Diane Ravitch's Reign of Error May Awaken the Sleeping Giant in the Education Reform Debate -- Public School Parents
It wasn’t long ago that I had never heard of Diane Ravitch.
"Sometimes what happens is that education is no longer sexy,” Pitbull said. “It’s no longer cool. I want to tell them or help put together either curriculum or schools where it does entertain them or engage them. One way or another, I want to just make it fun again to learn.The quality of this video is poor, but it gives the clear sense that the kids attending this school are star struck, and Pitbull is serving as little more than a lure to pull them in and get them amped up.
Academica’s achievements have been profitable. The South Miami company receives more than $9 million a year in management fees just from its South Florida charter schools — fees that ultimately come from public tax dollars.
But the Zuluetas’ greatest financial success is largely unseen: Through more than two dozen other companies, the Zuluetas control more than $115 million in South Florida real estate — all exempt from property taxes as public schools — and act as landlords for many of Academica’s signature schools, records show.
These companies collected about $19 million in lease payments last year from charter schools — with nine schools paying rents exceeding 20 percent of their revenue, records show. (emphasis mine)
During the coming years 27 schools across the country are expected to open following this similar model, ao all eyes will be on SLAM during their first year.Who are they kidding? No one will be waiting to find out how this school performs. SLAM is marketable and will sell, and they have found the ultimate Ambassador to sell their product to parents and star struck students in cities around the country.
|Pitbull is "bringing back sexy"|
So is Mother Crusader willing to implement a law, declaring that non-charter public schools MAY NOT accept moneys that didn't come from their taxpayer allocation? Or is she merely jealous and envious because THOSE public schools DO NOT ATTRACT putting-your-money-where-your-mouth-is admiration.This comment was left on my last post about Hatikvah International Academy Charter School, where I responded to an anonymous commenter who didn't seem to think Hatikvah was a "government" school.
Our philanthropy seeks to revitalize Jewish identity through educational and cultural initiatives that reach out to all Jews, with an emphasis on those who are on the margins of Jewish life, as well as to advocate for and support Hebrew and Jewish literacy among the general population.Well, that's a pretty specific goal, isn't it?
Quietly launched over the past year by the Areivim Philanthropic Group, a Jewish funding partnership established by Birthright Israel co-founder Steinhardt and the late William Davidson (whose estate Areivim is currently suing), the $3.2 million Hebrew Charter School Center is providing seed money and free consulting to aspiring Hebrew charter schools throughout the country. (emphasis mine)Here is Areivim's mission statement.
THE PURPOSE OF THE ORGANIZATION IS TO IDENTIFY, ANALYZE AND STUDY THE ISSUES THAT FACE THE NORTH AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY, PARTICULARLY IN THE AREAS OF FORMAL AND EXPERIENTIAL JEWISH, HEBREW AND ISRAEL EDUCATION, AND TO DETERMINE AREAS OF PROGRAMMATIC ACTION THROUGH GRANTMAKING AND THE SPONSORING OF PROGRAMMATIC DEVELOPMENT THIS IS ACCOMPLISHED BY MAKING GRANTS TO SUPPORT JEWISH AND HEBREW EDUCATIONAL AND CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS AND PROGRAMS
|Michael Steinhardt, |
able to fund a Hebrew Charter with a single call!
I don't want on my tombstone, "Michael Steinhardt was one of the world's greatest money managers." I had said to myself, when I stop managing other people's money that I wanted to be ennobling and virtuous, something that really helped some part of the world that was important to me. What was important to me was improving the Jewish future. (emphasis mine)Clearly, Mr. Steinhardt's philanthropic giving has a specific purpose, and that purpose is firmly rooted in the Jewish religion. And that is just fine. It's his money.
With its $6 million annual budget and the backing of philanthropist Michael Steinhardt — Berman’s father — HCSC is exploring new locations in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and New York. The organization spends up to $3 million to open each school and bring it to self-sustainability — that is, running entirely on government money. Neither of its schools has reached that point, but Berman says the Brooklyn school will become self-sustaining for the upcoming school term, its fifth in operation. (emphasis mine)It couldn't be any plainer that Mr. Steinhardt has a religious agenda. He uses his millions to develop, create and sustain the kind of schools HE wants to see, and then keeps them flush with cash until they can pay for themselves.
