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

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Michael Moore: I Have Never Felt This Optimistic | Real Time with Bill M...

So if you are sick and tired of

--stacked SCOTUS decisions that take away the established legal rights of citizens to make their own health decisions, love decisions, and voting decisions;

--fascist politicians deciding which books your children can check out from their school and public libraries;

--billionaire ideologues choosing a white-washed version of history for your children that ignores the research of historians, educators, and curriculum specialists;

--white nationalists who seek to replace the teaching of science with religious dogma;

--racist authoritarians enacting plans to elect political puppets hostile to the concept and practice of constitutional democracy and the rule of law;

Then, get out your checkbooks, put on your walking shoes, sign up to volunteer, and get five other people to the polls to vote--five who would not do so, otherwise. WE CAN DO THIS!

And take 5 minutes to view this video clip:

Thursday, September 22, 2022

KIPP DC School Allows Five-Year Old to Leave School Unaccompanied

 In 2021, a KIPP DC school allowed allowed a 9-year old boy to leave school without an adult.  While his mother waited on the outside where a staff member was supposed to bring him, according to school protocol, the boy was left to roam and to exit another door.  While crossing the street, he was hit by a car and mortally injured.  After months of suffering, the boy died.

The boy's mother recently filed a $50 million lawsuit for negligence.

Yesterday, another KIPP DC parent was asking tough questions about another example of negligence by, yet, another KIPP DC school.  Seems this time around the school once again broke protocol and allowed a 5-year old girl to leave the building and the premises alone after school.  The child was found on his grandfather's front porch by a neighbor.

Apparently, having $80 million of the taxpayers' money in the KIPP DC bank accounts does nothing to make sure children are safe or cared for.

Friday, September 16, 2022

KIPP DC Audit Adds to Disturbing Picture of Financial Mismanagement

In light of remaining unanswered questions related to the embezzlement at KIPP DC of over $2.2 million over an 18 month period (see here and here), the latest available audit raises additional concerns about KIPP DC's ability and commitment to financial transparency and competence.

KIPP DC was flagged in December 2021 for what independent auditors referred to as a "significant deficiency."

KIPP DC Public Charter Schools and Affiliate
Schedule of Findings and Questioned Costs (Continued) Year Ended June 30, 2021

Section II. Financial Statement Findings

 
Significant Deficiency
Finding 2021-01—Search for Unrecorded Liabilities

 
Criteria: Based on the principles contained within auditing standards generally accepted in the United States and Government Auditing Standards, management is responsible for the maintenance of internal control over financial reporting with the objective that financial statements are accurate under generally accepted accounting principles.

 
Condition: During our search for unrecorded liabilities, we noted construction in progress activity incurred through June 30, 2021, that was not recorded or properly accrued for at June 30, 2021.
 

Cause: Management did not have adequate controls implemented around the review of construction contracts and commitments to ensure costs incurred, but not yet invoiced were properly accrued for.
 

Effect: The error unreported assets, specifically property and equipment, and liabilities by approximately $5,209,000.
 

Recommendation: We recommend management develop additional controls over the review of construction contracts and commitments to ensure all costs incurred are properly recorded in the correct period.

 
Views of responsible individuals: Management agrees with the finding and recommendation. See corrective action plan for further information (p.8).

Given the fact that KIPP DC's net assets in 2019 were over $144,000,000, with over half of that in cash or assets that could be readily turned into cash, it would seem that some oversight would be forthcoming.  

Except, of course, that KIPP DC's corporate board is in place as a protection racket rather than public accountability for the billions of public dollars that KIPP DC, Inc. has garnered.

 


 

The Columbia University Con Feeds the U.S. News Con

The Columbia University Con Feeds the U.S. News Con

James Horn, PhD

Every year U.S. News publishes its historically dubious rankings of America's private and public colleges and universities, rankings that are based upon unverified data provided by the institutions that are being ranked. While the rankings should be considered worthless by the parents, kids, and counselors who use them to make education decisions based on faked numbers rather than real human needs and wants, the rankings are worth lots and lots to the institutions that use massaged stats in order to jack up tuition costs that bring in millions of very real dollars. 

