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The La. “Teaching Authorization”: Potentially Teach for Life With No Ed Degree– But There’s a Catch

On September 09, 2019, the Hechinger Report published an article entitled, “A New Teacher Vows to Help in a Classroom Full of Need: ‘Under the Right Conditions, They’d Be Stars.'”

The article features a teaching intern who is part of the Norman C. Francis Teacher Residency, an alternative teacher certification program specifically aimed at recruiting individuals who already hold a bachelors degree in another area to agree to teach three years beyond an initial “residency year” at an assigned New Orleans charter school in exchange for roughly $29K in residency-year financial assistance toward earning a masters degree in education.

From the site’s “about” page:

Who we are

The Residency is a first-of-its-kind partnership not only in New Orleans, but nationally.

And from the “what to expect” page:

Residency Year 1

The Norman C. Francis Teacher Residency merges the best of Xavier University of Louisiana’s teacher preparations practices with the work of five of New Orleans’ leading charter school networks.  During the residency year, a cohort of 30 residents enroll as full-time graduate school students, while also apprentice teaching at schools in the NCFTR network. Residents attend graduate school classes as they work alongside a mentor teacher in a classroom throughout the week.  They build confidence through practice and reflection, and over the course of the year, they gradually take on greater responsibility in the classroom.

Employment in Years 2-4

After year 1, the NCFTR team works with teachers and schools to ensure that the transition into year 2 is smooth. Residents who successfully complete the residency year move into classrooms of their own as full-time teachers of record. While working to complete their remaining Master’s Degree coursework, they apply the skills and knowledge they have built in order to take on the responsibilities of lead teaching. They continue to access the network of support that they have built with their residency year cohort.

Residents commit to teach for three consecutive years immediately following the residency year. After Year 1, Residents are highly likely to remain in the same school or CMO for their additional three-year commitment. Participants who leave a NCFTR partner school before their four-year commitment ends may be responsible for paying back a portion of funds received in their residency year.

The Hechinger Report notes, New Orleans schools suffer from both teacher turnover and teacher inexperience:

Nearly four of 10 of New Orleans’ public school teachers have three years’ experience or less, according to a new, year-long analysis that will be published this fall by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, NOLA Public Schools, W. K. Kellogg Foundation (the Kellogg Foundation is among the many supporters of The Hechinger Report) and Baptist Community Ministries. Clustered in high-poverty schools, the most inexperienced teachers don’t last: More than a quarter of them leave teaching each year. This year-to-year instability leaves the city’s most vulnerable kids with fewer familiar adults who know the children and their families.

The article makes no mention of continued teacher turnover as an expected byproduct of dependence upon the likes of Teach for America (TFA), a teacher-temp-gone-ed-leader org that is very much a part of those “ushered-in” ed reforms mentioned in connection with the mass firing of New Orleans teachers in 2005:

Before Hurricane Katrina, nearly three-quarters of public school teachers here were black and most were committed to the profession, with an average of 15 years’ experience. They were fired en masse after the storm, as state-led school reforms were ushered in.

So now, ed reform orgs like New Schools for New Orleans and numerous New Orleans charter schools have an arrangement that is pretty sweet for them because it ropes in would-be teachers for at least four years at a specific New Orleans charter school.

But there is another piece:

I looked up the teaching credential of the individual featured in the Hechinger Report and found something I had not ever seen before:

A “teaching authorization” issued for life at a time when the recipient had just begun a teacher certification degree program (in other words, the recipient held no education degree at the time of issuance) for only Orleans Parish and only “valid for continuous service for the period and place of employment.”

So, the first head-turning info is that the “teaching authorization” is issued for life right from the get-go. There is no deadline set for this certificate to expire, no deadline by which the recipient must complete the teacher certification degree. Therefore, one need never complete the teacher certification process to renew this certification.

The second head-turn relates to the recipient being tethered to Orleans Parish.

The third concerns the wording about “continuous service for the period and place of employment.”

  • Continuous service implies no break in teaching– that the recipient must continue to teach from one year to the next. However, the term “continuous service” as concerns certain Louisiana certificates allows for up to but not including five years of disuse.
  • “For the period” is murky if for no other reason than it’s being included on a certificate for life. However, as it stands, the period is one that never expires– otherwise, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) could have included an expiration date on the document.
  • “For place of employment” is also a bit of a mystery since the Francis teacher residency language implies that a participant could be sent to a different school following Year 1 (the internship year). According to Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) Bulletin 745 on Teacher Authorizations (TA), “A TA is valid only for the period during which the individual is employed by the employing school governing authority making the initial TA request.” So, new school, new teacher authorization– which apparently can only be made at the request of the school, not the individual.

