Let's look at the successes around the nation in stopping this education privatization reform----and the movement is strong. In Baltimore, the entire system is captured because we have no labor and justice leaders fighting against these reforms. They are too busy trying to keep their jobs with Hopkins closing a hundred public schools over the decade and using choice to make parents fearful of rocking the boat with protest. Didn't realize that is what lottery and choice is all about? Indeed, it is. Today I want to take a look at the areas I would like to discuss in more detail the rest of the week.
Charter schools are showing their true faces! Anything being made into a business these days come tied to fraud and corruption and indeed, that is what is being found in charter schools. Below is a long article but please scan to see what is already widespread fraud and corruption and unlike what charter advocates are telling us----it will be those charters most ruthless that become national charter chains taking over all of our public schools.
Thursday, Jan 1, 2015 07:00 AM EST
Exposing the charter school lie: Michelle Rhee, Louis C.K. and the year phony education reform revealed its true colors Charter schools promised new education innovations.
Instead, they produced scam after new scam
Arne Duncan, Louis CK, Michelle Rhee (Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin/Mary Altaffer/FX) Since it’s the time of the year when newspapers, websites and television talk shows scan their archives to pick the person, place or thing that sums up the year in entertainment, business, sports or every other venue, why not do that for education too?
In 2014 education news, lots of personalities came and went.
Michelle Rhee gave way to Campbell Brown as a torchbearer for “reform.” The comedian Louis C. K. had a turn at becoming an education wonk with his commentary on the Common Core standards. Numerous “Chiefs for Change” toppled from the ranks of chiefdom. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett went down in defeat due in part to his gutting of public schools, as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker remained resilient while spreading the cancerous voucher program from Milwaukee to the rest of the state.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio rose to turn back the failed education reforms of ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, only to have his populist agenda blocked by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who insisted on imposing policies favored by Wall Street. Progressives formed Democrats for Public Education to counter the neoliberal, big money clout of Democrats for Education Reform. And Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush emerged as rival voices in the ongoing debate about the Common Core among potential Republican presidential candidates.
But hogging the camera throughout the year was another notable character: charter school scandals.
In 2014, charter schools, which had always been marketed for a legendary ability to deliver promising new innovations for education, became known primarily for their ability to concoct innovative new scams.
From Local Stories to National Scandal
Troubling news stories about the financial workings of charter schools had been leaking slowly into the media stream for some years.
A story that appeared at Forbes in late 2013 foretold a lot of what would emerge in 2014. That post “Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express to Fat City” brought to light for the first time in a mainstream source the financial rewards that were being mined from charter schools. As author Addison Wiggin explained, a mixture of tax incentives, government programs and Wall Street investors eager to make money were coming together to deliver a charter school bonanza – especially if the charter operation could “escape scrutiny” behind the veil of being privately held or if the charter operation could mix its business in “with other ventures that have nothing to do with education.”
As 2014 began, more stories about charter schools scandals continued to drip out from local press outlets – a chain of charter schools teaching creationism, a charter school closing abruptly for mysterious reasons, a charter high school operating as a for-profit “basketball factory,” recruiting players from around the world while delivering a sub-par education.
Here and there, stories emerged: a charter school trying to open up inside the walls of a gated community while a closed one continued to get more than $2 million in taxpayer funds. Stories about charter operators being found guilty of embezzling thousands of taxpayer dollars turned into other stories about operators stealing even more thousands of dollars, which turned into even more stories about operators stealing over a million dollars.
While some charter schools schemed to steer huge percentages of their money away from instruction toward management salaries and property leases (to firms connected to the charter owners, of course), others worked the system to make sure fewer students with special needs were in their classrooms.
Then the steady drip-drip from local news sources turned into a fire hose in May when a blockbuster report released by Integrity in Education and the Center for Popular Democracy revealed, “Fraudulent charter operators in 15 states are responsible for losing, misusing, or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money.”
The report, “Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse,” combed through news stories, criminal records and other documents to find hundreds of cases of charter school operators embezzling funds, using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses, taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide, inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues, and putting children in potential danger by forgoing safety regulations or withholding services.
The report made charter school scandals a nationwide story and received in-depth coverage at Salon, “Bill Moyers and Company,” the Washington Post and the Nation.
A Summer of Scams
Charter schools scandals continued to break throughout the summer.
In Ohio, report after report continued to reveal how popular charter school chains like White Hat Management had sky-high dropout rates while they poured public money into advertising campaigns and executive pay.
In Pennsylvania, a report found exorbitant costs associated with charter school operations and lavish CEO salaries and bonuses for charter school operators despite vastly underperforming the state’s traditional public schools. Another report revealed how Pennsylvania charters had gamed the system for special education funding, resulting in annual profits of $200 million to the schools.
In Michigan, a series by the Detroit Free Press found charter schools with “wasteful spending and double-dipping. Board members, school founders and employees steering lucrative deals to themselves or insiders. Schools allowed to operate for years despite poor academic records.”
In Florida, an investigation by the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel found, “Unchecked charter-school operators are exploiting South Florida’s public school system, collecting taxpayer dollars for schools that quickly shut down.”
Another Florida local news outlet investigating charter school operations found millions of taxpayer dollars misdirected from classrooms and students to management companies. The report pointed to charter school chain Charter Schools USA that uses tax-exempt bonds to build schools that it then rents to UCSA-affiliated schools. Then the CUSA schools are saddled with rent payments back to CUSA and its management company at rates considerably higher than those charged to other non-CUSA schools in the area.