Colleges and universities, whether ivy league of bush league, then use the free money obtained from unsuspecting parents and students to fund the insatiable management bureaucracies that dwarf the full-time faculties at Columbia University, for instance, which last year deceived its way to a #2 U.S. News ranking. 

Today a Columbia undergrad pays over $65,000 for tuition and fees and another $20,000 for room and board.

In a rare example of education justice, last year the Dean of Temple University’s Richard J. Fox School of Business and Management was apprehended after years of using fake data to run up U.S. News rankings for Temple's virtual MBA program to #1.  Temple's cash cow was growing very fat until last November, when Dean M. Moshe Parat was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy, and in May of this year sentenced to sent to serve 18 face-to-face months in a brick and mortar federal prison for his actions.

The recent exposure of Columbia University's fakery has upended its steady slither up the U.S. News rankings from #18 to #2, and today the Guardian has an updated story featuring Columbia math professor, Dr. Michael Thaddeus, who exposed the charade.  It's well worth your read.

Professor Thaddeus says he had been radicalized by his three years (2017-2020) as Chair of the Math Department at Columbia, where he learned the extent of the bloated management fiefdom at Columbia and the strategies of subterfuge and secrecy that the Administration uses to keep faculty and students in the dark. The results over the past 20 years of ginning the rankings have had real impacts:

“It’s clear that the growth of university bureaucracies and administration has been a major driver of the cost of higher education growing much, much faster than inflation. We now have about 4,500 administrators on the main campus, about three times the number of faculty, and that’s a new development over the past 20 years,” he [Thaddeus] said.

Wouldn't it be interesting to do some research on these kinds of real numbers for other colleges and universities?

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Tough Questions Remain After $2.2 Million Stolen by KIPP DC Technology Director, Part 2

According to KIPP DC's top-heavy bureaucracy, unnamed individuals found out the $2.2 million was missing from their $140+ million pot "during a routine review" in December 2021.  As noted in Part 1, this came 20 months after KIPP began writing a steady stream of checks for thousands of tablets, laptops, software, and services that were never delivered, or even ordered. One month later, the ringleader of this scam, Kevin Ward, committed suicide. 

Now the question arises: did any KIPP employee contact Mr. Ward about the imbalance in the technology ledger prior to his suicide in January 2022? Another question Mr. Ward can no longer answer: did any employee of KIPP, besides himself, financially benefit from his thievery from the public purse? And finally, what kind of accounting system allows $2.2 million to be spent with nothing to show for it for more than a year and a half?

According to an anonymous KIPP DC spokesperson, the system had enough tech resources to make sure that students had the epuipment they needed soon after the Covid lockdown began in early 2020:

A KIPP DC spokesperson said despite never receiving technology from Ward’s fraudulent orders, students learning from home during the pandemic used devices purchased from other vendors. Within the first few weeks of the pandemic, middle and high school students received devices that had already been in KIPP DC’s inventory.

So this introduces another question: if KIPP DC inventory was sufficient to satisfy tech needs during Covid virtual school period, why did KIPP DC approve the orders for thousands more tablets and laptops?? Who approved these expenditures??

Will the Washington Post or even a DC local TV station ever ask all these questions?  Don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Tough Questions Remain After $2.2 Million Stolen by KIPP DC Technology Director, Part 1

Per usual, corporate media has done a poor job in uncovering the facts surrounding the grand larceny committed by KIPP DC's Senior Director of Technology, Kevin "Scooter" Ward.  Had the federal government not filed a civil lawsuit last week to recover the real estate, cars, motorcycles, art, sports memorabilia, and cash that Ward ripped off over a period of 18 months, we probably would not know about the heist. 

You see, KIPP DC never publicly reported this massive embezzlement, even after Mr. Ward committed suicide in January 2022, just about a month after KIPP DC reportedly noticed that millions of dollars had been spent with nothing to show for it.

Only because of the federal complaint, we now know that between April 2020 and August 2021 Ward was able to place phony orders through a phony company for computers, software, tablets network services, and other information technology services for more than $2.2 million. 

