$1.4 Million Reasons to Be Wary of For-Profit Charters

October 12th, 2017

This just in from ProPublica’s Heather Vogell:

With a frozen state budget and funding cut to most school district, Ohio’s Education Department  paid Capitol High, a charter run by for-profit Edison Learning, $1.4 million in taxpayer dollars for no-show students–most of whom are the neediest and least reliable of all.

In fact, ProPublica’s review of 38 days of Capitol High’s records from late March to May found that:

  • One room was filled with empty chairs facing 25 blank computer screens;
  • Three students sat in a science lab;
  • Nine students sat in an unlit classroom, including one kid who was sound asleep.

Plus:

  • Only three of the 170 students attended the required 5  hours one day in May;
  • Six students skipped 22  days or more straight with no excused absences;
  • Two students were missing for the entire 38-day period.

Nevertheless, this per-student funded charter got away with billing the state for teaching the equivalent of 171 full-time students, hence the $1.4 million pay-out.

Keeping that in mind and as you continue to pay your taxes, try to wrap your head around the fact that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continues to champion school choice as a way to lower absenteeism and dropout rates.

P.S. In September, DeVos’s Department of Education awarded $250 million in charter grants to states and charter management organizations/agencies that help fund the building of new charter schools…

 

 

Take Note: Pennsylvania’s Under-Performing Virtual Charters

October 12th, 2017

In “DeVos Champions Online Charter Schools, But the Results Are Poor,” Politico’s Kimberly Hefling writes:

“Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has touted online learning as a school-choice solution for rural America, saying that virtual charter schools provide educational opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

But in Pennsylvania, an early adopter where more than 30,000 kids log into virtual charter schools from home most days, the graduation rate is a dismal 48 percent. Not one virtual charter school meets the state’s ‘passing’ benchmark. And the founder of one of the state’s largest virtual schools pleaded guilty to a tax crime last year…”

As Hefling also notes, virtual schools keep expanding across America, despite their ineffectiveness. Pennsylvania actually boasts 14 of them–and they’re reportedly flourishing, while our traditional public schools get short shrift.

Meanwhile, says DeVos, “I’m willing to wait for the right moment and the right strategy to pursue my choice goals.”

Nevertheless, she’s also quite pleased with the way things are going, since they appear to be going her way. As she reminds us, “The reality is that most of the momentum around this, and frankly, most of the funding around it, comes at the state level. More and more, states are adopting programs that embrace a wide range of choices. And I expect that to continue apace.”

Your tax dollars at work…

 

 

Take Note: Kids Hit the Social Media Pause Button

October 11th, 2017

Fotosearch Smartphone k5512459A survey of 5,000 students conducted by Charlotte Robertson, co-founder of Digital Awareness UK, certainly meets my good news standard. It turns out that many kids are now saying enough is enough when it comes to Facebook and its similarly fetching social media clones.

For starters, more than 60% of respondents think many of their peers present a “fake version” of themselves, though, a whopping 85% said they’ve done no such thing.

Regardless and more importantly, though, the survey also showed that such sites take a toll on kids’ well-being, and they’re taking note. That’s because…

  • 57% said they’d received abusive comments online; and
  • 56% admitted to being all but addicted to FB and the like.

It’s no wonder then that:

  • 66% of school children said they’d be happier had social media never been invented; and
  • 71% said they’d taken a temporary break to “escape” it.

Here, hear!

Facebook Blocked Ads from the Network for Public Education Critcizing School Choice

October 10th, 2017
 

WITH THANKS TO THE NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION & DIANE RAVITCH:

I earlier posted Steven Singer’s account of being blocked by Facebook when he tried to post a criticism of school choice.

The Network for Public Education tried to post an ad critical of school choice during “school choice week” and was permanently banned by Facebook.

Carol Burris wrote this description of our ouster:

“During School Choice Week, we rebranded the week, ‘School Privatization Week’. We were careful to make sure that the logo we created, which played off the Choice Week logo, was quite dissimilar and therefore could not be confused with the choice logo, or be in violation of copyright.

“We made it a Facebook ad. It was accepted and all was fine. Then, after a few days, Facebook refused our buys and blocked us from boosting any of our posts. We are still blocked from boosting or buying nine months later.

“I tried to contact Facebook by email. No reply. I called the number. It was disconnected. I spent a day trying to reach a human being. It was impossible. Network for Public Education is in the Facebook doghouse and we have no idea why.

“Yet Russians can place awful ads that try to sway our elections.”

An interesting series of questions:

Why does Facebook block posts and ads that are critical of School Choice?

Why do their algorithms fail to recognize ads that interfere in our elections but block criticism of School Choice?

Why do their algorithms ignore ads placed by Russian troll farms yet block ads placed by the Network for Public Education?

Is this chance, bad luck, faulty algorithms, or the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative at work?

