CHARTERS WILL NOT PUT THE FUNDING INTO SCHOOLS ONCE THEY DISMANTLE ALL OF K-12----AND FEDERAL/STATE FUNDING OF PUBLIC EDUCATION WILL END LEAVING CHILDREN COMPLETELY IN THE HANDS OF A WALL STREET VOCATIONAL K-CAREER COLLEGE.
9/29/2011 @ 11:51AM 13,134 views
80% of Michigan Charter Schools are For-Profits
The charter school movement began as a grassroots attempt to improve public education. It’s quickly becoming a backdoor for corporate profit. In Michigan, four out of five charter schools are run by for-profit EMO’s.
Who preys upon underserved citizens and communities? Wall Street. Who will be in control of these charters as national charter chains take over these urban education platforms? Wall Street. So, the feel-good of taking a chronically under-funded public school to a modest achievement through reinstatement of rigor will end after these charter systems dismantle public K-12. We know this. There will be no quality for poor students if Wall Street gains control and yet Wall Street targets underserved communities because they have lacked even the basics in funding and resources since Reagan/Clinton started defunding and dismantling public education. Governor Jindal is a raging neo-conservative as is the Baltimore Johns Hopkins doing the same to Baltimore schools as Jindal did to New Orleans only with politicians running as Democrats. As media portrays New Orleans as a success, education academics are outing the skewed data coming from these charters and the parents and students are silenced in their protest at the level of injustice. Things are improving; they are simply eliminating people from schools and lying about it.
Baltimore is New Orleans in its privatization goals and Baltimore Education Coalition is the Johns Hopkins privatization organization which is given all of the voice in all public meetings on education---silencing the citizens of Baltimore just as New Orleans silenced their citizens. Wall Street went after the cities because the poor have no voice----but the plan is to expand this privatized charter chain platform across the state.
WHO RESENTS FEDERAL INTERVENTION INTO EDUCATION THE MOST? REPUBLICAN VOTERS. WALL STREET INTERVENTION MAKES FEDERAL REGULATIONS LOOK LIKE WINDOW DRESSING.
Republicans are shouting the most in losing complete control of community schools and remember, low-income families have more white in poverty than people of color. Republican politicians are pretending all of these Race to the Top are Democratic policies pushed by Obama but they are very Republican pushed by a Clinton neo-liberal.
In New Orleans, major school district closes traditional public schools for good
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed the firing of more than 7,000 employees to the New Orleans Recovery School District; the Orleans Parish School Board fired the workers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The story also incorrectly stated when the Recovery School District was created; it was created in 2003 and was appointed to oversee most schools in New Orleans after the hurricane in 2005. The story has been corrected.
By Lyndsey Layton May 28, 2014
The second-graders paraded to the Dumpster in the rear parking lot, where they chucked boxes of old worksheets, notebooks and other detritus into the trash, emptying their school for good.
Benjamin Banneker Elementary closed Wednesday as New Orleans’s Recovery School District permanently shuttered its last five traditional public schools this week.
With the start of the next school year, the Recovery School District will be the first in the country made up completely of public charter schools, a milestone for New Orleans and a grand experiment in urban education for the nation.
It has been two decades since the first public charter school opened in Minnesota, conceived as a laboratory where innovations could be tested before their introduction into public schools. Now, 42 states encourage charters as an alternative to conventional schools, and enrollment has been growing, particularly in cities. In the District of Columbia, 44 percent of the city’s students attend charter schools.
But in New Orleans, under the Recovery School District, the Louisiana state agency that seized control of almost all public schools after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005, the traditional system has been swept away.
The creation of the country’s first all-charter school system has improved education for many children in New Orleans, but it also has severed ties to a community institution, the neighborhood school, and amplified concerns about racial equality and loss of parental control.
An all-charter district signals the dismantling of the central school bureaucracy and a shift of power to dozens of independent school operators, who will assume all the corresponding functions: the authority to hire and fire teachers and administrators, maintain buildings, run buses and provide services to special-needs students.
Of the Recovery School District’s 600 employees, 510 will be out of a job by week’s end. All 33,000 students in the district must apply for a seat at one of the 58 public charter schools, relying on a computerized lottery to determine placement.
Alexander P. Tureaud Elementary School Principal Perretta White-Mitchell hugs one of her students at an end-of-the-year awards ceremony on May 27, 2014. White-Mitchell has been at the school since Katrina and doesn't know what she is going to do next year but says that she will seek employment. (Edmund D. Fountain/For The Washington Post) Critics of the all-charter New Orleans model say it is undemocratic, because leaders of charter schools are not accountable to voters. They also say the system is challenging for parents, who have to figure out logistics that were not an issue when their children walked to neighborhood schools.
“They don’t answer to anyone,” said Sean Johnson, the dean of students at Banneker, whose father attended the school while growing up in the Black Pearl neighborhood. “The charters have money and want to make more money. They have their own boards, make their own rules, accept who they want and put out who they want to put out.”
Advocates say the all-charter model empowers parents.
“We’ve reinvented how schools run,” said Neerav Kingsland of New Schools for New Orleans, which promotes and supports charter schools. Kingsland is leaving the organization to try to export the model to other cities. “If I am unhappy with service I’m getting in a school, I can pull my kid out and go to another school tomorrow. I don’t have to wait four years for an election cycle so I can vote for one member of a seven-member board that historically has been corrupt.”
By most indicators, school quality and academic progress have improved in Katrina’s aftermath, although it’s difficult to make direct comparisons because the student population changed drastically after the hurricane, with thousands of students not returning.
Before the storm, the city’s high school graduation rate was 54.4 percent. In 2013, the rate for the Recovery School District was 77.6 percent. On average, 57 percent of students performed at grade level in math and reading in 2013, up from 23 percent in 2007, according to the state.
Opinion surveys show support for charter schools but unease about the shuttering of all traditional schools, with just 41 percent of New Orleans residents backing the idea in a poll commissioned by the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University in New Orleans. The changes also have been stirred racial tensions and claims of disenfranchisement.
