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Colorado: James Walton Fund Is Looking for an Education Director

It seems that Walton grandson, James, is trying to spread the Walton Family Foundation vision for corporate ed reform via Montessori schools in Colorado.

james-walton-3  James Walton

Apparently the older Waltons are positioning James to operate his own “fund” in Colorado, temporarily named the James Walton Fund, with the purpose of proliferating the Walton vision of what Montessori schools should be. (Given the Walton penchant for expanding charter schools under the umbrella of test-centric education– and for the Walton affinity for drive-thru “education” organizations like Teach for America and Relay Graduate School of Education– it stands to reason that the Walton goal for Colorado’s Montessori is to process and expand it while melding it with test-score-driven reform.)

As such, the Walton Family Foundation is advertising for an education director to run the James Walton Fund. The following is the complete job advertisement as posted in the September 28, 2016, Chronicle of Philanthropy (note that the same ad appears in Joining Vision and Action and

Education Director, James Walton Fund (Name TBD) of the Walton Family Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation

Posted: September 28, 2016

Location: Colorado, United States

Position: Administrative

Field: Advocacy, Education, Other fields, Research

Salary: Not specified


Application Deadline: Open until filled

Category: Other administrative

Employment Level: Full-time

About the Walton Family Foundation and James Walton

Sam and Helen Walton had an unshakeable belief in the power of people to transform their lives. As Sam said, there is no limit to what individuals can accomplish if “given the opportunity, the encouragement and the incentive to do their best.” Today, that “no limits” philosophy is carried forward by their descendants through the Walton Family Foundation. Learn more about the foundation at

One of the foundation’s three program areas is K-12 education, with this ambitious goal: improve K-12 outcomes for all students, especially those of limited means, by ensuring access to high-quality educational choices that prepare them for a lifetime of opportunity.

This goal has been embraced by Sam and Helen’s grandson, James Walton.

As an engineering undergraduate at Colorado School of Mines, James regularly volunteered with local schools, working directly with students. One day, he walked into a Montessori charter school that had been a previous WFF grant recipient. Observing a group of children independently engaged in learning within a structured environment, it occurred to him:

  • This seems to be a unique and important way of helping children succeed
  • Why is this school model wildly underrepresented within the public school system?

Since that moment, James has devoted his time and his investments to better understanding child-centered approaches. He has worked on the ground as a Montessori high school apprentice and dedicated observer. He started a Montessori teacher-training center. His grants have expanded beyond Montessori to organizations and research that serve students in a holistic way and support diverse school options.

The result? A long-term vision: That all students have viable access to a healthy variety of instructional models, each with an intentional and aligned approach to meeting the unique academic, cognitive and developmental needs of its students.

The opportunity: As education director of this fund, you can join James in the realization of this vision and make a significant difference in the lives of all children.

The Position

The Walton Family Foundation is seeking an education director for the James Walton Fund. The fund’s education director will help to build this new fund/program focused on advancing cutting-edge systems and instructional models in the public school environment that increase parents’ ability to choose schools that include all effective instructional models, particularly non-traditional models such as Montessori.

Ultimately, the goal of this work is to build an evidence base and a network that is integrated into the larger Walton Family Foundation K-12 education work within the next three years. The fund’s education director will work closely with the foundation’s education staff to coordinate, share learnings and adjust accordingly.


  • Refine and operationalize a newly developed strategic plan created to reflect the vision and priorities of James Walton in improving educational choice and quality, and increasing the diversity of instructional models
  • Develop a brand identity for the fund/program that is consistent with James Walton’s vision, values, priorities and philosophy
  • Develop local and national presence for the program that reflects the brand identity within the education reform community and particularly the Montessori community. Serve as champion and spokesperson for the fund/program
  • Develop partnerships with key stakeholders and reach out to key decision-makers within the education reform movement and particularly the Montessori community to build a cohesive community of actors working together toward a shared set of objectives and metrics for success
  • Build systems to reward collaborative engagement among branches of the program
  • Oversee grant-making, including due diligence on organizations, their leadership and capacity to carry out programs; defining grant terms and expectations; obtaining agreement on reasonable outputs and outcomes, including how they will be measured and reported; reviewing budgets for appropriate expenditures; conducting site visits; reviewing reports; and ensuring timely payments
  • Identify opportunities to secure additional funding to help grantees fulfill their mission
  • Develop job descriptions, hire and manage an initial staff of four to oversee critical areas of the fund’s work
  • Facilitate ongoing internal communications and professional development of staff within the fund
  • Coordinate and collaborate with the Walton Family Foundation’s K-12 education staff to ensure mutual learning and added benefits, and avoid duplication or competition of efforts
  • Construct measures of success for the fund, the staff, the programs and the mission; track and report progress on those measures
  • Manage the operational budget for the fund


Qualifications Sought Personal strengths and characteristics

  • Relationship builder. Must have the ability to manage change by building a network of actors and motivating them toward common goals.
  • Strategic thinker who has the ability to articulate a big vision and influence people to join a movement
  • Innovative and creative thinker
  • Self-motivated
  • Extraordinary relationship and network building talents
  • High energy individual who is secure and confident in self and in decision-making
  • Interest in learning and teaching others; someone who can be both a mentor and a student
  • Sense of humor

