11 Ways Chicago Is The Beating Heart Of The Disastrous Charter School Agenda

By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet

By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet – Chicago’s public school system has become a showcase for the negative effects of K-12 privatization, according to a new report that tracks how the city replaced struggling local schools with dozens of charters that didn’t perform better, yet deprived traditional schools of funds, students and public accountability. The report, “Closed by Choice: The Spatial Relationship between Charter School Expansion, School Closures and Fiscal Stress in Chicago Public Schools,” tracks 108 charter schools that opened between 2000 and 2015, a period when Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was shutting struggling schools, cutting district funding and reducing staff. It details and confirms what many charter critics have long said, that lobbying from pro-privatization forces swayed the city’ political leaders to impose top-down reforms that riled neighborhoods, undermined traditional K-12 schools, increased segregation and did not lead to schools with better academic results. Perhaps most insidiously, the report describes in great detail how the CPS system aggressively shut down struggling schools in neighborhoods where student numbers were dwindling, while allowing better-funded charters to open up nearby…

Sorry, Charter Boosters: Record Numbers Of Teachers At Chicago Charter Schools Are Organizing Unions

Teachers at the ASPIRA charter school network rally on March 9 during union contract negotiations with management. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

By Micah Uetright for In These Times – It’s a delicious irony for teachers unions that Rauner College Prep—a Chicago charter school named after Bruce Rauner, Illinois’ virulently anti-union governor—may soon have a union. On March 3, the Chicago Association of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS) announced an organizing drive at the Noble Network of Charter Schools, which has 18 campuses across Chicago, including Rauner College Prep. If the campaign is successful, Noble will become the nation’s largest unionized charter network. The addition of Noble’s 800 teachers and staff to its ranks would also give ACTS, a local of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), an impressive density in Chicago’s charter market—the union says it would represent as many as 40 percent of charter teachers in Chicago. About 10 percent of charter teachers nationwide are unionized, according to the pro-charter Center for Education Reform. The Chicago Teachers Union, a sister local to ACTS, has been a bright spot in a bleak labor landscape. But traditional public school educators aren’t the only ones on the move.

Taxpayers Spent 100s Millions More For Inferior Charter Schools

Flickr/ Leigh Blackall

By Steven Rosenfeld for Alternet – A blockbuster report detailing how California’s charter school industry has wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars by opening and building schools in communities that don’t need them and often end up doing worse than nearby public schools, is a nationwide warning about how education privateers hijack public funds and harm K-12 public schools. “This report finds that this funding [building, buying, leasing] is almost completely disconnected from educational policy objectives, and the results are, in turn, scattershot and haphazard,” the report’s executive summary begins. “Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent each year without any meaningful strategy. Far too much of this public funding is spent on schools built in neighborhoods that have no need for additional classroom space, and which offer no improvement over the quality of education already available in nearby public schools. In the worst cases, public facilities funding has gone to schools that were found to have discriminatory enrollment policies and others that have engaged in unethical or corrupt practices.”

Get To Know The BATS: Teachers Fighting Privatization

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By Marla Kilfoyle and Melissa Tomlinson in partnership with Read the Dirt for Popular Resistance. Chris Christie once told a Badass Teacher that he was “sick”of people like her. It was his response to the question posed by her sign: Schools in NJ are among the top 3 in the country. Why does Governor Christie portray our schools as failure factories?“You know what,”he said, “I’m tired of this. I’m so sick of you people. What do you want?”He pointed his finger in her face, “just go do your job.” It was 2014, seven years into Melissa Tomlinson’s career as a public middle school special education teacher in Buena, NJ—and six months after the founding of the Badass Teachers Association (BATs) network. Some might know BATs for their online activism and role in the campaign against Betsy DeVos. Organized horizontally through committees, we have chapters in every state, but all are autonomous to account for unique obstacles and local culture.

Newsletter: Protest Is Working & Growing

Resist banner flies over the Donald Trump White House by Greenpeace.

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. People are recognizing that they have power to protest in a lot of areas. Some see the potential for protest at work, such as the resistance and non-cooperation among federal workers. And, many are planning on building toward a general strike, something unheard of in US history. State officials are even talking about protesting by not paying federal taxes. Early in the Trump era, protest is working and the potential ahead is for an even larger resistance movement. The dysfunctional nature of government will add to protest movements, making the country ungovernable. We can defeat the oligarchy, as currently represented by Trump, but which began long before him, by remaining independent of the corporate parties and fighting for the changes we need.

With DeVos, We’re Likely To See A Charter School To Prison Pipeline

From therealnews.com

By Karen Dolan for The Real News Netowrk – Dolan said what we’re likely to see is a charter school to prison pipeline. “Children in charter schools – Black, brown, Latino, LGBTQ, and children with disabilities – are over-disciplined in rates even significantly higher than they are in public schools,” Dolan explained. She said that children of color, even pre-schoolers, are between four and six times more likely to be expelled than white children for the same behavioral offenses – from scribbling on desks, to wearing distracting jewelry. Expulsions increase children’s chances of coming into contact with the juvenile justice system. And those who have contact with the justice system in their youth have “very high – up to 70% higher” chances of reoffending, Dolan said.