Still more news stories came out about charter schools related to the largest bricks-and-mortar charter-school chain in the United States run by the secretive Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, who lives in exile from Turkey in rural Pennsylvania. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Chicago-area Concept Schools, part of the Gulen charter chain, were subjects of an ongoing federal investigation. The enquiry is about nearly $1 million that has been paid to contractors all with ties to the Gülen network.
Articles from the Washington Post found District of Columbia charter school operators evading rules to pocket millions in taxpayer dollars and charter schools pumping public money into for-profit management companies.
A report in the Arizona Republic found board members and administrators from more than a dozen charter schools “profiting from their affiliations by doing business with schools they oversee.”
The rash of summer charter scandal stories resonated in news outlets across the country.
Then to cap off the summer of charter scandals, the Progressive reported an upsurge in FBI raids on charter schools all over the country. “From Pittsburgh to Baton Rouge, from Hartford to Cincinnati to Albuquerque, FBI agents have been busting into schools, carting off documents, and making arrests leading to high-profile indictments.”
Reporter Ruth Conniff found charter schools allegations range from “taking money that was meant for the classroom,” to spending taxpayer dollars on “luxuries such as fine-dining and retreats at exclusive resorts and spas,” to engaging in “bribes and kickbacks.”
Back to Schools for Scandal
As back-to-school season rolled out, charter schools scandals broke harder and heavier.
The Center for Popular Democracy, Integrity in Education and ACTION United published a continuation of their charter schools study with a new report that disclosed charter school officials in Pennsylvania had defrauded at least $30 million intended for schoolchildren since 1997.
Startling examples of charter school financial malfeasance revealed by the authors included an administrator who diverted $2.6 million in school funds to a church property he also operated. Another charter school chief was caught spending millions in school funds to bail out other nonprofits associated with the school. A pair of charter school operators stole more than $900,000 from the school by using fraudulent invoices, and a cyberschool entrepreneur diverted $8 million of school funds for houses, a Florida condominium and an airplane.
Then, in November, the Center for Popular Democracy, with the Alliance for Quality Education, submitted yet another continuation of its analysis of charter school financial fraud, this time finding as much as $54 million in suspected charter school fraud in New York state.
Specific examples from the report included a New York City charter that issued credit cards to its executives allowing them to charge more than $75,000 in less than two years, a Long Island charter that paid vendors over half a million dollars without competitive bids, an Albany charter that lost between $207,000 to $2.3 million by purchasing a site for its elementary school rather than leasing it, a Rochester charter that awarded contracts to board members, relatives and other related parties rather than get competitive bids, and a Buffalo charter with a leasing arrangement that paid more than $5 million to a building company at a 20 percent interest rate.
A write-up of the report in the New York Daily News noted CPD “investigators uncovered probable financial mismanagement in 95 percent of the [charter] schools they examined.”
More recently, a widely circulated report from progressive news outlet ProPublica revealed how charter schools increasingly use arrangements known as “sweeps” contracts to send nearly all of a school’s public dollars – anywhere from 95 to 100 percent — into for-profit charter-management companies.
Reporter Marian Wang wrote, “The contracts are an example of how the charter schools sometimes cede control of public dollars to private companies that have no legal obligation to act in the best interests of the schools or taxpayers … it can be hard for regulators and even schools themselves to follow the money when nearly all of it goes into the accounts of a private company.”
The New Face of Charter Schools
In their defense, charter school advocates object to the negative portrayals of their operations by claiming the reports cherry-pick bad actors from the broad population of charters. But this year’s avalanche of malfeasance should dispel any argument about cherry-picking.
For sure there are examples of charter schools that are doing an excellent job of educating students. But rapid growth in the industry continues to come from charter operators who are not willing to run their operations like these successful charters because it doesn’t suit their “business model.”
Further, would a public school advocate defend public schools by countering, “But look at this good one over here”? They would be mocked and derided by charter school proponents.
Advocates for charter schools also defend the explosion in charter schools scandals by pointing to scandals in a public school and contending, “Look, they do it too.” Indeed, there are instances of financial and other types of scandals in public schools. That’s why they are heavily regulated. Yet charter school backers continue to fight regulations, contribute big money to political candidates who promise a hands-off approach to their schools, and use powerful lobbying firms to coerce legislators to continue unregulated charter governance.
Charter school defenders also argue that these widespread scandals will be remedied by the “market” – that the inevitable “bad” charters will get closed while only the “good” ones remain. It’s true that charter school closures are becoming more commonplace, but charter operators often resist closures – even calling on parents to rally to their cause and appeal to local authorities. Charter schools that close abruptly leave schoolchildren and families in the lurch and severely interrupt the students’ learning. Operators of closed charters often flee the scene to practice their malfeasance elsewhere, taking with them the supplies and materials they obtained at taxpayer expense. Meanwhile, enormous sums of precious public money are wasted – with no apparent education benefit – all for the sake of this “market churn.”
As a result of the flood of charter schools scandals, public attitudes about these schools are bound to change.
Surveys show the public generally doesn’t get what charter schools are and don’t understand whether they are private or public or whether they can charge fees or teach religion. Charter operators themselves have muddled their image by arguing successfully in numerous confrontations with legal authorities that “they are exempt from rules that govern traditional public schools, ranging from labor laws to constitutional protections for students.”
But a recent poll in Michigan, a state where rampant charter fraud has been well publicized, found that 73 percent of responders say they want a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools. In many communities, announcements about new charter operations opening up have been greeted with outspoken public protests as we’ve seen in in Nashville; York, Pennsylvania; and Camden, New Jersey.
Forecasts about what 2015 will bring to the education landscape frequently foresee more charter schools as charter-friendly lawmakers continue to act witlessly to proliferate these schools. But make no mistake, the charter school scandals of 2014 forever altered the narrative about what these institutions really bring to the populace.