Values and beliefs

  • Strong belief in opportunity and equity for all children
  • Passion for, and commitment to, the Walton Family Foundation mission
  • Unquestionable ethics and personal integrity

Skills and professional experience

  • Ten to 15 years of experience in K-12 education reform (in school, district or other settings) or in education systems; work with diverse instructional models a strong plus
  • Demonstrated experience with the interaction of research, policy advocacy, community engagement and systems building in community and social change
  • Significant track record of partnership and network development
  • Exceptional oral and written communications skills, especially public speaking
  • Ability to listen and respond well to feedback
  • Ability to influence without formal authority
  • Experience in understanding and managing power dynamics
  • Experience in managing up, down and laterally
  • Financial and financing expertise
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Experience working with grant-making institutions
  • Political experience a plus

Important Information:

  • Compensation: The Walton Family Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and a salary that is commensurate with experience.
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Work environment: The office will be located in a co-working space in Denver’s RiNo district, which will house other Walton Family Foundation staff who are located in Denver.
  • Reporting relationships: The James Walton Fund education director will report to the director, Individually Directed Program of the Walton Family Foundation, with a dotted line relationship to James Walton.
  • EEO Policy: WFF is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive employment consideration without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, marital status, status of protected veteran, among other things, or status as a qualified individual with a disability.

To Apply:

Applications should be submitted online. Here are the steps:

  1. First, get your cover letter Write a cover letter that tells us why you’re interested in this position. Address each point in the Qualifications Sought section. List the name and contact information for three professional references who can give us more insight into how you are a great fit for this position.
  2. Get your resume
  3. Identify a brief, relevant writing sample.
  4. Fill out our short online application, and upload your cover letter, resume and writing sample.
  5. Click on the “SUBMIT” button.

Questions? Please leave us a confidential message at 720.407.8373. We will call you back within 24 hours.

Become the James Walton Fund education director, and you get to help another Walton impose his privileged vision upon education, this time, Montessori– and scale it, to boot.

But where has James Walton been all of this time?

It almost appears that James Walton has come out of nowhere. Not quite. James Walton has been in Colorado circa 2008. And that “one day” that James Walton “walked into a Montessori charter school” has been several years ago for James, who is now in his late 20s.

But the press on his Colorado-Montessori involvements has been largely nonexistent until now.

Very little is available on the web regarding James McNabb Walton, son of Jim Walton. Furthermore, what is available appears to omit James. For example, this Forbes bio on Jim Walton indicates that he has four children. This Celeb Family bio also mentions James in one place but then lists three children by name. This NNDB bio also only mentions three of Jim Walton’s children by name. James is omitted.

There appears to be a reason for that. It seems that James Walton found himself on the wrong side of the law during his time as a student at Virginia Tech. The following is from an October 2011 discussion thread regarding James’ aunt, Alice Walton’s, 2011 DUI:

This is not the only Walton that seems to have an alcohol problem and knack for staying out of jail. James [McNabb] Walton (grandson of the Walton clan) was arrested and charged with misdemeanor DUI and felony hit-and-run in February of 2008 in Blacksburg, VA. Mr. Walton was underaged at the time, and had just flown into the Virginia Tech campus on a private plane after a hunting trip in TX. The incident occurred at 4:45pm on a Monday afternoon, when Walton slammed into the driver’s side door of an attended vehicle and then fled the scene. The felony charge was ultimately not upheld (thanks to the joke of a Commonwealth’s Attorney in Montgomery County), and Mr. Walton was allowed to quietly withdraw from the university. During one court appearance (at which his mother, father and siblings were in attendance), he admitted to the court that he was attending AA meetings in Denver CO, though still drinking socially; it was at this hearing that the felony charge was effectively dropped pending a 1-year probationary period.

While this incident wasn’t highly publicized, I can provide all of these details because I was the victim of Mr. Walton’s crime. I was also the victim of egregious harassment by the sleazy attorney, Chris Tuck (Blacksburg, VA), whom Mr. Walton’s parents quickly retained to resolve the incident. Mr. Tuck not only made unsolicited, surprise visits to my residence, but continued to call my phone after I had expressly asked not to be contacted.

DWI/DUI may generate state funds, but these laws are critical and should be enforced to protect the safety of other citizens.

I sincerely hope that the Waltons will invest a few of their billions to get help and/or cages for their reckless and careless family members.

Posted by emmyallyn on October 14, 2011

Following his exit from Virginia Tech, James Walton attended Colorado School of Mines.

That’s how James Walton ended up in Colorado.

Watch out, Colorado Montessori educators. If you take the Walton cash, you’ll have to bend to the Walton will.