According to Bulletin 745, only “a public or nonpublic school that does not require a Louisiana teaching certificate for employment” can go the route of the teaching authorization (as opposed to full-fledged teacher certification).” Since Louisiana’s traditional public school teachers are required to hold a teaching certificate (because, according to Bulletin 746, the traditional public schools “fall under the jurisdiction of BESE”), the *public* schools that allow for teaching authorizations appear to be charter schools.

Based upon the teacher authorization, it would be possible for someone to not finish the masters degree and still teach under this credential for endless years so long as that teacher remains at the same New Orleans school.

If the teacher finishes the masters degree according to plan in the second year, then it seems that the teaching credential could be modified to reflect as much. (In other words, the teaching authorization could become a teaching certificate.)

As concerns the Francis teacher residency, once the credentialing is complete (at the end of Year 2 according to plan), the participant could leave the assigned New Orleans charter school but “may be responsible for paying back a portion of funds received in their residency year.”

However, once Year 4 (which is actually only the third year of teaching as the teacher of record) is over, the teacher could seek a teaching position elsewhere in Louisiana and exit New Orleans altogether.

Since the Francis teacher residency is relatively new, it remains to be seen if the program will result in greater teacher retention in New Orleans’ charter schools, especially among those participants who successfully attain the masters degree in education, which would allow them to also move from the New Orleans-tethered teacher authorization to an actual teaching certificate– and able to exit New Orleans after teaching for only three years– which does nothing to retain teachers in New Orleans.

But there is also the question of how many individuals will start the Francis teacher residency without completing it and still remain as potentially-lifetime teachers of record in some Orleans Parish charter school if for no other reason than the inability to teach anywhere else in Louisiana– which could, ironically, “improve” teacher retention rates in New Orleans charter schools.

The results of this program– and the teaching authorization for “life” connected to it– will be worth watching.

money fishhook

__________________________________________________________________________________

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

.

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

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

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

both books

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

College Board Cancels Seattle SAT for Second Time in Two Weeks

The College Board is a bumbling operation.

According to the College Board’s “SAT Test Closings” web page, the August 24, 2019, SAT administration was canceled at Franklin High School in Seattle and was supposed to be “made up” on Saturday, September 07, 2019.

On the same page, the College Board states, “Test center closings for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests are listed below a few days before each test date.”

IMG_1567

However, I am writing this post on the night of September 07, 2019, and there was no SAT administered in Seattle today and no update to the SAT test closing web page. Instead, test takers were met with a sign on the test center door stating the test had been canceled, as Seattle principal Gerrit Kischner posted on Twitter:

There you have it, Seattle students:

*Please contact College Board,* the organization that failed to follow its own policy about telling you of this second cancellation of a high-stakes test that students and parents have every right to expect College Board to deliver.

Meanwhile, according to the College Board’s 2017 tax return, the College Board’s 2017 program service revenue was just over $1B.

CEO David Coleman’s total compensation topped $1.5M.

COO Jeremy Singer’s total compensation was $1M.

Sixteen other College Board execs/officers/highest paid employees made between $300 and $500K in total compensation.

I wonder how these well-fed test sellers would react if their expectation of future paychecks were met with a hastily-constructed sign taped to their office door.

IMG_1568

Of course, such a scenario is highly unlikely to happen because, well, money.

counting cash

______________________________________________________________________

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

.

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

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

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

both books

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

ALEC Legislator Retires a “Charter School Millionaire” from ALEC’s Top-Rated School Choice State

This is a post about how school choice works (and pays off) ALEC-style.

ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

ALEC describes itself as follows:

The American Legislative Exchange Council is America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism. Comprised of nearly one-quarter of the country’s state legislators and stakeholders from across the policy spectrum, ALEC members represent more than 60 million Americans and provide jobs to more than 30 million people in the United States.

However, the Center for Media and Democracy’s “ALEC Exposed” website reveals more about ALEC’s workings than ALEC prefers for people to know:

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through the secretive meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, corporate lobbyists and state legislators vote as equals on ‘model bills’ to change our rights that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line at public expense. ALEC is a pay-to-play operation where corporations buy a seat and a vote on ‘task forces’ to advance their legislative wish lists and can get a tax break for donations, effectively passing these lobbying costs on to taxpayers.

Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations.

Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.

ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.

More than 98% of ALEC’s revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Each corporate member pays an annual fee of between $7,000 and $25,000 a year, and if a corporation participates in any of the nine task forces, additional fees apply, from $2,500 to $10,000 each year. ALEC also receives direct grants from corporations, such as $1.4 million from ExxonMobil from 1998-2009. It has also received grants from some of the biggest foundations funded by corporate CEOs in the country, such as: the Koch family Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Koch-managed Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Scaife family Allegheny Foundation, the Coors family Castle Rock Foundation, to name a few. Less than 2% of ALEC’s funding comes from “Membership Dues” of $50 per year paid by state legislators, a steeply discounted price that may run afoul of state gift bans. For more, see CMD’s special report on ALEC funding and spending here.

