New York City: Charter School for “Social Justice” Fires 3/4 of Staff for Wanting to Join a Union

This is both sad and funny.

The “Charter High School For Law and Social Justice” fired 11 of its 15 teachers because they wanted to join the teachers’ union.

Doesn’t social justice mean that you listen to the voices of those who feel in need of protection and let them make their own decisions? Haven’t unions been part of the movement for social justice since the late nineteenth century? Don’t the powerful seek to crush collective bargaining so that each worker is on his or her own?

The abrupt dismissals forced the United Federation of Teachers, which represents educators at the Charter High School for Law and Social Justice in the Bronx, to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

“By discharging approximately 73% of the 15 bargaining unit members, CHSLSJ sent a clear message … support the UFT and you will be fired,” the complaint said.

“CHSLSJ’s actions demonstrate a clear attempt to derail the UFT’s status and support … and will irreparably chill bargaining unit members’ rights,” the union said.

The dismissals came after a year of attempts from the charter school teachers to negotiate a contract with CHSLSJ, which was approved as a charter school in 2013 and opened its doors in 2015.

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SomeDam Poet Explains the Logic of the Supreme Court State-Church Decision

SomeDam Poet writes about the Supreme Court decision requiring the state of Missouri to pay for the resurfacing of the playground of the Trinity Lutheran Church:

At first, SDP was puzzled by the decision and asked,

“Is playing on the playground part of the Lutheran religion?

“Is that why refusing the Lutheran school public money for the playground resurfacing constitutes abridgement of free exercise of their religion?”

Today, SDP had figured it out and wrote:

“After sleeping on it, I think I now understand the logic in the Court’s decision.

“The playground is a place for children to exercise “religiously” (on a daily basis), right?

“And if the religious school did not get the money from the state — if they had to pay – to resurface the playground, then that exercise would not be free.

“So, by denying the church school the grant money, the state is abridging free exercise and thereby violating the Free Exercise clause in the Constitution.

“QED.

“PS I also exercise religiously (at Planet Fitness) and as it stands now, I have to pay for that. I am not a lawyer, but given the recent ruling, I believe this may also be unConstutional. It certainly is not good for my constitution to not exercise.”

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Portland, Oregon: Corporate Reformers Launch Vicious Attack on School Board Member

Portland, Oregon, is in big trouble. Despite massive spending by the fake reform Stand on Children–err, Stand for Children–the corporate reformers lost in the school board election. Now, as local activist Deb Mayer reports, they are trying to bully a school board member into resigning.

Why the attacks on a man who won his seat and supports public schools? The board has been unable to pick a new superintendent. So the composition of the board is crucial, and the privatizers need another seat. They want Paul Anthony’s seat so they can win by bullying what they could not win at the polls.

Citizens of Portland must be informed. Stand for Children represents Bill Gates and the rest of the zbillionaire Boys Club that funds SFC. They are not working on behalf of the children and families of Portland.

Don’t be fooled.

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Texas: House Republicans Say “Hell, No,” to Vouchers, Again

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called a special session of the Legislature to deal with school finance and once again to push vouchers. Once more, he will try to bribe legislators to endorse vouchers if they want more funding. No vouchers, no funding. The state cut more than $5 billion from the education budget in 2011 and has never fully restored the cuts, even though the enrollment has grown.

As usual, the camel’s nose under the tent is vouchers for children with disabilities. Note that these children have federal rights in public schools but not in private voucher schools.

The State Senate, corralled by voucher fanatic Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, supports vouchers. The House, also controlled by Republicans, has turned them down repeatedly. Republicans representing rural areas and small towns don’t want to destroy their public schools. They are conservatives: they conserve, they don’t tear down their traditional institutions.

“The top House education leader said Sunday that “private school choice” is still dead in the lower chamber.

“We only voted six times against it in the House,” House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty said. “There’s nothing more offensive as a parent of a special-needs child than to tell me what I think I need. I’m prepared to have that discussion again. I don’t think [the Senate is] going to like it — because now I’m pissed off.”

“Huberty, R-Houston, told a crowd of school administrators at a panel at the University of Texas at Austin that he plans to restart the conversation on school finance in the July-August special session after the Senate and House hit a stalemate on the issue late during the regular session. Huberty’s bill pumping $1.5 billion into public schools died after the Senate appended a “private school choice” measure, opposed by the House.

“Huberty was joined by Education Committee Vice Chairman Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, and committee member Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, on a panel hosted by the Texas Association of School Administrators, where they said they didn’t plan to give in to the Senate on the contentious bill subsidizing private school tuition for kids with special needs.”

Dan Hubert is on the honor roll of this blog already. Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are today listed on its Wall of Shame.

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Ohio: State Auditor Reprimands ECOT for Using Public Money to Lobby Against Penalty of $60 Million

ECOT is the largest virtual charter school in Ohio and among the lowest-performing schools in the state. It has thrived over the years because its founder, William Lager, has given generously to elected officials. The New York Times reported last year that ECOT had the largest graduating class in the nation, but also the lowest high school graduation rate in the nation.

