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Common Core and Swing Set Equity?

On October 06, 2015, I had the following comment (stay tuned) added to the comment section of my post, Those 24 Common Core 2009 Work Group Members.

The purpose of the comment is to thank the Common Core creators for their hand in righting the wrongs in American public education, including some unclear connection between Common Core and swing set availability.

With Common Core, the commenter considers that “the secrets of the whites are out”; she apparently expects Common Core to produce educational equity even though Common Core was created to accompany high-stakes testing, and Common Core testing is actually widening the achievement gap between white children and children of color (see here and here, for example).

Finally, the individual writing the comment identifies herself as a tutor, a head-tilting moment for me as I read her comment, which I offer below in full, exactly as she chose to write it:


There you have it, Common Core:

Proud support that believes you are The Answer, defying even testing-outcome facts as well as the conventions of written English.

swing set


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published on June 12, 2015.

both books

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


Video and Transcription of John King’s Remarks at Arne Duncan’s Resignation

Below is a Youtube video of the October 02, 2015, White House press conference regarding US Secretary Arne Duncan’s resignation and former New York State Chancellor, John King’s becoming interim secretary for the remaining year that Obama is in the White House.



In my October 03, 2015, post, I transcribed Obama’s and Duncan’s remarks.

Below are John King’s remarks, which I transcribed using the above Youtube video. (King begins speaking at 55:30.)

And now, I offer my readers yet another dose of corporate reform disconnect: John King.

Thank you, Arne, for your very kind words. Thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity to serve and for your faith that you have placed in me and the team that we have at the Department.

I’m deeply honored by the chance to serve and also deeply humbled by, uh, following in Arne’s footsteps. Arne is an extraordinary leader who I have watched demonstrate tremendous courage in fighting for kids and fighting for what’s best for kids, um, but also as being willing to listen, to listen to folks and to make adjustments, and to make sure everything we do every day is towards the goal of greater equity. Uh, Mr. President, you and Arne and our team at the Department have laid out an ambitious agenda, from strengthening early childhood education and expanding access to early childhood, to raising standards for teaching and learning in K through 12, to ensuring that more Americans have access to high-quality, higher education, uh, to ensuring that we support our teachers, and that we invest in our teachers and provide the best preparation and support and leadership opportunities for them. It’s an incredible agenda, and I’m proud to be able to carry it forward with the amazing team that we have at the Department.

Earlier this week, Arne gave a speech to the National Pres Club, and in that speech, Arne said education can be the difference “between life and death.” And I know that’s true because it was for me. I grew up in Brooklyn. Um, I lost my mom when I was eight and my dad when I was twelve. Uh, my dad was very sick before he passed. I moved around between family members and schools. But teachers– New York City Public School teachers– are the reason that I am alive. They are the reason that I became a teacher. They are the reason I’m standing here today. Those teachers created amazing educational experiences, but also gave me hope– hope about what is possible– what could be possible for me in life.

I know schools can’t do it alone. There’s work we have to do on an economic development, and housing, and health care, but I know my parents, who spent their lives as the New York City Public School educators believed that school was at the heart of our promise of equality, of opportunity for all Americans. That’s what they believe; that’s what the President believes; that’s what Arne believes, and that’s what I feel very privileged to be able to work on with this amazing team that we have at the Department.

Every child in the United States, every college student, every disconnected youth, every working parent who just wants a few more credits in order to improve their salary and position at their job, everyone deserves the kind of opportunity that I had to have a great education. Every child deserves the opportunity that my beautiful daughters, Samina and Maria, have, to have a great education– the kind of education their grandparents worked to provide.

So grateful to my very supportive wife, Melissa. Uh, so grateful to the Secretary for the opportunity he gave me to join his team, and incredibly grateful to the President, uh, for the opportunity to work with a wonderful group of people at the Education Department to try to expand opportunity. Thank you.

Well. There you have it.

As was true of Obama and Duncan, King’s words contradict the punitive, test-score-obsessed, festering corporate-reform reality that is both the Obama education agenda and King’s warped legacy as a New York chancellor.

Notice also that like Obama and Duncan, King avoids the toxic term, Common Core.