ALEC produces a periodic (often annual, but not always) state report card on American education. It has done so apparently since the mid-1980s; in 2018, ALEC published its 22nd such report. The 22nd report card includes the assigning of a “GPA” to each state, “based on six factors: state academic standards, charter schools, homeschool regulation burden, private school choice, teacher quality, and digital learning.

Oh, and,Because the Education and Workforce Task Force at ALEC focuses the most on private school choice and charter schools, those factors were given double weight in the calculation over overall rank and grade. The weighted grades were converted into a GPA average and an individual rank.

So, the less satisfied ALEC is with a state’s push for charters and vouchers, the doubly-upset ALEC is with that state and the weightier the ALEC scowl in its choice-favoring state grading system– which shows in its 2018 state education rankings.

The top five states in ALEC’s 2018 rankings are Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Georgia, and DC.

But it takes some time to build up to that school-choice-favoring scowl.

According to ALEC’s 15th education report card, published in 2010 and using testing and financial data from 2006-2008, the state rankings were quite different; Arizona was ranked 33rd; Florida was 36th; Indiana was 23rd; Georgia was 44th, and DC was 51st. Too, school choice did not figure into ALEC’s grades at all at that time. But the likes of Jeanne Allen‘s Center for Education Reform and the Friedman Foundation did make it into the pre-appendix end of the report, with the goal of prodding ALEC-led legislators toward ever-expanding school choice.

And now, back to 2018 and ALEC’s favored school-choice state, Arizona.

Arizona is the only state that received an ALEC “A” in both “school choice” and “charter school” categories, which shows ALEC’s valuing Arizona’s school choice free-for-all. 

No other state is ALEC-double-A-worthy. From ALEC in 2018, Indiana received a B+ in school choice and an A in charter schools, and Florida, an A in school choice and a B in charter schools. But that’s it for the ALEC A-B School Choice/Charter Honor Roll. Fourth-ranked Georgia already hitting a C in charter schools (though it did garner an ALEC “B+” in “school choice”).

Ballotpedia offers some background on charters and vouchers in Arizona, and AZ Central offers this startling, detailed, 2018 study of the “big business” of Arizona charter schools. Below are a few summary excerpts, with links:

BASIS SCHOOLS seeks big donations to pay its teachers: There are 20 Basis schools in Arizona with more than 900 teachers. They all are part of Basis Charter Schools, a tax-exempt non-profit corporation.

But none of the teachers actually works for Basis Schools.

Long before the groundswell of demands for higher teacher pay in Arizona, the high-profile charter school found a novel way to boost teachers’ income: push parents to pay.

AMERICAN LEADERSHIP ACADEMY founder makes millions on schools: American Leadership Academy has grown to a dozen campuses with more than 8,000 students in Florence, Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek and San Tan Valley.

Because of Arizona’s light regulations for charter schools, the school’s founder has made about $37 million on real estate deals associated with the schools — though he disputes the figure. The taxpayer money was allocated to the businessman’s charter schools and then awarded to his companies through no-bid contracts.

PRIMAVERA online charter school CEO takes $8.8 million payout from for-profit charter company: By most academic measures, Primavera online charter school is a failure. Its student-to-teacher ratio is 215-to-1 — 12 times the state average — allowing little or no individualized attention.

On recently released state standardized tests, less than a quarter of its students passed math and about a third passed English, both below the state average. And 49 percent of Primavera students end up dropping out, 10 times the state average.

But by another measure, Primavera is an unmitigated success: making money.

This one is stunning even by “Wild West,” Arizona (lack-of) standards for its blatant self-dealing:

 EDDIE FARNSWORTH, school operator and lawmaker, set to make millions after Charter Board vote: The East Valley charter-school owner was poised for a payday of up to $30 million after the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools approved the transfer of his for-profit charter-school chain to a newly formed non-profit company.

The board OK’d Farnsworth’s request to transfer the charter from the for-profit Benjamin Franklin Charter School, which operates four campuses, to a Queen Creek non-profit company with the same name.

That move will allow Farnsworth, a longtime GOP state representative, to sell the campuses — paid for with state tax dollars — to the non-profit company.

According to Sourcewatch, Farnsworth was a member of ALEC, serving on its Civil Justice Task Force.

In August 2019, Farnsworth retired from the Arizona legislature as a “charter school millionaire.”

An ALEC-school-choice happy ending, eh?

salesman

______________________________________________________________________

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

.

