Resolution to censure these Democrats for undermining public education, contravening the Constitution, and aiding Republicans

WHEREAS Republicans have been trying for years to undermine public education by under-funding it and then blaming teachers and public schools for (poverty-related) low performance by students;

WHEREAS the State Constitution says that public education is the “paramount duty” of state government; that there should be a “general and uniform system of public schools”; and that “the entire revenue … shall be exclusively applied to the support of common schools”;

WHEREAS the state Supreme Court ruled in the McCleary decision that public schools are under-funded and later held the legislature in contempt for refusing to fund education;

WHEREAS the state Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional;

WHEREAS Democrats Judy Clibborn, Steve Hobbs,  Christopher Hurst, Ruth Kagi, Kristine Lytton, Jeff Morris, Mark Mullet, Eric Pettigrew, David Sawyer, Tana Senn, Larry Springer, Pat Sullivan, and Tim Sheldon voted for SB 6194, the charter school bill;

WHEREAS Governor Inslee allowed SB 6194 to become law;

WHEREAS  SB 6194 funds the existing charter schools and authorizes the creation of additional charter schools, even though McCleary is not yet funded; and

WHEREAS, regardless of whether the state Supreme Court rules SB 6194 to be unconstitutional, support by Democrats for SB 6194 legitimizes the notion of charter schools, empowers Republicans to argue that the current Supreme Court justices are too liberal, and moves the needle to the right on the issue of government funding for education;

WHEREAS the state Democratic Party Platform explicitly opposes charter schools;

WHEREAS handing a major bipartisan victory on this issue to Republicans in an election year strengthens their stature, gives them bragging rights, and increases the chances of their receiving funding from pro-charter school forces;

WHEREAS the narrow passage of I-1240 (the charter schools initiative) in 2012 was due to massive funding by the Walton family, Bill Gates, and other wealthy people opposed to public education;

WHEREAS the narrow support by the public for I-1240 is no justification for supporting charter schools, any more than past support by the public for Tim Eyman initiatives is any justification for supporting tax breaks for billionaires;

WHEREAS the charter school vote was contrary to the wishes of major Democratic constituencies, including Labor, teachers, and progressives;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we Democrats censure the behavior of these lawmakers.

by Donald A. Smith, PhD, PCO (41st LD, Bellevue)

These Dems voted to undermine public schools, contravene the Constitution, and aid Republicans

(Revised 2016/05/30)

Why did 41st LD Reps Tana Senn and Judy Clibborn, along with about a dozen other state Democratic lawmakers, vote in favor of Republican Steve Litzow’s SB 6194 (charter school bill)?

The vote goes against the state Constitution and the Supreme Court ruling last year, which state that charter schools are unconstitutional.  It goes against the state Party platform, which says “We oppose charter schools.” And it goes against the wishes of major Democratic constituencies, including teachers, progressives and Labor.  Moreover, the vote effectively takes money away from public schools at a time when the legislature is in contempt of court for failing to fund public schools (McCleary decision). Lastly, Senn and Clibborn have given Litzow the opportunity to brag about the bipartisan support for his bill. Like Senn and Clibborn, Litzow is from them 41st LD.

The Dems are aiming to replace Litzow in November. So why would Senn and Clibborn grant him and the Republicans the favor of voting for his bill, delivering a major victory? And why would they knowingly infuriate half the Democratic base in this election year?

For years Republicans have been trying to undermine public education and other government programs. They’ve blamed teachers, attacked unions and tried to convince voters that government can’t be trusted.  Republicans have refused to fully fund education, have held teacher salaries low, and have ignored the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling and the subsequent contempt order that’s fining the legislature $100,000 a day.  So, it’s a surprise that Democrats would come to the aid of Republicans, further the neoliberal agenda of dismantling government, and fund charter schools while McCleary isn’t yet funded.

Judy Clibborn and Tana Senn hold Steve Litzow on their shoulders as Litzow celebrates his charter school victory

At February’s 4st LD town hall meeting, Senn told me that the Democratic House leadership would be unlikely to allow the charter school bill to come up for a vote. But she acknowledged that it might pass due to some kind of trade. (See Litzow’s mistatement, and can Eastside Democratic legislators support progressive taxation?.)

But apparently, there was no such trade. Senn mentioned no such trade in her email to her constituents (below). Also, Senator Maralyn Chase and other Democrats are angry at the passage of the bill. See State senator from Edmonds says she’s disappointed with 2016 legislature.

Some Democrats I have spoken with in the 41st LD try to defend the vote by saying that, after all, voters narrowly approved charter schools in 2012 (I-1240). OK, but that was because of the nearly $11 million in spending by the Waltons, Bill Gates, and others. That was 17 times the spending by anti-charter school forces.

The argument “Well, the voters voted for charter schools” is weak, given the fact that corporate forces spent millions to convince them.  By the same argument, you could say, “Well, voters have voted for Tim Eyman initiatives, so we mustn’t try to fix our tax system” or “Voters elected Republicans to the Senate, so we must respect their will.” We need to fight for public education and other Democratic values!

There was an amendment to SB 6194 that would have authorized the funding of the existing charter schools but would have prohibited the funding of additional schools. But that amendment failed.  So, the legislature has authorized the creation of new charter schools, and the governor let it become law.  This is not something real Democrats should be supporting.

The only justification Senn gave for her vote (below) is that she felt sorry for the existing charter school students. But what about the existing public school students whose schools are underfunded?  Handing money to private schools takes it away from public schools. And why did she support the creation of new charter schools?

Furthermore, the state Supreme Court is likely to rule that SB 6194 is unconstitutional. That’s the opinion of Rep. Patricia Kuderer, D-48, who voted against SB 6194 and explains why in Charter Schools are not out of the woods yet. Kuderer starts by warning against “the kind of fraud and mismanagement happening with charters in other states.” She goes on to write:

In the fall of 2015, the Supreme Court ruled against charter schools, throwing the eight existing charter schools into turmoil.

A bill introduced in the state Senate this year [SB 6194] attempts to resolve two constitutional issues the Court had trouble with, but completely ignores other likely constitutional problems with the charter schools initiative.

Moving forward, there are three major issues I believe must be resolved if charters are going to survive legal challenges.

Local control – I have two core values when it comes to using public resources – transparency and accountability. These important values are missing from the charter system now, but must be part of a final solution. Local control is vital to ensuring all schools are transparent and accountable.

Funding – The Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are not “common schools” and therefore cannot receive funding out of the state’s general fund. SB 6194 funds charter schools through a separate account called Opportunity Pathways.

However, as more charter schools open, or as existing ones expand, there will likely not be adequate revenue in the Opportunity Pathways account, which also funds programs like scholarships and grants to low-income students, to keep up with the demand. Funds will eventually be shifted from the general fund to the Opportunity Pathways account, and this co-mingling of funds will either directly or indirectly support charter schools.

But even if the Supreme Court overturns SB 6194, the bipartisan support for it has moved the needle to the right on the issue.

I know that many Democrats in King County are furious that the House leadership let the bill come up for a vote, that ten Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of the bill, and that Gov. Inslee allowed the bill to become law without either signing it or vetoing it.  There was a letter-writing campaign by the King County Democrats to convince legislators to oppose SB 6194.

Republicans must be smiling now.

In Washington State: The Democrats Who Betrayed the Public Schools Diane Ravitch explains what happened.

With the support of the Washington Charter Association and a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for $2.1M- charter schools remained opened- and they did so by having the state’s superintendent of public instruction corrupt Alternative Learning Rules.

In January, Steve and Connie Ballmer contributed $250K to a charter PAC. These dollars are being used to fund TV ads, polls, robo calls etc.

Students were constantly getting bussed to the state’s capital and charter supporters literally camped within the state’s capital. We’ve been told 22 lobbyists filled the halls of the state building.

Senn’s letter to her constituents

Tana Senn wrote the following explanation for her vote to some of her constituents:

No matter one’s view on the issue, the charter schools initiative passed and charter schools operate in our state. Many of the children currently being served by charter schools are students of color, at-risk boys and girls from low-income families and/or those with special needs who may need different learning environments for various reasons.

For the past three years, I’ve served on the Early Learning and Human Services Committee and witnessed the many barriers families face trying to break out of the cycle of poverty and the lifelong negative affects often associated with poverty. Dropping out of school is an entry point into that cycle.

Undoubtedly, fully funding our public schools serving 1.1 million students is our number one priority next year! Our State has amazing public schools staffed by hard working, dedicated and inspiring teachers. But we have failed to fund these institutions time and time again.

Fixing the funding problem so we can reduce class sizes, add school counselors, offer competitive teacher pay and improve special education will require a bi-partisan effort and the resolve to do what’s right and what we should have done so long ago.

It is likely to take a couple years for that funding to reach the classroom and make needed investments. It is also about the time the State Supreme Court is anticipated to rule again on the constitutionality of charter schools.

But two years is a long time in the educational life of a young person. Those boys and girls were first and foremost on my mind when I voted for the charter school bill. We also passed the Education Opportunity Act and the Homeless Student Act that week, which will help hundreds of thousands of more kids have a better chance at success in life. All we can do is critical.

I point out, though, that every penny spent on charter schools is a penny lost to public schools.

It’s true that some schools in high poverty districts are failing. That’s because of poverty and because Republicans refuse to fund them adequately! That’s a standard Republican tactic: corrupt, under-fund and mismanage government; then complain it doesn’t work. In fact, America’s low test scores are largely an artifact of our high poverty rate. The countries that beat us in standardized tests have public schools.

Furthermore, the bill funds not only the existing charter schools but also additional schools. That was completely unnecessary.

Pay back from the tax dodgers

As reported in League of Education Voters backs Inslee, top Republicans,  after the passage of SB 6194, there were big endorsements for Steve Litzow, Jay Inslee, Tana Senn, Judy Clibborn and other supporters of SB 6194, from the charter-schools-loving League of Education Voters, who are funded by Microsoft, Boeing and the Gates Foundation (the 1%). Follow the money. Boeing and Microsoft enjoy tax breaks and use their money to defund public services and enrich corporations at the expense of the middle class (who pay the vast majority of taxes here in Washington State).

Contrary to the statement in the article, Gates, Boeing, and Microsoft are not independent at all. They’re self-interested tools of the 1%, intent on dismantling public education and blaming teachers for outcomes that are the result of poverty and willful under-funding of education. Republicans and their neo-liberal Democratic allies willfully under-fund government so it doesn’t work well and so that they can justify tax cuts for rich people and privatization of government services.

To understand politics, follow the money.

The ten turn-coat Democrats are:

  1. Judy Clibborn: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/judy-clibborn/
    Judy Clibborn
  2. Christopher Hurst: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/christopher-hurst/
  3. Ruth Kagi: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/ruth-kagi/
  4. Kristine Lytton: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/kristine-lytton/
  5. Jeff Morris: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/jeff-morris/
  6. Eric Pettigrew: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/eric-pettigrew
  7. David Sawyer: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/david-sawyer/
  8. Tana Senn: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/tana-senn/
    Tana Senn
  9. Larry Springer: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/larry-springer/
  10. Pat Sullivan: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/pat-sullivan

Democratic State Senators who voted for the charter school bill include Mark Mullet, Tim Sheldon, and Steve Hobbs.

I acknowledge that there is an honest difference of opinion with the Democratic Party, as well as a division between the progressive wing and the corporate wing that approves policies such as charter schools. But given the following facts, the choice of these Democrats to vote for SB 6194 seems unwise at best, and probably perverse:

  • The state Supreme Court ruled last year that charter schools are unconstitutional.
  • There’s a good chance that the Supreme Court will rule that SB 6194 is unconstitutional.
  • But support for charter schools by Democrats legitimizes the entire corporate education paradigm and moves politics to the  right.
  • The legislature hasn’t yet funded public schools, and is paying a daily fine of $100,000 a day, per order of the Supreme Court.
  • The state Democratic Party platform expresses opposition to charter schools.
  • This is an election year. Why did the Democrats empower Republicans and alienate Democrats?
  • In particular, why would Senn and Clibborn endorse the policies of Republican Litzow in an election year?
  • Weren’t the turncoat Democrats aware that their acts would infuriate many Democrats (teachers, Labor, progressives) and divide the Party? What benefit do they get by thumbing their noses at the wishes of half or more of the Party base?

