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David Coleman: Promising to Address SAT Problems When Cornered

Reuters has been releasing articles related to the newly-designed SAT ever since someone anonymously sent over 400 SAT questions to the news agency on August 03, 2016.

Reuters has since reported on the August 26, 2016, FBI raid of former SAT exec Manuel Alfaro’s home as part of an investigation of the Reuters item release; Reuters also released a special report on September 21, 2016, concerning the “wordiness” of SAT math problems– an issue that Reuters notes could “reinforce race and income disparities”– and which was raised in College Board internal documents in 2014 yet apparently ignored.

And, of course, there are the well-known issues of SAT’s recycling its tests and items so that test takers in countries such as China and Macau are able to game the SAT test-taking system.

The question is, why hasn’t College Board’s wonder boy president, David Coleman, addressed these years ago?

The answer apparently lies in his finally being put on the spot in real time in a professional meeting combined with Reuters’ access to SAT insider info.

In short, Coleman has been cornered.

Now, in September 2016, Coleman has stated publicly that he will (finally?) address the wordiness of the newly-designed SAT’s math problems as well as the test/item recycling that obviously fuels overseas cheating on the SAT.

Again, Reuters reports (September 23, 2016):

David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board, said the New York not-for-profit organization wants to simplify the word problems on the new SAT’s math sections to eliminate “superfluous words.” His remarks Thursday, at a conference of colleges and guidance counselors, came a day after a Reuters report detailed how the College Board’s new test contained math problems that are much wordier than internal specifications called for.

Coleman said the College Board also aims to reduce its practice of recycling SAT questions used on prior exams. Reuters articles earlier this year revealed how test-preparation companies in Asia are systematically harvesting old questions and having their students practice on them. When those questions are reused on exam day, the clients enjoy a big advantage over students who haven’t seen the material before. …

Coleman was pressed about the math sections and the exam recycling by the audience during an appearance at the annual conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Judi Robinovitz, a Florida educational consultant, expressed concern about a Reuters report Wednesday that the College Board had ignored its own internal research showing that the math questions on the new SAT were too long. …

Coleman said the College Board has seen “no meaningful difference” in completion rates on the new SAT between students whose first language is not English and those who are native English speakers. But he added that changes are in store for the new test, which debuted in March.

“We are going to do everything we can to further simplify the mathematics section. Using superfluous words is superfluous,” he said, later adding, “Every extra word should go. Complex, distracting situations should go.”

He said later, “I think the College Board should do everything it can because I’m worried about the perceptions in the [Reuters] article [from September 21].”

Superfluous words are superfluous. But let’s leave them in the test anyway until the media pressures Coleman to do what should have been done in 2014 when College Board first knew the wordiness was an issue.

And about the College Board practice of making cheating on the SAT easy by recycling tests and items:

Coleman was also asked by a college consultant in the audience about cheating on the SAT, and whether the College Board planned to do away with reusing test questions and switch to single-use, “one-and-done” tests.

“If you want to stop cheating internationally, give the tests once,” the consultant told Coleman. “Don’t repeat the same test ever.”

Coleman responded that some reuse of questions was necessary, but agreed that it was done too often. He said the College Board is trying to reduce recycling, while cautioning that doing so will be expensive and will take time.

“I think first and done is exactly right … it is exactly what we should all seek. And it’s going to take substantial advances in costs,” he said. “I do seek a better future and I do want to work on redesigning item and form redevelopment such that we can get there. And we are moving towards much greater first use and much more targeted reuse.”

So, SAT reuse is still going to happen. “First and done is exactly right,” but College Board under Coleman has yet to show any means to trying to do “exactly right” and combat the overseas cheating on the SAT other than canceling test sessions at the last minute.

And doing the SAT “exactly right” is going to cost more– which makes me wonder if more colleges and universities will decide that the cost of the SAT is not worth the negligible difference between admitting students using SAT/ACT and admitting without.

There is also the issue of SAT’s continuing to lose market share to ACT, as PBS reported in March 2016:

Many test-prep experts say the new SAT now looks more like its competitor, the ACT, which more students have opted to take in recent years. And it’s no coincidence. The SAT is losing market share to the ACT and has come under fire not only for its expense, but access. One of the many criticisms of the SAT is that the test creates a disadvantage for women, minorities and the poor who are less likely to afford the costly prep courses. The College Board aimed to tackle this by partnering with the Khan Academy, a[n] online educational service, to offer free test-prep.

