All animals are equal…

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Though the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in schools, and ordered school districts in the U.S. to take steps to assure integration, the question of the legality of affirmative action programs by universities remained unresolved until 1978. Proponents argued such programs were necessary to make up for past discrimination. Opponents believed they were illegal and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

On June 28, 1978 The Supreme Court ruled affirmative action constitutional, thus allowing race to be one of several factors in college admission policy. In the so-called  Bakke decision – Justice Lewis Powell ruled affirmative action was constitutional as a “mechanism to achieve diversity(Britannica.com).

On July 3, 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded seven Obama-era guidance documents involving race and school admissions. These guidelines were created to promote racial diversity in higher education and end the growing racial isolation in K-12 classrooms. The rescinded documents supported affirmative action, stating in one, that colleges and universities were free to “voluntarily consider race to further the compelling interest of achieving diversity.”

A joint statement was released from the Justice and Education Departments. In it, Sessions said, “When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President. In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website. That’s wrong, and it’s not good government.”

Dennis Parker of the ACLU said DeVos’ statement “signals a dangerous hostility from this administration towards the idea that promoting racial diversity is in the best interest of America” (ACLU.org).

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said, “Affirmative action has proven to be one of the most effective ways to create diverse and inclusive classrooms. But by telling schools and universities that they should not use affirmative action to achieve inclusive classrooms, the Education Department has again failed our students (ACLU.org).

Even more frightening, said Eskelsen García  is that “Trump has indicated he intends to appoint a nominee to the Supreme Court who will declare that affirmative action is unconstitutional in our schools” (CNN.com).

Mark Bauerlein said, Fifty years of affirmative action in college admissions hasn’t led to anything like a critical mass of African-Americans in the higher reaches of academia, but it has aggravated group tensions on campuses and throughout the country. Equal protection gives Americans confidence in their nation and their place within it (Weekly Standard).

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Follow the pattern. DeVos has dismissed hundreds of civil rights cases, she advocates for charters and vouchers which do not support students of color, and now the affirmative action decision. The view of race through the white lens of government does not show the wide angle views of who we are in this country.

Equal protection under the law. I am reminded of the proclamation by the pigs who controlled the government in George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

These are my reflections for today.

07/13/18

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DeVos shows ‘astounding ignorance’

Last week Betsy DeVos came under fire for comments she made to Congress regarding US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Her statement suggested “schools should decide whether or not to report undocumented students and their families to federal immigration authorities” (ABC News).

DeVos shifted the responsibility of reporting undocumented students from ICS officials to principals and teachers, saying “It’s a local community decision and again I refer to the fact that we have laws and we also are compassionate and I urge this body to do its job and address and clarify where there is confusion around this” (ABC News).

The confusion was clearly DeVos’.  Rep. Adriano Espaillat, (D-NY)  rebuked the secretary’s statement, “Let me just remind Madam Chair that immigration law is federal law. It’s not a local law. It’s not governed by a municipality. You cannot have immigration law for one state be different for another state and it applies to everybody across the country” (ABC News).

Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy at the American Civil Liberties Union said, “Let’s be clear: Any school that reports a child to ICE would violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court has made clear that every child in America has a right to a basic education, regardless of immigration status. Secretary DeVos is once again wrong” (Washington Post).

The Supreme Court made clear in Plyler v. Doe that public schools have a constitutional obligation to provide schooling for children, regardless of immigration status. That means schools also cannot enforce measures that would deter undocumented children from registering. They cannot ask about immigration status. And according to the American Civil Liberties Union, they cannot report students or their families to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Washington Post).

Thomas Saenez, president and general counsel of The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said, “The Court determined in 1982 that the Constitution requires all public schools to provide a free public education, from Kindergarten to 12th grade, to every child, regardless of immigration status. Her testimony today about reporting students to ICE stems either from an astounding ignorance of the law or from an insupportable unwillingness to accurately advise local school districts. Any public school or school district that denies an education to any undocumented child — whether by refusing to enroll, by limiting access to the programs and benefits provided to other students, or by reporting a child to ICE — has violated the United States Constitution” (Washington Post).

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After the Parkland FL shooting, DeVos was appointed by Trump to be the chair of the school safety commission. Upon her appointment to the commission, DeVos said, “There are best practices that are working today in communities across this country, and our commission will spotlight them and disseminate them to every school,” she wrote. “This will not be another 18-month Washington commission that yields an unreadable and unactionable report” (CNN).

