questioner later, “I go to a KIPP school and say: This can be done.” KIPP stands for the Knowledge is Power Program, a network of college-preparatory U.S. public schools that Gates said now number 82 — and that send 95 percent of their graduates to four-year colleges.

So Gates has upped the ante on the lie that Jonathan Alter wrote in Newsweek in 2008 about 80 percent of 16,000 KIPP students going to college. What Caroline Grannan found out from KIPP, Inc.'s home office at that time is that only 447 KIPPsters had entered college when Alter wrote that lie. And now Gates's figure of 95% going to college. Pure fabrication. Does the Harvard Gazette bother to fact check public education's greatest philanthropic enemy? With such a wad of money stolen from the American treasury ready to shape the world in a perfectly white dweeby image, who can doubt him?

BOYCOTT MICROSOFT

Charter Parents Support Charter Hearing; Post Will Still Demonize Perkins

The New York Post and the various other right-wing papers in NY will undoubtedly portray today's Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions Committee hearing as State Sen. Bill Perkins' personal vendetta against charter schools. The Post already did it here, here, here, and here, but they're neglecting to tell the public about a major supporter of the hearing: the New York Charter Parents Association, a group of self-organized pro-charter parents with concerns about existing charter schools.

Here's a clip of Mona Davids, founder of NYCPA, talking with a local FOX station:
In case you missed it, here's the really important part that the Post and other corporate rags will likely neglect to mention as they pen diatribes against public schools and those questioning charter schools (and we're not even talking about their academic merits - juts operating practices):
Anchor: You actually instigated this hearing tomorrow.
Mona Davids: I absolutely did. And for the record, Rosana, I want everyone to know it was the New York Charter Parents Association that asked, that requested Senator Perkins to conduct these hearings because we firmly believe in accountability and transparency for charter schools.
Charter schools: they're all about the kids (except the ones they kick out or exclude) and support parents (except when they ask questions about charter operators).

You can catch the hearing live here. It begins at 9AM EST and runs until 5PM.

Charter School Revoloving Door

The Times Union obviously didn't get the same memo as their peers at the corporate-controlled NY media outlets, the dirty rags that have been hammering State Sen. Bill Perkins about his questioning of charter school policies despite ample evidence of questionable activities and requests from parents (and charter parents, nontheless!). In the piece excerpted below, the Times Union notes the high rate of teacher turnover in a few NY districts and asks one teacher about why she chose public schools over charters.

A similar story appeared earlier this year in the Texas Tribune.

From the Times Union:
At charter schools, a revolving door
Teachers in Albany's charter schools more likely to leave than those in public schools
By SCOTT WALDMAN, Staff writer
First published: Thursday, April 22, 2010
ALBANY -- Valarie Karas wants to teach the difficult kids, the ones who crack her class up to hide their learning disabilities and who don't have anyone at home to make them do homework.

The Hackett Middle School seventh-grade teacher did not find that at a charter school, so she plans on spending the rest of her career in a district school. Karas was unhappy in her six months working at a charter school because she saw too many struggling students sent back to district schools.

"I want to be in a place where we don't get rid of kids," Karas said. "I wanted the kids nobody wanted to teach."

The reasons for leaving a school vary with the teacher, but new data from the state Department of Education reveal that more teachers leave charter schools and that educators are more apt to stay put once they find employment in a school district.

Half the educators at two Albany charter schools left their jobs at the end of the 2007-08 school year, according to a Times Union analysis of data compiled by the state Department of Education. At least 20 percent of the teachers at virtually every other charter school in the city departed before the next year.

The Albany school district's attrition rate, by comparison, was just 13 percent that year, according to the department's findings, which rely on self-reported figures from schools. [Ken's note: good reason to be wary of self-report. I wonder if they'll have more solid numbers in the future]

High teacher turnover prevents teachers from getting to know the way their students learn, experts say. Educator attrition rates at New Covenant Charter School were a primary reason cited by the State University of New York board of trustees for its decision to close that school in June. Of the educators who do leave charter schools, a significant number are teachers with less than five years' experience, the data show.

And how the pro-charter camp frames this evolution of the teacher temps working with barely any job security, lower pay, and longer hours:
Charter advocates interpret the data to mean their approach is working. A larger number of teachers leaving demonstrates the higher standards to which charter school educators are held, said Chris Bender, executive director of the Brighter Choice Foundation, which will support all of Albany's 11 charter schools next fall.
Continued here.
Other statistics included in the TimesUnion piece:

Teacher turnover

Percentage of teachers who left their jobs after the 2007-08 school year:

Albany Community Charter School 27%

Albany Preparatory Charter School 50%

Brighter Choice Charter School for Boys 21%

Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls 25%

Henry Johnson Charter School 8%

KIPP Tech Valley Charter School 40%

New Covenant Charter School 50%

Ark Community Charter School (Troy) 19%

Percentage of teachers who left public school district jobs in 2007-08:

Albany school district 13%

Schenectady school district 18%

Troy school district 19%

Source: state Department of Education