Monday, September 29, 2014

Charter School Wars Come to Brooklyn

MORE (Movement of Rank & File Educators) Takes a Stand Against Eva Moskowitz at Hearings - Last Monday and Today in Manhattan

Thanks so much to all of you dear sisters and brothers who organized around getting folks out or going to the charter school hearing on Monday. These pics from DNAinfo are worth a thousand words and clearly show who's active and ready in the fight for Public Ed! So proud to wake up and see this today, so proud to stand in solidarity with all of you! 
A gaggle of 9 MOREistas attended the hearing last

Monday in Brooklyn as Eva intends to invade more gentrified areas in Districts 13, 14, and 15. The CEC presidents of all these districts, joined by District 23, are working together to address the charter problem. Noted Connecticut charter scoundrel Steve Perry, strangely, attended the hearing but left when MORE's Gloria Brandman did her "Eva the witch" impersonation.
MORE's Pat Dobosz with CEC14 Tesa Wilson behind her

Most of us spoke and the community people were very happy we were there to support them. Here's the full video with all of the speeches, followed by the announcement of today's hearing on 7th Ave in Manhattan.

See news story below the video.












 
WHAT CO-LOCATION MEANS:

*Public schools with limited financial support, forced to compete against charter schools with ample funds for the newest resources

*Overcrowding as schools deal with fewer rooms

*Competition between schools for access to the school's libraries, gyms, auditoriums, and cafeterias

*Parents pitted against parents in the same neighborhoods due to inequitable funding between charters and the district public schools.

*Increased importance of high-stakes tests to determine the future of students and teachers

*The excessing of quality teachers into the ATR pool of rotating teachers, as fewer rooms mean fewer classroom teachers

+Separate and unequal Schooling for our students!

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Charter Success Hearing Suny Sept 22, 2014 from Grassroots Education Movement on Vimeo.
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Parents Fight New Success Academy Charters in Williamsburg and Park Slope


By Serena Dai September 24, 2014


 Parents and union members came out on Monday night to a public hearing discussing Success Academy's application to open charter schools in three Brooklyn districts.
Parents and Teachers Express Opposition to Success Academy Charter Schools
 
BROOKLYN — Parents and teachers are fighting controversial charter school network Success Academy's application to open schools in Williamsburg, Park Slope and Fort Greene — with dozens filing complaints during the public hearing process this week.

Success Academy has applied to open 14 schools in New York over the next two years, including one each in districts 13, 14 and 15, encompassing parts of Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, Park Slope, Fort Greene, Boerum Hill and Clinton Hill.

The schools would open in August 2016 with kindergarden and first grade classes at locations that have yet to be determined. The schools have said they plan to add one grade level per year.

While the current application only covers up to sixth grade, Success would like schools for all three districts to eventually expand to cover up to 12th grade. Pre-K, middle school and high school grades are subject to further approval.

SUNY Charter Schools Institute, which is tasked with evaluating charter school applications, will be voting on the Success Academy charters on Oct. 8, a spokesman said.

Though less than 20 people attended a Department of Education hearing on Monday inviting public comment about the planned charter, locals had 48 hours after the hearing to submit comments for public record.

So far, more than 100 people — most of them opposed to additional charter expansion — have submitted written comments to the DOE and SUNY through public school democracy parent group NYCPublic, according the group's organizer.

NYCPublic automatically sent the comments to the DOE, press, elected officials and the SUNY Charter Approval Board, they said.

Opponents decried the addition of new Success charter schools, citing problems including their unwillingness to teach students with special needs, including English as Second Language learners or children with behavioral issues.

As a result, public schools near charter schools end up being "dumping grounds" for high-needs students, some critics said.

Some opponents blasted charters for taking up space and resources inside of public school buildings, while others said they liked charters but didn't trust Eva Moskowitz or Success Academy.

"I am disgusted at the State Education leadership for creating this problem instead of solving the issues that affect our schools," one advocate wrote. "We have good elementary schools in District 14, we need support, not co-location!"

Tesa Wilson, president of district 14's community education council, attended Monday's hearing to speak out against additional charter schools in the district.

But the hearings often feel like "smoke and mirrors," with SUNY ultimately approving many charters that locals oppose, she said.

"It gives you a sense that the process is rigged," Wilson said.

SUNY declined to comment.

