Republican attack on public schools

Charters and the resegregation of NC students

The dark side of parental choice:

One reason is that as charters have grown, they haven’t met the needs of low-income and special needs populations. By law they are expected to serve minority populations, but they are not required, like traditional schools, to offer transportation and subsidized meals. In practicality, that’s a deterrent to non-white families. “There is no doubt that the charter school system in this state is contributing to racial segregation,” Ladd says.

She said white parents, in picking out charter schools, are concerned as much about minority enrollment – they prefer less than 20 percent – as about quality. Satisfaction surveys and re-enrollment trends, she said, show higher satisfaction with charters among white families than minorities.

And I'm sure more than a few of them would prefer zero percent, whether they would admit to it or not. And their children, more than any of their peers, would benefit from engaging in a diverse school population. It's the best (only?) way to break the cycle of generational prejudice. An observation which I'm sure would have the Puppets grasping for their smelling salts:

GOP siphons more money away from low-income schools

In support of their unwise privatization efforts:

The White House on Friday issued a report that said a House Republican plan to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would reduce North Carolina’s federal Title I money for disadvantaged students by an estimated $17 million in 2016 and $220 million over the next five years.

Currently Title I funds are concentrated in schools with large numbers of poor students. The House bill would allow this grant money to follow each low-income child to the traditional or charter public school of the parent’s choice.

The emergence of this legislation during a time when many new charter schools are failing due to fiscal mismanagement is no coincidence. The people behind the curtain in this movement are well aware their "efficiency" leaves something to be desired, so they've been scheming to find various flows of public monies to tap into. And in case you were wondering, yes, this is an ALEC initiative:

The crossroads of poverty and poor student performance

A concerned teacher speaks out:

The strong correlation between poverty and academic achievement has been noted for decades. Nutrition, stress, lack of health-care and housing stability all play a role in brain development and student learning. This is not disputed, yet as educators, we largely ignore poverty and instead focus on how to better teach our students. No amount of revised lesson plans or new curriculum will remove the impact of poverty on student learning.

Taking a stand against low wage poverty is a stand for education. I want to be clear: there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the academic abilities of poor children. In fact, when you remove the stresses created by poverty, academic achievement goes up. There is something wrong with a society and economic system that allows so many of our children to live in poverty.

And one of the biggest problems we have to overcome is ingrained prejudice bolstered by a healthy dose of narcissistic navel-gazing. I got into a very unsettling argument with a handful of normally progressive friends and family recently over the living wage issue. The concerns raised by these folks centered around fairness: "Is it fair to the people who have labored to obtain a college degree or professional certification, only to have someone who didn't even graduate high school come along and get paid $15 per hour?" The argument pretty much fizzled out when I explained how they (as taxpayers) were actually paying part of the wages the employers refused to, via food stamps and other public assistance a $7.25 per hour worker was qualified for. But that didn't address the deeper social schism that caused those feelings of unfairness, a schism that is a direct result of decades of Meritocratic thinking. We're programmed to believe we compete with each other, but, in fact, we are competing with the 1%. And losing.

Against all better judgment, virtual charters coming to NC

And Wall Street investors are throwing a party:

Today’s anticipated vote of approval will be a significant change of the state board, which fought an attempt in the courts from the N.C. Virtual Academy to open up a virtual school three years ago.

If approved, the N.C. Virtual Academy (to be run by K12, Inc., NYSE:LRN) and N.C. Connections Academy (to be run by Connections Academy, owned by education giant Pearson, NYSE:PSO) will be able to enroll up to 1,500 students each from across the state, and send millions in public education dollars to schools run by private education companies.

Why "throw money" at NC's public schools, which graduate 80+% of their students, when you can piss away millions to out-of-state companies that often only achieve a 10% graduation rate? Because "Freedom." But the working poor better not get any ideas about taking part, because the GOP's irresponsibility is all-encompassing:

Esquire takes a swipe at Art Pope

And they don't pull any punches:

We have been somewhat remiss in this shebeen in our coverage of Art Pope, the A-ball Kochite who is the prime reason that the newly insane state of North Carolina has become newly insane. Governor Pat McCrory is the most conspicuous of Pope's various marionettes, which also include his pet state legislature as well as Thom Tillis, a brand-new member of the U.S. Senate. Spectacularly, McCrory appointed Pope his state budget director, which is tantamount to hiring Bernie Madoff as your Chancellor of the Exchequer. Now, though, it appears that Pope has a brand-new shiny object in his sights that he would like to break.

