Larry Miller's Blog: Educate All Students!

April 20, 2014

Rand Paul, Anti-Immigrant and Tea Party Advocate, to Speak at St. Anthony’s on Wednesday

Filed under: Immigration,Vouchers — millerlf @ 8:21 pm

Sponsored by Latinos for Choice

Dear friends,

The Milwaukee Journal published the following article announcing that Rand Paul and Rachel Duffy will be the speakers at an event of St. Anthony’s School next Wednesday, April 23.

This is truly amazing! Rand Paul, together with a few other influential republicans in the US Senate and House, have been the stumbling block preventing immigration reform in this country. Senator Paul, in particular, has been hateful and inhumane in his references to the undocumented, and has even made proposals to take citizenship away from children born in this country to undocumented parents. Constitutionally, he can’t. But that is the type of disgusting rhetoric from the mouth of this incredibly nasty and inhumane libertarian politician. Rand Paul, elected into office with the push of billionaires and the Tea Party, is definitely among this party’s most extreme and insensitive members.

Paul has also been a leader in the movement to reverse Obamacare, and return to a time when the health and insurance industries depraved 48 million Americans of insurance and health care. Senator Paul has been an advocate of the rich, and is known to promote racist thinking against civil rights legislation. In other words: Senator Rand Paul is horrible on Latino and Black issues, a racist, and an enemy of immigrants, so why bring to Milwaukee?

We have stood by to see the growth of vouchers in the Latino community and Latinos for Choice, but  we can not allow insults and the manipulation of poor and working class Latinos. Most Latinos who enroll their children in voucher schools do not know that they are being used by Latinos for Choice to promote to power extremists that work against important immigration reform, health reform, necessary safety nets for the needy, and Latino empowerment.

Since yesterday there has been a huge reaction in the Latino community by many who see this as offensive! Senator Paul’s coming to Milwaukee must not be treated as an expression of “another” point of view by some in the Latino community. Persons with dignity and true concern for Latinos in this country take offense to Paul’s presence and presidential campaigning. Frankly, no one in their right mind should support this racist, insensitive anti-immigrant person –and this is an objective point of view. We urge you to let people know that this is totally unacceptable.

Never should we allow in the name of Latinos the appearance in our community-based institutions of Mr. anti-immigrant Rand Paul. It is even worse when some Latinos dare to manipulate ill-informed Latino parents and children, so as to promote a right wing political agenda. It is a sad day when anyone thinks that because Rand Paul and other extremist support school vouchers, one should support his extremist, insensitive and racist views too. The manipulation of Latinos in this day and age cannot be allowed. If those who enroll their children in St. Anthony know what this hatemonger has been doing all over this country,they would not support this event.

We urge the organizers if this activity not to proceed with the visit by Rand Paul. We should stop this event from happening and/or picket the activity.

Please see below.. and pass this on to others…This is important!

Tony Baez

 

Sen. Rand Paul coming to Milwaukee

By Georgia Pabst of the Journal Sentinel April 15, 2014

 

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, the Republican from Kentucky who is considered a possible presidential contender in 2016, will be in Milwaukee April 23 for a roundtable on school choice.

His visit is sponsored by the conservative The LIBRE  Initiative and Hispanics for School Choice, a local organization that favors the expansion of school choice.

The roundtable will take place at St. Anthony’s Middle School, 2156 S. 4th St. It will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Rachel Campos-Duffy, a TV commentator and author, is a spokesperson for The LIBRE Initiative. She’s also married to Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.).

 

Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/255392881.html#ixzz2zGk2Duuo

Follow us: @JournalSentinel on Twitter

April 11, 2014

The Op-Ed the Journal Sentinel Chose Not to Run on the MMAC

Filed under: MMAC — millerlf @ 8:22 am

MMAC Seeks to Influence Education Policy through Candidate Recruitment
By Larry Miller

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) is holding a “campaign training school” on Saturday April 12 to recruit candidates for public office who are in support of what they call pro-educational choice. The MAAC is uniting with the American Federation for Children, a Michigan-based voucher advocacy group, and a New York pro-voucher lobby group that calls itself Democrats for Education Reform.

Billed as a “bipartisan event,” the American Federation for Children (AFC) is anything but bipartisan. The group is led by Betty DeVos, the billionaire wife of Amway founder and former chair of the Michigan Republican Party Richard DeVos. In recent years, she has funneled tens of millions of dollars into school privatization efforts and other conservative initiatives.

The American Federation for Children spent $1.5 million helping Republicans in the recall elections. That includes some $900,000 spent to help Scott Walker fend off a challenge from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

The AFC has roots in Milwaukee. It has shared an address and leadership with its 501(c)(3) partner Alliance for School Choice, both groups promoting public school privatization through voucher programs.

AFC is also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). That’s the organization in which corporate lobbyists have formulated and advanced much of the legislation enacted by Republican-dominated state legislatures across the country. “Stand Your Ground” laws, efforts to restrict voting rights, voucher creation and expansion bills, bills to cut education funding and much more have origins with ALEC.

Representing Wisconsin AFC on the ALEC Education Task Force is former Rep. Scott Jensen. In 2005 Jensen, then Wisconsin Assembly Speaker, was convicted for misuse of his office for political purposes and banned from the state Capitol. Jensen is now one of AFC’s registered lobbyists in Wisconsin.

