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A Terrible Car Crash That Did Not Happen

On Monday, I was driving back to Louisiana from a weekend visit to see my aunt and uncle in Texas.

My sister and nephew were also in the car with me.

At around 5:30 p.m., we reached our interstate exit, which put us only three miles from my house. The exit is a two-lane road with no median. The speed limit is 55 mph. I was traveling southbound, and the traffic in my lane was light. However, traffic was backed up in the northbound lane.

I had almost reached 55 mph when I saw a van exit a subdivsion located on my side of the road. The van was perhaps 100 yards in front of me, and instead of merging into the northbound line of traffic (which is what I expected it to do), the van came to a complete stop perpendicular to the flow of traffic, the result being that this van now blocked my right of way.

My sister called out to me that the van was not moving. However, I was watching the van in disbelief.

It just sat there, and I knew that I did not have time to stop without hitting it. I had only a few seconds to react, and I had just spent one full second stunned that this driver would put me in what seemed the inevitable position to t-bone this vehicle.

But that did not happen.

As I was within a couple of yards of the van, I cut a sharp right into the entrance of the subdivision. I was pumping the brakes and trying to maintain control of my car. I did not flip the car. I did not sideswipe the van, which I expected to do as it remained stationary in my right of way. I came within a couple of feet of the van but did not hit it.

When my car came to a complete stop, the nose of my car was behind the van in question and in front of another vehicle that was behind the van waiting to exit the same subdivision.

I did not hit either vehicle, and I did not slam into the median at the entrance of the subdivision.

After my car was completely stopped, my first words were, “The airbags did not go off.”

Northbound traffic had cleared by this time, and the van sped away.

I was in shock, but thank God I had the presence of mind to know I was in shock and to look and see if any other vehicles were coming before I reentered that southbound lane. One was, and after it passed, I resumed driving home.

All that I could think about was the great gift I had just been given.

No injuries. No deaths. No holiday season marred by vehicular tragedy.

It was as if I had been granted a fantastic “if only”– “if only such-and-such, then this awful accident would not have happened.”

In those critical seconds, God gave me that “if only.”

I am so, so grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.


Hanna Skandera Resurfaces

As of June 20, 2017, controversial ed reformer and unannounced former PARCC chair, Hanna Skandera, officially exited the office of New Mexico’s commissioner of education.

hanna skandera  Hanna Skandera

Then, she just disappeared. Even her Twitter account is frozen in time, with the last posts dated June 27, 2017.

Fellow ed reformer Rick Hess interviewed Skandera and published the interview on the morning of June 20, 2017, the date of Skandera’s NM Dept. of Ed. departure; however, in a glaring interview omission, Hess asks Skandera nothing about her future professional plans.

Another interview, this one for The 74 and dated June 19, 2017, simply notes, “Skandera declined to share her future plans.”

I occasionally search online for her to see where she might resurface. Today, I found some info.

It seems that following her NM exit, Skandera is not formally employed. Still, she has been busy.

On August 03, 2017, Skandera started a GoFundMe campaign, Hope4Hope, to help her sister, Hope, with expenses related to Hope’s fighting breast cancer. Here is Skandera’s Hope4Hope opening message:

So, I’m telling this story for my sister, Hope…

She is 39 and has been diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer that has now spread to her lymph nodes. She started chemo last week. If things go as planned, she will do chemo for 4.5 months, then radiation daily and then an intensive drug program for 6 months.

Hope and Josh have 3 kiddos–Asher (8), Kiran (6) and Clara (5). Josh is a teacher and Hope works three jobs. To date, she has been teaching Spanish and music part- time and waitressing. Due to her treatment regimen for the next year, the doctor does not recommend or think she will be able to continue working.

Thankfully Hope and Josh’s local community is helping with prayers, kids, some meals and housing for our family who is staying across the street with neighbors. I am also blessed to have just stepped down from my job, so I will be spending more time with her and my mom will be spending more time in Colorado as well. However, I wanted to post this GoFundMe “Hope4Hope” page to ask for help in filling the gap in support over the next year.