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, an online charter school based here, graduated 2,371 students last spring. At the commencement ceremony, a student speaker triumphantly told her classmates that the group was “the single-largest graduating high school class in the nation.”

What she did not say was this: Despite the huge number of graduates — this year, the school is on track to graduate 2,300 — more students drop out of the Electronic Classroom or fail to finish high school within four years than at any other school in the country, according to federal data. For every 100 students who graduate on time, 80 do not.

Virtual online charters, said the Times, are the new “dropout factories.”

Having abysmal results was not enough to cause a problem for ECOT. If it were a brick and mortar public school, it would have been closed down.

What caused a problem was that the state audited ECOT’s attendance and found that a substantial number of students were phantom. They either did not exist, never logged on, or logged on for a minute or two.

The state sued ECOT, and won a decision that ECOT owed the state $60 million for inflated attendance numbers. ECOT maintains that the state has no right to audit their numbers. Ha.

Now ECOT is flooding the TV space with heartrending advertisements about how the state is picking on the school. And, here is a true demonstration of chutzpah: ECOT is using taxpayer money to pay for the ads defending its right to avoid auditing.

State Auditor Dave Yost has called out ECOT for its audacity. Yost has ordered ECOT to stop using taxpayer dollars to attack the court’s order to repay the state $60.4 million.

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost has ordered ECOT to stop using taxpayers dollars on television ads attacking the state Department of Education’s decision to seek repayment of $60.4 million, saying the commercials are not proper expenditures “and are impermissible.”

In a letter to the giant online charter dated Friday, Yost said he was writing ECOT “to demand that you act without delay to cease and desist the expenditure of public funds” being used for ads.

ECOT has not yet responded, but it is maneuvering in the Legislature to get the debt deferred until it has time for more appeals.

In the latest ad, signed at the end by “Ohio’s children,” a former ECOT student says: “The Ohio Department of Education wants to end school choice and stop parents from deciding what’s best for their children. That’s why I and the over 36,000 students and alumni of ECOT are hoping our elected leaders fix what’s broken and save our school.”

Thank you, Auditor Yost, for upholding the law and requiring accountability even from a big campaign contributor!

As for ECOT, its results speak for themselves: Close it down.

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Lesson from Virginia: Real Democrats Support Public Schools

Rachel Levy, a mother and public school activist in Virginia, explains here the lesson of the recent Democratic campaign for governor: Real Democrats support public schools.

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Dr. Ralph Northam, Lt. Governor, was a strong supporter of public schools. He won the support of the Virginia Education Association and public school allies across the state.

Tom Perriello had the support of veterans of the Obama administration, Elizabeth Earren, and Bernie Sanders. He also had ties in the past with DFER.

Northam won handily.

Will the national Democratic Party get the message?

Real Democrats support public schools, teachers, and unions. Real Democrats do not support charter schools, high-stakes testing, VAM, or privatization of public schools by charter.

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Wow! Editorial Writer at New York Daily News Moves Her Child from a Charter School to a NYC Public School: Guess Why?

Alyssa Katz, an editorial writer for the New York Daily News, is switching her child from a charter school to a New York City public school. The teacher turnover at the charter school was constant and disruptive for her daughter, she writes. But that’s not all.

She does not name the school, but it is likely a well-regarded school that she and her husband chose with care.

She writes:

Some extracurricular forces eased the choice. My husband, who’s logged hundreds of miles driving to and fro, will hand our girl off to a convenient bus. She in turn will be thrilled to shed a loathed uniform. Me, I look forward to an end to lunch box prep, thanks to an improved cafeteria menu.

But the bottom line is that her elementary-school years were marked with a whirlwind of teachers that, if she and her classmates were lucky, would last the year and then move on.

The ritual became as certain as winter succeeded fall: Some parent would post on the school Facebook group that their child’s teacher was leaving mid-year. Moans and commiseration ensued.

Our child avoided that fate until last fall, when, two weeks in, her promising teacher — a veteran at three years served — suddenly vanished, and a substitute arrived much sooner than any explanation. Her class refound its footing, eventually, with a new teacher — but never quite recovered from those lost weeks.

With so many teachers coming and going, the school as a whole felt perpetually improvisational. I’ll always remember it as a flurry of photocopied handouts….

Last year, 47% of her school’s teaching staff turned over. And during her six years, the school had three principals….

I’m not naming the school because it would be unfair to single it out — it turns out such astonishingly high rates of teacher turnover year by year are par for the course among charter schools.

Among New York charter school teachers, 41% changed jobs last year — compared to just 18% of district school teachers. The retention gap between district and charter schools is not new, but it has been widening over time.

The big reason for charters’ turnover plague is plain as day: District school teachers are universally represented by teachers unions, and enjoy contracts whose ample benefits include generous pension plans, non-negotiable business hours and tenure.

At Success Academy, with its sky-high test scores, teacher turnover annually is close to 60%.

I wish that every politician in New York, especially in the Legislature, would read Katz’s commentary.

Surely the rest of the editorial board at the New York Daily News will read the article and possibly learn from it. The NYDN has been aggressively pro-charter and pro-Eva.

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