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

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

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

both books

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

NOLA 2018-19 AP Scores: Two High Schools Carry the Entire District.

New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) is a corporate-ed-reform nonprofit started in 2006 by Teach for America (TFA) alum, Sarah Usdin, to promote school choice in post-Katrina New Orleans. In 2017, NSNO former Recovery School District (RSD) superintendent Patrick Dobard became NSNO CEO.

NSNO also runs PR for promoting the success narrative related to now-all-charter New Orleans. As such, on August 12, 2019, NSNO published a piece entitled, “New Orleans Students Outperform State Average on AP Exams.”

The question is, which students outperformed… and which seriously underperformed.

Now, the article is almost correct when it states, “40% of New Orleans students who took one or more AP exams scored a three or above, compared to 35% of students statewide.” So far, NSNO is not shaping the story in favor of all-charter New Orleans.

On the state level in 2018-19, 20,819 students took at least one AP exam. Of those, 7,305  (35.1%) scored 3+. (See data here.)

In New Orleans in 2018-19, 2,150 students took at least one AP exam. And of those, 880 (40.9%– roughly 41%, higher than the 40% reported by NSNO) scored 3+.

But then, the article continues:

Congratualtions to the top New Orleans public high schools for the percentage of students scoring a three or above on AP exams!

Benjamin Franklin High School
Lusher Charter School
Frederick A. Douglass High School (formerly KIPP Renaissance)
New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy

At least 100 students took AP exams in each of these schools.

In order to create a list of the top four New Orleans high schools scoring 3+ on the AP exam, NSNO had to know that only two of the 19 New Orleans high schools scored above the state average high enough to make up for the rest.

Notice also that NSNO does not include details regarding the performance of those top four high schools. To do so would be to reveal quite a bit that is unflattering to the New Orleans AP success promo.

Allow me:

  • Ben Franklin: 502 out of 594 students (84.5%) scored 3+
  • Lusher: 273 out of 409 students (66.7%) scored 3+
  • KIPP Renaissance: 41 out of 136 (30.1%) scored 3+
  • NO Maritime Academy: 27 out of 110 students (24.5%) scored 3+

Sooo, two schools– Ben Franklin and Lusher– are carrying all 19 New Orleans high schools to produce a mean of 40.1% scoring 3+ on 2018-19 AP exams.

Ben Franklin and Lusher happen to be the two New Orleans high schools that 1) are preferred by white students and 2) serve few students considered “at risk” due to factors including low income (25% and 17%, respectively, in 2017).

Two of the “top schools” featured in the NSNO AP spiel– KIPP Renaissance and NO Maritime– weren’t even close to the state average of 35.1% and actually served to pull the NO average downward. But that’s okay so long as NSNO withholds the details because the sheer number of students scoring 3+ from Ben Franklin and Lusher (502 + 273 = 775) accounts for 88% of that 2018-19 “New Orleans AP success” (775 from Franklin and Lusher scoring 3+ / 880 in NO overall scoring 3+ = 88%).

But what about the remaining 15 New Orleans high schools whose AP results NSNO certainly cannot feature?

Well. Here we go.

It isn’t pretty.

From best to worst:

  • Sophie B Wright: <10 out of >=10 students (20.0%) scored 3+
  • Einstein Charter (Sarah Towles Reed): 11 out of 58 students (19.0%) scored 3+
  • NO Charter Sci and Math: 16 out of 134 students (11.9%) scored 3+
  • KIPP Booker T Washington: <10 out of >=70 students (<=11.1%) scored 3+
  • Edna Karr: 17 out of 218 students (7.8%) scored 3+
  • Eleanor McMain: <10 out of >=100 students (6.7%) scored 3+
  • Livingston Collegiate Academy: <10 out of >=20 students (4.3%) scored 3+
  • Cohen College Prep: <10 out of >=30 students (2.6%) scored 3+
  • McDonogh 35: <10 out of >=10 students (<=1.0%) scored 3+
  • Abramson Sci Academy: <10 out of >=10 students (<=1.0%) scored 3+
  • Warren Easton: <10 out of >=50 students (<=1.0%) scored 3+
  • John F Kennedy: <10 out of >=90 students (<=1.0%) scored 3+
  • Landry-Walker: <10 took AP exams (no percentage reported for 3+ scoring)
  • NO Center for Creative Arts: <10 took AP exams (no percentage reported for 3+ scoring)
  • International High School of NO: <10 took AP exams (no percentage reported for 3+ scoring)

For NSNO, the beauty of this PR scam is that the mean is a measure of central tendency that allows for a couple of stellar results to lift (and therby conceal) numerous less-than-stellar results.