“This is a depressed community,” said Karran Harper Royal, an activist who has been trying to block the school closings. “People here don’t really feel like they can coalesce and fight this.”
In affected neighborhoods, news that Banneker and the four other traditional schools were closing was greeted with shrugs from residents who have grown inured to upheaval since Katrina.
Paper peels from a blackboard at Alexander P. Tureaud Elementary School on May 27, 2014. (Edmund D. Fountain/For The Washington Post) “It’s bittersweet, but what are you going to do?” asked Myra Jenkins, 31, as she picked up her 5-year-old twin boys from kindergarten at A.P. Tureaud Elementary, a school encircled in barbed wire. Built in 1939, the building’s art deco features are scarred and shattered. Inside, a handmade sign peeling off a door welcomes visitors but misspells the school’s name. The school received a “D” from Louisiana’s A-to-F grading system in 2013.
Some residents were disheartened to learn of its closing. “This don’t make no sense,” said Derrick Williams, 45, who walked his great-niece to kindergarten on a recent day. “Me and my sister, the whole family, the whole neighborhood went to that school.”
A few miles away, 486 children attend the sparkling Akili Academy, a K-6 charter school. Akili, a “C” school, occupies the former William Franz Elementary School, in the Upper Ninth Ward, a building that underwent a $24 million restoration and expansion after Katrina. The school has a $250,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation, established by the family that founded Wal-Mart.
“This is the most exciting city in the country for education,” said Kate Mehok, the chief executive of Crescent City Schools, which operates Akili. She began her career with Teach for America and was a founding assistant principal at a KIPP charter school in Harlem. “Anytime you allow parents choice about where they can send their kids to school, it can only be good.”
When Katrina struck in 2005, the public schools in New Orleans were considered among the worst in the country. Just before the storm, the elected Orleans Parish School District was bankrupt and couldn’t account for about $71 million in federal money. There were just a few charter schools.
In the tumult after the hurricane, the state seized control of 102 of the city’s 117 schools — the worst performers — and appointed the Recovery School District to oversee them, while letting the Orleans Parish School Board run the relatively few remaining.
The Recovery School District closed failing traditional schools or turned them over to charter operators, never intending to reconstruct a traditional school system, said Patrick Dobard, the superintendent.
“We’ve had a clear plan in place,” Dobard said. “We’re going to create a new legacy, a new memory. We don’t have to hold onto some of the things in the past that didn’t work.”
The city is spending about $2 billion — much of it federal hurricane recovery money — to refurbish and build schools across the city, which are then leased to charter operators at no cost.
Students raise their hands in teacher Hannah Bunis' first-grade class at Akili Academy in New Orleans on May 27, 2014. (Edmund D. Fountain/For The Washington Post) “The difference between now and pre-Katrina is that we’re replacing schools that are not performing well,” Dobard said. “We don’t let children languish in chronically poor performing neighborhood schools. It was a system of haves and have nots. We passed those times in New Orleans, and I’m glad we left those behind us.”
After Katrina, the Orleans Parish School Board fired more than 7,000 employees — nearly all of them African American — while the charter schools hired scores of young teachers, many of them white recruits from Teach for America. The fired teachers sued for wrongful termination and won a judgment that could total more than $1 billion.
White students disproportionately attend the best charter schools, while the worst are almost exclusively populated by African American students. Activists in New Orleans joined with others in Detroit and Newark last month to file a federal civil rights complaint, alleging that the city’s best-performing schools have admissions policies that exclude African American children. Those schools are overseen by the separate Orleans Parish School Board, and they don’t participate in OneApp, the city’s centralized school enrollment lottery.
John White, the state’s superintendent of education, agreed that access to the best schools is not equal in New Orleans, but he said the state is prevented by law from interfering with the Orleans Parish School Board’s operations.
“The claim that there’s an imbalance is right on the money,” White said. “The idea that it’s associated with privilege and high outcomes is right on the money.”
Stan Smith, acting superintendent of the Orleans Parish schools, said his district’s charter schools have agreed to participate in the OneApp when their contracts are renewed, in two to 10 years from now.
The city’s conversion to charters promises the best outcome for the most students, White said. “These kinds of interventions are never easy things,” he said. “When you look at overall outcomes, they’ve been positive. Does it have collateral negative effects? Of course. But does it work generally for the better? Yes.”
At Banneker Elementary, Sharell Washington was absorbing the school closing.
“I’m sad. I like this school,” said Sharell, a bright-eyed 8-year-old who does not know where she will attend school in the fall. “I’ve been here since kindergarten, and I know a lot about this school. I have friends here. They always have my back.”
I have attended Baltimore City School Board meetings on occasion over several years to have my 3 minutes addressing the corporate school board. I always point to the chronic fraud and corruption in distributed education funds in Baltimore---to the privatization with Teach for America, charters, and school choice using schools as development tools as being illegal since this violates the US Constitution.
I had Michael Sarbanes come up to me after one school meeting testimony with the steely look in the eyes of someone telling me to back off. Sarbanes is the communications manager of a school reform that is so illegal and unjust that it takes a great deal of of silencing the public to move forward. No one mentions Equal Protection or equal opportunity and access----the non-profits simply state over and over 'we need better schools for our children'----which of course is interpreted as charters.
One thing that a communications manager has to do as well is make sure the public cannot see what the data really is in this transition because you have to say the data is good to move forward----that is Sarbanes job. As an academic researcher I looked at all the data on the websites of K-12 schools---both public and charter several years ago and saw how what was a jump in achievement the first years of Superintendent Alonzo disappeared soon after and fell with each year. As soon as I wrote about that the posting of test scores disappeared from school websites and a generalized score that does not allow one to follow specific trends in scores appeared. Then charter schools----required by law to make their data public stopped putting scores and demographics on the website altogether. When I called Baltimore City School Administration to ask the IT/Communications Department why these school websites did not post the data as required---they told me to get the data from the State of Maryland. I was literally rebuffed by my public workers. Well, they work for corporations---but call themselves public. So, I know the data in Baltimore is skewed each year and we always have an auditor come in to tell us years after the bad data is used by Alonzo or Governor O'Malley as positive achievement for their policies that is actually falling achievement.