And while Success Academy sent a representative to the hearing to take notes, it did not give a presentation on the proposed schools or offer to answer questions — a lack of engagement that's become regular at public hearings, Wilson and others said.

Success Academy spokeswoman Ann Powell, who was not present at Monday's meeting, said that the academy has made "extensive outreach efforts," including information sessions, tours and presentations at daycares and pre-schools.

The network subsequently received “substantial” petition signatures supporting the new schools, she said, noting that 4,770 parents in those districts supported a new Success Academy in their area.

Its application includes 1,550 signatures from parents in district 13; 1,600 from parents in district 14 and 1,600 signatures from parents in district 15 in favor of the schools.

"It's important that parents have the opportunity to express their opinions, but the facts don't support the criticisms you cite," she said of the parent concerns expressed at Monday's meeting and in online forums.

A DOE representative at the hearing said the session had been recorded for SUNY and the DOE to review. The Success Academy representative at the hearing said the charter school network would be taking comments into consideration.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Increase Teacher Diversity in New York City!

Demand New York City's Board of MisEducation to Have Black & Latino Educators Be at Parity with its Black & Latino Student Population!
Sign the Petition and Pass It Along

SIGN AT: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/increase-teacher-diversity?source=c.tw&r_by=1921406

Increase Teacher Diversity in New York City!

To be delivered to Carmen Fariña and The New York City Panel for Educational Policy
Since the 2001-2002 academic year, there has been a 57.4% decrease in the number of Black teachers hired by the New York City Department of Education, and a 22.9% increase for white teachers hired during this same period of time.

We ask Chancellor Fariña and the Panel for Education Policy to:

• Make a policy statement that acknowledges the value of teacher diversity and the lack of such diversity in New York City public schools.

• Centrally monitor the racial demographic of hiring and firing in NYC public and charter schools. In public school data reports include the racial profile for the teachers and administrators in each school as is currently done for the students.

• Raise the percentage of Black and Latino teachers hired in the system overall, with a special focus on raising the percentage of male teachers in those groups.

• Raise the percentage of persons of color in the NYC Teaching Fellows program to more closely match the NYC student body demographic. Make public the number and racial demographic of NYC Teaching Fellows hired.

• Settle Gulino vs. Board of Education, in which a recent court ruling found that the NY State LAST certification exam was not validated yet was used in 2002 to dismiss thousands of NYC teachers who were disproportionately Black and Latino.

• Invest in a clear and distinct paraprofessional-to-teacher career path that offers qualified applicants provisional teaching licenses while completing graduate degree requirements and subsidizes both undergraduate and graduate tuition at CUNY and SUNY
There are currently 114 signatures. NEW goal - We need 200 signatures!

Petition Background

In a school system that is 67.5% Black and Latino (as of 2012 - 13), the 34% combined percentage of Black and Latino teachers in the system is disappointing at best.

This lack of diversity reinforces already existing practices of segregation and leaves out diverse cultural perspectives that inform curriculum, pedagogy and practice. It also shortchanges our students by replicating and reinforcing false societal structures that devalue the contribution and perspectives of non-dominant racial and cultural groups.

SIGN AT: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/increase-teacher-diversity?source=c.tw&r_by=1921406

Monday, September 22, 2014

Charter Schools = Apartheid Education + Vanishing Black & Latino Educators

Stop the Expansion of Apartheid Schooling in New York City!

The information below was obtained by the Teachers Diversity Committee (TDC) of NYC from Success Academy charter schools that responded to our request.  The percentage of white teachers at each Success Academy School is listed below for the 2013-2014 school year:

SA Cobble Hill 82%
SA Crown Heights 57%
SA Fort Green 100%
SA Harlem I 73%
SA Harlem II 63%
SA Harlem III 61%
SA Harlem IV 56%
SA Harlem V 76%
SA Hell’s Kitchen 89%
SA Prospect Heights 91%
SA Upper West 82%
SA Williamsburg 71%
SA Bed-Stuy II 80%
SA Bronx I 74%
SA Bronx II 66%


In 2012 58.6% of teachers in the NYC public schools were white.  Out of the 15 Success Academy Charter schools listed above, 13 out of 15 have a higher percentage of white teachers than was the city wide average for public schools in NYC.