In such cases, the median, or middle-ranked score, is more telling. In the case of New Orleans high school 2018-19 AP results, the median score is Eleanor McMain, at 6.7% of its students scoring 3+.

Too, there is the mode, or most frequently occurring score, which in the case of the percentage of New Orleans high school students scoring of 3+ on those 2018-19 AP exams happens to be “less than or equal to 1%.”

Let’s put all of those measures of central tendency together, shall we?

In 2018-19, the mean percentage of New Orleans students who took AP exams scoring 3+ on those exams was 40.1%. However, the median (middle-scoring) percentage was 6.7%, and the mode (most frequent) percentage was less than 1%.

That can only mean a small subset of New Orleans high schools have carried that overall 40.1%, which is exactly what happened.

Thus, a more fitting title for the NSNO AP-success article is, “New Orleans Students at Two Notably White and Under Risk High Schools Outperform the State to Such a Degree That They Conceal the Incredibly Poor Performance of the Overwhelming Majority of New Orleans High Schools.”

Yes. Much more accurate.

sleight of hand 2

_________________________________________________________________________

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

.

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

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

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

both books

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

CA Charter School Assn. Wants All Schools to Become Charters or “Charter-Like.” No Thanks.

In June 2019, Califonia blogger Michael Kohnhaas has received a massive number of internal documents from Green Dot Charter Schools, including those connected to the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA).

One such document posted by Kohlhaas, an information packet for an October 2018 CCSA executive summit, offers stunning insight into the mindset of CCSA leadership, including the belief that proponents of traditional public education could actually be persuaded to somehow join the likes of CCSA (and, more broadly, the charter school “movement”) in its intention to reshape tradtional public education in a “charter-like” image that suits CCSA.

*If only we communicate that there is room in our vision for traditional public ed to remake themselves according to our specifications, those who are against charter schools will join our ranks.*

I find the idea profoundly arrogant and ignorant on its face.

But do read it for yourself, as directly quoted from the CCSA executive summit info packet under the heading, “vision,” with a slice of subsequent section on “mission” to bring this nonsense home:

VISION

Current CCSA Vision: Increasing student learning by growing the number of families choosing high quality charter schools so that no child is denied the right to a great public education.

Proposed new CCSA Vision: Providing absolutely every young person a great public education by growing the number of families choosing high quality charter public schools and encouraging all public schools to become more charter-like.

Variation 2: Providing absolutely every young person a great public education by growing the number of families choosing high quality charter public schools and encouraging all public schools to become as equitable as charter public schools.

Comment: The Board has previously said that a vision should be in service to an ideal. CCSA’s current vision describes “learning” as that ideal, but it may make sense to consider making “Public Education” that ideal to reflect the fact that in our society public education occupies a unique place in our collective psyche. It is the thing that we believe best reflects our commitment to give all people equal opportunity to succeed and enjoy life.

The current Vision focuses exclusively on charter schools. It is silent on what is supposed to happen to the rest of public education. Thus far, we have not been able to agree about what we want the public education system to evolve into. For many years, we did not suffer blowback due to our inability to craft a shared vision for what the traditional system is supposed to evolve into. That is no longer the case. People are being led to conclude that the growth of charter schools presumes damage being done to public education more broadly and that is leading more people to oppose charter schools. We also have many within the traditional system who assume that the charter school movement is one big replacement strategy because we believe that nothing of value can be found within the traditional public school system. This leads many educators within the system who could be our allies to oppose us in ways that they wouldn’t if they felt that there was space and opportunity for them within the future that we envision.

By showing that we believe that all public schools can evolve to become more charter-like, we are signaling that we believe the end state we are moving to is one where, yes, all public schools will be charter schools or charter-like schools, but that we believe a part of the equation is that many existing public schools will be able to remake themselves so that they may play an important role in the future of public education. In Variation 2, we are unabashed about the fact that we believe that, by design, the charter school model is fundamentally more aligned with student equity than the traditional public school model, and we highlight how a portion of our work will go to making sure that we can drive an equity agenda that will ultimately help all kids achieve greater equity whether it is through enrollment in a charter
school or enrollment in another public school that has evolved to treat all students more equitably.

MISSION

Current CCSA Mission: A million students attending charter public schools by 2022, with charter public schools outperforming non-charter public schools on every measure.

Proposed New CCSA Mission: Every student in California attending a great charter school, or a great charter-like public school, by 2030.

CCSA presumes that charter schools are “more equitable” that traditional public schools, and, given such declared truth, are therefore The Ones to “push” traditional public education to be (it seems) more “charter-like.” However, CCSA did not include equity among its five chief organizational goals until it came up with the “charter-like” idea for offering traditional public education the opportunity to be recreated to suit CCSA pretension.

