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BESE Special Meeting Includes Process for Selecting La.’s Next Superintendent

On January 16, 2020, Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) held a special meeting, which included the swearing in of the 2020 BESE members; election of officers, and discussion of how to proceed with hiring Louisiana’s next state superintendent. (See video below.)

The BESE president is Sandy Holloway; vice president is Tony Davis, and secretary-treasurer is Kira Orange-Jones (which might prompt her to address her chronic absence from 38 percent of BESE meetings last term).

Regarding the process for selecting the next superintendent, Holloway proposed the following:

The Board president will establish a work group made up of four BESE members, including a work group chair, which shall serve as the nominating and screening committee, regarding the minimum qualifications and process relevant to the appointment of the state superintendent and will inform the BESE executive director of the nominees no later than January 27th. The work group will meet to develop a process for the selection of an appointment of the state superintendent. The process will be presented to the Board at the January 28th or 29th meeting for the Board’s consideration.

So, the governor apparently will not be submitting his recommendation for BESE to vote on. Instead, BESE will form a committee to nominate, offer info on minimum qualifications (which I hope includes at least five years as a classroom teacher; experience as a district superintendent, and a preference for in-state candidates), and propose a selection process.

This sounds more democratic than ed reform prefers.

Once Holloway (as BESE president) determines work group membership, BESE executive director Shan Davis will publicize the names of the four work group members.

BESE member James Garvey alluded to discussion about “a search firm being retained to help the group.” Retaining a search firm was apparently discussed but not a given. It seems that the work group will be authorized to retain a search firm but not required to do so.

I don’t like the idea of a search firm because it sounds like an effort to push for a national search (as opposed to seeking the next Louisiana superintendent within Louisiana) which, coming from Garvey, drips of ed reform.

Regarding Holloway’s motion, Stand for Children policy consultant, Keith Leger, offered the following comment:

Thank you, all, for always having the best interest of our students at the forefront of your decisions. From your guidance and leadership, we have seen tremendous growth in academic performance and educational opportunities for our students. Not only is Louisiana home now to the college football national champions. We are also recognized throughout the country as a leader of states in terms of student-centered policies. You all, collectively, have pushed the targets at a distance that is both challenging but yet reachable. I would encourage you, and I’m hopeful, that you will continue to put our students, all of our students, at the forefront of your decisions, moving forward with this very important decision. Thank you.

Stand for Children spent $168K of its Oregon money on six 2019 BESE candidates, all of whom were elected or re-elected. Leger’s words appear to have been a reminder for the electeds to stay the ed-reform course.

BESE appointee Thomas Roque stated:

I would like to offer a motion that the Board work with the executive director of BESE to schedule a forum for BESE members and for our Board on the 28th or the 29th of January, at which time we can revisit, particularly with our new members, revisit the vision, the mission, and the strategic goals for BESE, and the directions that our [work] will be on.

Holly Boffy mentioned that there are “some strong documents in place” that could serve as a starting point for discussion “so we don’t have to start from scratch.” Roque concurred.

In closing, I believe there is a different atmosphere surrounding the 2020 BESE. Yes, there is the school-choice-test-centered, ed-reform presence on this board, but it seems that the ed-reform heyday is past, that the 2020 BESE is more subdued, despite it including mostly individuals whose campaigns received notable ed-reform cash.

The departure of John White marks an important ending to Louisiana’s ed-reform worst.

I’ll leave it there for now.

 

___________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

About Michael Feinberg’s Online Porn Habit…

KIPP charter schools co-founder Michael Feinberg was fired in 2018 due to allegations of sexual misconduct. In August 2018, Feinberg sued for defamation, and in KIPP’s Motion to Dismiss, KIPP indicated that examination of Feinberg’s KIPP laptop indicated that Feinberg had used it to view pornography on multiple occasions. (See my December 2019 post for backstory and links.)

According to KIPP officials, when Feinberg was confronted about the use of his school computer to view porn, “Feinberg admitted that he had accessed the pornography in question but claimed it had only occurred during business travel.”