The MAAC’s alliance is part of a bold step to grow the voucher program in Milwaukee and expand it throughout the state. The AFC has influenced voucher creation and expansion in many states including Indiana and Florida. They attempted to influence the 2012 Milwaukee elections by supporting voucher candidates for Assembly and Senate seats. In that instance, every candidate they endorsed and heavily financed ended up losing. The Milwaukee delegation to the State Legislature, with the exception of Lena Taylor, has taken a strong and principled stand against expansion of taxpayer funded vouchers.

This year’s 16th annual Public Policy Forum report on schools and students in the Milwaukee and Racine parental choice programs provides insights on the characteristics of schools participating in the voucher programs and some early context for reflection on the impacts of major program changes enacted in the summer of 2011. The majority of voucher schools are made up of 80% or more voucher students. WKCE test scores for voucher students continue to lag those of MPS students. This is especially true for voucher students who attend predominantly-voucher schools. Voucher students also exhibit a high level of turnover, moving in and out of schools.

One of the MMAC’s favorite voucher programs is St. Marcus Lutheran School. “High performance” is often used to describe St. Marcus as a model for what are called quality seats for children in Milwaukee. Yet if one looks at the recently released reading data for that school, quite another picture emerges. St. Marcus’s WKCE reading scores, for grades 3 through 8, saw students, meeting proficiency, drop 2 percentage points to 19% from last year.

In this next round of education political warfare being launched by the MMAC, we all need to be aware of false advertising, hidden agendas and what is really at stake for our children.

 

 

 

St. Marcus: Underperforming and Biased

Filed under: St. Marcus,Vouchers — millerlf @ 8:19 am

St. Marcus Lutheran School is seldom talked about, among its supporters, without the descriptor “high performing school.”

The Wisconsin data on reading proficiency paints quite another picture. Last year, the St. Marcus leadership had elementary school children pounding on the Malcolm X building doors, yelling “let us in.” That year St. Marcus grades 3 through 8 saw only 21% of its students reading at proficiency.

This year’s reading results (school year 2013-2014) saw a decline in proficiency.
19% of St. Marcus’s students are proficient in reading, a 2% decline.

This is the same school that is using tax dollars to teach sectarian ideology and bigotry to its children. St Marcus Lutheran School Superintendent said last year on his blog that “St Marcus is unapologetically Christian and follows the teachings of the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Evangelical Luther Synod.”

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod teachings include:
• Living together outside of marriage is a sin.
• Women are not to hold positions of authority over men. (The synod’s web page notes: “God gave to the man the unique calling of being a loving head and to his wife the unique calling of being a loving helper to him.”
• The theory of evolution is wrong. (In explaining the discrepancy between the scientific view that the earth is 4-5 billion years old and the Biblical timeline of about 6,000 years, the synod’s website notes: “The short answer is that the earth was created with the appearance of age. On the first day everything looked older than it was.”)
• The Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church is the anti-Christ. (A “Doctrinal Statement on the Anti-Christ” from the WELS website ends with the statement: “Scripture teaches that the Antichrist would be revealed and gives the marks by which the Antichrist is to be recognized (2 Th 2:6,8), and since this prophecy has been clearly fulfilled in the history and development of the Roman Papacy, it is Scripture which reveals that the Papacy is the Antichrist.”
• Homosexuality is a sin.

Defend Public Education!

 

 

April 4, 2014

Who is the right-wing American Federation for Children?

Filed under: American Federation for Children,MMAC — millerlf @ 7:07 am

Right-Wing Alert: “American Federation for Children” and MMAC Organizing for Elections

The American Federation for Children (AFC), led by Betty DeVos, is allying with the MMAC to run candidates for offices in upcoming elections. The American Federation for Children spent $1.5 million helping Republicans in the recall elections. That includes some $900,000 that it spent to help Scott Walker fend off Tom Barrett’s challenge.

Who is the American Federation for Children?
The American Federation for Children (AFC) is an organization with roots in Milwaukee that promotes public school privatization through “voucher programs.” It shares an address and leadership with its 501(c)(3) partner Alliance for School Choice (ASC).

AFC is chaired by Betsy DeVos, the billionaire wife of Amway founder Richard DeVos and former chair of the Michigan Republican Party. In recent years, she has funneled tens of millions of dollars into school privatization efforts and other right-wing initiatives.

AFC is an ALEC member and is represented by former Rep. Jensen on the ALEC Education Task Force. Jensen is the former Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker convicted in 2005 of three felonies for misuse of his office for political purposes, and banned from the state Capitol for five years (the charges were later reduced on appeal). Jensen is one of AFC’s registered lobbyists in Wisconsin.

Jensen has proposed bills to ALEC on behalf of AFC/ASC that were adopted as “model” legislation. For example, in March 2011, Jensen presented to the ALEC Education Task Force the “Education Savings Account Act,” which creates financial incentives for families to take their children out of the public school system and put them in for-profit primary and secondary schools.

AFC was a “Trustee” level sponsor of ALEC’s 2011 Annual Conference – which, according to data from 2010, equated to a $5,000 payment to ALEC.

(Following is an AlterNet blog article that gives some history of Betty DeVos, her family and their right-wing agenda.)
The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education
By Rachel Tabachnick, AlterNet
Posted in 2011 and Printed on July 19, 2012

Since the 2010 elections, voucher bills have popped up in legislatures around the nation. From Pennsylvania to Indiana to Florida, state governments across the country have introduced bills that would take money from public schools and use it to send students to private and religious institutions.

