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Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools, speaks during
Michelle Rhee
A couple new entries in the charter school hall of horrors. In New York City:
A whopping 80% of special-needs kids who enroll as kindergartners in city charter schools leave by the time they reach third grade, a report by the Independent Budget Office released Thursday shows.
In Columbus, Ohio, 17 charter schools closed in 2013:
Nine of the 17 schools that closed in 2013 lasted only a few months this past fall. When they closed, more than 250 students had to find new schools. The state spent more than $1.6 million in taxpayer money to keep the nine schools open only from August through October or November.

But while 2013 was unusual, closings are not rare. A Dispatch analysis of state data found that 29 percent of Ohio’s charter schools have shut, dating to 1997 when the publicly funded but often privately run schools became legal in Ohio. Nearly 400 currently are operating, about 75 of them in Columbus.

Meanwhile, Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst once again released its education report card, which measures states not on their educational outcomes but on whether they have corporate education policies in place. That means you get gems like Louisiana getting a B- while Connecticut got a D+, even though Connecticut's educational outcomes are substantially better than Louisiana's. Hilarious, isn't it, how the people who scream the most loudly about accountability when it comes to teachers tasked with educating the most challenged students absolutely reject accountability when it comes to their own policies?

More stories on labor and education below the fold.

  • Sarah Jaffe has a fascinating in-depth story about how Walmart organizers turned the internet into a shop floor:
    AssociateVoices is just OUR Walmart’s latest effort to connect Walmart workers with each other online, however. According to Suelzer, the group has been using social media to that end for the last three years or so. Facebook's targeted advertising allows OUR Walmart to run ads directed at the thousands of users who list Walmart as their employer. Those ads send workers to OUR Walmart's page, where they are then able to connect with other Walmart associates. And then, Suelzer says, these conversations around workplace issues go offline.

    “We've seen that when workers talk to one another it doesn't just stay on the Facebook page,” Suelzer says. “Those relationships become real, in that they're talking offsite. Most of our online work is worker-to-worker. We have a couple of organizers who oversee and provide feedback to workers, but so much of it really is a substantial number of online leaders who are really taking initiative and reaching out to other workers.”

  • Seven reasons we don't want "fast track" trade deals.
  • Robert Reich: Fear is why workers in red states vote against their economic self-interest.
  • A Massachusetts IHOP owner was fined $100,000 for forcing waitstaff to pay when customers walked out on their bills.
  • The war on workers is heating up in Pennsylvania.


  • Advanced Placement teachers in Lee, Massachusetts, returned merit pay, writing:
    As a union, we strongly oppose “merit pay” on both philosophical and ethical grounds. First, the notion of “merit pay” suggests that high achieving students are more worthy of a teacher’s time and effort than average achieving students or those who struggle. Refusing to accept the “merit pay” has allowed us to put the money back into our departments to enhance the learning of all our students. We will buy much-needed items, such as supplies, textbooks, and technology, and also fund field trips and SAT preparation classes for students lacking the means to pay for them themselves.

    Second, “merit pay” for certain teachers of certain students in certain classes is inequitable to professional educators. In our view, it is a way to undermine union efforts to ensure fair and equal pay for equal work, education, and experience. Before students arrive in an A.P. class in 11th or 12th grade, they have already been in school for at least 10 years. It is faulty logic to assume that the efforts of one A.P. teacher were the only cause of high scores. Earlier teachers, parents, and community members all help contribute to the success of our students.

  • Let's just say that education has not been an area of progressive strength for the Obama administration:
    Stevens said her group was “troubled by what we’ve seen so far” from the Obama Education Department, citing a 2011 Harvard Business Review essay by Joanne Weiss, Secretary Arne Duncan’s then-chief of staff, which stated that “the adoption of common standards and shared assessments means that education entrepreneurs will enjoy national markets where the best products can be taken to scale.”

    Stevens argued that the essay suggested Weiss, who had led Obama’s Race to the Top program, “was so excited about Common Core not necessarily because of its impact on students, but because of the opportunities it opened up for the marketplace, and for for-profit companies that could quickly scale and take advantage of a national market.”

