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BREAKING: NM Ed Comm. Hanna Skandera Gives Her Two-Weeks Notice

I find the timing of this situation interesting.

At 6 a.m. on June 08, 2017, WRQE broke the story that New Mexico Ed Commissioner Hanna Skandera will be resigning from her position effective June 20, 2017.

Skandera offered no additional details.

However.

In December 2016, Politico Pro reported that Skandera “is under close consideration for education deputy secretary or undersecretary in the Trump administration.” And on June 06, 2017, the person whom Politico Pro had expected US ed sec Betsy DeVos to nominate for US deputy ed sec, Al Hubbard, decided to decline the nomination because he would have had to sell off some investments in order to comply with ethics requirements.

Hubbard, who is considered a major ghostwriter for Indiana’s 2011 Jeb-Bush/ALEC-styled ed reforms (including vouchers), noted that DeVos would have to begin her search for a deputy “from scratch.”

Perhaps not. Perhaps all DeVos must do is rely upon another Jeb Bush connection. Skandera was a Jeb Bush Chief for Change when he ran that organization, and by January 2016, she even quietly became chair of Common Core testing consortium, PARCC.

Bush clung to his hopes for Common Core until he reluctantly declared his Common Core allegiance “poisonous” in August 2015.

So, it seemed that Skandera’s Common Core associations might prevent DeVos from nominating her as deputy secretary.

But DeVos also has strong connections to Florida– and to Jeb Bush— who even pitched for her in the January 2017 USA Today op/eds.

All of this means that Skandera’s resignation at NM ed commissioner might well mean that a position in DeVos’ Dept. of Ed. is in the works.

  Hanna Skandera

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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?.

both books

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

Indiana Ed Reform Ghostwriter Al Hubbard Will Not Join DeVos as US Deputy Ed Sec

US Ed sec Betsy DeVos had been vetting Indiana businessman Al Hubbard for the position of US deputy secretary of education.

  Allan Hubbard

However, even though Hubbard avidly supports DeVos and her voucher-centric ed agenda, he has decided that the price of assuming the number two USDOE spot is too steep. As Chalkbeat notes on June 05, 2017:

Indianapolis businessman and philanthropist Al Hubbard is no longer in the running to serve under Secretary Betsy DeVos at the U.S. Department of Education.

Hubbard, who was a leading contender for the No. 2 spot at the department for months, told Politico and WFYI over the weekend that he withdrew his name from consideration because his family would have to sell off investments to meet ethics requirements.

In September 2013, the International Business Journal (IBJ) carried the following article on Hubbard’s involvement behind the scenes for “crafting education policy”:

The Indiana education overhaul that launched the nations broadest school voucher program and brought sweeping changes to how teachers and schools are evaluated angered thousands of teachers and made lightning rods of then-Gov. Mitch Daniels and schools chief Tony Bennett.

But emails and other documents obtained by The Associated Press show a small group of GOP powerbrokers crafted the details of the education policy that made Indiana a conservative model over Scotch whisky at an Indianapolis steakhouse and in meetings at a private club.

Hubbard was among this group of business elites who created Indiana’s 2011 ed reform package and then passed it along to lawmakers. Of course, this passing to lawmakers prefab legislation is exactly how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works.

Indeed, Jeb Bush’s Florida ed reform legislation serves as an ALEC model.

Thus, is will come as no surprise that when it came to drafting their Indiana ed reform to-be legislation, Hubbard et al. sought Jeb Bush. From IBJ:

According to the emails, the group was led by Al Hubbard, a skilled fundraiser who once served as a top economic adviser to Bush, and Huston, now a state lawmaker. The group tasked Hubbard with reaching out to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for model legislation. Bush’s group has had a hand in drafting education measures in other Republican-led states including Maine.

IBJ continues by noting that Hubbard approached then-Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels with the elite group’s ed reform package. Daniels apparently bought in.

And it was Hubbard who advised avoiding the term “vouchers.” In a July 2010 email, Hubbard suggested the term, “transfer tuition.” The group finally chose the name “school choice scholarships.”

In 2011, then-Indiana ed commissioner Tony Bennett used this Hubbard et al. ed reform package to ride to market-driven ed reform fame. However, Bennett left Indiana in January 2012 for Florida– where he remained until he resigned in August 2013 for his role in alleged grade fixing for an Indiana charter school operated by Republican donor who happened to contribute directly to Bennett himself.