Vouchers have always been a staple of the right-wing agenda. Like previous efforts, this most recent push for vouchers is led by a network of conservative think tanks, PACs, Religious Right groups and wealthy conservative donors. But “school choice,” as they euphemistically paint vouchers, is merely a means to an end. Their ultimate goal is the total elimination of our public education system.

The decades-long campaign to end public education is propelled by the super-wealthy, right-wing DeVos family. Betsy Prince DeVos is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the notorious private military contractor Blackwater USA, and wife of Dick DeVos, son of the co-founder of Amway, the multi-tiered home products business.

By now, you’ve surely heard of the Koch brothers, whose behind-the-scenes financing of right-wing causes has been widely documented in the past year. The DeVoses have remained largely under the radar, despite the fact that their stealth assault on America’s schools has the potential to do away with public education as we know it.
Right-Wing Privatization Forces
The conservative policy institutes founded beginning in the 1970s get hundreds of millions of dollars from wealthy families and foundations to develop and promote free market fundamentalism. More specifically, their goals include privatizing social security, reducing government regulations, thwarting environmental policy, dismantling unions – and eliminating public schools.

Whatever they may say about giving poor students a leg up, their real priority is nothing short of the total dismantling of our public educational institutions, and they’ve admitted as much. Cato Institute founder Ed Crane and other conservative think tank leaders have signed the Public Proclamation to Separate School and State, which reads in part that signing on, “Announces to the world your commitment to end involvement by local, state, and federal government from education.”

But Americans don’t want their schools dismantled. So privatization advocates have recognized that it’s not politically viable to openly push for full privatization and have resigned themselves to incrementally dismantling public school systems. The think tanks’ weapon of choice is school vouchers.

Vouchers are funded with public school dollars but are used to pay for students to attend private and parochial (religious-affiliated) schools. The idea was introduced in the 1950s by the high priest of free-market fundamentalism, Milton Friedman, who also made the real goal of the voucher movement clear: “Vouchers are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a free-market system.” The quote is in a 1995 Cato Institute briefing paper titled “Public Schools: Make Them Private.”

Joseph Bast, president of Heartland Institute, stated in 1997, “Like most other conservatives and libertarians, we see vouchers as a major step toward the complete privatization of schooling. In fact, after careful study, we have come to the conclusion that they are the only way to dismantle the current socialist regime.” Bast added, “Government schools will diminish in enrollment and thus in number as parents shift their loyalty and vouchers to superior-performing private schools.”

But Bast’s lofty goals have not panned out. That’s because, quite simply, voucher programs do not work.

The longest running voucher program in the country is the 20-year-old Milwaukee School Choice Program. Standardized testing shows that the voucher students in private schools perform below the level of Milwaukee’s public school students, and even when socioeconomic status is factored in, the voucher students still score at or below the level of the students who remain in Milwaukee’s public schools. Cleveland’s voucher program has produced similar results. Private schools in the voucher program range from excellent to very poor. In some, less than 20 percent of students reach basic proficiency levels in math and reading.

Most Americans do not want their tax dollars to fund private and sectarian schools. Since 1966, 24 of 25 voucher initiatives have been defeated by voters, most by huge margins. Nevertheless, the pro-privatization battle continues, organized by an array of 527s, 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and political action committees. At the helm of this interconnected network is Betsy DeVos, the four-star general of the pro-voucher movement.

The DeVos Family Campaign for Privatization of Schools
The DeVoses are top contributors to the Republican Party and have provided the funding for major Religious Right organizations. And they spent millions of their own fortune promoting the failed voucher initiative in Michigan in 2000, dramatically outspending their opposition. Sixty-eight percent of Michigan voters rejected the voucher scheme. Following this defeat, the DeVoses altered their strategy.

Instead of taking the issue directly to voters, they would support bills for vouchers in state legislatures. In 2002 Dick DeVos gave a speech on school choice at the Heritage Foundation. After an introduction by former Reagan Secretary of Education William Bennett, DeVos described a system of “rewards and consequences” to pressure state politicians to support vouchers. “That has got to be the battle. It will not be as visible,” stated DeVos. He described how his wife Betsy was putting these ideas into practice in their home state of Michigan and claimed this effort has reduced the number of anti-school choice Republicans from six to two. The millions raised from the wealthy pro-privatization contributors would be used to finance campaigns of voucher supporters and purchase ads attacking opposing candidates.
Media materials for Betsy DeVos’ group All Children Matter, formed in 2003, claimed the organization spent $7.6 million in its first year, “impacting state legislative elections in 10 targeted states” and a won/loss record of 121/60.

Dick DeVos also explained to his Heritage Foundation audience that they should no longer use the term public schools, but instead start calling them “government schools.” He noted that the role of wealthy conservatives would have to be obscured. “We need to be cautious about talking too much about these activities,” said DeVos, and pointed to the need to “cut across a lot of historic boundaries, be they partisan, ethnic, or otherwise.”
Reinventing Vouchers
Like DeVos, several free-market think tanks have also issued warnings that vouchers appear to be an “elitist” plan. There’s reason for their concern, given the long and racially charged history of vouchers.

School vouchers drew little public interest until Brown v. Board of Education and the court-ordered desegregation of public schools. Southern states devised voucher schemes for students to leave public schools and take the public funding with them.

