Steven Singer: Are Unions the Enemy of School Reform?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Steven Singer writes here about the corporate reformers’ war against teachers’ unions. In the comfortable, well-heeled world of hedge fund managers, they have every right to lead the fight to reform the public schools, but the unions do not. The unions don’t care about kids; teachers don’t care about kids. Only hedge fund managers really truly care about kids. Why should teachers or their unions have anything to say about their working conditions or their pay? Are they just greedy and selfish. So what if teachers earn less that the hedge funders’ secretaries?

Singer says the battle over the future of public schools has reached a critical juncture. The corporate reformers have lost control of the narrative. They want to hide behind benign names, like “Families for Excellent Schools,” hoping to hoodwink the public into thinking they are the families of children who want charter schools, when in fact…

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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Uncategorized


John Oliver Explains the Frauds and Scams in Charter World!

Widespread Corporate Charter School Fraud Revealed by HBO’s John Oliver.

Diane Ravitch's blog

John Oliver, who has a regular show on HBO, devoted a big chunk of his program last night to explaining the frauds perpetrated by unregulated and unsupervised charter schools. He also reminds his viewers that the language of competition and choice is a hoax when talking about education. You will see charters opening and closing like shoe stores in a mall. You will see charter owners fattening their bank accounts at the expense of the children. You will see charter operators plagiarizing their applications from others.

Readers of this blog will see some familiar scams–in Philadelphia, Florida, and Ohio, for example–but even you might be surprised by some of the stories he shows and documents.

With enough time, he might have devoted an entire hour to the scams in California, Texas, Indiana, and elsewhere.

But the great thing about his show is that this is the first time that a…

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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Uncategorized


A Conversation With Nashville School Board Member Amy Frogge

Dad Gone Wild

amy fI don’t think it would be breaking news for me to confess that I’m a big fan of Jennifer Berkshire and the work she does with her EduShyster blog. She’s inspired me to want to do a series of interviews with people who work in education in Tennessee. I think these interviews will be particularly relevant based on the impact Tennessee’s educational policy has on national educational policy. Our proximity to Louisiana, the cast of characters including Kevin Huffman, Todd Dickson, Ravi Gupta, and Chris Barbic, the over investment in politics by Stand For Children, being one of the first states to win Race To The Top money – these things, along with vibrant teacher/parent advocacy groups, have placed us at the forefront of the education reform movement.

For my first interview, I chose Nashville School Board member Amy Frogge. She is a parent who first decided to run…

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Posted by on August 21, 2016 in Uncategorized


Do Unions Belong in the Fight Against Corporate School Reform?



In the fight for public education, the forces of standardization and privatization are running scared.

They’ve faced more pushback in the last few years – especially in the last few months – than in a decade.

The Opt Out movement increases exponentially every year. Teach for America is having trouble getting recruits. Pearson’s stock is plummeting. The NAACP and Black Lives Matter have both come out strongly against increasing charter schools.

So what’s a corporate education reformer to do?

Answer: Change the narrative.

They can’t control the facts, so instead they try to control the story being told about the facts.

It’s a classic propaganda technique. As Malcolm X put it:

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

Their story goes like this – yes, there is a battle…

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Posted by on August 21, 2016 in Uncategorized


This is What K-12 School Choice Really Looks Like

Before our daughter graduated from a traditional community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit public high school where she worked, learned and earned an excellent education, she applied to several universities and was accepted by most and rejected by a few. Stanford was one of the acceptances and that’s where she went. It was her choice what colleges to apply to and the choice of the universities to accept or reject her. That’s how choice works. In the private sector, businesses have the right to reject customers and refuse to sell products and/or provide services to them.

The K-12 real public sector schools do not have that choice, because they are funded by tax payers, and the U.S. Constitution and/or state constitutions do not allow the highly successful, traditional public sector schools to do what the private sector is allowed to get away with.

But a comment left by Stephen Ronan in a post’s thread on Diane Ravitch’s Blog alleged that autocratic, opaque, often fraudulent (click Charter School Scandals to discover how much fraud) and inferior, publicly funded, private sector charter schools offer parents a choice and Ronan thinks that the choice is better than community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, traditional public schools.  Ronan even compared K-12 corporate charter schools to Harvard and MIT.

Ronan was totally wrong and here’s why.

There is only one Harvard, one Stanford and one MIT. How many publicly funded, private sector, often fraudulent and inferior, autocratic and opaque K-12 corporate charter schools are there – thousands?