Steven Singer Was Blocked by Facebook for Writing This Post: ”School Choice Is a Lie”

October 10th, 2017
 

WITH THANKS STEVEN SINGER AND DIANE RAVITCH:

Steven Singer was blocked by Facebook for a week because of the post you are about to read. This post “violated community standards.” Steven Singer was censored by an algorithm. Or, Steven Singer was censored by the Political Defense team that tries to prevent any criticism of charter schools and TFA. This team swarms Facebook and other social media and complains that a post or tweet is “offensive” and the machine blocks the offending post.

This is the post by Steven Singer that has been blocked. This is the lie about “school choice” that DeVos and ALEC and charter promoters don’t want you to read.

He writes:

Neoliberals and right-wingers are very good at naming things.

Doing so allows them to frame the narrative, and control the debate.

Nowhere is this more obvious than with “school choice” – a term that has nothing to do with choice and everything to do with privatization.

It literally means taking public educational institutions and turning them over to private companies for management and profit.

He adds:

There are two main types: charter and voucher schools.

Charter schools are run by private interests but paid for exclusively by tax dollars. Voucher schools are run by private businesses and paid for at least in part by tax dollars.

Certainly each state has different laws and different legal definitions of these terms so there is some variability of what these schools are in practice. However, the general description holds in most cases. Voucher schools are privately run at (at least partial) public expense. Charter schools are privately run but pretend to be public. In both cases, they’re private – no matter what their lobbyists or marketing campaigns say to the contrary.

They take money from public schools that serve all students and give it to privatized schools that choose their students and expel those they don’t want.

Charters and vouchers are the Walmartization of public education. They introduce corporate chains to run what used to be neighborhood public schools. The only difference is that everyone may shop at Walmart, but not everyone who applies will be accepted at a choice school. The school does the choosing, not the family.

Steven reinforces what I wrote in Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. “School choice” is a hoax, a lie. It is promoted by rightwing ideologues and by Democratic politicians hungry for funding by the financial sector, which sees schools as an emerging industry. Don’t be fooled.

School choice is privatization. And privatization is very bad for those who are not chosen. And very bad for our democracy.

Charter Schools: Part of the Problem or the Solution and 19+ Should-Know Facts

March 18th, 2017

As you read on, keep these facts in mind:

  • The 2015 Kids Count report found that children living in poverty jumped from 18% to 22% between 2008 and 2013.
  • According to the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau, the child poverty rate among African-Americans was 39%.
  • In 2103, 48% of African-American children and 37% of Latino children had no parent working a full-time, year-round job.
  • The Economic Policy Institute finds that, by age of 14, 25% of African-American children have had a parent—typically a dad—imprisoned; on any given day, 10% of them have had a parent in jail or prison, and that’s 4 times more than in 1980.

Making schools better with national standardsNow on to the charter vs. traditional public school controversy…

By the 1960s and 70s, innovative schools were opening in such cities as Philadelphia and Chicago. Then in 1988, Albert Shanker, as president of the American Federation of Teachers, spoke about the meager 20% of students benefiting from a traditional public education. His solution: charter schools, “where teachers would be given the opportunity to draw upon their expertise to create high-performing educational laboratories from which the traditional public schools could learn.”

That was the intent, the promise, and, in 1992, the first true charter school, City Academy High School, opened its doors in St. Paul, Minnesota.

In the following years, charter schools found advocates in both Presidents Clinton and G.W. Bush, but it took Obama to make it a federal school reform priority and included it as an application incentive in his $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant program.

Now, Donald Trump is at the helm, and his controversial Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is  a vocal charter school champion.

Indeed, her resume includes serving as chairman of the American Federation for Children (AFC). Describing itself as “the nation’s leading school choice advocacy group,” it boasts that it’s “a national leader in the fight to boldly reform America’s broken education system.”

Nevertheless and as an aside, a 2016 Gallup survey found that 76% of parents are “broadly satisfied with the education their oldest child receives;” 36% are “completely satisfied.”

Meanwhile, the AFC site further states, “The American Federation for Children is breaking down barriers to educational choice by creating an education revolution that empowers parents to choose the best educational environment for their children, so all children, especially low-income children, have access to a quality education.”

And that, say charter advocates, is the whole point—the ability to offer parents alternative school settings for their children, ones that are innovative, competitive, and accountable. Moreover, unlike traditional public schools, if performance standards are not met, the charter is revoked, said school is shut down.