There have been 10 school shootings since Parkland, including the most recent in Texas where 8 students and 2 teachers were killed (Huffington Post).

Last Thursday the commission was  to have only the second meeting. According to one source, invitations were sent out Wednesday evening- with such short notice, very few participants attended. Education organization representatives were among those who could attend, but “they were not asked to participate, and the commission only heard from experts, survivors, and parents (The Daily Beast).  Those in attendance were only passive listeners, and much to their frustration, not invited to speak.

Since her appointment as Secretary (remember Mike Pence voted the tie-breaker) DeVos has made contentious and incorrect statements about many things, including school safety, HBCUs, public schools, teachers, guns.

In her highly contentious confirmation hearing, DeVos stirred up vehement objections to her nomination after conceding that guns might be needed in schools in states like Wyoming to defend against “potential grizzlies.”

DeVos said HBCUs “started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education.”  She said HBCUs are “living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality” (Washington Post).

Last year DeVos touted Excel Academy in Washington DC as a “shining example” of the success of charter schools. Excel is preparing to close this June. Excel is an example of the failure of yet another charter school to turn students around academically as it showed little evidence of improvement. Since 2012, DC has shuttered nearly two dozen charters because of poor performance.

In March, she said arming teachers “should be an option for states and communities to consider” during an interview after a visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

In a conversation about charters in her home state of Michigan, she admitted on 60 minutes, “I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.” In fact, when Lesley Stahl asked if schools in Michigan have gotten better thanks to the charter-school experiment, DeVos responded, “I don’t know. Overall, I—I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better.”

In May, she visited New York, the home of the nation’s largest public school district, without visiting a single public school.

She has one of the most expensive security details of anyone in Washington- costing taxpayers almost $6.5 million a year.

She has dissolved the office of civil rights, a body tasked with investigating claims of civil rights abuses in schools.

She has effectively eliminated a team within the Department of Education charged with investigating for-profit college fraud and malfeasance. (The New York Times).

Now she is supporting principals and teachers to serve as ICE agents.

This is the Secretary of Education.

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As Moira Balingit of the Washington Post said, DeVos has “Astounding ignorance of the law” (Washington Post).

She is uninformed and incompetent.  She goes to work every day to ensure our public schools have armed teachers and staff, immigration officers, unlicensed teachers, white children or are converted to charter schools.

And we continue to pay her salary.

These are my reflections for today.

6/1/18

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Legislation to arm teachers fails to gain momentum

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Speaking at the annual meeting in Dallas, Donald Trump reaffirmed his support of arming teachers as a way to combat school violence. Apparently the NRA has made it their top priority. “Trump endorsed a top NRA priority to allow trained teachers to carry concealed weapons in schools and to install more armed security guards. Signs declaring a school as a gun-free zone, Trump said, were essentially invitations to attackers to ‘come in and take us’ (Washington Post).

“Your second amendment rights are under siege but they will never ever be under siege as long as I’m your president” (Washington Post).

Since the mass shooting in Florida, ironically Florida is the only state to support legislation to arm teachers. The school safety bill passed allows some employees, such as counselors and coaches, to become armed marshals. Twenty four other states have unsuccessfully tried to pass similar legislation.

The NRA supports teachers having guns because arming even a small fraction of the United States’ 3.2 million teachers would be a financial gain for gun makers (Washington Post).

In response to arming teachers, National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said, “The idea of arming teachers is ill-conceived, preposterous and dangerous. Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards, or receiving training to become sharpshooters” (NEA.org).

For a brief period of time, Trump tweeted support for stricter gun measures such as raising the legal age to purchase AR-15s and similar types of rifles to 21 and expanding background checks to guns sold at shows and online. However, his support was brief.

After meeting with members of the NRA, Trump was quick to back step support, instead calling for “more modest gun-related measures such as legislation to improve information sharing for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System” (Washington Post).

Eskelsen Garcia said, ““Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms. Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards, or receiving training to become sharpshooters(NEA.org).

In the ill-fated interview on 60 Minutes, DeVos was vague when Lesley Stahl asked for her stance on arming teachers. First, she argued it “should be an option for states and communities to consider,” but went on to say that she would hesitate to think of “my first grade teacher, Mrs. Zoerhoff…having a gun and being trained in that way.” She then changed tack again, adding, “but for those who are capable, this is one solution that can and should be considered, but no one size fits all” (Fortune.com).