Jeff Bryant is Director of the Education Opportunity Network, a partnership effort of the Institute for America's Future and the Opportunity to Learn Campaign. Jeff owns a marketing and communications consultancy in Chapel Hill, N.C., and has written extensively about public education policy.
What Race to the Top does is end all Equal Protection laws that protected students of color, the disabled, and low-income students from being exposed to a separate system of education. Instead, it is bringing back the warehousing of low-performing students and special needs students and ending all the programs in public schools that supported them. It saves money and when public schools are made into businesses-----you have to make the process as cheap as possible. We are seeing this abuse happening mostly in charter schools which are allowed to install 'innovative' education techniques having nothing to do with the decades of education research telling us what the best education practices are. So, students are being abused to keep them quiet, to instill fear for behavior, and with special needs students----just to control them in spite of their disabilities. Private corporate non-profits are a tag team for this as the entire concept of Democratic public education is attempting to be dismantled. Baltimore is again, ground zero for these kinds of reforms with separation of children according to behavior and ability. With 70% and more of Baltimore's population at or near poverty----you see why Hopkins is closing public schools and loading the city with these charters and private non-profits.
It is important to glance through this article and think-----if they do this with special needs and low-income students then it will expand to all school populations. It doesn't stop when education is about creating the cheapest vehicle.
Violent and Legal: The Shocking Ways School Kids are Being Pinned Down, Isolated Against Their Will Carson Luke, a young boy with autism, shattered bones in his hand and foot after educators grabbed him and tried to shut him into a “scream room.”
Kids across the country risked similar harm at least 267,000 times in just one school year.
by Heather Vogell
ProPublica, June 19, 2014, 4 a.m.
Carson Luke, who is autistic, was 10 years old when public school staff members crushed his hand in a door while trying to close him in a seclusion room at the Southeastern Cooperative Education Program’s Deep Creek facility in Chesapeake, Va., three years ago. (Photos courtesy of the Luke Family) Journalists: Check out our reporting recipe to learn how to report on school restraint and seclusion in your state and sign up to be matched with potential sources.
This story was co-published with NPR.
The room where they locked up Heather Luke's 10-year-old son had cinder block walls, a dim light and a fan in the ceiling that rattled so insistently her son would beg them to silence it.
Sometimes, Carson later told his mother, workers would run the fan to make him stop yelling. A thick metal door with locks—which they threw, clank-clank-clank—separated the autistic boy from the rest of the decrepit building in Chesapeake, Virginia, just south of Norfolk.
The room that officials benignly called the "quiet area" so agitated the tall and lanky blond boy that one day in March 2011, his mother said, Carson flew into a panic at the mere suggestion of being confined there after an outburst. He had lashed out, hitting, scratching and hurling his shoes. Staff members held him down, then muscled him through the hallway and attempted to lock him in, yet again.
But this time, the effort went awry. Staffers crushed Carson's hand while trying to slam the door. A surgeon later needed to operate to close the bleeding half-moon a bolt had punched into his left palm. The wound was so deep it exposed bone.
Carson's ordeal didn't take place in a psychiatric facility or juvenile jail. It happened at a public school.
For more than a decade, mental-health facilities and other institutions have worked to curtail the practice of physically restraining children or isolating them in rooms against their will. Indeed, federal rules restrict those practices in nearly all institutions that receive money from Washington to help the young—including hospitals, nursing homes and psychiatric centers.
Definitions and Terms
- Restraints are any holds in which a student’s ability to move their head, torso, arms or legs are limited.
- “Mechanical” restraints use something like straps, handcuffs or bungee cords to do the restraining.
- “Seclusion” refers to situations in which a student is confined against their will in a room they are prevented from leaving — often with a locked door. This is different from a “time out” in which a student is separated from others to allow him or her a chance to calm down.
Restraining and secluding students for any reason remains perfectly legal under federal law. And despite a near-consensus that the tactics should be used rarely, new data suggests some schools still routinely rely on them to control children.
The practices—which have included pinning uncooperative children facedown on the floor, locking them in dark closets and tying them up with straps, handcuffs, bungee cords or even duct tape—were used more than 267,000 times nationwide in the 2012 school year, a ProPublica analysis of new federal data shows. Three-quarters of the students restrained had physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities.
Children have gotten head injuries, bloody noses, broken bones and worse while being restrained or tied down--in one Iowa case, to a lunch table. A 13-year-old Georgia boy hanged himself after school officials gave him a rope to keep up his pants before shutting him alone in a room.
At least 20 children nationwide have reportedly died while being restrained or isolated over the course of two decades, the Government Accountability Office found in 2009.
"It's hard to believe this kind of treatment is going on in America," says parent and advocate Phyllis Musumeci. A decade ago, her autistic son was restrained 89 times over 14 months at his school in Florida. "It's a disgrace."
The federal data shows schools recorded 163,000 instances in which students were restrained in just one school year. In most cases, staff members physically held them down. But in 7,600 reports, students were put in "mechanical" restraints such as straps or handcuffs. (Arrests were not included in the data.) Schools said they placed children in what are sometimes called "scream rooms" roughly 104,000 times.
A Minnesota Department of Education report shows these three common restraints. So-called prone restraints are known to restrict breathing and can be lethal to children. About half of states don’t have a law prohibiting public schools from using such restraints. Minnesota is enacting regulations to limit prone restraints.
(Alberto Cairo, Special to Propublica) Those figures almost certainly understate what's really happening. Advocates and government officials say underreporting is rampant. Fewer than one-third of the nation's school districts reported using restraints or seclusions even once during the school year.