From CCSA’s proposed, “full equity for all” goal, to be added to its “five Fs” (“funding, facilities, freedom, firmer accontability, faster growth”):

In order to create a new focus on pushing traditional public schools to become more equitable in the ways that charter schools are more equitable than traditional public schools, we propose making a 6th F, “Full Equity for All.” … These are some of the bullets we would propose including under this new F:

  • Ensuring that no public school may exclude a student from admissions based upon their place of residence or upon selective academic admissions criteria.
  • Ensuring that all public schools receive all of the funding their students generate at the school level so that no party may redirect funds away from the students for whom the funding was intended.
  • Ensuring that it is transparent and clear how public education funding is being spent all the way down to the school level so that we can ensure equitable treatment of students.
  • Ensuring that we are constantly pushing to invest additional state funding in our highest need students.
  • Ensuring that all public schools’ performance is evaluated every five years by an independent regulator in order to ensure that all of the school’s students are well served.

It took CCSA until 2018 to arrive at an equity goal, not because CCSA sees the need to make certain that charter schools are equitable so much as to assume that charter schools are automatically “more equitable” and to condescend to offer traditional public school supporters the chance to be as good as the charters that have (of course) already arrived equitably.

Of course, blind conceit leaves one open for fish-in-barrel criticisms, including the fact that all-charter, open-enrollment New Orleans includes several selective-admission charter schools— which means that these charter schools are not being very charter-like.

Also, in order to invest more money in “highest need students,” a school must first enroll those students. Charter schools have established a reputation for “systematically counseling out students with disabilities rather than making accommodations and providing the required services and supports.” 

“Counseling out” falls into the category of creative, shady ways to deselect undesired students, as does, say, by not advertising open seats and by employing “targeted marketing and unofficial referrals.”

And as for “transparent and clear how public education funding is being spent,” don’t get me started on California’s A3 charter school fraud and California’s 306 charter schools that received federal money and either closed or never opened.

Finally, when charter schools shut down because they cannot manage to make it through an entire school year, or otherwise shutters before the student is finished attending, the entire choice process becomes moot. The school chosen by the parents and students is no longer available, and it isn’t because the parents and students suddenly decided that they wanted to be out of a school and on a frenzied hunt for Plan B.

I teach at a traditional public high school. If I arrived at school and found a note on the door stating that school was closed that day “for maintenance” only to learn later that the property was in foreclosure, such a situation would certainly be “charter-like.”

If my school faked having a special education classroom to fool state investigators, or if my school paid a student recruiter hundreds of taxpayer dollars per student to boost its enrollment, and if the recruiter happened to be the spouse of a state charter association who provided the recruiter with school closure leads for said recruitment, these situations, too, would be “charter-like.”

I am just fine with the “charter-unlikeness” of traditional public education.

But one more telling word about charter school choice and equity, and it concenrns a brief conversation I had in New Orleans in 2015 with Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) director, Margaret “Macke” Raymond, a conversation I included in my book, School Choice: The End of Public Education? (pg. 148):

Those who advocate for school choice do not necessarily believe that equity of educational opportunity will result from it. This realization was a real eye-opening moment for me. In June 2015, I attended a session at the Education Research Alliance of New Orleans (ERA) conference, which focused on determining the success of what is now a 100% state-run charter school district in New Orleans, the Recovery School District (RSD), and its local-board-run remnant district, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). [Note: RSD and OPSB have since become a single, all-charter district.]

In discussing the issue of educational opportunity inequities present in New Orleans’ “choice” system, Margaret Raymond… remarked, “In designing a system… [there is] a trade-off between equity and designing a system to educate all students…. I think we could tolerate that.”

I was amazed to hear that. Raymond is a proponent of charter schools and of charter school systems like New Orleans’ RSD. But until that moment, I had assumed she believed that educational equity should be a non-negotiable in American public education. Apparently not.

Educational equity– fairness of educational opportunity– can surely prove to be challenging. Nevertheless, America’s public schools should aspire to be places of equity.

CCSA’s implication that charter schools have some equity edge on traditional public schools it simply not correct. In reality, America’s charter sector supplies a ready stream of chaos, manipulation, and scandal notably unrivaled by traditional public education– a chaos that so often leaves charter school parents and students in crisis mode and on the losing end of the so-called “choice.”

school closed

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

.

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

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

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

both books

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

The Walton Presence in Louisiana K12 Education (Still Watching for a 2019 BESE-Influencing Money Dump)

I have been watching for the billionaire Walton influence in the upcoming, October 2019 elections of Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and secondary Education (BESE).

