Where the No-Excuses Charter Schools Go Wrong

A faithful reader, Dienne, posted the following comment:

“I used to work at a residential facility for kids we called “severely emotionally disturbed” (I don’t know what the proper terminology is now; I’d call them traumatized). Many of them were DCFS wards who had experienced horrific abuse and/or deprivation, but that’s not the reason they came to us. They came to us because no one else (besides locked psychiatric facilities) could handle them – they were too aggressive and disruptive.

“My experience was that they were as aggressive and disruptive as they were because they were so traumatized. They were in constant survival mode, they didn’t trust anyone, their traumatic experiences had left lasting damage to their nervous system, so they had extreme difficulty interpreting social situations and controlling their impulses. The only thing that worked with them was to keep the environment strictly controlled to instill a sense of safety and predictability so that they could eventually learn to trust. None of those kids would have had the capacity to apologize, sincerely or otherwise, and certainly not publicly.

“I don’t think the majority of kids in public schools are anywhere near that level, but there are certainly strains of that, especially among kids who live in high poverty situations where they are exposed to abuse, deprivation and trauma. If schools are actually going to help these kids, then the same types of interventions are needed. A secure, safe environment where their needs are understood and addressed.

“I understand that’s (allegedly) where the “no excuses” idea comes from – to maintain order and predictability. But where they go wrong is trying to control the child rather than the environment. No one reacts well to being controlled, least of all traumatized children who live in constant survival mode.”

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Teachers: Are Your Pension Funds Invested with Dan Loeb?

Norm Scott, retired NYC teacher and active fighter against corporate reformers, posted a four-year-old article by Matt Taibbi about billionaire Dan Loeb, whose hedge fund solicits money from pension funds. Dan Loeb is the guy who recently made headlines by slandering a black legislator as worse than the KKK.

He is the chair of Success Academy Network. He hates teachers’ unions, but he loves their pensions.

TAIBBI’s article is a must-read. Taibbi reminds us that Randi Weingarten took the lead in removing from his fund any pension funds she has anything to do with.

Does your pension fund invest with Loeb’s hedge fund?

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BREAKING NEWS! Sixteen of 17 Members of Trump’s Arts and Humanities Council Resign to Protest His Statements on Charlottesville

All but one member of the president’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities have resigned in protest against the president’s divisive comments.

Sixteen out of 17 members of a White House advisory panel on the arts and humanities resigned en masse Friday in response to President Trump’s divisive comments on the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va.

The move follows the mass exodus of major business CEOs who quit two White House panels this week to protest the president’s response to last weekend’s clashes between far-right groups and counter-protesters.

“Reproach and censure in the strongest possible terms are necessary following your support of the hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville,” the 16 wrote in a letter to Trump. “The false equivalencies you push cannot stand.”

“Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values,” it said. “Your values are not American values.”

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities was created in 1982 under President Reagan, and acts as an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues.

It draws from Hollywood, Broadway and the broader arts and entertainment community. First Lady Melania Trump is the panel’s honorary chairwoman. The White House did not immediately comment.

The committee works with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, along with other federal partners and the private sector.

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Denis Smith: How Films and Literature Can Help You Understand Donald Trump

Denis Smith has noticed that some of his acquaintances have been pulling out their old psychology textbooks to try to understand Donald Trump. But he thinks we can learn more about Trump by remembering old films and classic literature.

There is, for example, George Orwell’s 1984, which recently hit the top of the charts on amazon, which explains how a powerful government with a Ministry of Truth can manipulate the news and shape reality and facts to fit the government’s needs.

He also recommends the classic Hitchcock thriller “Gaslight,” in which a smooth Charles Boyer distorts reality for a frightened Ingrid Bergmann.

In the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Gaslight, the vulnerable Bergmann is manipulated by – guess who – Charles Boyer, who does not invite her to the Casbah but, instead, masterfully controls his wife through questioning her memory, firm beliefs, and the otherwise mundane things in her home environment. The result is predictable. She becomes confused and questions her sanity and beliefs.

