Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

January 7, 2017

Stop trying to kill public education

Filed under: MPS,Privatization,Public Education — millerlf @ 9:38 am

Jack Norman Jan. 4, 2017 MJSentinel

Why do school choice advocates want to build quality schools at the expense of public education?

The discussion about choice, public and charter schools is plenty heated. Let’s not pollute it with fake news.

Case in point: William Flanders’ and Corey DeAngelis’ misleading Dec. 26 commentary promising nearly half-a-billion dollars in benefits from the creation of a single private K-8 school in Milwaukee (“School choice: Nearly $500 million in benefits,” Opinions).

I’ll get to that piece later. But, first, a reminder of what the debate about public “versus” choice schools is all about.

The problem for public school advocates isn’t that choice advocates want to build quality schools as alternatives to Milwaukee Public Schools. Kudos to them for that.

It’s that in order to achieve that goal, too many of them want to do it at the expense of public education.

Consider this analogy: It’s widely recognized there are serious problems with the Milwaukee Police Department. These include relations with the African-American community, dealing with mentally ill troublemakers, staff diversity — issues plaguing police departments nationwide.

But would it make sense to strip the department of resources and instead use them to create a hodge-podge of private security forces? Would we have public safety depend on private armed guards, competing with each other and with the department for business?

Imagine the chaos if neighborhoods used tax dollars to hire private firms that market protection packages. Rich neighborhoods would add their own money to buy higher-quality services. What recourse would residents have against profiteering by unscrupulous firms?

RELATED OPINION: Voucher schools need to share data

Even the department’s harshest critics agree that public safety is best improved by reforming the public police force, retaining what it does well, while introducing new practices.

But when it comes to education, too many choice supporters are eager to abandon the public system and create a medley of private alternatives. Why do they keep playing education as a zero-sum game, where private-school winners must be balanced out by public-school losers?

Imagine, instead, a world in which the entire body of choice advocates joined in support of public education as well as private education. Rather than cheering the governor and Legislature as they systematically weaken public education, imagine they joined the fight against these policies.

Public school advocates years ago made necessary compromises. They accepted the continuing existence of the choice program. Charter schools? MPS is full of them. And the focus of the public school lobby is not on eliminating private school options but on ensuring they deliver quality education.

If public school advocates were once slaves to an incompetent bureaucracy and blind to systemic failures, that time is long past.

Alan Borsuk is a keen observer of education who has never held back his criticisms of MPS. But he complimented Superintendent Darienne Driver in a recent Journal Sentinel article, noting her “fresh, thoughtful and significant attempt to change the status quo.”

To return to the Flanders-DeAngelis op-ed: It alleges a wealth of economic benefits if St. Marcus Lutheran School purchased an MPS building. The authors claim their analysis “documents the staggering economic benefits of school choice.”

They cite a flawed University of Arkansas study to claim that students of top choice schools are slightly more likely to graduate and live a crime-free life. They attach numbers that add up, they allege, to nearly half-a-billion dollars in benefits over the next two decades.

Let’s be clear. Nobody doubts that high-quality schools — private or public — yield economic benefits for the community at large.

But the study the authors use is a cherry-picking piece of work. It looks at one school only, one that gives it the results it wants. It ignores critical factors in student success, such as parental involvement and motivation. It considers only its favored school’s benefits while ignoring any of the downsides that come from weakening MPS.

Public-school advocates are not out to kill private education. Can’t these private school advocates stop trying to kill public education?

Jack Norman is a retired journalist and policy analyst who lives in Milwaukee.

October 28, 2016

Why I have decided to run again for the MPS school board

Filed under: MPS,Public Education — millerlf @ 4:21 pm

I’ve been fortunate to be part of the effort in Milwaukee to improve public education and serve students and their families. MPS is seeing important gains in educating the city’s children. In a variety of areas — college readiness work, expansion of highly successful programs like Montessori, strengthening our bilingual programs, advancing rigorous curriculum in schools, advancing the BlackLivesMatter initiative, creating the foundation for ethnic studies, bringing the arts into all of our schools, improving cultural relevancy for students, and striving for academic growth in educating all students — I have been able to work with a visionary administration and a school board that puts children first.

Despite our accomplishments, the administration and school board recognize that our most difficult work lies ahead. The challenges are daunting but hope and enthusiasm are visible throughout the work.

At the same time, intentional roadblocks to serving 77,000 students keep rising to the surface. At a time when white nationalism, misogyny, and xenophobia plague our national and local politics, some of the same people supporting these undemocratic positions have MPS and the governing authority of the MPS school board in their cross-hair. Their efforts represent a diversion from supporting and educating our students; fair-minded people who care about reaching all children must oppose such attacks.