According to a study prepared by Gary Orfield and reported on in the NYC Daily News (3/27/14):

“Schools in New York suffer from the worst racial segregation of any U.S. state, and city schools also earn depressingly dismal marks for diversity, a damning report released Wednesday said.  Many black and Hispanic kids in New York attend schools with almost no white classmates, according to the paper from the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles.  City charter schools showed even higher segregation rates, with less than 1% white enrollment at 73% of charters. “To create a whole new system that’s even worse than what you’ve got really takes some effort,” said Gary Orfield, an author of the report.” 

(http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/new-york-city-schools-f-racial-segregation-diversrity-report-article-1.1736279)

The mandate to expand charters is increasing racial segregation of students and decreasing teacher diversity in NYC schools overall.


We call on The New York State Charter School Institute to:

1) Implement a moratorium on all further charter school approvals
2) Stop the expansion of apartheid schooling in NYC and...
3) Take affirmative steps to increase teacher diversity in all NYC charter schools.

Note:  The NYC DOE informed us that they do not collect teacher diversity data from Charter Schools and we were told to direct our requests to the Charter organizations.  Success Academy required us to ask each individual school in their network to provide the information.  Teachers Diversity Committee of NYC obtained the data above only after separate requests were made to each Success Academy school.  The request was for all years but only 2013-14 was provided.  A number of Success Academy Charter schools declined to respond to our requests. 

To support Teacher Diversity in NYC public and charter schools contact:  teacherdiversity@gmail.com. 
9/22/14

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


America’s Unspoken Education Issue: Black Kids Need Black Teachers

A new historical account is just the latest reminder that relying on white teachers to save black students has never been enough.

Posted:
 
179108243_1
“Hiring more white teachers is not the best way to improve education for students, particularly students of color.” This recent commentary by a black student from New Orleans in the Washington Post predictably aroused the ire of readers who accused the young man of reverse racism, playing the race card and divisiveness.

That’s no surprise. Race is the third rail of education. Touch it and get scorched. But when it comes to the need for more teachers of color—and, conversely, the idea that placing black students with white teachers isn’t a fix-all—overwhelming research and historical evidence say that this is where our attention needs to be.

The idea that racial diversity in classrooms has automatic benefits is a proven myth when it comes to black educational achievement. Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, wide disparities exist between students of color and white students across all aspects of public education. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, black students trail white classmates on every academic criterion and marker of school quality, while black youths far exceed white classmates in suspensions, expulsions and arrests.

The numbers are stark and straightforward: Educational attainment is greatly influenced by race. But these bleak statistics don’t tell the full story of the impact of race on educational outcomes.

In all the discussion of resources, testing and parental involvement, what we don’t hear enough about is this: Students of color perform better with teachers of color (pdf)—academically, socially and emotionally. According to a Center for American Progress report on retaining teachers of color in public schools, “Teachers of color are more likely to work and remain in high-poverty, hard-to-staff urban schools and districts than their white counterparts. ... What’s more, teachers of color are known to be personally committed to the success of children of color ... ” Yet as our student population grows more diverse, the people standing in front of classrooms remain predominantly white.

For the first time, black children and other students of color are now the majority in public schools, and what was a racial and ethnic gap between students and teachers is becoming a chasm. But a new historical portrait of the teaching profession reveals that the racial composition of the teachers who instruct black children has been a perennial issue since the 19th century, full of highs and lows and fraught with resistance and setbacks.

Dana Goldstein’s recently released The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession tracks the journey of black students from Reconstruction, and black teachers inspired to “supplant memories of slavery with those of racial pride,” to today’s highly charged debate on teacher tenure, marketed to black and Latino parents as a cure-all for what ails their children’s education. Goldstein’s thorough historical treatment supports the principle that teachers of color matter. This isn’t a hunch—it’s a fact based on solid, extensive evidence.

The abolition of slavery and the subsequent Reconstruction in the South spawned the nation’s first historically black colleges, established to train black teachers to uplift the race. Black teachers taught formerly enslaved people to read and write, and the literacy rate increased dramatically. The outgrowth of this era produced the all-black M Street High School in Washington, D.C., whose faculty was better-educated and credentialed than white counterparts in the District’s public schools. Anna Julia Cooper, the principal of M Street and a leading black scholar of her day, steered black students into the nation’s top colleges and universities. Underscoring Cooper’s educational success with black youths at the turn of the century was a steadfast commitment to “black schools led by black educators.”
Fast-forward five decades, and Cooper’s dream was decimated. In the 11 years following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the ranks of black teachers plummeted, along with the great hope that the Brown decision would solve racial inequalities in education. In Northern cities, de facto segregation continued unabated. In the South, desegregation was slow and deeply resisted. As the displacement of black educators became the norm, and the “broken promises” of integration became more apparent, the resentment of black and Latino parents smoldered.

The drastic loss of nonwhite teachers for students of color is the thread that links the past to the present. In 1968 New York City weathered the Ocean Hill-Brownsville crisis, a manifestation of “long-standing evidence ... that suggested that white teachers often did have low expectations for their nonwhite students, and that those views negatively impacted academic achievement,” writes Goldstein. In 1970 community activists in Newark, N.J., clashed with unionized teachers over “their self-interest and disrespect for poor black children.”

Today the disconnect between white teachers and the communities of color they serve continues. Even as the increasing segregation of schools grabs headlines, one aspect remains underreported: how well black students actually fare in integrated schools. The New Republic found not so well: “Today, even in schools that have achieved some level of diversity, there’s evidence that students of different races are still being treated differently. Substantial scholarly evidence indicates that teachers—especially white teachers—evaluate black students’ behavior and academic potential more negatively than those of white students.”

The question is no longer whether black children and other children of color need high-quality teachers that share their cultural backgrounds but, rather, why boosting teacher diversity isn’t the top national education priority.

First lady Michelle Obama recounts her mother “holding [teachers’] feet to the fire if she thought they were falling short” and “looking over those teachers’ shoulders.” When parents of color have to become squatters in public school classrooms, the status quo is broken, and reforming it will require really uncomfortable conversations about race—the kinds of conversations that a New Orleans public school student started.
Melinda D. Anderson is a Washington, D.C.–based education writer and parent activist with a special interest in race, class, educational equity and educational justice. She is a founding member of EduColor, a collective that cultivates and promotes diverse voices in the public education conversation and policymaking process. Follow her on Twitter.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Newark Parents Boycott School For POWER To Control Their Neighborhood Schools

Newark Parents Want Local Control of Their Schools- Not Racist Corporate Takeover! 
Start a Boycott on Day One


A group of parents and students in Newark, New Jersey, boycotted the first day of school on Thursday to protest a new system that reorganized the state-run district this year.

One Newark, unveiled last December, gives students the option of attending a school besides the one in their local neighborhood. It has also expanded charter schools in the district, while consolidating or repurposing other schools. The plan is currently being investigated the U.S. Department of Education over claims that it has a disproportionally negative impact on minority students.

Some parents also think that state-appointed District Superintendent Cami Anderson did not solicit enough input from community members in making the plan, and others have claimed that the new transportation system created by the plan is disorganized and unsafe. Anderson as repeatedly disputed the charge that community stakeholders were not involved in the development of One Newark.

Tuesday's action was part of a series of protests and petitions that have been ongoing since reorganization was announced. Newark has 40,000 students, and is one of the state’s lowest performing districts. In 2013, for example, Newark had a 68 percent graduation rate, compared to 88 percent in the state.

Neither activists nor school officials had hard numbers Thursday on exactly how many children stayed home, though Anderson said she did not see high rates of absenteeism and thought the school day went smoothly. Prior to the boycott, hundreds of families committed to participating in the protest, according to press releases from the organizers, Parents Unified for Local School Education (PULSE).

Students participating in the boycott could attend one of three "Freedom Schools," where volunteers gave children instruction, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported.

In a press release for the boycott, Johnnie Lattner, a co-founder of PULSE, said that activists are boycotting schools because “we have used every organizing tool available to us.”

“Today we make a stand against Cami Anderson dividing, destroying, dismissing, dismantling, and disrespecting parents, students, teachers, and community. We say no to the One Newark Plan,” said Lattner.

Yvonne Malone, who pulled her 12-year-old son out of school on Thursday, told HuffPost that she participated in the boycott because she takes issue with the fact that One Newark expands charter schools in the district. Malone's son attends a charter school, but she said she wishes he didn't.