No wonder Democrats are voting for candidates like Bernie Sanders. Mainstream (aka “corporate”) Democrats can’t apparently be trusted to support the platform and ideals of the party of FDR.

The participation by a large number of Independents in the 2016 caucuses, their youth, and their overwhelming support for Bernie Sanders give me hope that the Democratic Party can be reformed.

These Democrats thumbed their noses at the Democratic Party, its platform, its members, and its constituents, by voting to fund charter schools when McCleary isn't yet funded

Litzow's mistatement, and can Eastside Democratic legislators support progressive taxation?

Saturday I attended the 41st Legislative District town hall, where Rep. Judy Clibborn (D – Mercer Island — left, below), Rep. Tana Senn (D – Mercer Island), and Senator Steve Litzow (R – Mercer Island) answered questions about tolling of I-405, charter schools, taxes, and Puget Sound Energy’s plan to install new high-power lines (Energize Eastside and http://cense.org).

41LD Town Hall, Feb 20, 2016

Citing the will of the people, Litzow justified his vote to support Senate Joint Resolution 8211, which would amend the constitution to require a two-thirds super-majority of legislators to raise taxes. The vote was along party lines. The resolution failed to get the 2/3rds needed in the Senate to pass.

Litzow said that Eastside residents supported Eyman’s super-majority initiative I-1366. But according to the Secretary of State’s data, over 61% of King County residents voted No on I-1366. Furthermore [added 2016/02/22], Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute informed me that on the Eastside I-1366 was rejected (click the first tab of the spreadsheet).

Steve Litzow conveniently failed to mention that I-1366 FAILED in the 41st Legislative District. It also failed in the 45th and the 48th. The only Eastside LD it passed in was the 5th. The numbers:

Legislative District 45 (Andy Hill, Roger Goodman, Larry Springer)
14,904 Yes
16,878 No

Legislative District 48 (Cyrus Habib, Patty Kuderer, Joan McBride)
11,999 Yes
15,910 No

Legislative District 41 (Steve Litzow, Tana Senn, Judy Clibborn)
14,381 Yes
19,427 No

Legislative District 5 (Mark Mullet, Jay Rodne, Chad Magendanz)
17,263 Yes
13,964 No

Litzow disagreed with arguments  — repeated in a comment by former Representative Marcie Maxwell — that a 2/3 super-majority threshold would make it almost impossible to pass any revenue increases. Litzow cited the overwhelming bipartisan support last year for the transportation package, which raised the (regressive) gas tax.

In response to a question, Litzow justified his vote to fire State DOT director Lynn Peterson, citing failed projects and cost overruns.  When Clibborn responded, she was openly angry about the Republicans’ partisan move. The Republican decision to fire Peterson was strange given that only last year Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Curtis King, R-Yakima had told Peterson: “I want to thank you for the job you have done over the past two and half years, and I can’t say thank you enough to the staff that you have behind you.”

On charter schools, Litzow repeatedly mentioned that such schools would help economically disadvantaged kids.  Charter schools aren’t needed in Bellevue, he agreed.

Though the state Supreme Court ruled that state funding of charter schools is unconstitutional, Senate Republicans found a loophole and passed SB 6194, of which Litzow is a prime sponsor. SB 6194 passed the Senate on Jan 20. There was a hearing in the House on Friday, Feb. 19.  Marcie Maxwell testified against SB 6194, and she repeated parts of her testimony at the town hall.

Maxwell said that charter schools are largely unaccountable, being un-elected.

She said that there are many highly innovative public schools — e.g., in Renton.   If the state fully funded K-12 basic education there’d be more innovation — “instead of struggling to figure out which custodian to cut.”

The most problematical part of SB 6194 is its trigger conversion section, which allows a majority of teachers or parents in a school to trigger conversion to a charter school.  Since most taxpayers paying for schools are neither teachers nor parents of students in a given school, trigger conversion would threaten public support for education.

In the business community, charter schools are viewed as a big investment opportunity — a way to milk taxpayers for private profit.  See, for example, CNBC’s Invest in Public Charter Schools?.

Maxwell and others argued that we should first fund public schools (McCleary) before supporting private enterprises.

Litzow said that charter schools now cost the state $14 million per year, just  0.1% of the what the state pays for public education. (Litzow incorrectly said “1/1000th percent.”)   The state spent $15.1 billion from the General Fund on K-12 education in 2014.

I heard from others that Litzow and fellow Republicans were refusing to bring House bills to a vote unless the Democrats agreed to fund charter schools. When I asked him about this, he denied it, saying they already passed school funding bills.

After the town hall, I asked Tana Senn whether there’s any chance SB 6194 (including trigger conversion) would pass the House. She said that if it came up for a floor vote, it would likely pass.  I presume all Republicans would support it, and a few Democrats would go along. But she thinks it’s unlikely the Democratic leadership will allow SB 6194 to come up for a vote.    She agreed that it’s possible, though, that SB 6194 will pass in a trade for some other measure desired by Democrats.

Please contact your legislator and ask them to oppose SB 6194.

According to the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, the state must lessen its reliance on local levies for funding education.  Specifically, local levies can be used for enrichment, but not for “Basic Education.” Local levies are one reason Bellevue schools are so good:  local taxes support local schools and directly affect housing prices.

Changes mandated by the Supreme Court could harm Eastside communities. For example, if the state collects taxes and redistributes them statewide, that would result in a net transfer of money from wealthy areas, such as Bellevue, to poorer areas.  Specifically, King County would be subsidizing Eastern Washington — where Republican legislators hold a majority of seats.

The situation is ironic. Republican voters (who are the beneficiaries of high taxes) oppose taxes.   If non-rich Republican voters realize that they’ve been voting against their own self-interest, they might turn into Democrats.

During the discussion of raising taxes, Tana Senn twice assured the assembled crowd that she would fight any tax plan that resulted in a net loss of revenue for Bellevue schools.  Yet in general Senn is a strong Democrat who supports public schools, public transportation, an adequate social safety net and fair taxes.

Eastside legislators are in a bind when it comes to certain Democratic-friendly policies.  There are a lot of wealthy people on the Eastside and a lot of car drivers.  Democrats risk losing elections if they move too far to the left.  I presume this is the same game played nationally: Hillary supporters claim that she’s more electable than Sanders (though polls show Sanders defeating Trump or Cruz more handily than Clinton would).

Likewise, at previous town halls, our 41st LD legislators were unanimous in opposing tolling of I-90, although we live in some of the wealthiest communities. Granted, some elderly people on Mercer Island pay high property taxes, have low income, and are dependent on cars. But, still, people in poorer communities are even less well off on average, and cars are noxious.

Discussing finding additional revenue to fund McCleary (the state Supreme Court decision mandating full funding of education), Clibborn said, so far, the legislature has submitted “a plan for a plan” to fund education. It’s unclear whether the Supreme Court will accept that plan.  Tana Senn said that a capital gains tax could work (and Clibborn says she agrees).  Republicans have opposed new revenue and have claimed that cuts can be made to social services or money can be found via efficiencies.

Someone mentioned that when the legislators were discussing ways to help to help indigent students pay for meals, one Republican suggested that teachers volunteer to buy food for the poor kids.

This is The Big Battle of American politics:  can and should we fund government to provide various services?   As even Litzow mentioned, there are some Republican legislators from the eastern part of the state who will oppose any revenue increase. (Litzow generally votes with his caucus.) Such Republicans are ideologically opposed to all government spending.  The long arc of history is towards government providing education and basic health care, at a minimum.

Concerning Puget Sound Energy’s Energize Eastside, the legislators pointed out that the legislature has little control over the issue: it’s mostly a city and county issue.

When Marcie asked a question about regressive taxes,  I held up a version of the following graph that shows the dramatic decrease in General Fund state revenue as a percentage of state personal income:

Washington Revenue as a percentage of personal income

Litzow said that the state is spending a record amount in its budget.  Yes, but the state population has increased 16% between 2000 (6.2 million) and 2014 (7.1 million).

Washington State is said to have the most regressive state tax system among the 50 states.  The poor and the middle class pay over 10% of their income in state taxes; the rich pay under 3%.  Hence Senate Bill 6093, which would extend property taxes to intangible property such as stocks and bonds. That would add some needed fairness and uniformity to our tax code.

Litzow said that Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature and the governorship for many years but didn’t act to fix our regressive taxes. I said that’s because of the centrist “Road Kill Dems” (including Clibborn, by the way). Still, the Republicans political message is all about “Vote for me. I’ll lower your taxes.”  The culprits are conservatives, not just Republicans.

After the town hall Litzow was saying that he agrees that Citizens United was probably a bad decision. He thought both corporations and unions shouldn’t be able to spend money on campaigns.

According to Tax Policy Center’s State and Local Tax Revenue as a Percentage of Personal Income, state revenue as a percentage of Personal Income has been on the decline in Washington State and nationwide.   For Washington State, the percentage has fallen from a high of 10.78% in 1997 to 8.39% in 2013 (the last year for which data is available).

In Washington, state and local taxes per $1000 of personal income has fallen from $125 in 1999 to under $93 in 2013.  We’re now ranked 35th of all states.

Washington State spent $10,682 per pupil in 2012; nationwide, the national state average was $11,254.

Nationwide, corporate income taxes as share of GDP was over 6% in 1954 and declined to under 2% in 2012:

Corporate Income Tax as a Percentage of GDP

Evidence that conservatives view charter schools as a money-making opportunity:

Forbes cover: education is a trillion dollar opportunity

Judy Clibborn mentioned that she had gotten many “vile” emails from constituents angry about gun legislation — presumably from gun rights advocates.  Gun control advocates can be passionate and pleading, but I doubt their emails would be “vile.”

Please email or phone your legislators.  They listen to their constituents!

 

At the end of the meeting, several Chinese Americans expressed concern about the planned opening of a marijuana store on Factoria Blvd in Bellevue.  The store would be within a couple thousand feet of Newport High School (one of the best schools in the state, and a main draw for Asian families). The Chinese Americans are concerned that their children may be tempted to smoke marijuana.

A hundred or so Chinese Americans meet at a local church on Sundays. A main topic of discussion is their children’s education. The good schools in Bellevue are a main reason for high housing prices.

On the local social network, there was likewise a discussion among local residents concerned about what sort of people a marijuana store would likely attract.

I said that I don’t smoke marijuana and I think it’s not healthy to do so, but I said it’s clearly safer than alcohol.   A Chinese woman said that that’s the argument she had heard from others.

Alcohol causes people to get into fights, beat their wives, ignore their kids, and kill others with high-speed driving. At worst, marijuana makes people lazy, happy, and hungry.

The Chinese woman was sitting next to me during the town hall. When the legislators discussed charter schools, she turned to me and whispered, “What are charter schools?” I said, briefly, that they are private schools.   After the town hall, Marcie Maxwell was explaining to several Chinese Americans about charter schools. They invited her to speak to them about it at their church meeting.

Whether Chinese Americans would support progressive taxation is an open question.  If it resulted in a transfer of money away from Bellevue schools, they may oppose it.

Chinese Americans should be encouraged to participate in party politics.  This is especially true in Bellevue.  According to the city’s webpage on demographics, the percent of Asians in Bellevue increased from 9.9% in 1990 to 17.4% in 2000 and then to 27.5% in 2010. (I bet the percent is over 30 now.)   I’m not sure what proportion of Bellevue Asians are American citizens, but they’re obviously an important constituency that should be nurtured.  They are likely to support public education.

Second Charter School Fix is also a Framework for Fraud

Even though the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional and ordered the State legislature to fully fund our real public schools, some of the leaders of the State legislature, in a blatant act of defiance, have decided to hold hearings on two “charter school fix” bills both of which would rob even more millions of dollars from our public schools. The hearing on the two charter school fix bills will be in Olympia on Tuesday January 12 2016 at 1:30 pm in the Senate Cherberg Building. Parents and teachers who want the legislature to focus on funding our real public schools instead of funding charter schools should attend this hearing and let the Senators know that you oppose diverting any more money away from real public schools.