On August 21, 2019, I posted about the disbanding of the Louisiana PAC (Louisiana businessman Lane Grigsby’s Empower Louisiana PAC) used to funnel $3M in out-of-state billionaire money into Louisiana’s 2015 BESE election. Siblings Jim and Alice Walton pumped $650K into that election and subsequent, November 2015, runoff via that single Louisiana PAC, with Alice and Jim each donating $200K to the BESE primary and Jim donating an additional $250K for the runoff. Grigsby used the money to advertise for specific ed-reform candidates and against specific traditional-ed candidates.

alice-and-jim-walton

billionaire siblings Alice and Jim Walton

By August 2015, both Alice and Jim had already made their $200K donations to influence the 2015 BESE race, with both donations being made on August 20, 2015. (To verify, search via name here.)

(Also on August 20, 2015, the same day that Jim Walton donated $200K to Empower Louisiana PAC, he also donated $100K to La. Federation for Children PAC and $250K to Stand for Children IEC.)

Since the Empower Louisiana PAC has been disbanded prior to the 2019 BESE election, that specific vehicle for Walton and other out-of-state billionaire money into Louisiana’s BESE races is no more.

Even so, the Walton influence in Louisiana is far from gone.

In December 2018, Jim Walton donated $100K to the Louisiana Federation for Children Action Fund, a PAC to which he has donated in the past ($35K in October 2016 and $50K in March 2017).

The chairperson for Louisiana Federation for Children Action Fund is Eddie Rispone (see here and here and here), who is running for Louisiana governor in October 2019. Incumbent, Governor Jon Bel Edwards, is not in the corporate-ed-reform pocket.

Louisiana Federation for Children is a state affiliate of American Federation for Children, the national, school choice organization formerly chaired by US secretary of education Betsy DeVos.

Usually, the Louisiana’s governor chooses the state superintendent of education and BESE formally votes to approve the governor’s choice; however, in 2015, Edwards did not get to choose a new state ed superintendent because the pro-corporate-reform BESE majority was enough to retain Louisiana’s Teach for America (TFA) alum superintendent, John White, on a month-to-month basis. (In 2015, ed reform captured 7 of 11 BESE seats, and it would have taken 8 votes to either approve a new superintendent or offer White a new contract.)

White spends a notable amount of time with the Waltons.

According to White’s ethics filings, on August 05, 2019, he attended a Walton family Foundation (WFF) board meeting in Santa Monica, CA, and was reimbursed $1280 by WFF for his attendance. This particular filing is also the first since May 2018 in which he did not approve his own trip. (In this instance he started to then crossed out his name.)

This is not White’s first WFF meeting; he has attended WFF meetings on the Walton dime in August 2012, September 2014, and January 2017.

White is also a regular at TFA meetings on the TFA dime, the most recent being a TFA Advisory/Strategic Advisory Council meeting in Houston in March 2019.

White’s past TFA meeting attendance on TFA dime includes a July 18, 2012, TFA board meeting and July 26, 2012, TFA policy discussion; an October 2013 TFA benefit dinner; a May 2015 TFA meeting *not otherwise defined*; the February 2016 TFA 25th Anniversary Summit; a September 2016 TFA recruitment at the University of Virginia; a November 2017 TFA leadership team meeting, and the October 2018 Teach for All global conference.

And to bring this Walton post full circle, WFF has been a longtime supporter of TFA and its “strategy,” for example, paying TFA $14.4M in 2018 “to recruit and cultivate TFA leaders in 15 regions.”

WFF has been financially supporting TFA almost since TFA’s inception; between 1993 and 2018, WFF doled out over $155M to this teacher temp org that specializes in cataputling superficially-classroomed alumni like White into ed policy and leadership positions.

And, of course, let us not forget the Walton penchant for school choice; WFF now has “partner organizations” to offer Walton money for charter startups, one of which is specific to Louisiana:

  • Charter School Growth Fund
  • The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)
  • Building Excellent Schools
  • NewSchools Venture Fund
  • Silicon Schools
  • The City Fund
  • New Schools for Baton Rouge
  • Education Forward DC

Interestingly, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is not listed among the WFF “target districts”:

The foundation’s strategy is to focus grants on a limited number of districts to make significant changes in those locations. Only public charter schools drawing a majority of their students from the following districts may apply:

  • Arkansas: Any District
  • California: Los Angeles Unified School District [Map of specific boundaries]; Oakland Unified School District
  • Colorado: Denver Public Schools
  • Georgia: Atlanta Public Schools
  • Indiana: Indianapolis Public Schools
  • Louisiana: Orleans Parish School Board
  • Massachusetts: Boston Public Schools
  • New Jersey: Camden City School District
  • New York: New York City
  • Oklahoma: Any District
  • Tennessee: Shelby County Schools
  • Texas: Houston Independent School District; San Antonio Metro Area
  • Washington, D.C.: District of Columbia Public Schools

What is clear is that the Waltons spend on ed reform and on ed reformers to spread Walton-desired outcomes. State boundaries do not matter. Walton money continues to permeate Louisiana K12 education.