Then there was the March 2016 effort for SAT to try to hide its new testing product from those most likely to approach it with a critical eye– the professional test-prep folk. As PBS notes:

But just days before the new test was administered, several would-be test-takers were uninvited. The College Board sent a letter to some who signed up saying they’ve been bumped until May. The board cited a “new security measure,” but most of those uninvited guests are actually test-prep professionals. Patrick Bock, a professional tutor who’s taken older versions of the SAT more than a dozen times, believes it was tactical. “They don’t want really bad press from experts who understand testing,” he said. “[Test-prep experts] skewer the tests for questions that aren’t quite where they need to be.”

So now, six months later, Coleman has Reuters pointing out that the redesigned SAT isn’t quite where it needs to be– and that the College Board knew as much years ago.

It takes being questioned in public at a professional meeting for Coleman to weakly rise to the occasion of unfavorable public perception.

I wonder how much longer the College Board will view Coleman as an organizational asset.

david coleman CB  David Coleman


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.

Broad, Walton, and Their LA-based Nonprofit, Great Public Schools Now

Los Angeles is the focus of a major billionaire-funded, astroturf effort to expand the charter sector. And where there is a major market-driven reform push, a new, billionaire-funded nonprofit is often on the horizon. So it is with the 2015-created nonprofit, Great Public Schools Now (EIN 47-4962715, which was actually granted nonprofit status in February 2016). As Los Angeles Times‘ Howard Blume reported in November 2015:

The new organization, called Great Public Schools Now, is based in Los Angeles and will take the next steps in a plan that initially was spearheaded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. A draft of that proposal, dated in June, called for raising $490 million to enroll half the students in the L.A. Unified School District [in successful charters and other high-quality public schools] over the next eight years.

The nonprofit will be run by two executives from ExED, a local company that specializes in helping charter schools manage their business operations. Former banker William E.B. Siart will chair the governing board; Anita Landecker will serve as interim executive director.

Blume continues the Great Public Schools Now story in June 2016, and he notes a suspicious shift in the kinds of schools the Broad-Walton-funded group supposedly wants to expand:

A controversial group that began with the mission of rapidly expanding charter schools in Los Angeles has named its board of directors, come out with a plan and publicly defined its mission as supporting new, successful public schools of any kind.

The board for Great Public Schools Now mostly includes faces and groups that are familiar in the education reform wars of L.A., including representatives from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

The chair of the nonprofit is retired banker Bill Siart, the only board member who had been previously announced. …

Nearly all the other board members are widely regarded as pro-charter, even though their backgrounds are diverse. …

The group’s glossy, 16-page plan identifies 10 low-income, low-achievement neighborhoods as areas of focus. Clustered in the east San Fernando Valley and south and east of downtown, they include Boyle Heights, Pacoima and South Gate.

Although the plan is short on specifics, the group plans to announce its first grants Thursday. They could help schools in the targeted areas in a variety of ways. …

The newly released plan differs substantially from a draft obtained last year by The Times. That draft, which was not intended for public release, harshly criticized L.A. Unified and identified charter schools as the path forward, with the goal of moving half of district students into charters over eight years. The draft appeared to have been prepared to give to potential funders.

Critics probably will continue to view that draft as the real blueprint and the document released this week as public relations.  …

Timed with the release of its plan, Great Public Schools Now will launch a six-figure TV and print campaign, including ads in the L.A. Times.  …

While insisting that its focus will be on all schools, not charters alone, the group isn’t disclosing all pertinent details. It declined this week to provide information on its funders and how much money they are providing.

According to its website, Great Public Schools Now has a seven-member board and a three-member team. The board includes Walton Foundation K12 education program director, Mark Sternberg, and Broad Foundation executive director, Gregory McGinty. The team includes California Charter School Association (CCSA) senior VP of governmental affairs, Myrna Castrejon.

The Great Public Schools Now website includes no word on its funders. (There’s a link for funders, but no info.)