King’s preferred approach to “reform” is aptly described in this November 2014 Lohud article as “one of rapid change and tone-deaf response”:

For many in the Lower Hudson Valley, a lasting image of outgoing Education Commissioner John King will be of him sitting impassively at Port Chester Middle School in late 2013. The school auditorium was packed with hundreds of parents, teachers and others. Speaker after speaker stood up to decry the rapid rollout of the Common Core standards and new state tests. King appeared to listen, but said little and gave no ground. Most importantly, he didn’t show a pinch of interest in connecting with parents, acknowledging their concerns or even making them feel as if they had been heard. …

To John King, anyone who questions or criticizes the state’s top-down education “reform” agenda is an outsider who is not committed to seeing kids learn.Parents and educators who find flaws in sweeping curriculum and teacher evaluation changes are portrayed as lazy, excuse-making haters.

King ought to fit right in in the Beltway.

obama king


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published on June 12, 2015.

both books

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

Text of Obama’s Farewell Speech to Duncan, and Duncan’s Response

The following is my transcription of the October 02, 2015, announcement of US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s resignation, offered by President Obama and followed by a response from Duncan. The transcription is of this 9 1/2-minute video clip provided by Fox News. (Note that Fox News ends the clip before John King speaks.)


[Obama speaking] Arne Duncan is one of my longest serving Cabinet secretaries, and he’s been a friend for a lot longer than that. So, it’s with some regret and sorrow that I’ve accepted his decision to return home to our hometown of Chicago.

After more than six years of living in Washington, Arne’s wonderful wife, Karen, and their excellent kids, Claire and Ryan, who are also buddies of mine, wanted to move back home, and that’s meant in the interim a lot of time apart. So, I’ll be honest, I pushed Arne to stay– sorry guys. Uh, but, I also know from personal experience how hard it is to be away from your family on a sustained basis. So, while I will miss Arne deeply, he has more than earned the right to return home.

Take a look at what Arne’s accomplished over the last six and a half years: He’s one of the longest-serving secretaries of education in our history– and one of the more consequential. In just a few years, Arne and his team have delivered some incredible results at every stage of the educational experience. More than 30 states have upped their investment in early childhood education. Nearly every state in American has raised standards for teaching and learning and expectations for what our kids can learn. And our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high.

We helped millions more families afford college. More Americans are graduating from college than ever before. And that’s just scratching the surface. Arne’s done more to bring our educational system– sometimes kicking and screaming– into the 21st century than anyone else. America’s going to be better off for what he has done. It’s going to be more competitive and more prosperous. It is going to be more equal and more upwardly-mobile. It’s a record I truly believe no other education secretary can match.

Um. Arne bleeds this stuff. He cares so much about our kids, and he has been so passionate about this work. And everybody who interacts with him, including people who disagree with him on some issues never questions, uh, the genuineness and heart that he has brought to this job. So, I couldn’t be more proud of him, and for good measure, Arne also holds the record for most points scored in an NBA All-star game. [mild laughter and applause]

[Duncan’s expression is somber]

And he is my favorite partner in pick-up basket. Uh, the smartest player I know. Even though he’s very slow. [Laughter; Duncan smiles.] And he has no hops. [Duncan say something, inaudible.] He knows it’s true. I will say, watching Ryan, by the way, that the son will soon be surpassing the father because this young man has got game.

Now keep in mind, none of this change has been easy. And we still have a long way to go. One of the things about education is that it doesn’t deliver results tomorrow or the next day. This is a decade-long or longer proposition. We plant seeds now; we make changes now, and we watch each successive class benefit from these reforms. And it goes in fits and starts, and we have a decentralized system. That’s how our education tradition evolved. So, it’s not easy. And it’s not quick. Um, but, we are making progress. And, we’re not going to stop in these last, uh, 15 months.

And that’s why it’s so important, and why I think we’re very lucky, that even as Arne steps down, we’ve got an exceptionally talented educator to step in. And that is Dr. John King. Uh, John is already on Arne’s leadership team. He’s been an educator all his life: a teacher, a principal, a leader of schools, a New York State’s education chief. He’s the right man to lead the Department. He shares our commitment to preparing every child for success in a more innovative and competitive world. Uh, uh, he’s got a great team already in the Department of Education, of which I am very, very proud. His family is equally cool and good looking [laughter], and he has equally exceptional children. Uh, and I know that, uh, together we’re going to be able to continue to do great things on behalf of our kids.