Educators, Students, Parents Community Stop Corporate Takeover Of Milwaukee Schools

Educators, students, parents, and community activists in Milwaukee are fighting for the very survival of their public school system. Photo: MTEA

By Amy Mizialko for Labor Notes – If the Wisconsin legislature had gotten its way, private charter companies would have taken over at least one more public school in Milwaukee this year—pushing us dangerously near a tipping point to the planned extinction of our school district. But instead, thanks to the dogged activism of educators, students, parents, and community activists, we have staved off the immediate threat.

Wall Street Firms Make Money From Teachers’ Pensions

The ongoing measles outbreak in the U.S. has put a spotlight on vaccination rates among American schoolchildren. Photo: Reuters

BY David Sirota, Avi Asher-Schapiro And Andrew Perez for IBT – When Massachusetts public school teachers pay into their pension fund each month, they may not realize where the money goes. Wall Street titans are using some of the profits from managing that money to finance an education ballot initiative that many teachers say will harm traditional public schools. An International Business Times/MapLight investigation has found that executives at eight financial firms with contracts to manage Massachusetts state pension assets have bypassed anti-corruption rules and funneled at least $778,000 to groups backing Question 2, which would expand the number of charter schools in the state.

Gap Co-Founder Doris Fisher Is Bankrolling Charter School Agenda

Photo via Andybis123 via Wikimedia Commons

By Joel Warner for Capital Main – As co-founder of the Gap, San Francisco-based business leader and philanthropist Doris Fisher boasts a net worth of $2.6 billion, making her the country’s third richest self-made woman, according to Forbes. And she’s focused much of her wealth and resources on building charter schools. She and her late husband Donald donated more than$70 million to the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and helped to personally build the operation into the largest network of charter schools in the country, with 200 schools serving 80,000 students in 20 states.

A Turning Point For The Charter School Movement

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts poses for a selfie with supporters of his effort to lift the state's cap on charter schools. Charters are facing formidable opposition this election season: Democrats passed a resolution this month opposing the proposed charter school expansion in Massachusetts, and residents will vote on the proposal in November. (Photo: Charlie Baker / Flickr)

By Molly Knefel for Truthout – A political battle is being waged over charter schools in Massachusetts right now, and it’s a microcosm of the state of the charter debate across the country. In the lead-up to a November ballot measure in which voters will decide whether or not to lift the state’s cap on charter schools, known as Question 2, Democrats passed a resolution this month opposing charter school expansion.

Mississippi Parents Demand An Answer: Are Charter Schools Constitutional?

Three charter schools in the Jackson district are currently slated to receive $4 million in public funds this year. (Photo: Kevin O'Mara/flickr/cc)

By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – Mississippi parents are challenging the public funding of charter schools on the grounds that it’s not constitutional. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an advocacy group, filed a motion for a summary judgment this week on behalf of the parents, for a speedy answer to this question. The only debate in the case is that of constitutionality, which makes it prime for answering, SPLC told Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas.

Common Core And Corporate Colonization: The Big Picture

Students look for their classrooms on the opening day of instruction at the Westchester Secondary Charter school. (Los Angeles Times / September 3, 2013)

By Staff of Educational Alchemy – I said it over three years ago and I’ll say it again. Common Core was, and is, an agenda crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It was never about “communism,” or “socialism.” It was the state and federal governments serving as the delivery boys for the privatization of public education at the hands of global corporate interests (think: Trans Pacific Partnership and UNESCO).

NAACP Calls For National Moratorium On Charter Schools

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By Julian Vasquez Heilig for Cloaking Inequality – I don’t believe that this has been reported anywhere else. Last week at the NAACP National Convention in Cincinnati, the delegates voted in a new resolution on charter schools. It’s approval as policy will not be official until the National Board meeting in the Fall of 2016. However, this is a big news story that (I suspect because of the political conventions) has not yet entered the traditional media. Yesterday in the post How will history remember the @NAACP on charters? I discussed the 2010 and 2014 NAACP charter school resolutions.

Rally At Castelar Elementary Puts Charters In Crosshairs

Parents, students and teachers rallied Wednesday at Castelar Street Elementary School in Chinatown.

By Craig Clough for La School Report – About 200 parents, students and teachers rallied Wednesday morning outside Castelar Street Elementary School in Chinatown as part of a “walk-in” calling for lower class sizes at LA Unified, increased staffing and more accountability for Prop. 39, the law that gives charter schools the right to use empty class space at district schools through a process called “co-location.” Several TV news crews were on hand for the demonstration, which saw parents, teachers and students march around the block hoisting banners and chanting before walking into the school.

Overwhelming Bipartisan Support To Rein In Charter School Lapses

Image by Shutterstock, Copyright (c) Luminaimages

By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet – According to a new, nationwide poll, Americans overwhelmingly want public charter schools to be more accountable, have less selective admissions policies, employ better-trained teachers, and refrain from harming traditional local schools by siphoning away precious taxpayer funds. Overall, the poll shows wide support for regulating many aspects of the school privatization movement. “Americans embrace proposals to reform the way charter schools are authorized and managed,”…