Released July 2016– Book Three:

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 both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

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

The National Federation of Municipal Analysts Wants Extensive Charter School Disclosure

The National Federation of Municipal Analysts (NFMA) is

a not-for-profit association with the goals of promoting professionalism in municipal credit analysis and furthering the skill level of its members through educational programs and industry communication, providing an informed perspective in the formulation of legal and regulatory matters relating to the municipal finance industry, and facilitating the flow of information between investors and issuing entities. …

Membership in the NFMA totals over 1,300, representing the major participants in the municipal market, including institutional investors, bond rating agencies, bond insurance companies, portfolio managers, investment banking firms and financial advisors.  Beginning in 2013, the NFMA began a Student Membership category.

On September 28, 2016, NFMA published this 24-page draft of recommended best practices (RBP) for establishing charter school disclosure expectations that will help inform charter school investors.

From the September 28, 2016, Bond Buyer, Washington securities law section:

WASHINGTON – The National Federation of Municipal Analysts is urging charter schools to provide detailed financial, academic, and staffing information in primary and secondary disclosure documents. …

The [RBP] draft constitutes NFMA’s first disclosure recommendations for charter schools. …

The paper will be open for public comment through Nov. 30. After that date, NFMA will review comments and finalize the paper. …

According to the RBP, a charter school’s POS (primary offering statement) should disclose all material financial agreements, including the proposed indenture, loan agreement, capital leases, management agreements, and tax regulatory agreements. …Descriptions of facilities and their financing, pledged revenues, and projected cash flows. …Descriptions of debt service, repair and replacement, operating and deficit, as well as insurance and property tax reserve funds.

…Academic performance as well as school management and operations. …

…Charter board membership, compensation, and tenure; information available on the school’s website; management qualification, experience, and compensation; third-party manager control, compensation, and replacement; and charter school teaching faculty, classroom ratios, and teachers’ union affiliation. …Teacher and staff compensation, including retirement benefits, any complaints and claims the school is facing, as well as operating and funding information related to extracurricular activities.

…Information about the size, capacity, and condition of facilities, including equipment, along with descriptions of future capital improvement needs, insurance support, and transportation and parking capabilities for students and staff, respectively.

…Discussion of audited financial statements and interim financials, current budgetary processes, financial covenant compliance and projections, and existing banking relationships….  State aid and other governmental support… information about planned future debt and reliance on endowments, fund drives, contributions, and gifts.

…School’s location, enrollment, potential competition from other schools in the area, and future projections on such topics are also important….

[And] separate but related suggestions to consider credit risks and continuing disclosure.

The actual RBP also includes this disclaimer– and addendum to its scope of disclosure:

The recommendations contained in this RBP are not intended to be a thorough discussion and analysis of each state’s specific chartering laws and process, charter school funding systems, state and federal laws regulating the education of students in general, or federal tax laws regarding the tax-exemption of charter school transactions. Appropriate federal, state, and authorizer charter law disclosure is required in the POS so that investors obtain an adequate level of knowledge regarding the legal and regulatory program requirements needed to maintain the charter school and the attendant risks of non-compliance with such laws and requirements (e.g., charter revocation).

The entire, 24-page RBP is worth a read.

In short, NFMA wants comprehensive “sunlight” on charter schools so that investors fully understand the charter school “investment”– including disclosing both federal as well as varied state charter regulations (or the lack thereof).

Notice also that NFMA has not asked for such information from the charter school sector to date– and they wouldn’t have to ask at all if charter schools were indeed “public” schools. If charter schools were really public schools, then comprehensive financial and other information would be a matter of public record and discussed in public meetings. The school’s overseers would be considered public servants.

The quasi-public-private nature of charter schools makes the NFMA call for comprehensive charter school disclosure an imperative for reining in a sector that cries “public” when it is advantageous to be public and “private” when it is not.



Released July 2016– Book Three:

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 both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

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

Georgia Doesn’t Want the State to Take Over Its Schools

On November 08th, 2016, Georgia voters will decide whether they will allow the state to take control of public schools that the state labels as “chronically failing.”

The ballot measure, Amendment 1, is vaguely worded– it does not disclose the fact that school districts will lose money when the state takes control of schools.

As Ballotpedia notes, here is the ballot question that Georgia voters will see:

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?

( ) Yes

( ) No

And if Amendment 1 passes, here is the language that would be added to the Georgia constitution:

Paragraph VIII. Opportunity School District. Notwithstanding the provisions of Paragraph II of this section, the General Assembly may provide by general law for the creation of an Opportunity School District and authorize the state to assume the supervision, management, and operation of public elementary and secondary schools which have been determined to be failing through any governance model allowed by law. Such authorization shall include the power to receive, control, and expend state, federal, and local funds appropriated for schools under the current or prior supervision, management, or operation of the Opportunity School District, all in the manner provided by and in accordance with general law. [Emphasis added.]

The bolded, Georgia-constitution-altering, text above is what Georgia voters will not see as part of the Amendment 1 ballot question text.

However, it seems that word is spreading among Georgia voters, as the October 21, 2016, Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes:

Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District has significant opposition just weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 election, according to a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll.

The results released Friday found likely voters siding nearly 2-1 against Amendment 1, the referendum that would create a statewide school district to take over Georgia’s lowest performing schools.

