Reporting on Current Obama Education Policies

Abolishing Representative Government Through Education: Common Core, Choice, and Charter Schools

By Anita B Hoge

Transforming America One City at a Time

Is this country at a tipping point? How do you transform our Republic? There are four main issues I will discuss in this article:

• Governance—removing locally elected school officials;
• Funding—ushering in federal choice and vouchers under the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which will change our system of taxing and financing schools to one where the funding will follow the child (this is also a means to control private schools and expand charter schools);
• Charter schools—replacing your local neighborhood school with a zealous for-profit agenda so that there will no longer be parent or voter input, or elected school boards, specifically with an aim to kill public education.
• Common Core Standards—ushering in a system of individualized, psychotherapeutic learning; the standardization of teaching, testing, and technology in all 50 states; nationalizing education ; and changing traditional education based on academics to a workforce training model.
The combination of all four points above puts this scenario together. It demonstrates that this is the plan for the destruction of our country. The following stories tell the tale.

New Orleans. New York. Chicago. Detroit. Philadelphia. Washington DC, and countless other cities are casting a glimpse in how this nation is being transformed. If these large cities can be transformed, what chance do small cities and towns have to sidestep government takeover? There are both Democrat and Republican fingerprints all over this agenda. Based on a crisis such as a natural disaster, financial bankruptcy, corruption, or some other incident, there is an agenda to take control of a city’s schools by transferring all authority to the mayor or the governor. In 2006, an action guide for mayors was published by the United States Conference for Mayors and funded by the Gates Foundation called, “Mayoral Leadership and Involvement in Education, An Action Guide for Success.” It detailed a step-by-step process to gain control over a city, particularly its schools. Similarly, in 2008, the National Governor’s Association wrote a report, “State Support for High Performing Charter School Expansion,” which was a plan for state governors to expand charter schools. Is this the bigger plan?

What unique circumstances must be in place to force the closing of publicly-run schools by reorganizing them to become privatized charter schools? Dissolving all elected school board members and replacing them with appointed councils? Firing all the teachers and thereby breaking the back of the unions? [Leave aside for now the debate of benefit versus harm of the teachers unions, ed.] Replacing experienced teachers with fledgling ‘Teach For America’ or ‘Education Pioneer’ newbies who have had just a few weeks of training? Firing teachers through based on subjective evaluations and “high stakes” testing of students that measures and molds their personalities? Designing a tax system that moves the tax base away from the local community? Forcing local neighborhood schools to close? Dislocating students from their neighborhood surroundings? Co-locating charter schools within a public school? Destroying both your parental voice and your representative vote so that there is no longer any local school district accountability?

Many of us over the past few decades have been watching elected officials be thrown out of their rightful positions. We have watched as parents and educators at meetings and rallies begging for their schools not to close. Do American citizens truly understand the overall effects of these increasingly common local events to the entire country? Is there more to this story? Yes!

Common Core and Its Agenda

This report explains the reality that America is facing right now. The foundation of the [unconstitutional] individual mandate in Obamacare is the same authority creating an individual mandate in education with the implementation of Common Core Standards. Both represent an individual mandate that forces individuals to comply with regulations that erase individual rights, local control, and states’ rights. This foundation has already been laid in several of the largest cities in America, and those people have felt the pangs of freedom being stripped away from them. The smaller cities are wriggling, dangling bait waiting to be snatched up into this frenzy of privatization and crony-dealt deals. This agenda will be full-speed ahead when the reauthorization of ESEA legislation goes to conference and is passed, and it may also be hastened during another crisis, such as when the economy dips again.

President Barack Obama and both the Democratic and Republican policymakers have embraced the agenda. HR 5 and SB 1094 (the ESEA federal “choice” legislation where the money follows a child) will crush our Republic and usher the final blow. It will strangle budget-strapped cities and feed the privatized charter school spillover that will occur. Investors, especially those who will profit from this coming crisis, have been loitering on the sidelines, keeping their eyes on Washington policies and politics. And, we should do the same.

