Monday, July 29, 2019

In Case You Missed It – July 29, 2019

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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All over the country, legislators are diverting tax dollars to vouchers, charter schools, and home schoolers. Why aren't those dollars subject to the same accountability and/or transparency that public schools must provide?

As we approach the next election season, this should be #1 in the list of "Questions asked by Education voters."

Vouchers, Discrimination And Corruption

From Sheila Kennedy
Indiana has the largest, most costly school voucher program in the country.

How wasteful/counterproductive is our state’s largesse to private (mostly religious) schools? Let me count the ways: the promised improvement in student achievement did not materialize; badly-needed funds have been diverted from the public schools that most Hoosier children still attend; taxpayers are subsidizing discrimination (schools getting millions of dollars are discharging teachers and counselors for the “sin” of being in same-sex marriages); and there are no requirements that recipients of vouchers teach civics.

Now we also find that the lack of oversight has facilitated a massive rip off of Hoosier taxpayers.

Portrait of a Charter Entrepreneur: Ron Packard

From Diane Ravitch
When we consider the charter industry, it’s hard not to notice how it has become fertile territory for entrepreneurs with no education experience.

Take a case in point: The meteoric career of Ron Packard.

Begin by reading this dated biography, posted on SourceWatch.

When it was written, Ron was making $5 million a year as CEO of the online charter chain K12 Inc. The company had a market value of more than $1.25 billion. Ron and former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett founded with startup money supplied by ex-felon and junk bond king MIchael Milken and Larry Ellison of Oracle.

California: Public Pays for Home School Trips to Disneyland

From Diane Ravitch
It is very cool to home school in California! There are charter schools for home schoolers where you don’t have to go to school!

Home schoolers get a list of approved expenses, and they can decide how to spend the public’s money. How cool is that! This is a program that Betsy DeVos must love! True educational freedom on the public’s dime!

Two Indiana virtual schools face swift closure as they shrug off blame for enrollment scandal

From Chalkbeat
The superintendent of a tiny Indiana school district that oversaw two scandal-plagued virtual charter schools read Thursday night from an eight-page script, recounting a series of missteps at Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy.

Those schools, which had been slated to close by the end of the 2019-2020 school year, had “let their students down,” Daleville Community Schools Superintendent Paul Garrison said at the sparsely attended meeting. “There are many things that led us to this place, but that has been the most disappointing failure of them all.”

That latest blunder — failing to tell students and families that the schools would be shutting their doors — will likely hasten the schools’ demise...

Georgia: K12 Inc. Proposes Another Virtual Charter School, for 8,000 Students

From Diane Ravitch
The Virtual Charter schools of for-profit K12 Inc. have been noted for high attrition, low test scores, low graduation rates, and high profits.

The corporation currently operates a virtual charter school in Georgia which is the largest “school” in the state but of course low-performing. Now it proposes to open another K-12 online charter that will eventually enroll 8,000 students. It will be career-focused, so even children in kindergarten can begin planning their careers.

Fortunately, even the charter advocates in Georgia are having second thoughts.


Ex-union chief for Indianapolis Public Schools teachers pleads guilty to embezzlement

Bad actors always need to be weeded out, but it is hoped that people are smart enough to realize that unions are still important.

Public school privatizers choose to divert money to charters and vouchers rather than to improve public schools. Instead, we ought to fix what might be broken. Similarly, our unions must be strengthened and leaders must be subject to the same accountability as in any other area of society.

From Chalkbeat
The former head of the Indianapolis Public Schools teachers union pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling more than $100,000, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

Rhondalyn Cornett wrote checks from the union’s bank account and used the union’s debit card for personal expenses and cash withdrawals, the U.S. attorney’s office said, stealing more than $100,000.

Cornett, 54, resigned from the teachers union in November when her alleged mishandling of funds came to light.

Cornett, who led Indianapolis Education Association for five years, faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.


Justin Parmenter: Mega-Corporation Threatens Legal Action Against 3 North Carolina Teachers

From Diane Ravitch
Under normal circumstances, when a teacher disagreed with the state education department’s decision to switch from one test to another, it would be called a difference of opinion. Under normal circumstances, when teachers called attention to the state chief’s decision to ignore the recommendations of his evaluation team and pick a different assessment, it would be treated as criticism and grounds for debate.

When NBCT teacher Justin Parmenter and two other teachers in North Carolina called out their state superintendent for disregarding the recommendation of his evaluation committee and for choosing a product they rejected, the corporation owning the winning product threatened legal action to silence the teachers.


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