The poll question revealed more about the proposal than does the ballot question itself, which has been criticized by opponents as misleading because it does not clearly say that the state would take over schools. …

The resulting state charter schools have no access to local school district funding, but charter schools created as a result of Amendment 1 would get those local tax dollars.

Opponents claim the constitutional amendment would harm school districts financially and undo a history of local control over education.

They also say the ballot wording is misleading, since it does not mention that the state would take over schools and local tax dollars.

Only three days prior, on October 18, 2016, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also published a piece entitled, “Four Signs Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District May Be in Trouble,”

One of the four “signs” involves Deal’s trying to sell state takeover of schools as a proven solution for keeping pre-high-school dropouts in school:

In a speech last week at the Commerce Club, Deal made a bizarre pitch for the OSD to an engineering association. Johnny Kauffman of 90.1/WABE-FM reported the governor tried to sell the OSD to the engineers as a way to decrease crime threats to their nice cars and nice homes. The governor said:

Why is it that we don’t have so many chronically failing high schools? Those folks are already gone. They’ve already dropped out. So, their bad test scores don’t show up in those high school scores. They’re already out there amongst us. And one thing about crime, there is an entrepreneurial element to it.

If you think that those who are coming out of bad schools and are dropping out and going to crime are going to only steal from people in their school district, you’re wrong. Those people don’t have anything worth stealing in many, many cases. They’re going to go where people have nice cars, nice homes, things that are worth a criminal’s attention. It’s time that we stop that. It’s time that a young person has an opportunity to see that if you will stick with me, and get an education there are jobs that are going to let you make a decent living and you will not have to resort to a life of crime. I’m passionate about this. I hope it comes through. I really am. I believe we have an opportunity, with all the other good things we have done, we have an opportunity to change the dynamic, not only of our state, but of our nation. Because we can show that people regardless of the color of their skin care about children and their education and if we work together we’re going to make a difference in that regard.

Deal’s argument is meant to tap into the fears of the well-to-do. However, a major problem with Deal’s sales pitch that state takeover will keep students in school is that state takeover of schools in New Orleans did not solve the issue. On the contrary, the decentralized nature of the New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD) actually fosters the ability of students to leave one independently-operated charter school without confirmation of enrolling in another. Charter schools operate as their own little school “systems”; even an RSD deputy superintendent publicly admitted that he “didn’t know” exactly how many students “fell between the cracks” of RSD’s decentralized school “system.”

Given that Deal is trying to emulate New Orleans’ RSD, Georgia voters should be aware of such perils of decentralization, which is sure to come to any state-run setup that is actually an “opportunity” to proliferate charter schools.

Georgia voters should also realize that state takeover is being phased out in Louisiana; beginning May 2017, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) will gradually resume oversight of the RSD schools. Of course, the complication is that OPSB will actually inherit scores of charter schools that will be run by their own independent, non-elected boards but that will have to answer to some degree to OPSB. It will be possible for charters that do not meet their chartering agreements to once again become traditional, locally-controlled schools. However, it is also possible that a pro-charter OPSB will continue to promulgate charter churn as one charter school closes and another takes its place. In short, it is very difficult to convert an all-charter (formally “state-run”) district back into a traditional, locally-elected-board-controlled school district.

If New Orleans is your model, Georgia beware. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it seems you are.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s four “signs” of Amendment 1 resistance also includes the appearance of a proliferation of anti-OSD yard signs as well as an October 18, 2016, joint press event held by Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and baseball great Hank Aaron.

In his remarks, Young criticizes the top-down approach of Amendment 1:

The family values, the traditions that have made us great as a nation, have very seldom come from the state down. They’ve come from people up. And public education controlled by communities is the basis of a continued, growing, creative society.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Aaron as adding, “We have to defeat this. We have to vote ‘no’ on Amendment 1.”

Interestingly, the Young-Aaron press event occurred within days of the NAACP’s October 15, 2016, ratification of a moratorium on charter schools. One of the NAACP’s concerns is the diverting of public funding “to charter schools at the expense of the public school system.”

The diverting of public school funding to charter schools is also a concern in Massachusetts, which has its own ballot question up for vote on November 08th– Question 2– which involves raising the state’s charter school cap by 12 schools each year. As of this writing, 198 Massachusetts school districts have formally opposed Question 2, which has an astounding $32 million in funding behind it to date, almost 2-to-1 in support– and most of it from a single New York-based, pro-charter organization, Families for Excellent Schools.

Despite the heavy spending pushing Question 2, the public isn’t buying it. According to a poll conducted October 13-16, 2016, 52 percent of Massachusetts voters are against Question 2; 41 percent are in favor (the remaining 7 percent are either undecided or chose not to respond).

As for the funding behind Georgia’s Amendment 1: According to Ballotpedia, any ballot committee spending $500 or more must file its first report 2 weeks prior to the November 08th election, which means Georgians do not get to know about any Amendment 1 spending until October 31, 2016. (Note that Georgia builds in a grade period; also, a ballot committee is only charged $125 if is files up to the day before the election and an additional $250 if the ballot committee report isn’t filed until the day of the election. So, hiding money used to pay for a particular position is made easy in Georgia.)