Our job is to educate every child who walks through our doors and strive to help them succeed. We will continue to do this work and we will continue to make progress.

I cannot walk away from this work at this time.

Larry Miller

I will be holding a fundraiser

on Monday November 14,

from 5PM to 7PM at:

The Art Bar

722 E. Burleigh St.

 

September 16, 2016

State Supt. Evers Gives State of Education Address, Hints at Budget Priorities

Filed under: Public Education — millerlf @ 5:02 pm

eversState Superintendent Tony Evers foreshadowed priorities of the 2017-19 state budget request he will submit to the governor later this fall in the annual State of Education address today. Three items that he stressed were:

  • providing resources to students that reflect the need to increase equity and close achievement gaps,
  • building the educator workforce so every student has a teacher who is well trained and well compensated, and
  • paying for schools in a way that avoids mounting inequalities.

In the interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Evers said he will ask for Per Pupil Aid (the categorical aid outside of revenue limits that has been distributed to all districts equally) to be weighted for students who are impoverished, learning English, struggling with a disability or low-income. That would mean districts that serve lots of those types of students would get more funding; districts serving fewer of those students would get less.

To address teacher shortages in rural districts, he told the Wisconsin State Journal in an interview that he will propose to “level the playing field” among school districts by giving more money to schools in rural areas that have trouble matching salaries offered by wealthier districts.  He will propose reimbursing each rural school district with $5,000 to $10,000 to allow the districts to match competing job offers for their teachers.

Supt. Evers also plans to propose more funding for mental health training in schools and for summer school learning opportunities.

Read More: DPI Release; State of Education Speech; Wisconsin Public Radio; Appleton Post Crescent

February 10, 2016

Committee Vote Today on Amendment to Cut Public Schools $14.2 Million by Chris Kulow

Filed under: Public Education — millerlf @ 10:42 am

The Assembly Education Committee will vote this afternoon (Feb. 10) on a new amendment (Assembly Amendment 3) to AB 751 that, according to a memo by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB), will have a detrimental fiscal effect on school districts impacted by the Racine and statewide voucher programs.  The LFB estimates the loss in revenue limit authority under the amendment (as compared to current law) to be $14.2 million spread across the 142 affected districts.  This loss would be duplicated each year with each new class of voucher participants.

Once again, the bottom line on Assembly Amendment 3: if your district has resident students in the statewide or Racine voucher programs, under this amendment, you will lose revenue limit authority and you will likely have to pay for your aid lost to vouchers by reducing educational opportunities for the children that remain in your district.  We strongly oppose these efforts and urge you to keep the pressure on state lawmakers. See WASB’s memo to lawmakers.

Please take a few minutes to contact your assembly Representative as well as your state Senator.  For your convenience in doing so, we have provided links to the Assembly Directory and to Find My Legislators (top right there is an address field to look up your lawmakers).

***PLEASE contact members of the Education Committee today before the vote at 1:30 pm. This is especially crucial if your school district is in or near their Assembly districts.***

October 26, 2015

State Support for Public Schools in 2014-15: 62.3 Percent

Filed under: Public Education — millerlf @ 2:57 pm

by Dan Rossmiller Wisconsin Association of School Boards

Estimated state support for public K-12 schools totaled just under 62.3 percent last year, according to a new analysis released today by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB). That percentage was calculated using the same “partial school revenues” method that was used to determine state support during the period from 1996-97 to 2002-03, when the state had a statutory commitment to fund two-thirds of K-12 partial school revenues statewide. That mandate ended in 2003.

The 62.3 percent figure is the share of state support as calculated on a statewide basis for the 2014-15 school year. The share of state support for each individual school district will vary according to how the district is treated under the state general aid formula, which is based to a large extent on a district’s property wealth per pupil.

The LFB memorandum released today provides information on the estimated level of state support provided for K-12 education statewide and to individual school districts in 2014-15. You can find it here.

Trouble clicking? Copy and paste this URL into your browser:
https://wasblegupdate.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/state-support-for-public-schools-in-2014-15-62-3-percent/

February 28, 2015

Public schools serve the whole community

Filed under: Public Education,Scott Walker,Wisc Budget Bill — millerlf @ 5:55 pm

Mary Jarvis February 26, 2015 WausauDailyHerald.com

Know the facts about public schools vs. taxpayer-subsidized private schools.