What’s wrong with Hebrew charter schools?
Why not let the money follow the child? If parents want their children to attend language immersion school, a Montessori school, a Core Knowledge school etc, why not let them send their children to whatever school they wish and have their per-pupil spending follow them?
We have a balkanized education system as it is. Kids who live in East Brunswick go to EB schools, kids who live in Metuchen go to Metuchen schools, kids who live in South Brunswick go to SB schools etc. Let kids choose to go to schools that best fit their interests and personalities and this artificial geographic segregation will diminish.
If you were so concerned about the financial problems of traditional public schools, you would be more worried about OOD tuition, health care increases, and staff salaries that increase faster than 2%. Some of those kids getting OOD placements may have severe conditions like autism, but not all of them do. If you look at what schools kids are being placed at, you will see that many of them specialize in educating kids with ADD.
Focusing on charter schools just makes you look like an ideologue. You were brought up with education delivered in a certain way (ie, by the govt) and you cannot imagine it delivered differently.
Opposing a charter school because it "siphons money away from public schools" is like opposing using Pell grants at private colleges "because they siphon money away from Rutgers." You want to defund and close Hatikvah. Great. Do you favor defunding and closing Drew, Seton Hall, Centenary College too?
|Silly ideologue, you think charters are public schools?|
Support of Christie’s performance on education has remained steady since June: 44 percent of all voters approve and 49 percent disapprove. Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to back the governor. Independents are slightly more likely to disapprove than approve."So more of the general public disapprove of this handling of education than approve. Not earth shattering or surprising, but noteworthy. But then catch this part.
Among the 13 percent of voters who call education the state’s most pressing problem, 88 percent disapprove of Christie’s performance and only 8 percent are positive. (emphasis mine.)Now THAT is staggering. 88% of people who are passionate about education think Christie is on the wrong track. 88%!!! Christie has next to no support in the education community.
I am personally incensed by the NJDOE comment about any parent's decision to opt their child(ren) out of standardized testing.Darcie Cimarusti of Highland Park, N.J., didn't like that her twin daughters would have to agonize over a standardized test as first-graders so she worked out an agreement with the principal to move them into a kindergarten class during testing time."My goal is that my daughters never take a standardized test," Cimarusti said. "I see less and less value in it educationally and it being used more and more to beat teachers over the head."
Michael Yaple, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Education, said about 98 percent of New Jersey students take standardized tests.
"Keeping a child home from testing does no favor to the child or the school," he said.Instead of subjecting my daughters to 7-8 hours of testing over the course of three days at the age of SIX I instead chose to have them read, write, sing, make art and dance with their peers in a joyous classroom setting with a fabulous teacher.
“It will be after the election, I don’t see it happening before then,” he said. “Miracles happen in lame-duck after elections, so let’s see. We’ll certainly be focused on it.”If you ask me, this is a direct message to voucher enthusiasts that have endorsed Christie because he has promised them he will keep fighting for the Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA). If he walks away from vouchers now, he would undoubtedly lose some key groups that have endorsed him.
The Lakewood Vaad (Council) is a voluntary organization of leaders and businessmen, who represent a large amount of the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood, New Jersey in public policy issues. Lakewood has a large Orthodox Jewish population and is home to the largest Talmudic Academy in the United States, Beth Medrash Govoha. The community maintains a large and unified voting block. The Vaad endorses candidates for office, and communicates the needs of the community to elected officials.Watch this short video of Christie accepting the endorsement of the Lakewood Vaad.
And there will be those who will attempt to and have stood in our way in trying to bring the Opportunity Scholarship Act into law. I can tell you this, that I will continue to fight everyday that you give me the honor and privilege of being your Governor to make sure that something that makes as much sense as the Opportunity Scholarship Act is not stopped by the special interests.Bruce Baker has done amazing work demonstrating that the bulk of OSA funds will not go to kids "trapped in failing public schools," they will go to kids in Lakewood who already attend religious private schools.