In 2010 and 2012, DeVos’ American Federation for Children (AFC) donated a total of $61,465 to Bennett’s election/reelection campaigns.

WFYI.com has this to add about Indiana’s “scholarship program”:

Originally intended as a small program for poor students in failing public schools, the Choice Scholarship Program grew to the largest voucher program in the country with 34,000 students taking part this year.

As NPR and WFYI reported recently, the program remains unreviewed and allows private schools to refuse enrollment to students for numerous reasons, including academic performance, behavior and special needs.

The NPR/WFYI article above notes that most Indiana voucher students have not ever attended an Indiana public school:

In 2013, Mike Pence succeeded Daniels as Indiana’s governor, and, within months, the now-vice president oversaw a dramatic expansion of the program. Lawmakers added new pathways for students to qualify, making the voucher more accessible to children who had never attended a public school. …

This shift in the program’s rules, begun by Pence in 2013, has led to a shift in student demographics as well. White voucher students are up from 46 percent that first year (2011) to 60 percent today, and the share of black students has dropped from 24 percent to 12 percent. Recipients are also increasingly suburban and middle class.

Hubbard apparently has no reservations about the increasing white-middle-classness of Indiana’s voucher program. His comments to WFYI.com on June 05, 2017:

“I am a big supporter of Betsy DeVos, and what she is trying to do, and President Trump and Vice President Pence and what they are trying to do in the whole education area,” Hubbard says.

There you have it: Hubbard wholeheartedly supports DeVos and her confirmation-tie-breaker pal, now-VP Mike Pence.

But Hubbard will not be at DeVos’ side as US deputy ed sec.

Ethics requirements apparently make the personal cost of formally selling federally-promoted school vouchers too steep for Indiana voucher legislation ghostwriter, Al Hubbard.

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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?.

both books

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

Admission Offers Yanked: A Social Media Lesson from Harvard University

On June 04, 2017, the Harvard Crimson posted an article about the university’s yanking its offers of admission for at least ten prospective freshmen.

It seems that Harvard officials had an eyeful of some ugly social media postings of these individuals– on an official Harvard social media site, to boot– and decided that these were not the kind of students Harvard wished to include among its own. An excerpt:

Harvard College rescinded admissions offers to at least ten prospective members of the Class of 2021 after the students traded sexually explicit memes and messages that sometimes targeted minority groups in a private Facebook group chat.

A handful of admitted students formed the messaging group—titled, at one point, “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens”—on Facebook in late December, according to two incoming freshmen.

In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child “piñata time.” …

Employees in the Admissions Office emailed students who posted offensive memes in mid-April asking them to disclose every picture they sent over the group, according to one member of the chat whose admission offer was revoked. The student spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be publicly identified with the messages. …

The anonymous student also said that administrators informed implicated students that their admissions status was under review and instructed them not to come to Visitas, Harvard’s annual weekend of programming for prospective freshmen held at the end of April. Roughly a week later, at least ten members of the group chat received letters informing them that their offers of admission had been withdrawn.

The description for the official Facebook group for the Class of 2021, set up and maintained by the Admissions Office, disclaims all administrative responsibility for “unofficial groups” and warns members their admissions offers can be rescinded under specific circumstances.

“As a reminder, Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character,” the description reads.

Thus, the nasty content came from a handful of students who were part of a larger Facebook group created by Harvard for the Harvard Class of 2021.

While Harvard officials did not identify the individuals whose admissions offers were rescinded (in mid-April, according to the article), they did clarify that the decision to withdraw these students’ admission offers “is final.”

It seems that these young people believed that having the admissions process behind them made them untouchable by any future social media hatefulness.

Not so.

Of course, this incident raises the important issue that there is more to *college readiness* than stellar grades or high standardized test scores.

Self-possession and human decency matter. One could argue that in the age of a prolific social media whose imprint likely can never be permanently erased, self-control and kindness towards others matter more than ever when it comes to an individual’s postsecondary and employment futures.

In January 2017, columnist Sarah Young posted this piece on Consumer Affairs. In it, Young wards college applicants of the importance of upstanding behavior on social media. An excerpt:

Good grades and high SAT scores aren’t all you need to get into college. To rise above the competition, you might need to give your social media accounts a good scrubbing.

Nearly 80% of admissions officers rank “quality of character” as an important factor in the decision making process, according to new research by The Social U, a company that analyzes social media data.