So, in Feinberg’s mind, using a KIPP computer to view porn was apparently okay because he did so while on business trips.

Cut to January 09, 2020, and Chalkbeat’s reporting that Jeanne Allen’s Center for Education Reform (CER) has decided to employ Feinberg for an “special initiative” for DC schools, called, “Why America?”. Allen is fine with hiring Allen, as Chalkbeat reports:

“I’ve never been guided by a group think mentality, and whatever KIPP believes or alleges about Mike is absolutely not my experience nor a concern,” Jeanne Allen, the CEO of the Center for Education Reform, told Chalkbeat in an email. “I have known plenty of people in this life who have been accused of myriad things that turned out not to be true.”

Feinberg is also connected to a nonprofit once known as the Catholic School Renaissance Institute and now known as the Texas School Venture Fund via Feinberg’s history with KIPP Houston. (For more, see my August 2019 post.) As Chalkbeat reports, via Texas School Venture Fund, Feinberg is now working with Houston furniture store owner, Jim “Mattesss Mack” McIngvale, to open three schools. McInvale told Chalkbeat that he stands beind Feinberg:

“Until the allegations are proven he’s innocent to me,” Jim McIngvale, who founded Gallery Furniture and is a longtime KIPP donor, told Chalkbeat. “I’m loyal to people.”

Allen and McIngvale are both behind Feinberg.

But let us leave the allegations of Feinberg’s sexual misconduct for a moment and consider what is not in dispute:

Feinberg used his KIPP laptop to view pornography. This issue is not one of “group mentality.” It is not an allegation that “turned out not to be true.” It is an allegation that KIPP’s Motion to Dismiss (a legal document) establishes– and which can be proven if need be because KIPP is in possession of Feinberg’s KIPP laptop.

Surprisingly, it is also an issue completely unaddressed in Chalkbeat’s January 09, 2020, article.

So, I wonder:

Will Allen and McIngvale have an arguably-awkward sit-down with Feinberg about not using CER or Furniture Gallery Charter Schools’ technology to view or otherwise engage in pornography– not even during business travel?

Will they simply see to it that Feinberg is restricted to his own technology– kind of like laptop house arrest?

Or will they ignore the issue and possibly find themselves and their organizations unpleasantly connected to Feinberg in future headlines?

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Michael Feinberg

__________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

La. State Superintendent John White Resigns

On January 08, 2020, Louisiana state superintendent John White submitted his letter of resignation to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

In it, White states, “I write to advise you… I will be vacating the position March 11, 2020, and to recommend that the board identify a new state superintendent.”

White’s resignation letter comes five days before the second inauguration of Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards, who has wanted White gone since 2015.

The complication was that in Louisiana, the governor submits her/his preference for state superintendent to BESE, and the board usually votes on the governor’s preference. However, the governor does not control the ability to terminate the state school superintendent. BESE does. And since 2015, BESE has lacked a majority wishing to oust White. BESE also lacked the supermajority (8 out of 11 votes) to issue White a new contract. So, BESE did not have the votes to renew White’s contract (though 7 out of 11 BESE members apparently wanted to), and the governor could not force a termination, which left Louisiana taxpayers continuing to foot White’s $275K salary for another four years as White became a month-to-month employee.

Apparently, there has been some behind-the-scenes negotiating to send White on his way, likely contingent upon Edwards being elected to a second term, and part of that negotiation may have included White’s agreeing to formally resign prior to the seating of the next BESE board (which happens on January 13, 2020).

One reason I believe White’s exit is the result of negotiation is that the newly-elected BESE might have enough White-sympathetic votes to grant him a second contract against the governor’s will. However, White’s announcing his exit only days prior to the seating of the 2020 BESE board bespeaks planning that will not pit another BESE majority on one side of White and the governor on the other.

A second reason I believe that some negotiation took place is that even though White submitted his letter of resignation on January 08, 2020, he is not leaving (at least on paper) until March. There is no reason for White to stick around– if he has another job lined up– and this does not seem to be the case. So, a couple more months of taxpayer money in White’s otherwise-unemployed pockets sure comes in handy for a market-based ed reformer seeking his next gig.