The Agenda of Common Core, Choice and Charter Schools

HR 5 and SB 1094, the reauthorization of the ESEA will ultimately destroy both public and private education, especially through nationalizing education in the United States through so-called choice” and charter schools. Charter schools are not private schools; they are publicly financed and regulated “choice” and the money follows the child.

It is important to realize that the finger pointing at each “side” by both Republican and Democrat was planned and intentional. Both sides want to get this job done even though it will end up crashing our economic system and our system of government.

Let’s set up the agenda: Common Core standards are already well established in almost all 50 states creating a de-facto national curriculum. Common Core is personalized education, requiring individualized remediation for both students and teachers. Common Core standardizes the national education system via testing data that will be collected, thereby assessing/measuring every child, teacher, digital curriculum, every principal, every school, every district, and every state through longitudinal monitoring instruments. Common Core changes our system of education to a business model. Basic functional literacy and workforce skills will replace the teaching of academic subject matter.

National testing through separate state consortiums (PARCC and Smarter Balanced and the testing contractor ACT) has formed the model research base and the foundation for a national test that measures Common Core (now College Career Citizenship Readiness Standards). A national diploma is being established: “Achieve, America’s Diploma Project” and “ACT National Career Readiness Project.”

Teachers will be evaluated, not on how well they teach academic content, but how well their students perform on assessment tests. With digital online curriculum and cyberschools replacing teacher functions in the daily school program, computers will reduce the need for teachers. This is all data-driven. Only the compliant will survive. Reuters reported on August 2, 2012, in an article titled “Private firms eyeing profits from U.S. public schools, that:

Education entrepreneur John Katzman urged investors to look for companies developing software that can replace teachers for segments of the school day, driving down labor costs. “How do we use technology so that we require fewer highly qualified teachers?” asked Katzman, who founded the Princeton Review test-prep company and now focuses on online learning. (Source)

So, how do we get rid of all those teachers? Union-busting mayors are taking over the schools, firing teachers, and launching charter schools where leniency in experience (such as “Teach for America” candidates) and certification varies.

Any state can easily opt out of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association plans to implement Common Core, but they are already ingrained into your school system when your state accepted “Race to the Top” grants and applied for ESEA flexibility waivers mandating standards, testing, curriculum, and teacher training. Common Core is not federal law, but your state has agreed to Common Core Standards, like it or not. It is cemented into your school system. Your state legislators must rescind Common Core and a standards-based system by law in order to return to an academic curriculum. This is a states’ rights and local control issue since the federal government cannot legally direct or supervise curriculum. It can be done. But, the real pulling-the-rabbit-out-of-the-hat trick will be performed by the Obama/Duncan agenda. It will complete the feat of nationalizing education through the federal reauthorization of ESEA by implementing “choice.” This agenda was designed with both Democrat and Republican approval in both houses of Congress. ESEA, (Title I) and Special Education (IDEA) will accomplish this goal.

In June of 2013, the Democrat-held Senate Education Committee released SB 1094, ESEA reauthorization, out of committee. On July 19, 2013, the Republican-held House of Representatives passed HR 5, with “choice” amendments in ESEA reauthorization bills that will change our system of government via a huge push toward charter schools. On July 24, 2013, Capital Roundtable, which provides information for the alternative asset industries, sponsored a private venue conference for middle market private equity investors in New York to learn where to invest in for-profit education companies; i.e. “choice.” Coincidental? I don’t think so. The private business sector is offering numerous opportunities to ride this wave. Follow the money trail.

Charter schools provide the greatest opportunity to collect a cut of your property taxes and destroy your local representative government by using public taxpayer funds. Charter schools do not have elected school boards nor any direct taxpayer accountability. They are designed to create an exodus of students from public schools into their federally-controlled “choice.” Take a glimpse at the models in major cities that have been over-run with charter schools through extreme measures from mayors and governors. This phony “choice” agenda is just the beginning to control the public education system and change how our government functions locally.