01
This is the second of two reports I have written about the Charter School Fix bills to help parents and teachers better understand how the charter school fix bills would rob millions of dollars away from our real public schools. First, a quick review of how we got to this crazy place. In 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court found that the State legislature had failed to comply with their Constitutional Paramount Duty to fully fund our public schools and ordered the legislature to come up with a plan to fully fund our public schools. When the legislature failed to come up with a plan, in September 2014, our Supreme Court held the legislature in “Contempt of Court” for dragging their feet. In 2015, the legislature claimed that they added a billion dollars in school funding. But in fact, they merely restored funds that they had cut in previous legislative sessions. Therefore, in August 2015, the Supreme Court began fining the state legislature. Thus far, the legislature has simply ignored these fines.

Then on September 4, 2015, our Supreme Court ruled that the Charter School Initiative 1240, funded with millions of dollars by Bill Gates, was unconstitutional in part because charter schools would divert billions of dollars away from public schools and in part because public school funds would be handed over to private corporations rather than being controlled by publicly elected school boards.

In response to this Supreme Court ruling, in December 2015, a couple of fake groups, SFC and LEV, announced that they had formed a new PAC to provide a half million dollars in campaign contributions to legislators willing to “fix” the problem created when the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the Charter School Initiative 1240 was unconstitutional. On January 4, 2016, Senate Bill 6163 was submitted to the Washington State legislature which would “fix the charter school problem by putting charter schools under the control of local school boards. After researching this 37 page bill, on January 7, 2016, I published a report calling Senate Bill 6163 a “framework for fraud” and summarizing 12 specific problems with Senate Bill 6163. Here is a link to my first report: http://coalitiontoprotectourpublicschools.org/charter-school-fix-is-a-framework-for-fraud

Later on January 7 2016, a second 44 page Charter School Fix bill was submitted in the Washington State legislature. This bill would fix the charter school problem by diverting millions of dollars in Washington State lottery funds in order to pay for charter schools. This bill claims that these funds are not restricted for use by public schools and can therefore be used to fund charter schools. This bill does not yet have a number but is available at the following link: http://leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/EDU/Documents/2016 Draft bills-PSSBs-Amds/ELKE 1.12.16 S-3706 1.pdf

In this second report, we will review the problems of this second Charter School Fix bill. We will begin by addressing some of the questions raised by my first report because these same concerns also apply to the second charter school fix.

Who paid for the Charter School Initiate 1240?
In my prior report, I pointed out that Bill Gates spent millions of dollars promoting the Charter School Initiative 1240. One person, our of of the thousands who read my first report, felt that this was an unfair attack on Bill Gates, who is the richest man in the world with a total wealth in excess of one hundred billion dollars. In fact, according to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, Bill Gates contributed $3.6 million in direct funding to the “Yes on 1240” campaign. As I explain in the following article, the actual amount Bill Gates spent promoting the Charter School Initiative was more than $35 million. It is therefore accurate to claim that Bill Gates paid for the Charter School Initiative. http://weaponsofmassdeception.org/7-billionaire-controlled-corrupt-government/7-1-how-billionaires-buy-elections

Are SFC and LEV real groups or fake groups?
In my prior report, I pointed out that the groups who who formed the half million dollar PAC to pay legislators for promoting a charter school fix were fake groups funded with millions of dollars from Bill Gates. By fake groups, I mean that these groups are funded predominately by Bill Gates and other billionaires and not by contributions from stakeholders such as parents and teachers and/or the general public.

Specifically, SFC (aka Stand For Children) has received about $16 million from the Gates Foundation and LEV (aka the League of Education Voters) has received about $14 million from the Gates Foundation. Therefore the half million dollar PAC they created is in reality a Bill Gates funded PAC. These two fake groups are only two of more than 100 fake groups funded by Bill Gates to promote his takeover of our public schools.

Are the the Half Million Dollars that the WA Charter Schools PAC is giving to Legislators Bribes or Just Campaign Contributions?
In my previous report, I described the half million dollars being given to Washington state legislators as “bribes.” One person objected to my calling these campaign contributions “bribes.”

The WA Charter School PAC website described their new program this way: “The WA Charters PAC delivered checks of $1,000 dollars to 13 members of the house and 11 Senators, on both sides of the aisle last week, including Representatives Pettigrew (D-37), Sawyer (D-29), Senn (D-41), Magendanz (R-5) and Senators Mullet (D-5), Fain (R-47), Litzow (R-41), and Rolfes (D-23). The PAC is continuing to raise funds despite the December 10th cut-off date… WA Charters expects to raise more than $500,000 by the end of session… We know we will have more champions to thank after the session” added Thomas Franta, CEO of WA Charters.”

So the money is simply WA Charters way of saying thank you to legislators for passing a charter school fix bill. But is offering both current money now and the promise of a lot more money later in trade for passing a charter school fix bill a bribe? Here is the Webster’s Dictionary definition of a bribe:

Bribe: Something given or promised to a person in order to influence dishonestly a decision or action; something valuable (such as money) that is given in order to get someone to do something; money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust; to try to get someone to do something by giving or promising something valuable (such as money).

Here is what the Washington State Constitution says about the legality of paying off legislators to get them to pass a bill:
Article II, Section 30 BRIBERY OR CORRUPT SOLICITATION. The offense of corrupt solicitation of members of the legislature, or of public officers of the state… to influence their official action, shall be defined by law, and shall be punished by fine and imprisonment… A member who has a private interest in any bill or measure proposed or pending before the legislature, shall disclose the fact to the house of which he is a member, and shall not vote thereon.

It is a fact that the prime sponsors of both charter school fix bills have been given campaign contributions from WA Charters PAC. Numerous legislators have also received direct campaign contributions from SFC, LEV and various members of the Washington Roundtable. This sort of influence peddling is one of the worst forms of corruptions. Bills should be passed solely on the merits of whether they benefit the people and children of the state of Washington – not based upon who is offering the most money to legislators and their re-election campaigns.

Are the Charter School Fix Bills Really a Framework for Fraud?
One person, out of the hundreds who read my last report, objected to my use of the word “fraud” in the title of my last report despite the fact that I provided links to numerous reports of charter school fraud in other states and provided specific quotes from Senate Bill 6163 of “loopholes” that would allow the exact same sort of fraud in Washington state as has already occurred in several other states.

I declined her request to change the title of the report because Fraud is one of the major problems of charter schools in every state that has allowed charter schools. In fact, fraud in the form of robbing from the tax payers is one of the major purposes of charter schools. Without fraud, there would be no financial incentive to push for charter schools or money to bribe legislators into creating charter schools or money to create fake groups to promote charter schools. To be more clear, here is the Webster’s Dictionary for the word Fraud:

Fraud: The crime of using dishonest methods to take something valuable from another person, intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right; a copy of something that is meant to look like the real thing in order to trick people.

This is exactly what charter schools are. They are a copy of our public schools in order to trick people into giving private for profit corporations money that should have gone to real public schools. The dishonest methods used include marketing campaigns that falsely claim that charter schools are better than public schools (the perversion of truth) as well as bribing legislators into allowing charter schools. The legal right that is given up is the right of our children to receive a real education from a real, experienced and highly qualified teacher. As we noted in our previous article and will show again in this article, the primary method charter schools use to increase corporate profits is to use inexperienced, untrained teachers who are paid substantially less than real teachers.

The reason each of the charter school fix bills are a framework for fraud is that both bills contain numerous loopholes that are specifically intended to allow charter schools to hire unqualified teachers and then pay them much less than real public school teachers. There is no benefit to children in gutting the pay of teachers. There is only a benefit to for profit corporations in that the less they pay teachers, the more they can make in corporate profits. But before we review the loopholes in the second charter school fix bill, let’s quickly review the fraud studies from other states:

Three 2015 Studies of Charter School Fraud in other States
A March 2015national report documented charter school fraud and waste totaling more than $200 million – but says the total is  impossible to know because there is not sufficient oversight over charter schools.The report, titled “The Tip of the Iceberg: Charter School Vulnerabilities To Waste, Fraud, And Abuse,” was released by the Center for Popular Democracy. http://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Charter-Schools-National-Report_rev2.pdf

The report notes that these figures only represent fraud and waste in the charter sector uncovered so far, and that the total that federal, state and local governments “stand to lose” in 2015 is probably more than $1.4 billion.

The report states: “Charter operators have used school funds illegally to buy personal luxuries for themselves, support their other businesses, and more…The vast majority of the fraud perpetrated by charter officials will go undetected because the federal government, the states, and local charter authorizers lack the oversight necessary to detect the fraud.”

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The fraud included corruption, asset misappropriation, financial statement fraud, conflicts of interest such as purchasing schemes, bribery, bid rigging, kickbacks and extortion, theft, skimming, billing schemes, payroll schemes, expense reimbursement schemes, shell companies, ghost employees, ghost students, ghost buildings, accomplice vendors, overstated expenses, fake expenses, forged checks, fake refunds, and manipulations of assets and inventories. California alone stands to lose more than $100 million to charter school fraud in 2015. The vast majority of this fraud perpetrated by charter officials will go undetected because California lacks the oversight necessary to identify the fraud.

Ghost Students in Half of Ohio Charter Schools
In January 2015, the Ohio state auditor released a report of the results of unannounced visits by inspectors to 30 charter schools. In nearly half of the schools, the school-provided headcount was significantly higher than the auditors’ headcount. Schools are funded based on headcount, so these inflated figures amount to millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars siphoned away from students.
http://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Charter-Schools-National-Report_rev2.pdf

Epidemic of Charter School Waste, Fraud and Abuse
The second national report called Charter School Black Hole by the Center for Media and Democracy published in October 2015 found what it called an “Epidemic of charter school waste fraud and abuse.” Specifically, the report found that more than $3.7 billion dollars just in federal funds has been diverted away from public schools to charter schools. Since federal funds are about 10% of total school funding, the total diverted away from public schools to charter schools may be as high as $37 billion and counting – with little to no accountability as to how those funds are spent because charter school spending is a “black hole.”

“This is due in part to the way laws governing charters have been built by proponents, favoring “flexibility” over rules. That flexibility has allowed an epidemic of fraud, waste, and mismanagement that would not be tolerated in public schools.”
http://www.prwatch.org/files/new_charter_school_black_hole_report_oct_21_2015.pdf

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Charter School Closure Chaos
The report found that millions of tax payer dollars going to “dozens of ghost schools where funds were given to charter schools that never even opened.” The report also found that charter schools have a much higher failure rate than public schools. For example, Michigan has 300 charter schools and 108 have failed for a failure rate of 25%.Arizona has 600 charter schools and more than 100 closed charter schools for a failure rate of 14%. Florida has 650 charters and more than 120 closed charter schools for a failure rate of 16%. Wisconsin has 240 charter schools and 90 failed and closed charter schools for a failure rate of 27%. California has more than 1000 charter schools and nearly 200 have closed for a failure rate of 20%. According to a 2015 national study, 2,210 out of about 10,000 charters had closed for a national charter school failure rate of 22%.
http://www.prwatch.org/news/2015/09/12936/cmd-publishes-full-list-2500-closed-charter-schools

By comparison, the US has about 100,000 public schools of which only about 1,000 have closed for reasons other than charter conversion during the past 10 years for a closure rate of about 1 percent. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=619

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2,210 Charter School Closures in the US from 2001 to 2013 has disrupted and harmed the education of nearly one million students

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Charter school failures have included stunning tales of financial fraud, skimming of retirement funds, financial mismanagement, material violations of the law, massive debt, unsafe school conditions, lack of teacher credentials, failure to conduct background checks, terrible academic performance and test results, insufficient enrollment, inflated enrollment and numerous fraud indictments of charter school operators. There were also several cases of squandering of taxpayer moneyfunding going to religious schools even though state law prohibits funding going to religious schools.

Charter school closures not only cost tax payers millions of dollars but disrupt the education, academic social and emotional development of hundreds of thousands of students. Closing schools is almost as traumatic and harmful an experience for children as losing their homes. Pauline Lipman, a professor of at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has been studying school closures since 2004, said “We know every time you move a child from one school to another it has a destabilizing effect on their education.”