Author Kevin Michael Kreuse explains how this plan was supposed to work in White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism. “At the heart of the plan to defend school segregation, for instance, stood a revolutionary scheme called the ‘private-school plan.’ In 1953, a full year before Brown, Governor Talmadge advanced a constitutional amendment giving the General Assembly the power to privatize the state’s entire system of public education. In the event of court-ordered desegregation, school buildings would be closed, and students would receive grants to attend private, segregated schools.”

Given the racist origins of vouchers, advocates of privatization have had to do two things: obscure the fact that the pro-privatization movement is backed primarily by white conservatives, and emphasize the support of African American and Democratic lawmakers where it exists.

In 2000, Howard Fuller founded the Black Alliance for Education Options. The group was largely funded by John Walton and the Bradley Foundation. Walton, a son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, contributed millions to the Betsy DeVos-led All Children Matter organization, including a bequest after his death in a plane crash in 2004.

A report by People for the American Way questions whose interest was being served in the partnership between the Alliance and conservative foundations. The summary of the report reads, “Over the past nine months, millions of Americans have seen lavishly produced TV ads featuring African American parents talking about school vouchers. These ads and their sponsor, the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), portray vouchers as an effort to help low-income kids. But a new report explores the money trail behind BAEO, finding that it leads directly to a handful of wealthy right-wing foundations and individuals that have a deep agenda — not only supporting the school voucher movement, but also backing anti-affirmative action campaigns and other efforts that African American organizations have opposed or considered offensive.”

Black Commentator.com was more blunt, describing vouchers as “The Right’s Final Answer to Brown” and tracking the history of vouchers from die-hard segregationists to the Heritage Foundation’s attempt to attach vouchers to federal legislation in 1981. The article stated, “The problem was, vouchers were still firmly (and correctly) associated with die-hard segregationists. Memories of white “massive resistance” to integration remained fresh, especially among blacks, who had never demanded vouchers — not even once in all of the tens of thousands of demonstrations over the previous three decades.”

The article continues, “Former Reagan Education Secretary William Bennett understood what was missing from the voucher political chemistry: minorities. If visible elements of the black and Latino community could be ensnared in what was then a lily-white scheme, then the Right’s dream of a universal vouchers system to subsidize general privatization of education, might become a practical political project. More urgently, Bennett and other right-wing strategists saw that vouchers had the potential to drive a wedge between blacks and teachers unions, cracking the Democratic Party coalition. In 1988, Bennett urged the Catholic Church to ‘seek out the poor, the disadvantaged…and take them in, educate them, and then ask society for fair recompense for your efforts’ — vouchers. The game was on.”

In this winning formula, vouchers or “scholarships” are advertised as the only hope for under served and urban minority children. Those who dare to defend public education from voucher schemes are, ironically, implied to be racist. Glossy brochures published by the DeVos-led entity All Children Matter show smiling faces of little children as well as those of the African American and Democratic politicians who have joined the campaign. Kevin Chavous, a former D.C. city councilman who takes credit for “shepherding” vouchers in D.C. and New Orleans, served as senior advisor to All Children Matters and now leads the BAEO and sits on the board of the DeVos-led AFC and Democrats for Education Reform.

All Children Matter was fined $5.2 million dollars in Ohio for breaking campaign finance laws, and lost an appeal in early 2010. The fine has not been paid. The DeVos-led organization also received bad press due to a fine in Wisconsin for failing to register their PAC as well as complaints in other states. In 2010 the entity began working under the name American Federation for Children (AFC) and registered new affiliate PACs across the nation, just in time for the 2010 elections.

The 2010 effort included a state that was not even included in Dick DeVos’ list of potential targets when he spoke to the Heritage Foundation in 2002 — Pennsylvania. An affiliate of AFC registered a PAC in Pennsylvania in March 2010 and less than a year later a voucher bill, SB-1, was sponsored in the Senate.

Throughout this well-coordinated campaign, the Pennsylvania press never once mentioned the name Betsy DeVos.

The Religious Right Foot Soldiers
The strategy in Pennsylvania in 2010, like efforts in other states, benefited from years of previous efforts to build alliances in the voucher movement. The conservative policy institutes have limited reach in the general public. In order to win the battle for hearts and minds, a larger public relations effort is required. The Religious Right fills this role with their tremendous broadcast capability and growing access to churches and homes. The partnership between free market fundamentalists and social conservatives is often contentious, but they share a common goal — to end secular public education. The free marketers object to the “public” aspect while the Religious Right objects to the “secular” component of public education.

A significant forum that brings together free-market power brokers and Religious Right leaders is the Council for National Policy (CNP), a secretive group that has met several times annually behind closed doors since 1981. Richard DeVos described CNP as bringing together the “donors and the doers.” This partnership gives the Religious Right access to major funders, including Richard Mellon Scaife, who are not social conservatives.

Many of the free-market think tanks are secular, but there is a trend toward merging free-market fundamentalism with right-wing religious ideology. The Acton Institute is described by religious historian Randall Balmer as an example of the merging of corporate interests with advocates of “dominion theology.” Dominionism is the belief that Christians must take control over societal and government institutions. The Acton Institute funds events featuring dominionist leaders including Gary North, who claims that the bible mandates free market capitalism or “Biblical Capitalism.”

