Behind the Charter Schools InitiativePermalink +
Fri, Oct 19, 2012, 1:24 pm // Dick Conoboy
Washington voters have wisely turned down three attempts to create charter schools in this state, once in 1996, once in 2000 and again in 2004. They should replicate these defeats in 2012 with Initiative 1240. (A summary of the initiative can be found here.) Charter schools, which now have crept into more than 40 states, are part of a larger effort to weaken and eventually destroy the public school systems throughout the U.S. and to privatize education for profit making enterprises. Tactics to achieve this include “starving the beast,” that is, slashing state budgets for education and imposing “standards” that guarantee failure by emphasizing and measuring rote learning. This provides fertile ground for the creation of charters “to save our children’s education.” The only comprehensive study on the overall effectiveness of charter schools was done three years ago by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) of Stanford University. (You can read the study here.) CREDO found that 17 percent of charter school students performed better than their public school counterparts, 46 percent no better and 37 percent worse. A 17% success rate is hardly a result on which charter school proponents should hang their hats.
I understand very well the frustrations of many parents of children in today’s public education establishments. There is great discussion to be had on repairing this system that has been consistently abused and shattered by state legislatures through budget cuts and the federal government through the cruelly and ironically named No Child Left Behind law. However, to claim that charter schools are the answer, when there is precious little in the way of support for that contention, is not defensible. Where then does the push for these schools actually originate?
In an October 15, 2012 article for AlterNet, Jeff Faux, the author of “The Servant Economy: Where America's Elite is Sending the Middle Class” contends, “It is well known, although rarely acknowledged in the press, that the reform movement has been financed and led by the corporate class. For over twenty years large business oriented foundations, such as Gates (Microsoft), Walton (Wal-Mart) and Broad (Sun Life) have poured billions into charter school start-ups, sympathetic academics and pundits, media campaigns (including Hollywood movies) and sophisticated nurturing of the careers of privatization promoters who now dominate the education policy debate from local school boards to the U.S. Department of Education.” You can read Faux’s article here.
A look at the donors to this campaign to pass this year’s version of an initiative on charter schools reveals the following: $3,000,000 from Bill Gates, $1,500,000 from Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, nearly $500,000 from Mike and Jackie Bezos, the parents of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos; and $200,000 from Katherine Binder, chairwoman of EMFCO Holdings (a manufacturer of aircraft parts). Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings gave $100,000. Hastings, on the board of Microsoft Corp. is also an investor in DreamBox Learning, an educational game company. Democrats for Education Reform, a New York based political action committee, provided $50,000 to the Washington campaign. As of the date of this article, supporters of charter schools (largely corporate) have raised $9,400,000 while the opponents to the measure, in the form of People for Our Public Schools, have taken in only $280,000. As they say in these affairs, “Follow the money.”
For instance, let us take a closer look at Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). To that end, consider what Faux says further in his article: “In recent years, hedge fund operators, leverage-buy-out artists and investment bankers have joined the crusade. They finance schools, sit on the boards of their associations and the management companies that run them, and -- most important -- have made support of charter schools one of the criteria for campaign giving in the post-Citizens United era. Since most Republicans are already on board for privatization, the political pressure has been mostly directed at Democrats.” The board of DFER tells that story. You will note that of the seven board members listed below five are capital managers:
Kevin P. Chavous (chair) - Former Washington, DC, City Council member and chair of the Education Committee; Board Chair of Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO)
Boykin Curry - Eagle Capital; Co-Founder of Public Prep
Tony Davis - Co-founder and President of Anchorage Capital Group, LLC; Board Trustee for Achievement First Brooklyn charter schools
Charles Ledley - Highfields Capital Management; Board Member of the Tobin Project
Sara Mead - Bellwether Education Partners, Associate Partner; Former Director of Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation
John Petry - Columbus Hill Capital Management; Co-founder of Harlem Success Academy Charter School in NYC
Whitney Tilson - Managing Partner, T2 Partners LLC and Tilson Mutual Funds; Board member of KIPP-NYC, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and Council of Urban Professionals; Co-Founder of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and Rewarding Achievement (REACH)
Michael Hirsh quotes an interview by The New York Times’ business writer, Joe Nocera, with DFER’s Whitney Tilson, a hedge funder extraordinaire, who called charters “the perfect philanthropy for results-oriented business executives… Hedge funds are always looking for ways to turn a small amount of capital into a large amount of capital.” Need I say more? (You can read Hirsh’s full article on DFER here on the site of the American Federation of Teachers.)