As for its “about/mission” page: It seems that Great Public Schools Now purports to expand all sorts of “successful public schools” (charter, magnet, pilot, and partnership schools)– even as it will offer startup grants only for charter schools:

Great Public Schools Now will fund the growth of high-quality public schools in high-need Los Angeles neighborhoods. To help support the growth of schools, grants will fund the identification and development of new charter school facilities, efforts to recruit and prepare public school teachers and provide support and coaching to public school leaders, and efforts to deepen conversations between educators and families to create more collaboration and public participation in creating more high-quality public schools.


Great Public Schools Now is a California not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring all Los Angeles students receive a high-quality education by accelerating the growth of high-quality public schools.

Today, more than 160,000 students in Los Angeles and surrounding cities attend schools that are failing to provide them with a quality education. Our goal is to help as many students as possible get the education they want, need and deserve by replicating successful public schools, such as charter, magnet, pilot, and Partnership schools, in high-poverty areas of Greater Los Angeles.

Again, Los Angeles, you don’t get to know where the charter startup money is coming from, though the Broad and Walton presence on the Great Public Schools Now board is clue enough. The Walton Foundation has specific areas in Los Angeles that it will fund for new charter schools. Note that the Waltons offer no option to fund any other type of school besides charter schools.

In October 2015, I wrote about the Walton Foundation’s 2016-20 strategic plan. Below is an excerpt that might help clarify the Walton intention in Los Angeles:

Here are excerpts from the Walton report, including what they supposedly learned on their way to buying what they want.

The Foundation seeks to attract and develop talent to staff teaching, school leadership, district and organizational leadership positions through the support of organizations such as Teach for America. … The Foundation supports national advocacy organizations in order to create policy environments that support reform. Key grantees in this area include the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Families for Excellent Schools, and Democrats for Education Reform. …

The Waltons view their “strategy” as somehow neutral. You know, “We fund all sorts of schools, without bias towards charters… But, oh, yeah, we really prefer charters, as our spending history clearly attests”:

The Foundation sees its strategy as agnostic with regard to sector (public charter schools, traditional public schools, private schools). … The Foundation’s funding history includes a significant amount of support for charter schools, however. In fact, roughly two-thirds of the Education Program’s investments support the growth of a high-quality charter sector in some way. This seeming preference for charter schools is in line with the Foundation’s theory of change that requires change agents, like new, high-quality charter schools, to increase competition in citywide school systems….

The Waltons do not see themselves as buying up democracy in order to shape it into the Image of Walton. And they are concerned about building grass roots support for their imposed reform. It seems that they thought the grass roots support would just happen and would manifest itself in automatic “competition” between charters and traditional public schools. Such competition has not happened; so, the Waltons want to increase their funding (and presence) in three key cities in order to petri-dish their latest strategic plan, which will now include grit and determination:

The Walton Family Foundation’s original theory of change was that expanding choice would spur competition, and consequently create system-wide improvements. The Foundation thought that once choice options reached a critical mass or sufficient “market share,” transformational, system-wide change would begin to occur.40 With over 20 years of learning from grantees and their communities, the Foundation’s theory of change is evolving and expanding. As Marc Holley describes it, “We have come to the realization that choice in and of itself is necessary but not sufficient to drive change at scale. We are more deliberate in thinking about what needs to be in place in order to promote functioning choice.” …

From their perch at the top, the Waltons need to get the parents (the bottom) on their side:

One area where the Foundation has received criticism is in the area of community engagement. It has been accused of having a top-down approach that does not adequately address the needs and desires of parents, local advocacy groups, and community groups. This is an issue the Foundation is grappling with. “The provision of choice, and the publication of data on school performance, has sometimes had little impact, especially in districts where reform lacks adequate local ownership, community and wider civic involvement, and parent engagement,” [Walton Foundation Senior Advisor] Bruno Manno notes. He identifies two levers in engaging local partners and communities more thoroughly: 1) building an active coalition of supporters, and 2) cultivating local advocacy partners. “We need a local and civic base of support for the work that’s going on. The work we support requires a stable constituency to be advocates for schools over time. There is a political dimension as well, the community and families need to understand what options are available.”

It seems that the Walton-funded writing on the Los Angeles wall might well entail expanding charters as the answer to making all Los Angeles schools better. It also believes in bringing traditional school districts around to its market-driven-reform thinking via corporate-reform-group infiltration. Too, it seems that the Walton Foundation believes that grass roots support for its effort is a matter of getting the public mind in line with the Walton charter expansion priorities.