In June 2018, White co-founded his own “high school-to-career” nonprofit, Propel America, with a fellow Teach for America (TFA) alum– apparently without discussing the issue with BESE. In December 2019, former assistant superintendent of policy and governmental affairs, Erin Bendily, became Propel America’s full time executive director.

What becomes of White’s nonprofit remains to be seen. However, it seems unlikely that he will be able to profit from it to the tune of the $275K he’s become used to by March 2020.

With White’s exit, the Louisiana Department of Education will likely experience an exodus of TFA and other ed-reform employees and the subsequent hiring of individuals actually trained to hold careers in the positions for which they have been hired. I also expect that the public will learn of the condition of data, records, contracts, and other information compromised under White’s eight years of control.

And I expect that John Bel Edwards will choose as Louisiana’s next superintendent an individual with an established, Louisiana career in ed-reform-predating, traditional public education.

john white 5

John White

__________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Ohio’s Aggressive School Vouchers Set to Cripple Even High-Scoring Public Schools

In the December 30, 2019, Troy Daily News (Ohio), retired superintendent Tom Dunn published a scathing review of the ills of education reform mandates, concluding with Ohio’s private school voucher program, EdChoice, which has twisted “underperforming” to include the highest-graded public schools in the state. Ohio’s school voucher program is on the path to seriously damage public school funding if not accorded a separate funding stream.

From Tom Dunn (links added):

Lies, Lies, and More Lies

As a former school superintendent, one of my most important, difficult, and frustrating responsibilities was trying to stay abreast of state and federal laws governing education. It was during this time that I had my eyes opened to how politics at the state and federal level really works. Suffice it to say that what I learned was disturbing.

First of all, to this day, the sheer number of proposed and/or passed bills makes the task of staying current nearly impossible. I imagine this is a political strategy meant to keep people as confused and overwhelmed as possible. The number of laws that made no sense and were sold to the public with misinformation and lies was staggering.

I felt perpetually conflicted about being forced to implement mandates that were, frankly, bad for kids. The irony is how often the very politicians who denounce bullying use their power to beat adults into submission with their ill-conceived laws. In education, they do this through threats of financial penalty against districts that dare disobey them, by threatening the professional licensure of educators who don’t do as they are told, and/or through character assassination of those who dare question them.

For at least three decades, politicians have claimed their goal has been to close the achievement gap between children who are successful in school and those who are not, and, by their own admission, their laws haven’t worked. They have failed while wasting billions of our tax dollars.

In the early 1990’s, politicians told us that if they could force all schools to follow the same academic standards, the achievement gap would be eliminated. But, the gap still exists. (Schneider’s note: I was able to find this archived, December 14, 2000, Governor’s Commission for Student Success report with Ohio ed-reform details.)

Similarly, politicians promised us that forcing kids to take state approved tests, with schools, teachers, and principals being “held accountable” for their students’ performance, the achievement gap would be eliminated. But, the gap still exists.

The public was also assured that if laws were enacted “guaranteeing” that every child must achieve a politically determined level of achievement, all children would be successful. But, the gap still exists.

Politicians even justified their intrusion into how students could or couldn’t be disciplined by saying that the unfair application of punishments was robbing certain students of opportunities, and if that was fixed, the achievement gap would be eliminated. But, the gap still exists.

These are but a few of the hundreds of times we were promised that a law would fix the achievement gap problem. But, the gap still exists. In other words, they lied. Every. Single. Time.

They lied, because none of these factors are primarily responsible for the gap.

One of their most egregious lies has been that the lack of competition in public education has been the culprit. People pushing this narrative actually pretended as if competition didn’t already exist. But, of course, it did through private and home school options, not to mention other opportunities, such as boarding schools. But, that fact interfered with their narrative, so they ignored it.

We were told that just a little more competition would generate new, more successful learning environments in which kids who were failing could flourish. It would also, we were assured, force the public schools to improve.

Early on, this expansion of competition was in the form of charter schools. Politicians told us kids deserved them, because they would no longer be “trapped” in poor public schools. Of course, they failed to mention that many of these charter schools were owned by large campaign contributors who were becoming quite wealthy on the backs of our neediest kids.