Another objective of the charter school proponents is to create an alternative school system in which the normal rules do not apply, that is, rules regarding collective bargaining so that teachers have less and less a role in forming curricula or establishing working conditions. Outfits such as DFER advocate not only for “nonunion charter schools” but also for vouchers, merit pay, test-based teacher evaluations, and curbs on tenure. All of these tactics have the following in common: to break the system, to reduce teacher wages, to ensure compliant employees through job precariousness, and to develop exclusive schools that will eventually become unaffordable or otherwise unavailable for the poor and middle class alike and will thereby be relegated to non-charter establishments that remain under the local school board control with insufficient funds to do the job.
Tech companies such as Microsoft and Dream Box Learning (mentioned above) also have a lot to gain through the establishment of charter schools. Freed from much of the normal acquisition processes of the state, charter school managers will let many contracts for a plethora of services, not the least of which are educational tools in the way of computers and software. On-line learning proponents will also have their hands out as charter schools seek ways to replace teachers with programmed lessons and testing services. The fact that the Washington initiative calls for the establishment of non-profit charters is no protection from the wolves that will be baying and scraping at the doors of the charter schools’ acquisition chiefs looking to feed on the state funds that have been redirected to these establishment.
Is this what you want for the children of the state of Washington? Initiative 1240 should be defeated.
Mon, Nov 23, 2015, 5:41 am // Dick ConoboyThe student housing project for 648 individuals called NXNW (North by Northwest) on Lincoln Street is moving forward briskly. This is an update.
6 comments; last on Nov 27, 2015
Mon, Nov 16, 2015, 10:41 pm // John ServaisCouncil to allow three weeks for written comments on tax exemption proposal for high density buildings in quiet Fairhaven neighborhood
9 comments; last on Nov 19, 2015
Mon, Nov 16, 2015, 4:30 am // Dick ConoboyThere is no reason to rush an updated ordinance on ADUs when we do not even know what the current number is or where existing illegal units are…
8 comments; last on Nov 25, 2015
Sat, Nov 14, 2015, 5:33 pm // Guest writerBy Shannon Maris. Detached ADUs - the 'mother in law' mini cottages - are being considered by the city of Bellingham. This impacts every home owner.
3 comments; last on Nov 19, 2015
Wed, Nov 11, 2015, 4:23 am // Dick ConoboySome personal thoughts on thanking our veterans for their service
1 comments; last on Nov 11, 2015
Sun, Nov 08, 2015, 9:25 pm // Guest writerAn overview of Whatcom County's method of processing ballots and counting votes.
2 comments; last on Nov 14, 2015
Fri, Nov 06, 2015, 4:37 pm // John ServaisSatpal Sidhu wins council seat. Virtually all the ballots are now counted. Challenges and a few special are left.
1 comments; last on Nov 06, 2015
Thu, Nov 05, 2015, 9:17 pm // John ServaisJail sales tax is being rejected - and the NO vote is increasing. Sidhu - Kerschner still undecided. Props 2, 3, 9 and 10 all should pass.
1 comments; last on Nov 06, 2015
Wed, Nov 04, 2015, 6:45 pm // John ServaisSecond tally of 10,000 more ballots is in. Jail sales tax is now being rejected. Probably 15,000 or more ballots to go.
2 comments; last on Nov 05, 2015
Wed, Nov 04, 2015, 12:05 am // John ServaisThe first returns - probably 60% of the final vote - shows contradictory propositions passing and most candidate races decided.
7 comments; last on Nov 04, 2015
Mon, Nov 02, 2015, 8:04 am // Dick ConoboyGrowing Veterans was created to empower military veterans to grow food, communities, and each other.
2 comments; last on Nov 04, 2015
Sun, Nov 01, 2015, 9:31 am // John ServaisWhere more substantial evidence is presented against proposition 9 - and why you should vote REJECTED on it.
24 comments; last on Nov 04, 2015
Sat, Oct 31, 2015, 2:02 am // John ServaisAs an independent citizen and political junkie, here is how I am voting - with brief reasons for my choices.
8 comments; last on Nov 03, 2015
Tue, Oct 27, 2015, 6:56 pm // Tip JohnsonThe latest addition and the issue in review
Mon, Oct 26, 2015, 11:39 pm // Whatcom CitizenA perspective on the our changing news system, the consequences, and the challenges for the future. With a suggestion of the solution.
5 comments; last on Oct 28, 2015
Mon, Oct 26, 2015, 3:32 pm // Tip JohnsonWhen they feel you just don't need to know
4 comments; last on Oct 28, 2015
Mon, Oct 26, 2015, 1:57 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the operative information is $$$ECRET
3 comments; last on Oct 29, 2015
Sat, Oct 24, 2015, 1:26 pm // John ServaisWhatcom group plans meeting workshop to submit comments to Washington Dept of Ecology against Skagit/Bakken oil trains.