Results of a NEA Poll found teachers opposed to the idea of carrying guns. Among their findings:

82 percent, say they would not carry a gun in school, including sixty-three percent of NEA members who own a gun.

64 percent, say they would feel less safe if teachers and other educators were allowed to carry guns.

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“The White House and Congress owe it those victims of gun violence and survivors across the country to work together to implement common sense solutions that really will save lives. We need to listen to them.”(NEA.org).

We used to be able to engage in conversations about controversial topics with respect – and agree to disagree. Now controversial issues are polarizing, with an attitude of, ‘I’m right, and you’re an idiot.’ I certainly have very strong opinions on this topic, and tend to share my opinions with like-minded individuals. I’ll admit it, it’s easier.

My hope is for more conversations to take place. Conversations. Dignified people who can come to a consensus; compromise. Lately that seems to be asking too much. High school students are reminding us how it’s done as they lead by example. We could all learn a thing or two from them. They’re inspiring.

These are my reflections for today.

5/18/18

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Congress rebukes DeVos’ education agenda

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The education budget approved by Congress and signed by Trump was a far cry from what was proposed, weakening DeVos’ agenda to privatize public education. Trump’s budget plan called for slashing the education budget, cutting discretionary spending by $9.2 billion. That did not happen.

Here are some highlights of the budget:

Title I funding  for disadvantaged students will increase to $300 million up from $15.8 million in 2017.

DeVos and Trump asked for a $1 billion program designed to support open enrollment (school choice) in districts. This is not included in the budget.  The bill also leaves out a $250 million private school choice initiative.

Title II funding which provides professional development to educators got $2.1 million. The Trump budget wanted to eliminate Title II.

Title IV grants slated for districts to use for a variety of needs from technology to school safety will receive $1.1 billion. Trump wanted to eliminate Title IV.

21st Century Community Learning Centers gets a $20 million bump, another program Trump wanted to ax.

DeVos wants to reduce the Department of Education, but the bill bars funds from being used for “a reorganization that decentralizes, reduces the staffing level, or alters the responsibilities, structure, authority, or functionality of the Budget Service of the Department of Education”(Ed Week).

DeVos wanted to shrink the office for civil rights’ budget by $1 million. Instead the funding increased from $109 to $117 million.

The budget includes a $2.37 billion increase in funding to the Child Care Development Block Grant, increases Head Start funding $610 million, and kept spending level for the Preschool Development Program – another program this administration sought to eliminate.

The bill requests $120 million for the Education Innovation and Research (EIR). This program seeks innovative practices in schools.

The spending bill would raise the maximum Pell Grant award to low-income students by $175 to $6,095; DeVos had proposed freezing the maximum at $5,920. She had also proposed cutting federal work-study programs in half, but the spending bill would add $140 million, for a total of $1.1 billion (CNN).

The budget increases funding for student mental health, increasing funding by $700 million for a wide-ranging grant program schools can use for violence prevention, counseling and crisis management. An additional $22 million is slated for programs to reduce school violence and support mental-health services in schools (Washington Post).

Significant changes come to the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative. This program is currently housed in the Department of Justice and uses funds for research and development of safety programs  for bulling and school safety. Now the funds will be redirected to the STOP School Violence Act, allowing funding for metal detectors and other safety measures. Funding can also be used for evidence-based programs for school safety, violence prevention efforts, and anonymous reporting systems (Ed Week).

One item that did not get cut from the budget is the increase in funding for charter schools, up $58 million to a total of $400 million. But with the cuts in other areas including vouchers and school choice, this is a small concession.

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After a tumultuous year of trying to prove herself worthy of a cabinet position she is not qualified to hold, a year of pushing an agenda not aligned with an already volatile congress, and an abysmal interview on national television, by all appearances this is a vote of no confidence. The Secretary should consider embracing this budget and work to support every aspect of it or step aside. She may surround herself with marshals, and protect herself from grizzlies, but she can no longer push her agenda on a country and congress that does not support it.

These are my reflections for today.

3/30/18

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DeVos on 60 Minutes

In case you missed it, the Secretary was interviewed by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes. You can watch it here. It runs about 13 minutes.

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Stahl asks, “Have you seen the really bad schools?” Her response, “I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.” Stahl fires back, “Well maybe you should.”

This was only the beginning of the unraveling of DeVos on camera. If she ever wants to look back at where her credibility tanked, she needs only to watch this video.