Michael Sarbanes hired by city schools
Former City Council president candidate to oversee communications for Baltimore system
January 09, 2008|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,Sun reporter
Michael A. Sarbanes, the son of retired U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and an unsuccessful candidate for City Council president, was hired by the Baltimore school system last night to oversee communications and parent and community outreach.
A lawyer and community activist, Sarbanes will report directly to schools Chief Executive Officer Andres Alonso when he begins his new position Feb. 19. He will be responsible for building partnerships with businesses, community organizations and foundations. He will also develop and manage a strategy to improve parent and family involvement, and will oversee communications internally and with the media.
"What's happening in the school system and the possibilities are tremendously exciting. And I'm just excited to be a part of it," Sarbanes after last night's meeting.
Education and political observers were eager to see how his appointment will be viewed by City Hall. Sarbanes was defeated in the Sept. 11 Democratic primary by incumbent City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, who was endorsed by Mayor Sheila Dixon and Gov. Martin O'Malley. Dixon and O'Malley jointly appoint the city school board.
But in hiring Alonso last summer, the school board clearly spelled out his authority to determine whom he wants on his staff without political interference. Technically, the board must sign off on all new hires.
Also last night, the board appointed Irma E. Johnson as the system's executive director of elementary and elementary/middle schools. Johnson, the longtime principal of Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. Elementary, was named state Principal of the Year last spring, representing Maryland as a National Distinguished Principal. About that time, she was promoted to become an "area academic officer," overseeing a group of elementary schools.
In her new role, Johnson will oversee the city's elementary schools and combined elementary/middle schools, which serve prekindergarten through eighth grade. Roger Shaw, the Paul Laurence Dunbar High principal who was named executive director of secondary schools last month, is overseeing stand-alone middle schools, as well as high schools.
Johnson and Shaw will report to the system's new chief academic officer, Mary Minter.
Sarbanes, 42, has served since 2003 as executive director of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, a group that develops regional and neighborhood policy. He chaired Baltimore's task force on inclusionary housing from 2005 to 2006.
After he was hired last night, Sarbanes said he was eager to begin his new job.
"Excellence in our school system really transforms lives, and it can transform neighborhoods," he said.
Sarbanes grew up in Baltimore and attended the Gilman School before receiving a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a law degree from New York University. After Princeton, but before NYU, he won a Marshall scholarship to study at Oxford University.
Sarbanes has worked as an attorney for the Baltimore Community Law Center. He directed the Baltimore City Comprehensive Community Program and the state's Office of Crime Control and Prevention. From 2001 to 2003, he was deputy chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
A past board member of the Baltimore Education Network, he lives in Irvington with his wife, attorney Jill Wrigley, and their three children: two brothers adopted from Ethiopia and a girl adopted from East Baltimore. His older brother is Rep. John Sarbanes.
In the race for City Council president, pitting the children of two of Maryland's most prominent politicians against each other, Sarbanes raised more money than Rawlings-Blake and was running even with her in a poll a week before the election. But in the end, the daughter of the late Del. Howard P. Rawlings won 49 percent of the vote, compared with 39 percent for Sarbanes. He has never held elected office, and some political observers maintained that he wanted to use the office as a steppingstone to become mayor.
The reason corporations and wealth inequity has taken such a hold in the US and the reason the American people are so uninformed on public policy has much to do with the dismantling of the public sector and when outsourcing comes---it goes to corporations and churches. It is the churches which are the biggest player in this global corporate takeover of the US all the while knowing what global corporate rule will look like for the American people.
IT IS VERY STRANGE AND TROUBLING.
Raise your hands if you know Wall Street does not stop in its acquisition of market-share! EVERYONE. So, as religious institutions jump at this privatization to expand religious schools weakening further our public school system----do they really think Wall Street is going to share this privatized K-12 market? I talk all the time to Catholic priests about the realities of a shared private profit-driven school system with religious schools and I get the same response----they see themselves as becoming global corporations themselves. So, we now are having national Catholic health systems, growing Catholic charter chains.....and of course this is happening with other religious schools as well. In each case these religious schools take over the public sector as in Baltimore with a systemic closing of public schools over a few decades have been filled with more and more religious schools.
Separation of church and state will end that---but my question for these religious leaders knowing what all this global corporate domination means to people termed as HUMAN CAPITAL by the very people these churches are partnered with---
JESUS WANTED TO UPLIFT THE POOR NOT MAKE THEM MORE DOWNTRODDEN FOR GOODNESS SAKE.
Chicago places Catholic schools as the top growing sector in education as is true here in Baltimore. Republicans love the capture of society by wealth and religion----the Democrats protect Separation of Church and State because in order for people to have a voice as citizens THERE HAS TO BE A PUBLIC SECTOR!
So, if everyone knows the goal of Wall Street and privatized charter chains will be repressive for the American people----WE NEED RELIGIOUS LEADERS WHO DO NOT WANT TO PARTNER WITH AUTOCRATIC REGIMES.
As this article states, private investment firms are now working nationally to buy the real estate for these private charter chains and as in Baltimore the public school buildings have been tied to bond leverage that will have all renovated public school buildings default into the hands of private investors when the bond market crashes.
Charter schools in the US: Wall Street’s education model
By Nancy Hanover World Socialist Web Site
11 July 2011
Last month a new for-profit investment fund was created, the first of its kind, to finance the construction of charter schools across the United States. Jointly managed by Canyon Capital Realty Advisors ($20 billion in assets) and Agassi Ventures, LLC, owned by Andre Agassi, it plans to buy up undervalued urban land and jumpstart the construction of 75 new charter schools.
The Canyon-Agassi Charter School Fund announcement states, “The fund will provide investors with current income and capital appreciation by responding to the growing demand for quality charter school facilities in the nation’s burgeoning urban centers and by capturing the opportunities arising out of the current dislocation in the real estate market.”
In other words, it will buy inner-city land cheaply, develop it and then sell the facilities to charter operations. The firm expects to raise $300 million in equity and invest up to $750 million.