How Does the Reauthorization of ESEA Feed Into Charter Schools?

The combination of HR 5 and SB 1094 will permit “choice” funds to follow an individual student, and those “choice” monies will be able to go into any private, public, religious, or charter school, thus diminishing the local tax base. Your neighborhood school will struggle and may eventually have to close. This is because officials must fund other private and charter school children who are no longer in their district, or even across state lines. As local school attendance dwindles, so does funding to pay for salaries, extra programming, facility upkeep, Obamacare, and benefit pension costs. If a city or district continues closing smaller neighborhood schools to keep up with their debt, more and more services are cut back, teachers are furloughed, severely hurting the function of the school and feeding the explosive exodus of students leaving the district. Neighborhood schools will crash financially. Cities are going bankrupt.

In both Chicago and New York charter schools have utilized a creative business model to restructure education by forcing public schools and charters to compete against each other for scarce resources. By introducing “choice” initiatives parents and students think they are private consumers of educational services, while in reality “choice” is stealing their voice in representative government. School closings by the mayors in these two cities have created a war in neighborhoods where parents and teachers are fighting the system to keep their schools open. Shuttering of these schools has created chaos, while charters schools continue to be expanded and given funding to continue to expand. Most parents did not realize there was a bigger plan yanking their neighborhood school out from under them. They have lost their elected representatives, their children are paying the price, and they have nowhere left to go to change the system.

The Lessons of the Chicago Charter Schools

The pre-planned Obama/Duncan education agenda modeled in Chicago is designed to have all public schools become charter schools, and this privatization agenda has been promoted as education reform. As CEO of Chicago Public Schools in 2001, Duncan shut down 60 failing schools in the poorest areas and replaced them with 100 new charter schools. Over the course of his tenure, Duncan employed a series of measures including the complete shuttering of schools, the replacement of failing neighborhood schools with a charter-run school, and/or the total replacement of a school’s teaching staff. He used the test-driven, market-based policies [TQM, total quality management, a business model, ed.] built on the foundation of “Race to the Top.” Student test scores would be tied to teacher evaluations creating an almost impossible high-stakes feat for teachers. All students with varying abilities must be “proficient,” as it is defined by these assessments. Note: students are tbeing raumatized and have even become physically ill under the pressures of this constant testing bandwagon. Creative, bright children are refusing to go to school. Frustrated teachers and frustrated students do not make an environment for good learning.

Training and retraining of teachers has become a huge factor for the new Common Core reform evaluation agenda. “Teach to the test” is the survival tactic of educators. Teachers, public schools, and charters are all being evaluated by high stakes testing and the improvement brought about through “Race to the Top” federal grants. All this creates a lot of finger pointing. Pennsylvania’s ESEA flexibility waiver grant used federal monies, plus a Gates Foundation grant of $800,000 [Bill Gates has been funding pilot projects of all this reform, ed.], to establish the Charlotte Danielson Framework For Teaching as a model to prepare teachers, principles, and superintendents for standards-based instruction. It states, “Our flexibility grant is all about teachers performing and being evaluated on how they teach the standards.” Note: the standards are not under any local control; they are nationalized. Therefore, teaching the standards means teaching to the test. In fact, some charter schools do nothing but prime their students to take the test.

Controversy and charter schools are synonymous. There is an incessant juggling of test scores, picking and choosing their students, weeding out autistic kids, or those whose first language isn’t English, moving the line of proficiency so more students will fare better on testing. Some charter schools simply remove children who test poorly, thus artificially raising test scores. Charters get their funding through attendance levels and even that has been controversial as there are attrition numbers when students leave. Some Charter schools have lotteries, some do not accept special ed students. Some charters select students by grade point average which is easier to manipulate to improve scores. Unfair comparisons have been made between charter schools with an attendance number of only 75 and a public school that has an attendance number of over 500.