  • Poor kids shouldn't just be told to go to college so they can make more money. Learning is also a good thing.
  • This may be the one time Matt Yglesias has been correct about anything related to corporate education policy: Michelle Rhee's Twitter Q&A did not go well. For Rhee, anyway. More here.
  • Karoli pretty much nails it on Rick Berman and his new attack on AFT President Randi Weingarten:
    When corporate interests want an attack dog, they turn to Rick Berman, the verbal hitman for hire to the highest bidder.

    Instead of attacking teachers' unions, someone on the right has hired paid public relations bully to go after AFT union president Randi Weingarten personally. The lastest attacks on Weingarten are intended to put a face on the more amorphous "teachers unions" and create an image in people's minds of someone they can focus their fear and loathing upon.

  • A former Teach for America "corps member" says that when he joined TFA, "I had no idea that my belief in social and economic justice was about to be cynically exploited by the corporate class."

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 10:55 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We are well into the era of failing upward (11+ / 0-)

    Otherwise known as official corruption. And it goes all the way to the top.

    As in ALL the way. Yes, I'm literally implying exactly that.

    Or, why aren't Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein in jail?

    Why are multi-billion dollar contracts still being awarded to war profiteers?

    Why was Christie, Inc. able to get away with such a massive level of corruption without the DoJ doing a thing about it?

    Why did BP basically get off the hook for Deepwater?

    Oh, right, because I'm a hater.

    Sorry, my bad.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 11:10:49 AM PST

    •  Michelle Rhee and education reformers . . . (18+ / 0-)

      . . . are not the least bit interested in school reform, improvement or student achievement--their only goal is to tap into the tax money designated for public schools. A side bonus for these scam reformers would be to take down teacher unions, collective bargaining and benefits for teachers.

      Above the clouds, what's to be found, I have to wonder - will I be around--Paul Weller

      by Above the Clouds on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 11:24:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And they have friends in high places (6+ / 0-)

        The collusion between elected and appointed officials on the one hand, and the for-profit private sector, is unmistakable and immense, and infects every industry and aspect of government. This Christie thing, while huge at the state level, is dwarfed by what's been going on at the federal and national level for the past couple of decades or more, and serves as a useful distraction.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 11:44:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  MBA coming to education (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      historys mysteries

      Ree is bringing MBA pay for  performance ignorance to the educational system in America.

      Systemic thinking in America is as rare as a white crow. no MBA program in America has it. none.

      Research the many ways MBA'S programs in American universities have aided the decline of the American middle class.

      It is so insane the more a corporation lays off   workers the higher the stock prices on wall street.

      The leaders and gov's in Asian nations cannot believe that Americans have such little knowledge of the cause of their downfall.

      Reagan was the president that allowed wall street to put capitalism on steroids and half or more  of Americans still love him. even named an airport after him and a ship. human ignorance has many faces this is  one of them.

  •  Hooray for the teachers returning merit pay. (13+ / 0-)

    President Obama has been very bad on education policies.
    His choice of folks to run the Education Department have been awful, yet his choice of where to send his daughters to school was fantastic.

    Maybe he should appoint someone from the Sidwell Friends School  to run the Education Department.

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature. If I had Bill Gates money, I'd buy Detroit.

    by ZenTrainer on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 11:13:19 AM PST

  •  The funniest/saddest thing I've read all month... (14+ / 0-)

    ...was a Washington Post editorial titled "How 'progressive' is Bill DeBlasio?"
    The gist of it is that, while NYC's new mayor is a solid progressive in many areas, he falls short when it comes to education.  Because he doesn't embrace the Michelle Rhee privatization model. They conclude:

    Of all the ways to reduce inequality, none is more important than giving poor children access to good schools — including, but not limited to, pre-K. And of all the political forces that propelled Mr. de Blasio into office, none is less truly progressive than the backlash against school reform.
    And no, this wasn't an op-ed. This was from the Washington Post Editorial Board.
    •  That seems to be plastered all over the face... (4+ / 0-)

      of Michelle Rhee.

      Her smug look, her attempt to push you the viewer far away from her, and her style of reducing complexity to "listen to what I said".