Again, while no sane person would compare the smooth Boyer with the Inspector Clouseau-like Trump, both achieve the same results in their gaslighting methods: Control the conscious environment, sow doubt on alternative explanations, and make receivers of the messages vulnerable as a result.

Perhaps you have some other suggestions. What have you read or seen that helps you make sense of this upside-down political environment?

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Mercedes Schneider: Stagnation in ACT Scores of New Orleans Charter Schools

Mercedes Schneider calculated the ACT scores for the charter schools of anew Orleans.

This is a statistic that State Superintendent John White doesn’t want you to know.

It blows away the myth of the New Orleans miracle.

The NOLA recovery Svhool District has been stuck with an average hovering in the 16s. Not at all impressive. Not at all “college and career ready.”

She writes:

“Guaranteed admission to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) requires an ACT composite of 23. For Louisiana State University (LSU), it’s a 22. For both the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) and Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU), an ACT composite of 21 is preferred, but either an ACT English score of 18 or an ACT math score of 19 is required.

“The average Xavier University undergraduate has an ACT composite ranging from 23 to 28, with Xavier advertising an ACT composite of 24 necessary for admission to its nursing and occupational health programs. Nursing students must also score at least a 21 on the ACT math exam.

“For Southern University (SU), an ACT composite of 20 is preferred, but again, either an ACT English score of 18 or an ACT math score of 19 is required. And for the University of New Orleans (UNO), both an ACT English score of 18 and an ACT math score of 19 are required, and if the student’s high school GPA is at least 2.0 but not 2.5, an ACT composite of 23 is required.

“Thus, for all of its charter-portfolio fanfare, it is difficult to conceive of the state-run RSD-NO as anything but a flop based upon years of its sub-17 average ACT composites.

The first step to addressing the issue is admitting that there is an issue. However, completely ghosting out the RSD-NO high school average ACT composite calculation even years before RSD-NO is formally dissolved certainly dodges any such responsible admission.”

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Cynthia Nixon: Why Won’t Cuomo and the Legislature Fully Fund Our Public Schools?

The story has circulated in the media that megastar Cynthia Nixon may run against Andrew Cuomo for governor. You may have seen her on television or on Broadway, but what you don’t know if that she is a public school parent in New York City and cares deeply about public education.

In this article, she explains that New York City public schools have been denied funding that was promised by the courts. She also explains that Andrew Cuomo is no friend of public education. He is a cheerleader for the charter industry, whose wealthy patrons have underwritten his past campaigns.

Nixon knows more about education that any other candidate who will be on the ballot in 2018 in New York state.

She writes:

As a public school parent, I am fearful about what our new U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has in store for our nation’s public schools.

The Trump-DeVos agenda includes more support for privately run charter schools — which in DeVos’ home state of Michigan are known for being some of the worst performing in the country — and a dramatic expansion of school privatization through vouchers. It could also greatly reduce federal funding for public schools. For New York State that could mean a cut of up to $2.5 billion.

Frightening. But equally frightening is how much Betsy DeVos and Andrew Cuomo’s policies echo each other.

Governor Cuomo wants to eliminate New York’s obligation to provide schools statewide with $4.3 billion in additional funding, including nearly $287 million for schools in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties. There is no doubt that high-needs schools require this support: Guidance counselors in Yonkers carry a caseload of 750 students. Ossining and Peekskill struggle to find resources to serve a growing influx of English language learners. And parents in Mount Vernon are suing the state to receive their fair share of education funding. We have the same problems in New York City.

In 2001, on the day my oldest child Sam began kindergarten, I was shocked to find that two thirds of the school’s paraprofessionals, the art teacher, the music teacher and the assistant principal were all gone since the spring tour I had taken a few months earlier — casualties of a woefully inadequate budget. On that day, I joined the fight for New York State to fully implement the ruling from the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit against the state…

In 2007 and 2008, the state made progress towards its constitutional obligations to students by funding Foundation Aid, but after Cuomo took office he did everything he could to avoid paying this debt, and now he wants to eliminate Foundation Aid outright.

