charter schools

Andre Agassi Charter Schools

Andre Agassi Charter Schools

Andre Agassi was a great tennis star and continues to be a celebrity.  Lately, he is an education investor.

Agassi may have good intentions.  He may be trying to help a distressed and poverty riddled community in Las Vegas.  Philanthropy and schools mixed with a dash of banker on the side.  It’s likely that his charter activities are making himself and his friends rich.

http://www.agassifoundation.org/andre-agassi-blog/

Agassi provides up-front money.  He uses his connections to fund raise.  And he has managed to create a template for charters.  In fact, he is joining other sports heroes in the charter school reform movement (Magic Johnson and Deion Sanders).

http://www.agassiprep.org/

Agassi has been so “successful” — he is attracting big money investors to expand his charter creating operation.

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/02/business/la-fi-agassi-fund-20110602

Former tennis star Andre Agassi has joined with Los Angeles bankers to create an unusual for-profit investment fund for construction of as much as $750 million worth of charter schools in urban communities across the country.

The goal of the fund is to develop 75 schools serving 40,000 students over the next three or four years while earning a financial return for investors, which include Citigroup Inc. and Intel Corp.

So what makes Andre Agassi the tennis star and investor bankers and real-estate brokers experts in education?  Good question.  Just ask them – they will tell you.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/02/andre-agassi-charter-schools_n_870670.html

Charter schools have become a new investment fad. More →

A New Tragedy of the Commons — Tea Party Attack on America’s Civic Dignity

                       DIAGNOSIS:  MASS HYSTERIA AT THE TEA PARTY

There was a story earlier this year about 18 high school cheerleaders who, one by one, developed mysterious tics, spasms and vocalizations which were eventually diagnosed as conversion disorder, a condition causing Tourette-like symptoms, but with no underlying neurologic cause.   The more it was publicized (and it was), the worse the outbreak became. It was not until the media started reporting it as mass psychogenic illness (mass hysteria) that the girls started to magically get well. Oddly, their families were still desperately seeking a more sinister cause, and seemed genuinely disappointed that it was in fact a self-induced condition.

A similar, but much larger outbreak of hysteria is taking place across the nation, infecting millions of Americans. They have developed an irrational phobia about the commons — that which is the public realm — publicly held tangible assets, resources, services, and shared culture in general — all have become the source of utter terror to many susceptible minds. It’s much more than just old-timey rugged American individualism run-amok here, this is true clinical hysteria on the grandest and most awful scale. It is a mass delusion — a mental wasting disease spreading its necrotic stench from shore to shore.

Many are familiar with the 1969 seminal work The Tragedy of the Commons, by Garrett Hardin — a breakthrough insight that laid the groundwork of the accepted premise behind the modern environmental movement. Hardin eloquently defined the nature of the problem as the over use and abuse of limited common resources. — land, water, air…

Now we see the new tragedy of the commons moving beyond the lakes, forests and skies — invading all of the shared human experience. It is an attack on the very notion of community — an all-out assault on the great American tradition of civic life. More →

Building a Public Education Counter-Movement in the Las Vegas Area

At the K-12 levels, high-quality teachers and well-run schools are essential to student achievement. However, public educators are largely being blamed for struggling students rather than focusing on larger systemic issues such as children in poverty, unsafe neighborhoods and substandard schools which can make it difficult to learn (1). Although there is a lot of focus on education problems by policymakers, there is little presented in the way of research-based solutions. The current “corporate school reform movement” adequately describes the nature of low achievement in economically deprived areas, yet the proposed solutions fail to logically or effectively address the problems. Instead, pre-determined ideological positions on issues such as standards (e.g., high-stakes testing of students to evaluate teachers) and charter schools are offered by stakeholders that miss connections to the substantial research base (2). Charter schools, often held up as the panacea for improving education, are controversial because they are still an experiment in mostly publicly funded but privately managed schools that largely bypass unions and produce mixed results (3, 4).

.The Case of Clark County School District in Southern Nevada:
Clark County School District (CCSD) in Southern Nevada, which includes the city of Las Vegas, is the fifth largest school district in the nation. CCSD is the largest public employer in Nevada with more than 37,300 total employees and has been relying on increased class sizes across all grade levels to help make up for lost state support and declining local tax revenue since the 2008 economic downturn (5). Nevada is already facing the highest drop-out rate in the nation (6) and CCSD has the second largest English Language Learner (ELL) population in the U.S. (next to California’s Los Angeles County). Yet, Nevada is one of only eight states that doesn’t offer additional funds for ELL students (7).