My commitment is to give $500 per month ($6,000) and the rest of my family is funding her nutrient/supplement restoration plan.


Currently, Hope contributes approximately $1,500 per month to their family income. Unfortunately, their expenses are going up due to additional travel for treatments and a new deductible of $3,000 each year.

Hope’s lost income for 1 year:
$1,500 x 12 months = $18,000

Gas to travel to and from doctor visits:
$100 x 12 months = $1,200

Total Need: $19,200

The campaign is still active, with $37,127 raised as of this writing.

Skandera posted the most recent Hope4Hope update on November 16, 2017:

Dear Friends,

What can I say?! So much love, support and encouragement have been freely given to Hope, Josh and their kiddos! Thank you!!!

After nearly four months, yesterday was Hope’s last day of chemo! While the road ahead will be a journey, your thoughts, prayers and generosity are what continue to give her the strength, grace and courage to persevere and remain full of hope. She and Josh could not have done it without you! They were daily blessed by support, notes of encouragement and a community who made meals, did carpools, cleaned their house… They had a need and you all filled the gap!

From all that we have been told, Hope is on a path to recovery. Tomorrow Hope and I will meet with the radiologist. She will find out her radiation plan. Based on what he has shared so far, we are anticipating six weeks of daily radiation. Other than energy drain, our hope is that the radiation will have minimal impact on Hope’s overall health. After radiation, she will have approximately nine months of drugs injected via IV every 3 weeks– that supposedly have far fewer side effects than the chemo. Please keep Hope and Josh and the kids in your thoughts and prayers. Specifically, pray for strength, less nausea, swelling in her arm and legs to go down and finger nails to grow back.

From all appearances, the toughest part is over. Thank God! And, Hope has truly persevered and remained radiant and hopeful because of so many of you.

As her sister, I can’t even begin to express my gratitude. Please know I and my family are forever grateful!

With love and appreciation,

I have no use for Skandera’s ed reform push, which is little more than trying to bring Jeb Bush’s failed Florida ed reforms to New Mexico under the direction of NM Governor Susana Martinez. (For a succinct dose of Skandera’s awful impact on NM education, see this Santa Fe Ne Mexican article and its comments.)  However, I applaud her efforts to help her sister through a profound personal crisis, and I encourage those who are so inclined to donate to Hope Skandera Kurz.


Hope Skandera Kurz

Hope Skandera Kurz


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.

Report: Examining Louisiana Discipline Disparities by Race and Income

On November 20, 2017, the Educational Research Alliance of New Orleans (ERA) released this policy brief and corresponding technical report examining school discipline disparities by student race and income in Louisiana.

ERA received its data from the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) for K12, publicly-funded schools for years spanning the 2000-01 to 2013-14 school years. Presumably, LDOE received its data from schools as the schools submitted to the state the results of individual disciplinary reports completed by teachers, admin, or other school staff for the years in question.

Based upon analyzing this data, ERA conclusions include the following:

  • Black students, on average, receive suspensions that are 0.10 days longer than the suspensions given to white students written up for the same type of infraction in the same school, grade, and year.
  • The same is true when the focus of analysis is on low-income vs. non-low-income students in the same school, grade, and year, with low-income students receiving suspensions that are 0.10 days longer than the suspensions given to non-low-income students written up for the same type of infraction.

ERA researchers offer the following caution regarding interpreting the above as indisputable evidence of discrimination:

The previous section showed differences in how students of different races and family income are punished for the same types of infractions. While perhaps suggestive of a form of discriminatory punishment, our inability to observe students’ actual behaviors creates too much uncertainty to conclude that this is evidence of discrimination.