These same politicians remained strangely silent when the test data that they worship clearly showed that kids were often leaving higher performing public schools to attend lower performing charter schools. In other words, what they said would happen wasn’t happening.

But, ignoring that fact, politicians continued to expand school choice options to allow parents to use tax dollars to attend private schools. This was done through the Education Choice Scholarship (EdChoice) Program. The Ohio Department of Education web site claims that EdChoice “provides students from underperforming public schools the opportunity to attend participating private schools.”

The problem with this justification is that it isn’t true. The criteria for “underperforming” is written in such a way that even the highest performing public schools can be defined as such. (See here also.) In other words, the law allows parents to use tax dollars to fund their children’s private school education while “escaping” very high performing schools. This exact scenario has occurred in one of the top scoring school districts in the state, the Solon Schools.

When their scam was exposed, Senate Education Chair Peggy Lehner followed the normal, hypocritical political script by demonstrating faux consternation and surprise. She even proclaimed that it is “crazy” that high performing schools are being “dinged” by the very law she and her cronies have authored.

The rest of us are supposed to naively believe that this dismantling of public education through lies and deception wasn’t the plan all along.

Because that’s just how stupid they think we are.

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Tom Dunn

Tom Dunn is a retired teacher, principal, and superintendent from Ohio. From 1977 to 1993, Dunn was an intervention teacher with Troy City Schools (TCS); in 1994 he became a principal for five years, at which time he became TCS director of communications, technology, and secondary curriculum for the next six years. Then, from 2005 to 2010, Dunn became TCS superintendent, followed by eight years as Miami County (Ohio) Education Service Center superintendent until his retirement in August 2018.

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Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Louisiana Magnet School Principal Under Investigation

Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy is a public magnet school located in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Enrollment is contingent upon achieving a satisfactory score on an admissions test.

The school’s website includes a proud display of its accolades:

The State of Louisiana recently implemented a new, more stringent, formula to calculate the school performance score (SPS). Taylor scored 130.2 on a 150 point scale during the 2017-2018 school year (138.2 using the old formula).With this most recent review, Taylor Academy has maintained its A rating for over a decade!  View Taylor Academy’s most recent report card

Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy has been named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2019. Taylor Academy consistently appears in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the nation’s “Best Public High Schools.” The ranking released in April 2019 lists Taylor as first in Jefferson Parish, second in Louisiana, and #86 nationally.

“Taylor Academy has maintained its A for over a decade!”

Imagine the pressure to keep that A and to continue to deliver top-notch honors.

Not much room for the infringement of real life.

The week of December 09, 2019, Taylor Academy principal, Jaime Zapico, who was twice selected as Jefferson Parish Principal of the year, was missing from school.

News broke on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, that Zapico is under investigation, allegedly for grade fixing.

Though the December 11, 2019, nola.com report mentions a “letter” sent to parents, the correspondence was actually a text message. I spoke with two parents who received a text message. One parent confirmed that the text was sent on the same day that Zapico and Taylor Academy were in the news for grade fixing.

The nola.com report includes complete details of what it refers to as a “letter.” Nola.com states that the “letter” was sent on Wednesday afternoon:

Patrick Taylor Academy Families,

This letter is to inform you about the status of the principal at Patrick Taylor. Principal Zapico is not currently at school due to an ongoing, confidential matter. She remains the principal at Patrick Taylor. Because this matter is ongoing, we cannot share any other information. We will share more information with you when we are able to do so, but wanted to share this now in light of recent media coverage. This matter is not related to anything that has endangered the safety of students or staff.

As always, our students are our top priority. The district is working with teachers and staff at Patrick Taylor Academy to make sure students continue to receive high quality instruction and support.

The WDSU report (also December 11, 2019) mentions a “message” sent to parents.

As of this writing, no message (letter or otherwise) is posted on the school’s website.

At the end of the WDSU report, a parent identified the issue that had parents contacting both the Jefferson Parish School Board as well as the media in search of information: grade fixing.

