Parent Trigger Act

Head of Florida School System Resigns Immediately Due to IN. Scandal

Head of Florida School System Resigns Immediately Due to IN. Scandal

by Bob Sloan

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s education commissioner will resign amid allegations that he changed the grade of a charter school run by a major Republican donor during his previous job as Indiana’s school chief, a state education official said Thursday.

Tony Bennett will resign in the wake of the scandal surrounding Christel House Academy, the official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement was not yet authorized for public release.

Bennett, when reached by the AP, would say only that “no decisions have been made at this point.” He has denied any wrongdoing.

(http://www.courierpress.com/news/2013/aug/01/tony-bennett-resign-over-indiana-school-grade-chan/)

Jeb Bush’s “Chiefs for Change” organization suffered a substantial set-back today.  Bush hand picked Dr. Tony Bennett to head his Chiefs for Change organization that is working to privatize school systems in the U.S. – state by state.  Bennett is a long time crony of Jeb Bush, and helped Bush push both his Common Core and Charter School Agenda.  Together they founded Bush’s educational foundations, Chiefs for Change — There’s no evidence Bush knew anything about the cheating.

In 2011 – 2012, Bennett toured the country touting the school privatization agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and was a keynote speaker at ALEC’s States and Nation conference held in Phoenix in November 2011.  Hoosier voters were not taken in by his agenda to transform Indiana public schools into a privatized education network on behalf of ALEC corporate members who have realized huge profits off the work of Bennett and Bush’s Chiefs for Change, voting Bennett from office in 2012.

VLTP, CMD, Common Cause, PFAW and other progressive outlets have reported on ALEC’s education privatization pursuits since 2010; charters, vouchers, virtual (internet) classes and parent trigger.  We warned parents that all the hype about private and charter school success rates were just that, hype.  Those who stood to profit off of such privatization efforts would stop at nothing to advance an agenda that brought them profits…regardless of the impact upon students.

This scandal involving the “fixing of grades” in Indiana by Dr. Bennett follows on the heels of a similar scandal in D.C. involving another Jeb Bush acolyte, Michelle Rhee, the former Washington D.C. education chancellor.  Rhee has been accused of “adjusting” student test scores to give the appearance that her form of “educating” was successful.  At first, Rhee’s administration claimed it was only one elementary school involved but after independent analysis, investigators found the cheating was widespread:

“District of Columbia Public Schools officials have long maintained that a 2011 test-cheating scandal that generated two government probes was limited to one elementary school. But a newly uncovered confidential memo warns as far back as January 2009 that educator cheating on 2008 standardized tests could have been widespread, with 191 teachers in 70 schools “implicated in possible testing infractions.” The 2009 memo was written by an outside analyst, Fay “Sandy” Sanford, who had been invited by then-chancellor Michelle Rhee to examine students’ irregular math and reading score gains. It was sent to Rhee’s top deputy for accountability.

“Merrow provided a copy of the memo to USA TODAY on Thursday. Its findings stand in stark contrast to public statements made both by Rhee and her onetime deputy, Kaya Henderson, now D.C.’s chancellor. In a Jan. 8 statement coinciding with Merrow’s broadcast, Henderson noted, “All of the investigations have concluded in the same way that there is no widespread cheating at D.C. Public Schools.” She added, “We take test security incredibly seriously and will continue to do so even after our name has been cleared.” Sanford’s memo warns its intended recipients to “keep this erasure study really close (sic) hold. No more people in the know than necessary until we have more conclusive results.” The memo suggests, “Don’t make hard copies and leave them around. Much of what we think we know is based on what I consider to be incomplete information. So the picture is not perfectly clear yet, but the possible ramifications are serious.”

The Center for Media and Democracy reports:

“Despite widespread public opposition to the education privatization agenda, at least 139 bills or state budget provisions reflecting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) education bills have been introduced in 43 states and the District of Columbia in just the first six months of 2013, according to an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org. Thirty-one have become law.

“In 1990, Milwaukee was the first city in the nation to implement a school voucher program, under then-governor (and ALEC alum) Tommy Thompson. ALEC quickly embracedthe legislation, and that same year offered model bills based on the Wisconsin plan. For-profit schools in Wisconsin now receive up to $6,442 per voucher student, and by the end of the next school year taxpayers in the state will have transferred an estimated $1.8 billion to for-profit, religious, and online schools. The “pricetag” for students in other states is even higher.

“In the years since, programs to divert taxpayer money from public to private schools have spread across the country. In the 2012-2013 school year, it is estimated that nearly 246,000 students will participate in various iterations of so-called “choice” programs in 16 states and the District of Columbia — draining the public school system of critically-needed funds, and in some cases covering private school tuition for students whose parents are able and willing to pay.”

Maybe now parents and voters alike will begin to realize that ALEC, Bush, Rhee, Bennett and their network have little concern for educating our children, but a huge concern about how much money can be made off of “appearing” to provide students with a quality education.  A facade has been crafted and created to make it seem that private education is working while behind the false front, tax dollars are being diverted from true education and transformed into profits for corporate exploiters.