DeVos said, “We have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars [in public education] from the federal level, and we have seen zero results.”

Stahl quickly responded, “But that really isn’t true. Test scores have gone up over the last 25 years. So why do you keep saying nothing’s been accomplished? Why is a reporter telling the Secretary of Education that schools have gotten better? Shouldn’t she know that?

What many pundits believe to be the turning point of the interview came when Stahl asked DeVos a question regarding the outcome of Michigan’s charter-school-expansion. Alia Wong of The Atlantic, summarized, “Pushing back against the contention that charter schools and voucher programs deprive traditional public schools of funding, DeVos insisted that achievement at traditional public schools actually increases when a large percentage of children opt to enroll in privately run schools. Stahl asked whether Michigan’s schools have gotten better thanks to the charter-school experiment.

DeVos responded, “I don’t know. Overall, I—I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better.”

The reality, as Stahl was quick to point out, is contrary to what DeVos suggested.  Michigan ranks toward the bottom on national reading and math assessments despite nearly 20 years of DeVos family funded and supported charter school growth (The Atlantic).

Later in the interview, Stahl asked, “Why have you become, people say, the most hated Cabinet secretary? DeVos responded, “I think I’m more misunderstood than anything.”  This is where I disagree. DeVos is not misunderstood, most people completely understand all too well who she is and what she’s doing.

Here is a short list of reasons she is so grossly unpopular:

  • lacks experience in education – especially public education (she did not attend nor did any of her children attend public schools)
  • does not connect with educators – rather she demeans them on a regular basis,
  • decisions are driven by her privileged lifestyle which puts her out of touch with many – if not most – families whose children attend public schools
  • supports privatizing public education, supports charters and vouchers despite an absence of research to support their success
  • her response to school violence is to arm teachers
  • she is the only Cabinet member protected by Federal Marshals, costing taxpayers nearly $1 million a month
  • she has already rolled back protections of minority, and trans students

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The day after the interview aired, DeVos was speaking to the National PTA, when she claimed 60 Minutes producers edited her remarks. Yet, she did not provide one example of a misquote.

“So, now that I have the opportunity to speak unedited, I’m not afraid to call out folks who defend stagnation for what it really is: failure,” she said, criticizing those who are against school choice given that U.S. students are ranked 40th in math, 23rd in reading and 25th in science compared to other countries. What she doesn’t say is the United States  has a far higher child-poverty rate than other high-income countries, and can explain in part the test scores.

Responses to her interview from educators are on point.

“I found [the interview] to be somewhere between disappointing and disturbing,” said Claire Smrekar, an associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University whose research focuses include school choice. “It just demonstrates—again—an appalling lack of understanding of some public fundamental principles and practices related to public education” (The Atlantic).

Smreakar was not alone in her criticism. Joshua Starr, CEO of Pi Delta Kappa International suggested DeVos’ debacle on 60 Minutes was characterized as either “a matter of total incompetence or willful ignorance.” But a few concluded her to be categorically disingenuous.

Luis Huerta, an associate professor of education and public policy at Columbia University’s Teachers College, argued that DeVos’s non-answers and evasions and seeming refusal to support her claims with data were deliberate (The Atlantic).

The backlash since her interview has been strong. Some portray her as incompetent,  others see her as blind to the needs of black children. She’s been satirized on Saturday Night Live, and by Steven Colbert.

According to USA Today’s Cunningham and Whitmire, DeVos has failed to demonstrate three basic needs of the job.  “First, she has no demonstrated interest in the public schools that educate 90% of our students. Second, she fails to grasp even the basics of what’s not working in K-12 education. Third, she can’t seem to defend what she professes to support, charter schools, which is possibly the most indefensible of her failures — and where she’s doing the most long-term damage.” (USA Today).

Will DeVos be the next one through the revolving door of this cabinet?

These are my reflections for today.

3/23/18

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“I was just there to be there.”

As I have many times since last January, I am compelled to write about the Secretary of Education as she has once again drawn negative attention to herself. Following are two recent events where Betsy DeVos showed who she really is.

Last week she spoke of how the structure of public school classrooms hasn’t changed since the industrial age. In her words, “Students lined up in rows. A teacher in front of a blackboard. Sit down; don’t talk; eyes up front. Wait for the bell. Walk to the next class,” she tweeted. “Everything about our lives has moved beyond the industrial era. But American education largely hasn’t” (The Hill). To drive her point she included a stock photo of a current classroom.