One of the biggest controversies sprang from Washington D.C.’s past Chancellor, Michelle Rhee, who has been under attack for erasing school test scores. The documentary, Waiting For Superman, sings praises about charter schools and highlights Chancellor, Michelle Rhee. However, her tenure in D.C. has been marred with controversy.

The focus of this insidious agenda is to break the back of your neighborhood public school by using under-achievement as a crisis to close public schools, and then, conveniently, offering funding and setting up charter schools as the answer. “Choice” will finish the job of crushing the old system. It doesn’t seem to matter to Obama, nor his Republican and Democratic cohorts, that this education plan is hurting minorities and the most desperate poor in this gentrification of communities and the remaking of public schools into charter schools. Families are being forced to move away or go to schools across the city. Objections from parents and teachers alike have fallen on deaf ears. Chicago, New York, New Orleans, and Philadelphia have felt the hard nudge of socialism, but not without protest, complaints, challenges and disapproval. However, parents and local communities seem to have no power to stop the changes once a mayor or governor takes control of their neighborhood schools. Make no mistake about it: Obama is using the “poor” to change our system of government.

The Per-Pupil Funding Agenda—”Following the Child”

Arne Duncan explained it in the Chicago District budget book that “funding is not tied to positions, which gives these schools much more flexibility in deciding how to spend their budget dollars.” Chicago’s business model attached dollars to students and let parents vote with their feet by choosing schools for their children. Chicago’s funding is attached to kids with their name on it. Funding would follow the child and not fund programs, staff, or certain types of schools. Uniform-base funding or per-pupil funding (i.e., equalization and equity in funding) would replace how schools finance their budgets. There has been experimentation with a pilot weighted student formula-type program under Arne Duncan’s seven-year tenure in Chicago where the money follows the child.

Will the United Sates ‘rethink’ how to finance public schools? It will be interesting to see the change toward the federal ‘per pupil funding’ (i.e., equalization and equity in funding) using “poverty” as a means for funding each individual student, and how that will work across the United States. Property taxes have been the norm, with local taxing authorities and local government in Plain Town America having control of the purse strings. What will happen to property values for homeowners? So, what will happen to those schools with Zip Codes in wealthier school districts, where parents want “better” schools, when the change for a uniform base funding scheme happens at the state level? Many states already have filed suit against the unconstitutionality of property taxes funding schools under “equality.” It is called” leveling the playing field” for a socialist America. We can only guess at the impact of how this change might take place. Older Americans may bite the bait, believing that they will not have to pay for schools through property taxes. On the other hand, state taxes on purchases as well as transfer taxes of property may skyrocket. This part of the scheme remains to be unknown.

More on the Chicago Schools Catastrophe

In May of 2008, Duncan organized a conference, “Free to Choose, Free to Succeed: The New Market in Public Education” in Chicago with the Renaissance Schools Fund, the financial wing of the Mayor Daley’s Renaissance 2010 plan operating under the auspices of the Commercial Club. Many critics denounced the scheme saying that this plan was not designed to improve the quality of education but rather a plan for privatization, union-busting and the dismantling of democratically-elected local school boards. It was also described as part of a neighborhood gentrification scheme involving the privatization of public housing projects through financial business developments. Poor, Black and Latino families were forced from their neighborhood schools and their homes when schools were closed and the property was bought up for redevelopment. The most impoverished would be dislocated. [Tony Rezko, friend of Obama and Mayor Blagojevich, made a fortune from these developments along with many corporate investors, ed.] The public school privatization agenda involved Renaissance schools being run by subcontracted for-profit companies. There was a shift in school governance away from teachers and elected community school boards to appointed administrators and appointed councils made up of business leaders.

Cities across America are gearing up for more charter schools. Why? Is it betrayal, is it a plan, or is it both?

In “Obama’s Betrayal of Public Education? Arne Duncan and the Corporate Model of Schooling,” December 17, 2008, Henry A. Giroux and Kenneth Saltman wrote:

It is difficult to understand how Barack Obama can reconcile his vision of change with Duncan’s history of supporting a corporate vision for school reform and a penchant for extreme zero-tolerance polices – both of which are much closer to the retrograde policies hatched in conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institution, Fordham Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, than to the values of the many millions who voted for the democratic change he promised. As is well known, these think tanks share an agenda not for strengthening public schooling, but for dismantling it and replacing it with a private market in consumable educational services.