Betsy DeVos has served on the board of Acton, which is also funded by Scaife, Bradley and Exxon Mobil. A shared goal of this unlikely group of libertarians and theocrats is their battle against environmental regulation. One of the Acton Institute fellows leads a group of Religious Right organizations called the Cornwall Alliance, which is currently marketing a DVD titled Resisting the Green Dragon. The pseudo-documentary describes global warming as a hoax and claims environmentalism is a cult attacking Christianity. Another shared goal of the free marketers and Christian dominionists is eradicating secular public education.

Gary North explains why getting students out of public schools is key to the Christian dominionist camp. “So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”

And the Christian Right has been busy enacting this vision. One of the first goals of the Christian Coalition was to take control of 500 local public school boards, and it’s a strategy the Religious Right has continued. One prominent example is Cynthia Dunbar, one of the members of the Texas State Board of Education which made controversial changes to the state’s social studies curriculum in 2010. Dunbar, who was advised by right-wing self-styled “historian” David Barton, is author of One Nation Under God and has described sending children to public schools as “throwing them into the enemy’s flames, even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.”

In addition to getting Trojan horses on school boards, the Religious Right has played a significant role in disseminating anti-public school propaganda and forming alliances to support vouchers for private schools. Family Research Council (FRC), one of the entities funded by the Prince and DeVos families, documents the effort in Pennsylvania to cultivate a partnership between Protestants and Catholics who wanted public funding for their sectarian schools.

The data accompanying proposed bill SB-1, indicates that the majority of the public school funds that will be spent on vouchers will pay tuition for students already enrolled in private schools. In Milwaukee 80 percent of voucher program schools are religiously affiliated, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In Cleveland, 52 percent of the students in the 29 Catholic diocesan schools are using taxpayer-funded vouchers, according to the Plain Dealer.

FRC’s Web site includes a 1999 speech by one of Pat Robertson’s biographers, in which he describes the school choice alliance in Pennsylvania of Protestant and Catholic leaders along with the Commonwealth Foundation and REACH Alliance. Commonwealth is a state think tank funded by the Scaife foundations. REACH Alliance is the statewide pro-voucher activist organization funded by the DeVos-led Alliance for School Choice (now also renamed American Federation for Children). This alliance is further described in the speech as forming “ties to black legislators based in Philadelphia, including Dwight Evans. This was big news for the Pennsylvania education reform movement because Evans is a powerful legislator and community leader.”

Evans would indeed become key to expanding vouchers in the Philadelphia area, and he and state Senator Anthony Williams (not to be confused with the D.C. mayor by the same name), both Democrats, serve as directors of the BAEO.

(more…)

April 3, 2014

Milwaukee: MMAC Uniting with Right-Wing to Run State and Local Candidates That Support School Privatization

Filed under: American Federation for Children,MMAC — millerlf @ 9:17 pm

The MMAC and the right-wing American Federation for Children and Democrats for Education Reform are holding an all day training in an effort to run slates of candidates for political office including for MPS school board in 2015. Their intention is to make privatization of public education their central political theme.

The training will be held on Saturday April 12.

To see their advertisement go to:

Training for Running for Office

View Marquette Forum on Future of MPS

Filed under: MPS — millerlf @ 9:16 pm

Larry Miller

I was part of a panel on April 1 at Marquette discussing  MPS and education in Milwaukee.

(The panel starts at about the 2 hour mark.) To view the panel go to:

http://law-media.marquette.edu/Mediasite/Play/1d46a0c949314bc8b9dcc01a0f6526a61d

March 31, 2014

Diane Ravitch on Charters in New York City

Filed under: Charter Schools,Ravitch — millerlf @ 10:45 am

New York Schools: The Roar of the Charters
Diane Ravitch March 27, 2014

In his speech at Riverside Church last Sunday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to end weeks of attacks on his schools policies by striking a conciliatory tone toward the city’s privately managed charter schools. He used the charter sector’s own rhetoric of “crisis” and “failure” to describe the school system that he inherited from Mayor Bloomberg. He spoke of parents eager to escape failing schools and condemned the “status quo” without noting that it was Bloomberg’s status quo. He opposed the idea that public schools and charter schools are competing and called for a new era “in which our charter schools help to uplift our traditional schools.” According to The New York Times, he called some of the financial leaders on Wall Street, the billionaires who have paid millions of dollars for the ads attacking him, to plead for a truce.

De Blasio decided he could not win this war. The other side had too much money and proved it could drive down his poll numbers. He said that the charter schools could help public schools, but in reality, charter schools could learn a few things from the public schools, like how to teach children with disabilities and second-language English learners. Contrary to popular myth, the charter schools are more racially segregated than public schools and have performed no better than the public schools on the most recent state tests. But what they have behind them is vast resources, and de Blasio capitulated.

The underlying question remains: How did a privately managed school franchise that serves a tiny portion of New York’s students manage to hijack the education reforms of a new mayor with a huge popular mandate?