In other words, all of the other locations combined do not have the sum total of low income private school enrolled children that Lakewood has. Lakewood would likely be the epicenter of NJOSA scholarship distribution. I noted in my first post on this topic that if the average scholarship amounts were as proposed, the Lakewood Yeshiva schools would stand to take in as much as $67 million per year in these indirect taxpayer subsidies.
|Christie accepting the Vaad's endorsement|
“The community here in Lakewood cares so much about issues that I care about too,” Christie said. “And I know, here in Lakewood, nothing is more important for the families that moved here and that is the education of your children. We need to make sure, as we move forward, that [a child’s] education is of the parent’s choice."And the Vaad is not shy about the fact that they will throw their weight behind a candidate
Two of the candidates, Frank Pallone and Cory Booker are well known to us and long time friends. Pallone has loyally worked on our behalf in Congress for many years, helping yechidim and the klal with energy and dedication. Booker has been active in statewide politics for many years, and has been a great advocate for our community and matters of great importance to us.
This presents a difficult choice for us as to who deserves our backing.
While they both are deserving, we heartily endorse Cory Booker for one reason – his positions on vouchers. There is no stronger advocate in NJ for private school vouchers (including our Mosdos) than Cory Booker.
Our Mosdos and families are in desperate need of relief – and Cory Booker – as Mayor of the City of Newark, has bucked the Democratic party and has been a tireless advocate for vouchers. His election to the US Senate would be the first time there is a powerful Democrat pushing hard for vouchers.(emphasis mine)Well, at least that kind of honesty is refreshing. So why can't Christie just be honest when he speaks publicly about the OSA? Why doesn't he let everybody know that he has a deal with the powers that be in Lakewood, and he's already promised them a religious education on the public dime? Afterall, isn't he the "tell-it-like-it-is" Governor?
In the ACLU’s opinion, the government funding is outright illegal, not just improper. “This kind of funding clearly violates the separation of church and state,” Udi Ofer, executive director of the group’s New Jersey chapter, explained. “That is not the role for taxpayer money. They could do it on their own dime but they cannot do it on the public dime.” A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie did not return multiple inquiries seeking a comment. (emphasis mine)Again, where is our straight-shootin' Governor on this one? Why won't his administration answer questions about why tax payer money is going to a Yeshiva? I'd love to hear someone ask him directly, in front of a camera, if it's a coincidence that he got the Vaad endorsement in March and gave the Yeshiva, run by a leader of the Vaad, $10.6 million in May.
|Martin Perez and his wife with Christie |
at the endorsement
And, just earlier this week, in his budget address, the Governor again demonstrated his commitment to the fight for educational justice, by dedicating funds for an Opportunity Scholarship Pilot Project, while also providing more state aid for education than any previous administration.Watch this NJTV segment on the endorsement which highlights LLA President Martin Perez's admiration for Governor Christie's ed reform agenda.
Perez: Chris Christie has shown us that he is committed to reforming education in New Jersey and this is the number one issue for the Latinos in this state. The school system has failed constantly in the urban areas, and we are losing a generation of Latino children.
Christie: Martin talked about education. There is nothing more important to me than changing the educational system in this state to make sure that every child, no matter their zip code, no matter the economic status of their parents, has a chance to be successful in this country, and that's through education.I guess Mr. Perez doesn't read Bruce Baker, and hasn't figured out that Latino kids are not likely to be the main recipients if the OSA ever becomes law. Unsurprisingly, the LLA endorsement didn't really sit well with a lot of the Latino community.