The above limitation to the ERA study is noteworthy; the data upon which the study rests derives from reports that include descriptions of student behavior that the researchers are unable to verify as accurate and complete. In my role as a Louisiana public school teacher, I complete these reports, and I often must complete them in a rush. Too, the space is limited for describing an incident, and sometimes, the student behavior continues beyond the time of the drafting of the behavior report. Third, multiple individuals contribute to the completion of the report, including the initial reporter, the admin delivering the disciplinary consequence, and the staff inputting the contents of the written, paper report into the state’s data system. Finally, different reporters could categorize behaviors differently, or include greater or lesser detail, and the administrators may or may not include additional information related to a situation that continues beyond the writing of the initial report on the report.

In sum, the ERA report on discipline disparities is constructed using data that is arguably shaky at its foundation because the researchers are unable to assess the degree to which the data are clouded by the disciplinary infraction reporting that produced the data set.

It is not that there is not some disparity in the meting out of discipline by race or income level; it is just that one should not take the results of the ERA report and publicize them as irrefutable proof of discrimination.

It seems that the cleanest version of the data would be within-school data since a greater consistency in completing discipline reports is likely within the same school as compared to across schools or across school districts. (This is my assumption. Note that the ERA researchers were not able to assess the accuracy even of within-school data.)

Concerning within-school disciplinary disparities, the researchers include the following result:

…We examine suspensions resulting from fights between one black student and one white student or between one low-income student and one non-low-income student. In these analyses, we control for students’ prior discipline records and other background characteristics to account for the possibility that schools might punish students differently if, for example, they are first-time fighters, academically successful, or designated for special education services.

Observing only fights that result in suspensions, we analyze differences in the length of suspensions between students from different subgroups. We find that black students are suspended longer than their white counterparts in these interracial fights. The difference is about 0.05 days on average, meaning every 20 interracial
fights yields one extra day of suspension for black students. …

We also examined specific fights that included one low-income student and one non-low-income student, but we did not see consistent evidence of differing punishments between students from these subgroups.

Among their conclusions, the ERA researchers offer the following:

The reality that gaps could arise within schools, across schools within districts, or across districts complicates the analysis, as does the lack of available data on the true behaviors.

Indeed, it would be difficult if not impossible to arrive at a verified, clean data set on the disciplinary practices for K12, publicly-funded schools for an entire state and across several years. Such does not render the ERA report as without value. However, such reports tend to become sensationalized in the media because the researcher’s findings are seldom accompanied by the limitations of the study, which the ERA researchers are careful to include multiple times as part of their written reporting.

One positive outcome from the ERA report is that it draws attention to the possibility of disparities in discipline and can certainly raise awareness among Louisiana lawmakers and school administrators regarding discipline outcomes. As the ERA policy brief offers in conclusion:

The way in which students are disciplined is a difficult issue that affects many students—and perhaps some groups of students more than others. Policymakers must take great care in crafting sensible discipline policies, and school leaders must be attentive to and thoughtful about how they discipline students. We hope this
study contributes to a richer understanding of student discipline disparities and that our forthcoming studies will contribute to better policy and practice in this area.



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.

DeVos Won’t Publicize a School Voucher Downside, But It’s Leaking Out Anyway

US ed sec Betsy DeVos is willing to exploit individual stories to promote school choice. She wants to sell school choice no matter what, and she conceals any downside to that choice.

Consider this story from Chalkbeat. It concerns a couple whose son DeVos used as an example of the wonders of school choice for students with special needs. In this case, the parents of a special needs student sued the school district regarding the rights of students with disabilities.

It turns out that the parents did not appreciate DeVos using their son’s situation as a school voucher sales moment.

I invite readers to read the entire article. However, in this post, I want to offer two critical issues noted by the parents in this particular case.

First of all, DeVos asked to meet with the parents, and in that meeting, the parents asked DeVos about the “free and appropriate education” under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) follows the special needs student from the public- to the private-school classroom.