Duncan characterized the goal of Renaissance 2010 creating the new market in public education as a “movement for social justice.” He invoked corporate investment terms to describe reforms explaining that the 100 new schools [charter] would leverage influence on the other 500 schools in Chicago. Redefining schools as stock investments he said, “I am not a manager of 600 schools. I’m a portfolio manager of 600 schools and I’m trying to improve the portfolio.” He claimed that education can end poverty. He explained that having a sense of altruism is important, but that creating good workers is a prime goal of educational reform and that the business sector has to embrace public education. “We’re trying to blur the lines between the public and the private,” he said. He argued that a primary goal of educational reform is to get the private sector to play a huge role in school change in terms of both money and intellectual capital. He also attacked the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), positioning it as an obstacle to business-led reform. He also insisted that the CTU opposes charter schools (and, hence, change itself), despite the fact that the CTU runs ten such schools under Renaissance 2010. Despite the representation in the popular press of Duncan as conciliatory to the unions, his statements and those of others at the symposium belied a deep hostility to teachers unions and a desire to end them (all of the charters created under Ren2010 are deunionized).”

In March of 2013, Chicago parents, teachers, and citizens held a three-day march across the city to stop school closings, but 47 were shut down. Twelve thousand Chicago children are walking new, often longer, routes to school this fall—after Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed schools (almost all) in poor, Black and Latino neighborhoods. Given its high rate of gun violence, the city dealt with the disruption by expanding its “Safe Passage” program. Police and firefighters were on the job and the city ended up spending $16 million to hire low-wage temps to monitor children to and from school. The upshot? Emanuel hijacked neighborhood schools and later had to police his decision. But, what is being put in their place? Charter schools. It is easy to see that Emanuel, Duncan, and Obama do not really care about the children. It’s the money to be made and the direct assault to control public schools.

A retired history teacher from Chicago had written this commentary on March 23,2013,

“It was a grim Thursday afternoon on March 21st as the news trickled out that 61 Chicago school buildings would be closed and that 54 school programs will be axed. The closings are heavily clustered in the poorest mostly African American and Latino neighborhoods, where decades of disinvestment and economic apartheid have taken a heavy toll on the residents. Many people have moved away from these communities, driven out by the lack of jobs, the meager resources given to the schools, the inadequate city services and the resulting crime and violence. Many believe that the forced exodus is part of a land grab for real estate interests who will move in to gentrify these areas.

On the South and West Sides of the city, where the closings are hitting hardest, poverty is a policy, not an accident. The Chicago financial elite, which could provide jobs and rational investment, has chosen displacement over renewal, ethnic cleansing over neighborhood stabilization. As the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel is the public face of this prairie plutocracy.”

Obama’s “Race to the Top,” a $4.35 billion federal competitive grant program through the Recovery Act, mandated that states tie high stakes to test scores. In a bid for money, cash-strapped and reform-frenzied states rewrote their education laws, dropping caps on charter schools in order to permit students from struggling neighborhood schools to have a “choice” to transfer out of them. It also tied teacher job security to student test scores. States were rewarded for promising to reproduce the same plan Duncan implemented in Chicago. As a result, charter schools are mainstream. As of now the ratio is 1 to 20—one charter student for every 20 public school students in the United States.

New York Data-Mining

The mayor of New York changed the face of the American public school system. On August 1, 2006, New York Mayor Bloomberg took control of the public school system and power was transferred to city hall. Bloomberg took over 1200 schools and eliminated the city’s 32 elected community school boards. Education officials closed 164 public schools around the city since 2002 over the objections of parents and teachers who wanted the schools fixed. A non-elected council called Panel for Education Policy [PEP] has the authority to make decisions with 13 seats, 8 selected by the Mayor, the other five appointed from the community. The city launched a “fair student-funding” formula, called weighted funding to provide additional resources to districts with high poverty and special-needs students. Bloomberg created a change in representative government. It’s a move to deactivate the voice of elected representatives, teachers, and parents.