A 21st-century public education system is the foundation of democracy and provides equal opportunity. The doors of public schools are wide open for all students and are essential to the well-being of our communities, state and country.

Do you know the difference between taxpayer subsidized private schools and our community public schools?
• Responsibilities and standards. Taxpayer-subsidized private schools do not need to hire highly qualified teachers and were not required to take state assessments until last year. Public schools are rated by the state every year, but taxpayer-subsidized private schools have a free ride from state report cards until 2017-18 or possibly later.
When taxpayer-subsidized private schools close, taxpayers can’t recoup our losses when displaced children return to public schools. When Life Skills Academy in Milwaukee closed in the middle of the night, $2.3 million tax dollars went down the drain.

• Funding. Wisconsin public schools were subjected to the largest cuts in the nation, totaling $1.6 billion, and there’s another $127 million cut on the table in the new budget proposal. As a result of continuing cuts in resources, there are fewer teachers and less one-on-one time for students. At the same time, taxpayer-subsidized private schools have skimmed $18.4 million dollars from public schools in 2013-2014 with a projection of $54.7 million going to them this year.
You may have noticed the significant increase in local referendums as state funding cuts to local schools, take their toll on students and communities especially rural areas. More communities than ever before are voting to raise their own local property taxes so children can still get a good education.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Nearly 80 percent of private school subsidy goes to students who never attended public schools in the first place — taxpayers are subsidizing private education at the expense of most of the children in our own neighborhoods.

• Special education. Taxpayer-subsidized private schools are only required to offer services to assist students with special needs that can be provided for with minor adjustments. Public schools employ licensed teachers, provide the full scope of special education and comply with federal law. As a result, subsidized private schools enroll far fewer children who require extra attention to succeed.

• Student achievement. Studies have found public schools to be equal or better performing than private institutions. This is true here in Wisconsin, where public school students are outperforming their peers in subsidized private schools. Taxpayer-subsidized private schools aren’t the answer to improving education. They ignore the real factors impacting student success — family income, involvement, and attendance.

• Public oversight. Taxpayer-subsidized private schools do not have democratically elected boards that represent the public — even though you, the taxpayer, are footing the bill. Private schools are not required to meet basic public standards, such as open meetings and records laws, or to publicly release test scores, dropout rates and other information.

• Responsibility to students. Many of the taxpayer-subsidized private schools springing up are private schools geared for profit and looking to advertise their way into getting tax dollars. Just look at the recent request by the subsidy lobby group to get the names, addresses and phone numbers of children in public schools. Subsidized private schools can spend your tax dollars any way they want, because there’s little oversight.
The bottom line: Public schools preserve our democracy and provide a fundamental public purpose for all. They are the heartbeat of thriving communities, the foundation of our quality of life. We need to support our neighborhood public schools so every child has a good public school to attend no matter where they live or what their family circumstances are.

Mary Jarvis of Wausau is a retired teacher and former president of the Wausau Education Association.

January 25, 2015

Who should lead K12 school improvement? Venture capitalists or communities and educators

Filed under: Charter Schools,Education Policy,Privatization,Public Education — millerlf @ 12:54 pm

According to the NewSchools Venture Fund it should be venture capitalists.

What is NewSchools Venture Fund?

This is an investment organization that has an all-white, 10 member board of directors, whose combined portfolio reaches deep into U.S. corporate and entrepreneurial investment endeavors.

Their stated purpose opens with– “Our mission is to transform public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs…” Of course what they don’t openly say is that this work will lead to profit for investors, their companies and the individual portfolios of many entrepreneurs.

What they seek is public money to be diverted from public schools leading to investment gains in technology, real estate, curriculum, corporate charters, high paid “non-profit” charter managers and the growing education “consulting” industry.

In education, they are connected to much of the school “reform” industry. If you look at their strategies in individual cities, they are not about educating all kids.

The description of the Board members of New School Venture Fund reads as follows:

Venture capital investor in the medical, healthcare and biotechnology sectors.

Sponsor of a series of investments including Compaq, Cypress, Intuit, Netscape, Lotus, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, S3, Sun Microsystems, Amazon.com, Symantec and Google.

Founder and CEO of Silicon Compilers and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Google.

Founder of LAUNCH Media Inc. in 1994, which delivered music and music-related content online, and he led the company through its acquisition by Yahoo! in 2001.

Managing Director of Endeavor Catalyst which is is leading the formation and capital raise of the fund supporting high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets and a partner at Soda Rock Partners LLC, supporting entrepreneurs to build leading high-growth companies and organizations.

Has served on the board of more than 25 venture-backed companies across a broad range of industries including Danger Inc (Acquired Nasdaq: MSFT), Sabrix (Acquired NYSE: TWX), Quinstreet (IPO Nasdaq: QNST), Stonyfield Farms (Acquired Groupe Danone), Account Now (Private), Mirra (Acquired NYSE: STX), Posit Science (Private), Post Communications (Acquired Nasdaq: NCNT). She also served on the Board of the National Venture Capital Association (“NVCA), the Coppola Companies (Francis Ford Coppola), and as Chairman of the USA for Madrid-based FON.

Managing Partner in North Bay Associates and Kokino LLC, and a co-founder of TRQ Management Company, all investment management businesses.

Past president and remains active with Cheyenne Petroleum Company, an oil and gas exploration and production company, and he was a co-founder of Soundview Real Estate Partners, a real estate investment company. In addition, he serves on the boards of various companies in the pharmaceutical industry.

Focuses on investments in the financial-services sector and in emerging software technologies. Has been called a “serial entrepreneur.” Founding CEO of Good Technology (acquired by Motorola); co-founder of Drugstore.com (DSCM) and general manager and president of Optical Engineering, Inc. Has worked at Netscape, Hewlett Packard and Bain.

For the complete description of the Board, see below. You can also learn more from their website at:
http://www.newschools.org/team

Their Milwaukee connection is through Deborah McGriff, a “Team” member, who served as a deputy Superintendent for Milwaukee Public Schools.

At the 2014 conference Howard Fuller gave opening comments. They can be seen at:

Full descriptions of NewSchool Venture Fund Board:
• Brook Byers, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
• John Doerr, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
• Chris Gabrieli, Co-Founder and Chairman, Massachusetts 2020
• Dave Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer, SurveyMonkey
• Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and Chair of the Board, Emerson Collective
• Joanna Rees, Founder and Managing Partner, VSP Capital
• Jon Sackler, Managing Partner, North Bay Associates and Kokino LLC
• Kim Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pahara Institute
• Rob Stavis, Partner, Bessemer Venture Partners
• Dave Whorton, Managing Director, Tugboat Ventures

(more…)

December 15, 2014

A Must See 2-Minute Cartoon Video on Public Education

Filed under: American Injustice,Privatization,Public Education — millerlf @ 3:49 pm

Watch the following youtube cartoon. It says it all.

March 19, 2014

Listen to John Kuhn, a Superintendent That Stands Up for Public Education and Our Kids

Filed under: Public Education — millerlf @ 3:08 pm

John Kuhn is Superintendent of  the Texas Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District. He is the author of Fear And Learning In America: Bad Data, Good Teachers, And The Attack On Public Education.

He calls for the end to teacher bashing, the testing craze, privatization and attacks on public education.

John Kuhn spoke alongside Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teacher’s Union, at the recent conference in Austin Texas calling for the defense of public education.

To hear John Kuhn, along with Karen Lewis,  go to:

http://vimeo.com/87984834

Public School Defenders Launch Movement in Austin

Filed under: Public Education — millerlf @ 2:36 pm

The Progressive March 2014

Deep in the heart of Texas, in the very center of what public-school advocate Diane Ravitch called the “education-industrial complex,” public-school activists from every corner of the United States met last weekend to launch a nationwide movement to defend public education against corporate takeover and phony, test-driven “reform.”

The Network for Public Education: http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/

founded by Diane Ravitch and Anthony Cody, met for the first time in Austin on March 1 and 2 to sound the alarm about high-stakes testing, mass school closures, and the corporate take-over of public education, and to rally a nationwide movement to resist.

Karen Lewis, the dynamic president of the Chicago Teachers Union joined Texas school superintendent John Kuhn on stage at the Lyndon Johnson museum at the University of Texas, to give a barn-burning joint keynote address:

“There could not be two more different people on the planet,” Lewis said. “John Kuhn is a white male. I am a black woman. John Kuhn has worked as a Christian missionary, and I am a recently bat mitzvahed Jew. John Kuhn is management. Karen Lewis is labor. But I am going to tell you that what we have in common are the values [that] make this country great.”

Those values, Kuhn said, are what led the Chicago teachers out on strike to fight not for themselves or even for their schools, but “to keep the fading light of democracy burning, and to fend off a new generation of robber barons.”

School closings, a “test-and-punish” model of education reform that labels high-poverty districts as “failing” and invites their takeover by private companies, and the replacement of democratically elected school boards with “CEO’s” are among the threats to the basic, democratic institution of public education, Kuhn and Lewis pointed out.