The Walton intentions in incubating and expanding corporate reform fit hand-in-glove with the Broad intentions for Los Angeles. On its website, the Broad Foundation generously tosses around the term “public schools” even as it features KIPP, Success Academies, and Teach for America among its handful of “key grantees.” Furthermore, the Broad listing of current grantees is for the most part a corporate reform festival:

4.0 Schools
Achievement First
Achievement School District
Bellwether Education Partners
Bright Star Schools
Broad Center for the Management of School Systems
Building Excellent Schools
Center for American Progress
Central Michigan University Foundation
Charter School Growth Fund
Common Sense Media
Education Reform Now
Education Week
Great Public Schools Now
Green Dot Public Schools
Harvard University

IDEA Public Schools
Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)
Leadership for Educational Equity
Michigan Education Excellence Foundation
Michigan State University – College of Education
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
National Center on Education and the Economy
National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)
Noble Network of Charter Schools
Orange County Public Schools
Partnership for Los Angeles Schools
Policy Innovators in Education Network
Progressive Policy Institute
Results in Education (RIE) Foundation
Scholarship Management Services
School of Visual and Performing Arts
Silicon Schools Fund, Inc.
Success Academy Charter Schools
Teach For America

Note that Broad is currently funding ExED, and that Great Public Schools Now has two ExED reps on its board/team: William Siart and Anita Landecker. What this illustrates is the all-too-common corporate reform funding incest. (According to the Walton 2013 tax form, Walton has also given ExED $50,000, and the Waltons loaned ExED $5 million for Los Angeles charter school facility financing.)

Like Walton, Broad expands choice, and it funds corporate-reform-minded organizations that can provide the minions and leadership transplanting necessary to transform a traditional school district into a decentralized, under-regulated, market-fed, billionaire-directed farce.

Broad and Walton are likely the chief funders of Great Public Schools Now. If there were other notable funders, they would also have a seat on the Great Public Schools Now board.

One of the Great Public Schools Now goals is to drum up more “public participation in creating more high quality public schools”– a goal already noted in the Walton strategic plan referenced above.

Given the top-down direction of corporate reform, that “grass roots” support is likely to be fabricated– as is the case in of a charter school rally held in Pacoima on September 17, 2016, and sponsored by CCSA:

The participants leading this rally were logo-shirt-clad, current charter school admin, teachers, parents, and students– not the public outside of charter schools demonstrating to get more charter schools, but those already associated with such schools. The participants were bused to the event, and some students told education activist Karen Wolfe (who produced the included video) that they would be receiving extra credit for attending the rally.


In order to collect information on crowd members, one principal suggested they complete a CCSA information card. The enticement was participation in a raffle for prizes. The information cards could come in handy to provide *proof positive* that *the Los Angeles public wants choice.*

There was even a charter-principal-led, charter school pledge of allegiance:

Pledge of the Northeast San Fernando Valley Charter Schools

We pledge allegiance to the high-quality public schools in the Northeast Valley, where all students can succeed, where all parents can choose, where hope never expires.

I wonder how many individuals in the crowd were not already associated with CCSA. My guess: Not many.

Great Public Schools Now has a Walton- and Broad-financed “team member” whose job it is “leading our efforts and strategy around Community Outreach and Engagement.” In other words, she is being paid to convince those being acted upon by Broad and Walton to publicly unite behind what Broad and Walton want– even as her employer refuses to publicize its Broad, Walton, and possibly other funders.

I challenge her to do so without the use of logo t-shirts, chartered buses, raffles, or extra credit.

And I challenge Great Public Schools Now to disclose its funders on its website.



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.

TFA Joke Video about a Dating App Followed by “Don’t Join TFA” Video

TFA has a humorous video ad to recruit members. The ad is about the “TFA Dating App,” which is not real. The fictitious app, called, “One Night,” actually makes TFA sound like a teaching “one night stand.” (Oops to marketing.) Since TFA is a temp gig, the short-sighted parallel fits.