National Heritage Academies This model appears to draw on the wildly successful playbook established by the Michigan-based National Heritage Academies. The for-profit chain is the nation’s second largest charter school management company, at 67 schools with 42,000 students, and profits largely on their usurious building and rent fees (see “Michigan charters are a runaway train”).
The Canyon-Agassi Fund initiative dovetails with the recent announcement by the Obama administration that hundreds of thousands of dollars of “education reform” grants will be made available for assisting the start-up of new charters schools. Those grants will be in addition to the $1.35 billion allocated for Race To The Top (RTTT), which includes funds for partnering with businesses (see “Obama’s 2012 budget deepens attack on public education“).
In a similar vein, recently Hour Detroit magazine flatteringly profiled developer Joel Landy, who purchased the Jefferson School from the Detroit Public Schools for $1,000 in 1991. He replaced 900 windows and held onto the property for nine years, eventually negotiating an eight-year agreement for $65,000-a-month rent from a charter.
Real estate market manipulation is, nonetheless, just one aspect of the steady looting of public education tax dollars.
The eagerness of Wall Street to profit from education dollars was famously pointed to by Jonathan Kozol, the well-known education advocate. He cited a NationsBanc Montgomery Securities prospectus in his column published by Harpers, writing: “The education industry represents, in our opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control that have either voluntarily opened” or “been forced” to open up to private enterprise.
The education industry, the bank concludes, represents the largest market opportunity since health care services were privatized during the 1970s. While college education can offer “attractive investment returns, the larger developing opportunity is in the K-12 EMO [Education Management Organization] market,” it observed. “The K-12 market is the Big Enchilada.”
While virtually every state in the US is facing draconian cuts in public schools, charters have been a mechanism, a Trojan horse, through which large profit concerns have taken over substantial and growing segments of kindergarten through grade 12 education.
This offensive is now receiving hundreds of millions of dollars of direct underwriting by the Obama administration. Of a piece with the bailout of banks, Obama is providing what little “education” money the federal government is allocating to facilitate the privatization of education.
How have charters aided this process?
As public schools, charters are funded by public tax rolls. Yet they are exempted from many state and local rules and regulations, especially those that protect the work rules and rights of teachers. Most have “at will” employment, no unions and no pension programs for teachers. While they must open their doors to all applicants, they have the right to dismiss students who do not “fit” or have “disciplinary issues.” For this reason, charters typically have few students classified as special education, or for whom English is not their first language—and are therefore cheaper to operate.
Some of these schools are run by a group of individuals, but most are administered by companies known as Education Management Organizations (EMOs). This name was deliberately coined by Wall Street to reference Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). The name clearly implies health insurance’s successful business model of increasing profits by denying services. While a few EMOs are nonprofit, most are now for-profit.
Since they are public schools, charters cannot charge tuition. The regulations governing the charter vary by state and by the authorizing institution, to which they are ultimately responsible.
The nation’s first charter schools were legalized in 1991 in Minnesota in the aftermath of the relative failure of school vouchers to gain traction.
The 1990s was the roaring decade of deregulation, financialization, securitization and subprime mortgages. As Wall Street found new and more rapacious methods to loot the economy, a section of the bourgeoisie eyed the billions of dollars spent annually on K-12 education. Charters grew rapidly and a market was created.
In the late 1990s, the largest for-profit EMO was EdisonLearning (formerly Edison Schools), which grew from $12 million in revenues in 1995 to $217 million in 2000. Today it is eclipsed by Imagine Schools and National Heritage Academies.
As of 2010, there were nearly 5,000 charter schools in the US, educating about 1.5 million students. The for-profit segment of the charter market had also steadily grown. According to a Western Michigan University study, for-profits nationally have risen from 131 firms in the 1997-1998 school year to about 729 today.
Michigan has the most for-profit Education Management Companies in the nation with 40 firms running 185 schools, or about 80 percent of the state’s Public School Academies (PSAs). Florida (with 145 schools), Arizona (99), Ohio (92) and Pennsylvania (40) are also considered large concentrations of for-profits.
No national accounting
Because of the unregulated, local nature of charters, reporting to national studies is largely voluntary. The amount of central analysis is limited to that performed by universities or other nongovernmental bodies. “There’s an awful lot of diversity in these companies [EMOs],” points out Henry Levin, a professor of education at Columbia University. “And most of them are proprietary, so we really don’t know how they’re operating,” he concluded in a ProPublica investigative article.
Western Michigan University has sponsored studies based on self-reporting. A 2010 report, “Equal or Fair? A Study of Revenues and Expenditures in American Charter Schools,” shows charters top heavy with administration at the expense of instruction.
According to this study, charter schools spend 54.8 percent of their operating budgets on instruction compared with 60.3 percent at traditional public schools. For-profit schools spend even less on instruction. In Michigan, the average drops to 44.8 percent. A random search online, for example, brings up Crescent Academy in Southfield, Michigan, which leases all of its employees and spends only 42.67 percent on instruction.
National statistics in “Equal or Fair?” show student support services are even more unbalanced—at $858 per year for public schools and an average of $517 for charters, with for-profits even lower at $366 less per pupil than nonprofit charters. On the other end of the scale, the charters are spending considerably more on administration than their public school rivals.
The disproportionate share of charter school income spent on administration includes the consultant fees and high rents, and therefore the hidden profits, especially in the cases of chain enterprises.
Michigan charters, on average, participate only 28 percent in the state retirement system, meaning that most charter school teachers have no pension.
A Detroit News survey of charter schools published July 7 shows that of 25 high school charters in Metro Detroit surveyed, most did worse in math or science proficiency than Detroit Public Schools on the most recent Michigan Merit Exam. Even more charters did poorer in reading and writing. All Detroit-proper charters surveyed did worse than their public counterparts.
National research has also shown that EMO-operated schools have increased school segregation and created environments where students are more isolated by race, class, ability and language from public schools, while conferring no statistically relevant test score advantage.