When Bill de Blasio was running for mayor of New York City last year, he set out an ambitious plan for reforming education. After twelve years of Mayor Bloomberg’s obsession with testing, the public was eager for a fresh approach, one that was focused more on helping students than on closing their schools. Bloomberg’s haughty indifference to public opinion did not endear him to parents. He displaced tens of thousands of students from their public schools, with never a show of remorse, as he opened hundreds of new small public schools and nearly two hundred privately managed charter schools. Bloomberg’s preference for small public schools came at a price; they were unable to offer the full array of advanced courses in math and science, electives, and the choice of foreign languages that larger schools offered. He appointed three chancellors who were not professional educators, one of whom—a publisher—lasted all of ninety days before he removed her. He showed preferential treatment to the hundreds of small public schools that his administration opened, granting them extra resources and allowing them to exclude the neediest students. And he boasted about the explosion of privately managed charter schools, which now enroll 6 percent of the city’s children, on whose boards sit titans of Wall Street, the hedge fund managers who belong to Bloomberg’s social set.

During the campaign, de Blasio wanted to change the subject from Bloomberg’s boutique ideas to a larger vision. He wanted to address the needs of the vast majority of New York City’s 1.1 million students. His big idea was to provide universal access to pre-kindergarten, a research-based program that would give a better start to the city’s neediest children, and after-school activities for adolescents in middle schools. During the campaign, the public widely supported de Blasio’s plans, while Bloomberg’s education policies usually registered about 25 percent approval.

When asked about charter schools, de Blasio made clear that he felt they had gotten far too much media attention, considering that they serve a small fraction of the population. He pledged that he would charge them rent for use of public space and would not allow any more co-locations—the practice of inserting a new school into a building with an existing school—without community hearings. Co-location happens when a charter school is offered shared space in a building with a public school; it also happens when large schools are divided into four, five, or six small schools operating under the same roof. Public school parents strongly oppose these arrangements. The host public school is often forced to give up its art room, its dance room, its computer room, every room used for any purpose other than classroom instruction, to make way for the unwelcome newcomer. The co-located schools must negotiate over access to the library, the auditorium, the playground. Co-locations cause overcrowding, as well as a competition for space and resources among students and multiple administrators within a single building.

De Blasio’s skeptical campaign comments about charter schools unleashed the wrath of New York City’s most outspoken charter school leader, Eva Moskowitz. Her Success Academy chain of twenty-two charter schools now enrolls 6,700 students. Because she doesn’t have to follow the public school regulations forbidding political activities on school time, she can turn her students and their parents out on short notice for political demonstrations and legislative hearings, dressed in matching t-shirts, carrying posters and banners. A few weeks before last fall’s mayoral election, she closed her schools and led a march of students and parents across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest de Blasio’s criticism of charter schools. She was accompanied by de Blasio’s Republican opponent, Joe Lhota. Voters were unconvinced, however, and de Blasio won in a landslide.

After coming to office, the newly elected mayor focused his energies on trying to persuade Governor Cuomo and the legislature to enact a new tax in New York City to pay for his goal of universal pre-kindergarten. De Blasio called for a modest tax increase for those who earn over $500,000 a year. It would cost each of them, he said, about $1,000 a year, or less than a cup of soy latte every day at Starbucks. The billionaires were not amused. Nor was Governor Cuomo, who wants to be perceived as a conservative, pro-business Democrat who does not raise taxes.

While de Blasio was pressing for universal pre-kindergarten (or UPK, as it is known), he was faced with a decision about how to handle the dozens of proposals for co-locations and new charter schools that had been hurriedly endorsed by Bloomberg’s Panel on Education Policy in the last months of his term. The panel had approved forty-five new schools, seventeen of which were charters. De Blasio decided to approve thirty-six, including fourteen of the seventeen charter school proposals. He did not hold community hearings, as he had promised, so he managed to enrage public school parents whose schools would now suffer the unwanted entry of a new school into their building and, in many cases, an overcrowded building.

The three charter proposals the mayor rejected were part of the Moskowitz charter chain. She had asked for eight new schools—more than any other single applicant—and de Blasio gave her five. Most school leaders would be thrilled to win five new schools. But Eva cried foul and publicly accused the mayor of “evicting” her students. This was despite the fact that two of the three rejected schools did not exist, so no students were affected. The third was Moskowitz’s request to expand her elementary school that was already co-located with P.S. 149 in Harlem; Moskowitz wanted to add a middle school. But adding a middle school meant kicking out students with disabilities in P.S. 149, which de Blasio refused to do.

Moskowitz was ready. Her friends on Wall Street and the far-right Walton Family Foundation paid out nearly $5 million for television ads attacking Mayor de Blasio as a heartless, ruthless, possibly racist politician who was at war with charter schools and their needy students. The ads showed the faces of adorable children, all of them being kicked out of “their” school by a vengeful Mayor who hates charter schools. The ads never acknowledged that the Mayor had approved fourteen out of seventeen charter proposals. Moskowitz, whose charter chain pays more than $500,000 a year for the services of for SDK Knickerbocker, a high-powered D.C. public relations firm, also made the rounds of television talk shows, where she got free air time to lash out at de Blasio for allegedly “evicting” her needy students from “the highest performing school in New York state.” Meanwhile, the Murdoch-owned media—not only The New York Post but also The Wall Street Journal and Fox News—kept up a steady barrage of hostile stories echoing Moskowitz’s claims against de Blasio.

