Charter proponents, most notably the Walton Family Foundation, contribute large amounts of money to expand charter schools in select cities around the nation.
The original concept of charter schools emerged nationally more than two decades ago and was intended to support community efforts to open up education.
At first, Rosalba Naranjo was thrilled that her two daughters were attending Richard Merkin Middle School, a charter school located near downtown Los Angeles.
Charter schools, their lobbyists and choice proponents often discuss the underperformance of traditional public schools in the public discourse. But what data should be trusted by parents and policymakers alike when comparing charters with traditional public schools?
Last September’s sensational leak of the Great Public Schools Now Initiative, a half-billion-dollar plan to double the number of charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), sparked a firestorm of controversy.
Despite receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from California’s taxpayers, California Virtual Academies (CAVA), the state’s largest provider of online public education, is failing key tests used to measure educational success.
California’s embattled public school teachers received good news Thursday in the form of a state appellate court reversal of the controversial Vergara v. California decision.
April 1 was a historic day for public education in the U.S. Joined by diverse community groups and other workers, Chicago’s public school teachers took to the streets demanding more from city and state leaders.
This afternoon both sides currently engaged in contract talks announced a tentative accord that will postpone a threatened strike by the 26,000-member California Faculty Association.
Members of the 26,000-strong California Faculty Association (CFA) are threatening to carry out their first system-wide, simultaneous strike in the event contract talks with the California State University administration (CSU) reach a stalemate.
A report released March 15 by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Center for Civil Rights Remedies revealed jaw-dropping figures about school discipline at charter schools.
During the 2011-12 academic year—the first year charter schools were required by the federal government to report school discipline data—black students were four times as likely to be suspended from charter schools as white students. And of the 5,250 charter schools studied, 235 suspended more than 50 percent of their enrolled students with disabilities.
National Average Suspension Rates for Charter Schools at Elementary and Secondary Levels, by Subgroup, 2011-12
We should be deeply troubled by these statistics at any public school, charter or not. But there’s a crucial difference between charter and traditional public schools: Despite being publicly funded, many charter schools are managed by private groups unaccountable to the public.
Three weeks ago Students Matter, the nonprofit group behind the Vergara v. California lawsuit, began prominently touting United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta’s support for that suit on its website. The subhead of the group’s press release boldly claimed the labor icon was one of the “Voices of Vergara,” a collection of pro-lawsuit testimonials that appear on Students Matter’s website and on YouTube. The release stated that “the longtime California labor leader and civil rights activist” endorses the lawsuit and quotes her as saying, “I think it’s awesome that the Vergara lawsuit was filed. There is no excuse why we can’t have equality in education. I think we have the resources to do it, we’ve just got to have the will.”
There was only one problem: The press release’s statement wasn’t true.
On February 3 Huerta sent a strongly worded “cease and desist” letter to Students Matter’s public relations firm,
Many charter school advocates — often guided by a “free market” ideology — claim that charter schools force traditional public schools to innovate and provide better education. But in Detroit, where teachers and parents this week performed “walk ins” to show support for the city’s ailing public schools, the exact opposite has been true.
Detroit’s schools are in rough shape. The city’s traditional public school district, Detroit Public Schools (DPS), could face bankruptcy by April. On a recent tour of DPS schools, Mayor Mike Duggan found crumbling facilities, dead rodents, and children wearing coats in freezing classrooms.
But even though Detroit’s residents elected him, Duggan can’t do much to help. DPS has been under state control for seven years, ruled by a series of “emergency managers” with unchecked authority over democratically elected local officials. The same tactic of “running government like a business” played a crucial role in the Flint water crisis.
Last Monday was an important day for America’s shrinking middle class. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that could impose radical new limits on the rights of public-sector workers—like teachers, nurses and firefighters—to join together to win better lives for their families and communities.
What’s at stake is a basic democratic principle: All public workers that benefit from collective bargaining should be required to pay their fair share for those efforts.
So it’s no surprise that the Friedrichs lawsuit was filed by the Center for Individual Rights, a law firm with ties to anti-worker special interests—like the Koch brothers and ALEC.
These are the same interests that have spent decades campaigning to weaken the ability of working people to join together against corporate power and the interests of the One Percent.
Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the latest struggle over workers’ rights, a case whose oral arguments were heard Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court, clearly means different things to different groups. The passionate rhetoric around Friedrichs, and most of its proponents’ legal arguments, have focused on individual liberties and freedom of speech. “Paying fees to a union should not be a prerequisite for teaching in a public school,” Harlan Elrich, one of the plaintiffs, wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “No one in the U.S. should be forced to give money to a private organization he or she disagrees with fundamentally.”
But the main goal of those funding the case is, likely, to reshape the political landscape by neutralizing the power of organized labor. The broad impact of a successful suit will be to drain the union of dues,
Get this. In some states, charter school operators can purchase school buildings from public school districts — using taxpayer money. That’s right. The public pays twice for a building it no longer owns.
This scheme and many others are detailed in the National Education Policy Center’s new research brief on charter school policies. Through a study of policies from across the country, Bruce Baker and Gary Miron reveal how many charter operators use existing laws to profit from the privatization of public assets.
Their conclusion: Many current policies allow new actors into public education who skim profits from the system, pocketing money that might otherwise be spent on direct services for children.
These policies have serious costs. In Florida for example, a recent analysis by the Associated Press found that now-closed charter schools in 30 school districts had received more than $70 million in taxpayer money for capital needs.
Faculty and students from the 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU) system will demonstrate today over a contract fight that they say is critical to the future of higher education in the Golden State. The actions will be highlighted by a march through downtown Long Beach, ending at the state chancellor’s office, where the CSU Board of Trustees is to meet.
The long-running conflict intensified last week, as the California Faculty Association (CFA) announced that 94 percent of its members who voted agreed to authorize a strike. Faculty have been frustrated by what they say is under-investment in teaching: stagnant wages and the CSU’s move towards cheaper part-time teachers rather than tenure-line faculty, while at the same time hiring and giving raises to non-academic supervisors and top management. Student fees increased multiple times over that period. The result, say CFA members, is that students face a tougher path to graduation,