What’s not to like? It all sounds so good, so promising, and yet Read the rest of this entry »

12 Things To Know about ADD and ADHD

February 27th, 2017
  1. ADD is no longer an acceptable medical term, replaced solely now by ADHD.
  2. Per the CDC, ADHD affects 11% of our 14- to 17-year-olds; that adds up to some 6.4 million children, and the numbers are rising.
  3. There are three different categories of ADHD:ADHD Cloud
  • Those with INATTENTIVE ADHD struggle to stay on task and concentrate on just one thing. They also often make careless mistakes, have trouble paying attention, fail to follow through on directions, homework, and/or chores. Moreover, they are also often unorganized, seem not to listen when being spoken to, and likely to lose things.
  • Those with HYPERACTIVE-IMPULSIVE ADHD have trouble sitting still, needing to get out of their seats on occasion and even wander about the classroom. Symptoms include fidgeting, tapping hands and/or feet, and feeling restless. Talking excessively and Interrupting others is common as are having trouble waiting their turn and quietly engaging in leisurely activities.
  • Those with COMBINATION ADHD show signs of both Inattentive and Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD.
  1. Only physicians or other health care professionals can diagnose ADHD.
  2. For some, symptoms resolve themselves over the years; if not, symptoms can become less noticeable and bothersome.
  3. Symptoms can also change over time, such as excessive running about morphing into fidgeting and feelings of restlessness in teens.
  4. According to parent surveys, about 50% of children with ADHD continue to experience symptoms as adults.
  5. ADHD can manifest itself even in adults.
  6. The Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1975 (IDEA) covers ADHD under the “other health impairment” category and ensures that students with a disability are provided with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that meets their individual needs.

In fact, IDEA ensures that the more than 6.5 million infants, toddlers, and kids of all ages with disabilities receive the services they need and “governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services” to them.

Meanwhile, an appropriate education as defined by FAPE can mean enrollment in a regular education class, a regular ed setting with special aids and services, or special education in a separate classroom for part or all of the day

  1. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects children with disabilities that, for the most part, limit “one or more major life activities,” such as learning in the case of ADHD and safeguards them against discrimination. It also requires public school districts to provide that free and appropriate education to all students with a disability regardless of its nature or severity.
  2. Whenever a school district suspects a student has a disability that may require special education and/or related services, it must conduct an evaluation.
  3. Parents can also request an evaluation when ADHD is suspected.

Click here for more information.

 

Did you know…

February 10th, 2017

That “about 10 million prime-age men aren’t in the labor force–a lingering casualty of the Great Recession,” write USA Today‘s Paul Davidson and Roger Yu. Moreover, they note that, in the meantime, wage increases didn’t budge much at all during the Obama years; indeed, they were stagnant at about 2% for most of the “recovery.”

“Talking back” to California liberals

February 9th, 2017

USA Today reader Noah Peterson recently wrote a letter to the editors in which he said, “I live in California… and I wear a bright, red hat that really infuriates people. My hat has a patriotic phrase on the front, ‘Make America Great Again,’ but, from the looks I get, you’d think it was some sort of communist propaganda. Contrary to the belief of those who see me wear it, I am not a racist, sexist, or bigot…

The truth is, I’m sick of the politically correct nonsense. I’m sick of seeing people shamed into silence. My hat is my counterattack. It’s my refusing to change my wardrobe because people are offended. I love American values and the freedom we enjoy–to say what I want to say, believe what I want to believe, and wear what I want to wear–and I won’t let the ill-feelings of others scare me into submission.

Are you offended by the hat I wear? Your answer might say more about you than it does about me.”

Did you know that…

February 9th, 2017

According to a recent National Review study, 47% of Detroit charter schools significantly outperformed traditional public schools in reading and 49% of charter schools outperformed them in math. Not too shabby, but that, of course, begs the question, why…

Quotable

February 6th, 2017

“They’ve become easy targets. Every year, when the latest test scores are revealed, they get blasted for the most recent decrease. Whatever problems plague our public schools–and there are many–often get placed at the feet of conventional scapegoats. We’re talking, of course, about public school teachers. Decades ago, teachers were among the most respected members od our community. Today, they are the most vilified.” ~ from a New York Post editorial

Quotable

February 5th, 2017

“Lessons from Finland:

  • Students spend less time in class and doing homework than do their American counterparts…

  • In Finland, teaching is a highly respected, coveted, and comparatively well-paid profession. Only 10% of students who apply to college teaching programs are accepted. Preparation is rigorous; no teacher steps in front of a class without a master’s degree…

  • In Finland, it seems as though they stick to the basics of education, and it’s working. Finnish schools are well-built and practical and not overly reliant on technology. Classrooms are basic, with traditional chairs, tables, and chalkboards instead of interactive white boards…” ~ Ray Bendici

Quotable

February 4th, 2017

“America faces many problems today. The current economic recovery has been the slowest since the Great Depression, the national debt has surpassed $18 trillion, and the federal government continues to spend more than it collects. While it’s not unusual, unethical, or unconstitutional for the federal government to operate with a deficit at times, the question is why does Washington continue to overspend? Is there a legitimate reason or is it neo-politics?” ~ Mike Patton, Forbes contributor

Quotable

February 3rd, 2017

“I used to say that the greatest gift you could ever give anyone is a book, but I don’t say that anymore because I no longer think it’s true. I now say that a book is the second-greatest gift. I’ve come to believe that the greatest gift you can give someone is to take the time to talk with someone about a book you’ve shared.” ~ Will Schwalbe, author of Books for Living