None of the talking heads checked the facts. None knew or acknowledged that approving the middle school Moskowitz was denied would have meant the actual eviction of the most needy students of all—students at P.S. 149 with special needs. Or that her own existing school in that building has no students with high levels of disability, in contrast with Harlem’s neighborhood public schools, where such students account for 14 percent of the school population. Or that Moskowitz’s school has half as many students who are English learners as the neighborhood public schools. Or that her school is not the highest performing school in the state or the city. (In English language arts, Moskowitz’s Harlem Success Academy 4 ranked eighty-first in the city, with 55 percent of its students passing the latest state test; in math, the school was thirteenth in the city, with 83 percent of students passing the state test.) Or that nearly half her students leave within a few years. Or that her schools spend $2,000 more per student than the neighboring schools. Or that Moskowitz is paid $485,000 a year to oversee fewer than seven thousand students.

All of these facts were known by the de Blasio administration. But the new mayor seemed helpless. Somehow this man who had run a brilliant campaign to change the city was left speechless by the charter lobby. His poll numbers took a steep dive. He never called a press conference to explain his criteria for approving or rejecting charter schools, each of which made sense: for example, he would not approve a charter if it displaced students with disabilities; if it placed elementary students in a building with high school students; if it required heavy construction; or if it had fewer than 250 students. Reasonable though his criteria were, they were not enough for the charter lobby. His speech at Riverside Church offered an olive branch, all but conceding that the charter lobby had beaten him. He followed up his conciliatory remarks by creating a committee to review the space needs of the city’s schools and appointed to it representatives of the charter sector, which remains hungry for more free space from the Mayor.
Meanwhile, Moskowitz began using political leverage as well. On the same day that de Blasio organized a rally in Albany on behalf of raising taxes on the rich to pay for UPK, she closed her schools and bused thousands of students and parents to Albany for a pro-charter school rally. Governor Andrew Cuomo stood by her side, pledging to “save” charter schools and to protect them from paying rent; his ardent devotion to the charter cause may have been abetted by the $800,000 in campaign contributions he received from charter advocates in the financial industry.

For its part, the Republican-dominated State Senate demonstrated loyalty to Eva Moskowitz by passing a budget resolution with language forbidding the mayor from displacing a co-located charter school and forbidding him from charging rent to a private corporation (a charter school) using public space. Not only had Moskwitz cleverly portrayed herself as a victim; she had managed to make her narrow cause more important than universal pre-kindergarten and after-school programs for teens. She demonstrated that she was more powerful than the mayor or his schools chancellor. She won the battle of the moment.

But Moskowitz unknowingly taught the public a different lesson, which may be important in the future. Her schools do not operate like public schools. They are owned and managed by a private corporation with a government contract. They make their own rules. They choose their own students, kick out those they don’t want, and answer to no one. No public school would be allowed to close its doors and take its students on a political march across the Brooklyn Bridge or bus them to Albany to lobby the statehouse; the principal would be fired instantly.

Consider the court battle initiated by Moskowitz that played out in the midst of the confrontation with the mayor: a judge in New York’s State Supreme Court ruled, as Moskowitz hoped, that the State Comptroller has no power to audit her schools, because they are “not a unit of the state.” Put another way, her schools are not public schools. And, as the public begins to understand what that means, that lesson may ultimately be the undoing of this stealth effort to transfer public funds to support a small number of privately managed schools, amply endowed by billionaires and foundations, that refuse to pay rent and are devoted to competing with, not helping, the general school population.

What will it mean for New York City to have two school systems, both supported with public money, with one free to choose and remove its students and the other required to accept all students? A recent study found that New York State has the most segregated schools in the nation, and that the charters are even more segregated than the public schools. In 2014, the year that we remember the sixtieth anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, it is passing strange to find that New York City—and school districts across the nation—are embarked on the re-creation of a dual school system.

 

March 28, 2014

Spend an evening with Diane Ravitch

Filed under: Ravitch — millerlf @ 8:38 am

Spend an evening with Diane Ravitch, author of Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MATC Cooley Auditorium, 700 W. State, Milwaukee

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Presentation at 6:30 p.m.

Drawing on her over 40 years of research and experience, Diane Ravitch has become a champion for public schools across the country. Ravitch takes sharp aim at the mythology of so-called educational reformers and makes the case for real changes that will mean equitable, high quality public education for all children.

Presenting Sponsors: Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, Wisconsin Education Association Council, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin, AFT Local 212.

Community Sponsors: Southeast United Educators, UWM Urban Studies, MATC Latino Student Organization. Sponsoring Friends: Parents for Public Schools, Opt Out Milwaukee, Wisconsin Jobs Now, American Civil Liberties Union, Educators Network for Social Justice, Leigh Wallace, Racine Education Association, Schools and Communities United, Administrators’ and Supervisors’ Council.

Tickets: $5 in advance; $8 at the door.

Tickets can be purchased through MTEA (414-259-1990), AFT Local 212 (414-765-0910) and other sponsors.

March 24, 2014

Attend April 1st Forum on MPS and Urban Education

Filed under: MPS — millerlf @ 7:35 pm

College of Education Co-Sponsors Event: Lessons from Elsewhere. What Milwaukee Can Learn from Work on Improving Urban Education Systems Nationwide
With Milwaukee facing a fresh search for a public schools superintendent, continuing debate over what should be done with low-performing schools, and little overall progress for high-needs students, what paths should be pursued? At this morning-long conference, national experts will offer their thoughts on what is working elsewhere and what might be considered in Milwaukee.
Lessons from Elsewhere. What Milwaukee Can Learn from Work on Improving Urban Education Systems Nationwide
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
8 a.m. to Noon
Marquette Law School, Eckstein Hall
Limited on site parking available
Reserve your spot. The event is complimentary; however, registration is required.