Schools that used restraints or seclusions at all did so an average of 18 times in the 2012 school year, the data shows. But hundreds of schools used them far more often—reporting dozens, and even hundreds, of instances.
School superintendents who defend the practices say they are needed to protect teachers and children when students grow so agitated that their behavior turns dangerous. They argue that if educators don't have the freedom to restrain and isolate children as they see fit, they will be forced to send more students to restrictive settings such as residential institutions.
"We believe the use of seclusion and restraint has enabled many students with serious emotional or behavioral conditions to be educated not only within our public schools, but also in the least restrictive and safest environments possible," the American Association of School Administrators wrote in a 2012 position paper.
Most critics of restraints agree they are sometimes unavoidable. But they say schools too often fail to try alternatives for calming students and use the tactics for the wrong reasons—because children failed to follow directions, for instance, or had tantrums. Indeed, in a recent survey, nearly 1 in 5 school district leaders approved of using restraints or seclusion as punishment.
"We have hundreds of examples of kids who are being restrained and secluded for behaviors that do not rise to the level of causing harm to themselves or others," says Cindy Smith, policy counsel at the National Disability Rights Network.
And often, parents remain unaware their child has been restrained or put in a scream room. That's because in many states, schools aren't required to notify parents. (Related: See what the rules are in your state.)
Only after Musumeci's son, Christian, who is autistic and has trouble speaking, started protesting when it was time to go to school—repeating, "No school, no school, no"—did she learn from school records how often he had been restrained.
School workers forced Christian, who they said had become aggressive and tried to hurt himself, to lie facedown on the floor in nearly one-third of the incidents. The prone position is particularly dangerous, because it can restrict breathing.
"I remember just sitting on the bed reading them and crying," Musumeci says, recalling her horror at what the records revealed. She said the school claimed to have notified her, but it hadn't. "If you did this at home," she says, "you'd be arrested."
More than four years ago, federal lawmakers began a campaign to restrict restraints and seclusions in public schools, except during emergencies. Despite a thick stack of alarming reports, the legislation has gone nowhere.
Opponents of the legislation say policy decisions about the practices are best left to state and local leaders. The federal government's role, they say, should be limited to simply making sure districts have enough money to train staff to prevent and handle bad behavior.
But states and districts have shown they won't create enough safeguards on their own, say advocates and other supporters of the legislation. Despite years of public concern about the practices, schools in most states can still restrain kids even when imminent danger doesn't exist.
This February, timed with the re-introduction of legislation to limit the practices, Senate staffers released a report concluding that dangerous use of restraints and seclusion is "widespread" in public schools. Neither practice, the report said, benefits students therapeutically or academically.
"In fact, use of either seclusion or restraints in non-emergency situations poses significant physical and psychological danger to students," it warned.
Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who is pushing for legislation, doesn't stifle his anger when talking about what he sees as a need to enact basic protections for students.
"I'm just stunned that you can take an action of seclusion or restraint that turns out to be harmful in almost all instances to the student," he says, "and there's no notification to the parent."
"It's so fundamental: You don't traumatize children."
The day Carson was hurt, Luke was shopping at a toy store when her cellphone rang. There had been an accident, a school worker told her.
She found Carson sitting quietly in the nurse's office. His left hand was a swollen mass of black and blue wrapped in thick gauze. He had a bandage on his right foot.
His face had a gray pallor. Luke turned to the nurse and principal. "I believe my exact words were, 'What the hell happened here?' "
We had to take him to the quiet area, the principal told her, Luke recalls. He was being aggressive.
No one had called for medical assistance. Luke drove the boy to the emergency room. He underwent surgery to close the wound on his left hand and had casts put on it and on his foot, which was also broken. He spent the night in the hospital.
Can Schools in Your State Pin Kids Down? Probably.
Donald Fairheart, executive director of the Southeastern Cooperative Education Program, known as SECEP, which oversaw Carson's school, declined to comment, saying the incident occurred before his tenure.
The Luke family had moved to Virginia two years before. Carson was the middle child of three whom Luke and her husband, a Navy officer, had adopted. The boy had been diagnosed with autism, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and while he could speak, he struggled to communicate like other kids.
Misunderstandings easily frustrated him, and he was prone to outbursts that sometimes turned aggressive. Still, his previous school district in Maryland had managed his behavior well. He was in some regular classes and loved playing with kids his age.
In Virginia, however, Luke says Carson was shuffled between schools before landing at the regional public school for special needs children in Chesapeake. The building was rundown, with peeling paint, rotting wood and a leaky ceiling.
In Carson's class, autistic children were combined with others who had emotional and behavioral problems, Luke says. Children like Carson are easily bullied, she said, calling the mix "like putting together lighter fluid and a match."
Luke had tried to get Carson transferred out. But an episode of disruptive behavior had scuttled the plan. He was faring poorly at the school. "His behavior was tanking," Luke says. "He made little or no academic progress."
School staffers told Luke that Carson's behavior often worsened when he was brought into the hallway after acting out. She believes that was because he had been conditioned to expect the next step would be a trip to the cinderblock room.
"He said you can hear them do the locks, which is how I know there were three," Luke says. "There were times when they would put him in there, and he would be screaming. They would say, 'If you don't shut up, we're going to put the fan on.' " He hated the sound.
Both the school and Carson told Luke when he "went to the quiet area." But while Luke had noticed the dingy room when visiting the school, she hadn't realized that was what they were talking about. She also didn't understand the terror it caused Carson.
"This ate at me," she says. "I really struggled with the fact that I didn't know."