So, Arne and John, I want to wish both of you a hearty congratulations and good luck. And now I’m going to let them say a few words, and then I’m just going to make a few remarks before I take some questions from the press. Start with Arne.

[Duncan comes to microphone.]

[Duncan speaking] I’ve cried more today than I have in a while, so I’ll try not to cry. I’ll start with the President and when he asked us to come to DC and work with him, that was about a one-minute conversation with my wife. And it wasn’t that we wanted to leave Chicago; it wasn’t [necessarily that I wanted to be] education secretary. Uh, I just wanted to be on his team. I believed so much in what he was about, what he stood for. I have to say, seven and a half years later, my admiration is only greater. And it’s pretty remarkable and it’s important for folks to know that every hard decision, his ultimate question was, “Was it the right thing to do for kids?” in challenging us and our team to fight for kids every single day. And often that was a hard political decision, and that was never a factor. His passion, his commitment, was absolutely extraordinary. For me, it was not the political leadership, it was not the educational leadership; it was the moral leadership. And, I just cannot tell you, Mr. President, personally, what an unbelievable honor it was just to spend some time, and for those everyday who see, but for those who watched him last night talking about the horrendous massacre, gun massacre in Oregon, and how preventable these things are, we need that motivation; please keep it in mind.

Um, to our team, the team you have at the White House, Cecelia, Dennis, Val, and others, it’s been extraordinary to work with these, they, I don’t say this lightly, I think our team, um, at Department of Education is stronger than it’s ever been. And you never know over seven or eight years how those teams will go, and you have the B team towards the end. Well, I think we have the A team, and the combination of being able to work with the White House, Shaun, Sylvia, so many folks are here, Anthony. Um, we have the team in place, and I’m just extraordinarily hopeful and confident about what they can do together. Um Emma, Ted, and the rest of the crew.

Said a little bit about John. Folks know that for all of us, this work is very, very personal. For the President, it’s very personal. For me, it’s very personal. John was one of those kids that probably shouldn’t be in a room like this if you look at the stereotypes. And, not the easiest time growing up. He’ll tell you more about it. Lost both of his parents at a pretty early age. Went to live with his brother; that wasn’t very easy, either. But he had an amazing teacher who saw something in him and kept him going. And today, he gets to stand here with the President. and so many times, we as a society, write off kids that look like John and come from places like John. And just seeing what he can accomplish, I think that’s what drives all of us. We know there’s so many other kids out there that we can reach. And while I’m deeply, deeply sad to be leaving, I’m extraordinarity happy and thankful and proud that John’s going to carry on this work with the team.

Um, I quickly want to try and close it here, but I want to thank my parents here. My dad was a lifelong educator at the University of Chicago, [DR. Elliot Fife?] [Duncan goes silent; choked up; Obama pats him on the back]. My mother started a [inaudible] tutor program before we were born, and raised all of us as part of that program, and that changed our lives. All our lives, we saw what kids could do if they were given a chance, and that’s why we do this work today. [choked up] To be able to see what she did at one little corner of 46th and Greenwood, as now I have a chance over the past six and a half years to try and have an impact around the nation because this man [nods to Obama] gave us a chance.

Um, for my family, I can’t tell you how much, how much it means to us. Um, and finally, just to my family, and, I love this work. I love this team. I love the President, and I love the chance to serve. The only thing I love more is you guys. [choked up] Can’t wait to come home and see a couple more track meets and maybe get to coach Ryan a little bit, and maybe have a few more dinners, and maybe go to a movie someday and [inaudible] [laughter]. It’s, it’s been too long, and so, it’s, uh. It’s been an amazing, amazing journey, and I fell so proud, so lucky, to have been a part of this team. Mr. President, thanks for creating the climate so that all of us here, all of us here, could have the impact we did, and, um, we could never repay, never repay the debt of gratitude we all feel to you, so, thank you so much. And I’ll turn it over to John.

In closing, some observations:

First, Obama and Duncan are obviously disconnected from the trauma that their market-driven, test-score-obsessed education agenda has wreaked upon a public education system about which neither has any firsthand, substantive knowledge.

Second, even as Obama credits Duncan with successfully enticing states to sign on for Common Core, he does not call it by name because the name is politically toxic. What is clear is that Obama credits “federal” Duncan with “state led” Common Core.

