Tag: Charter Schools

Charter Schools: Failures At Education

Many people recognized, particularly teachers’ unions, from the start that Charter Schools are a sham and a tax payer rip off with little or no accountability to the public or the parents. Despite the publicity about children being dropped from these schools because of learning disabilities or alleged disciplinary problems and fudged statistics about their …

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The War on Public Education

The debate over public schools v charter schools nation wide has been getting more attention due to the confrontation over New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision not to give free space in an already overcrowded public to a privately funded charter school. It has brought open “warfare” between the mayor and the Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo and much the NY news media is biased toward the well funded corporate backed charter schools which gets rent free space in public schools. Here of some of the facts

De Blasio came into office early this year and was handed plans approved by the former Bloomberg administration for 45 co-locations (some charter into traditional schools, others traditional schools into other traditional school buildings and sharing all space except classrooms). After reviewing the plans, de Blasio’s administration approved 36 and rejected nine. Seventeen of the 45 involved charter schools, and he allowed 14 of them to go through. How did administration officials decide? They used a set of criteria that included disallowing elementary schools from being co-located in high schools and refusing to allow co-locations that could affect space needed for special-needs students.

The three that were rejected were proposed by the Success Academy charter network in New York,  run by a longtime opponent of the mayor’s, Eva Moskowitz, but five Success co-locations were actually approved.  Moskowitz didn’t like being rejected even a little and she launched a public relations campaign against de Blasio that included closing 22 Success charter schools for a day and busing students and parents to Albany to rally with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a charter supporter, against de Blasio. (Imagine the ruckus  if de Blasio closed 22 schools to rally for traditional public schools.) Cuomo told the crowd that “we will save charter schools” as if de Blasio had announced he was closing all of them, which he is decidedly not. In fact, de Blasio has been attacked not only by charter supporters but by charter opponents who think he should have rejected all 17 charter co-location plans.

De Blasio made no bones about his plans for public education over charter scools during his campaign emphasizing that the free ride in a financially strapped city had to end.

There is no way in hell that [Success Academy Charter Schools founder] Eva Moskowitz should get free rent, okay? There are charters that are much, much better endowed in terms of resources than the public sector ever hoped to be. It is insult to injury to give them free rent. They should have to pay rent. They have the money.

Charter schools have a lot of money. Enough to fund a multimillion dollar ad campaign attacking de Blasio and paying Success Academy’s head, Eva Moskowitz, a $475,000 yearly salary

In the crowd, Ms. Moskowitz, who turned 50 on Tuesday, mingled with thousands of people from over 100 charters around the state. Many were from her own 22 schools, which she let out for the day so the pupils and their parents could be bused to the capital. The advocacy group that organized the rally, Families for Excellent Schools, recently started a multimillion-dollar television ad campaign praising charter schools and calling on the mayor not to hold them back.

Ms. Moskowitz’s history of aggressive tactics has led several other charter operators to keep a wide berth. More than 30 charter school leaders, still hoping for better relations with the new mayor, boycotted the rally. [..]

She has also attracted notice for her salary, $475,000, partly paid by donors, and roughly double what the chancellor earns.

While Success Academy’s students do very well and mostly minority students from the inner cities, she comes under a lot of criticism for her tactics and policies to achieve those numbers:

Hope Scott, the parent association leader at P.S. 123, in Harlem, said she could not forget a summer day in 2008, when she saw desks and teachers’ property thrown in the hallway as a Success Academy school was “moving in.” [..]

Other critics note that her schools tend to serve fewer special education students and nonnative English speakers than surrounding neighborhood schools. Chancellor Fariña said on Tuesday that while some charter schools “do great work” in helping children with special needs, or those with limited English proficiency, Ms. Moskowitz “makes it clear these are kids she cannot help, necessarily, because she doesn’t have the resources for them.”

New York City’s Charter School Showdown Reignites National Debate on Privatized Education

The battle over charter schools is heating up after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blocked three privately run charter schools from using rent-free space inside public schools. The city also announced it will cut $210 million in charter school construction funding and use the money toward universal pre-K and after-school programs. The moves have set off a fierce debate in New York and the country and have even pitted de Blasio against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat.

Steve Barr, CEO and founder of Future Is Now, a nonprofit that works to improve public education and Brian Jones, who taught elementary school in New York City for nine years and is now pursuing a doctorate in urban education at the CUNY Graduate Center, discuss the future of public education

There is something that everyone needs to know about Gov. Cuomo’s vocal support of charter schools from Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education, just follow the money:

You can’t say this often enough.

Money matters in politics.

Forget principle. Think money.

Andrew Cuomo wants to be re-elected governor of New York with a large majority.

