Monday, August 18, 2014

Another Charter Scandal -- The Lack of Accountability Is Like the Wild West

Emma Brown revealed in the Washington Post in December that Jeremy Williams, the former DC Public Charter School Board CFO, helped Options Public Charter School and other charters funnel millions to privately owned contracting companies they owned and avoid oversight. Williams received $150,000 from the Options Board for his favors. The Washington Post only obtained the information by filing a FOIA request to obtain private emails. The private emails showed the CFO was in on what was going on and violated even the charter board's rules. This is not the first scandal resulting from the privatizing of public education in Washington DC. No other school system in the country has as lucrative payments to charters from public coffers. Public officials were asleep at the switch when the rules were made and now that 45% of students attend charters it will be hard to change the rules to impose accountability and transparency on the charter sector, but that is what must be done.

We could just keep updating this article with the scandal of the month. This piece appeard February 11, 2015 in the Washington Post.  The Dorothy I. Height Community Academy Public Charter Schools may be closed becasue its director seems to have used a private management organization to pay himself over $1 Million per year out of taxpayer dollars meant for the "public" school he ran. Amos insisted he was worth it. The charter Board met last week to consider closing the school but failed to make a decision.

Stepping Back to Consider What's Wrong With Existing Reform Emphasis

The NY Times published an interesting op-ed yesterday by University of California Professor David Kirp. This is just one of many critiques that have started to emerge now that the 8 years of reform in DC have proven not to move the needle for the students who need improvement most. It is time to consider whether the wrong reforms have been chosen in Washington DC and to consider what the research shows works. In that respect, Mayoral Candidate David Catania is exactly wrong when he acknowledges the track record of failure in DC and then concludes that we need to double down on the existing reform agenda. Rather, its time to hold the reformers, and the politicians who have rubber stamped their ill conceived direction, accountable.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Charters Re-segregate Public Schools -- New Study Tells How

GW professor Iris Rotberg penned an article in the Kappan Magazine a version of which was re-printed in Valerie Strauss' column today describing the various ways that charter schools are re-segregating education. The research is clear, Rotberg argues, but policy makers are just ignoring it and are subverting the intention of Brown v Board.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

DC School Reform: "Miraculous" Success or Miserable Failure

Yesterday, in a Post Op-ed, former Post Publisher Donald Graham challenged elected officials and candidates for mayor not to look under the hood of DC school reform but to stay the course with Kaya Henderson, the miracle worker chancellor who has raised student test scores. But candidate for mayor Andy Shallal looked under the hood ten days earlier in a February 14 White Paper on Education where he documents the failure of DC school reform and outlines a different path he would take as mayor. Its the first detailed critique of school reform and articulation of an alternative approach to see the light of day in six years. At issue is how to interpret DC's NAEP score record. Where Graham declares rising average scores a success, Shallal points out that all the improvement is for white and wealthier students and can be credited to changing demographics. The city's poor and African American students, in whose name reform was justified, have seen little to no improvement. The charts and statistics in Shallal's analysis shed new light on the record of "reform." In a follow-up Op-Ed responding to Graham's piece, DC Councilman David Catania took Graham to task on the NAEP score data and the need for Council oversight of DCPS, but Catania curiously reached the opposite conclusion: more of the same reform, faster. He must be running for mayor. But then Valerie Strauss finally got it right when she published on March 12 Mary Levy's 7 charts from the Shallal analysis for the world to see here. Who will hold these politicians and their chancellors accountable?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Roosevelt HS' Struggle Illustrates DCPS' Problem

... and Kaya Henderson refused to comment for this excellent story in the City Paper
and for the charts that the article refers to go here.