“Where do we go for redress of our grievances once we’ve surrendered our elected school boards and our constitutional guarantees?” Kuhn asked. “Do we march into the board room of a charter management group or some foundation?”

“School reform, the way it’s being presented, is only backed by the assurances and sweet words of the American corporate elite and their spokespeople,” Kuhn added. “But the public education system is backed by the full faith and credit of us, the people of each state.”

“Public education is our trust fund,” Kuhn said. “It’s our nest egg. It belongs to us and our kids and our kids’ kids.”

“They can’t take it away from us without a fight,” he added, “because we love our kids more than they love their portfolios.”

Local pro-public-school activists from Seattle to Newark, from New Orleans, Providence, and Milwaukee, and many other communities, compared notes on their battles to save their local schools from privatization, over-testing, and closure.

California teacher and author Anthony Cody, who, along with Diane Ravitch, founded the Network, invoked the civil rights movement in his opening address. “We fought for public education to fulfill its promise,” Cody said. “We can’t let it die on our watch.”

“Let’s not fool ourselves. When we go along with what’s happening, there’s a point at which we’re doing serious harm to children,” said Deborah Meier, longtime teacher and education scholar (and the person who persuaded Diane Ravitch to rethink her position as a No Child Left Behind advocate when she was assistant secretary of education under George W. Bush.)

Bob Peterson, the head of the Milwaukee teacher’s union, gave a rollicking description of the Wisconsin protests of 2011, after Governor Scott Walker’s assault on teachers and other public employees’ collective bargaining rights. The walk-out by teachers and students, and the massive marches that included cops, firefighters, and middle-class Wisconsinites from all over the state, showed how ready people are to defend democracy, the public schools, and the American middle class, Peterson said.

“We need to build schoolhouses that are centers of resistance and renaissance for our communities,” said Peterson.

Katie Osgood, a Chicago teacher, described her realization that school policy in Chicago was “deliberately sabotaging our schools.”

Teachers are resisting school closings in Chicago, as well as a stripped-down, test-based curriculum, Osgood said, because “we know the kids who are affected by these policies by name.”

“We are used, as teachers, to being the ones who follow directions,” Karen Lewis said. But in this case, “the directions are unethical.”

Teacher-bashing, and tying teacher performance to standardized tests, has created a climate of fear Lewis said teachers, parents, and community members must band together to resist.

“It is hard to organize people who are living in fear,” she said.

But Lewis and her comrades in Chicago have done just that.

Mike Klonsky, the education scholar and blogger in Chicago, pointed out that, in polls “parents support the teachers union 3-to-1 over Rahm Emanuel.”

Jitu Brown, a neighborhood organizer and activist on the South Side, described the passionate community commitment to the struggle to save neighborhood schools, including one family that sat in at a Chicago school building slated for closure, even when the police came and sat on top of them.

“A movement is built by people who feel like that,” he said.

“When your baby or grandbaby goes out the door with that bookbag on, and you kiss that baby–at that moment we’re all the same,” said Brown.

But the current package of education “reforms” exacerbates inequality, Kuhn pointed out, calling it “the relentless campaign to increase expectations while reducing resources.”

“The corporate elite plan a wonderful, creative education system for their own children, and a militaristic, stripped-down schools for other people’s children.” said Lewis. And then they have the temerity to call this system “the civil-rights issue of our time,” she added, looking incredulous.

Diane Ravitch closed out the conference with a call to arms.

“I’m angry to see powerful billionaires beat up on teachers who make less than their secretary,” she said.

“I’m furious the Democratic Party has merged with the Republican Party around the Republican Party’s agenda for education,” she added.

“We are, through charter schools, rolling back the Brown decision,” Ravitch added. “That’s wrong.”

Instead of creating a segregated, two-tier education system that allows private companies to cash in on public education funds, “every dollar from the taxpayer should go to public schools,” Ravitch said. “For-profit schools should be banned.”

Ravitch thanked the students, parents, administrators, teachers, investigative reporters and education researchers all over they country who are building a new movement of resistance to the corporate raid on schools.

The list went on and on. Among the 500 attendees at the conference, the variety of ages, races, and accents were testimony to the broad-based movement Ravitch described taking shape.

“We will win,” Ravitch said, “because we are many and they are few.”

“We will win,” she said, “because they are going to get bored and go back to their yachts and polo ponies. They’re hedge fund managers. They hate losing.”

“Call them losers every chance you get,” Ravitch said wickedly. “They hate that.”

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