The decision to close schools is often based on the belief that displaced students will be moved to higher performing schools. But research in Chicago has shown that has not often happened.  An Oct. 2009 study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago examined the closure of 44 public schools in Chicago between 2001 to 2006 (schools closed by Arne Duncan) and compared these thousands of displaced students to a group of similar students whose schools were not closed or replaced by charter schools. The report found that only 6% of displaced students enrolled in high-performing schools, while 82% of displaced students continued to attend schools with very low levels of academic achievement.
http://www.edweek.org/media/ccsr_school_closings-final.pdf

Dislocated students are less likely to graduate
In 2014 study, Matthew F. Larsen at Tulane University looked at high school closures in Milwaukee, almost all of which were charter schools, and he concluded that closures decreased “high school graduation rates by nearly 10%.” He found that the effects persist “even if the students attends a better quality school after closure.” http://www.prwatch.org/news/2015/09/12936/cmd-publishes-full-list-2500-closed-charter-schools#sthash.ejeFJq9i.dpuf

Many schools in Chicago were closed twice… First by Arne Duncan and then after the private takeover did not succeed in improving test scores, the “charter” schools were closed again. This is clear evidence that the problem with schools in low income neighborhoods is not the school. The problem is poverty. All parents, all children and all teachers need to be treated with respect, dignity, fairness and opportunity. Closing public schools in poor neighborhoods over and over again is not the answer. It is simply another form of child abuse. Closing public schools and turning them all into private, for profit charter schools does not improve outcomes for poor inner city children because this “solution” does not address the real problem faced by poor inner city kids. That problem is poverty – their parents do not have a living wage job.

Nearly Half of All Charter Schools are Run by National Corporate Profit EMOs
The most recent study of charter school money laundering was published in December 2015 by the National Education Policy Center. This study found that there was virtually no difference between the operation and financial structure of For Profit Education Management Organizations and Non Profit Education Management Organizations. The report concluded that “Most nonprofit EMOs look, act, and have management agreements similar to for-profit EMOs.”For example, while the typical public school spends more than 60% of revenue on instruction (teachers), KIPP one of the nation’s largest non-profit corporations spends only 42% on instruction mainly by hiring TFA fake teachers. This allows KIPP to pay its administrators up to $400,000 per year. So much for being a non-profit organization!
http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/rb_baker-miron_charter_revenue_0.pdf

This chart indicates that about half of all charter school students are enrolled in these national chain charters.

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The report found four major problems with charter schools:

#1 A substantial share of public expenditure intended for the delivery of direct educational services to children is being extracted inadvertently or intentionally forpersonal or business financial gain;

#2 Public assets are being transferred to private hands, at public expense;

#3 Charter school operators are self-serving private entities built on funds derived from lucrative management fees and rent extraction; and

#4 Current weak disclosure requirements make it unlikely that any legal violations,ethical concerns, or bad practices are reported.

The report then explained with detailed charts and diagrams how EMO corporations extract profits out of charter schools.One of the concerns raised about adding a profit motive to educating kids is the potentialfor charters to manipulate enrollment and attendance data “to maximize tax-subsidizedper-pupil funding. The report concluded that “The multiple layers of private schooloperations and management, governing boards of private citizens, and in somecases, authorization by private entities,presents far greater opportunityto shield documents and avoidconstitutional and statutory protectionsin the charter sector.”

Does this track record of Systematic Charter School Fraud in other States justify calling the Washington State Charter School Fix Bills a “Framework for Fraud?
Some apparently believe that Washington State can magically avoid the charter school disasters that have occurred in other states. However, the same legal loopholes that allowed the charter school fraud in other states presents a framework for similar levels of fraud here in Washington state. In our prior report, we provided examples of legal loopholes in Senate Bill 6163. In this report, we will show that there is an equal potential for fraud in the second charter school fix bill submitted on January 7 2016. Here is a table comparing the loopholes in the two Charter School Fix Bills:

Charter School Fraud Loopholes Jan 4 Fix Bill Jan 7 Fix Bill
#1 Diverts Millions of Dollars Away from Public Schools YES YES
#2 Violates the “Uniformity” Clause of our State Constitution YES YES
#3 Provides no protection for teacher salaries YES YES
#4 Provides no protection for teacher training YES YES
#5 Transfers oversight of tax payer dollars from a publicly elected school board to a privately appointed group of corporate rubber stampers YES YES
#6 Non-profits used in the bill are actually money laundering operations for For Profit Corporations YES YES
#7 Reduces public meetings and public accountability for parents and tax payers. YES YES
#8 Increased Flexibility simply means increased Fraud for Charter School Contractors YES YES
#9 Increases Rate of School Closures Harms Students YES YES

See our first report for the exact “framework for fraud” loophole language in the Jan 4 charter school fix bill.
http://coalitiontoprotectourpublicschools.org/charter-school-fix-is-a-framework-for-fraud

Here we will review the loophole language in the Jan 7 charter school fix bill which is amazingly similar to the loophole language in the Jan 4 Fix bill. The similarity of loophole language between the two bills confirms that the purpose of both bills is not to improve the quality of education for children. Rather the point of these loopholes is to use the charter school fix bill to deliberately create avenues for funneling money away from public schools and into the pockets of private for profit corporations.

#1 Both Charter School Fix Bills Are Unconstitutional Because Both Divert Millions of Dollars Away from Public Schools
While the January 4th Charter School Fix bill allows for up to 10% of all school funds (up to one billion dollars) to be diverted away from public schools to charter schools, the January 7th bill only allows about $20 million to be diverted away from public schools to charter schools. Unfortunately, this second bill is even more dangerous than the first bill in that it makes the claim that one hundred million dollars per year in Lottery funds, currently used for Opportunity Pathway funding are not restricted for use as school funding because the Lottery funds are not part of the “three protected accounts” specified in the state constitution to fund our public schools.

This would set the precedent for diverting billions of dollars away from public schools in the future as all the legislature would have to do is create funding sources outside of the three protected accounts to absolve themselves of their paramount duty to fully fund schools. However, the claim that using millions of dollars in lottery funds to fund charter schools would not reduce state funding for public schools is factually false. Historically, Washington lottery funds have been used for both school construction and class size reduction.

Here is a brief history of State Lottery funds taken from a 2014 State School Funding Guide: “As a result of the passage of Initiative 728 in 2000, all lottery revenues were, in fact, dedicated for educational purposes (with the exception of about 10 percent, which was dedicated by previous legislation for debt service on the stadiums in Seattle). For fiscal years 2001-2004, a portion of lottery revenues were distributed to school districts to allow them to make improvements, such as reducing class sizes, extending learning opportunities, and expanding professional development and early childhood education programs. The remainder was deposited into the Education Construction Account, which is used to fund a portion of the state matching funds for K-12 public school and higher education construction. From fiscal year 2005 through 2009, all lottery revenues were deposited into the Education Construction Account. In 2009, the Legislature redirected lottery dollars to the state general fund to support a range of state programs, including education.”

The fact that lottery funds have been used for school funds in the past is important because our Supreme Court has ruled that once state funds are “co-mingled” then they become funds subject to the Paramount Duty of funding our public schools. For example, the court ruled that the state general funds were co-mingled with the constitutional protected funds making the general funds also protected:

“by diverting common school funds to charter schools, the (Charter School Initiative) Act contravenes article IX, section 2 of the Washington Constitution.”

On page 13 of the ruling the Washington Supreme Court explained that:
“The constitutional protection afforded to common school appropriations is not dependent on the source of the revenue (i.e., the type of tax or other funding source) or the account in which the funds are held (i.e., the general fund or other state fund). Rather, this court held that all money “allocated to the support of the common schools … constitute[ s] a ‘state tax for the common schools’ in contemplation of Art. IX,§ 2, of the constitution… Once appropriated to the support of the common schools,” funds cannot “subsequently be diverted to other purposes. This court cautioned that to hold otherwise “would be calamitous.”

The above ruling is similar to a 1983 Washington Supreme Court which held that once the legislature defines a program as an essential part of Basic Education it cannot later cut funding for the program in order to transfer funding to other programs that are not part of Basic Education. The bottom line is that taking one hundred million dollars out of the State budget for other purposes would in fact leave one hundred million fewer dollars for public schools. This makes using lottery funds for charter schools that were previously used to support public schools as unconstitutional as using general funds for charter schools.

#2 Both Charter School Fix Bills Violate the “Uniformity” Clause of our State Constitution
Article IX, Section 2 of the Washington State Constitution not only requires the state legislature to fully fund public schools, it also requires the legislature to provide a “general and uniform system of public schools.”

In ruling that charter schools were unconstitutional, the Washington Supreme Court specifically stated: “We hold that the provisions of I-1240 that designate and treat charter schools as common schools violate article IX, section 2 of our state constitution and are void. This includes the Act’s funding provisions, which attempt to tap into and shift a portion of moneys allocated for common schools to the new charter schools authorized by the Act.”

The court explained that one of the things that made charter schools “not uniform” was the loss of local control and local accountability because they were not directed by a locally elected school board. Our Supreme Court quoted a 1909 Supreme Court ruling called Byran which stated: “a common school, within the meaning of our constitution, is one that is common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to and under the control of the qualified voters of the school district… The system must be uniform in that every child shall have the same advantages and be subject to the same discipline as every other child.”

The September 2015 ruling then explained that
“Here, because charter schools under 1-1240 are run by an appointed board or nonprofit organization and thus are not subject to local voter control, they cannot qualify as “common schools” within the meaning of article IX.”

Therefore because both charter school bills place the actual control of charter schools with an appointed charter school board, charter schools are not public schools. But this is not the only reason charter schools were ruled unconstitutional.

The 1909 Bryan case dealt specifically with whether the legislature could allow some schools to use uncertified teachers. Bryan ruled that the use of uncertified teachers in some schools was unconstitutional because then the schools would not be uniform.

Thus, even in the unlikely case that the Supreme Court ruled that lottery funds were not protected, they would still rule charter schools unconstitutional because both charter school bills specifically allow charter schools to use uncertified teachers. (see footnote 10 on page 11 of the 2015 Supreme Court ruling).

In the 2012 McCleary decision, our State Supreme Court has also ruled that the legislature is in violation of the uniformity clause of the state constitution because current laws create a two tier system of rich school districts that can easily pass local school levies and school bonds thanks to high per pupil property valuations – and poor school districts that cannot pass local school levies and school bonds due to low per pupil property valuations (See OSPI Report 1061).

Both charter school fix bills would turn our current two tier system of rich schools and poor schools into a three tier system of rich schools, poor schools and charter schools that do not provide protection for teachers and students.

07 The way to improve our education system is not by exempting some schools from school regulations. Instead, it is by complying with our state constitution and restoring a uniform system of fully funded public schools so that every student has an opportunity to receive a quality education including a fully qualified teacher and low class sizes so that struggling students can get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life. Here is a link to the January 7 Charter School Fix bill in case you want to read it yourself. leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/EDU/Documents/2016 Draft bills-PSSBs-Amds/ELKE 1.12.16 S-3706 1.pdf

Here is the language in the second charter school fix bill saying charter schools will be separate from the public school system:

Page 3: “A charter school established under this chapter is… operated separately from the common school system.”

#3 Both Charter School Fix bills provide no protection for teacher salaries and therefore no protection for students to insure that they receive a quality education.
The primary way charter schools generate massive profits for their promoters is to hire fake teachers with no actual training or experience and then lower the salary of these fake teachers by paying them peanuts instead of a living wage so that the average charter school teacher quits after one year. A 2015 New Jersey study found that charter school teachers make about $20,000 per year less than public school teachers.
http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2015/05/teaching-at-charter-school-means-taking.html

In April 2014, the League of Women Voters of Florida issued a report on fraud of charter schools. The report was shocking. They found that while public schools spent more than 80% of their funds on classroom instruction, charter schools spent barely 40% on classroom instruction. Charter schools spent much less on teachers and much more on overhead costs, management and rental fees. Charter schools had a closure rate of 20% per year. Numerous members of the State legislature benefited directly or indirectly from charter school kickbacks.
http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1103316066537-1070/LWV+Final+Report+Statewide+Study+1-3.pdf

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Here is the language in the January 7 Charter School Fix bill that allows charter schools to have any teachers they want, any class sizes they want and distribute public tax payer dollars in any manner they want:

Page 6: Charter schools are not subject to, and are exempt from, all other state statutes and rules applicable to school districts and school district boards of directors…Except as provided otherwise by this chapter or a charter contract, charter schools are exempt from all school district policies.

Page 29: This section does not require a charter school to pay a particular salary to its staff while the staff is employed by the charter school.

Compare this to the language in the first charter school fix bill:
This section does not require a district charter school to pay a particular salary to its staff while the staff is employed by the district charter school. (SB 6163 Page 29)

Page 36: Any bargaining unit or units established at the charter school must be limited to employees working in the charter school and must be separate from other bargaining units in school districts, educational service districts, or institutions of higher education. Any charter school established under chapter 28A.710 RCW is a separate employer from any school district, including the school district in which it is located.