What I also found interesting is the video that followed the ad on Youtube. The second video, created in April 2015 by a former TFAer, is entitled, “Don’t Join Teach for America.” It was created by a young woman who is a native of Costa Rica and raised in Los Angeles. She joined TFA out of fear of not being able to find a job upon graduation. She ended up teaching in Mississippi. and had no say in the matter. She notes that the students of TFA teachers are getting shorted by being continually disrupted in their educations– educations that are being led by TFAers who are learning and fumbling as they go.

This young woman quit TFA (“my health deteriorated”)  and had to repay TFA for her six weeks of summer training and for 9 college classes that were supposed to be her road to becoming a career teacher– a backwards, unrealistic road, she now realizes. The young woman offers a lot of detail on her experience, and her words are well worth hearing.

She refers to TFA as “a hot mess.”

The young woman notes that after two years away from TFA, she still receives invitations from numerous charter schools inviting her to apply as a teacher.

She begins her recorded message by saying that she had wanted to make the video for a while but did not do so sooner because she feared losing friends. In the end, her desire to inform won– thus, the video.

Both videos are included below.




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.

J. Crew Offers a “Teach for America Collection”

No kidding. J. Crew is fundraising for Teach for America (TFA) by selling TFA apparel:


Join us for the launch of J. Crew’s 2016 Teach For America Collection! To celebrate the launch, you will receive 15% off all purchases made during the event. In addition, J. Crew will donate 15% of your total purchase to Teach For America – Metro Atlanta! Come mingle, shop, and enjoy light refreshments with your Teach For America community. Friends and family are more than welcome; the more the merrier!

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, September 27th from 6:00-8:00 pm at the J. Crew at Lenox Mall!

People will buy these clothes and actually think that money is being donated to public education.

TFA is a teacher temp agency; its recruitment is in decline. The Meridian Star (Mississippi) reports on September 22, 2016, that TFA is charging districts more for TFA recruits.

TFA CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard blames the economy for improving too much, which says little for her reasoning as to why college grads join TFA: in a poorer economy, college grads are desperate.

Good thing that TFA thought to charge districts a higher fee for its fly-by-night-trained teachers.

And, of course, J. Crew is here to help combat the downside of that stronger economy.

Tongue in cheek, folks. Tongue in cheek.


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.

Why Massachusetts Voters Should Think Twice About Charter Expansion

This post highlights excerpts from a September 22, 2016, post written by New Jersey teacher and ed policy doctoral student (Rutgers), Mark Weber.

In his post, Weber compares the attrition of Boston charter high schools to Boston public high schools, and he considers groups of students who begin as 9th graders and remain at a given school to complete 12th grade (such a group is known as a cohort).

When comparing Boston charter high schools to Boston public high schools, Weber found that across ten graduation years (2005 to 2014), the lowest cohort percentage retained by Boston public high schools (66 percent) was higher than the highest cohort percentage retained by Boston charter high schools (56 percent). (Click image to enlarge.)


Weber observes:

In the last decade, Boston’s charter sector has had substantially greater cohort attrition than the Boston Public Schools. In fact, even though the data is noisy, you could make a pretty good case the difference in cohort attrition rates has grown over the last five years.

Is this proof that the independent charters are doing a bad job? I wouldn’t say so; I’m sure these schools are full of dedicated staff, working hard to serve their students. But there is little doubt that the public schools are doing a job that charters are not: they are educating the kids who don’t stay in the charters, or who arrive too late to feel like enrolling in them is a good choice.

Weber discusses the importance of considering both the coming and going of a school’s students. If a school does not “backfill,” or replace students who leave with other students who arrive later, then the cohorts become smaller with passing years– with remaining students representing “a less mobile population, as Weber notes:

…This (backfilling) is a key issue in determining if charters can be scaled up to take a larger share of students. If charters are not backfilling, they are probably serving a less mobile student population — and one that is likely in less economic disadvantage. They are relying on the public district schools to take the students that are coming into the district, which raises some profound questions about how, exactly, the “successful” charters get their gains.

He also offers the following caveat about assuming that lifting Massachusetts’ charter cap automatically translates into success:

…There are two flavors of charter school in Boston: independent charters, and “Horace Mann” charters, which are sanctioned by the Boston Public Schools and staffed (mostly) with unionized teachers. …

There is no question that the independent charter sector is still relatively small in Boston, at least as far as high schools are concerned. That alone ought to give supporters of Question 2 pause: how can they be so sure these schools can maintain their alleged “gains” (we’ll talk about whether these “gains” actually exist in another post) if they expand? What if they can only function on a smaller scale?

Weber concludes:

This is a serious issue, and the voters of Massachusetts should be made aware of it before they cast their votes. We know that charter schools have had detrimental effects on the finances of their host school systems in other states. Massachusetts’ charter law has one of the more generous reimbursement policies for host schools, but these laws do little more than delay the inevitable: charter expansion, by definition, is inefficient because administrative functions are replicated. And that means less money in the classroom.

Is it really worth expanding charters and risking further injury to BPS when the charter sector appears, at least at the high school level, to rely so heavily on cohort attrition?

To date, Massachusetts’ charter expansion ballot measure, Question 2, has taken in almost $20 million in cash, with supporters outspending opposition almost 2 to 1.

The greatest financial supporter of MA Q2, Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy, is based in another state (New York), and has spent to date almost $7 million to raise the Massachusetts charter cap. (For Q2 ballot committee filings, click here.)

So many millions spent to lift another state’s charter cap, and not one dollar devoted to an impact study on the ramifications of doing so. But impact is not the question for those with the cap-lifting millions; lifting the cap for cap-lifting’s sake is.

Massachusetts voters need to think about that, and about Weber’s research.

scholtz  Tom Scholtz is the founder of the band, Boston.


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.

MA Question 2 Gains Another $1.5 Million, Mostly from NY

Massachusetts has four ballot questions up for vote on November 8th: Expand gaming (Q1); raise charter school cap (Q2); prevent cruelty to farm animals (Q3), and regulate and tax marijuana (Q4).

In support of Q1, the Horse Racing Jobs and Education Committee has raised $431,370 as of the September 20th filing. No committee has raised any money in opposition.

Q3 (preventing cruelty to farm animals) also has only supporters, Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, which has raised $1.7 million.

And Q4, on the legalization and regulation of marijuana, has supporters, Yes on 4, who have raised $2.9 million, as well as three opposing ballot committees (Safe Cannabis Massachusetts, Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action, and the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts), which have raised a combined total of $451,017, as of September 20th.

But it is Q2, on the expanding of charter schools, which has been the real money draw. As of the September 09, 2016, filing, four committees in support of Q2 had raised a combined $11 million (taking into account that two of these committees shuffled $1 million to the two other committees), and one committee in opposition had raised $6.8 million.

On September 20,2016, one committee in support of Q2, Great Schools MA, has added another $1,029,193— with most of it– $1 million– coming from the largest funder by far of Massachusetts’ ballot measure for charter expansion: New York-based lobbying nonprofit, Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy.

What this means is that as of September 20, 2016, the New York-based lobbying nonprofit has spent $6,750,000 to expand charters in Massachusetts.

Also, as of September 20, 2016, the total amount of unique, non-overlapping money spent in support of Q2 is $12.1 million. New York-based Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy has provided 56 percent of that total.

The September 20th reporting also includes an additional $413,192 in support to the sole committee opposing Q2, Save Our Public Schools. Of that amount, $406,324 comes from Boston-based AFT Massachusetts. None of the $413,192 comes from an out-of-state individual or organization.

The grand total spent on Q2 as of September 20th is $19.3 million– over 5.5 times the amount of money spent to date on the question of legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts– and more than 3.5 times the money spent on the other three ballot measures combined.

On its 2014 tax form, Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy (FES-A) states its mission as “works to build coalitions and run campaigns that change education policy.”

Note that the statement above does not say “in New York.”

FES-A spent $1.8 million to do so from July 2014 to June 2015.

Now, in 2016, it has already spent four times as much to “run the campaign to change education policy” in Massachusetts.

And the Q2 spending isn’t over yet.

money in safe


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.

Trump Selects Two People for His Education Transition Team

According to a September 19, 2016, article written by Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week, according to “multiple sources,” Donald Trump has two individuals in line to lead his transition team in education if Trump becomes president.

The first is Williamson “Bill” Evers:

Evers served as an assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Education from 2007 to 2009, and also was an adviser to former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in 2007 under President George W. Bush.  …

Evers has an extensive background in academic standards. He was appointed by two former California governors, Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to serve on two separate standards commissions. And he’s been a big critic of the Common Core State Standards. In a 2015 op-ed for Education Week, for example, Evers said advocates of the common core were subverting a key aspect of the American civic system….

He’s also written about struggling schools, mathematics, and school funding, among other topics. Evers has served on a county board of education in California, where he’s also been on the board of directors for a charter school.

bill-evers  Bill Evers

It should be noted that the Republican bandwagon of Common Core as a federal takeover came years after numerous Republican governors and state education chiefs signed on to an as-of-yet non-existent Common Core in 2009 in the wake of then-US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s dangling almost $400 million in front of those officials for a contest to create federally-funded, Common Core testing consortia. Moreover, the Common Core MOU (memorandum of understanding) clearly stated that the federal government would be all over Common Core except for directly funding it.

Moving on.

The second Ujifusa-noted Trump tap is Gerard Robinson:

Robinson served as Florida’s education commissioner from 2011 to 2012, and has also served as Virginia’s education secretary and as the president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. …

Robinson resigned as the Florida chief four years ago after a difficult year in office. He left the job not long after a controversy surrounding a precipitous drop in proficiency rates on the state writing exam—the state board responded by lowering the pass score on the test. Some also criticized the state education department’s handling of Florida’s A-F accountability system on Robinson’s watch, and how he handled English-language learners with respect to A-F school grades.

gerard-robinson  Gerard Robinson

I wrote about Robinson in this 2013 post about Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change (Jeb Bush, who tried to hold onto Common Core as long as he could):

If reality breaks through and corporate reform is really embarrassed, well, one might have to “take one for the team.” That seems to be the case for former Florida “Chief” Gerard Robinson, who continues his time with Chiefs for Change as an emeritus member. Even though Robinson resigned “for family reasons,” his departure as Florida’s state education superintendent occurred amid national humiliation:

…Robinson’s tenure had been dogged in recent months by the public-relations pounding the department took after FCAT scores collapsed, followed a few months later by the school grades mix-up.

The Florida Board of Education was forced to lower passing grades for the statewide writing tests in May after the passing rate plunged from 81 percent to 27 percent for fourth graders and showed similar drops in eighth and 10th grades.

Then, in July, the department had to reissue grades for 213 elementary and middle schools and nine school districts as part of a “continuous review process.”

That came after the number of schools receiving an “A” had plummeted from 1,481 in 2011 to 1,124 this year. The new grades showed 1,240 schools getting the highest mark — a jump of 5 percentage points from the first cut of the numbers. [Emphasis added.] …

The article cited above seems to try just a little too hard to steer focus of Robinson’s departure away from the chaos that was Florida school and teacher performance under his watch to “he wants to be with his kids.” However, according to this Orlando Sentinel article, Robinson raised FCAT passing score thresholds in response to Bush’s own wishes:

Robinson’s decision [to raise FCAT passing scores] bucks the recommendations of Florida’s school superintendents as well as other public school and college experts asked to weigh in on the new scoring system.

But it meshes with the wishes of some State Board members, who said they worry the state’s high school standards are too weak, given how many graduates ended up in remedial classes in college. It also follows the suggestions of two politically influential groups, former Gov. Jeb Bush’s education foundation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. 

Another source adds:

…Bush and the Chamber are so far dodging accountability for the FCAT Writing nightmare. It was they who served as Robinson’s backers on increasing FCAT stakes. Their silence on the three-day old story is telling as they’ve thrown Robinson under the bus. [Emphasis added.]

Back to 2016: Ujifusa notes that at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think tank, Robinson pushed for education “entrepreneurship”– in other words, the now-stale idea of breaking P-20 education (not just K-12 education) into businesses:

At AEI, Robinson focuses on school choice, regulatory issues, and the role of for-profit institutions in education, among other topics. In an August op-ed for U.S. News and World Report, Robinson argued for a new set of priorities to drive education, including entrepreneurship:

Entrepreneurship is the antithesis of the bureaucratic model that has been a hallmark of the “one best system” for more than 100 years. The time is ripe for more entrepreneurial ways to deliver teaching and learning in pre-K-20 education. This endeavor, however, requires a herculean shift in values. An entrepreneurial approach sees a problem as an opportunity; a bureaucratic approach sees an opportunity as a problem.

Trump, Evers, and Robinson.

There you have it.


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

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