From Chalkbeat:

There’s another key issue at stake in the conversation about vouchers for students with disabilities — one Jennifer and Joe asked DeVos about during their private conversation.

Do students with disabilities lose their rights to a fair and appropriate education — a guarantee under the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — if they use vouchers to attend private schools?

Yes, DeVos said.

“She answered point blank,” Joe said.

While Joe and Jennifer say they were talking about the issue in the context of Florida’s voucher program, experts say the loss of rights occurs in a number of states and oftentimes parents are in the dark.

It is the private school that exercises the greater choice, not the special needs child. There are nuances to the situation of private schools serving special needs students, including the possibility of the private school coordinating with the public school for special education services. However, the bottom line is that private schools have the power to say no to vouchers, and they have the power to say that they are not equipped to serve special needs students.

No private school can be forced to accept voucher students, period.

A second issue is the cost. No state or federal voucher program will come close to paying full tuition for attendance at a top-shelf private school. DeVos features the parents in the above story as examples of the triumph of school voucher choice.

What she fails to mention is that the family she showcases receives a voucher worth 7 percent of the annual cost of the child’s private school tuition, an amount that his mother says “doesn’t do anything.” The parents’ health insurance pays 50 percent, and the parents apparently can afford the remaining 43 percent.

Finally, the parents acknowledge that since their child is attending a private school that is not in their neighborhood, the child is “missing out on all those years of friendship and growth with all of his peers in his neighborhood.”

In other words, community bonds matter, and an integral part of community bonding involves the community school.

School voucher choice disregards the value of community bonds.

Betsy DeVos does not caution against potential loss of “free and appropriate public education” rights for special needs students using vouchers.

She does not mention the fact that voucher money does not even come close to covering tuition costs for elite private schools.

And she places no value on the community components attendant with promoting healthy community schools.

Indeed, DeVos is quick to use a special needs student and his family to serve her needs for a convenient voucher commercial. And they are going public to set the record straight.

betsy devos 4  Betsy DeVos


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.

USDOE Pays Shallow Ed Reform Orgs to Address NOLA Teacher Retention Issues

It seems that the US Department of Education (USDOE) is sending $13 million to New Orleans so that two local, private universities and four ed-reform nonprofits can drum up a “diverse” teacher workforce for the almost-all-charter, New Orleans *public* schools.

I take it that the term, “diverse,” means “a lot less white than it is now.”

The thing is, prior to Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had a teacher workforce that was remarkably nonwhite– in fact, New Orleans’ teacher workforce was 72 percent black in 2004 (pre-Katrina), as opposed to 49 percent black in 2013-14– with the expectation that this percentage will continue to decline.

Add to that the fact that those pre-Katrina, black New Orleans teachers tended to have their roots actually in New Orleans.

According to a 2015 Education Research Alliance of New Orleans (ERA) policy brief, a number of issues have impacted the New Orleans teacher workforce, including the following:

  • Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) teachers mass-fired post-Katrina;
  • OPSB teachers’ collective bargaining agreement expired;
  • Decrease in NOLA teachers with local roots;
  • Increase in teachers with 5 or fewer years of teaching experience;
  • Decrease in teachers with 20 or more years of teaching experience, and
  • Annual rate of teachers exiting Louisiana’s public school classrooms doubling in the decade post-Katrina, with teachers from alternative teacher prep programs and less experience demonstrating higher turnover rates.

ERA tends to believe in “the reforms” and in “the increase in student outcomes” associated with the test-score-driven, market-based reforms that have hit New Orleans. However, there is no entity responsible for keeping track of students in this decentralized system of charter school islands; it is no one’s responsibility to make sure that a student leaving one New Orleans charter actually continues in school. Too, ERA’s statement of “increase in student outcomes” does not address the reality that New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD) ACT composite scores are far too low for guaranteed admission to Louisiana’s four-year colleges and universities.