The State of Ohio is presently suing White Hat Management, which has collected about $230 million to run charters in that state since 2008. With Annual Yearly Progress at only 2 percent of students, the company--like National Heritage Academies—receives 96 percent of the state charter revenues, owns the property and handles all operations. White Hat operates 51 schools nationally. The company refuses to account publicly for the funds it has received.
Virtual charters and Michael Milken As troubling as the brick-and-mortar charters are, they do substantially better than the latest charter model, the online or virtual charter—in which children get their instruction entirely at home on their computer.
The largest taxpayer-funded online charter, Agora Cyber Charter, is managed by K12, an EMO founded and substantially owned by Michael R. Milken, the junk-bond dealer and securities fraud felon, former US Secretary of Education William Bennett and former Goldman Sachs banker Ron Packard. The banker told Newsweek, “Mike [Milken] believes that education is a phenomenal investment opportunity.”
K12 was established as a publicly traded entity in 2007 with about $90 million from Milken. This operation now has 81,000 students in 27 states. Local schools are designated as non-profit, which then hire K12 as the for-profit management company. This, for example, enabled K12 to corner the Pennsylvania charter market, and receive 80 percent of the funding of traditional schools, approximately $8,000 per student, while supplying no building, books or teachers.
Milken’s firm expects to generate $500 million in revenue this year and earned $21.5 million in profits last year. Its stock valuation has doubled. According to the Western Michigan study, three quarters of K12’s students fail to achieve Annual Yearly Progress goals. Last June, the State of Pennsylvania filed a complaint against K12 citing its failure in reading and math proficiency.
Wall Street is using religious schools in the dismantling of public education structures. If this global corporate tribunal as government moves forward and the US becomes more and more autocratic and repressive ----AND we add the element of religious schools and factions as exist in third world societies----we get the same conditions as exist in an Iraq where violence and power plays over religion tear the nation apart while those rich at the top steal all the nation's wealth.
This is why the founding fathers of America left Europe and wrote into the US Constitution the Separation of Church and State. We know it will fractionalize our communities.
First and foremost though is to look at the goals of Wall Street in capturing the hundreds of billions of dollars in public education funding. They don't care about anything other than increasing market share and profits and we can bet that religious schools will become profit-driven as well.
As this article suggests-----these religious schools will be challenged and if closed they will go right into the hands of a Wall Street charter chain. So, we need religious leaders to step back and look at what the greater good in this American education reform by global corporations and Wall Street would be!
Can religion, charter schools coexist?Number of 'religious charter schools' continues to grow — along with criticism
By Tiffany Gee Lewis, For the Deseret News
Published: Saturday, Dec. 17 2011 1:00 p.m. MST
Richard Tsong-taatarii, Star Tribune
Summary In a worn-down Minnesota neighborhood, perched at the top of a steep hill not far from the Mississippi River, sits a low-slung, brown brick school. Today, the school is a mostly forgotten place, abandoned by its former tenant and taken up by another.
In a worn-down Minnesota neighborhood, perched at the top of a steep hill not far from the Mississippi River, sits a low-slung, brown brick school. Today, the school is a mostly forgotten place, abandoned by its former tenant and taken up by another.
When the school first opened in 2003, it quickly gained attention for its success in pulling above average test scores from a student population where 90 percent of the children were at the poverty level. And then the controversy began.
The school was called the Tarek Ibn Zayed Academy (TiZA), named for the medieval general of Morocco who defeated the Visigoths and ruled Spain starting in 711. It attracted an extensive waiting list of immigrant families, the majority from the Middle East and Africa.
Yet just as TiZA made a name for itself academically, the controversy began to stir around its tie to Islam. The principal of the school, Asad Zaman, was a prominent local imam, or Muslim religious leader, and also a founding member of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, an organization that shared a building with TiZA. It was estimated that more than 90 percent of the student body were Muslim. Daily Arabic lessons were part of the curriculum. Critics said the line between church and state was just too blurry.
So it was that Minnesota, home of the first charter schools, would once again be the center of a new controversy: the charter school that tries to walk that delicate line between religion and culture. TiZA is now shut down and embroiled in a protracted legal fight with the ACLU. The case could be a harbinger of what's to come for other charter schools that have ties to religious groups, says Michael McConnell, a former federal judge who represented TiZA in the case.
THE RISE OF RELIGIOUS CHARTER SCHOOLS
There has been a veritable explosion of charter schools over the past two decades, and riding that trend are charter schools founded or authorized by a religious or cultural organization. The issue of religion in schools has always been a hot-button topic, and the rise of charter schools that tie themselves to a certain ethnic or religious group introduces a new shade of complication to public schooling.
Bruce S. Cooper, a professor of educational leadership at Fordham University, has labeled these "religious charter schools," a term that rankles many in public education. According to Cooper, a religious charter school is funded by the state but is founded, supported or connected to a religious organization. He cites many examples of these religious charter schools, from Florida's Ben Gamla schools that teach Hebrew to the proliferation of Greek-teaching charter schools in New York City, some of them situated in former Greek Orthodox churches.
Money largely explains why religious organizations get involved in the charter school movement because it allows them to establish a school that teaches the culture of their beliefs without the financial overhead of a private school. The most drastic example of this was in 2008, when the Archbishop Donald Wuerl converted a number of failing Catholic private schools into charter schools in Washington, D.C.
Cooper, who co-authored the book "Blurring the Lines: Charter, Public, and Private Schools Come Together," sees no problem with the rise of these schools. They draw from churches that have a good relationship with the community, he says, and often they take advantage of space where schools have been shut down, giving parents another free public school option.
"We like to call it the new Golden Mean: the new middle ground, the best of public and private come together to create the best of both for families," he said. "I'm glad we have the separation (of church and state), but I think there can be some coordination."
A VIOLATION OF CHURCH AND STATE?
Charter schools that cater to a specific demographic are not unusual. It's part of what makes them so attractive to parents when looking for an alternative to traditional public school. In TiZA's case, the curriculum and culture of the school attracted families looking for a conservative Muslim environment paired with rigorous academics. The website touted that the school "recognizes and appreciates the traditions, histories, civilizations and accomplishments of Africa, Asia and the Middle East." Yet critics of the school said its association with Muslim leaders and groups crossed the line between cultural and religious practices.