In spring of 2012, after a nasty contract dispute, an arbitrator ruled in favor of the Clark County Education Association (CCEA) teachers union in a case against the school district for not bargaining in good faith. After a bitter 10-month battle, the arbitrator’s binding decision was that the district had the ability to pay salary step and education increases to its 18,000 teachers, per its contract with the local teachers union (8, 9). The school district responded by announcing it would have to lay off 1,015 teachers and literacy specialists (10); then followed through with issuing 419 pink slips this past summer – after 600 teachers resigned or retired – sparking a string of mass teacher, parent and community protests (11, 12). A week later, the school board hired 50 Teach For America (TFA) corps members causing further outrage with protest signs at School Board meetings declaring “Stack ‘Em Deep and Teach ‘Em Cheap” (13). CCSD then declared an impasse in its 2012-13 contract negotiations with the teachers union the following week (14). Despite the teachers union refusing concessions, the roughly 400 teachers who had received pink slips were re-hired (15). More →

Why Local School Boards Are Targeted for Destruction

Corporate reformers hate local school boards because they can’t control them.

In the last election, they spent millions to try to buy seats on some local boards but there are so many of them. They bought the Indianapolis school board; they previously bought the Denver board. But they suffered setbacks in Austin, Santa Clara County (where they spent $250,000 to defeat Anna Song, yet she won in a landslide, spending only $6,000).

Independent thinking drives corporate reformers crazy.

They want a free market in schooling.

They want charters to open wherever and whenever they want.

They say, “Let the consumer sort them out. If parents choose a bad charter, it’s their choice.” More →

National Corporate Attack on Public Education

Why is a Kindergarten teacher in Nevada so interested in what is going on in Chicago?

Thousands of mile away – teachers are under attack by the same groups using the same legislative language.  I hear a very familiar argument – and it’s coming from Chicago!  I feel your pain – sisters and brothers in another city.  #Solidarity

Does this sound familiar Chicago?  In Nevada trusted government officials gave away my pay and benefits by implementing Student First/ALEC legislation, they busted my contract as Koch Brother Think Tanks told them to, they destroyed my working conditions while I watched billionaires cart off the Nevada gold, they replaced classroom instruction with testing provided by some very wealthy test-makers, and the unemployed tell me to be happy I have a job because theirs was taken by a crisis created by billionaires who were under-regulated.  Teachers are experiencing the same or similar – all over the nation.

It is a slap in the face to teachers in every city.  So you see Chicago – your issues are my issues.   #Solidarity

Privatizing schools is the new rage.  Teachers are an easy target – compliant, rule-oriented, and orderly.  As a good friend once told me – teachers are the low-lying fruit – easy to pick off.  Both sides seem to be participating in the tirades.  Both sides are involved in privatizing scams and creating hybrids to replace real public schools to make stockholders and/or themselves money.  It is necessary to fail our public schools, to get at the money.  The bullies are succeeding because teachers haven’t fought back on a national level- YET.

Big money looks at the education portion of the general funds in every state and just itches to get their greedy, little fingers into that pie.  CHARTERS!  VOUCHERS!  CORPORATE HYBRIDS!  Business knows how to run schools better than a teacher – and they promise to make extra money to boot!  Really?  Does that make sense?  Do you go to the dentist to buy groceries?  Why would you go to a corporation to teach kids to read?  And you are going to MAKE money teaching kids to read?  Really?

Vegas has its share of touted charters of supposed high scores and fame.  More costly and with little or no real improvement.  Charters cost.  Without the regulations and rules, these charters often go in directions that are scary to watch.  Yep, charters are costly with usually little to show for it.  They are a FAD.

How to do it?  How to convince the general public to actually pay MORE to privatize schools?  How to win hearts and influence people to give their own school buildings away and fund someone’s private school ideas?

ATTACK THE TEACHERS

1.  Publish teacher’s salaries.  Skew the data.  Make the average salary appear to be twice as large as most teachers make.  Include money that teachers will never see in hand – pump up the numbers.  Make it seem like the educators are on the government dole – taking money for nothing.  If public school teachers are lousy – no one will want to fund their schools. Win the public relations campaign by smearing costly educators.

2.  Starve the resources.  Repeat after me – the answer is NOT money.  Keep saying this over and over and over until you believe it.  Even though it’s a lie.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Common sense tells us that.  Teachers make head way with even limited supplies. Imagine what teachers would do if adequately supplied and funded.  The goal is to plead poverty.  It’s an elaborate shell game.  Hide, hoard, and stash the resources.

3.  Publish scores and declare failure.  Standardized testing is a snapshot in time – not an accurate reflection of the whole person.  Standardized testing is racially and culturally biased.  Research has shown that it is NOT a true reflection or authentic when used as a sole measure.  BUT, multi-choice tests are easy to grade.  AND, we have some test making corporations standing by to sell tests by the dozens to districts.  The real winner in the testing frenzy is the test maker – it has never been the failing students or the teachers who are trying to teach to the test.  Failing schools are easy to “take-over”.  If not failing – just make the test more difficult.  Everyone fails at some point.  Corporations are great at inventing numbers and data to reflect information that supports their own argument – an argument that leads to improvement in their own bottom line, which is not really the same as improving a student’s life, right?  Test to fail, not to improve.