      Meh. Rhee.

      Ugh. --UB.

      "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Randian Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

      by unclebucky on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 12:42:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  More grade (6+ / 0-)

    StudentFirst graded NJ Traffic Studies as A+ and Freedom Industries A+

  •  Funny, for some reason the other day (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Danno11, Mostel26

    I was thinking what happened to Rhee. I think the reformers are nervous also because at least in NYC parents are pushing back as are some educators against testing and reform policies.

  •  Beyond the corporate hackery, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I worry that we're producing too many kids that lack critical thinking skills.

    •  The people with the power to allocate funding (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      are working very effectively to produce the sort of citizens they prefer.

      -- We are just regular people informed on issues

      by mike101 on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 12:53:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  but of course! (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, quill, dicentra, jbsoul, JanL

      That has been the plan all along.
      What happened in the US when we decided to educate as many of our citizens as possible all the way through college?

      The safety net.
      Civil rights.
      Women's rights.
      Limitations on banks.
      Etc., etc., etc.

      All of these cultural shifts - and many more - resulted from the sense of empowerment that came with education for the middle and working classes. And all of these shifts scared the hell out of the entrenched powers.
      Since the 1970s those powers have been working hard to undermine the public education system.

      Let's lower taxes, and thus state contributions to education.
      Let's use public money to fund private schools (vouchers, charters).
      Let's create a set of evaluations that have nothing to do with learning. but guarantee that money goes to private testing corporations.
      Let's use those those low, irrelevant, scores to argue for even less money for public education.

      And they've been incredibly successful.
      State funding for higher education has dropped consistently over the past few decades.
      And corporate front groups have been very successful at using the current recession to argue for lower funding levels for elementary and secondary schools.

      Fighting back against charter schools and vouchers - and supporting public education - is one of the most progressive things a politician can do in the US today.

  •  Rhee is the country's worst policy fraud (6+ / 0-)

    and of course she and her ilk are beloved by this administration.  Charter schools are simultaneously a corporate scam while being a sort of insidious rejection of Brown v Board of Education.

  •  Newark is exploding (9+ / 0-)

    Newark is exploding over the suspension of 5 principals for publicly speaking against their school closings!

    Edu-privatization means end of dissent & the end of democracy.

  •  I don't go to IHOP because I think it's overpriced (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, quill

    but my sisters do, and we were talking the other day and my younger one happened to mention that not only did the local IHOP make the wait staff pay for check skippers, they also made them pay for returned meals.

    Apparently she knows that particular waitress from outside of IHOP, or I doubt if she'd (the waitress) have been so candid about it.

    From reading the linked piece, this goes on at IHOP's all over the country.

    Back in the day when I was a line/short order cook at a local buffet/bowling alley combo, if there was a problem with a meal, no one had to pay and the owner ate the cost himself.

    Of course if problems with the food became a regular occurrence, the employee in question (me) would probably be looking for a new job.

    We rarely had check skippers, so that wasn't an issue.

    If the owner had tried to make me pay for the occasional complaint, I would have cheerfully told him to go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut and walked out the door.

  •  We were doing better (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mike101, Sweet Spot, Mostel26

    For much of the past 50 years we have been educated more people, a more diverse group of people, better than we ever have before. I think that charter schools are not only caused by the amount of money that can be diverted into private pockets, but also because charter schools can be used to limit the opportunities of kids.

    For instance Responsive Education Solutions is 60% black and Hispanic students.  In a comphrehensive public school these kids might be educated.  But in RES they are taught creationism, history a la fox news, and who know what other factually challenged information.  I know not all charter school are designed to make sure that students remain uneducated, but it is hard to see that embezzlement and subversion of the comprehensive public school system is not the primary purpose.

    As far as Teach for America, I am sure that most of the cult members are good people.  However, I have to take issue with two things.  First, the reason they accept less pay is because of a perception of greater and future benefits.  This could be loan forgiveness or forbearance, scholarships for master degrees, or fast track to administrative positions.  Think about someone who worked at your office or business, who was only slumming there for a year or two to get to where they really wanted to be, who had no long term interest in the success of the firm.