Nevertheless, I continue to be cautiously encouraged by the noticeable lack of cash donated by Alice and Jim Walton (and Michael Bloomberg, and Eli Broad) to any Louisiana PAC in an effort to manipulate Louisiana’s 2019 BESE election.

The next filing in late September will be telling. At that point it should be clear if the Waltons and other out-of-state billionaires are funneling cash through other Louisiana PACs now that Grigsby’s Empower Louisiana PAC is no longer in operation.

Cautiously encouraged. Still watching.

magnifying glass money

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

.

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

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

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

both books

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

Former KIPP CEO Michael Feinberg Is Now President of a Nonprofit That Doesn’t Exist

As noted in the August 22, 2019, Houston Chronicle, KIPP charter school chain co-founder Michael Feinberg is suing KIPP for defamation related to his 2017 firing related to allegations of sexual misconduct.

According to the article, Feinberg’s goal is to clear his name.

Also according to the article, Feinberg has been supposedly working for a nonprofit that he co-founded, Texas School Venture Fund (TXSVF):

These days, Feinberg is president of the Texas School Venture Fund, a nonprofit that aims to start new schools in places where the demand for high-quality schools doesn’t meet the supply.

Except that the IRS has no record of such a nonprofit. No “Texas School Venture Fund.” No “TXSVF.”

The Texas Secretary of State (TX SOS) has a record of an Texas business called Texas School Venture Fund (TX state ID # 32062804300; TX file # 0802642699), which was registered on 02/06/17 and is located at 3900 ESSEX LN STE 1200 HOUSTON, TX 77027-5486, the same address listed on the TXSVF website— the site that identifies Feinberg as TXSVF co-founder and also calls TXSVF “a 501(c)3 Non-Profit organization that exists to increase the supply and diversity of great schools.”

The registered agent for TXSVF is Duncan McCrann, who is also listed with the TX SOS as the “board CEO.” The only other name listed is Michael Barnhart, who is associated with two nonprofits using the Essex Lane address, the Center for Opportunity Urbanism (EIN 47-2241225) and Subsidiary Institute/ Competitive Governance Institute (EIN 20-5792227).

The individual who supposedly co-founded “nonprofit” TXSVF with Feinberg is Leo Linbeck III, who is listed on the board of both of the actual nonprofits listed above and sharing the Essex Lane address.

The TXSVF website also has a “donate” page, which includes the following message:

Thank you for considering a gift.  Texas School Venture Fund is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, and your gift is tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Taxpayer identification number: 81-3674046

An IRS’ tax-exempt organization search of 813674046 does indeed lead to a nonprofit, which happens to also be connected to the Essex Lane address:

The Catholic School Renaissance Institute.

So, individuals who think that they are donating to TXSVF are actually donating to the Catholic School Renaissance Institute because the TXSVF website is leading them to believe so.

That’s called fraud.

According to the IRS, the Catholic School Renaissance Institute was granted nonprofit status on February 06, 2017 (the same day that TXSVF filed with the TX SOS). The contact person is identified as one “Jo A Christmas.”

As for tax filings: the Catholic School Renaissance Institute has two “e-card” filings, for 2016 and 2017, indicating that the principal officer is Carl Oberg of Falcon Heights, Minnesota. For 2016 and 2017, the organization’s gross receipts was $50K or less.

According to his Linkedin bio, Duncan McCrann is the “founder and CEO at the Catholic School Renaissance Institute” since “July 2016 to present.” The mission is described as follows:

The mission of The Catholic School Renaissance Institute is to advance the rejuvenation of urban, Catholic education by connecting the many highly effective organizations that are working separately in cities across America. The Institute will eliminate the information void among the teams of people working to preserve or expand urban, Catholic education through communication, network building, and convening. It will be a conservator of relevant studies and best practices in the sector.

Also according to McCrann’s Linkedin bio, he was president and COO of KIPP Houston from March 2008 to January 2011.

So, what we have here is a fake nonprofit (TXSVF) that is fraudulently soliciting donations using the EIN of another nonprofit (Catholic Renaissance) operated by a former KIPP COO (McCrann) whose name is kept behind the scenes on the fake nonprofit website and who is associated with two other nonprofits operating from the same Essex Lane address, and the one who supposedly co-founded the fake nonprofit (Feinberg) is not named anywhere except on the fake nonprofit’s website.

Being president of a scam organization certainly complicates the goal of “clearing one’s name.”

IMG_1566

Michael Feinberg

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

.

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

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

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

both books

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