6 comments; last on Oct 26, 2015
Tue, Oct 20, 2015, 2:53 pm // John ServaisAfter 126 years in business, Fairhaven Pharmacy closes for the last time at 6 p.m. today. Historic Fairhaven Association to do Halloween photos.
1 comments; last on Oct 20, 2015
Tue, Oct 20, 2015, 9:25 am // John ServaisCounty Executive - and candidate for reelection -Jack Louws has written county officials with his regrets over jail mailer.
8 comments; last on Oct 24, 2015
Sun, Oct 18, 2015, 11:37 am // John ServaisThe jail sales tax proposition is a road to perdition for our county. It is a waste and has been deceptively promoted.
4 comments; last on Oct 20, 2015
Fri, Oct 16, 2015, 4:52 pm // Tip JohnsonWith a smarmy October Surprise
9 comments; last on Oct 19, 2015
Thu, Oct 08, 2015, 7:14 am // John LesowA Canadian radio station is trying to install huge radio towers in Point Roberts for a Canadian audience. Citizen movement has fought them.
Sat, Oct 03, 2015, 2:47 pm // John ServaisJames King to return to Alaska and take job with U.S. Forest Service. Mayor will appoint a new parks director.
1 comments; last on Oct 04, 2015
Fri, Oct 02, 2015, 10:48 am // David CampThe "... new jail just doesn't pencil out", writes a well qualified accountant. A look at the future costs of the proposed jail.
11 comments; last on Oct 09, 2015
Tue, Sep 22, 2015, 4:54 pm // John ServaisThere is a good alternative for a decent jail - but we first must vote down the jail sales tax proposal in November.
5 comments; last on Sep 24, 2015
Sat, Sep 19, 2015, 3:37 pm // John ServaisWendy DeFreest, of Avenue Bread, will open a new "burger joint" called The Filling Station by late October in Fairhaven. It will not be a sandwich cafe.
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 5:26 pm // Tip JohnsonFEMA camp or new county seat?
13 comments; last on Oct 15, 2015
Sun, Sep 13, 2015, 8:42 am // John ServaisBeware walking RR tracks on the Fairhaven waterfront in the event of unexpected encounter with a high speed train
2 comments; last on Sep 18, 2015
Mon, Sep 07, 2015, 8:06 pm // Tip JohnsonMains a' bursting - Avast!
Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 9:17 am // John ServaisPadden Creek daylighting project strays far from city promises to homeowner that his property would remain intact.
4 comments; last on Sep 05, 2015
Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 4:11 am // Guest writerChristopher Brown guest writes how traditional communal warrior reintegration practices could help our returning combat veterans.
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 6:55 pm // Whatcom CitizenA Whatcom Citizen writes of protest movements and how our proposed county mega jail is related to them.
15 comments; last on Sep 04, 2015
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 4:00 am // Dick ConoboyMoves to set the minimum wage to $15, even if successful, are woefully insufficient. And why aren't people speaking out about abusive work scheduling?
2 comments; last on Sep 17, 2015
Mon, Aug 17, 2015, 11:17 pm // Guest writerBruce Radtke, a retired Bellingham librarian, reported to be assaulted by police for handing out leaflets
5 comments; last on Aug 27, 2015
Sun, Aug 16, 2015, 2:39 pm // Guest writerIs the tail wagging the dog? Edward Alexander guest writes on why predictive software for our police needs basic questions answered before purchase.
1 comments; last on Aug 22, 2015
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 10:29 am // John ServaisNothing in the Herald this morning, so NWCitizen is informing citizens of shootout at Cornwall Park.
1 comments; last on Aug 13, 2015
Sun, Aug 09, 2015, 10:52 am // Guest writerBarbara Perry has been researching the secretive election processes of the Whatcom Conservation District. Really secretive. Probably fraudulent.
1 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015
Tue, Aug 04, 2015, 7:09 pm // John Servais9:52 - final post for tonight. A running blog about the election results on this August evening. Feel free to comment.
8 comments; last on Aug 06, 2015
Tue, Aug 04, 2015, 9:14 am // Dick ConoboyWhile the city deals with permitting on the Hansen rental megaplexes, the council has asked for proposals from staff on design standards for historic areas.
9 comments; last on Aug 07, 2015
Tue, Jul 21, 2015, 11:42 pm // Guest writerEric Hirst provides us all with a well researched report on Whatcom County water issues - rights, Lake Whatcom, ground water and more.
10 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015
Tue, Jul 14, 2015, 3:13 pm // John LesowThe fight to keep Point Roberts from becoming a Radio Tower Farm is not over.