Compare this to the language in the first charter school fix bill:
“Any bargaining unit or units established at the district charter school must be limited to employees working in the district charter school and must be separate from other bargaining units in school districts, educational service districts, or institutions of higher education. Any district charter school established under chapter 28A.710 RCW is a separate employer from any school district, including the school district in which it is located…” (SB 6163 Page 30)

“The district charter school board may… Hire, manage, and discharge any district charter school employee in accordance with the terms of this chapter and that school’s district charter contract.” (SB 6163 Page 5)

The clear goal of such language is to eliminate the right of students to an experienced teacher and the right of teachers to a living wage.

#4 The Charter School Fix bills provide no protection for teacher training and thus would expose Washington State Students to Poorly Trained and Inexperienced TFA Teachers
In order to cut costs and increase profits, many charter schools use “TFA Fake Teachers.” TFA (Teach for America) recruits recent college graduates, gives them five weeks of “training” – which is really nothing more than a five week pep rally – and then ships them off to school districts nationwide to inflict their lack of training on innocent and often very young students. Just imagine being operated on by a doctor with only 5 weeks of training. Subjecting our kids to fake teachers with only 5 weeks of training is a crime. Here is the loophole language in the January 7 2016 Charter School Fix Bill:

Page 5: Charter schoolsmay hire noncertificated instructional staff

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How is this even possible?
In the past, both state and federal law regulated who could teach in our public schools. Teachers were required to have years of training in child development, learning theories, and classroom management. They were also required to complete a several month “practice” teaching experience under the guidance of an experienced teacher. After all of this, they were granted a “Provisional Teachers Certificate” which allowed them to teach. But in most states, additional training during several summers was required to get a permanent teachers certificate. The federal court also ruled that TFA recruits should not be concentrated in districts of high poverty and high disadvantage, where children actually need “highly qualified” teachers, not young college graduates with five weeks to training. For more on this subject, see Renee v. Duncan, decided on September 27, 2010, which struck down Arnie Duncan’s crazy regulation that TFA recruits were highly qualified.
http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/09/27/08-16661.pdf

All of this changed on December 21, 2010, when state and federal teaching standards laws were changed in order to allow TFA recruits to qualify as “highly qualified” teachers. It should be obvious that a recruit with only five weeks of training can not possibly be “highly qualified.” However, on December 21, 2010, Congress amended federal law to change the definition of “highly qualified to include TFA recruits. This was despite the fact that (or because of the fact that) the federal appeals court in California twice ruled that TFA teachers are not highly qualified.

TFA Cheap, Fake Teachers are a Key Part of the Charter School Scam
TFA’s growth depends on and supports the country’s corrupt charter school movement. TFA teachers are non-union and work for much less than real teachers. They are therefore a key tactic in reducing the cost of teachers if the goal is making money rather than helping kids learn. In 2013, in Connecticut, hundreds of teaching jobs were given to out of state TFA recruits while graduates of Connecticut’s 5-Year Teachers College program were not even allowed to apply for these jobs. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/29/how-teach-for-america-recruits-get-preference-for-teaching-jobs/

While a first year salary for a teacher at a traditional unionized school in Chicago is approximately $45,000, the starting salary at many of TFA’s partner charter schools is nearly 30 percent less at $32,000.

Teacher Turnover TFA Fake Teachers versus Real Teachers
A 2010 study found that “more than 50% of TFA teachers leave after two years and more than 80% leave after three years.” By comparison, over 60% of all real teachers – who typically have five years of training – leave after 5 years with most of the remainder staying for more than 10 years. The following chart shows how long TFA recruits remain in the teaching profession.
http://www.greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_Briefs/Heilig_TeachForAmerica.pdf

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As a result of the huge turnover of TFA teachers at charter schools, students at TFA fed charter schools are taught by an endless stream of first-year teachers. These students and their TFA fake teachers are doomed to failure. By contrast, this is the experience distribution of real public school teachers using the same scale:

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Teacher Salaries are Already Much Lower than Other Professions
Another reason teachers suffer from a much higher turnover than other professions, besides the fact that they are being attacked by billionaires is that are among the lowest paid of all professions.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupation Employment Statistics
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ocwage.pdf

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#5 Both Charter School Fix Bills Transfer oversight of tax payer dollars from a publicly elected school board to a privately appointed group of corporate rubber stampers
One of the most shocking sections in the second Charter School Fix bill is the following:

Page 3: A charter school established under this chapter is a public((, common)) school that is governed by a charter school board.

Page 4: A charter school may enter into contracts with any school district, educational service district, or other public or private entity for the provision of real property, equipment, goods, supplies, and services, including educational instructional services ((and including)), pupil transportation services, and for the management and operation of the charter school ((to the same extent as other non-charter public schools, as long as)), provided the charter school board maintains oversight authority over the charter school. Contracts for management operation of the charter school may only be with nonprofit organizations;

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Here is the structure proposed by the second Charter School Fix:
An unelected Charter School Commission sets up unelected charter school boards made up of rubber stampers selected by the very corporations the rubber stampers will oversee. Then the actual charter schools are allowed to set up contracts with any public or private entity while being exempted from all state laws.

We have seen earlier that the phrase “non-profit organization is simply a scam shell of a for profit corporation. This structure is truly a framework for fraud! This is like the fox guarding the hen house. Only in this case, it is Wall Street corporations put in charge of guarding one billion dollars in tax payer funds as well as the educational future of thousands of Washington state students!

#6 The “Non-profits” used in the Charter School Fix bill are actually money laundering operations for For Profit Corporations
The January 7th Fix tries to fool us into thinking that charter schools would be run by non-profits. Here is the language in the bill: Page 2: “(Charter School) “Applicant” means a nonprofit corporation that has submitted an application to the authorizer. The nonprofit corporation may not be a sectarian or religious organization and must meet all of the requirements for a public benefit nonprofit corporation before receiving any funding.

The January 4 Fix (Senate Bill 6163) also tries to fool legislators and the public into thinking that charter schools would only be run by “Non-profits.” Here is the language in the bill: “(Charter School) “Applicant” means a nonprofit corporation that has submitted an application to… the school district in which the district charter school is to be located. The nonprofit corporation may not be a sectarian or religious organization and must meet all of the requirements for a public benefit nonprofit corporation before receiving any funding.” (SB 6163 Page 2)

However, in December, 2014, areport was published called When Charter Schools are Nonprofit in Name Only which explains in detail many ways in which public tax payer dollars are funneled from fake non-profits to for profit corporations. This report described the common practice of charter schools pretending to be “non-profits” only to sweep all of the money out of the fake non-profit front group and into the pockets of private for profit “management” corporations. These “sweep” contracts divert nearly all of the charter school’s public dollars to for profit corporations – with very little left to actually run the charter schools. Once the public money goes into the black hole of a private corporation, there is no way to keep track of how it is actually spent.

Here is a quote from the report: “It can be hard for regulators and even schools themselves to follow the money when nearly all of it goes into the accounts of a private company… “We can’t audit the (private) management company,” said Brian Butry, a spokesman for New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.”
http://www.propublica.org/article/when-charter-schools-are-nonprofit-in-name-only

Here is a diagram of how this money laundering operation works:

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#7 The Charter School Fix bill would reduce public meetings and public accountability for parents and tax payers.
Elected school boards typically hold public meetings at least once a month during which time parents and other concerned citizens can let the school board know about problems in the schools that need to be addressed. If the elected school board does not listen to the parents and do something to fix the problems, there are elections every two years to vote in a new school board that will listen and take action. None of these protections exist with the appointed charter school board. In fact, the second charter school fix bill does not require any meetings and thus there is no opportunity for local impute on charter school board decisions.

#8 Increased Flexibility simply means increased Fraud for Charter School Contractors
How are charter schools working out in other states? The result of deregulation has been a tidal wave of fraud, abuse and corruption. Here is an estimate from the Pennsylvania State Auditor. Combined with $140 million sucked out of Pennsylvania by gold digger poorly performing charter schools and the total loss to Pennsylvania tax payers is more than $300 million per year. http://thenotebook.org/blog/125416/pa-auditor-general-blasts-cyber-charter-funding-again/

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A National Charter School Corporate Crime Wave
In May 2014, the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education issued a report called Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse. This report concluded that fraudulent charter operators in 15 states were responsible for losing, misusing or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money per year. http://integrityineducation.org/charter-fraud/

Since there are actually charter schools in 45 States, it is likely that the total fraud and abuse of tax payers funds by charter schools exceeds $300 million per year. The report contains news stories, criminal records, and other documents to detail abuses such as charter school operators embezzling funds, using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses, taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide, inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues, and putting children in potential danger by foregoing safety regulations or withholding services. These are only a few specific examples of the thousands of cases of fraud involving charter schools nationwide.

17
Here is a quote from the report: “Our examination, which focused on 15 large charter markets, found fraud, waste, and abuse cases totaling over $100 million in losses to taxpayers. Despite rapid growth in the charter school industry, no agency, federal or state, has been given the resources to properly oversee it. Given this inadequate oversight, we worry that the fraud and mismanagement that has been uncovered thus far might be just the tip of the iceberg.

18

Charter School Fraud in Ohio…
Ohio has about 400 charter schools affecting more than 120,000 children. Ohio seems to be the nation’s leader in charter school corruption which is why we have saved them for last. In 2013, an Ohio man and his brother plead guilty to an alleged $1.8 million charter school fraud in Cleveland. Both were sentenced to one year probation. Also in 2013, in a similar case, prosecutors charged a charter school operator of diverting at least $1.2 million dollars in public funds away from his charter school and into other businesses and multiple homes. In 2014, the judge gave the operator 5 years of probation. http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2014/02/lion_of_judah_charter_school_o.html

In another case, a charter school treasurer plead guilty to stealing $470,000 from 4 Ohio charter schools. The funds were supposed to be used for the education of students at four charter schools in Columbus, Youngstown and Dayton between 2005 and 2011, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

In 2013, 19 charter schools closed in the State of Ohio, joining 150 other charter schools in Ohio that had already been shut down since 2005. With about 400 total charter schools in Ohio, that is a failure rate of over 40 percent!

“$1.4 billion has been spent since 2005 through school year 2012-2013 on charter schools that have never gotten any higher grade than an F or a D,”

As in Florida and many other “charter school” states, charter schools are closing at a record rate in Ohio and sticking tax payers with the bill
Charter schools are closing in Ohio at a record rate after a series of fraud cases were uncovered. The tax payers are left to pick up the pieces and the kids suffer the loss of their schools and their education.

19
Charter schools are funded by the state on the backs of school districts and taxpayers. Because charter schools are exempt from most state laws and do not have a publicly elected school board, there is almost no oversight of spending at charter schools. Over $900 million dollars per year is diverted away from public schools to charter schools in Ohio every year. But the bill doesn’t stop there. When there is financial mismanagement, charter schools can be closed. But it is almost impossible to get the money invested in charter schools back. Nearly $187 million in tax money spent on failed charter schools is still uncollected.

The only solution to corruption and fraud is to not allow private corporations to make profits off of public schools. The only way this will happen is to ban charter schools.

#9 Increases Rate of School Closures Harms Students
As the recent Tulane University study confirmed, allowing charter schools not only creates a framework for fraud, but the chaos created by charter school closures harms students who see their both their public schools and charter schools closed. Specifically, students whose schools are closed have a 10% lower graduation rate than students whose schools are not closed.

20
#10 The Charter School Fix bill diverts attention away from the Paramount Duty of the State legislature to provide full funding for our public schools.
This is the most disturbing part of the Charter School Fix bill. The State legislature has already been found in “Contempt of Court” for failing to comply with their Paramount Duty under the Washington state Constitution to fully fund our real public schools. As we noted earlier, it would take $3 billion in additional state revenue just to bring school funding in Washington state up to the national average and lower class sizes in Washington state down to the national average.

21
The real problem faced by our schools is that our class sizes are way too large. Yet despite these massive and urgent problems affecting the lives of one million students, there has only been ONE BILL submitted in the Washington state legislature that would generate the billions of dollars needed to actually reduce class sizes down to the national average and provide our students with the safe schools they deserve. That bill was Senate Bill 6093 sponsored by Senators Chase and McAuliffe – which would provide more than $3 billion per year in annual revenue by repealing a 1997 tax break used by the very wealthy to avoid paying their fair share of state taxes.