He also wants to increase the number of privately-run charter schools in New York City by more than 50 percent. And he has been a loud proponent of private school tax credits, essentially a backdoor voucher system. These are policies we expect from Betsy DeVos, but from Andrew Cuomo?

Whoever runs for office in New York and in other states should go on the record about whether they support public schools. We know the answer from Cuomo. He wants more charter schools. This will be an albatross around his neck if he runs for president in 2020. That is, unless Cynthia Nixon beats him!

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Noah Smith: Markets Don’t Work for Everything

It is refreshing to find this article on the Bloomberg website, read by many in the business community.

Noah Smith explains clearly that: (a) policymakers in the Trump era are Gaga about markets; (b) markets aren’t right for every problem.

“My Bloomberg View colleague Tyler Cowen has a running series of blog posts bearing the title “Markets in Everything.” Plenty of other economists and writers have picked up the phrase, and with good reason — it’s evocative of a powerful idea that defined much of Western political economy in the later part of the 20th century. The idea is that markets — systems of property rights with free buying and selling — are the best way to organize a vast array of human interactions.

“Decades after the Beatles sang “Can’t Buy Me Love,” a whole generation of libertarian thinkers were wondering how much better the world would be if people could buy and sell everything. Some, like authors Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski, took this idea to radical extremes, arguing that everything from body parts to school grades should be up for sale. Though few would go that far, the idea certainly seemed to fit with a political era of privatization and deregulation. Economists tended to like the idea for a more prosaic reason — mathematical models with so-called complete markets are a lot easier to solve.

“In the U.S., marketism is still making inroads. The Trump administration is considering a plan to replace many military functions with private contractors in Afghanistan. Donald Trump also canceled an Obama-era proposal for a rule against getting paid for donating bone marrow. On the left, many thinkers support legalizing prostitution. The Internal Revenue Service is experimenting with using private debt collectors. Efforts to reduce the use of corporate prisons have stalled.

“For the most part, this isn’t a good thing. Like every ideology, marketism has its limits, and like every movement it eventually overreached. There are plenty of reasons that a vast array of human interaction should be carried out without money or any kind of quid pro quo. And unsurprisingly, these problems crop up in many of the areas of human life into which people are now trying to push markets…

“Transaction costs can also arise from natural human emotions. Imagine if someone offered you money to be their friend. If you’re a normal human being, the idea of boiling friendship down to a cold, self-interested exchange would probably feel repellent to you. Sex, which often creates an emotional attachment even deeper than friendship, is similar, which may help explain why so many societies frown on prostitution. And letting people sell their organs for money is inherently disgusting to many.

Within companies, people often prize loyalty to coworkers or to an organization. That may explain the surprising yet common finding that direct monetary incentives often reduce work performance rather than increase it. Privatizing the army, tax collectors and prisons is a bad idea, because it ignores the crucial function that loyalty, dedication, idealism and commitment play among combat troops, bureaucrats and prison guards.”

Just substitute or add the words “public schools,” and you can see that this argument is very apropos current education policy debates.

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Eva Moskowitz Chastises Dan Loeb, Ever So Gently

Billionaire Dan Loeb has raised many millions for Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter chain. He has also donated generously to the chain, to Cuomo, to the breakaway Democrats who enable Republicans to control the State Senate (and block tax increases for billionaires), and to Congressional Republicans (who want to remove health care from millions of Americans and give tax breaks to billionaires).

Loeb said something bad. He compared the leading Democrat, a black woman, to the Ku Klux Klan and said she was worse.

So Eva had to say something about the chair of her board. She said his vile, racist rant was “insensitive.”

But she said he has done many wonderful things, which apparently overshadow the one time he let his true feelings show in public.

So, don’t judge this man, says Eva, for his one racist comment. Offensive as it was, he must be allowed to raise more millions for Eva, Cuomo, Congressional Republicans, and the charter industry.

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