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Rotten apple
Remember the New Living Word School in Louisiana? It's a Christian school that was getting a whole bunch of vouchers from the state despite teaching straight from DVD and having no library—but a great basketball team. When we last saw New Living Word, Louisiana was expanding the number of vouchers the school could get. But now, the school has been booted from the voucher program altogether.
Louisiana law requires that a school participating in the scholarship program not charge the state more for tuition than it charges for non-scholarship students.

[Superintendent John] White said the audit revealed that the non-scholarship students at the school were not paying the $6300 tuition per student that the school was charging the state. [...]

According to White, the school now owes the state $378,000 that the audit shows the school overcharged.

While kind of hilarious if it was an isolated case, the fact is that New Living Word is unlikely to be alone in its financial wrongdoing, and it's definitely not alone in the lousiness of the education it offers. And it shouldn't have taken this long for it to be booted. Blogger Lamar White, Jr. (no relation to John) writes:
Time after time, for over a year, [John White] was warned repeatedly about this particular school; he was routinely criticized for the lack of oversight and accountability employed by the Department of Education, for his decision to not conduct even a bare modicum of due diligence on schools that sought hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in state government funding. Remember, the voucher program, ostensibly, was sold to Louisiana citizens as a way of ensuring children have access to better educational opportunities.
The state of Louisiana should face serious pressure to exercise some oversight over the schools it's giving money to.

(Via Diane Ravitch)

Continue reading for more news on education and workers.

A fair day's wage

  • The 10th coal death of 2013 was in Illinois at a Peabody Energy mine.
  • Hey, I'm in a video! More importantly, the words of some low-wage fast food and retail workers are in a video, with people at Netroots Nation reading letters from those workers.
  • Teaching college as an adjunct is a tough, low-paying job. Unless you're as famous as David Petraeus:
    In April, CUNY announced that Petraeus would do a stint as a visiting professor of public policy at the school's Macaulay Honors College, leading a seminar on "developments that could position the United States...to lead the world out of the current global economic slowdown." According to documents Gawker obtained from CUNY via a Freedom of Information Law request, the fallen war architect will net a whopping $200,000 a year for the course, which will total about three hours of work, aided by a group of graduate students to take care of "course research, administration, and grading." (He will also throw in two lectures.)

    [That salary has now been reduced to $150,000; see update below.]

    That works out to approximately $2,250 per hour. CUNY adjuncts usually earn less than $3,000 per course.

    And while CUNY insists it reduced Petreaus's salary to $150,000 before the publicity around how much it was paying him, Corey Robin has assembled quite a few reasons to believe that is a lie.
  • The New York Times follows up on the trend of businesses paying workers with fee-loaded debit cards that can, in some cases, bring their pay below minimum wage:
    Taco Bell, Walgreen and Wal-Mart are among the dozens of well-known companies that offer prepaid cards to their workers; the cards are particularly popular with retailers and restaurants. And they are quickly gaining momentum. In 2012, $34 billion was loaded onto 4.6 million active payroll cards, according to the research firm Aite Group. Aite said it expected that to reach $68.9 billion and 10.8 million cards by 2017.

    Companies and card issuers, which include Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup, say the cards are cheaper and more efficient than checks — a calculator on Visa’s Web site estimates that a company with 500 workers could save $21,000 a year by switching from checks to payroll cards.

    Appalling.

Education

  • The true size of the student debt crisis.
  • While Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst is, by most people's standards, raising boatloads of money from sources like Rupert Murdoch and the Waltons, the group is falling far short of its goals. Rhee initially touted a plan to raise $1 billion in a year, which then became $1 billion in five years. In fact:
    In the fiscal year starting August 1, 2011 and ending July 31, 2012, StudentsFirst raised $28.5 million, more than tripling its $7.6 million fundraising the previous year. During that period, the group's political 501(c)(4) arm raised $15.6 million and spent $13.4 million. Rhee herself drew a salary of about $300,000.
  • For all anti-teacher politicians try to convince people that efforts by union leaders to push back against testing-based education and pay and benefits cuts are out of step with rank-and-file teachers, in fact, some teachers union leaders have faced significant challenges for being too conciliatory. Now the president of the Washington Teachers Union has lost his reelection bid to a teacher activist who promises to be more assertive against school system administrators.
  • It seems Dallas is having trouble finding enough teachers to teach summer school. Why would they be reluctant this year, all of a sudden? Their superintendent fired hundreds of teachers at the end of the school year, and:
    Teachers attempt to do their best in summer school with struggling students, but it’s tough. In addition, this year there is additional stress for educators which has contributed to the teacher shortage. The staff that shows up for school will be closely monitored with “more spot observations.” She adds, “In short, teachers were promised more opportunities to get fired.”

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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