Carson's school reported using holds on children 177 times—an average of almost once a school day—and isolation 559 times in the 2012 school year, the federal data shows. Those numbers placed it among the top 50 schools in the country that reported using restraints and seclusions the most.
Fairheart, SECEP's executive director, says the numbers are higher than most other schools because the facility primarily serves students with emotional or behavioral disorders.
There is no national count of children who, like Carson, are injured during restraints or seclusions. But at least one state is keeping its own tally.
Connecticut schools reported 378 holds or isolations that resulted in injuries to children in the 2013 school year. Of those, 10 were classified as "serious" and required medical attention beyond basic first aid.
Restraints in Connecticut schools usually lasted less than 20 minutes, but nearly 200 of them continued for more than an hour. A quarter of the students who were restrained experienced six or more holds during the year. Nineteen students were restrained more than 100 times.
The state also found that 40 percent of disabled students who were restrained had an autism diagnosis. The same was true for half of those secluded.
Michigan mother Nicole Plater says her nonverbal, 9-year-old autistic son, Andy, regularly came home from public school with injuries during the past school year. She suspected that scuffles with the staff at Oxbow Elementary in White Lake—often during holds—were the cause of the scratches, fat lip, black eye, scrapes on his back and bruises shaped like fingerprints she discovered on his arm.
School officials told her that Andy's aggressive behavior has forced them to restrain him. But Plater says that when she asks about marks on her son's body, "half the time, they don't have a reason for me."
She grew alarmed in the fall when school staff said they sometimes strapped Andy down in an orthopedic chair that is supposed to be used only for children with physical disabilities, which he doesn't have. He hurt himself trying to wriggle free.
Do You Know a Kid Who's Been Restrained or Secluded at School? Send A Tip "For safety Andy was put in chair with lapbelt," an educator wrote Plater in a note. The boy had been kicking and hitting and "started going after other students," the note said. "After he went in the chair he was trying to slide out and the lapbelt left a mark on his stomach."
Plater says she asked school officials to stop using the chair, but they didn't agree to do so—until she hired an attorney. She began videotaping Andy in his underwear each morning before school and again after he came home, to document the injuries.
"It's like this school's dirty little secret," Plater says. "You tell somebody, and they say 'They don't do that!' Yes, they do."
A spokeswoman for the school district, Huron Valley Schools, Kim Root, says that without a privacy waiver from Plater, the district cannot discuss Andy's case. "We follow all state and federal guidelines as to what our staff can and cannot do in the classroom," she says. (Plater's lawyer advised her not to waive confidentiality as the family was waiting for a hearing on Andy's situation.)
Plater was so concerned about the marks and Andy's growing anxiety about going to school—he was throwing up regularly—that she kept him home for two months this spring. He wasn't aggressive at home. But she feared she'd get in trouble for truancy.
After she sent Andy back to Oxbow, pending the hearing, the school suspended him twice for aggressive behaviors such as scratching, which school workers told Plater led one staff member to seek medical attention. The school told her to keep him at home.
Plater has few options. She has two other children, and her husband is a welder out on disability for a serious back injury he suffered working at a steel plant. The school district has denied her request to send Andy to another regular school, instead insisting he go to an all-special-education facility—which his parents fear wouldn't be good for him.
"I just wish things were different for him," Plater says.
Critics of federal legislation to restrict restraints and seclusions warn such a law would cause staff injuries to rise because educators would be afraid to intervene when students were acting dangerously. But injuries have not been a problem in Montgomery County Public Schools in Virginia, which stopped using restraints and seclusion more than two decades ago, says Cyndi Pitonyak, a special education coordinator for the district.
"The chances of getting injured by trying to physically restrain somebody are so much greater than the chances of getting injured while trying to calm them down," Pitonyak says.
The district uses an approach called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, which involves identifying triggers for dangerous behavior by students most at risk for it. Educators then develop a detailed plan to prevent such behaviors and tell teachers and aides what to do if the plan fails. Over time, as students learn better ways to respond to frustration and grow comfortable with the school routine, they need fewer accommodations.
"If you are able to turn those kids around prior to the third grade," Pitonyak says, "then their chances of going on without needing a lot of behavioral support are hugely increased."
Advocates say that educators in schools without such programs often end up provoking students into escalating bad behaviors instead of calming them, leading to a cycle in which restraint or seclusion is used again and again. "People need to get out of the mindset that restraint and seclusion is a default," says Jessica Butler, a national advocate for children with autism.
Insurance company Munich Re issued a report in January warning school districts of liability risks associated with using restraints and seclusions. Under the heading "Minimizing the risk," the document suggested districts consider policies that ban restraints and seclusion except during emergencies, notify parents promptly, improve training and document each use.
In February, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, reintroduced a bill that would permit restraints only to stop students from seriously hurting themselves or others. It would prohibit public schools from isolating children in rooms against their will. Families such as the Lukes are watching to see if it advances.
The Luke family was infuriated that no one at Carson’s public school appeared to be held accountable for the boy’s broken hand and foot. Carson had nightmares about the incident three years ago and still doesn’t sleep through the night alone. (Sarah Tilotta/NPR) In the meantime, the Lukes have been infuriated by the fact that nobody seems to have been held accountable for their boy's broken hand and foot. Police and a social services worker interviewed Carson, but officials decided action wasn't warranted. Luke says she isn't aware that any disciplinary action has been taken against the school workers involved.
Carson finished the year at a private school before the family moved back to Maryland. He suffered some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. "He was having unreal nightmares," says Luke, who now also works as an advocate for disabled children. "It would be things like 'I was at SECEP, and there was a monster chasing me down the hall.' "
Three years later, Carson is doing well at a private school that specializes in helping children with disabilities. He is never secluded and was physically escorted out of the classroom just twice this past school year, says Luke, who doesn't oppose using restraints to prevent injuries.