While glowing letters of recommendation may vouch for your character to some extent, your social media profile often paints a more honest picture.

“Colleges have their own brands to protect and reputations to build,” The Social U explains on its website. In an effort to ensure that only the highest quality applicants are sent an acceptance letter, 50% of admissions officers admitted to checking applicants’ social media.

Scholarship seekers and applicants with a disciplinary record may be more likely to have their social media accounts checked, says The Social U founder Julie Fisher.

Young’s piece is directed towards those who are hoping to be admitted to college. However, the June 2017 Harvard Crimson article underscores the possibility that students who had been already admitted as incoming freshman could have their offers yanked for post-admission social media maliciousness.

Students already attending college should also beware. Colleges and universities have student discipline policies, and many university policies already include discipline related to inappropriate social media postings, particularly if such postings are considered as cyberbullying or falsifying information/identity.

What is also noteworthy is that social media accounts that are officially associated with a college or university often operate under different usage conditions than do personal accounts.

This is no different than rules governing communications being sent via other university-owned devices, including PCs, tablets, land lines, cell phones, and faxes. In such cases, personal communications cannot be assumed to be private. Therefore, university students who send communications on their own personal social media accounts via university-owned equipment would do well to assume that the university has a right to access such social media communications.

Do not assume that magnificent test scores and impressive GPAs will override offensive social media behavior that can be tied to university property, including university-related social media accounts.

Remember the Harvard Class of 2021.

It is several students smaller now.

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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?.

both books

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

About the SCOTUS Blog

This post is a public service announcement of sorts.

I was doing some research on the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) case, Trinity Lutheran vs. Comer, and I wondered whether my readers know about the SCOTUS blog and other SCOTUS online resources.

Yes, the Supreme Court case info can be found on a blog called the SCOTUS blog. However, do not get the idea that the justices themselves write for the blog. SCOTUS blog was created in 2002 by lawyers Tom Goldstein and Amy Howe, and use of the blog falls under creative commons licensing. (See fine print,  bottom center of any blog page.) So, the SCOTUS blog– called the Supreme Court of the United States blog (see fine print under blog title) is privately operated. An additional note from the “about” page:

SCOTUSblog is devoted to comprehensively covering the U.S. Supreme Court without bias and according to the highest journalistic and legal ethical standards. The blog is provided as a public service. …

The blog generally reports on every merits case before the Court at least three times: prior to argument, after argument, and after the decision. In certain cases, we invite the advocates to record summaries of their arguments for podcasts. The blog notes all of the non-pauper cert. petitions that raise a legal question which in Tom’s view may interest the Justices; we give additional coverage to particularly significant petitions. For the merits cases and the petitions we cover, we provide access to all the briefs.

The blog has a search feature (top right corner), which allows one to search either blog or docket (or both by default).

For example, I entered the search term, “vouchers,” and one of the results was an April 2017 blog post on the Trinity vs. Comer case, entitled, “Argument Preview: More Than Just a Playground Dispute.” An excerpt:

[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this preview ran on August 8, 2016, as an introduction to the blog’s symposium on Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. The post has been updated to reflect events that occurred after the post was originally published.]

One year, three months, and four days after the justices originally agreed to review it, the court will finally hear oral argument in a dispute that began as a battle over a playground – or, to be precise, the surfaces of the playground at the daycare and preschool operated by a Missouri church. The church argues that its exclusion from a state program that provides grants to help nonprofits buy rubber playground surfaces violates the Constitution, because it discriminates against religious institutions. The state counters that there is no constitutional violation, because the church can still worship or run its daycare as it sees fit – the state just isn’t going to pay to resurface the playground. The two sides (and their supporters) do agree on one thing, however: The stakes in the case could be far bigger than playground surfaces.

The dispute dates back to 2012, when Trinity Lutheran Church applied for a state program that reimburses nonprofits for the purchase and installation of rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires. …

Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources, which administers the playground program, ranked Trinity Lutheran’s application fifth out of the 44 that were submitted. And although the department awarded 14 grants, it denied Trinity Lutheran’s application, citing a provision of the state constitution that prohibits money from the state treasury from going “directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion.”

