Tag Archives: public schools

Here Is Proof that Arne Duncan is a Destructive Force in American Education

by Diane Ravitch, 10/5/14

Arne Duncan issued waivers to 43 states to allow them to avoid the sanctions of the No Child Left Behind Law, passed in 2001, signed into law in January 2002. NCLB is an utter disaster, recognized as such by everyone except the people who had a direct hand in writing it. It requires that 100% of all children in grades 3-8 must be “proficient” on state tests of reading and mathematics or the school will face dire consequences.

In no nation in the world are 100% of all children proficient in reading and math. Congress’s mandate was a cruel joke on the nation’s public schools.

In order to get Duncan’s waiver, states had to agree to Duncan’s terms. One of them was that the state had to create a teacher evaluation system based on test scores. Washington State initially agreed, but as the research accumulated showing that this strategy was not working anywhere, the legislature refused to pass such a system.

Duncan revoked the waiver he had in his lordly manner extended. Now almost every school in the state is a failing school and must spent at least 20% of their federal funding on private tutoring or allow students to transfer to “non-failing” schools, if they can find one.

This article by Motoko Rich in the New York Times shows the ugly consequences of Duncan’s policies have been on the public schools of Washington State. Schools that have shown dramatic improvement in recent years are now declared failures. Duncan says the state must suffer the consequences of its failure to follow his orders.

This man is not fit to be Secretary of Education. He is a promoter of privatization and high-stakes testing. His period in office has been marked by massive demoralization of teachers and educational stagnation (his own term). From his actions, it appears that he doesn’t care for public education and hopes it will be replaced by privately managed charters and vouchers. His action in this case has caused harm to the students and teachers of Washington State. The headline of the article says he put schools “in a bind.” It would be more accurate to say that Duncan has rained chaos on the schools and children of Washington State. The sooner he is out of office, the sooner we can turn to realistic ways of helping children and schools.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education and schools

60 Years After Brown v. Board, Will Congress Revive a Dual School System?

by Diane Ravitch, Huffington Post, 05/17/2014

Congress is considering new charter legislation, awarding more money to the charter sector, which will operate with minimal accountability or transparency.

The bill has already passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan majority and now moves to the Senate.

Make no mistake: on the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision, Congress is set to expand a dual school system. One sector, privately managed, may choose its students, exclude those who might pull down its test scores, and kick out those it doesn’t want. The other sector — the public schools — must take in all students, even those kicked out by the charters.

One sector — the charter sector — may enroll no students with profound disabilities, while the public schools are required by federal law to accept them all. The charter sector may accept only half as many English language learners, while the public schools are required to accept them all. Some charter schools push out children who are behavior problems, the public schools must take them all.

This is a dual school system, one bound by laws, the other deregulated. One free to select the “winners, ” the other bound to accept all.

Will federally-funded charters be allowed to operate for profit, as many charters do? Will they pay their executives exorbitant salaries, of more than $400,000, as some charters do? Will they be exempt from nepotism laws, as many charters are? Will charter leaders be allowed to hire their relatives or give them contracts? Will they be exempt from conflict of interest and self-dealing laws, as they are in some states? Will members of the board be permitted to win profitable contracts from the board?

The growth of the charter sector has been driven by a strange coalition. Charters are supported by wealthy hedge fund managers who give generously to individual charters and to charter chains; they fund political candidates who support charters. Charters are supported enthusiastically by the Obama administration, which endorses the privatization of public schools. Charters are a favorite of conservative groups like ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) and right-wing governors. Charters receive millions from some of the nation’s wealthiest foundations, including the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.

This odd coalition doesn’t seem to care that it is reversing the Brown decision of 1954. The fact that charters are highly segregated does not trouble them. The fact that charters undermine public education, an institution that is basic to our democracy, does not trouble them. …

continue reading at Huffington Post

Leave a comment

Filed under Education and schools

Republicans Champion the Charter School Movement

By dianeravitch, February 6, 2014

Rick Cohen of the Nonprofit Quarterly traces a clear pattern: The Republican party has embraced charter schools as their cause.

Republicans have always favored school choice, assuming that competition makes all schools better.

But they have never been able to persuade any electorate to endorse vouchers for private and religious schools.

So, charters are now the darlings of Republican donors and candidates.

The fact that charters have failed to demonstrate consistently superior academic performance doesn’t bother the Republicans, nor does the number of failed charters, nor are they dissuaded by the charters that have been caught up in financial scandals.

Nor do they care that the expansion of charters drains money from the public schools.

Nor are they troubled that many charters cherrypick their students and exclude students with disabilities and English learners.

Follow the money.

Cohen writes:

In politics, you have to follow the money. The editorial board of the San Antonio Express-News found it almost laughable to imagine that what it counted as more than $800,000 in campaign contributions from “charter school interests” between 2006 and 2013 didn’t play a role in convincing the Texas legislature to lift the state’s cap on charter schools. The Express-News is referring to the findings of a report from Texans for Public Justice that indicated people affiliated with the state’s top six charter school chains doubled their political contributions in recent years, comparing 2006 and 2008 to 2010 and 2012….

continue reading and follow more links at dianeravitch

Leave a comment

Filed under Education and schools

Horrible New Bill Will Somehow Make PA Charter School Policy Even Worse

Posted on October 24, 2013 by Jon Geeting, at Keystone Politics

(This guest post comes to us from friend of the blog Susan Spicka)

Cash-strapped school districts and tapped out home and business owners have been begging the PA legislature to reform its broken charter school funding law. Under current law, charter and cyber charter school tuition payments are not based on charter schools’ actual costs of educating children. In many cases, tuition rates to charter schools are so bloated that charter school operators are able to pocket millions of taxpayer dollars at the same time that our local school districts are raising taxes and slashing programs to pay their charter school tuition bills.

Senate Bill 1085 will bitterly disappoint school districts and home and business owners.

SB 1085 would close to so-called “pension double-dip” loophole in the current law by eliminating the state reimbursement to charter schools for their pension costs. Local school districts would continue to provide the funds that are used to pay the pension costs of charter school teachers.

SB 1085 is a rotten deal for school districts and for home and business owners, who pay property taxes to support our local public schools. If SB 1085 becomes law, the legislature will continue to mandate that home and business owners pay the pension costs of teachers who are not even employed by their school districts. School districts would find little relief from the burdensome charter school tuition payments, which range from around $8,000 to more than $30,000 per student per year.

SB 1085 is a truly sweet deal for the PA legislature. Eliminating the state reimbursement to charter schools for its share of pension costs would return $65 million to the PA General Fund. PA politicians would be free to spend this extra revenue as they please. Without a funding formula in place to allocate tax dollars to school districts, powerful legislators can cut deals behind closed doors, just like they did this year, and use the $65 million windfall to provide additional funding to a few of their favorite districts and make some voters happy in 2014, which happens to be an election year.

Adding insult to injury, SB 1085 would strip the power of our locally-elected school boards to approve or deny the opening of charter schools in our communities….

continue reading at Keystone Politics

Leave a comment

Filed under Education and schools