In Minnesota, charter schools must have an authorizer who oversees the fiscal and academic responsibilities of the school. In TiZA's case, the authorizer was Islamic Relief USA, a non-profit humanitarian agency then-based in California. It was this tie that made Katherine Kersten, a Minneapolis newspaper columnist and senior fellow at the Center for the American Experiment, first look into what was going on at TiZA. In March 2008 she penned a column titled, "Are taxpayers footing bill for Islamic school in Minnesota?"
In her column, Kersten said the majority of students attended after-school Islamic studies before school buses took them to their homes. She also quoted a source that had been to the school and observed the students praying, eating halal food (permissible under Islamic law), and fasting from dawn to dusk during Ramadan.
In an interview with the Deseret News, Kersten asserted that TiZA was using its Arabic curriculum to promote religion "in a very clear way." Kersten, whose own children attended religious private school, took issue with a school she thought was smuggling in the Islamic religion through its curriculum.
At her urging, the Minnesota Department of Education looked into the matter. After an extensive inquiry, they told the school to make some minor tweaks to busing and the prayer schedule, but emphasized that the school did not violate the separation of church and state.
Kersten next went to the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, which filed suit against TiZA in January 2009. TiZA countersued with charges of religions discrimination. When a law was passed in Minnesota that the authorizer of a state charter school had to be based within the state, TiZA lost its funding from Islamic Relief USA. By July of this year, embroiled in financial trouble and lacking an approved charter school sponsor, the Minnesota Education Department ordered that TiZA be shut down. The ACLU and TiZA are still involved in court hearings.
Michael McConnell, a former federal judge who represented TiZA in the case, worries about the long-term effect of shutting down the school could have on similar institutions.
"If any school wants to operate in a way that accommodates the religious needs of a minority, they now have to ask themselves – can they withstand the onslaught of the ACLU spending literally millions of dollars on the litigation to shut them down," McConnell says. "That's really what is, in my mind, the most shocking thing about all of this, is the enormous resources that the ACLU put into shutting down this very well-meaning school."
THE IMPACT ON FAMILIES
The closing came as a blow to families whose children attended TiZA. Krista Siddiqui, whose three children had been there for years, had to scramble in just a month's time to find alternate schools. TiZA's building was quickly snapped up by another middle school charter, the STEP Academy, so her oldest daughter remained at the same facility. Saddiqui is still evaluating options for her other children. As for the rest of TiZA's student population, the ones who could afford it moved to a private Islamic school, but the majority of the students returned to their inner-city schools.
Siddiqui had hand-picked TiZA as the best school option for her children long before they were old enough to enroll. A 20-year convert to Islam, she wanted her kids to attend a school where they would not be ridiculed for their faith. She also knew the administrator, and knew of his passion for educating children. TiZA, with its strong test scores and predominantly Muslim population, fit what Siddiqui was looking for.
"It was an extremely rigorous school," she said. "It was a ton of work, and not an easy school for my kids to go to, but I liked that about it." Siddiqui's three school-age children brought home test scores in the top one and two percent of the nation.
Even before sending her kids to public school, Siddiqui heard stories about the bullying that happened toward Muslim students.
"I had friends whose children attended public school," she said. "The kids were called terrorists and told to go back to their own country, even though they and their parents were American. I wasn't looking for a school that made my children better Muslims. I was looking for a school that didn't make them feel like outcasts being Muslim. (At TiZA) they felt comfortable being who they were."
Siddiqui, who spent hours at TiZA as a volunteer, denied that the school ever crossed the line between church and state, but she understands how an outside observer might confuse the culture of the student population with religion.
"Islam is your lifestyle," she said. "It's about what you eat, how you dress. You can't take that all out of these kids when they go to school. They are going to wear their scarves. They're not going to serve pork in the cafeteria where the majority of kids won't eat it because it will be wasted."
The accusations against TiZA also came as a surprise to Wayne Jennings, who worked from the inception of the school as Islamic Relief USA's representative. He had been to the school dozens of times, and never saw anything that made him question the line between church and state.
As a seasoned educator and school administrator, as well as a decades-old member of both the Minnesota ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Jennings was particularly sensitive to making sure no lines were being crossed.
"I never liked that there was an opportunity for students to pray during the day," he said. "There was a time when everything would stop, when all the students who wanted to would kneel down facing the northeast to say a silent prayer. But these things were permitted by the state. When I started teaching back in 1958, I didn't like that kids would leave 45 minutes early to take catechism class. But I didn't make the rules. That was permitted."
FAITH AND THE FRAGMENTATION OF THE U.S.
It is exactly this kind of cultural and religious grouping that concerns Barry Lyn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Lyn, who doesn't support charter schools, believes that dividing students into specialized schools further fractures the country.
"It's been said the hour of worship on a Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America," he said. "There are not that many desegregated churches. I don't like to think we're going to divide ourselves, starting with kids in kindergarten and preach the same thing we're going to hear on a Saturday or Sunday at church."
Yet, if you walk into a traditional public school, it's clear that segregation is already happening. Suburban white kids go to school with other suburban white kids, while inner-city schools are filled with low-income, minority students. And while middle- and upper-income families can choose an area to live based on school preference, lower-income families are often pigeonholed into finding housing that is affordable, regardless of schools.
"There are suburbs where there is an admissions price: the ability to purchase a million-dollar home or condo," said Joe Nathan, founder of the Center for School Change at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. Nathan is an advocate for giving low-income and minority families the same array of quality education choices that upper-income families have. Charter schools specifically have been most effective in low-income areas where parents have banded together to create an alternative learning environment for their children.
Nathan is quick to point out, however, that charter schools should not in any way breach the separation of church and state. "The charter is not just about choice and freedom. The charter idea is about public, non-sectarian schools." Nathan, who has assisted in writing charter-school laws in multiple states, has seen cases where both charter schools and traditional public schools have breached the separation of church and state, but they have been quick to fix it.