22
Are tax breaks for the wealthy really more important than the lives of half a million students? It is time to start requiring billionaires to pay their fair share of state taxes so we can finally address the school construction backlog here in Washington state. As always, we look forward to your questions and comments.

Regards,
David Spring M. Ed. Coalition to Protect Our Public Schools
Springforschools@aol.com

Originally published Coalition to Protect Our Public Schools.

Why Charter Schools are Fraud Factories

In The Crooks Behind the Charter School Scam, we looked at charter school corruption in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia and New Orleans. In this section, we will look at fraud and corruption in seven States: California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. But what we may think of as corruption is really the intended payoff of charter schools… just a part of the plan to maximize profits by diverting funding away from public schools to private for profit schools

Four Steps in the Cycle of Ed Reform Corruption
01
No publicly elected school board means no public accountability
One of the most important purposes of a publicly elected school board is to oversee the spending of tax payer funds to prevent fraud and corruption. This is why one of the most important goals of charter schools is to get rid of publicly elected school boards. Unlike public schools, private profit charter schools are not subject to a public audit of their books. This allows charter school operators to get away with all kinds of fraud and corruption. Charter schools have already robbed American tax payers of billions of dollars – in addition to robbing American children of their right to a good education. The charter school fraud problem is getting worse every year. In this section, we will provide just a few examples. But with charter schools, fraud is not the exception. It is the rule. If tax payers understood the degree of fraud, waste and abuse going on at charter schools, every charter school in the nation would be shut down within a year.

Understanding Charter School Corruption Requires atour of the US
In order to bring some sense of order to the charter school corruption scams, we have divided them up by States, starting in California and working our way east along the southern United States through Arizona, Texas and Florida and then up the East Coast to Pennsylvania and New York and ending in Ohio. Here is a picture index of how this section is organized:

02

A National Charter School Corporate Crime Wave
In May 2014, the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education issued a report called Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse. This report concluded that fraudulent charter operators in 15 states were responsible for losing, misusing or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money per year. http://integrityineducation.org/charter-fraud/

Since there are actually charter schools in 45 States, it is likely that the total fraud and abuse of tax payers funds by charter schools exceeds $300 million per year. The report contains news stories, criminal records, and other documents to detail abuses such as charter school operators embezzling funds, using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses, taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide, inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues, and putting children in potential danger by foregoing safety regulations or withholding services. These are only a few specific examples of the thousands of cases of fraud involving charter schools nationwide.

Here is a quote from the report: “Our examination, which focused on 15 large charter markets, found fraud, waste, and abuse cases totaling over $100 million in losses to taxpayers. Despite rapid growth in the charter school industry, no agency, federal or state, has been given the resources to properly oversee it. Given this inadequate oversight, we worry that the fraud and mismanagement that has been uncovered thus far might be just the tip of the iceberg.”
03
In December, 2014, another report was published called When Charter Schools are Nonprofit in Name Only. This report described the common practice of charter schools pretending to be “non-profits” only to sweep all of the money out of the fake non-profit front group and into the pockets of private for profit “management” corporations. These “sweep” contracts divert nearly all of the charter school’s public dollars to for profit corporations – with very little left to actually run the charter schools. Once the public money goes into the black hole of a private corporation, there is no way to keep track of how it is actually spent.
http://www.propublica.org/article/when-charter-schools-are-nonprofit-in-name-only

Here is a quote from the report: “It can be hard for regulators and even schools themselves to follow the money when nearly all of it goes into the accounts of a private company… “We can’t audit the (private) management company,” said Brian Butry, a spokesman for New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.”

There are several reasons that privatization of public schools has led to rampant fraud and outright theft of tax payer dollars. The first is greed and the profit motive. Billionaires cannot help themselves. They are used to taking whatever money they can get their hands on. The second is deregulation combined with lack of accountability. With charter schools, there is no elected school board to watch over how public funds are spent. Even when the fraud is uncovered, there is no elected school board to kick out of office and replace with a better group. Parents have literally no voice once their school has been taken over by the fraudsters. The third problem is that charter schools like to measure how they are doing simply by high stakes tests scores. This inevitably leads to cheating scandals and many other attempts to manipulate the system – such as having low performing students call in “sick” and not take the test – and even handing students the answer sheet before the test or having administrators change students test answers in the dead of night.

In 2005 Ronald Corwin and Joseph Schneider published “The School Choice Hoax.” In this book, they concluded that the number of charter schools that closed due to corruption and mismanagement outnumbered charter schools that closed for academic reasons by a margin of more than three to one.
http://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=D7793C

The only solution to corruption and fraud is to not allow private corporations to make profits off of public schools. The only way this will happen is to ban charter schools. Hopefully, the fraud stories from the following 7 states will help convince more Americans that charter school fraud factories need to be shut down.
04

#1: California… The Golden State
As of the 2014 school year, California has about 1,000 charter schools affecting about 500,000 students. The entire nation has about 7,000 charter schools controlling the lives of 2.5 million students. So California represents about 20% of our nation’s charter school corruption problem. Charter schools are virtually unregulated in California. Thus charter school corruption is rampant in California. It has been rampant since it started in 1999.

From 1999 until it went out of business in 2004, the California Charter Academy was the state’s largest charter school operation, with more than 4,557 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. In 2004, the State of California Department of Education began looking into allegations of financial fraud at the charter chain.

This led to criminal charges against the executives of a charter school operation after an audit found they had misused at least $25.6 million in public education money, including $2.6 million for personal expenses. The audit found that executives of the now-closed California Charter Academy used public funds to pay for personal boats, travel, health spa visits, Disney-related merchandise and more. Two employees even paid their income taxes with $42,000 in school funds.

In 2010, the former principal of Northwest Academy Canoga Park charter school plead guilty to embezzlement. Edward Peter Fiszer, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement by a public officer and admitted that the dollar-value exceeded $1.3 million. Fiszer was sentenced to five years in state prison.

Also in California in 2012, a probe into a charter school was prompted after a former employee blew the whistle on suspicious financial activity between the school and a real estate company owned by the school’s founder and “chief executive,” Ben Chavis. Chavis’s company also owns the building leased to the school in the urban East Oakland Laurel District.The Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team that conducted the investigation has brought into question up to $3 million of questionable transactions over the past three years between the charter school and Chavis’s real estate company. The allegation is that Chavis has been embezzling with the aid of his wife, who works as an administrator as well as a consultant to the school. The team concluded that “several companies that conduct business with the charter schools are owned by the founder and/or his spouse, and payment for these services are signed by one or both of these individuals.”

In 2011, a charter school finance director faced charges of embezzling nearly $400,000 to support a prescription narcotics habit, Santa Rosa police officials said. Sheila Accornero is suspected of writing checks to herself and hiding money through accounting techniques during the five years she managed the books for the Kid Street Learning Center Charter School on Davis Street, Sgt. Michael Lazzarini said. “It appears that all the money went to drugs,” said Lazzarini, who runs the property crimes unit. “
05

In 2013, a jury convicted the founders of the Ivy Academia charter school in the San Fernando of embezzling public funds and filing filing false tax returns. Eugene Selivanov and his wife Tatyana Berkovich founded Ivy Academia in 2004 as a state funded charter school. An audit three years later found the couple had not kept public money separate from its for-profit companies. During a three-week trial, prosecutors alleged the couple filed false tax returns and used $200,000 in public funds to buy groceries, clothes and other personal items – and to fund a separate private school!

In 2014, according to an investigation by the California State Auditor, the Cato School of Reason Charter School registered and collected millions of taxpayer dollars for students who were actually attending private schools.

Also in 2014, in California, a charter school con man admitted to stealing more than $7 million worth of computers from the US government by creating fake online schools and then selling the computers on Craig’s List. The total loss to the tax payers of this scam was more than $30 million since 2007.

Also in 2014, a charter school board member in Newport Beach California was accused of stealing $750,000. He took the money telling other school board members he was investing it. It turned out he was investing it in himself through a series of money laundering schemes. Tax payer funds disappeared into thin air.
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-charter-school-board-member-charged-theft-20140212-story.html#ixzz2tg0PSWLm

06
Arizona…
In 2002, Arizona had 422 charter schools – more than any other State in the nation at the time. More than 10 percent of these charter schools have since closed with other charter schools taking their place in a rotating shell game. Currently, Arizona has about 500 charter schools affecting about 200,000 children. In Arizona, in 2012, the Arizona Republic found that board members and administrators from 17 charter schools “profiting from their affiliations by doing business with schools they oversee.” Investigators reviewed thousands of pages of federal tax returns, audits, corporate filings, and records filed with the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools. The analysis looked at the 50 largest non-profit charter schools in the state as well as schools with assets of more than $10 million. For-profit schools were not analyzed because their tax records are not public. The Republic’s analysis found at least 17 contracts or arrangements, totaling more than $70 million over five years and involving about 40 school sites, in which money from the non-profit charter school went to for-profit or non-profit companies run by board members, executives or their relatives.
http://archive.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/20121016insiders-benefiting-charter-deals.html

07
Texas…
Like Arizona, Texas has about 500 charter schools affecting about 200,000 students. In April 2008, an investigation by the Dallas Morning News reported that out of 206 charter schools in Texas, 93 of them – or almost half – had been bilking the state out as much as $26 million dollars per year by over counting their enrollment. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is working to recover $17 million of the $26 million from nearly half of the charters now operating in Texas. TEA records show that 20 schools went out of business before the state could recover its money, leaving taxpayers holding a $9 million bag of debt. Due to the lack of transparency at charter schools, no one knows for sure if the charter school debt is really $26 million dollars. The actual amount of fraud could be much more.
http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2008/04/charter-schools-mismanagement-fraud.html

Florida…
Like Texas and Arizona, Florida has about 500 charter schools affecting more than 200,000 children. Pushing charter schools on the children of Florida was one of the main goals of presidential candidate and former Florida governor, Jeb Bush – who also received millions of dollars from Bill Gates. In a 2007 editorial called “Charter Schools Run Wild,” the St. Petersburg Times of Florida noted that in the state of Florida: “Those lobbyists, and an embarrassingly compliant state Department of Education, have turned charter education into a $560-million-a-year enterprise that is so immune to oversight that an Escambia school convicted of fraudulently using its students to work on road crews is still receiving tax money. A Pensacola school where not a single student has passed the state’s standardized reading and math tests in four years is still receiving tax money. A Vero Beach school investigated twice for suspicion of cheating on standardized tests is still receiving tax money.”
http://www.sptimes.com/2007/04/01/Opinion/Charter_schools_run_w.shtml

08

In 2011, the former director of Life Skills Center Charter School in Florida, John Wyche, was sentenced to serve more than six years in prison for misusing more than $750,000 in state education monies to sustain a failing apartment complex that he owned

In 2012, the former home of a shuttered charter school was auctioned off after Great Florida Bank won a $2.24 million foreclosure judgment. The Miami-Dade County School Board shut down the Balere Language Academy after parents complained of house parties with alcohol and other distasteful promotions.
http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/blog/morning-edition/2012/12/charter-school-building-heads-to.html

In April 2014, the League of Women Voters of Florida issued a report on fraud of charter schools. The report was shocking. They found that while public schools spent more than 80% of their funds on classroom instruction, charter schools spent barely 40% on classroom instruction. Charter schools spent much less on teachers and much more on overhead costs, management and rental fees. Charter schools had a closure rate of 20% per year. Numerous members of the State legislature benefited directly or indirectly from charter school kickbacks.
http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1103316066537-1070/LWV+Final+Report+Statewide+Study+1-3.pdf

09
Thus, how charter schools make a profit is by cutting teachers in half. No wonder charter school operators want to get rid of teachers unions!

In June 2014, an investigation by the Orlando Sun Sentinel found, “Unchecked charter-school operators are exploiting South Florida’s public school system, collecting taxpayer dollars for schools that quickly shut down.” How this scam works is that 56 South Florida charter schools were started and got a lot of public money. Then they closed leaving the local public school district to pick up the pieces. The scam artists included Charter Schools USA – an outfit we will talk more about when we get to Pennsylvania. The scams cost local public school districts more than one million dollars in lost funding.