3 comments; last on Jul 22, 2015
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 4:38 am // Dick ConoboyBellingham police are obviously trained to de-escalate armed confrontations. This is the way it should be.
6 comments; last on Jul 14, 2015
Thu, Jul 09, 2015, 7:27 am // John ServaisLois Garlick has died. For many decades, she and George served as environmental stewards and leaders in preserving wildlife and nature.
2 comments; last on Jul 10, 2015
Wed, Jul 08, 2015, 8:27 am // John ServaisLast minute political maneuvering by liberal council seeks to counter conservative review commission ballot proposals.
1 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015
Tue, Jul 07, 2015, 8:13 am // John ServaisThe Charter Review Commission made Monday evening's meeting their last - and forwarded 8 charter amendments to the County Council
3 comments; last on Jul 08, 2015
Tue, Jul 07, 2015, 4:34 am // Dick ConoboyFor Rent: York neighborhood, new, 7 bedroom single-family home, near WWU. Only $44,000 a year. City planning not paying attention.
6 comments; last on Jul 09, 2015
Mon, Jul 06, 2015, 3:30 pm // John ServaisTwo dirty tricks by the uber-conservative minority on the Charter Review Commission aimed to put their agenda before the council.
3 comments; last on Jul 07, 2015
Thu, Jul 02, 2015, 1:55 pm // David CampTrees are dying for lack of water! Only citizen action can save them.
Thu, Jul 02, 2015, 6:47 am // Dick ConoboyIf your 4th of July holiday is much more quiet this year, you can thank Clay Bulter who passed away at the end of May.
Mon, Jun 29, 2015, 4:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe Samish Neighborhood Plan has been the subject of three undesired rezones in the last year. The city ignores its own guidelines to the detriment of all.
Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 5:00 pm // John ServaisUpdated at 6 pm. Our county justice system has spent 6 years trying to teach Luba Pekisheva that she should not defend herself. Justice denied and miscarried.
8 comments; last on Jul 22, 2015
Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 4:00 pm // David CampA look at the proposal in historic financial context with projections and several questions for the proponents.
8 comments; last on Jul 10, 2015
Mon, Jun 01, 2015, 2:49 am // Dick ConoboyThree extraordinarily large (7-bedroom) single family home rentals are proposed by developers Dave and Jon Hansen on Iron St. in the York Neighborhood.
7 comments; last on Jun 10, 2015
Mon, May 25, 2015, 7:17 pm // John ServaisYoung Chiara spent 3 nights hanging from the anchor chain of Shell Oil's Arctic Challenger as a protest to arctic oil drilling.
Thu, May 21, 2015, 10:50 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein we ponder the fate of humanity
Mon, May 18, 2015, 10:17 pm // John ServaisJoy Gilfilen is challenging incumbent Jack Louws for County Executive.
4 comments; last on May 20, 2015
Fri, May 15, 2015, 5:10 pm // John ServaisRunning update of who is filing for office in Whatcom County. Posts during day Friday and final update Friday evening.
4 comments; last on May 17, 2015
Wed, May 13, 2015, 4:30 pm // John ServaisUpdated | Ski to Sea race does not need to race through sensitive Chuckanut Community Forest Park for special mountain bike leg. City did not renege.
10 comments; last on May 15, 2015
Sun, Apr 26, 2015, 1:05 pm // Guest writerTani Sutley writes a second article on the increasing number of vacation rentals - and the County Council bill to let them expand dramatically.
4 comments; last on May 02, 2015
Election InfoAuditor Election page
State Results - Nov 3
Whatcom Results - Nov 3
Coal, Oil & TrainsCoal Stop
Community Wise Bham
Powder River Basin R. C.
Local Blogs & NewsBellingham Herald
Bham Business Journal
Bham Politics & Econ
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
League of Women Voters
Western Front - WWU
Local CausesChuckanut C. Forest
City Club of Bellingham
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary
WA Conservation Voters
Whatcom Peace & Justice
Governments- Whatcom County
Port of Bellingham
State Results - Nov 3
US Supreme Court
US The White House
NWCitizen 1995-2007Early Northwest Citizen
Weather & ClimateCliff Mass Weather Blog
Nat Hurricane Center
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That?
Edge of Sports
Famous Internet Skiers
Good Web SitesAl-Jazeera online
Change The Mascot
Foreign Policy in Focus
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Middle East Times
New American Century
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Project Vote Smart
Stand for the Troops
Talking Points Memo
The Crisis Papers
War and Piece
Quiet, Offline or DeadBellingham Register
Bhm Herald Politics Blog
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
Facebook Port Reform
Intrnational Herald Tribune
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph