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

Friday, December 11, 2015

And So Begins the Ravitch Dissembling on ESSA

Even as Obama's signature was barely dry on this god-awful continuation of the NCLB testing and privatization onslaught, Diane Ravitch was already revved into "Randi Protection Mode":
The Every Student Succeeds Act was released to the public on November 30, passed both houses of Congress with large majorities within 10 days, and was signed into law today by President Obama. That was fast. The good news is that No Child Left Behind is gone. There is so much we don’t know because there has been so little time to read it, discuss it, and hear different perspectives on how it will work.
Really? So little time?  Did Ravitch not read the Senate passed version last April, when you made her endorsement of it. Remember?  
One may quibble with details, but the bottom line is that this bill defangs the U.S. Department of Education; it no longer will exert control over every school with mandates. This bill strips the status quo of federal power to ruin schools and the lives of children and educators. . . .This is a far better bill than I had hoped or feared.
Does she think her flock is still so gullible?  She goes on:
Randi Weingarten here explains the charter portion of the law. Sure, some would prefer that the federal government stop subsidizing privatization. But this is a Republican-controlled Congress, so what did you expect? School choice is their favorite school reform.
Does Ravitch include herself in the "some" who "would prefer the federal government stop subsidizing privatization?"  Is that quibbling I hear?  
Randi writes:
“This is what is in the bill on charters:  
“The program is reauthorized through FY 2020 and replaced the current charter school grant program with a program awarding grants to states, and through them subgrants to charter school developers, to open new charters and expand and replicate high-quality charter school models. At the same time, ESSA strengthens and updates the charter school program by: · ensuring charter school quality, accountability and transparency including required fiscal audits; · incentivizes stronger charter school authorizing practices; · requires charter schools to improve community outreach and engagement · provides dedicated funding to expand and replicate the highest quality charter schools so that they can reach more students; · focuses on charter school practices recruitment, retention and discipline practices, particularly for underrepresented groups such as homeless and foster students. There is a grant priority for charter management organizations that operate racially integrated schools and prioritize serving a majority of low-income students. There is money for facilities assistance as the bill reserves 12.5 percent of the charter school program funding to be used for facilities assistance. ESSA also requires the Secretary of Education to address the recent findings of the Office of the Inspector General pertaining to operational challenges within the Charter School Program.”
I posted the following comment at the Ravitch blog, but since she does not post any of my comments, here is what she had to read before she hit "delete."

Weingarten is either mistaken or is lying.  In either case, she is wrong.  

First, she says that this ESEA rewrite includes a charter program that is based on  "awarding grants to states, and through them subgrants to charter school developers. . . " 

Not so.  This Act defines 4 "state entities," any of which may apply for and receive federal charter school grants.  And as you can see below, one of those "state entities" may be "a charter school support organization."  From p. 194:
‘‘(a) STATE ENTITY DEFINED.—For purposes of this section, the term ‘State entity’ means—
‘‘(1) a State educational agency;
‘‘(2) a State charter school board;
‘‘(3) a Governor of a State; or
‘‘(4) a charter school support organization.
‘‘(b) PROGRAM AUTHORIZED.—From the amount available under section 4302(b)(3), the Secretary shall award, on a competitive basis, grants to State entities having applications approved under subsection (f) to enable such entities to—
‘‘(1) award subgrants to eligible applicants to enable eligible applicants to—
‘‘(A) open and prepare for the operation of new charter schools;
‘‘(B) open and prepare for the operation of replicated high-quality charter schools; or
‘‘(C) expand high-quality charter schools; and
‘‘(2) provide technical assistance to eligible applicants and authorized public chartering agencies in carrying out the activi- ties described in paragraph (1), and work with authorized public chartering agencies in the State to improve authorizing quality, including developing capacity for, and conducting, fiscal over-
sight and auditing of charter schools. ‘‘(c) STATE ENTITY USES OF FUNDS.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—A State entity receiving a grant under this section shall—
‘‘(A) use not less than 90 percent of the grant funds to award subgrants to eligible applicants, in accordance with the quality charter school program described in the State entity’s application pursuant to subsection (f), for the purposes described in subsection (b)(1);
‘‘(B) reserve not less than 7 percent of such funds to carry out the activities described in subsection (b)(2); and
‘‘(C) reserve not more than 3 percent of such funds for administrative costs, which may include technical assistance.

Secondly, there is NO "grant priority for charter management organizations that operate racially integrated schools. . ."  This Act incentivizes the continued resegregation via charter schools.

Below are is the Priority section, p. 202:
‘‘(2) PRIORITY.—In awarding grants under this section, the Secretary shall give priority to a State entity to the extent that the entity meets the following criteria:
‘‘(A) The State entity is located in a State that—
‘‘(i) allows at least one entity that is not a local educational agency to be an authorized public char- tering agency for developers seeking to open a charter
school in the State; or
‘‘(ii) in the case of a State in which local edu-
cational agencies are the only authorized public char- tering agencies, the State has an appeals process for the denial of an application for a charter school.
‘‘(B) The State entity is located in a State that ensures
equitable financing, as compared to traditional public schools, for charter schools and students in a prompt manner.
‘‘(C) The State entity is located in a State that provides charter schools one or more of the following:
‘‘(i) Funding for facilities.
‘‘(ii) Assistance with facilities acquisition.
‘‘(iii) Access to public facilities.
‘‘(iv) The ability to share in bonds or mill levies. ‘‘(v) The right of first refusal to purchase public
school buildings.
‘‘(vi) Low- or no-cost leasing privileges.
‘‘(D) The State entity is located in a State that uses best practices from charter schools to help improve strug- gling schools and local educational agencies.
‘‘(E) The State entity supports charter schools that serve at-risk students through activities such as dropout prevention, dropout recovery, or comprehensive career counseling services.
‘‘(F) The State entity has taken steps to ensure that all authorizing public chartering agencies implement best practices for charter school authorizing.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Here in Seattle, we manage to find time to comb through at least parts of this massive law and came to a conclusion far different from that of Ravitch and Fair Test and found that most troubling.

    In the past weeks we posted:

    Put the brakes on the ESEA reauthorization bill #StopESEA, https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/put-the-brakes-on-the-esea-reauthorization-bill/.

    An open letter to Patty Murray on the ESEA rewrite: We need funding, NOT charter schools.

    Patty Murray’s ESEA Re-Write Leaves No Assessment Behind

    The argument that something is better than nothing doesn't hold water with many of us.

    Dora Taylor

  3. When my local awarded DR it's friends of education award last month I had to wash my hair. If I don't like your friends I don't consider you a friend either. The coddling and enabling and witness protection of Weingarten should have ended by now. It really strains DR's cred with those of us actually suffering Weingartens incessant self promotion and malfeasance misrule.