4.  Blame.  Place the blame on teachers.  Nothing else could be affecting students of poverty or in need of additional support – it must be the teachers who are holding students back?  Really?  Teachers are the ones who have sole control over each student’s learning, right?  If you want to blame a teacher and you really believe that line – I have a bridge to sell you and I’m sure you will buy that too.  Pass the buck, distract from the real class and poverty issues in the fabric of America.

Chicago!  The whole world is watching.  I feel your pain.  Brothers and sisters, let’s fight for our schools and our students.  This battle is fierce.  This war is necessary.  Let’s right the wrongs.  Enough is enough.

The corporations have lied.  The bankers have cheated.  The politicians have sold us for 30 pieces of silver.  Our cause is just.  The billionaires cannot win.

Let’s do it not for ourselves – but for our students.  We are American.  We are all better than this.  #Solidarity

 

The Charter School Threat to American Society

If charter schools served the neediest children, if they recruited the students who had dropped out, if they made an effort to collaborate with public schools in a joint undertaking, they would have a valued place in American education.

But in the current context, they have been turned into a battering ram to compete with public schools and skim the ablest students.

Where will this lead? Will we have a dual school system in ten years, with one system (the charters) for the motivated and able students, and the other system (the public schools) for those who didn’t get into a charter?

Admin note:  ALEC model legislation has been forging the way for taking money that the states allocate to the public school systems and giving it to what are essentially private schools.  This, in turn leaves the public school systems even more inadequately funded and unable to deal with the general population of students which they are required to educate by law.

To read this important article by Diane Ravitch, please click
here.

Pennsylvania: Cyber charter schools aren’t working — so let’s expand them!

There’s an interesting and worthwhile debate over whether we should be expanding alternative, public-funded charter schools; some, like the Kipp Academies, are clearly successful, although we can argue about the extent of that success. Others have been flat-out scams. Then we have the case of cyber charter schools, which receive public tax dollars to educate children over the Internet, and which seem to be especially popular in Pennsylvania.

What could possibly go wrong with poorly supervised, taxpayer-funded online learning, right? Especially in such an on-the-ball state as this one.

“In an April 2011 study (PDF), the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University reviewed the academic performance in Pennsylvania’s charter schools.  Virtual-school operators have been aggressively expanding in the state for more than a decade, making it a good place for a study; around 18,700 of the state’s 61,770 charter school students were enrolled in online schools. The results weren’t promising.

The virtual-school students started out with higher test scores than their counterparts in regular charters. But according to the study, they ended up with learning gains that were “significantly worse” than kids in traditional charters and public schools. Says CREDO research manager Devora Davis, “What we can say right now is that whatever they’re doing in Pennsylvania is definitely not working and should not be replicated.

To read more about the expansion of virtual schools in PA, please click here

Members take the money and run on two education bills; LouisianaVoice compares campaign contributions, votes

The influence of lobbyists and campaign contributions was never more in evidence than in last week’s House votes on two separate education bills being pushed hard by the Jindal administration.

Of the 62 House members who are current or former members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) or attended ALEC conferences, accepted campaign contributions from corporate members of ALEC, from education reform lobbyists or from Gov. Bobby Jindal himself, 46 voted in favor of HB 974 and 43 voted for HB 976.

To read this hard hitting article–that names names, and calls out dollars–please click here

and this is why we call it, The Cabal – Uncovering the Other ALECs

ALEC, though, is not the only “corporate bill mill” playing this game.

“Taxpayer-subsidized stealth lobbyists” have upped the ante and skillfully advanced their agendas through bipartisan “trade associations” for state government officials – in particular, the Council of State Governments (CSG) whose multimillion-dollar budget is mostly funded by taxpayers. Through CSG and Friends, lobbyists exploit a well-tethered network of nonprofits representing state-level officials to advance the agenda of their corporate clientele.

This, then, is part one of a four-party story about how the “real engines of government” work. First stop on the voyage: the CSG.

KUDOS TO SARAH BLASKEY AND STEVE HORN , TRUTHOUT

To read this entire Must-Read article, please click here.

CCI, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, SPN, Heartland Institute, Heritage Institute, Cato Institute, Mercatus Institute…Please see the photo called “Koch Controlled Foundations” in our Photo Gallery

THE GOALS OF VOUCHER SYSTEMS IS TO PUT PUBLIC EDUCATION INTO A DEATH SPIRAL

Written by VLTP’s OhioDem1   Here are two excerpts:

1.  “The goal of Voucher systems is to put public education on a death spiral, because each year it is intended to take marginal revenue from the public school systems…Each year the cycle is renewed, forcing the local school boards to seek greater local property tax support, which is defeated frequently, which causes more parents to remove their children from the public schools, which leads to more belt-tightening, lower numbers for students for extra curricular activities, special classes, and a further reduction of state aid per student, which accelerates the cycle.”

2.  “Couple the financial death spiral, with lowered standards or no standards for charter or other privatized educational models, and you have the stage set for a nation of young adults woefully unprepared for the jobs that the economy is generating now, except for the children of elites who are able to gain access to “the best schools and education”.  Non elites, not so much.”

To read OhioDem1’s complete post, please click here.