Other administration apparently tried to keep the situation under wraps, but Taylor Academy students knew something was going on (if for no other reason, it seems, than the fact that their principal had gone missing). Moreover, if indeed the issue was one of grade fixing by an administrator, it seems that one or more teachers might notice the grade changes.

Too, it is highly improbable that even a single student whose course grade has been suddenly favorably modified would resist telling even one classmate.

Such news is bound to break.

On December 13, 2019, Jefferson Parish superintendent, Cade Brumley, confirmed Zapico’s absence during what Brumley carefully described to WDSU as “a thorough review”– though Brumley’s words about not treating Taylor Academy with any favoritism hint at investigating the very quality that makes Taylor Academy a favorite– school scores that hinge on student grades:

Brumley refused to say what Zapico is accused of doing, citing personnel privacy laws, but he did say that the principal is absent from the school during the probe, which he described as an “ongoing, confidential internal review.”

“I can tell you that there are no children or faculty members that have been endangered in any way,” Brumley said. “We just have procedures in place of how we operate a school system, and sometimes it becomes necessary to remove some people so you can conduct a thorough review.” …

…Brumley said the caliber of the academy will not sway the parish’s determination to seek the truth.

“Patrick Taylor is a great school,” Brumley said. “It’s the No. 2 ranked school in the state of Louisiana. It’s the highest ranked school in Jefferson Parish, but we’re not going to handle matters at Patrick Taylor differently than we would handle them at any other location related to a personnel issue.”

The situation is ongoing, not only as concerns Taylor Academy, but also as concerns the test-worshiping, hyper-grading climate in which public education continues to struggle.

Cheating flourishes when testing and grading swallow a school’s identity.

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____________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Massachusetts Nonprofit, Building Excellent Schools, Receives $57M from Arkansas Waltons

The billionaire Walton family spends millions promoting school choice, including fronting money for charter school start-ups. Moreover, the Walton “paths to public charter school startup” advertises a number of “partners,” including Massachusetts-based Building Excellent Schools (BES).

BES received its tax-exempt status in June 2003; however, BES’s “about” page places its beginnings prior to formation of the BES nonprofit, a a resource center in response to “poor academic performance of Massachusetts’ first charter schools.” The BES mission statement from its tax forms indicates BES’s purpose is “to foster the development and ensure the success of charter schools.”

Once BES became a nonprofit, the Waltons immediately began funding BES. In fact, BES’s first tax filing, spanning July 2003 to June 2004 (FY2003) indicates total revenue of $1,670,374– mostly Walton cash:

In 2003, the Waltons gave BES $1,190,000– which equals 71 percent of the BES revenue reported on its initial return– making Massachusetts-based BES instantly dependent upon the Arkansas-based Walton wealth for most of its revenue.

I was curious what percentage of BES revenue derived from the Waltons across the years, so I examined BES total revenue on its tax forms and compared it to BES’s Walton grants as listed on the Walton Family Foundation.

A continuous, year-by-year comparison is not possible: The Walton grants appear to be issued by calendar year, while the BES tax forms were filed by fiscal year (July to June) until 2009, at which time the tax year shifted two months (September to August). Too, for some reason, BES appears not to have filed taxes for July 2005 to June 2006 (FY2005). (Note that I did not contact BES directly to ask.)

However, a general comparison of Walton’s BES funding to BES’s total revenue reveals that the Arkansas-based Waltons are by far the dominant funding source for Massachusetts-based BES:

Walton Funding for Building Excellent Schools (BES):

  • 2003: $1,190,000
  • 2004: $2,060,000
  • 2005: $1,106,000
  • 2006: $3,062,810
  • 2007: $3,426,200
  • 2008: $2,966,700
  • 2009: $1,200,000
  • 2010: $1,758,245
  • 2011: $2,546,200
  • 2012: $3,240,050
  • 2013: $2,826,500 and $283,000
  • 2014: $9,586,991 and $90,000
  • 2015: $4,995,000
  • 2016: $6,181,601
  • 2017: $3,573,487
  • 2018: $3,500,000 and $3,900,000
  • TOTAL: $57,492,784