Third, Duncan is more openly emotional about leaving Obama than he ever was about any potential consequence of trying to deliver traditional public education into the greedy, under-regulated hands of charter operators, or that he was over insulting those who did not accept his Common Core and common-assessment push.

Fourth, Duncan also chokes up when he talks of his mother’s tutoring as his inspiration in his role as secretary, but he fails to note that his mother’s livelihood was never connected to the standardized test scores of her students– one of his pet policies.

Fifth, in a post that I published on October 02, 2015, regarding Duncan’s resignation, I raise the question of whether Duncan’s leaving were the result of Obama’s believing it to be time for Duncan to go. However, in the above speech, Obama says he asked Duncan to stay. That noted, I am not yet willing to completely dismiss that there could be some political expediency in the mix related to Duncan’s premature exit. Duncan was liked only in the Beltway. I am hard pressed to believe his departure is not significantly influenced by this fact.

Finally, given that Obama’s remarks about the accomplishments of both Duncan and King are divorced from reality, one might more reliably turn to this July 2015 Salon article by Jeff Bryant for a hefty dose of Duncan reality, and for King reality, see Valerie Strauss’s take in Washington Post’s Answer Sheet.

obama duncan king


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published on June 12, 2015.

both books

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

Arne Duncan’s Exit: Not Unexpected.

It’s true: US Secretary Arne Duncan has resigned. He will be out of the White House in December. His story is that he is headed back to Chicago to be with his family.

What is noteworthy is that Obama has another year in the White House. The Duncans could have stayed in Virginia where they were residing (and where Duncan’s kids were attending Common-Core-free public school) for another entire school year. Instead, Duncan’s wife, Karen, and their children headed back to Chicago in July– more than a full school year before Obama would finish his time as a two-term president.

So, for Duncan to say that he is resigning to be with the fam seems more like he knew he would be resigning at the end of 2015– right in the middle of a school year. So, it became realistic for the Duncans to move back to Chicago summer 2015.

Then there is the issue of someone to fill in as secretary for the remainder of Obama’s term. Not any officially recognized secretary, just a sub. Enter former New York State Chancellor John King– the perfect guy to “fail upward.” King resigned his position as NYS chancellor in the throes of terrible publicity for his and NY Board of Regents’ foolish approval for established fraud— Ted J. Morris, Jr.— the responsibility for which neither the New York State Education Department (NYSED) nor the Board of Regents wanted to take responsibility, though both were clearly responsible for not investigating Morris’ fabricated background with even a cursory Google search.

So, in December 2014, King was comfortably ushered up to a higher level of incompetence as a “senior adviser” to Duncan.

King as an adviser to anyone is funny, and more so immediately following the grossly-inept Morris affair. But King is a corporate reformer who needed saving, and he could prove to be a suitable 12-month crash test dummy given that Obama could have been planning for a Duncan exit even then.

Perhaps the Democrats want to try to distance themselves from Duncan’s awful, Common-Core defending, white-mom-insulting, NCLB-waiver-threat-wielding legacy before an election year. Sure, New Yorkers know how terrible King was, but King does not have the national profile that Duncan has– plus he is a fellow Democrat who is national-nothing enough to provide the soft filling needed for a secretary of education in a lame duck president’s final year in office.

Addendum 10-03-15: In his farewell address to Duncan, Obama states that he asked Duncan to stay. However, Duncan was grossly unpopular outside of the Beltway; so, I do not discount Duncan’s negatively-charged political persona as notably associated with his departure.

arne duncan 2   Arne Duncan

john king  John King


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published on June 12, 2015.

both books

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

Broad and Walton Contribute a Combined $650,000 to Upcoming Louisiana BESE Election

Billionaires Eli Broad and Alice and Jim Walton have contributed a combined $650,000 to Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby’s PAC, Empower Louisiana, so that Grigsby might use it to try to retain a corporate-reform-bent majority on the state’s education board, BESE, from 2016-19.

The BESE election is scheduled for October 24, 2015.

According to Empower Louisiana’s campaign finance report (07-17-15 to 09-14-15), Jim and Alice Walton each donated $200,000 on August 20, 2015, and Broad contributed $250,000 on September 10, 2015.