Here are a couple of quotes from the article:
“It’s almost mind-blowing what’s going on,” said Rosalind Osgood, a Broward School Board member. “They just get away with it.”

“They’re public schools in the front door; they’re for-profit closed entities in the back door,” said Kathleen Oropeza, who co-founded FundEducationNow.org, an education advocacy group based in Orlando. “There’s no transparency; the public has no ability to see where the profits are, how the money is spent.”

In August 2014, another Florida investigation of charter school operations found millions of taxpayer dollars misdirected from classrooms and students to management companies like charter school chain operator Charter Schools USA. Charter Schools USA uses tax-exempt bonds to build schools that it then rents to its affiliates- basically overcharging them by tens of millions of dollars in extra school rental charges that get passed on to the tax payers.

What Charter School USA does very well is provide campaign funding for State legislators. State records indicate Charter Schools USA spends nearly $2 million per year in bribes/lobbying to the State legislature and the State Governor.
http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/investigations/2014/08/21/charter-school-profits-on-real-estate/14420317/

Pennsylvania…
Pennsylvania has about 170 charter schools affecting more than 100,000 children. In 2010, five Philadelphia charter officials plead guilty to or were convicted of federal fraud charges, and 18 charter schools in the city were under federal investigation based on allegations including financial mismanagement, nepotism, conflicts of interest, unusual salary arrangements for chief executives, and complex real estate deals in which charters leased facilities from related organizations. This was part of a national investigation. Here is a quote from the report: “In the last five years, the Inspector General’s Office has opened more than 40 criminal investigations of charter schools nationwide that have resulted in 18 indictments and 15 convictions. The offenses have included embezzling, inflating enrollment to obtain more funding, changing grades, and creating companies to divert money from schools.”
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20100503_U_S__probe_widens_to_18_city_charters.html

In July 2012, the FBI charged charter school promoter Dorothy June Brown with stealing more than $6.5 million in school funds. Dorothy had a habit of stealing from charter schools she had started in Philadelphia. Between 2007 to 2011, Brown robbed $6.5 million from three charter schools she founded. In 2013, the charter school promoter plead guilty to most of the counts.
http://www.fbi.gov/philadelphia/press-releases/2012/charter-school-founder-dorothy-june-brown-charged-in-6-million-fraud-scheme

In June 2014, a study was released showing that Pennsylvania charter schools got $200 million more in tax dollars for special needs students than they actually spent on special needs students.
http://thenotebook.org/sites/default/files/PASBO%20special%20education.pdf

10

As best we can tell, instead of special ed money serving special needs students, it appears that the windfall has funded things like multi-million dollar CEO compensation, over 19,000 local TV commercials urging kids and their parents to sign up for a charter school that has one of the worst academic records in the nation, a jet and Florida condo, generous political campaign contributions and a 20,000 square foot mansion on the beach in Palm Beach Florida. Here’s a three minute youtube video produced by KEYSEC Co-Chair Mark B. Miller that clearly explains how this happens.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRw5oO02KpA

In September 2014, the Center for Popular Democracy, Integrity in Education, and ACTION United published a report that disclosed charter school officials in Pennsylvania had defrauded at least $30 million intended for school children since 1997.
http://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/charter-schools-PA-Fraud.pdf

Examples of charter school fraud described in the report included:
In 2007, one charter operator was caught diverting $2.6 million in school funds to a church property he also operated.

In 2008, another charter school operator was caught spending millions in school funds to bail out other nonprofits associated with the school’s parent corporation.

In 2009, a pair of charter school operators stole more than $900,000 from the school by using fraudulent invoices for home improvement expenses.

In 2012, another charter school operator was sentenced to prison for stealing $522,000 to prop up a failing restaurant.

In 2014, another charter school operator was indicted for diverting $8 million of school funds to buy houses and an airplane.

In November 2014, Pennsylvania voters decided they had finally had enough of their corrupt pro-charter school governor Tom Corbett and voted to replace him with Tom Wolf, a governor who pledged to support and protect real public schools.

On December 6 2014, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools issued a press release calling for the Pennsylvania Attorney General to investigate charter school fraud.

http://wearepcaps.org/2014/12/06/pcaps-calls-on-pennsylvania-attorney-general-kathleen-kane-to-investigate-charter-school-fraud-prevention-practices-requests-by-community-and-parents-for-information-go-unanswered/

11
Here is a quote from their press release: “After uncovering $30 Million in fraud by Pennsylvania Charter schools, members of the community and parents have seen their “Right to Know” requests for information about Philadelphia Charter Schools fraud prevention policies go unanswered. A formal complaint will be filed requesting that the PA Attorney General open an investigation into these private, non-profits and how they care for taxpayer dollars.”

The charter school scam in Pennsylvania is being run by a wealthy attorney named Vahan Gureghain. He is the founder of a corporation called CSMI which stands for charter school Management Incorporated.

12
Gureghain runs Pennsylvania’s largest charter school – with more than 3,000 students. He has donated more than one million dollars to political campaigns of pro-charter school candidates including near a half million dollars to former Governor Tom Corbett. Apparently, this was not enough money to get Tom Corbett re-elected.

Merry Christmas Pennsylvania… We are Stealing your Schools!

York (Pennsylvania) School District Takeover by Charter Schools USA
In December 2014, a judge removed the public schools of York City, Pennsylvania, from their publicly elected school board and handed them over to a receiver, business man David Meckley. He has said he will turn the all eightschools over to a for-profit charter chain, Charter Schools, USA. The school district got into financial trouble after former governor slashed $1 billion in State funding for public schools. This meant an $8.4 million cut for the York School District. The Governor then appointed David Meckley to fix the financial problem that the governor had created. When the elected school board refused to go along with the conversion of the school district to charter schools, Meckley got a judge to sign a court order forcing the conversion. This is what the local newspaper said:
The community clearly opposes the plan. Yet while they have no say in the matter, city property owners’ tax dollars now will be used not only for education but to boost the profits of Charter Schools USA. Since the district is struggling financially, how can anyone justify diverting even a penny away from the students?”

https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/merry-christmas-were-stealing-your-schools/

Below is an image of parents protesting the takeover of their York School District.

13
As we noted in the section on Florida charters, Charter Schools USA is an extremely corrupt corporation. They spend as much on fees and leases profiting upper management as they do on teachers. Another Charter Schools USA school in Indiana kept more than $6 million of “misappropriated” state funds for 1,800 students who never enrolled in its schools. The CEO of Charter Schools USA Jonathan Hage has become very rich from diverting funds away from students and towards things like his personal yacht which he named“‘Fishin’ 4 Schools.”

New York…
New York has about 250 charter schools affecting more than 90,000 children. On December 1 2014, the Alliance for Quality Education released an analysis of charter school financial fraud, finding that more than $54 million in tax payer funds had been diverted away from schools by charter school operators in New York state in just the past year.
http://www.aqeny.org/2014/12/release-new-report-reveals-new-york-states-charter-schools-pose-54-million-fraud-risk-to-taxpayers/

Here is a shocking quote from this report: “State agencies have audited just a quarter of New York’s more than 250 charter schools since 2005, largely relying on them to police themselves. Yet in a startling 95 percent of the charters examined, auditors found mismanagement and internal control deficiencies that have occasioned $28.2 million in known fraud, waste, or mismanagement.”

Put in plain English, in 9 years the State of New York was only able to investigate 62 charter schools. Of these 62 charter schools, 59 were found to have committed fraud or mismanagement! Yet New York taxpayers spend over $1.5 billion on these corrupt charter schools each year.

Examples from the report included:
#1: A New York City charter school operator issued credit cards to its executives allowing them to charge more than $75,000 in unexplained charges in less than two years.
#2: A Long Island charter school operator paid vendors over half a million dollars without competitive bids.
#3: An Albany charter school operator lost as much as $2.3 million by purchasing a site for its elementary school rather than leasing it.
#4: A Rochester charter school operator awarded contracts to board members, relatives, and other related parties rather than get competitive bids.
#5: A Buffalo charter school operator signed a leasing arrangement that paid more than $5 million to a building company at a 20 percent interest rate.

It is likely that the actual fraud is three times worse than the known fraud.

14
Ohio
Ohio has about 400 charter schools affecting more than 120,000 children. Ohio seems to be the nation’s leader in charter school corruption which is why we have saved them for last. In 2013, an Ohio man and his brother plead guilty to an alleged $1.8 million charter school fraud in Cleveland. Both were sentenced to one year probation. Also in 2013, in a similar case, prosecutors charged a charter school operator of diverting at least $1.2 million dollars in public funds away from his charter school and into other businesses and multiple homes. In 2014, the judge gave the operator 5 years of probation.
http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2014/02/lion_of_judah_charter_school_o.html

In another case, a charter school treasurer plead guilty to stealing $470,000 from 4 Ohio charter schools. The funds were supposed to be used for the education of students at four charter schools in Columbus, Youngstown and Dayton between 2005 and 2011, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

In 2013, 19 charter schools closed in the State of Ohio, joining 150 other charter schools in Ohio that had already been shut down since 2005. With about 400 total charter schools in Ohio, that is a failure rate of over 40 percent!
“$1.4 billion has been spent since 2005 through school year 2012-2013 on charter schools that have never gotten any higher grade than an F or a D,”

In 2014, a corporation called White Hat that runs a fake charter school called Life Skills – with one of the worst graduation rates in the nation – began fooling kids and their parents into signing up with a key word advertising campaign aimed at folks who are online.

Private charter school companies are advertising on television, radio, billboards, and even automated telephone messages to entice students away from public schools using “key words” like free, flexible, and find your future. The funds to pay for this massive misleading advertising blitz comes from State tax payers. Ohio charter schools enroll less than 7 percent of Ohio’s students yet receive 11 percent of all state funds set aside for primary and secondary education.
http://www.ohio.com/news/local/charter-school-operators-use-key-words-to-entice-families-away-from-public-schools-1.491420

As in Florida, charter schools are closing at a record rate in Ohio and sticking tax payers with the bill
Charter schools are closing in Ohio at a record rate after a series of fraud cases were uncovered. The tax payers are left to pick up the pieces and the kids suffer the loss of their schools and their education.

15 Charter schools are funded by the state on the backs of school districts and taxpayers. Because charter schools are exempt from most state laws and do not have a publicly elected school board, there is almost no oversight of spending at charter schools. Over $900 million dollars per year is diverted away from public schools to charter schools in Ohio every year. But the bill doesn’t stop there. When there is financial mismanagement, charter schools can be closed. But it is almost impossible to get the money invested in charter schools back. Nearly $187 million in tax money spent on failed charter schools is still uncollected.

Conclusion
Fraud, corruption, mismanagement, bribes and kick back schemes… This is what happens when billionaires and their corrupt politicians promote private, for profit charter schools that are not under the control of a locally elected public school board. In this chapter, and in previous chapters, we have described a whole new set of fraud techniques that have developed a whole new charter school language. For example, cream skimming means taking all of the most successful, easy to teach and profitable children away from public schools and putting them into charter schools. Dumping means taking the poorest most challenging special needs students and expelling them from charter schools when they are not able to keep up.

What parents need to understand is that charter schools were never meant to work. Charter schools are simply another of the weapons of mass deception that billionaires are using to destroy and privatize public schools. It does not matter to the billionaires that 95% of all charter schools suffer from fraud and mismanagement. The real purpose of charter schools is to divert public funds away from real public schools. Measured through this lens, charter schools are serving their purpose. As evidence of the billionaires plan to divert funds away from public schools and into private for profit charter schools, check out this chart of the change in funding from major foundations (also known as billionaire tax dodges) since 2000:

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Billions of dollars that used to go towards the improvement of public schools has been shifted towards the funding of private for profit charter schools. Thankfully, because of all of the charter school scandals, public support for charter schools is starting to drop. An August 2014 poll in Michigan found that 73 percent of responders want a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools.
http://www.freep.com/article/20140831/NEWS06/308310070/charter-schools-poll-Michigan

In communities around the nation, announcements about new charter operations opening up have been greeted with public protests. While law markers continue to pass laws promoting charter schools, they do so at their peril. The day will come when parents will blame legislators for the harm that has been inflicted on their children. Hopefully, these corrupt legislators will be voted out of office just as Tom Corbett was in Pennsylvania.