Harvard and MIT are not opaque and they are not financed with public funds from taxpayers.  Harvard also has $32.7 billion in cash on hand through its endowment.  MIT’s endowment totals about $13.5 billion. Stanford’s is $5.5 billion. How many of the 100,000, K-12 public schools in the United States have similar endowments?

Harvard admitted 2,106 undergrads from 39,041 applicants.  Applicants had a choice to apply but who decided what undergrads to accept and reject?

K-12 public schools do not operate that way. Every child who lives in the area a public school serves is accepted to that public school. There is no sifting or rejections. Public schools are not allowed to choose the students they are willing to teach, but publicly funded, private sector, corporate charter schools often reject students that apply.

The cost to attend Harvard for the average student is $60,659.

Jesse Ventura is a former professional wrestler, former Navy Seal, and former governor of Minnesota (1999-2003)

What’s the average cost to educate a K-12 public school student in the U.S.?  According to the National Council for Education Statistics: “Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States amounted to $620 billion in 2012–13, or $12,296 per public school student enrolled in the fall (in constant 2014–15 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index). These expenditures include $11,011 per student in current expenditures for the operation of schools; $931 for capital outlay (i.e., expenditures for property and for buildings and alterations completed by school district staff or contractors); and $355 for interest on school debt.”

There is a huge difference between $60k and $12k.

Harvard’s acceptance rate is 5.2%. That means Harvard made a choice not to accept 94.8% of applicants. That is a lot of disappointed students who wanted to attend Harvard, but traditional public schools accept 100% of the students that live in the area they serve.

Stanford University’s acceptance rate is 4.7% (annual cost to average student is almost $60k)

MIT’s is 9% (annual cost to average student is $58,240)

This is what Ronan means by choice.

What are we getting with those autocratic, opaque, often fraudulent and inferior, publicly funded, private sector, corporate charter schools that have a choice to accept or reject children, a choice the traditional public schools do not have?

Figure 26: Academic Growth of Charter Schools Compared to Their Local Markets, Page 57,

No Significant Difference – 56 percent
Significantly worse – 19 percent
Significantly Better – 25 percent

Translated: 75 percent are the same or worse than the public schools. What happens when a student takes a high-stakes test and gets 25 percent of the questions right? A 25 percent score is a failing grade.

How many years have the corporate charter schools had to achieve this level of failure?

No Significant Difference – 40 percent
Significantly worse – 31 percent
Significantly Better – 29 percent

Translated: 71 percent of publicly funded, private sector corporate charters are the same or worse than the public schools. What happens when a student takes a high stakes test and gets 29 percent of the questions right? A 29 percent score is a failing grade.

How many years have the corporate charter schools had to achieve this level of failure?

Most if not all autocratic, opaque, often fraudulent and inferior, publicly funded, private sector, corporate charter schools are not Harvard, Stanford or MIT or even close, and those three private sector universities are not publicly funded.

In addition, let’s not forget the child abuse taking place in autocratic, publicly funded, private sector corporate charter schools. Jonathan Pelto reports Child Abuse in the form of the “No Excuses” education model and says, “the term ‘No Excuses’ is really a placeholder for a militaristic, highly disciplined, autocratic system in which children are forced to understand that discipline, conformity and following rules is the fundamental cornerstone that leads to academic achievement.”


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and disabled Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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What Real School Choice Would Look Like – And Why What They’re Selling Isn’t It


pathdoc_Shuttertock_decision - Edited 

I can’t hear the words “School Choice” without thinking of Inigo Montoya from the classic film “The Princess Bride.”

I hear Mandy Patinkin’s voice saying, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Because just like the constant cries of “Inconceivable!” from Sicilian boss Vizzini (portrayed by the inimitable Wallace Shawn), policymakers seem a bit confused.

You would expect School Choice to mean that parents would get to choose the school their children attend. However, the policy being pushed by corporate education reformers has nothing to do with that.

It’s about allowing schools to choose students, not the other way around.

Want your child to attend a charter school? Great! In many cases he needs to meet the requirements of admission – good grades, well behaved, no learning disabilities – otherwise they boot him back to the…

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Posted by on August 15, 2016 in Uncategorized


How privatization of schools works: An infograph

How privatization of schools works: An infograph
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Posted by on August 13, 2016 in Uncategorized


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