The total on the above report is $763,710, which means that as of September 14, 2015, money from two billionaires from Arkansas and one billionaire from California constitutes the principal funding for Grigsby’s efforts to preserve a BESE majority known for supporting charters and vouchers without equally supporting adequate oversight; supporting high-stakes testing without supporting timely, clear, comprehensive reporting of testing results, and for allying with a state superintendent known for hiding and manipulating data, refusing to honor public records requests, and refusing to consistently audit the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE).

Grigsby considers the above to be the desired course for Louisiana’s state board of education. According to the October 01, 2015, Advocate, he plans to spend his PARC’s predominately Walton and Broad money on 3 of the 11 BESE seats:

Grigsby’s group — it is limited to independent expenditures — will rely mostly on television and radio advertisements and direct mail.

Races where it will be involved include BESE vice president Jim Garvey, of Metairie, against challenger Lee Barrios, of Abita Springs; incumbent Holly Boffy, of Youngsville, against challenger Mike Kreamer, of Lafayette and incumbent Mary Harris, of Shreveport, against challengers Tony Davis, of Natchitoches, and Glynis Johnston, of Shreveport.

The group backs Garvey, Boffy and Davis in those contests.

Even as they are pouring money into the October 2015 Louisiana state board election, Broad and Walton are teaming up to promote more charter schools in DC, and Broad is trying to privatize half of the schools in Los Angeles (see here also).

Grisgby backs those who will deliver the Walton- and Broad-approved, test-score-dependent privatization agenda for Louisiana schools.

Oppose Grigsby, Walton, and Broad.

Flip BESE.

FLIP BESE 3  (Click to enlarge.)


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published on June 12, 2015.

both books

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


Louisiana Legislators, BESE Members, Citizens File a Public Records Request for PARCC(ish) Raw Scores

The following public records request was delivered to Louisiana State Superintendent John White both by messenger and by email at around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 01, 2015:

Baton Rouge, LA

For Immediate Release:  Date: October 01, 2015

Louisiana Citizens Public Records Request for PARCC Data

Today a group of legislators, BESE members, school board members, educators, and citizens filed a formal public records request for the purpose of securing the release of vital data from the Common Core tests that were given to Louisiana students almost six months ago.

These public officials and citizens believe that the results of the Spring 2015 PARCC testing are in the possession of the Louisiana Department of Education and therefore constitute public records under Louisiana law.

The law provides that any Louisiana citizen over the age of 18 may request any public record and that the custodian of public records must provide such public records immediately, but at least within a period of five business days.

These citizens believe that this formal public records request is necessary because numerous similar informal requests by various citizens have either been denied or ignored by the State Superintendent.

Representative Brett Geymann, the lead author of Common Core related legislation this last session, expressed frustration that the data from the tests has not been provided to the educator and parent committee that was formed to revamp the standards:

“This last legislative session we attempted to remove the Common Core Standards from our curriculum because it was not appropriate for our school children. However, in the course of the legislative process we worked out a compromise agreement that required a thorough review of the present Common Core Standards for the purpose of developing new standards that would benefit our students. Unfortunately, now we find that the Standards Review Committee is being denied access to the test results that could help to inform their work in revising the standards. This is in violation of the spirit of the agreement. The taxpayers paid millions of dollars for these tests and we should have the results in a form that can help the revisions committee.”

Representative Schroder echoed those sentiments: “We kept our end of the bargain. Time is running out for the committee. They need the information now. We are not asking that the test itself be released. We just want the standard each question tests and what percentage of students got it right.”

BESE member, Jane Smith, a former superintendent and state legislator, pointed out that she had helped negotiate the compromise: “I have said from the beginning that I want to see a successful review of the standards. I believe we can achieve that if the review panel is given all the tools necessary to have a pure and transparent process. The chairman of the review panel asked for an item-by-item analysis and I believe that should be honored.

According to attorney, J. Arthur Smith, who is representing the group of public officials and citizens: “The purpose of the public records law is to provide Louisiana citizens and parents of Louisiana Public school students full and free access to information gathered on their behalf and with their tax dollars. We cannot let a government bureaucrat control the information and decide what he will dole out to us and what he will hide from us.

“These test results are public information as long as the data is produced without violating the privacy of the students and their parents. Our public records request complies perfectly with the provisions of the law. We expect the State Superintendent to produce the information immediately, but no later than in 5 business days.

“These citizens and public officials intend to release this information to the public as soon as it is provided to them,” J. Arthur Smith said.