He has raised $33 million.

One of his biggest sources of money is Wall Street.

Wall Street loves charter schools.

Wall Street doesn’t love public schools.

The fact that only 3 percent of students in New York State attend charter schools doesn’t matter to Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo now wants to take charge of dispensing millions in public funds to charter schools for construction, and he wants to assure them that they can have public space without paying rent. He wants the power to give free space to charters, no matter what Mayor Bill de Blasio says.

The fact that high-flying charters like Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy not only excludes children with special needs, but literally pushes them out of their schools does not matter to Andrew Cuomo. Success Academy is for winners, not losers. Children with disabilities don’t belong in Success Academy’s charters.

Students First?

The Education of Michelle Rhee

FRONTLINE examines the legacy of one of America’s most admired & reviled school reformers.

The problem with Michelle Rhee’s report card for public schools

by Traci G. Lee, Melissa Harris Perry Show

StudentsFirst, a school reform lobbying organization headed by education reformer Michelle Rhee, recently released the results of its own national study of education policies by state. According to the results, no state received an A, but plenty scored just barely average, and 11 states received an F.

Each grade is the determined based on three areas: whether a state’s policies elevate teaching, empower parents, spend wisely, and govern well. The report highlights states that provide abundant school choices for parents (i.e. charter schools) and blasts states that fail to evaluate teachers and principals in “meaningful ways.” [..]

But a key area that StudentsFirst leaves out of its grading system also happens to be one of Rhee’s most talked-about issues: student test scores. Maryland, which ranked the highest in Education Week‘s 2012 state report card in terms of achievement and standards, only received a D+ from Rhee. [..]

Rhee’s standards have tied student performance almost exclusively to teacher performance, and as a result has unfairly targeted teachers whose students could not perform well on standardized tests. Unfortunately, what Rhee has left out of her sweeping policy reforms is the fact that a child is not two-dimensional and doing well on a test has little to do with a child’s intelligence or ability to perform well later in life.

While it’s believable that states across the country are struggling to close its schools’ achievement gaps, the criteria StudentsFirst used to grade each state seems to be part of Rhee’s personal agenda to reform schools nationwide using the standards she believed had a great impact during her time as D.C.’s chancellor.

Beware: “Pro-child” groups press corporate schools agenda

by Susan Webb, People’s World

What could be wrong with these self-proclaimed pro-student, pro-child groups? Plenty.

StudentsFirst is headed by Michelle Rhee, former head of the Washington, D.C., public schools. Aro notes that “Rhee’s time as the chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools was rife with anti-teacher policies, including illegally firing teachers.” Rhee has also been implicated in test-score tampering at D.C. schools during her chancellorship. Read more about her here.

Amidst a fog of “pro-student” rhetoric, here is just a sampling of “meat” contained in the StudentsFirst policy list:    

  • shifting control of public schools away from elected school boards to one-person “mayoral control.” Why? Because, the group says, “Public employee unions invest in friendly school board candidates and expect handsome returns.”
  • support for “turnaround” models that involve mass firing of teachers and principals and turning schools over to charter operators and other private managers – the vast majority of which are non-union.
  • end all job security and professional protection for teachers. Put them at the mercy of individual supervisors’ whims, prejudices or favoritism. The organization states flatly: “State law should not grant, implicitly or directly, tenure or permanent contracts for PK-12 education professionals.”
  • shifting teacher “defined benefit” pensions to individual 401(k) type plans, which put all the risk on the individual. StudentsFirst claims that “today’s district pensions and other benefits are not sustainable” and criticizes them for “excessively rewarding longevity.”

Rhee has refused to discuss funding for her organization, but Reuters reports that StudentsFirst has received big donations from hedge fund managers.

StudentsFirst Spending: National Education Reform Group’s Partial Tax Records Released

June 25 (Reuters) – The national education reform group StudentsFirst, which has set out to transform U.S. schools by introducing more free-market principles to public education, raised $7.6 million in its first nine months – and spent nearly a quarter of it on advertising – according to partial tax records released on Monday. [..]

Rhee, a political lightning rod since she closed scores of schools and laid off hundreds of teachers during her tenure in Washington, has refused to discuss her funding or her donors. The IRS forms released by her organization on Monday cover only the first several months of her work, through July 31, 2011. Updated filings are not expected until the end of the year, though Reuters has confirmed that recent donors include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and hedge fund managers David Tepper and Alan Fournier, who have pledged substantial resources to a StudentsFirst partner organization in New Jersey.

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation, funded by hedge fund manager John Arnold, has also pledged $20 million to Rhee’s organization over five years, a donation that does not appear to be reflected in the IRS forms released on Monday.