I consider myself somewhat gifted in the area of enhanced vocabulary, but I did have to look up the word "shebeen." Which didn't help all that much, as it is described as an "unlicensed drinking establishment" or an "after-hours speakeasy." I'm sure Greg Flynn would have known, but then he knows a lot of stuff I don't. The article also quotes our friend Bob Geary over at the Indy:

Another charter school circles the drain

And this one just might set a record for the fastest failure:

Another Charlotte Charter school is in trouble. Entrepreneur High School opened its doors August 2014 and less than a year later it could close. The state has cited the school for multiple violations. The school is more than $402,000 in debt, it doesn't meet the state enrollment standards for charter schools, and school leadership fired the school's founder and principal, Dr. Han Plotseneder.

"It's been a hot mess," NC Charter School Advisory Board member Becky Taylor said. "It's been really bad and it's embarrassing to see this situation get here this quickly."

What's missing from this story is how many taxpayer dollars got wasted in the process. I'm assuming that x number of children were enrolled for classes in the Fall, and the school received some state/local dollars per pupil as a result. Leaving that out of the story is a huge fail. If the reporter(s) asked and that information was withheld, that should be part of the story, too. If anybody reading this knows, post it in the comments, please. In the meantime, I'll grab my digging tools.

Rewriting history care of the Koch Brothers

A little more freedom for teachers to choose:

The state school board on Thursday approved a state Department of Public Instruction document expanding recommended sources for the history course beyond material from the Bill of Rights Institute. The institute gets funding from David Koch, his brother Charles Koch's foundation and a family foundation. The Kochs are major donors to tea party and libertarian groups.

The state education agency is now encouraging teachers to pull materials on America's founding principles from sources that also include the National Humanities Center, the Library of Congress and the state Bar Association.

Which they should have been encouraged to do from the start. The taxpayers should never have footed the bill for a $100,000 contract with an astro-turf organization in the first place, and if there are still any dollars flowing to this "institute" the faucet needs to be turned off.

The best of the best of 2014: Public school teachers

And when they're blogging teachers, well. It doesn't get much better than that:

In the midst of a staggering assault on public education, with their integrity, judgment, reputation, and ability under attack by everyone from corporate stooges to the US Secretary of Education, and, in many areas, with their job security under direct assault by people who don't know what the hell they're talking about, while powerful forces worked to dismantle the very institutions and ideals that they have devoted their lives to-- in the middle of all that, millions of teachers went to work and did their jobs.

When so many groups were slandering us and our own political leaders were giving us a giant middle finger, we squared our shoulders and said, "Well, dammit, I've got a job to do, and if even if I've got to go in there and do it with my bare hands in a hailstorm, I'm going to do it." And we did.

And we owe you folks a debt of gratitude that could never be adequately repaid. But what we can do, is to continue to stand with teachers here in NC, whether it's a Moral Monday gathering, e-mails or phone calls to lawmakers, or simply attending a state or local school board meeting. That's not too much to ask, and the payoff is incalculable.

Supply-sider approach to opening charter schools in NC

Build it and they might come. Or not:

Only one of the nine charters that opened in the Charlotte region this year met enrollment projections, and the total enrollment for the nine new schools was only about half of what was projected. Two others approved for 2014 openings delayed a year.

Eddie Goodall, executive director of the N.C. Public Charter Schools Association, an industry group that supports charters and advocates for them, rejected the idea that any region of the state has a charter-school surplus. “Not even close,” he said. A signal that an area may have enough charters is “when parents quit demanding them,” Goodall said, and that hasn’t happened yet.

Right, because anecdotal evidence supplied by a lobbyist is much more accurate than statistics derived from actual enrollment numbers. ;)

Taxpayer-funded mediocrity: Virtual charters get thumbs-up

Despite their questionable performance in other states:

Both schools received unanimous endorsements from an interviewing committee that included representatives from the State Board of Education, its charter school advisory board, state education staff, and an outside evaluator. Some on the panel had to think hard about approving K12, and the company was asked to respond to questions about its performance in other states.

Tennessee’s education commissioner last year threatened to close Tennessee Virtual Academy, managed by K12, unless student performance showed significant improvement. Students in the Tennessee online charter had minimal learning growth. The board of trustees for the K12 school in Pennsylvania decided not to renew its management contract with the company, though it will continue to use its curriculum.

Where are the all-of-a-sudden-interested-in-education legislators who vehemently attacked the Common Core? Where's Lieutenant Dan? Taxpayer dollars going to fund an out-of-state education program, and a poor-performing one at that? Crickets. Proving it's not about the outcomes, it's about the method of delivery. And when that method generates private-sector profits for somebody, all other sins are forgiven

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