What is next?
Now that we better understand the level of fraud that occurs in charter schools, we will take a closer look at how one particular charter school called KIPP inflicts abuse on children forced to endure its unusual methods. 

Originally published at Weapons of Mass Deception

Bill Gates Education Speech Proves He is Completely Detached from Reality

On October 7 2015, Bill Gates gave a speech at a US Education Learning Forum in Bellevue Washington. Considering that Bill is the richest man in the world, his numerous mis-statement of the facts during this speech was truly frightening. In this article, we will examine only a few of the most glaring distortions of the truth. Here is a link to his speech as posted on the Gates Foundation website for those who want to read the whole thing. http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Media-Center/Speeches/2015/10/Remarks-at-USP-Education-Learning-Forum

Fact #1: How many states are still using Bill’s poorly written and age inappropriate Common Core standards – paid for by Bill and written by a couple of Wall Street consultants?
Here is Bill Gates: “Today 42 states and the District of Columbia are using the Common Core State Standards.”

Here is reality: States were blackmailed to adopt the Common Core standards before they were even finalized by Arne Duncan. Almost half of these states abandoned the Common Core standards as quickly as they could. Currently only about 20 states still use the Common Core standards. Can it be that Bill Gates really does not know this???

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For more information on the states that withdrew from Common Core and their current status, see the following web page:
http://weaponsofmassdeception.org/2-common-core-fake-standards/2-4-support-for-common-core-plunges

Bill’s copyrighted standards were so poorly written that hundreds of child development experts from across the nation submitted a statement opposing them as being “developmentally inappropriate.” More than 500 early childhood professionals signed a statement opposing Common Core. The Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative was signed by educators, pediatricians, developmental psychologists, and researchers, including many of the most prominent members of those fields. Their statement reads in part: “We have grave concerns about the core standards for young children…. The proposed standards conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades….”
http://weaponsofmassdeception.org/2-common-core-fake-standards/2-2-common-core-standards-are-not-age-appropriate

Bill’s rigid Common Core standards which try to place every student in the nation in the same box, as if our kids were robots, is so opposed by parents and teachers that even in Bill’s home state of Washington, both the Republican and Democratic parties overwhelmingly passed resolutions opposing Common Core and Common Core tests. When both political parties agree that something is bad, it is only a matter of time until it is gone.
http://weaponsofmassdeception.org/8-options-for-real-education-reform/8-3-how-to-get-your-state-party-to-oppose-common-core

Fact #2: The Myth of the Super Teacher versus Smaller Class Sizes. Years of research has shown that lower class sizes are how teachers are best able to help struggling students. But throughout his speech, not once did Bill Gates mention the role of smaller class sizes. Instead, nearly his entire speech was based on the Myth of the Super Teacher.

Here is a quote from Bill Gates: “Here’s the problem: Too often, teachers have to move up on their own. They don’t get the feedback or tools they need to improve their practice. So they move up slowly. That’s not only a loss for their students; it’s frustrating for the teachers. The work we are doing with all of you is intended to help every teacher move up the learning line, faster and in concert with their colleagues, so that no one gets stuck trying to fight their way up alone.”

Here is reality: Nearly every one of Bill’s pet projects, from Charter Schools to Teacher for America has been an attack on teachers. How charter schools increase their profits is by gutting teacher pay. Charter schools pay their teachers about half of what public schools pay their teachers. As for the fake teacher training program called Teach for America, does Bill Gates or anyone on the planet truly believe that the best way to have high quality teachers is to give them only 5 weeks of training before throwing them into a classroom of students???

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Fact #3: There is no single measure of a great teacher because teachers like students are diverse.
Bill would like us to believe that we can assign a number to every teacher and every student to tell the good ones from the bad ones. Humans however are much more complex than any computer program.

Here is Bill Gates: “A growing body of evidence told us that teacher effectiveness is the single most important in-school factor in student achievement. If you take two classrooms from the same school, both starting out at the 50th percentile, and assign one to a teacher in the top quartile and another to a teacher in the bottom quartile, there will be a 10 percentile difference in achievement at the end of the year.”

Here is reality: Student test scores are not a measure of either student learning or teacher effectiveness. Numerous studies have shown that a teacher who is in the top quartile one year is likely to be in the middle of even bottom quartile the next year.

More than 80 studies have been done on using the VAM method to evaluate teachers. They all found that VAM is not a consistent or reliable way to measure teacher performance. Here is a link to a list of these studies. http://vamboozled.com/recommended-reading/value-added-models/

For example, in 2013, Edward Haertel, a Stanford University researcher, published a detailed report on the lack of reliability of using student test scores to evaluate teachers. http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/PICANG14.pdf

He concluded that VAM scores were worse than bad. Here is a quote from page 23 of his study: “My first conclusion should come as no surprise: Teacher VAM scores should emphatically not be included as a substantial factor with a fixed weight in consequential teacher personnel decisions. The information they provide is simply not good enough to use in that way. It is not just that the information is noisy. Much more serious is the fact that the scores may be systematically biased for some teachers and against others…High-stakes uses of teacher VAM scores could easily have additional negative consequences for children’s education. These include increased pressure to teach to the test, more competition and less cooperation among the teachers within a school, and resentment or avoidance of students who do not score well. In the most successful schools, teachers work together effectively. If teachers are placed in competition with one another for bonuses or even future employment, their collaborative arrangements for the benefit of individual students as well as the supportive peer and mentoring relationships that help beginning teachers learn to teach better may suffer.”

The claim by Bill Gates that a great teacher can magically improve student scores by 10% is about as accurate as his claim that 42 states are still using the Common Core standards. What studies have shown is that lower class sizes so teachers can help struggling students is the best way to raise student achievement. But lowering class sizes would require Bill Gates to start paying his fair share of state taxes so instead Bill prefers to focus on “magic bullet solutions like finding the perfect teacher.

Fact #4: Green Dot charter schools do not excel at supporting teachers and are not a good model for public schools.
Green Dot charter schools make a massive profit for their corporate masters. But they condemn both teachers and students to hell on earth.

Here is a quote from Bill Gates: “In Los Angeles, the Green Dot charter schools have college readiness rates that are almost four times higher than district-run schools with similar students…So we studied what they all have in common. It turns out that they excel at supporting teachers.”

Here is the reality of the Green Dot charter schools: A high percentage of the schools close after just a few years. Pressure on teachers is so intense that over half of the teachers quit within two years. Most teachers at Green Dot are TFA teachers with only 5 weeks of training. Most students either quit or are driven out of Green Dot for low performance. Out of a cohort of 90 6th Graders, there may be less than 20 left by the 11th grade. Of these 20, a high percent do graduate and some even go on to college. But of the entire cohort of 90 students, Green Dot schools perform far worse than comparable public schools. Here is a link to the horrors of Green Dot schools written by a former Green Dot teacher in 2013.
http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/05/the-inside-story-of-the-green-dot-charter-schools/

Here is a quote from this article: “I began to question the effectiveness of the Green Dot model after the first year, when over 30% of the teachers resigned. By my second year of teaching for Green Dot, both of the administrators whom hired me had to resign, as had the dean of the school. At the end of the first semester of my second year, another 30% of the teachers had left. There is little to no encouragement, nothing done to help a teacher’s self-esteem, only the constant chorus of “you can improve. It’s both troubling and distressing to see so many aspiring, young teachers cast away their hopes of making a difference by being evaluated as ineffective, or even as clueless, and then led on the path of termination. To me, this is the most significant failure of the Green Dot model, its inability to retain and train teachers to become effective in the classroom.”

Even former TFA teachers know that TFA is a scam. So why hasn’t Bill Gates learned this lesson?

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Given the massive attrition rate of Green Dot teachers and students, for Bill Gates to claim that Green Dot is successful because it supports teachers is simply absurd.

Fact #5: The US is not ranked in 14th place on international reading tests.
It is common for people who have not done the slightest research to repeat the false claim that US students do poorly on international tests. In fact, adjusted for poverty, US students are among the highest performing students in the world.

Here is a misinformed quote from Bill Gates: “Consider where the U.S. ranks internationally on reading proficiency: We’re in fourteenth place. “

Here is reality: Students from high income families do better on international tests than students from low income families. Many nations “rig” their international tests but only having high income students take the tests. Other nations that do well on international tests (like Finland) do not have many low income students. The US has all of their students take international tests. The US also has one of the highest poverty rates in the world. Two of the three major international tests—the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Trends in International Math and Science Study—break down student scores according to the poverty rate in each school. The tests are given every five years. The most recent results (2006) showed that students in U.S. schools where the poverty rate was less than 10 percent ranked first in the world in reading, first in science, and third in math. When the poverty rate was 10 percent to 25 percent, U.S. students still ranked first in reading and science. 
http://phys.org/news/2013-01-poor-international-student.html

In 2013, Martin Carnoy with the Stanford Graduate School of Education and Richard Rothstein with the Economic Policy Institute produced a highly detailed study breaking down how different income levels of students would perform in the United States on various international tests. Here is the citation and link to this important 99 page study: Carnoy, Martin & Rothstein, Richard (January 2013) What Do International Tests Really Show About U.S. Student Performance? Economic Policy Institute, Washington DC. http://s2.epi.org/files/2013/EPI-What-do-international-tests-really-show-about-US-student-performance.pdf

The authors provided extensive data confirming that “If U.S. adolescents had a social class distribution that was similar to the distribution in countries to which the United States is frequently compared, average reading scores in the United States would be higher than average reading scores in the similar post-industrial countries we examined (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom).

The reason US students as a whole score poorly is because of the high rate of poverty in the US. The high rate of poverty is caused by the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few billionaires in the United States. Sadly, despite being the richest man in the world, Bill Gates refuses to pay his fair share of state and federal taxes. If we could get Bill to take some responsibility and pay some taxes, we could hire tens of thousands of teachers who could give struggling low income students the help they need to succeed. Bill Gates literally is the cause of the problem he is now complaining about.

Fact #6: Forcing all students into the Common Core mold does not respect the diverse ways that students learn.
We have known for a long time that students learn at different rates and have different learning styles, and different interests. A serious flaw of Common Core is that it expects all students to learn the same skills at the same time and in the same way. It ignores the research about child differences.

Here is a quote from Bill Gates: “All students deserve the opportunity to learn in a way that is tailored to their needs, skills, and interests.”

Here is the reality of the Common Core Straight Jacket Approach to Education: The focus of Common Core is on teaching to the test and very convergent learning styles promoting low level learning which is little more than repeating back what the student was told. No diversity is allowed. No room for differences in learning styles or differences of opinion. It is more like a military boot camp or brain washing approach to education rather than training to be an active participant in our democracy.

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Fact #7: What we have here is a failure to do research on child development.
Bill Gates clearly is clueless about either teaching or child development or public schools.

Here is a final quote from Bill Gates: “What we have is a failure to communicate… We need to figure out how to get the practices that are gaining success in one school, district, or state to be adopted in many others… If you’re a governor or state chief, I urge you to take a hard look at whether your system is giving teachers the support they need.

Here is reality: The reason we have a failure to communicate is because Bill Gates refuses to listen and refuses to do any research on child development. Instead he surrounds himself with “Yes” men, charlatans, hucksters and con artists – all of whom take advantage of Bill’s deep ignorance and huge ego.

Here is a quote from a real education leader, Carol Burris, the executive director of the Network for Public Education: “The Gates reforms of Common Core plus testing plus teacher evaluation based on test scores has been a disaster in New York… There’s a reason that over 220,000 students opted out of the common-core exams in New York. If you talk to parents in the opt-out movement … what they say universally is they do not want their teachers evaluated by test scores because they understand that when they are, there’s a hyper-focus on teaching to the test.”

If Common Core and the Common Core SBAC test are so wonderful, then why hasn’t Bill put his own kids in a Common Core school? Bill spends a huge amount of money to send his kids to the best private school in Seattle, a school called Lakeside. Lakeside has no Common Core book or tests, it has no TFA teachers, it has none of the things Bill is trying to push on all of the other schools in the nation. If highly paid teachers and small class sizes are good enough for Bill Gates kids, then our kids should have this same opportunity for small class sizes and highly paid experienced teachers.

In the meantime, we need to end the Bill Gates led Common Core nonsense as soon as possible. The harm it is inflicting on our students must be stopped. Please share this article with any other parents or teachers you know who are concerned about the future of our kids and our schools. As always, we look forward to your questions and comments.