One can see how the outcome of his case could affect the use of public money for private school vouchers:

Supporters on both sides of the case predict that dire consequences will flow from a ruling for the other side. “Friend of the court” briefs backing the church argue that, if the lower court’s ruling and the program are upheld, everything from school vouchers and fire and safety protection for private religious schools to social services – such as battered women’s shelters and soup kitchens – provided by faith-based organizations that receive public funds could be in jeopardy. On the other side, the state’s supporters contend that a ruling for the church would effectively bar the government from treating churches differently – “an approach that among other things would invalidate provisions in thirty-nine state constitutions” – and could result in taxpayer funds going to groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation or religion.

By conducting a search on “Trinity Lutheran,” I was able to connect with the case page, which includes links to all SCOTUS blog entries on Trinity Lutheran vs. Comer as well as a comprehensive case history complete with links to documents.

As of this writing, the history for this case stops with the April 19, 2017, arguing of the case before the Supreme Court. No judgment has been issued yet. However, at the top of the case history is a place to enter an email address to receive alerts as the case proceeds. (Note: When one enters an email address, one receives a confirmation email that one must acknowledge in order to receive updates.)

The SCOTUS blog also includes a feature, “This Week at the Court” (archived here). Below is the “This Week” page for June 04, 2017:

We expect orders from the June 1 conference on Monday at 9:30 a.m. There is also a possibility of opinions on Monday. On Thursday the justices will meet for their June 8 conference; our list of “petitions to watch” for that conference will be available soon.

If we go back one week, to May 28, 2017, we can access the “petitions to watch” list:

The court issued orders from its May 25 conference on Tuesday. It granted certiorari in one new case and called for the views of the acting solicitor general in another. The court also released opinions in four argued cases on Tuesday. On Thursday the justices met for their June 1 conference; our list of “petitions to watch” for that conference is available here.

The best way to stay abreast of specific cases is to use the email alerts. In contrast, if one wants to peruse the latest for a particular week on a list of cases that had action during that week, one can view the listing using the “petitions to watch” link.

The SCOTUS blog also has a listing of “featured posts” to the right of any page. The one topping the list is the June 02, 2017, post, “Trump administration asks justices to weigh in on travel ban,” which is excerpted below, including an update:

(UPDATE: The justices have asked the challengers to file responses to the petition for review and the requests for stays of the lower courts’ rulings. Those responses are due on or before 3 p.m. on Monday, June 12.)

Arguing that lower courts “openly second-guessed” President Donald Trump’s determination that national security concerns require a freeze on new visas for travelers from six Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), last night the federal government asked the Supreme Court to step into the legal dispute over the constitutionality of the executive order that the president signed on March 6. The government also asked the court to put on hold two lower-court rulings blocking the implementation of the executive order, telling the justices that those rulings undermine “the President’s constitutional and statutory power to protect” the United States.

Last night’s filings came in two separate challenges to the March 6 order, popularly known as the “travel ban.” One challenge originated in Maryland, where a federal district judge blocked the implementation of the order on March 16; last week the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit largely upheld the Maryland judge’s order. Another challenge came from Hawaii: A district judge there also ruled for the challengers, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard oral argument in the government’s appeal on May 15, but the appeals court has not yet issued its decision. Yesterday the government urged the Supreme Court to review the 4th Circuit’s ruling on the merits and to freeze the district court’s order barring the implementation of the travel ban. The government also asked the justices to freeze the Hawaii court’s ruling blocking the travel ban until the 9th Circuit appeal is resolved – and, if necessary, while the government seeks review of that decision in the Supreme Court.

One final observation: At the lower right of any SCOTUS blog page is a calendar that includes links for Supreme Court justice conferences, orders, and opinions.

The SCOTUS blog offers a wealth of timely information to the public… but only if the public knows.

Now you know. 😉

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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?.

both books

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

What Could Be More Democratic Than Pushing Vouchers for a Billionaire US Ed Sec?

US ed sec Betsy DeVos has one principal goal for American public education: Slice up its public funding and dispense it in the form of vouchers that can (and will) take that funding out of the public purview and into private school coffers.

DeVos’ voucher push has created a dynamic in which many pro-charter advocates feel that their slice of public money is threatened as it would enable their *choice* students to exit in favor of private schools.

Charter schools often refer to themselves as “public schools”; however, charter schools are often not held accountable to the public for the spending of that public money. Thus, charter schools are schools that receive public money, not public schools (i.e., operated by publicly-elected school boards).

Charter schools further enjoy the reality of not having to educate all students in a country in which states have compulsory education laws. The public schools are the “catch-all” of compulsory education. Charter schools are not.