Now, I'm not saying that Mr. Perez has his own political agenda, but just two short months before LLA's very early February endorsement of Governor Christie, Mr. Perez was appointed by Governor Christie to the Rutgers Board of Governors. And the appointment is no small matter.
|This was at 10am on 9/5. Check back and see what the numbers are now.|
So clearly, Bombelyn is not your run of the mill voucher fan. She is an advocate willing to take Christie's fight for vouchers to the courts when he fails in the legislature. And take note, Bombelyn and Perez were not in this fight alone, they had the backing and support of E3, one of the biggest voucher pushing organizations in the state, and another big supporter of the Governor's ed reform agenda. Check out this statement from E3 President Christy Davis Jackson in support of OSA and Governor Christie.But the case, known as , involves far bigger questions that could affect far more students, bring in some statewide players, and invoke some hard-fought debates over what exactly is a “thorough and efficient” education as required by the state’s constitution.
A Familiar ComplaintAn earlier version of the complaint -- Crawford v. Davy -- was ultimately dismissed by the state appellate court in 2009, although it left an opening for the case to be argued anew.The prior case involved 25 districts, many of them urban school systems like Camden that fall under the Abbott v. Burke rulings.Following the defeat of Crawford, some of the same advocates who led that case returned with the Vargas complaint, narrowing it to Camden schools at a time when the district is in turmoil and subject to intense scrutiny by the Christie administration.One of those advocates is Patricia Bombelyn, the New Brunswick attorney who led the Crawford case and has been closely aligned with Excellent Education for Everyone (E3), the decade-old group that has largely led the push for private school vouchers in the state. E3 is helping sponsor the challenge.Her law partner, Martin Perez, was also in attendance. Perez heads up the Latino Leadership Alliance. (emphasis mine)
Securing a school choice program in Camden, challenging existing abysmal academic standards through the Vargas lawsuit against the Camden Board of Education, and conducting extensive community empowerment efforts to bring to bear the voices of those most afflicted by the failure of urban public education are three key aspects of E3’s comprehensive approach to urban education reform. (emphasis mine)Anyone who keeps up on ed reform in New Jersey will know that Jackson is none other than the wife of Bishop Reginald Jackson, the Executive Director of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, another huge player in the ed reform battle in this state.
|Bishop Jackson endorsing Christie at a State|
House news conference.
You can watch the endorsement here. It's little more than another chance to give a shout out for the OSA."I'm always for enhancing and improving school facilities," Jackson said today. But in the end, he made his endorsement based on the vouchers, and said he was disheartened by black Democrats whose districts house failing schools. (emphasis mine)
Back in these earlier days of the Christie administration, the BMC was all about getting their member churches in on the charter school gravy train; Jackson himself bragged how he had enough juice to get charters approved for his flock:
Rev. Reginald Jackson said he was celebrating after all five charter schools proposed by the Black Ministers Council were approved. They include an East Orange school with single-gender classrooms and a high school offering online instruction and instrumental music classes for students in East Orange, Irvington and Newark. [emphasis mine]
Reginald Jackson and his fellow apostles know what school "reform" is really all about: getting a taste of that lovely, lovely public school money. It doesn't matter if it comes from vouchers, or from starting a charter school; all that counts is that public funds roll into the hands of folks who are doing it all "for the kids."
Jackson's endorsement of Chris Christie last week was just about the most cynical, political move one could imagine. This governor has ignored the School Funding Reform Act for four years running - a piece of legislation that was specifically designed to move state school funds to the poorest districts where it is needed most. Children in these districts are going to schools that are literally crumbling while Christie has delayed critical projects, even as he hands out huge tax gifts to corporate and wealthy interests (tax breaks that haven't helped New Jersey's economic malaise in the slightest).
No governor has been worse for poor and minority children and their families than Chris Christie. But Reginald Jackson doesn't care, because school privatization is good for him and his family; that's the real reason for his endorsement. (emphasis Jersey Jazzman's!)Well, there you have it. The voucher inspired endorsements the Governor has received have all come with a hefty price tag for New Jersey taxpayers.
$10.6 million to a Yeshiva run by the Lakewood Vaad...
Appointment to the Rutgers Board of Governors for Martin Perez...
Five charter schools for members of the Black Ministers Council, totaling God only knows how many millions of dollars...Has any group endorsed Governor Christie and the OSA that HAS NOT received some type of highly controversial and/or wildly costly fringe benefit from this administration?
|The new Christie campaign ad slogan|