    Also think about when you were in high school.  Think about the teachers who were there mostly every day for the four years you were there.  Think about the teachers who left.  In my case, i recall the teachers as critical to my develop, and they were career teachers who dedicated themselves to the craft and practice.  The ones who popped in and out I barely remember.

  •  They made the worst students... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, quill, jbsoul shouldn't just be told to go to college so they can make more money. Learning is also a good thing.
    I deleted the "poor" part because this is a problem among middle class kids as well.

    Back when I taught - I don't know if I'll ever teach again, what with adjunct pay rates now so low, a minimum wage job looks good, and nobody hires full-time faculty any more - I actually had a student shout at me, "Show me the money!"

    I suppose that attitude might work in an MBA program, but for undergraduates at community and state colleges to think that?  Bound for disappointment.  Better to take plumbing or electrician classes at a votech if money's everything to you.  Honestly, given the poor job market into the foreseeable future, what with the Republicans in charge and a Third Way man in the White House, I see no hope.  Skip college, go to a votech instead.

    Join Essa in a revolt against the gods. Continue the fight, Causality.

    by rbird on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 12:31:52 PM PST

  •  With charter schools, since it is the... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, jbsoul

    private sector moving in on the public sector, the only thing that can be said is to:

    F O L L O W   T H E   M O N E Y !!!

    Right Michelle, Rhee?

    Ugh. --UB.

    "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Randian Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

    by unclebucky on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 12:38:01 PM PST

  •  A TFA person installed by Christie as (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Teiresias70, Mostel26, quill, jbsoul

    superintendent of Newark schools suspended without pay four principals and banned one PTA head from entering her school for daring to speak out against her plan to close half of Newark schools and fire teachers, presumably to replace them with charters and Teach For A While scabs.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 12:44:02 PM PST

  •  Whether it's "9" or "17"... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoJoe, Mostel26, jbsoul

    ... if 250 children needed to find new schools, I'm wondering how in the heck does a charter school get away with only having 14-28 students per school? They must have been so top-heavy with administration that it's no wonder they fell over.

  •  multi-billion dollar educational (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, quill, jbsoul

    publishing empires like Pearson are shameless when it comes to stealing others' copyrighted material (I guess they're too big to be sued) or taking open source material, turning around and selling it as part of their package.

    My district just signed a big contract with Pearson for electronic textbooks and teacher resources (of course we don't have any machines or devices for students to use so it's pretty much worthless) and I was shocked when I took a look at their "Kinetic Art" resources and discovered they are Molecular Workbench modules.

    Molecular Workbench is a wonderful science modeling tool developed by the non-profit Concord Consortium and underwritten by the National Science Foundation.  It is absolutely free for anyone to download.

    I was sofa king disgusted, I almost got the dry heaves. The progress toward an idiocracy seems to me to be out of the lag phase and into the log phase.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:16:34 PM PST

  •  Imagine Charter Schools (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    run by the infamous Bakkes operated a charter school in Kansas City.  I first became suspicious about six years ago when a student from the local Imagine school with the hubristic title of Imagine Renaissance Academy of Environmental Science & Math, who transferred into my class, didn't seem to know anything about anything related to science.  Eventually she told me all they did in her biology class was copy notes off the board.

    Last year I had another former Imagine Renaissance Academy student in my class who told me that by the time he was there all that went on in classrooms was students throwing desks across the room.

    The charter school was finally closed.  I have a boy in my class this year who attended the last year it was open.  I asked him what his experience was like.  He just said, "Horrible!"

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:38:18 PM PST

  •  Rhee is nothing but a lying, POS grifter. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, jbsoul

    There, nothing left to say.

    "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

    by kuvasz on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:47:31 PM PST

  •  The aim of privatized education. (0+ / 0-)

    Let's be clear, the purpose of privatizing education has nothing to do with better education for America's children.  The goals are so obvious, and disturbing, it is truly nauseating.