“Because of lack of resources, lack of protection for these children, I was forced to pull him out [of traditional public school],” Malone said. “Pull him out of a school that should be right for him, should be made equal for him.”

Malone also said she thinks the district should return to local control. Newark schools have been under state control since 1995.

“We have to boycott to say that we want local control, we want communication and we want to halt One Newark,” said Malone. “The district is failing and the schools are failing.”
However, Anderson said she hopes that One Newark will directly combat chronic failure in the district.

“I really hope we get to a place where we are looking to find solutions as opposed to exacerbating challenges. I am disappointed in the amount of misinformation being actively spread,” Anderson told HuffPost. “I don’t think preserving the past is an acceptable stance. I think we have to act boldly.”

Next Thursday and Friday, the student activist group Newark Students Union, which has repeatedly protested One Newark and Cami Anderson, plans to take further action against the reorganization with a school "shut down." On Thursday, members of the group plan to rally students to go to a park. 

There, they will provide classes about student rights and the history of the student movement, said Roberto Cabanas, a lead organizer with New Jersey Communities United, a grassroots community organization that provides funding and organizing space for the student group. Then on Friday, the activists plan to bring protesters directly to district headquarters, where they will demand Anderson’s resignation and a return to local control of the district.

In response, Anderson emphasized that she does not think students should be spending more time away from the classroom.

“Time in class is critical. Our kids are critically off track,” she said.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Charter Schools: The Real Deal Video

 
Education Activist, Fordham University Professor Mark Naison debunks Charter School mythology in this episode of Education News. Comparing the Charter School explosion to the subprime mortgage collapse, Naison reveals the startling failures and false promises of the Charter mystique.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Charter Schools: A Crisis In SubPrime Education

TUESDAY, JULY 8, 2014

Why Charter School Scandals Resemble the Subprime Mortgage Crisis

 
To understand why  we may be approaching a charter school crisis that resembles the one that developed around subprime mortgages, you need to understand how investment banks and credit rating agencies seized upon an instrument to make homeownership available to people with limited resources as a vehicle to make fortunes and advance careers, leaving the tax payers with a large bill. I think something similar is happening today with charter schools, once seen as an opportunity to provide better educational opportunities for families in low and moderate income neighborhoods. In each instance,  an institution initially aimed at expanding opportunity for those with limited resources became, because of government favoritism and lack of oversight, a vehicle for profit taking on a grand scale by the very privileged that sometimes left those the institution was designed to help in very bad shape
 
  The subprime mortgage was a loan offered by banks and financial institutions to people whose credit rating and financial position was too weak to qualify for a normal 20 to 30 year mortgage at the prevailing interest rate.  To protect the lender, this was done by making the interest rate much higher, with the penalty, in the case of default, being repossession of the home that was purchased. This was obviously a high risk endeavor for the borrower. But because the nation was becoming more economically polarized, with working class incomes plunging and middle class incomes stagnant, the Clinton administration and federal lending agencies started pushing this instrument as a way of keeping the dream of homeownership alive in the nation, especially among working class people and people of color.  Banks, savings and loans, and mortgage companies rose to the challenge, writing millions of these mortgages to people whose incomes and collateral did not qualify them for a conventional mortgage.
 
At times, they aggressively marketed these mortgages, pushing them on people who never dreamed they could purchase a home, triggering a wave of new residential construction in many parts of the nation.  It seemed like a democratic moment in the nation’s history- millions of new home owners, many of them people of color, a boom in residential construction, work for lawyers and bankers specializing in residential loans.
 
 But underlying this boom were shady practices that elected officials chose to ignore. Many of the mortgages were written in ways that hid the risks borrowers were taking with variable rates that rose sharply after the first few years.   There was no way  borrowers were going to be able to pay their mortgages with the rates they would have five or ten years after they were initially written and many  would lose the homes they had purchased.  Worse yet, investment banks began to bundle these mortgages into bond offerings, and sell them as a safe investments to insurance companies, pension funds, government institutions, and high end investors around the world, raking in huge commissions as they did so.  And here, corruption on a grand scale turned a risky lending practice into a destabilizing force of deadly proportions in the global economy.  
 
Rating agencies, seeing huge profits being made by their best customers, the large investment banks, started giving triple A ratings to bonds based on the bundling of individual mortgages which, were they rated, would have been giving a rating of “F.” This practice ended up spreading the risk into every corner of the global economy, as investors rushed to gobble up the bonds, more mortgages were written and sold to meet the demand. And for a while it all seemed to work. Millions of people who never had homes how had them, while fortunes were being made in the writing, bundling and marketing of these mortgages.
 
   But inevitably, the boom turned to bust.  When the high rates on the mortgages started kicking in, millions of people defaulted on their loans, not only losing their homes but setting in motion a chain reaction which destabilized not only the banks which had written the mortgages, but the financial institutions which had bundled them, along with their customers. Some of the largest banks and insurance companies in the nation failed and went under, and others had to be rescued through an injection of funds from the federal government at huge expense to tax payers.  And as the economy plunged into near Depression, the residential housing market was shattered, and along with it the dream of widespread home ownership among the poor. Today, there are 13 million abandoned homes and commercial properties in the US, while large numbers of families live doubled and tripled up in properties which were designed to be private homes
 
      While the comparison is not exact, there are some powerful similarities between what happened to subprime mortgages and what is currently taking place with charter schools, another “short cut” to opportunity which has been seized upon by elites for financial and political gain, to the detriment of those for whom the charter school was initially designed to help.
 
     Charter schools, which are public funded schools which have their own boards of directors and can set their own hiring policies, curricula, and patterns of student recruitment and discipline independent of the regulations governing public schools , were initially created to promote greater experimentation and innovation in public education.  Many early charter schools were created by teachers and parents and promoted innovative pedagogies. Some still do.
    But somewhere along the line, public officials began to see charter schools as a way of circumventing expensive labor contracts with teachers unions and of providing an alternative to public schools in inner city communities which had been battered by disinvestment, job losses and drug epidemics. They invited foundations and the private sector to come in and create charter schools on a far larger scale and with a very different model than parent/teacher cooperatives, using private money as well as public money.  The professed goal was to give inner city parents and students safe alternatives to battered, underfunded and often troubled public schools, something many parents welcomed, but inviting powerful interests to help shape what was essentially an alternate school system free from public regulation and oversight proved to be as dangerous as it was tantalizing.
 
    By the end of the Clinton Administration, “Charter School Fever” had started to spread through Corporate America and Wall Street, spurred on by an investment tax credit that offered huge tax breaks for those who invested in charter school construction.  Not only did the number of charter schools rise exponentially in every city in the country, but self- described “education entrepreneurs” began creating  charter school chains, some of them non profit, some of them for profit,  which attracted  private funding along with public money, headed by powerful “CEO’s” who were sometimes relatives and friends of powerful politicians, and in a few instances, politicians ( or ex-politicians) themselves. Flush with funding the chains began building new schools in inner city neighborhoods where public schools were starved of funding, or in some cases, colonizing existing public school buildings and seizing the best facilities.  
 
Founders of the new chains eagerly embraced the corporate model of management, giving their executives far higher salaries than their counterparts in public education, and creating a climate of insecurity and fear for their teachers, along with data driven performance targets, with the expressed goal of vastly outperforming inner city public schools on the standardized tests which had become the central component of school evaluation following the passage of No Child Left Behind.   
 
    By the middle of the Bush administration, hundreds of new charter schools had been created in cities throughout the country and charter schools were rapidly emerging as the favored strategy for inner city education among an unprecedented array of interests including Wall Street and Silicon Valley, Civil rights organizations, Hollywood and the media, and the Democratic and Republican leadership. The prospect of creating great schools in inner city communities while  offering opportunities for profitable investment, all without raising taxes or increasing school budgets proved irresistible to  a broad spectrum of the nation’s leadership. 
 
Charter Schools, like subprime Mortgages, were increasingly marketed as a Win/Win proposition for all concerned, a way to help the poor while unleashing the creative power of the private sector. The power and breadth of this emerging coalition was revealed for all the nation to see when Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans in 2005.   
 
Charter School advocates literally seized upon Katrina as the “Perfect Storm,  putting forth a plan to turn New Orleans into all Charter School district by phasing out and closing all public schools in the city. During the last three years of the Bush administration, the plan was put into effect with the full support of the city administration and the state legislature, leading to the closing of scores of New Orleans public schools and the firing of thousands of teachers, many of them teachers of color, replacing them with charter schools staffed by mostly white teachers supplied by Teach for America.
 
   But in terms of Charter School Fever and Charter School Favoritism, the Bush years proved to be only a prelude to what was to transpire in the Obama Administration.  With the appointment of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and the launching of Race to the Top, President Obama not only made Charter School Favoritism official national policy, he put hundreds of billions   dollars of federal funds behind an effort to force municipalities to close “failing” public schools (defined as failing exclusively on the basis of student test scores) and replace them with charters. 
 
 At a time when the nation had fallen into a severe Recession, municipalities eagerly complied as a way of getting much needed federal funds, closing public schools en masse and creating thousands of new charters, often with little oversight and only the most perfunctory investigation of the school founders and boards of directors.  Ironically, this was done even though the available research showed that charters did NOT outperform public schools in the same neighborhoods, with comparable student populations.  But data and evidence, when its results were inconvenient, did not deter the President and Secretary of Education from promoting Charter Schools as their preferred solution to problems of educational inequality, a position affirmed for all to see when the President celebrated “National Charter School Week” rather than “Teacher Appreciation Week.”
 
       It is in the Obama years, with the financial incentives of Race to the Top sparking rapid charter school growth with little oversight, that the abuses associated with charter schools began to take on proportions akin to those associated with the subprime mortgage crisis. In the case of the charter school industry, the abuses took two forms:  mistreatment of students, teachers, and families, and fiscal issues ranging from mismanagement to outright embezzlement and fraud.
 
   Many of the educational abuses of charter schools stem from their determination to make sure their test scores surpass those of neighboring public schools, thereby justifying the favorable treatment they receive, and hope to receive in the future.  These abuses include:
 
** Discrimination against Special Needs students and English Language learners. In every city in the nation, charter schools enroll far lower number of such students than public schools in the same neighborhoods.
** Expulsion or harassment of student who do not test well, sometimes right before state tests. In some cities, public school teachers have called this “The Charter School Dump” as they can expect an influx of charter schools students, who they HAVE TO accept, shortly before test time.  On one instance a famous charter school operator in NY expelled his entire 8th grade class because of their disappointing performance on tests
** Draconian discipline policies which would never be tolerated in public schools such as putting students in closets, having them stare at walls, or wear special articles of clothing to indicate they are being punished when they violate school behavior codes.
** Telling students, parents and teachers to avoid all contact with their counterparts in co-located or neighboring public schools lest they be “polluted” or “corrupted” by such contact.
** Failure to hire or retain teachers of color. Charter schools have far lower proportions of such teachers than public schools with comparable student populations.
 
Not all charter schools practice these forms of discrimination. But enough do, with the number growing every day, that the issue cries out for investigation at the city, state and federal level.
 
The same is true of fiscal abuse and political favoritism, which, if anything, may even be more prevalent. These include
 
**Inflated salaries for Charter School CEO’s and founders of charter school chains. One charter school operator in Washington DC is under investigation for drawing more than 3 million dollars in compensation a year.
** Putting public officials, and relatives of public officials on the boards of charter schools seeking public funding. Instances of this have been uncovered in Indiana, Florida, California, and Tennessee and can probably be found in most other states.
**Outright embezzlement of funds by charter school operators, instances of which have been uncovered in New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Connecticut.
** Involvement of charter school operators in real estate fraud with the intention of inflating the value of properties in neighborhoods where new charter schools are being built.
** The creation of on line and for profit charter schools, without serious oversight, even though such entities have no track record of effective instruction.
** The granting of charter school franchises, in some states, to religious institutions which teach creationism and biblical literalism, and exclude students who do not share those beliefs.
 
  What we have here, to put it bluntly, is a pattern of discrimination and fraud that hurts the very families 
the charter schools were intended to help, allows ambitious individuals to enrich themselves at public 
expense, and ultimately undermines the quality of public education in cities throughout the nation. 
The entire charter industry, riddled with fraud, corruption and discrimination, is poised to slowly build 
to a public education collapse if the trends of cherry picking the best students, dumping the high needs 
kids into public schools then closing them for under performing continues.
 
 It is time that all forms of Charter School Favoritism come to an end, that Charter Schools be subject to the same level of oversight that public schools are, that closing of public schools to make way for Charters stop immediately and that there be no further expansion of charter schools until their patterns of governance and operation fully investigated