Even so, ERA notes problems with New Orleans’ post-Katrina teacher workforce:

… While many of the city’s new and younger teachers do not intend to make teaching a career, their life circumstances make it possible to work extremely long hours in the short run for the few years they are in the classroom. Research shows that students may learn more when they have more time on task, even though, in this case, these younger alternatively prepared teachers have higher turnover rates.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to this new teacher workforce. On the one hand, the change in the teacher workforce coincided with a large improvement in student outcomes. Among the disadvantages, however, are concerns that changes in the racial and local composition of teachers may have consequences for students not captured by test scores, that the current teacher workforce model is unsustainable, and that any further school improvement may not be possible with inexperienced teachers with limited formal training. While it seems clear that schools have improved, they are still low-performing and different strategies
may be necessary to get students and schools to the next level.

So, now we have USDOE chipping in that $13 million to address NOLA teacher attrition and to make the NOLA teaching workforce “diverse.”

Of course, part of the problem involves paying the likes of these ed reform nonprofits to purportedly address the problem.

In this post, I consider two: Teach for America (TFA) and Relay Graduate School of Education.

A glaring example of handing money over to those who exacerbate the problem involves paying the teacher temp agency, TFA, to address teacher attrition.

TFA promotes teacher attrition.

It asks its recruits to remain in the classroom for two years.

TFA sells its alumni as *educators,* but it does not dare call them “career teachers.” TFA plays a shell game with the American public by making it seem that those who receive temporary training and agree to temporary classroom service are actually benefiting students and their communities. But all that TFA does is guarantee that teacher churn becomes a never-ending reality for the districts that utilize TFA year after year.

In the article about the $13 million USDOE grant, TFA even had a temporary regional exec tacitly admit twice that TFAers do not remain in the classroom:

Joy Okoro, Teach For America’s interim executive director for the region, said the organization has trained more than 2,000 teachers statewide over its 27-year span in the state. More than 1,100 of those “leaders” stayed in the metro New Orleans area, she added.

Approximately $3 million of the grant will be used by Teach For America to bring “300 teachers or more” to the city over three years. Teach For America members are required to teach for two years, but Okoro said they will “hopefully commit to a lifetime of educational advocacy” in the region.

“A lifetime of education advocacy” does not address problems of classroom teacher attrition– but it sure does help guarantee that there will always be TFAers working to keep TFA in business.

As for another USDOE grant recipient, Relay Graduate School of Education, well, that nonprofit is best described as “what happens when an organization principally led by Teach for America (TFA), charter-school-leading alumni manage to figure out what they need in order to be granted accreditation as a teacher-prep program.”

As New Jersey professor, Daniel Katz, notes in this 2015 Huffington Post article on Relay:

…Relay “Graduate School of Education” was singled out as an innovator by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan last November, but it is a “Graduate School of Education” that has not a single professor or doctoral level instructor or researcher affiliated with it. In essence, it is a partnership of charter school chains Uncommon Schools, KIPP, and Achievement First…. Relay’s “curriculum” mostly consists of taking the non-certified faculty of the charter schools, giving them computer-delivered modules on classroom management (and distributing copies of Teach Like a Champion), and placing them under the auspices of the “no excuses” brand of charter school operation and teachers who already have experience with it.

And as I wrote in 2016:

In order to become a Relay dean, one only needs to be willing to start a new Relay campus the Relay way– where student test score outcomes are front and center. For example, this ad is for a “dean fellow” in the Bay area (California). …

…“essential duties” include drumming up philanthropic support. …

As for the qualifications of a Relay “dean”: A doctorate is not necessary (which is not the case of any dean of a real college/university). Too, the [loosely defined] requirement of “instructional experience” is not the same as “full time classroom teaching experience”– which makes it easier for TFA alums to become Relay “deans.”

So, one might think of TFA getting a $3 million USDOE teacher-training grant and TFA cousin, Relay, garnering another $2 million.

According to the New Orleans Advocate, “Relay Graduate School will use $2 million of the grant to recruit and develop novice teachers through a teaching residency. Residents serve as apprentice teachers in the first year and transition into lead teachers in the second.”

ERA notes that higher teacher attrition in New Orleans is associated with alt-cert training and less teaching experience. And here we have a teacher temp agency pretending to address teacher retention and a related graduate school that is not a graduate school offering alt-cert.

Add to that the fact that neither TFA nor Relay originate with New Orleans. Both are ed reform transplants that must work to make themselves appear local.

It’s just too good, like paying Chinet to replace heirloom china.



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.

Charter-Promoter, Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), Is Really Third Way Foundation, Inc.

An organization that calls itself Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) has been to Minnesota of late. This I learned from a colleague in Minnesota who asked me if I knew anything about PPI or a man named David Osborne, who is associated with PPI.

Osborne is apparently traveling and promoting a book he wrote, entitled, Reinventing America’s Schools. On September 05, 2017, Osborne as interviewed about his book by noted ed reformer Chester Finn. From the C-SPAN summary about the interview:

After Words with David Osborne

David Osborne examines the charter school movement and offers his outlook for the future of public education in his book, Reinventing America’s Schools: Creating a 21st Century Education System. He talked about the success of schools in cities such as Newark, Memphis, Denver, Oakland, and Cleveland modeling the charter school system in New Orleans, which was a part of the rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans reconstructed their school system through the states Recovery School District (RSD) program, turning their public schools into charter schools over time. Results are showing improved test scores, graduation and dropout rates, and school performance scores. Mr. Osborne argued that regardless of what we call schools every public school should be treated like a charter school, with autonomy, performance accountability, parental choice, and diversity of school design. He was interviewed by Chester Finn.

Among the New Orleans RSD marvels: An ACT composite that has yet to crack 17. But this apparently did not make it into Osborne’s book.

One can watch the hour-long video and read the transcript here. 


Osborne has been busy promoting his book. Sure enough, Osborne was in Minnesota on November 08, 2017, promoting his book, which is identified as “the cornerstone of the education project at PPI”:

The Progressive Policy Institute, Education Evolving, and Ed Allies invite you to join us for a community reception featuring David Osborne as we celebrate the release of David’s new book, Reinventing America’s Schools: Creating a 21st Century Education System. This book is the cornerstone of the education project at PPI.
David is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestseller Reinventing Government. Born of a need in America’s inner cities, a new paradigm of public education is emerging, to fit the realities of the 21st century. In his new book, David offers a bracing survey of the most dramatic improvements taking place in urban education today in cities as diverse as Denver, Washington D.C., and New Orleans. These cities all have one thing in common – they all embrace a public education system that relies on school autonomy, accountability, and choice.
Following a reception, David will present the vision for education reform revealed in his new book before participating in a panel discussion with local education leaders. A Q&A will follow. Please join us for this important conversation.


The day before speaking in the Twin Cities, Osborne was in Memphis.

And believe it or not, Osborne plans to try to sell the marvels of charters in Chicago on November 13, 2017. Peter Cunningham’s Education Post is sponsoring the event along with the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.

As for PPI the nonprofit: Well, there is no PPI nonprofit. On its website, PPI does not identify itself by the name under which it is registered as a nonprofit. So, if one is seeking tax info on PPI, one must look under The Third Way Foundation, Inc. (EIN 52-1629221– not to be confused with Third Way Institute or its related nonprofit, Third Way).

The Third Way Foundation became a nonprofit in 1989. According to its 2001 tax form, The Third Way Foundation shared its equipment, facilities, and personnel with the now-defunct lobbying nonprofit, Democratic Leadership Council.

The Third Way Foundation first identified as PPI in 2008.

The Third Way Foundation does not offer much at all regarding its mission. The most one gets is from the 2008 tax form:

To advance the cause of progressive government in America by promoting civic responsibility and public entrepreneurship. Adapting America’s public and governmental institutions to new conditions.

In other words, The Third Way Foundation via PPI works to replace public entities with market-based, privatized or quasi-privatized versions of those entities in the name of public empowerment and “choice”– all of this without clearly informing the public of such a goal.

Just call it “reinventing.”

Beyond 2008, the Third Way Foundation mission statement was reduced to the following:

To advance the cause of progressive government in America by promoting civic responsibility and public entrepreneurship.

PPI’s key funders are  for the most part not the usual names behind market-based ed reform. NewSchools Venture Fund is one name that comes up. However, an eyebrow raising donor to The Third Way Foundation is the lobbying nonprofit, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PHRMA). (Now there’s a nonprofit: PHRMA paid its CEO $3 million in 2014. It gave Third Way Foundation $75,000 that year.)

Via the Third Way Foundation tax forms one can learn that David Osborne is a “key employee” who received $152,000 in total compensation in 2015, and also in 2016, it seems.

“Key employee” Osborne appears to have been hired to write PPI’s cornerstone education project.”

One more note about Third Way Foundation: It seems that the 2015 and 2016 tax forms are exactly the same, with someone having written “2016” over the “2015” by hand for 2016. Both 2015 and 2016 forms were submitted in 2017, but it is clear by the stamps and other notations of receipt to the IRS that this same 2015 form has been somehow also accepted as the 2016 tax form.

Perhaps PPI is also reinventing its tax form submission.

That seems like a far better idea than trying to promote charter school anything in Chicago.

chicago school closure


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

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

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

both books

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

Louisiana’s Fill-Out-FAFSA-Form Grad Requirement

Louisiana’s Class of 2018 will encounter a graduation requirement unknown to previous graduating classes:

Filing for college financial aid– or filing a waiver in its place.

Here’s the official language, from Louisiana’s Bulletin 741, Section 901 (“Scheduling”):

D.       Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, each graduating senior shall, as part of his individual graduation plan and as a requirement for graduation, complete at least one of the following steps to support a successful transition to postsecondary education or training:

  1. complete and submit to the Office of Student Financial Assistance an application for a Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) award;
  2. complete and submit to the U.S. Department of Education a free application for federal student aid; or
  3. a parent or legal custodian, or a student legally emancipated or of the legal age of majority, may certify a waiver in writing to the LEA if he refuses to complete such an application;
  4. if a graduating senior is not able to fulfill the requirements of Subsection D of this Section due to extenuating circumstances, the LEA may apply for a waiver to be approved by the state superintendent of education to waive the student of this requirement for graduation.

The publicized reason for the above policy is that students are missing out on opportunities to receive financial aid for college.

Therefore, Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) decided to force parents/guardians of graduating seniors to apply for federal and state money– including student loans– or force them to actively opt out of applying.

Of course, there are a number of problems with this plan, not the least of which is the state pushing students into student loans, loans which might quickly become a financial burden to students who complete only one or two semesters of college and which leads to a second problem: BESE might find itself on the wrong side of litigation related to prompting minors to inadvertently apply for loans.

And a third problem: With this new policy, BESE has also set itself up to be sued by financial institutions that face their student clients defaulting on student loans encouraged by BESE policy.

Sure, BESE could respond that parents/guardians are able to sign a waiver to avoid applying for financial aid, but being put in the position to opt out is built on the assumption that one has been first placed “in” by some entity in power.

A fourth problem concerns what the state will do when graduating seniors meet all requirements except for that FAFSA-or-waiver. Will the state dare to hold such students back? To do so surely could lead to (yet again) potential litigation.

Finally, propelling students down the FAFSA road involves just one more situation in which students are being directed by the state to submit personal information to the federal government. Once again we walk litigation road, as the state could be held liable for how such information is ultimately used and possibly exploited.

Forget Rome. When it comes to BESE shortsightedness regarding tying FAFSA completion to graduation, all roads lead to potential lawsuits.

crcked road


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

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