    1) by privatizing Public Education you put parents in a position of paying for the quality of education their children get. To be sure there will be bare-bones education available for America's children that is subsidized, but the quality will be poor and children who come out the other end of that mediocrity mill will lack the skills to compete ... the parents fault, don't you know? The "Better" schools will be more expensive, and parents who want to give their children the "Best" education will have to pay dearly for it. So, welcome to the world of K-12 Education Mortgages.  That's right folks.  Parents who want their children to have a chance in society will have to take out a mortgage to do so.  And what will happen to these Education Mortgages, do you think?  Well, as is the case with College Loans today, they will be sold off, securitized and invested on ... wait for it ... Wall Street.  (I bet you saw that coming).

    2)Private Sector Curriculum Control is the other "win" for Privatized Education.  The Private Sector will use control of curriculum to amplify their own virtues (and those of their goods and services) and eliminate references to their historic deficiencies. Do you think your kids will ever hear about global warming in Science class?  Or the Labor or Civil Rights Movement in Social Studies?  Which of our beloved historical figures will be excised from US History?  Thomas Jefferson?  Martin Luther King?  Theodore Roosevelt and FDR? And who will be lionized? JP Morgan? Ronald Reagan? Jefferson Davis for his commitment to the "Free Market"? All things are possible, for he who owns the kitchen decides the menu, and, as Orwell said: "He who controls the present controls the past.  He who controls the past controls the future"

    There are numerous other downsides to Privatized Education, but these are the two that shriek the loudest at me ... and lets be clear, the deficiencies of Egalitarian Public Education can been easily addressed by rejecting the sabotaging narrative that it is a system beyond redemption.

    Anyone who is flirting with replacing our Egalitarian Public Schools, with a "Free Market" Education solution is damning America's children to a diminished future. Recognize Snake Oil Salesman who preach a miracle cure ... for they're con men and women, whose ideas are unworthy of your consideration.

    Recognize the very real danger in this Education "Reform" Movement and reject it, before it poisons our nation like a vial of tainted panacea from a traveling Huckster.

  •  Michelle Rhee Makes My Skin Crawl (0+ / 0-)

    I am so sick and tired of seeing Michelle Rhee treated like some kind of educational expert than the provably, much exposed, cheating and lying Koch Brother fraud she really is. I could just throw up when I see her on the MSM repeating her falsehoods as facts and never being challenged or even questioned about her failures and cheating scandals.

    And as far a the great benefit of Charter Schools how about the ones like Milwaukee's LifeSkills Charter school that accepted more than $2 million in state funds and then disappeared in the middle of the night.

    Collect Different Days

    by Homers24 on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 04:07:38 PM PST

  •  A Pubic School Teacher (0+ / 0-)

    Another thing that simply enrages me is the stereotype of lazy, incompetent, and uncaring public school teachers because these are the kind of public school teachers I know and deal with.

    I am currently tutoring one of my grandsons in writing because its certainly not his forte and as his teacher pointed out to his mother he was falling behind and in danger of failing. So I agreed to help him and that necessitated me contacting his teacher. She jumped at the chance to get him extra help and we now communicate through email on nearly a daily basis. She is patient, insightful, encouraging, and highly skilled as well as creative when it comes to how we can work together. And most of all she cares even though this effort amounts to working overtime for her because the times stamped on the emails are never during school hours.

    And the end result is with her help my grandson and I are making more and faster progress than I would have thought possible because she like most of the teachers I've ever encountered are really and truly hard working, deeply caring, and highly skilled professionals.

    Collect Different Days

    by Homers24 on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 04:28:56 PM PST

  •  I'll take Connecticut's D+ schools (0+ / 0-)

    over Louisiana's B- schools ANY MOTHER FUCKING DAY.  And I'll be content in knowing that even if my kids struggle in those Connecticut schools, they'll be far better off than the kids in those bullshit charter schools in Louisiana.  

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 09:50:34 PM PST

    •  Oh and Michelle Rhee (0+ / 0-)

      can go fuck herself with a stapler sideways.   I hope it gets stuck up there too.  She's nothing more than a corporate whore who is pissed that CT kicked her pet lackey out of Bridgeport.  

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 09:52:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Creationism is taught in Louisiana schools n/t (0+ / 0-)

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