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Teachers were quick to fire back.

“Don’t you know that stock photos aren’t real? How many classrooms have you visited in the past year? Classrooms don’t look like that anymore. Students don’t work like that anymore,”

“Rows and lectures are NOT the norm in public school,”

“It doesn’t look familiar at all. Have YOU even looked in a public school classroom in the last 10 years?”

“Come visit our school and classroom! We spend 75% of our day in small-groups, independent reading, researching our interests, learning about the world, and engaged in play. We love learning in hands-on ways and would welcome you any day!”

“How many classrooms have you visited in the past year? Classrooms don’t look like that anymore. Students don’t work like that anymore. I would think that as Sec of Edu you would be celebrating us, not putting us down(The Hill)

Most teachers criticized DeVos for not having visited public school classrooms. If she had, she would see the reality is largely contradictory to her stock photo analogy. One would think the Secretary of Education would support and advocate for the roughly 3 million public school teachers in the US , rather than demean and devalue them.

Last Wednesday the Secretary visited Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, FL and students were not pleased. DeVos met with a few students, “and gave “BS answers” to their questions about what she plans to do to address gun violence (Huffington Post).  A small group of student journalists grew increasingly frustrated as the Secretary dodged their questions (Time).

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According to Alyson Sheehy, “It was a publicity stunt, really. There was no point to it,” Sheehy said DeVos didn’t meet specifically with any students. “She was kind of just walking around the school and not talking to anybody,” the high school senior said (Huffington Post).

When a student asked DeVos how she plans to stop school shootings, DeVos showed reluctance. “She kind of gave us simple answers and didn’t really answer the questions we asked,” Sheehy said. When the students pressed her for an answer, DeVos told them officials were “working really hard on things” and that she didn’t “think this is the time to really ask those types of questions” (Time).

During the press coverage, she defended Trump’s call to arm teachers, but quickly walked away from the podium when asked about it (New York Daily News)‘I think to say ‘arming teachers’ is oversimplification and a mischaracterization really,’ DeVos said later.  She continued, ‘I think that the concept is to, for those schools and those communities that opt to do this … to have people who are expert in being able to defend and having lots and lots of training to do so” (CNN).

At the end of her press coverage, she called for elevating ideas that are ‘done well.’

‘Like what?’ asked a reporter. ‘Any specific things?’ asked another.

‘Thank you, press,’ said an aide off camera, as DeVos walked away. ‘Five questions, that’s it?’ said a reporter as she avoided a follow-up about arming teachers (Daily Mail).

If DeVos’ plan was the connect with students at MSD High School, she did not do a very good job. She met with only a few students, did not answer their questions, and walked out of the press conference without addressing any specific concerns. As Kyra Parrow said,“She wasn’t informative or helpful at all. It’s nice that she came to give us condolences, but we are so done with thoughts and prayers. We want action… She didn’t come to inform us or talk about how we are going to fix this issue; she just came to say that she came. That disappoints me.”

DeVos spoke with reporters following her visit, saying, “I was just there to be there, to be with them. I would love to come back sometime, in an appropriate amount of time, and just sit down and talk to them” (CNN).

Later the same day, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade made a surprise visit to the MSD, meeting with students and staff. Speaking to students, Wade said, “I just wanted to come and say I’m inspired by all of you…  As someone out here in the public eye, I’m proud to say I’m from this state because of you guys, because of the future of this world” (Huffington Post).

While I am encouraged by Wade’s thoughtful comments to students, I am appalled by DeVos’ lack of self-awareness.  If this was a publicity stunt, it wasn’t even done well.

“I was there to be there.”

That says it all.

***This blog was written prior to DeVos’ abysmal interview on 60 Minutes last Sunday night. I am compelled to respond, but I need to spend some time on it. Next week’s blog will be about DeVos’ interview with Lesley Stahl.

These are my reflections for today.

3/16/18

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Charter Corruption Continues…

As much as it disgusts me to write about the constant stream of charter scandals, failures, and closures- it’s more important than ever to stay informed about what’s really happening.

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Goodyear, AZ  Daniel Hughes, the owner of the now shuttered Bradley Creemos Academy Charter School wrote to parents back in January to say there wasn’t enough funding to keep the school open. This after receiving $2 million from the state in taxpayer money.  Teachers and staff have accused Hughes of using state funds for his own personal gain.“There were things that were purchased on personal credit cards that school funds were used to pay off, the janitorial staff for the school was used to clean his personal residence, and the cooks from the school were used to cater and sponsor parties at his house, including his daughter’s first birthday party” (CBS).