Even so, it is pretty clear that the Georgia public is already showing a healthy skepticism towards a bleeding of public school district funding to charter schools in the name of “state-run.”



Released July 2016– Book Three:

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 both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

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

As MA Question 2 Funding Nears $32 Million, DFER Files a New Ballot Committee

On November 08, 2016, Massachusetts voters will be deciding whether or not to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. The ballot measure, known as Question 2, would open the door for “up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools each year.”

As of October 20, 2016, several ballot committees have filed funding reports with the Massachusetts Office of campaign and Political Finance (OCPF).

To date, there are five ballot committees associated with Question 2.

Four ballot committees are in support of raising the charter cap. As of October 20, 2016, together they have raised roughly $19.3 million (accounting for the fact that Yes on 2 turned around and gave its money to Campaign for Fair Access, and Expanding Educational Opportunities gave most of its money to Great Schools Massachusetts, and Campaign for Fair Access received $100k from Great Schools and then turned around and gave it back. I know. It can be confusing.):

The four committees promoting Question 2:

The one committee opposing Question 2:

In sum, the five ballot committees have raised roughly $19.3 million on Massachusetts’ Question 2 as of September 09, 2016. (Note: I accounted for money sent from one committee to another. Had I not accounted for such overlap, the total would look like $20.5 million.)

Heads up, MA: Another pro-charter ballot committee has been added:

On October 17, 2016, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) National Political Director, Patrick van Keerbergen, is named on a new, pro-charter ballot committee, Advancing Obama’s Legacy on Charter Schools.

Given the recent chastisement of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on USDOE’s reckless charter funding, naming a ballot committee “advancing Obama’s legacy on charter schools” does nothing to inspire MA public confidence that the committee obviously expects to purchase.

Van Keerbergen is listed as the new ballot committee’s treasurer. Its chair is listed as Frank Perullo. (“Frank is the CEO of the Novus Group, and he leads our firm’s polling and strategic consulting practices.”)

Frank Perullo also filed the ballot committee, Yes on 2, which received only two contributions: His in-state $100 “to fund account,” and Arkansas billionaire Alice Walton’s contribution of $710,000.

Thus, it is pretty clear that the ballot committee, Advancing Obama’s Legacy on Charter Schools has been created by Perullo to receive DFER-funneled money.

The committee has no funds in it yet, but stay tuned.

Interestingly, the filing of this DFER ballot committee comes two days after the NAACP ratified its charter school moratorium. (DFER director Shavar Jeffries’ outcry against the NAACP is linked in the right margin of Van Keerbergen’s bio page.)

New York money continues to predominately push charter expansion in Massachusetts:

To date, the largest contributor to in promoting charter expansion in Massachusetts (via the ballot committee, Great Schools Massachusetts) is New York-based lobbying nonprofit, Families for Excellent Schools (FES) Advocacy.

New York-based FES Advocacy has spent $11.2 million to expand charter schools in Massachusetts. That’s 58 percent of the pro-charter Q2 money ($11.2M /$19.3M) and 35 percent of the total Q2 money raised to date ($11.2M /$31.9M).

The largest contributor to anti-charter Save Our Public Schools is the National Education Association (Washington, DC) at $3 million, which represents 9 percent of the total Q2 money raised thus far ($3M /$31.9M).

That’s right: MA Q2 has almost $32 million in funding behind it so far. And with only weeks to go until the November 8th vote, DFER has decided to pump its own charter-expanding money into the mix.

It appears that the NAACP charter moratorium has made “yes on 2” that much more of a corporate reform trophy.



Released July 2016– Book Three:

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 both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

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

Come July 2017, UCLA Will No Longer Oversee Smarter Balanced

In February 2016, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) posted a Request for Information (RFI) in which it formally solicited advice on how it should proceed as a Common Core testing consortium.

The result of that PARCC RFI was 128-page response by a number of organizations, which I wrote about here.

One of the suggestions for PARCC’s future concerns its being overseen by the other Common Core consortium, Smarter Balanced. Interestingly, Smarter Balanced, which included its own advice in response to PARCC’s RFI, did not itself offer to oversee PARCC.

What Smarter Balanced offered in its advice for PARCC were details on how Smarter Balanced successfully operated as a consortium.

That is why it is surprising that  EdWeek’s Sean Cavanagh reports that Smarter Balanced will be seeking a new fiscal agent. Smarter Balanced has a contract with the University of California system, and UCLA has been serving as the Smarter Balanced fiscal agent. UCLA’s 3-year contract for this role expires on June 30, 2017.

On September 28, 2016, UCLA notified Smarter Balanced to inform the consortium that UCLA was not interested in continuing to oversee Smarter Balanced. Cavanagh reports that Smarter Balanced is in negotiations to seek another university in the University of California system to oversee Smarter Balanced.

UCLA notes that it will continue to “focus on scholarly work and new research in coordination” with Smarter Balanced, but UCLA will not run the consortium.

Of course, the very fact that Smarter Balanced will be transitioning to a new fiscal agent means that its future stability is in question.

So, America, we have two Common Core testing consortia, both of which face questionable stability– which also points to questionable sustainability.