The parents and public officials announced that they intend to also recommend to BESE that as soon as feasible, the state superintendent be directed to provide individual student results to the parents or guardians of all students who took the 2015 PARCC test, with the opportunity for parents to view both the raw scores and scale scores for each of their children participating in the testing and their relationship to the Common Core standards. At all times the privacy rights of these parents and their children should be protected. Also, at the option of the parents, such information may be shared with the child’s current teacher so that this information may assist the teacher in better instructing the student during the current school year. [Emphasis added.]

The following are the participants in this public records request:

  1. Representative Brett Geymann, Calcasieu
  2. Representative John Schroder, St Tammany
  3. Representative Rogers Pope, Livingston
  4. Representative Lance Harris, Rapides
  5. Representative Bob Hensgens, Vermilion
  6. Representative Kenny Havard, East and West Feliciana and Zachary
  7. BESE member, District 3, Dr. Lottie Beebe
  8. BESE member, District 4, Mary Harris
  9. BESE member, District 8, Carolyn Hill
  10. BESE member at large, Jane Smith, Bossier
  11. School Board member, St Tammany Parish, Jack Loup
  12. School Board member, East Baton Rouge, Vereta Lee
  13. Educator and member, Stan. Review Committee, Suzette Riddle, Vermilion
  14. Educator, Lee Barrios, Abita Springs
  15. Retired educator, Michael Deshotels, Zachary
  16. Educator and citizen, John St Julian, Lafayette
  17. Citizen, Tom Aswell, Denham Springs
  18. Educators and parents, Dr. Jessica and Dr. Mitch Stubbs, Pearl River
  19. Parent, Jason France, Baton Rouge
  20. Educator, Michael Kreamer, Lafayette
  21. Citizen, Johnny Fatheree, Downsville
  22. Parent, Tania Nyman, Baton Rouge
  23. Parent, Karran Harper Royal, New Orleans
  24. Educator, DrRaynard Sanders, New Orleans
  25. Educator, Dr.James Finney, Baton Rouge
  26. Educator, Noel Hammatt, Baton Rouge
  27. Educator, Bonnie Stokes, Covington
  28. Parent, Mirza Marin, Slidell
  29. Parent and educator, Stacy Lovitt, Slidell
  30. Educator, Charles J. Hatfield, Research on Reforms, Gonzales

john white 3  La. Suoerintendent John White


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published on June 12, 2015.

both books

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




Illinois (Chiefly Chicago) Charter Schools: From the 2014 Biennial Report

I have been reading the 84-page Illinois Biennial Charter School Report (2011-12 and 2012-13), which was released in January 2014.

Illinois has a charter school law that offers charters “significant flexibility” (pg. 3).

Here are some notable tidbits about how that charter school “significant flexibility” is panning out in Illinois:

Illinois traditional public schools outperformed Illinois (chiefly Chicago-located) charters on the now-defunct Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) associated with the unrealistic “100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014” No Child Left Behind (NCLB) goal (pg. 7; click on image to enlarge):

Illinois charters

Illinois traditional public schools also had higher graduation rates and lower dropout rates than did Illinois (chiefly Chicago) charters (pg. 8; click to enlarge):

Illinois charters 2

Charter schools were first allowed in Illinois via legislation passed in 1996.

By the end of 2013, Illinois had 64 charter “schools,” 47 of which were located in Chicago and were under the jurisdiction of Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Keep in mind that the term charter “school” could mean a “school” with separate campuses– which in reality amounts to multiple schools. Thus, the 64 charter “schools” at the end of 2013 translated into 143 actual charter school campuses statewide, enrolling a total of approximately 60,000 students accounting for less than 3 percent of students statewide and approximately 13.6 percent within Chicago.

Also of note: Chicago charter “schools” in existence prior to 2003 could replicate (i.e., create multiple campuses), but those created later are restricted to a single campus per school. According to the January 2014 report, only 13 Chicago charter “schools” could create separate campuses.

Next, for some Illinois charter school data from the charter school study mega-store, Stanford-based Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). However, one should note that CREDO only compares charter schools to traditional public schools that send at least five students to charters– which means that CREDO results are biased right out of the starting gate. (For a detailed look at CREDO study limitations, see this April 2015 post by New York education researcher Andrea Gabor.)

