Monthly Archives: January 2016

Professor to TFA: No, You May Not Recruit in My Classroom

Diane Ravitch's blog

I received the following exchange from Professor Howard Winant, who is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received a request from the campus TFA recruiter to spend five minutes with his class, and he responded with the following letter:


Hi ___,

Thanks for writing me. I have sent students to TFA in the past, and I have friends on the TFA staff, but I have come to think that the organization has significant problems, problems which make me hesitant to recommend it any more.

I’m sure you and my other friends are well-motivated. But despite its claims and the no doubt sincere belief of people in the organization that TFA is working “to eliminate educational inequity,” that is actually far from the case.

TFA is deeply tied to the privatization of public education that is going on now in this country. It’s linked to…

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The Obama Administration’s Love Affair with Charters

Diane Ravitch's blog

This article reviews the Obama administration’s bottomless love for charter schools. Hedge fund managers love charters. The Koch brothers love charters. Reed Hastings loves charters. Governor Scott Walker loves charters. So does Rick Scott, Mike Pence, Rick Snyder, John Kasich, Andrew Cuomo, and Dannell Malloy.

Why are so many politicians in love with charters? Because the billionaires love them. The free market worked for them. They give large sums to politicians. And politicians love what their big donors love.

What’s sad about this is that no other nation is outsourcing its public schools to chains of privately managed schools.

Public education is a civic responsility and a cornerstone of our democracy. Yet the U.S. Department of Education has given $3.3 billion to privately managed charter schools, even though they harm public education. It is sad to realize that billionaires like Gates, Walton, Broad, and Hastings can erode public support for…

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California: The Emperor of Charter Schools Faces a Felony Charge

Diane Ravitch's blog

I earlier reported that Steve Van Zant, superintendent of a small district, had been charged with conflict of interest for helping districts authorize charters in other districts (which is legal under California law), then getting contracts with the charters for his private business.

Now, crack reporter Maureen Magee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports the story (reprinted in the Los Angeles Times):

By the time Steve Van Zant left the Mountain Empire Unified School District in 2013, he had overseen the authorization of more than a dozen charter schools to operate in other districts throughout San Diego County — with several going on to hire his education consulting firm.

All the while, Van Zant coached at least one other district on how to approve out-of-town charters, according to emails obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune. As more districts approved far-flung charters, Van Zant’s EdHive consultant business took on some of…

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BREAKING NEWS: Civil Rights Lawyers Intervene in Mass. Charter Battle

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights jumped into the battle in Massachusetts over whether to lift the charter school cap.

The Republican governor Charlie Baker wants more charters, as does state education board chairman Jim Peyser, a long-time charter advocate.

“The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice Education Lawyers’ Committee Moves to Intervene in Charter Cap Case on Behalf of Students of Color, Students with Disabilities, and English Language Learners

Boston, MA – Students of color, students with disabilities, and English language learners, together with the New England Area Conference of the NAACP, moved today to intervene in the pending litigation over the cap on charter schools, arguing that the cap is necessary to preserve educational opportunities for students in traditional public schools. The would-be intervenors cite evidence that charter schools divert millions of dollars from traditional public schools each year, yet serve proportionately far fewer students with disabilities…

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BREAKING: Detroit Federation of Teachers Files Suit Against DPS and Emergency Manager

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Detroit Federation of Teachers, the AFT, parents, and students filed a lawsuit against Detroit Public Schools and state-appointed Emergency Manager Darnell Earley.

Earley was the Emergency Manager in Flint, when the decision was made to change the source of the town’s safe water supply to the polluted water in the Flint a River.

“According to the lawsuit, DPS “has not performed its duty to its students, parents, teachers and community to provide a minimally adequate education and to properly maintain the schools.”

“The lawsuit said DPS and Earley have allowed the condition of some schools to “deteriorate to the point of crisis” and “forced Detroit’s school-age children to spend their young lives in deplorable surroundings risking their health and safety in the process.”

“The lawsuit also said, “It is not a surprise that due to this, and other reasons, including budget cuts and mismanagement, that DPS is in dead last…

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Feds Give More $$ to L.A. Charters than to Higher-Performing Magnets

Diane Ravitch's blog

The U.S. Education Department, which was once a defender and supporter of public education, has now become a major investor in privately managed charters.

The lobbyist for the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District reported that larger amounts of federal funding was directed to the city’s charter schools than to the city’s magnet schools. The city’s magnet schools are far more successful than the charters.

As the LA School Report says:

“For all the successful magnet schools in LA Unified and elsewhere, they are not attracting as much federal support as charter schools.
That was a stark message from the district’s federal lobbyist, who told a district board committee this week that Washington is increasing national support for charter schools by nearly 32 percent but by only 6 percent for magnet schools, a difference that surprised some of the school board members.


“We never imagined this would ever…

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Mike Klonsky on Rauner’s Plan to Control Chicago and CPS

Diane Ravitch's blog

We have learned in recent years that “reform” goes hand-in-hand with the suspension or muzzling of democracy. Mike Klonsky explains what’s behind Governor Bruce Rauner’s plan to take over Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools.

He writes:

“Yesterday, we heard the news that Gov. Bruce Rauner and top Republican leaders are planning to introduce legislation aimed at an emergency financial takeover of the city of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools. Their rationale is the $500 million shortfall within the Chicago Public Schools system which they themselves — with help from sellout Democrats — created.

“We are told that the legislation would also allow for CPS and the city of Chicago to declare bankruptcy – something by law both cannot currently do. To sweeten the pot, Rauner threw in the promise of a elected CPS school board, but only “once the financial situation is remediated”.

“Given the history of corruption, racism…

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