Of course, PARCC and Smarter Balanced both need states as consortium members in order to survive.

It remains to be seen how states will respond to the fact that both PARCC and Smarter Balanced are experiencing their own internal struggles.

dear john 2


Released July 2016– Book Three:

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 both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

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

Is the NAACP’s Charter School Moratorium an “Edge” for a “Political Machine”?

Richard Whitmire is a former editorial writer for USA Today. He has written several books. Among them is one about education leaving males behind; highly controversial former DC chancellor Michelle Rhee wrote the foreword for this book. Whitmire then decided to write a book about Michelle Rhee, The Bee Eater, described in brief as “the inside story of a maverick reformer with a take-no-prisoners management style.”

I too wrote about Michelle Rhee, both on my blog and in my first book. I describe her as a sociopath who dodged any accountability for suspiciously rising DC test scores that plummeted once she was no longer DC chancellor.

Still another of Whitmire’s books is on Rocketship charter schools. In June 2016, NPR wrote about Rocketship Education, and it cited Whitmire’s book:

“Students rotating into Learning Labs meant employing fewer teachers,” Whitmire writes. “Thus a school such as Rocketship Mosaic could successfully serve 630 students with only 6 teachers plus aides.”

Whitmire is impressed with the Rocketship model. However, NPR also mentioned very large numbers of children left under the supervision of incompletely trained adults and describes the turnover of these “learning lab supervisors” as “”chronic.”

NPR also noted that Rocketship students are discouraged from using the bathroom to such a degree that kids “were getting urinary tract infections.” Not to worry: What it disallowed in bathroom breaks Rocketship made up for in computerized test retakes, so much so that at one Rocketship campus, “superiors found retesting to be so rampant that they disabled the refresh button the following year.”

Finally, Whitmire just published another book, this one called, The Founders: Inside the Revolution to Invent (and Reinvent) America’s Best Charter Schools.

On October 17, 2016, education blogger Jennifer Berkshire interviewed Whitmire about his Founders book, which is available on Kindle as of August 28, 2016, and which just happens to be published by “the new Michelle Rhee,” Campbell Brown’s, The 74 Media.

The timing of Berkshire’s interview of Whitmire came fresh on the heels of the NAACP’s October 15, 2016, ratifying of its resolution on a charter school moratorium.

Berkshire asks Whitmire about the NAACP decision (and also that of Black Lives Matter).

His response? Very much in keeping with Campbell Brown’s focus:

The union. Always the union.

According to Whitmire, the union is the force to be reckoned with here, not the NAACP, and not Black Lives Matter.

It’s all about political base construction, says Whitmire. And even though parents cannot elect charter school boards– and they cannot decide to be on charter school boards unless they are appointed– charter choice is all about parental empowerment.

From the October 17, 2016, Berkshire-Whitmire interview:

EduShyster: Let’s start at the end of your new bookThe Founders: Inside the revolution to invent (and reinvent) America’s best charter schools. You wrap up with three challenges facing charter school expansion, one of which is what you call *the charter pushback movement.* It seems to be gaining steam, even since the book came out. How concerned are you about, say, the NAACP moratorium or the Black Lives Matter platform which makes many of the same demands?

Whitmire: I’m concerned about it because any time you start playing race cards it gets a little dicey. I think the unions are pushing any edge that they can get in this battle and they’re doing quite a good job of it. Frankly it doesn’t surprise me at all because if you’re looking at this from a political perspective, in other words, how to build a political base in *x* city, then the traditional school system—forced assignment, no charters—really works out better for you. I saw that in Washington DC when I was doing the Rhee book. Marion Barry had that Department of Education just overflowing with people. It was all part of his political machine. And it worked out really really well for him and it worked out really really well for the people who were employed there. The only people it didn’t work out well for were the kids. But from a political machine point of view, that’s the model you want. That’s the model that’s preferable. So it’s understandable why they’d push for that. But again, you have to look at those who are aspiring to be political leaders or already are and then those parents, and I come back again and again to those 4,000 parents on the waiting list for the Brooke Charter School in Boston. They’re all either Black or Hispanic. Who are you going to listen to: the NAACP or those parents? I choose the latter.

Somehow Whitmire jumps from union to mayor and department of education. Perhaps to him they are one and the same. Or perhaps Whitmire believes that the NAACP charter moratorium is the outcome of a national group whose individuals are each only thinking of leveraging their political ambitions and using the moratorium as a cog in that “political machine.”

What is amazing is that Whitmire completely dismisses the idea that charter schools, their unelected boards, and their management organizations could possibly concoct their own bottom-line-serving machines– an idea recently brought to light by the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) report publicized on September 29, 2016.

Here is what the NAACP wants of charter schools:

We are calling for a moratorium on the expansion of the charter schools at least until such time as:

(1) Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools

(2) Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system

(3) Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate and

(4) Cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.

Who are you going to listen to? Campbell Brown-backed Richard Whitmire or the NAACP?

I choose the NAACP.

If charter school advocates were really behind parents, they would advocate for parental presence in the decision making role– as in on those charter school boards. Such a move would open the door to the level of transparency the NAACP is seeking.