 

BES Total Revenue (Except FY2005):

  • FY2003: $1,670,374
  • FY2004: $3,341,391
  • FY2005: ??
  • FY2006: $852,856
  • FY2007: $2,654,260
  • FY2008: $2,347,104 and $147,912
  • FY2009: $2,639,786
  • FY2010: $5,115,679
  • FY2011: $1,655,616
  • FY2012: $6,650,826
  • FY2013: $10,117,504
  • FY2014: $12,301,533
  • FY2015: $8,072,974
  • FY2016: $14,875,583
  • FY2017: $10,852,843
  • TOTAL: $83,296,241

 

A wrinkle in calculating the exact percentage of Walton funding to BES involves BES’s missing FY2005 tax info.

But let’s estimate. Let’s assume that in FY2005, BES had a fantastic year, with total revenue equal to that of its best reported year thus far (FY2016): $14,875,583. (Not likely that BES’s FY2005 total revenue is half as much, but let’s err in favor of BES.)

That would bring BES’s all-time total revenue to $98,171,824 (that is, $83,296,241 + 14,875,583).

Walton funding would still remain as BES’s dominant funding source at 59 percent ($57,492,784 / $98,171,824 = .586) of BES funding since BES’s 2003 creation as a Massachusetts nonprofit.

Lest anyone think that the Waltons are not salivating over the idea of a burgeoning charter school sector in Massachusetts, one need only read about Jim and Alice Walton’s $1.8M money-funnel toward raising Massachusetts’ charter cap in 2016 via Massachusetts’ ballot measure, Question 2. (On November 08, 2016, Massachusetts voters rejected charter school expansion, 62 percent to 38 percent.)

The Waltons want charter schools in Massachusetts, and they are willing to pay.

Just ask BES.

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Siblings, Jim and Alice Walton

______________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Transcending “College and Career Ready” on Christmas

I had a wonderful Christmas.

One of the events that I treasure is the errand I needed to make to one of the few open stores in order to buy hamburger buns. (My brother grilled burgers, and what? No buns!)

I invited one of my young relatives to take the ride with me. It gave us a chance to talk.

Three years ago, this young man graduated from high school by ed-reform accounts “college and career ready.” His test scores and grades were top notch. He even graduated a year early and was accepted into multiple universities.

The only problem (and a huge one, at that) was that he was rebellious and sported an entitlement complex. He longed for the day when he would be free of his parents– free of their rules and restrictions– free to completely call the shots in his life.

In fact, he was not willing to wait until 18. He pushed for emancipation at 17, which his parents reluctantly granted.

He did attend the university but dropped out before completing a semester. He had freedom but lacked discipline or direction.

For the next three years, this young man received an education that no school could teach him.

He learned the very hard way that freedom must be coupled with responsibility.

His arrogance landed him in seedy, scary, unsafe, unstable situations. Nothing in his life was a given: not living situations, or jobs, or people. And most certainly not the naive divorcing of responsiblity from freedom and living in some unprincipled utopia.

My prayer for him was simple: “Lord, let there be no homicide and no suicide.” I knew this young man had set himself up for some stinging life lessons, and it was what it was for however long it would take for him to learn them.

And then, like the prodigal son, this young man finally came to his senses, and his opinion of his parents shifted to include inklings of respect for what it takes to establish and maintain a stable life.

He returned home on a trial basis.

For perhaps the first time in his life, he regarded the opportunity for the privilege that it was.

Over three months have passed since his return. I have spent time with him twice.

In our discussions, I detect no hint of entitlement. In its place is a newfound respect for his parents and for the home they provide, which has opened up the possibility for him to build peaceful, mature relationships with both his father and mother.

He has a job and a modest goal: To save money for his next car while his current car is still in working order.

He is not sure that college is for him and just needs time to think and to recover from the frightening whirlwind that was the unfettered life he thought that he wanted.

At 20 years old, he is not “college and career ready.” He is something–someone– far better, and I am proud of him.

Merry Christmas to all.

christmas star

______________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.