If DeVos has her voucherizing way, then charter schools– which operate like private schools that receive public money– would have to compete with both public schools and private schools for public money.

Therefore, it makes sense that the likes of Stand for Children’s Jonah Edelman would appear in the Los Angeles Times blasting vouchers.

It also makes sense to me that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten would be by his side, even going so far as to promote charter schools as “schools that are accountable to voters”– even though charter schools are not accountable to voters. Weingarten has an established history of promoting corporate reform ideas, including VAM, Common Core, and charter schools, and she will slap the AFT endorsement on political candidates who push corporate reform so long as those candidates are Democrats who seem likely to win their races.

In this May 31, 2017, post, education historian Diane Ravitch takes issue with Weingarten’s promoting charter schools as schools accountable to voters:

Randi Weingarten and Jonah Edelman co-wrote an article in today’s Los Angeles Times, standing strong against vouchers.

I still remember Jonah Edelman as the guy who bragged at the Aspen Ideas Festival that he had crushed the teachers’ union in Chicago by buying up all the best lobbyists and raising the bar for a strike to 75% of the membership. I remember that he went to Massachusetts and threatened a referendum unless the unions capitulated to his demands. Stand for Children was showered with millions by the Gates Foundation and other promoters of the corporate reform agenda. Edelman strongly supports charter schools, even though they promote racial segregation.

In the middle of a strong article against vouchers, this paragraph was dropped in:

We believe taxpayer money should support schools that are accountable to voters, open to all, nondenominational and transparent about students’ progress. Such schools — district and charter public schools — are part of what unites us as a country.

It is public schools that unite us as a country, not charter schools. We have seen a steady parade of scandals, frauds, abuses, waste of taxpayer dollars, exclusion of children with special needs, from the charter sector. …

Charter schools exist to bust unions and undermine public schools.

The same day, on May 31, 2017, Ravitch posted about the American Federation for Children (AFC) response to the Edelman-Weingarten Los Angeles Times piece.

AFC was founded by DeVos; another AFC founding board member, Kevin Chavous, responded.

One can read the entire Chavous response in the Ravitch post linked above.

One section caught my attention:

It is school choice–directly empowering parents to choose the best educational environment for their child–that is the most democratic of ideas. Rather than undermining public schools, choice helps public schools by virtue of having to compete with other options. Only among the K-12 establishment would competition be considered undermining public schools.

Uh huh.

Let’s begin examining the above Chavousian pro-voucher sell logic with sentence one:

It is school choice–directly empowering parents to choose the best educational environment for their child–that is the most democratic of ideas.

The US history of school vouchers is hardly “democratic.” In 1955, both Virginia and North Carolina issued tuition grants to allow public school students to attend private schools as a means of dodging racial integration required of Brown vs. Board of Education. One Virginia county even closed all of its public schools and issued private school tuition grants to white children only.

I detail this voucher history in my book, School Choice: The End of Public Education?

In 1961, Louisiana used tuition grants to private schools in order to preserve segregation. Even though all students receive tuition grants, students of color were only allowed to attend non-white private schools.

In Alabama in the early 1960s, the governor promised (and delivered) a whites-only private school, which was declared unconstitutional in 1964.

Other states (e.g., South Carolina, Mississippi) played games with their public schools in an attempt to avoid desegregation.

However, the best “democratic” effort to preserve racial segregation “by any lawful means” (i.e., creating tuition vouchers to private schools) involved numerous legislators signing a document called the “Southern Manifesto.” Specifically, 19 senators and 77 representatives from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia agreed to pursue legal efforts to avoid the federal integration mandate.

A favorite “legal” means of enforcing racial segregation was use of the private school voucher.

Of course, all vouchers were not created equal. That was the point.

And now, let’s examine this Chavous comment:

Rather than undermining public schools, choice helps public schools by virtue of having to compete with other options.

Note that the history of vouchers in the USA often involved closing the public schools and sending students to private schools using public money in order for states to avoid integrating the public schools. In other words, vouchers to private schools not only did not help the public schools; it also reinforced the reality that private school choice is an easy vehicle for reinforcing segregation. In the case of 1960s Louisiana, even though all parents in theory were “empowered” by receiving private school vouchers, the schools themselves had the final “choice” as to whether or not a student was allowed to enroll.

Don’t think it cannot happen in 2017.