But such transparency surely would interfere with the business-model, top-down-styled excuse of “choice” advocated by the likes of Rhee, and Brown, and Whitmire.



Released July 2016– Book Three:

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 both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

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

Regarding the NAACP Charter School Moratorium, the New York Times Misguides Itself

On October 15, 2016, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) ratified a resolution for a moratorium on charter schools.

Below is the text of that resolution, which was voted on by the NAACP membership at its July 2016 convention:


WHEREAS, charter schools have been a rapidly growing sector of the education system, increasingly targeting low-income areas and communities of color; and

WHEREAS, charter schools with privately appointed boards do not represent the public yet make decisions about how public funds are spent; and

WHEREAS, charter schools have contributed to the increased segregation rather than diverse integration of our public school system; and

WHEREAS, research and reports have documented disproportionately high use of punitive and exclusionary discipline in addition to differential enrollment practices that violate protections of student rights for public schooling; and

WHEREAS, research and civil rights organizations have documented violations of parent and children’s rights, conflicts of interest, fiscal mismanagement, and psychologically harmful environments within several rapidly proliferating charter management organizations; and

WHEREAS, analyses on annual missing charter funds have been estimated at nearly half a billion dollars nationally; and

WHEREAS, researchers have warned that charter school expansions in low-income communities mirror predatory lending practices that led to the sub-prime mortgage disaster, putting schools and communities impacted by these practices at great risk of loss and harm; and

WHEREAS, current policies force district campuses to accommodate co-locations of charter schools, resulting in shortages of resources and space and increasing tension and conflict within school communities; and

WHEREAS, weak oversight of charter schools puts students and communities at risk of harm, public funds at risk of being wasted, and further erodes local control of public education; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP shares the concerns of the Journey for Justice Alliance, and alliance of 38 organizations of Black and Brown parents and students in 23 states, which has joined with 175 other national local grassroots community, youth, and civil rights organizations calling for a moratorium on the Federal Charter schools program, which has pumped over $3 billion into new charter schools, many of which have already closed or have failed the students drawn to them by the illusive promise of quality.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its 2014 resolution, “School Privatization Threat to Public Education,” in which the NAACP opposes the privatization of public schools and/or public subsidizing or funding of for-profit or charter schools; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP will continue to advocate against any state or Federal legislation which commits or diverts public funding, allows tax breaks, or establishes preferential advantages to for-profit, private, and/or charter schools; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls for full funding and support of high quality free public education for all children; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls upon units to seek to pass legislation at the State and Local levels that will ensure that parents have access to Charter School Advocacy Boards and that Charter Schools be required to provide schooling for students that are dismissed from school for disciplinary reasons; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP will seek legislation to strengthen investigative powers of those bodies that oversee charter school fraud, corruption, waste, etc.; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, as a tool to help address exclusionary student disciplinary policies and practices of publicly funded charter schools, NAACP units should: a) review the US Department of Justice-US Department of Education joint guidelines on school climate and school discipline : b) encourage charter school administrators to apply that guidance to its student disciplinary practice; and c) work with parents of charter school students in appropriate cases to file complaints with the Office of Civil Rights, US Department of Education, to challenge unwarranted exclusionary practices (e.g., suspensions and expulsions); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP hereby supports a moratorium on the proliferation of privately managed charter schools; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP opposes bills that would weaken the investigative powers of any legislative body from uncovering charter school fraud, corruption, and/or waste; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP supports legislation AND EXECUTIVE ACTIONS that would strengthen local governance and transparency of charter schools, and, in so doing, affirms to protect students and families from exploitative governance practices.

Note also that the NAACP’s concern with charter schools has been increasing, as is evidenced in three charter school resolutions since 2010.

In its 2016, post-ratification charter school moratorium press release, the NAACP summarily voices the following conditions for the future revocation of its moratorium:

We are calling for a moratorium on the expansion of the charter schools at least until such time as:

(1) Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools

(2) Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system

(3) Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate and

(4) Cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.

Two days before the NAACP vote, on October 13, 2016, the New York Times (NYT) editorial board published an op-ed entitled, “A Misguided Attack on Charter Schools.”

The question is, is the NAACP “misguided”?

Are charter schools actually held to the same accountability and transparency as are traditional public schools?

No. In fact, the NYT editorial board states as much in its “misguided” op-ed:

The N.A.A.C.P., the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, has struggled in recent years to win over younger African-Americans, who often see the group as out of touch. The N.A.A.C.P.’s board will reinforce that impression if it ratifies an ill-advised resolution — scheduled for a vote this weekend — that calls for a moratorium on expansion of public charter schools, which receive public money but are subject to fewer state regulations than traditional public schools. [Emphasis added.]

The NYT editorial board does not mention the lack of federal oversight of the charter money it liberally distributes to states. And they could have, since the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) report on the issue was publicized on September 29, 2016– two weeks prior to the NYT’s pro-charter-school editorial.

Let’s consider the NAACP’s second point– that money for charter schools is diverted from the public school system.