As for TiZA, Nathan defended the now-defunct charter school. Having visited the campus several times, he said that it was operating within the law between the separation of church and state. However, he attributes the success of the school to its academic rigor, not the fact that the majority of students were of one particular race or religious group.
"The fact that they were deeply committed to factors of academic achievement had far more to do with (their success) than them being predominantly Muslim."
Tiffany Gee Lewis lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and is a regular contributor to the Deseret News
We already know the K-12 privatization with charters will be filled with as much fraud as the for-profit higher education model ----a trillion dollars in for-profit education fraud through Bush and now Obama. If religious institutions join in this process all the while seeking donations from the very institutions we know are defrauding-----we have a crisis in morality.
The Wall Street charter chain industry is just starting and we are filled with stories of fraud and corruption of data----of abusive classroom conditions, and inequity in quality of education.
IT WILL ONLY BE SUPER-SIZED IF THIS IS ALLOWED TO CONTINUE.
We need the American people who would embrace religious schools to think long term-----what will be the status of your religious school as Wall Street profit-driven charters move in----do you really want your churches acting as global corporations?
Please stop supporting this privatization----whether Republican or Democrat----vocational K-career college with testing and Common Core all speaks to the goal of very controlled classroom information and process. This is the goal of Wall Street.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Why Charter School Scandals Resemble the Subprime Mortgage Crisis
To understand why we may be approaching a charter school crisis that resembles the one that developed around subprime mortgages, you need to understand how investment banks and credit rating agencies seized upon an instrument to make homeownership available to people with limited resources as a vehicle to make fortunes and advance careers, leaving the tax payers with a large bill. I think something similar is happening today with charter schools, once seen as an opportunity to provide better educational opportunities for families in low and moderate income neighborhoods. In each instance, an institution initially aimed at expanding opportunity for those with limited resources became, because of government favoritism and lack of oversight, a vehicle for profit taking on a grand scale by the very privileged that sometimes left those the institution was designed to help in very bad shape The subprime mortgage was a loan offered by banks and financial institutions to people whose credit rating and financial position was too weak to qualify for a normal 20 to 30 year mortgage at the prevailing interest rate. To protect the lender, this was done by making the interest rate much higher, with the penalty, in the case of default, being repossession of the home that was purchased. This was obviously a high risk endeavor for the borrower. But because the nation was becoming more economically polarized, with working class incomes plunging and middle class incomes stagnant, the Clinton administration and federal lending agencies started pushing this instrument as a way of keeping the dream of homeownership alive in the nation, especially among working class people and people of color. Banks, savings and loans, and mortgage companies rose to the challenge, writing millions of these mortgages to people whose incomes and collateral did not qualify them for a conventional mortgage. At times, they aggressively marketed these mortgages, pushing them on people who never dreamed they could purchase a home, triggering a wave of new residential construction in many parts of the nation. It seemed like a democratic moment in the nation’s history- millions of new home owners, many of them people of color, a boom in residential construction, work for lawyers and bankers specializing in residential loans. But underlying this boom were shady practices that elected officials chose to ignore. Many of the mortgages were written in ways that hid the risks borrowers were taking with variable rates that rose sharply after the first few years. There was no way borrowers were going to be able to pay their mortgages with the rates they would have five or ten years after they were initially written and many would lose the homes they had purchased. Worse yet, investment banks began to bundle these mortgages into bond offerings, and sell them as a safe investments to insurance companies, pension funds, government institutions, and high end investors around the world, raking in huge commissions as they did so. And here, corruption on a grand scale turned a risky lending practice into a destabilizing force of deadly proportions in the global economy. Rating agencies, seeing huge profits being made by their best customers, the large investment banks, started giving triple A ratings to bonds based on the bundling of individual mortgages which, were they rated, would have been giving a rating of “F.” This practice ended up spreading the risk into every corner of the global economy, as investors rushed to gobble up the bonds, more mortgages were written and sold to meet the demand. And for a while it all seemed to work. Millions of people who never had homes how had them, while fortunes were being made in the writing, bundling and marketing of these mortgages. But inevitably, the boom turned to bust. When the high rates on the mortgages started kicking in, millions of people defaulted on their loans, not only losing their homes but setting in motion a chain reaction which destabilized not only the banks which had written the mortgages, but the financial institutions which had bundled them, along with their customers. Some of the largest banks and insurance companies in the nation failed and went under, and others had to be rescued through an injection of funds from the federal government at huge expense to tax payers. And as the economy plunged into near Depression, the residential housing market was shattered, and along with it the dream of widespread home ownership among the poor. Today, there are 13 million abandoned homes and commercial properties in the US, while large numbers of families live doubled and tripled up in properties which were designed to be private homes While the comparison is not exact, there are some powerful similarities between what happened to subprime mortgages and what is currently taking place with charter schools, another “short cut” to opportunity which has been seized upon by elites for financial and political gain, to the detriment of those for whom the charter school was initially designed to help. Charter schools, which are public funded schools which have their own boards of directors and can set their own hiring policies, curricula, and patterns of student recruitment and discipline independent of the regulations governing public schools , were initially created to promote greater experimentation and innovation in public education. Many early charter schools were created by teachers and parents and promoted innovative pedagogies. Some still do. But somewhere along the line, public officials began to see charter schools as a way of circumventing expensive labor contracts with teachers unions and of providing an alternative to public schools in inner city communities which had been battered by disinvestment, job losses and drug epidemics. They invited foundations and the private sector to come in and create charter schools on a far larger scale and with a very different model than parent/teacher cooperatives, using private money as well as public money. The professed goal was to give inner city parents and students safe alternatives to battered, underfunded and often troubled public schools, something many parents welcomed, but inviting powerful interests to help shape what was essentially an alternate school system free from public regulation and oversight proved to be as dangerous as it was tantalizing. By the end of the Clinton Administration, “Charter School Fever” had started to spread through Corporate America and Wall Street, spurred on by an investment tax credit that offered huge tax breaks for those who invested in charter school construction. Not only did the number of charter schools rise exponentially