As for that ever-present “achievement gap,” well, the glory only revealed itself if a student were Hispanic, and only in math. Otherwise, those gaps persisted (pg. 58; click to enlarge):

Illinois charters 3

And the report noted (surprise, surprise) that students in poverty fared worse regardless of traditional public school or charter attendance.

As for school-level comparisons, there is no consistent benefit for attending a charter school over a traditional public school. However, chin up, market idealists: Most Illinois (that is, Chicago) charters demonstrate “academic growth that is above their market average.” The fluffy good news there is that charters might someday not be so bad when compared with the statewide testing averages (pg. 59; click to enlarge):

Illinois charters 4

So, Illinois (chiefly Chicago) charters do not outperform the traditional public schools. Even so, charters must be “strengthened”– and the biennial report must include suggestions for helping the charters (pg. 60):

Suggested Statutory Changes

The biennial report must include “suggested changes in State law necessary to strengthen charter schools.” To address this required element, charter schools were asked to review a list of suggested amendments to the Illinois Charter Schools Law and indicate which suggested amendments they would support. As evidenced from the below chart, the number one requested amendment by charter schools—cited by 46 of 50 charter schools responding to the 2011-2012 survey, and 48 of 55 charter schools responding to the 2012-2013 survey—is to mandate at least 100 percent per capita funding from the authorizer.

Under the law, charter schools must receive not less than 75 percent and not more than 125 percent of the school district’s per capita student tuition, multiplied by the number of students enrolled in the charter school who are residents of the school district. All four state-authorized charter schools—Prairie Crossing Charter School, Southland College Prep Charter High School, and the Horizon Science Academies—receive a reimbursement rate of 100 percent of the resident school district’s per capita student tuition. On surveys returned by charter schools, CPS charter schools indicated that they receive toward the bottom end of the statutory range for per capita funding, or in some cases reported a belief that they receive less per capita funding than is required by statute. Outside of Chicago, the per capita funding provided to charter schools varies considerably from district to district, from the lowest-possible funding level (75 percent reimbursement in East St. Louis) to 100 percent tuition reimbursement in CUSD 300, Decatur SD 61, McLean County USD 5, North Chicago SD 187, and Rockford SD 205.

The Charter Schools Law provides for transition impact aid for school districts during the initial term of a new charter school, in order to offset the impact of the charter school on the district’s budget. Specifically, the law provides that a school district with a new charter school is entitled to receive aid equal to 90 percent of the per capita funding paid to the charter school during the first year of its initial charter term, 65 percent of the per capita funding paid to the charter school during the second year of its initial term, and 35 percent of the per capita funding paid to the charter school during the third year of its initial term. Unfortunately, because of the current fiscal climate, transition impact aid has not been available to school districts since fiscal year 2009. The absence of transition impact aid may in part account for lower charter funding levels and the reluctance of school districts outside of Chicago, especially smaller school districts, to consider a charter option for their districts.

Survey respondents also indicated in high numbers that they would support a change in the Charter Schools Law to provide additional operational funding in the forms of facilities financing, transportation funding, and state start-up grants.

Under the category of “authorization” a large number of charter schools (31 schools in 2012 and 35 schools in 2013) indicated their support for a change in the law that would allow authorizers to renew charter schools for terms of up to 10 years. The Charter Schools Law currently provides that a charter school may be renewed in terms of up to 5 years.

Finally, and not surprisingly, many charters indicated their support for changes to the law that would allow for the further expansion of charter schools, either through increasing the cap to allow more charter schools to open, or allowing all schools to expand to multiple campuses without applying for new charters.

Charters want more money, and they want to expand.

Charters do not outperform traditional public schools, so let’s create more of ’em.

Indeed, on the federal level, Chicago-ites, President Barack Obama and basketball-playing pal, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan plan to pump more money into charter schools because, according to Duncan in the September 28, 2015, Washington Post, “the sector has proven it can improve.”

Of course, the federal government does not audit the money it generously tosses the way of charters, nor does it study charter school academic outcomes. But Duncan is okay with that:

At the federal level, we don’t have a whole lot of leverage. But we can really challenge states.

You “can,” Arne, but you don’t.

As noted in the Washington Post article cited above, the Inspector General discovered that some charters receive federal money despite never serving a single student.

Federal funding for teaching no students.

That is indeed “significant flexibility.”

flex money


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published on June 12, 2015.

both books

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




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