And don’t think that creative voucher games cannot be played, such as allowing “undesirable” students to enroll and then booting them out for trivialities.

The public school accepts all students because the public school was created to answer the requirement of compulsory education.

Now, if Chavous really wants to give parents “choice,” he could advocate to kill compulsory education altogether. Let parents decide if they want to school their kids, period. However, even “father of school choice,” economist Milton Friedman, wasn’t willing to forsake compulsory education “if only 50 percent would be literate.”

As for school vouchers improving public schools, Friedman expected private schools to replace the public school “government system”:

I see the voucher as a step in moving away from a government system to a private system. Now maybe I’m wrong, maybe it wouldn’t have that effect, but that’s the reason I favor it.

In the business world, “competing with other options” often means going out of business. Just ask Kodak, Compaq, Woolworth’s, E.F. Hutton, and Eastern Airlines.

If Chavous maintains that vouchers “help” public schools, he needs to prove it. Indeed, I invite him to fly to New Orleans on Eastern Airlines to show me in person.

Let’s consider Chavous’ last sentence cited above:

Only among the K-12 establishment would competition be considered undermining public schools.

According to Chavous, the only resistance to school vouchers involves K12 ed trying to preserve itself.

Yet there are no vouchers in DeVos’ home state of Michigan, and Betsy is a billionaire who loves vouchers. How can this be?

Answer: Despite the DeVos effort of spending at least $12.9 million in 2000 to amend the Michigan constitution to allow for public school vouchers for private religious schools the measure was opposed, 69 to 31 percent.

The union spent $6 million.

The DeVoses outspent the teachers union more than 2 to 1.

I ask Chavous: What could be more democratic than voters deciding to oppose public money flowing to private schools despite billionaire financing of an effort to promote it?

At least $12.9 million from one family.

Surely not all 69 percent of those Michigan voters represented “the K12 establishment”– but even if they did, they utilized the democratic process to uphold what was already part of the Michigan constitution (which the “K12 establishment” did not originally draft):

No public monies or property shall be appropriated or paid or any public credit utilized, by the legislature or any other political subdivision or agency of the state directly or indirectly to aid or maintain any private, denominational or other nonpublic, pre-elementary, elementary, or secondary school.

But Betsy isn’t giving up. When her family’s $12.9 million didn’t pay off, she established the org/PAC, Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), to promote school choice in Michigan, and she still has AFC.

And she still has you, Mr. Chavous.

What could be more democratic?

__________________________________________________________

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?.

both books

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

La. Supt. John White’s Job Is the Subject of a May 30, 2017, Lawsuit

When it comes to the state ed superintendent position, Louisiana is in an unprecedented spot.

The state ed superintendent is supposed to be approved by the state board of ed (BESE) each time a new BESE board is elected– every four years. A two-thirds vote is required to for La. BESE to approve a state ed superintendent– 8 out of 11 votes.

Once approved, the state superintendent must be confirmed by the Louisiana senate.

In 2012, Louisiana state superintendent John White was approved by a vote of 9-1 (with one abstention). White was confirmed by the La. senate; even then, White’s credibility was in question.

Even so, White was granted a four-year contract– good until the next BESE election.

However.

The BESE board elected in 2016 did not deliver on the 8 votes necessary to renew White’s contract. Thus, he has been a month-to-month employee since January 2016.

Seven BESE members are ready to renew White’s contract. Not enough. Eight votes needed. So, that seven-member BESE majority has effectively prevented any formal BESE vote on White’s contract.

Frankly, I am not sure why there has not been more resistance from the remaining four BESE members.

A notable issue is that it seems that according to law, White is allowed to remain in his job limbo until the end of the second regular legislative session following term expiration– in this case, June 08, 2017.

Yet BESE remains inert.

Therefore, on May 30, 2017, Louisiana teacher Ganey Arsement filed a lawsuit asking the court for a declaratory judgment— a “conclusive and legally binding” opinion that settles controversies prior to their occurring.

From Arsement’s post on the matter:

Over the last couple of months, I have been in constant contact with both the governor’s office and the senate in regards to the appointment of Superintendent of Education, John White. There is a general agreement that appointive positions are intended to be temporary extensions of the current administration. It isn’t uncommon for someone to be reappointed by an incoming administration; however, in White’s case, that has not been done. Some of the senate staff attorneys have differing opinions about how and when appointments should terminate. In order to resolve the matter, we have solicited the courts for clarity. On Tuesday, May 30th, a motion for declaratory judgment was filed in the 19th Judicial District of East Baton Rouge Parish. With myself listed as the primary plaintiff, fourteen other plaintiffs from across the state have joined me in asking the courts to declare the process and intent of the law.  The intent is to establish a guideline for both BESE and the Louisiana Senate to take action.