Even though KIPP DC never received a single tablet, computer, or software item, KIPP DC promptly wrote checks to the phony tech company, Tenret Tech, which was created by Ward.  

 

For 18 months, checks were deposited to bank accounts owned by Ward, which he used as his personal piggy bank to buy all sorts of fun stuff, including a Ducati motorcycle, two Teslas, and an Alfa Romeo.

Did no one at KIPP DC wonder why none of the thousands of laptops and tablets were ever received?  Did KIPP not need all the technology that the charter chain wrote checks for during a pandemic when kids were doing virtual school?  Does KIPP DC have so much of the taxpayers' money that $2.2 million spent with nothing to account for it just doesn't matter?  Maybe.

According the KIPP DC's latest publicly available 990, KIPP DC had $149,488,630 in assets in 2020.  That's a remarkable stash for a non-profit corporation with 18 schools and 7,000 students.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of "Tough Questions Remain After $2.2 Million Stolen by KIPP DC Technology Director"


Thursday, September 01, 2022

Columbus Teachers Union Strike Wins Big for Students, Parents, and Teachers

 From Common Dreams:


Teachers Union in Ohio Went on Strike for Students—and Won

"More than 4,000 of our members stood strong on the picket line, our community joined the fight, and we won victories" on multiple issues, said a Columbus Education Association spokesperson.

KENNY STANCIL

Students, teachers, and support staff in Ohio's largest school district returned to the classroom on Monday after the Columbus Education Association won a new contract and ended its weeklong strike.

"Students... are the most important investment in this entire nation."

Gathered at the local minor league ballpark on Sunday, CEA members voted 71% to 29% to approve a three-year contract with Columbus City Schools that satisfies most of the union's demands, which revolved around improving students' learning environments and opportunities.

"We are so excited to get back to where we belong—our classrooms—doing what we do best: educating our students and shaping the future of our great city," CEA spokesperson Regina Fuentes said at a press conference.

As The Columbus Dispatch reported, the agreement includes:

  • A contractual guarantee that all student learning areas will be climate controlled no later than the start of the 2025-2026 school year, including installation of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning in buildings currently without HVAC, and in buildings that currently only have partial HVAC;
  • Reductions in class size caps in all grade bands, lowering the number of students in every classroom by two over the course of the contract; and
  • The first-ever limitations on the numbers of buildings assigned to each elementary art, music, and physical education teachers, with scheduling intended for one specialist per subject area per building.

"It is important to remember that just ten short days ago, at our last bargaining session before the strike, CEA was told 'no' on guaranteed air conditioning and heat in every building, 'no' on class size reductions in middle and high schools, and 'no' on improved access to art, music, and P.E. at the elementary level," said Fuentes.

"More than 4,000 of our members stood strong on the picket line, our community joined the fight, and we won victories on all three of these issues," she noted.

In addition to much-needed improvements to learning and working conditions, the roughly 4,500-member union—representing teachers, librarians, nurses, counselors, and other education professionals—was able to secure better pay and benefits.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the new contract includes:

  • A 4% raise each year of the three-year agreement;
  • The first-ever contractual limitation on the number of CEA positions that can be outsourced to out-of-town corporations, "thereby ensuring that our students are educated by experienced professionals from our local community"; and
  • A paid parental leave program for teachers.

The new pact is the result of CEA's first strike since 1975. A whopping 94% of members voted to authorize a work stoppage last Sunday after monthslong negotiations with Columbus City Schools, which the union accused of "walk[ing] away from the bargaining table," collapsed just ahead of the start of the fall semester.

The district's 47,000-plus students spent the first three days of the academic year online. The school board held a special meeting to ratify the contract at 8:00 a.m. CT on Monday, about 30 minutes after students at some schools began in-person instruction.

On Sunday, Fuentes stressed that teachers and support staff nationwide are "tired of settling for the status quo." She expressed hope that CEA's victory will motivate other workers and communities to take action to defend public education from the longstanding and intensifying attacks that have led to increasingly understaffed and ill-equipped classrooms.

"They need to put more of an investment in our students because they are the most important investment in this entire nation," said Fuentes. "It starts here but we want to keep it going."