The NYT editorial board does not address this issue, nor does it address the issues of expelling students who default back to the traditional public schools or of the de facto segregation that results from charters’ ability to hone its student bodies into those who are “higher performing”– which in current terms means cost-effective deliverers of higher test scores.

However, the NYT editorial board does feature Stanford’s CREDO studies and the great gains on test scores for students of color– but only if the charter schools are well run:

The Stanford study notes, however, that poorly run charters can be disastrous. In some areas, the study notes, not a single charter school outperforms the traditional school alternative — and in some places, more than half are significantly worse. The city of Detroit, where more than half of all students attend charter schools, has recently become an example of such a failure.

Where charter schools excel, however, demand for admission is high.

Of course, without proper oversight, it is pretty much left up to the charter school and its management organization to decide to be well run. And that it a major problem, one that the NYT editorial admits is a problem, as is discriminatory discipline– but, it says, discriminatory discipline is a problem at traditional public schools, as well:

Given the demand for good charters, a moratorium would clearly be a bad idea. But the N.A.A.C.P. has raised legitimate concerns that lawmakers and education officials need to take seriously. It notes, for example, that minority students are more likely to be suspended from charter schools than their white peers.

That is, of course, outrageous, but it is an endemic problem to the public school system as a whole and not limited to charters. The Obama administration has recently put schools on notice that discriminatory disciplinary policies violate federal civil rights law.

Two points here: First, charter schools have higher suspension rates than do traditional public schools, with some, like US Secretary of Education John King’s Roxbury Prep leading the pack in Massachusetts, as UCLA’s Civil Rights Project noted in its March 2016 report:

…More recent [since 2011-12] suspension data that were collected and publicly reported by two state education departments indicate that many charters still have excessive suspension rates and large racial disparities. For example, Connecticut’s 2015 state report showed that, at the preK-5 level, elementary charter schools had much higher suspension and expulsion rates than other types of preK-5 schools, with an average rate of 14% for the charter schools versus 3% for the non-charters. Moreover, the Connecticut report showed that, between 2011-12 and 2013-2014, Connecticut’s charter schools at the high school level showed the largest increase in rates of suspension and expulsion and the highest average high school suspension rate (over 30%) for Black males.

In Massachusetts, discipline data from 2014-15 were reported for 1,861 schools, of which 79 (4.2%) are charter schools. An examination of these recent data on school and district suspension rates in Massachusetts revealed that charter schools made up a disproportionate share (3 of the top 20) of the state’s highest-suspending schools, all with rates over 35% for all students. Moreover, when we rank-ordered the suspension rates for all schools in the state by racial group, charters were 3 of the 12 highest suspending for Blacks, all with rates over 40%; charters were 4 of the top 14 for Latinos, all with rates over 33%; and for students with disabilities, charters were 3 of the top 12, all with rates over 50%.

With a suspension rate of 40%, Roxbury Preparatory Academy was the twelfth highest-suspending school in the commonwealth, and ninth highest for students with disabilities, at 57.8%. It also had the highest overall suspension rate of all charter schools in the state. According to the state website, these high rates are significantly lower than Roxbury Prep’s corresponding rates in 2012-13 (59.8% and 77.2%, respectively).

Like many high-suspending charter schools, Roxbury Prep has been praised in recent years for high academic performance. The school is particularly noteworthy because current U.S. Secretary of Education John King is one of its founders….

While we make no assumptions about Secretary King’s position on charters that favor harsh disciplinary approaches, the school’s strong reputation does raise concerns that extraordinarily high suspension rates may be overlooked when charter schools, like Roxbury Prep, are regarded as “high performing”….

Although beyond the scope of this report, the possibility certainly exists that some charter schools are artificially boosting their test scores or graduation rates by using harsh discipline to discourage lower-achieving youth from continuing to attend. If so, this not only would distort the public’s understanding of the benefits of some high-suspending charter schools, it also would steal attention away from charter schools that employ non-punitive approaches and still have good, if somewhat less impressive, academic outcomes.

The concern that some charter school leaders embrace a zero-tolerance approach is a salient and pressing issue…. [Some paragraph breaks added.]

The NAACP should be concerned about charter school discipline, especially about so-called “zero tolerance” discipline policies at charter schools that are being celebrated for also having high test scores. Such concern is not misguided.

In June 2016, King himself told the National Charter School Conference that charter schools need to revamp their discipline policies, which leads to the second noteworthy point about the NYT editorial board referring to Obama’s cracking down on discriminatory discipline: Such a point only underscores the need for oversight of charter schools the same as for traditional public schools, which is what the NAACP is seeking to a greater degree in its charter school moratorium resolution.

The NAACP charter moratorium is not an “attack.” It is accountability.

It is not good enough to note that when charters excel, they’re great, or tossing off the charters “are far from universally perfect” line (which the NYT does in its op-ed) and that failing charter schools “should be shut down”–another pro-charter, clichéd non-solution that only leads to unnecessary community disruption– disruption that could be curbed if there were stronger controls in place to begin with.

As is proven by its “misguided” editorial, the NYT editorial board is *reinforcing an out of touch impression,* not the NAACP.



Released July 2016– Book Three:

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 both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

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