In a 2014 IRS tax form, the school indicated Hughes’ salary as $60,736. In 2015 Hughes’ salary had increased to $100,000. Additionally, payments in 2015  of $949,000 were made to Hughes and to Creemos Association, which is a separate organization owned by Hughes.

The filing also showed hundreds of thousands of dollars in reimbursements to Hughes for “Purchases on behalf of the school,” “Reimbursements of amount due,” and “Purchases and payments on revolving agreement” (CBS).

The closure leaves more than 100 students searching for new schools, and teachers, janitors, teaching assistants and administrators looking for new jobs (ABC15).

New York City, NY Families for Excellent Schools, a once well-funded charter school in New York City announced last week it too is shutting the doors and firing Executive Director Jeremiah Kittredge after allegations of inappropriate behavior with a non-school employee. Politico reported that a woman who attended a conference with Mr. Kittredge in November had accused him of sexual harassment. Kitteridge was fired from another pro-charter school group, Democracy Builders, in 2011, according to multiple sources. The reasons are unclear. Kittredge is best known in New York for helping to arrange enormous pro-charter rallies in Albany.

Atlanta, GA  Chris Clemons, former principal of Latin Academy was ordered by an Atlanta judge to pay $810,000 in restitution, serve 10 years in prison and 10 years on probation. Clemons spent more than $500,000 on strip clubs and made numerous unaccounted cash withdrawals from the school account. “As part of his sentencing, Clemons cannot work with children, cannot work for any nonprofit or school district or have any direct or indirect contact with Atlanta Public Schools, Fulton County Schools, school boards, students and parents of the three schools affected (Fox5).

Eureka Township, MI  James Mata, a teacher at Flat River Academy was back in the classroom despite having been placed on administrative leave. Mata was formally charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and third-degree child abuse. This stems from an incident first reported in May 2017 and involved a 13 year old boy. Mata was placed on unpaid administrative leave and, according to the school, would remain on unpaid leave until the case was resolved in court The Daily News.

However, The Daily News  learned Mata was teaching again at the school.  A phone call to Interim Principal Joel Hilgendorf was not returned, nor has he responded to questions as to why Mata was allowed back in the classroom.

New Orleans, LA  Gregory Phillips, CEO of the James M. Singleton Charter School in New Orleans is stepping down after the state voided dozens of standardized tests at the school for suspected cheating and other testing irregularities. According to The Advocate, “The testing investigation was launched after the state Department of Education received a tip last summer that students had gotten copies of LEAP tests beforehand, that test administrators were coaching students, and teachers and staff were taking the tests themselves”

State officials discovered many students had gotten help on LEAP tests, even though the assistance wasn’t authorized by their IEP’s. Officials found a suspicious number of answers had been changed to correct answers for 21 students (The Advocate).  The state voided tests for 155 students due to testing irregularities.

Moriarty, NM  Estancia Valley Classical Academy in Moriarty, New Mexico, hosts  fundraisers every year to raise money with hopes of a new school building. Since 2015 the school has been raffling off handguns and rifles.  Local residents didn’t want to comment on the fundraiser, but residents of Albuquerque don’t see the harm in doing so. One resident spoke on record, “I think it’s good for the kids to build familiarity with the firearms and know what they’re doing”(Daily Mail).

According to the Department of Education, it is up to individual districts or schools to decide how they wish to raise money and the state has no control.  The state is only able to enforce that the money be used for proper ventures (Daily Mail).

Napa, CA The El Centro Elementary School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to deny Imagine School Imperial Valley’s petition to renew its charter, citing the charter school’s failure to meet academic requirements. A 21-page report cited a number of deficiencies with Imagine’s governance, academic progress, corporate structure and teachers’ credentialing. According to the ECESD report,  in 2017 roughly 75% of ISIV students didn’t meet English Language Arts standards and 88% didn’t meet mathematics standards.  In comparison, 40% met or exceeded ELA standards and 31% met or exceeded mathematics standards in the El Centro Elementary School District.Board members remarked how often they reportedly hear from community members and educators that Imagine students who transfer to another district are a grade level or two behind. (Diane Ravitch).

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One final note today- the proposed education budget includes an allocation of $1 billion for vouchers (Washington Post).

These are my reflections for today.

2/16/18

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