in every city in the country, but self- described “education entrepreneurs” began creating charter school chains, some of them non profit, some of them for profit, which attracted private funding along with public money, headed by powerful “CEO’s” who were sometimes relatives and friends of powerful politicians, and in a few instances, politicians ( or ex-politicians) themselves. Flush with funding the chains began building new schools in inner city neighborhoods where public schools were starved of funding, or in some cases, colonizing existing public school buildings and seizing the best facilities. Founders of the new chains eagerly embraced the corporate model of management, giving their executives far higher salaries than their counterparts in public education, and creating a climate of insecurity and fear for their teachers, along with data driven performance targets, with the expressed goal of vastly outperforming inner city public schools on the standardized tests which had become the central component of school evaluation following the passage of No Child Left Behind. By the middle of the Bush administration, hundreds of new charter schools had been created in cities throughout the country and charter schools were rapidly emerging as the favored strategy for inner city education among an unprecedented array of interests including Wall Street and Silicon Valley, Civil rights organizations, Hollywood and the media, and the Democratic and Republican leadership. The prospect of creating great schools in inner city communities while offering opportunities for profitable investment, all without raising taxes or increasing school budgets proved irresistible to a broad spectrum of the nation’s leadership. Charter Schools, like subprime Mortgages, were increasingly marketed as a Win/Win proposition for all concerned, a way to help the poor while unleashing the creative power of the private sector. The power and breadth of this emerging coalition was revealed for all the nation to see when Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans in 2005. Charter School advocates literally seized upon Katrina as the “Perfect Storm, putting forth a plan to turn New Orleans into all Charter School district by phasing out and closing all public schools in the city. During the last three years of the Bush administration, the plan was put into effect with the full support of the city administration and the state legislature, leading to the closing of scores of New Orleans public schools and the firing of thousands of teachers, many of them teachers of color, replacing them with charter schools staffed by mostly white teachers supplied by Teach for America. But in terms of Charter School Fever and Charter School Favoritism, the Bush years proved to be only a prelude to what was to transpire in the Obama Administration. With the appointment of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and the launching of Race to the Top, President Obama not only made Charter School Favoritism official national policy, he put hundreds of billions dollars of federal funds behind an effort to force municipalities to close “failing” public schools (defined as failing exclusively on the basis of student test scores) and replace them with charters. At a time when the nation had fallen into a severe Recession, municipalities eagerly complied as a way of getting much needed federal funds, closing public schools en masse and creating thousands of new charters, often with little oversight and only the most perfunctory investigation of the school founders and boards of directors. Ironically, this was done even though the available research showed that charters did NOT outperform public schools in the same neighborhoods, with comparable student populations. But data and evidence, when its results were inconvenient, did not deter the President and Secretary of Education from promoting Charter Schools as their preferred solution to problems of educational inequality, a position affirmed for all to see when the President celebrated “National Charter School Week” rather than “Teacher Appreciation Week.” It is in the Obama years, with the financial incentives of Race to the Top sparking rapid charter school growth with little oversight, that the abuses associated with charter schools began to take on proportions akin to those associated with the subprime mortgage crisis. In the case of the charter school industry, the abuses took two forms: mistreatment of students, teachers, and families, and fiscal issues ranging from mismanagement to outright embezzlement and fraud. Many of the educational abuses of charter schools stem from their determination to make sure their test scores surpass those of neighboring public schools, thereby justifying the favorable treatment they receive, and hope to receive in the future. These abuses include: ** Discrimination against Special Needs students and English Language learners. In every city in the nation, charter schools enroll far lower number of such students than public schools in the same neighborhoods. ** Expulsion or harassment of student who do not test well, sometimes right before state tests. In some cities, public school teachers have called this “The Charter School Dump” as they can expect an influx of charter schools students, who they HAVE TO accept, shortly before test time. On one instance a famous charter school operator in NY expelled his entire 8th grade class because of their disappointing performance on tests ** Draconian discipline policies which would never be tolerated in public schools such as putting students in closets, having them stare at walls, or wear special articles of clothing to indicate they are being punished when they violate school behavior codes. ** Telling students, parents and teachers to avoid all contact with their counterparts in co-located or neighboring public schools lest they be “polluted” or “corrupted” by such contact. ** Failure to hire or retain teachers of color. Charter schools have far lower proportions of such teachers than public schools with comparable student populations. Not all charter schools practice these forms of discrimination. But enough do, with the number growing every day, that the issue cries out for investigation at the city, state and federal level. The same is true of fiscal abuse and political favoritism, which, if anything, may even be more prevalent. These include **Inflated salaries for Charter School CEO’s and founders of charter school chains. One charter school operator in Washington DC is under investigation for drawing more than 3 million dollars in compensation a year. ** Putting public officials, and relatives of public officials on the boards of charter schools seeking public funding. Instances of this have been uncovered in Indiana, Florida, California, and Tennessee and can probably be found in most other states. **Outright embezzlement of funds by charter school operators, instances of which have been uncovered in New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Connecticut. ** Involvement of charter school operators in real estate fraud with the intention of inflating the value of properties in neighborhoods where new charter schools are being built. ** The creation of on line and for profit charter schools, without serious oversight, even though such entities have no track record of effective instruction. ** The granting of charter school franchises, in some states, to religious institutions which teach creationism and biblical literalism, and exclude students who do not share those beliefs. What we have here, to put it bluntly, is a pattern of
discrimination and fraud that hurts the very families
the charter schools were intended to help, allows
ambitious individuals to enrich themselves at public
expense, and ultimately undermines the quality of public
education in cities throughout the nation. The entire
charter industry, riddled with fraud,
corruption and discrimination,
is poised to slowly build to a public education collapse if the
trends of cherry picking the
best students, dumping the high
needs kids into public schools
then closing them for under
performing continues. It is time that all forms of Charter School Favoritism come to an end, that Charter Schools be subject to the same level of oversight that public schools are, that closing of public schools to make way for Charters stop immediately and that there be no further expansion of charter schools until their patterns of governance and operation fully investigated