Carson talks about going to college and wants to open his own pet grooming and boarding business. But, she says, he hasn't slept through the night alone since the incident in Chesapeake.
"He has psychological damage," Luke says. "I do, too."
ProPublica data editor Jeff Larson contributed to this story.
We all know by now that the extensive public school closures happening in cities is a development tool designed to give low-income parents and children no choice than to relocate where they can find a spot. Often, there is a charter school at the edge of the city toted as being the best for underserved children. Gentrification has always been around----but this is far different as people are being forced from homes losing money in selling----children are forced into busing across the city-----and the charters these children often end up attending offer restricted curriculum often vocational and often tracking them into what will be low-income jobs.
FREE WILL AND CHOICE IS GONE SAY CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS AND BUSH NEO-CONS.
The sad thing is that people of color kept from employment and ability to own a business are being targeted as these new business people owning their own charter school and by simply wanting employment and/or a business become the face of dismantling equal opportunity education and housing that gave the US the largest movement from poverty to the middle-class in world history.
These new school business people give the administrators just what they want as regards successful data and selective admission.
Below you see why voters are confused about Democrat vs Republican. Chicago sees the worst of abuse from this education privatization because Chicago is run by Clinton neo-liberals----not Democrats. Education reform is the Republican policy for handing public education funding to Wall Street and that is not what a Democratic pol would do. So, don't vote Republican if you hate these reforms. No matter how much Republican pols will pretend they hate parts of Race to the Top------the entire policy was written by Republican think tanks and Bush worked with corporations to write most of it.
Report Calls for Moratorium on Chicago School Closures
By Denisa R. Superville on June 18, 2014 12:51 PM
A new report from the University of Illinois, Chicago, calls for a moratorium on school closures, turnarounds, and the expansion of charter schools in the city, citing the disruptive nature and harm those actions cause families and the lack of evidence that they have improved education.
The report, "Root Shock: Parents' Perspective on School Closings In Chicago," looked at parents' view on the massive school closures of a year ago, when the Chicago Board of Education voted to close nearly 50 schools, turn around another five and co-locate 17 elementary schools in other school buildings—the largest single action on school closures in the country at the time.
Researchers Pauline Lipman and Kelly Vaughan found that parents felt the closures negatively impacted their children and the new schools to which they were sent were not an improvement; they felt excluded from the decisions to close the schools; and the closures left a deep distrust between parents and the Chicago Public Schools.
The decision to close the schools last year set of strong reactions and protests in the affected communities, so it's not surprising that parents surveyed and interviewed would have a negative view of the closings.
School closures—or even plans to do so— are hot topics in urban school districts, from Philadelphia to Newark, as they struggle to address the problems confronting them: the ballooning costs, and the acute needs of a shrinking population of predominantly minority and low-income students.
The report by the University of Illinois, Chicago's Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education was based on in-depth surveys with Chicago Public Schools parents in the South, West and near-West sides of the city, public data, and testimonies at public hearings on the topic.
Among the other findings:
- Parents and communities experienced emotional losses tied to the school closures;
- Parents felt excluded from the process and from the new schools; and
- Parents desire a voice in decisions made by CPS and the Board of Education;
- A holistic approach to education district-wide that involves fully staffing all schools with art, physical education activities, extracurricular activities, wraparound services and a culturally rich curriculum;
- Developing school transformation plans in conjunction with school-based educators, parents, and educational experts. Those plans should also draw on the knowledge of the community;
- Democratization of the Chicago Public Schools decision-making process to include the input of the relevant local school council—an elected body of teachers, parents, and school staff which are part of every school.
This is exactly what Race to the Top is about------using charters to dismantle public schools and simply handing small charters over to private national charter chains. As you see here, KIPP and other charters that have from the beginning had a goal of becoming a Wall Street private charter chain are expanding and gobbling up those warm and fuzzy community charter schools as is the plan. Baltimore is set with national charter chains just waiting to expand. Republicans out there who like charters because they give communities the ability to cater to community voice had better understand that national charter chains are Wall Street and there will be no community voice.....or quality education-----simply maximizing profits with what was once public education funding. STOP ALLOWING CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS AND BUSH NEO-CONS WIN THESE PRIMARIES----MARYLAND POLS ARE ALL CLINTON AND BUSH POLS---GET RID OF THEM
Below you see an article that mirrors what is happening in Baltimore today. Camden was ground zero for yet another Clinton neo-liberal----Corey Booker who like Maryland's O'Malley used city to launch what would become a platform for national charters to expand across the state. In this case the city is Camden and the expansion will happen in New Jersey------in O'Malley's case it is Baltimore where the same charters are looking to expand in the city and then expand across Maryland. These schools have nothing to do with quality education-----they almost always target underserved children and parents and then take over the entire public school system.
Do the people made small business owners by running charters win in these situations? Of course not----like any corporation that swallows the small fish most of the employees and bosses are replaced.
June 5, 2014 by edushyster
What do you call it when the arrival of charter chains forces the closure of other charters? Choice.
By Sue Altman
Be warned, starters of small charters! You may have enjoyed a red-carpet spotlight in the past, but don’t expect much loyalty from reformy fashionistas these days. It’s a school-eat-school world out there, and on the path to global competitiveness and *bigger rigor,* there is no room for last season’s trends. Such is the hard lesson learned recently by City Invincible Charter of Camden, New Jersey, which is being forcibly closed by the state in order to make way for the bigger, more disruptive charter chains.