If these individuals and their organizations have to “cheat” to make it look like their programs are working so they can capitalize off such a scam, they should all be kicked to the curb then subjected to another form of “education” created by ALEC and their corporatist members…private prisons.

ALEC Member in OK. Proposes ALEC’s Model: “Parent Trigger Law”

Featured image from Big Education Ape Blog

State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, has announced he will introduce legislation in 2013 that will allow parents to overhaul chronically low-performing schools:

“A parent trigger law in Oklahoma would provide a way to break old patterns, and empower the people that are most invested in success — parents and students — to set a new tone for their school,” he said.”

In this article from Tulsa World, experienced researchers can point to this “legislation” as a key example of how the ALEC cabal (consisting of billionaire operated foundations, multi-national companies, conservative funded think tanks, bought and paid for state lawmakers and Congressional “alumni”) advances their conservative ideologies and pro-market concepts through drafting and then lobbying for enactment of laws they’ve written.  It also shows where the money being funneled into these activities comes from and how media influence is used to facilitate four decades of success;

 “The parent trigger movement was spurred by two controversial conservative groups, Heartland Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is financially supported by billionaires such as the Koch Brothers and Phillip Anschutz.

Walden Media produced “Won’t Back Down.The company is a division of The Anschutz Corp, which owns the Oklahoma Publishing Co., publisher of The Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City.

The film also is being distributed by 20th Century Fox. The company is owned by Rupert Murdoch and News Corp., which owns Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.”

This Parent Trigger legislation is written, lobbied for, proposed and supported by ALEC.  Their model legislation is titled “Parent Trigger Act” and has been introduced in several states and is pushed without shame or actual regard for our students.

Tulsa World did a great job of tying the Koch brothers and Anschutz to Heartland and ALEC…but they missed the fact that Murdoch’s News Corp is a member of ALEC, that Koch holds a seat upon ALEC’s Private Enterprise Board (holds seats upon ALEC’s Education Task Force and Communications and Technology Task Force…or that Senator Holt is in fact a member of ALEC.

Most lists you’ll find providing names of ALEC members does not provide information that Sen. Holt is a member of ALEC (perhaps that’s why he was chosen to sponsor this legislative bill?) but he very definitely is.  At his Oklahoma Senate bio page, Holt proudly lists that he is a member of ALEC and the Council of State Governments:

“A tireless volunteer, David has been a member of many organizations, including the following:

• Putnam City Schools Foundation Board of Directors
• Oklahoma County Republican Party Executive Committee
• Oklahoma Republican Party State Committee
• Northwest Oklahoma City Chamber Board of Directors
• Oklahoma State Chamber Congressional Activities Committee
• Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum Foundation Board of Trustees
• Oklahoma Municipal League Legislative Committee
• Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park Board President
• Oklahoma City Downtown Club Board of Directors
• Quail Creek Homeowner’s Association Board of Directors
• Allied Arts Board of Directors
• Cultural Development Corporation of Central Oklahoma
• ACM@UCO Business Development Center Advisory Board
• Oklahoma City Zoo Trust
• Arts Commission of Oklahoma City
• Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority Board of Trustees
• Lake Atoka Reservation Association Managing Board
• McGee Creek Authority
• Oklahoma Olympic Engagement Committee
• Big 12 Basketball and Baseball Championships Host Committees
• Oklahoma Academy for State Goals
• Leadership Oklahoma City Alumni Association
• American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
• Council of State Governments
• National Conference of State Legislatures”

With millions from the likes of the Gates, Koch, Scaife, Coors (Castle Rock) and DeVos Foundations, ALEC’s pursuit of privatizing our public schools from K-12 through college is proceeding nicely.  Through their media outlets they fill the airwaves with propaganda denouncing teachers as inefficient, overpaid and members of Unions that are the cause of costly and undeserved wages for public sector workers.  Their answer to these problems they have created themselves through cuts in funding at all levels of public education is: privatization.  This is the ALEC/Conservative cabal’s primary goal: privatize all government services from prisons, jails and penal services to utilities, state lotteries, schools, school transportation and health services.  This is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses are members of ALEC…and share seats on many of the same ALEC “task forces” developing legislation such as this Parent Trigger model to transfer public school operations (and the tax dollars that pay for those services) to private companies.

Take a brief few moments and look here at all of the model bills ALEC has developed and is marketing in regard to just education.  Then if you’re really feeling this doesn’t apply to you, your child or your state…visit your legislative website and take a look at current or past legislation that mirrors what you found in ALEC’s proposed model legislation.

VLTP wishes more print, broadcast. digital and investigative media outlets would report on these ALEC efforts and let the public in on the massive amount of propaganda being fed to them by corporate owned media outlets.  However with Koch’s Institute for Humane Studies (operated out of George Mason University) supplying interns to our top U.S. media outlets it is difficult to find an unbiased outlet willing or able to disseminate any factual “news” to Americans today.