To reserve a spot got to: http://www.marquette.edu/education/news/LessonsFromElsewhereMARCH14.shtml

This event is cosponsored by Marquette Law School and the Marquette College of Education.
Program
• 8 a.m. Registration and light breakfast
• 8:30 a.m. Introduction
• 8:40 a.m. A conversation with Michael Casserly, long-time executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, a peer organization of leaders of the nation’s largest school districts. Casserly is a respected authority on characteristics of urban school systems that have had above-average success.
• 9:35 a.m. A conversation with Paul Hill, founder of the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington Bothell. Hill developed the “portfolio school district management” idea being used in some cities. A leading figure in thought on urban school reform, Hill chaired the National Charter School Research Project and the Brookings National Working Commission on Choice in K-12 Education.
• 10:30 a.m. Break
• 10:45 a.m. Panel discussion – ideas and thoughts on what Milwaukee should pursue. Participants: Reuben Jacobson, senior associate for research and strategy, the Coalition for Community Schools of the Institute for Educational Leadership, Washington, D.C.; Nata Abbott, GE Healthcare, Community Relations Director;Kole Knueppel, co-founder and managing director, Schools That Can Milwaukee;and Larry Miller, member of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors.
• 12 Noon. Adjourn

 

American Schools Are STILL Racist, Government Report Finds

Filed under: Racism — millerlf @ 1:06 pm

Huffington Post Posted: 03/21/2014 Joy Resmovits
Public school students of color get more punishment and less access to veteran teachers than their white peers, according to surveys released Friday by the U.S. Education Department that include data from every U.S. school district.
Black students are suspended or expelled at triple the rate of their white peers, according to the U.S. Education Department’s 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection, a survey conducted every two years. Five percent of white students were suspended annually, compared with 16 percent of black students, according to the report. Black girls were suspended at a rate of 12 percent — far greater than girls of other ethnicities and most categories of boys.
At the same time, minority students have less access to experienced teachers. Most minority students and English language learners are stuck in schools with the most new teachers. Seven percent of black students attend schools where as many as 20 percent of teachers fail to meet license and certification requirements. And one in four school districts pay teachers in less-diverse high schools $5,000 more than teachers in schools with higher black and Latino student enrollment.
Such discrimination lowers academic performance for minority students and puts them at greater risk of dropping out of school, according to previous research. The new research also shows the shortcomings of decades of legal and political moves to ensure equal rights to education. The Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling banned school segregation and affirmed the right to quality education for all children. The 1964 Civil Rights Act guaranteed equal access to education.
“This data collection shines a clear, unbiased light on places that are delivering on the promise of an equal education for every child and places where the largest gaps remain,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “In all, it is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed.”
Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder plan to announce the survey results on Friday. The information, part of an ongoing survey by the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, highlights longstanding inequities in how schools leave minority students and students with disabilities at a disadvantage. For the first time since 2000, the new version of the survey includes results from all 16,500 American school districts, representing 49 million students.
“Unfortunately, too many children don’t have equitable access to experienced and fully licensed teachers, as has again been proven by the data in this report,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union. “This is a problem that can and must be addressed.”
Daria Hall, K-12 policy director at the Education Trust, an advocacy group, also called for action. “The report shines a new light on something that research and experience have long told us — that students of color get less than their fair share of access to the in-school factors that matter for achievement,” she said. “Students of color get less access to high level courses. Black students in particular get less instructional time because they’re far more likely to receive out of school suspensions or expulsions. And students of color get less access to teachers who’ve had at least a year on the job and who have at least basic certification. Of course, it’s not enough to just shine a light on the problem. We have to fix it.”
Though 16 percent of America’s public school students are black, they represent 27 percent of students referred by schools to law enforcement, and 31 percent of students arrested for an offense committed in school, according to the survey.
Students with disabilities make up one-fourth of students referred to law enforcement or arrested, although they represent 13 percent of the student population. Students with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended out of school than peers, with 13 percent of such students being sent home for misbehaving. One of four boy students of color who have disabilities and one in five girl students of color who have disabilities were suspended. Students of color include all non-white ethnic groups except Latino and Asian-American.
These numbers will likely add pressure to dismantle the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, which feeds troubled students into the justice system. The push to ease discipline sometimes causes tension with schools’ efforts to beef up security after school mass shootings, like the one in Newtown, Conn. Last week, a set of reports 26 academics pointed to a few local studies that found that disparate discipline outcomes did not happen as a result of certain ethnic groups acting out more than others.
According to the new data, disparities begin as early as preschool. Black students make up 18 percent of preschool enrollment, but they comprise 48 percent of preschool students receiving more than one suspension out of school. White students, representing 43 percent of preschool students, only receive 26 percent of out-of-school suspensions more than once.
Randi Weingarten, who heads the American Federation of Teachers union, noted that despite a recent Education Department Equity and Excellence Commission report calling for measures to remedy discrimination, little has been done. “It is shameful that not a single recommendation has been implemented,” Weingarten said. “We don’t need more data to tell us we need action.”
Education News Zero Tolerance Policy Racist Schools School to Prison Pipeline Civil Rights Data Office of Civil Rights Education Data Office of Civil Rights Civil Rights Data Education Report Video Civil Rights Data Education Report 2014 School to Prison Civil Rights Data Collection Discrimination in Education American Schools Are Still Racist Politics News

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