A sadly familiar tale
City Invincible Charter got the bad news just four months shy of its second birthday—and a few months before its second year of test results arrived. The school’s supporters charge that they are the victims of political favoritism towards corporate charter chains like Uncommon, Mastery and KIPP, all of which are about to set up shop in Camden. The irony is thick, the sad story all too familiar. As City Invincible Charter board member Randy Ribay laments here, the state didn’t care that the school was reaching its *benchmarks,* or that countless changes had been made, from rewriting the curriculum to increasing security measures to bolstering the school’s capacity to serve students’ socio-emotional needs, or that parents liked the school. The. State. Didn’t. Care. You see, Ribay understands exactly what’s happening here:
[O]ur public education system is being hijacked not only in Camden, but all over our country. This decision simply exemplifies the circumvention of due process in order to benefit those who are more concerned with expanding their brand or their name or their influence or their pockets.
Oh, Mr. Ribay, I am so glad that you’ve realized that the decision to close your school and open others was *politically motivated.* (Guess what? So was the decision to open yours.) And, I’m equally glad you recognize it’s horribly unfair that some schools are *aligned with wealthy individuals and institutions* and others aren’t. But do you not note the irony? From where, may I ask, did you get your students, your funding, and your right to open?
2 bad, so sad
Why it was a mere two years ago that City Invincible Charter entered the Camden scene with the warmest embrace of the state. Created to serve some of the poorest students in the state of NJ, small charters like these, the rational went, would provide the citizens of Camden a *better education* and a *chance to choose. But amid all the chatter about achievement gaps and choices, there were precious few mentions of what the arrival of charter choice would mean for the non-choosy students in Camden’s remaining public schools. Today, the same system that once showed such love for City Invincible has come back to bite them. Someone just a little trendier—not to mention a bit more scalable—has moved into town, and City Invincible is being dropped like a hot potato.
If reformers place old school public schools on the very bottom of the taxonomy of excellence, small, boutique and local charters are only one level up. These days, only a chosen few megachains get the right to work their excellence-extracting magic. Forget about community preference. We’re on a slow and steady march towards the standardization of education, the standardization of the education market and the neutering of teachers unions. In Camden, the chosen charter chains are KIPP, Mastery, and Uncommon—all bulge-bracket charter chains, all *no-excuses.* Totally scalable. Totally replicable. Totally adored by the edu-philanthropist-venture-capitalist sector.
Could we be seeing the first rift within the charter movement: the boutique single-school *mom and pop shop* charters vs the big corporate style chains? Is there finally some tension, not to mention some possible common ground? If the leaders of City Invincible are looking for some allies, they might consider joining forces with the newly laid-off district teachers and principals in community schools just down the street. Both City Invincible and Camden’s community schools will be forced to make way as the Mastery, KIPP and Uncommon chains expand, whether Camden residents like it or not.
So, City Invincible, we feel your pain. You might not be trendy anymore, but at least you’re getting it.
Just as our public education dollars are being soaked with this K-12 charter school push so too are for-profit colleges still soaking the higher education funding lost mostly to fraud and leaving students pinned to student loans they should never have been exposed to.
This is the same practice of ignoring the crime and then if finally brought to the US Justice Department settlements are pennies on the dollar of fraud. So, the system is still filled with fraud and corruption with Federal and State agencies doing nothing-----most likely because they are dismantled and defunded.
For-profit education fraud was calculated near a trillion dollars when Obama came to office and almost none of that money was recovered. As this article shows-----it continues on steroids with Obama as billions of dollars in Federal spending that should go to students attending good public universities are funneled into these private colleges that are often career vocational training.
O'Malley spent his entire terms in office building online higher education and allowing for-profit education to soar-----and Baltimore is ground zero for for-profit with TV commercials played over and over again. Guess who has lots of students stuck with career college debt and not jobs? MARYLAND!
June 18, 2014
State regulators going easy on for-profit colleges, consumer group says
Alleged laxity comes even as attorneys general crack down
By Jon Marcus
While state law-enforcement authorities are cracking down on abuses by private, for-profit colleges and universities, state regulators are doing little to prevent those abuses in the first place, a new report contends.
The report, by the National Consumer Law Center, or NCLC, says that states and not the federal government provide the most protection for students. But it said most “continue to neglect their critical oversight and consumer protection role.”
There’s no regulation at all in most states of for-profit colleges that offer only online education, for example, the report says.
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities was holding its annual convention in Las Vegas, and did not respond to a request for comment about the NCLC report.
Attorneys general in at least 32 states are investigating complaints that for-profit colleges and universities use misleading marketing and leave their students with high debt. Fourteen states have reached the stage of issuing subpoenas.
The race to fill US universities with foreign students often from Asia has nothing to do with attracting the BEST of the BEST. It is everything to do with bringing students to the US that will then serve to expand power and reach to US global corporations overseas. As this article shows-----foreign students do not come with a better education record often----most students from Asian nations attending college come from wealthy families and private schools that pad these student's grades just as is done in US private schools. Not always---but most of the time. So, the American people are losing the ability to enter our universities and many of the skilled jobs are going to these foreign student grads. Now, we have always welcomed foreign students and still want to-----we do not want our university structured so as to keep US citizens at a grave disadvantage which is what corporatization of universities does. In Maryland, neo-liberal O'Malley made this university structure his entire focus in education policy.
I will look more closely at this policy of loading our universities with foreign students and then look at the immigration policy Obama used executive order to install that then allows these foreign student grads to stay in the US and take high--skilled jobs----again, not because they are the Best of the Best----but because they are not citizens protected by any US labor laws and who are often exploited. Many end up going back to their countries because they see no future.