If you have been following my blogs over the last couple of months, you know that an important deadline is fast approaching. In summary, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) is tasked with appointing a superintendent of education with a 2/3 majority vote. The appointment, and subsequent contract, can’t extend past the appointing authority’s term of election. Our current superintendent of education, John White, was appointed by the previous BESE board, and his appointive term ended on January 12, 2016.

As per his contract, and Louisiana law, White is permitted to continue in that capacity until BESE appoints a new superintendent. As per Revised Statute 24:14, if an appointing authority fails to appoint and submit an appointee to the senate for confirmation, the current appointee may continue to serve until the last day of the second regular session following the expiration of the appointed term. At that time, the position is considered vacant. Per the law, BESE has until June 8th to appoint and submit for confirmation, or the superintendent of education position is considered vacant.

I have written a couple of posts about White’s quietly filing for Louisiana administrative credentials to allow him to potentially slide into a local superintendent position in Louisiana should he lose his state super’s seat.  The problem here is that White has falsified his credentials– in short, he needs five years of classroom teaching experience in his area of certification to have the admin credential to be a local superintendent. However, White has only taught for three years. He and BESE member James Garvey fudged an additional two years. Read about it in these two posts. (The latter post includes pics of his actual fudged application.)

Arsement’s declaratory lawsuit has made national headlines via the Associated Press: US News, Washington Times, McClatchy DC Bureau. And well it should. But what will really matter here is not the AP publicizing of the issue but the outcome of the declaratory judgment, which I look forward to reading.

  John White

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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?.

both books

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

Book Review: Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President

In May 2017, I purchased Kranish and Fisher’s book, Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President, because it provided detailed background on Trump’s experience as an elementary school student, a topic about which I wrote this May 07, 2017, post.

I did not plan on reading the book. However, in searching for the pages on Trump’s elementary school years, I also read about his family history, which Kranish and Fisher offer in remarkable detail.

I was both impressed and intrigued, and I ended up reading the whole book.

In fact, the entire biography is written in consistently-amazing detail, which I find astounding given that most of the book was written over a three-month period in mid-2016.

The authors, Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, both work for the Washington Post (WP), and WP dispatched scores of its professionals across the US and around the world in order to complete the Trump biography in record time.

The book was originally published in August 2016 under the title, Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power; the title was altered and an afterword added following Trump’s being elected president in November 2016.

It is impossible to read Trump Revealed without gaining an impeccably-documented sense of the man himself.

One of my favorite parts of the book concerns Trump suing both author (Timothy O’Brien) and publishers of another Trump biography, TrumpNation, to the tune of $5 billion for allegedly misrepresenting Trump’s net worth.

Trump agreed to be interviewed for O’Brien’s book, but the information Trump offered concerning his net worth ranged from $1.7 billion to $9.5 billion depending upon the moment. In trying to uncover a definite figure, O’Brien “reached out to three ‘people with direct knowledge of Donald’s finances'” and came up with Trump’s net worth as being between $150 and $250 million.

Trump sued.

In a resulting deposition about his net worth, the exchange between Trump and O’Brien’s lawyer, Andrew Ceresney, included the following:

Ceresney: Now, Mr. Trump, have you always been completely truthful in your public statements about your net worth of properties?

Trump: I try.

Ceresney: Have you ever not been truthful?

Trump: My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with my feelings, even my own feelings, but I try. … …Even my own feelings affects my value to myself.

The court dismissed the 2009 suit; Trump appealed; upon appeal, the New Jersey Superior Court of Appeals judge estimated Trump’s net worth to be between $200 million and $300 million.

In discussing the O’Brien lawsuit with the Kranish and Fisher, Trump indicated that he might even sue them (Kranish and Fisher):

…It’s very unfair that somebody could write whatever they want to write and get away with it. And I will be bringing more libel suits– maybe against you folks. I don’t want to threaten, but I find the press unbelievably dishonest.

There you go.

Kranish and Fisher’s book is a captivating read. As is true of Trump himself, Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President fulfills the motto, “Never a dull moment.”

__________________________________________________________

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?.

both books

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