Remember, I showed the labor situation on the low-wage end with the African immigrants brought to Maryland to work with Super-Shuttle that were basically enslaved working 18 hour days and earning no money finally giving up and returning to Africa. Super Shuttle gets a few years of free labor just as will happen with these foreign students at the higher end of the income scale. It is bad for these foreign students and bad for US university grads left unemployed in higher numbers.
July 1, 2014
Concerns rise about cheating by Chinese applicants to U.S. colleges Unscrupulous recruiters allegedly fake transcripts, recommendations, essays
By Timothy Pratt This story also appeared at: Hechinger Report
The application essay from a student in China sounded much like thousands of others sent each year to the University of Washington at Seattle.
“ ‘I did this,’ ” admissions officer Kim Lovaas remembers the essay saying, and, “ ‘I did that.’ ” Then she came to a phrase that stopped her short: “Insert girl’s name here.”
“I thought, ‘Did I just read that?’ ” said Lovaas, associate director for international student enrollment, admissions, and services. “To me, that was a really big red flag.”
The obvious clue in the essay was an indicator of a serious problem that’s not always so easy to detect: fraudulent applications from Chinese students seeking to get into U.S. colleges and universities.
Students leave a high school after they finished a Chinese literature exam, the first of four exams of the two-day college entrance exam, in Beijing Saturday, June 7, 2014. More than nine million students will compete in this year’s national college entrance exam across China for less than seven million college seats. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
Admissions officials and others have reported finding falsified high-school transcripts, discrepancies between English-language test scores and a Chinese student’s actual speaking ability, and phony letters of recommendation and essays.
As many as 90 percent of recommendation letters for Chinese applicants to western universities were falsified in 2011, the most recent period studied, according to the U.S. educational consulting firm Zinch China. Seventy percent of admissions essays were written by someone other than the applicants, the firm found, and half of secondary school transcripts were doctored.
Zinch has not updated those figures, and estimates of the extent of cheating vary widely, but admissions officials said that at least as many as one in 10 Chinese applications may include fraudulent material.
“Nobody has reliable data on how much it happens,” said Allan Goodman, president of the Institute of International Education. However, he added, there has been “a lot of discussion” at national meetings of registrars about preventing transcript fraud, an indication of the issue’s importance.
All of this is occurring as the number of Chinese applicants rises — and as U.S. colleges and universities recruit more of them, since the higher tuitions they pay help make up for flagging revenues from the states and from American students who require financial aid.
The number of Chinese students in the United States reached 235,597 in the 2012-2013 academic year, the last period for which the figure is available, up 21.4 percent from the year before, according to the Institute of International Education. That made China the top sending country, responsible for more than one in four foreign students on U.S. campuses.
“There are a lot of Chinese students and parents trying to get into the best quality schools they can,” said Eddie West, director of international initiatives for the National Association for College Admission Counseling, or NACAC. “Obviously there’s competition and incentives to cut corners, including submitting fraudulent applications.”
Chinese applicants often aren’t familiar with the complicated American admissions procedures, West said, since, in China, entrance to institutions of higher education is based entirely on a single test.They also must prepare for SAT and English-language proficiency exams, and fill out visa applications.
“There’s not a culture or practice of putting together admissions packages,” he said. “So third-party recruiters, unscrupulous recruiters among them, have moved into that space.”
Though there are nearly 500 recruiting agencies certified by the Chinese Education Ministry, thousands more operate outside of official scrutiny, West said. Chinese families pay them fees ranging from $6,000 to $10,000, with “bonuses” for admission to schools considered among the best, usually based on U.S. News & World Report rankings, according to Zinch.
Not even certification helps to lessen fraud, since many of the certified recruiters subcontract to uncertified ones, making it hard to know who’s doing what, said West.
As a result, higher-education institutions and professional organizations have begun developing their own standards for certifying international recruiters.
“Clearly one of our standards is, ‘No falsifying applications and their parts,’” said John Deupree, executive director of the American International Recruitment Council.
But the council has certified only 65 recruiting organizations worldwide—a “drop in the bucket,” Deupree said. That’s because it was founded only in 2008, and is still fairly new, he said, and because the certification process is voluntary, with no regulatory authority behind it.
Chinese families pay fees to recruiters of up to $10,000, with bonuses for admission to schools considered among the best. –Zinch China consulting firm
He said the number of recruiters seeking certification will rise as more U.S. universities and colleges require it.
In the meantime, however, the marked increase in Chinese applications to U.S. colleges and universities makes it hard for American admissions officers to keep up.
Jonathan Weller, director of international admissions at the University of Cincinnati, said the office in which he works didn’t even exist until seven years ago. Now it has five people working abroad, three of them in China.
“Up until 10 years ago,” Weller said, “most universities did not have international admissions staff.”
Efforts are being made to crack down on the fraud.
After a stint at educational consulting in China, where he said clients asked him to falsify essays, recommendation letters, and transcripts, Chris Boehner founded Vericant, a company that interviews Chinese applicants face-to-face and provides videos of the conversations, along with supervised writing and speaking exercises.
At the University of Cincinnati, staff are quick to spot “students whose conversations with us show a lower level of English” than their English-language scores suggest, Weller said.
And at the University of Washington at Seattle, employees have developed relationships with certain high schools in China, and can quickly verify if transcripts are valid.
Lovaas and others noted that, as widespread as cheating may be, most Chinese students who are accepted to U.S. institutions apply honestly, and tend to do well, which Deupree said points to another reason for increasing vigilance against fraud: “Not just because it’s a bad thing, but because institutions don’t want students to fail.”