When the documentary called Waiting for Superman was released featuring Michelle Rhee, past controversial Chancellor from Washington D.C., parents, citizens, and teachers from New York issued a rebuttal to the film called the Inconvenient Truth About Waiting for Superman which tells the real truth about the takeover of public schools by charters. It exposes the forcing of students to leave the neighborhood, and how teachers are frustrated with the high stakes tests which evaluating them based on the results on how well students perform on tests. Inconvenient Truth highlights, with film clips of actual real-life experiences, how public school parents, students, neighborhoods and educators are being impacted and harmed by so-called reforms. Please watch this excellent one-hour video at http://vimeo.com/41994760 to get an understanding of the impact of the transfer of power. (See my notes at the end of this article regarding two issues that I disagree with that may actually perpetuate the adverse agenda that they are intending to stop.]

Data is a must for the business model to function. There is a New York update to the controversy over FERPA (Family Education Rights in Privacy Act), regarding allowing data-mining with personally identifiable information, a cloud based repository for data. Parents have filed a lawsuit against Commissioner King, the New York Department of Education, and the New York Board of Regents for violating student privacy by releasing personal student information to the InBloom corporation. Note the intrusive personal data on children that would be shared with outside vendors, thus violating a child’s right to privacy:

InBloom Inc., established by a $100 million dollar grant from the Gates Foundation, was designed as a multi-state data store, to collect and format personal student data and make it available to vendors to help them data mine, develop and market their software learning products…. The information to be shared with inBloom and other vendors will include the names of all public and charter school students, their addresses, phone numbers, emails, grades, test scores, race and economic status, disability and health diagnoses, their attendance and suspension records, and any services they receive. (Source)

This lawsuit is great news, but there is a need for a federal investigation to expose how Obama “unlocked” data, thus allowing data trafficking with third party vendors like inBloom across the United States. The re-disclosure of data means data is collected from the local level on students by the state information systems, and a written agreement is drawn up with a third party contractor to re-disclose the data.

Data collection is the foundation for the Common Core business model to function as a national market where children are a commodity. Since data was “unlocked” by Obama in January, 2012, FERPA (Family Education Rights in Privacy Act) regulations were changed allowing personally identifiable information [PII] from school records to be given to third party contractors. The definition for ” school official” was changed to allow any outside vendor or contractor to use PII for research to design curriculum, software, digital curriculum, and “user interaction information” collected by learning software systems to research teaching and interventions of individual students.

If a Private School Takes Federal Money They Must Take the Test

Washington D.C. is the first city to experience federal choice money for private and religious schools originally called DC-OSP (Opportunity Scholarship Program, 2003, D.C. School Choice Incentive Act) the first federally-funded, private school voucher program in the country run by the D.C. mayor. Reauthorized, HR 471 is now called called SOAR (Scholarships For Opportunity and Results), sponsored by Republican John Boehner. The bill authorizes a 20-20-20 plan—$20 million for private vouchers, $20 million for Charter schools, $20 million for public schools in DC for analysis.

This legislation lays out specifically that if a private school takes federal money, there are requirements that would mandate certain reporting requirements from private schools participating in the DC-OSP. It would also require such schools to administer a national norm-reference standardized test in reading and math. Take the money—take the test. But, what is the scenario when this so-called choice “follows the child”? If a religious private school doesn’t accept the grant voucher agenda, will it be forced to accept a “choice child” when the federal ESEA is passed? Yes. The school will be forced under federal discrimination laws to accept the “choice child.” Once the private religious school accepts the Title I “choice child,” the child must take the test. But notice: if the private school is not teaching Common Core, the children will likely fail the test, and the school will fail. What government funds, government controls. Follow the money trail.

Will The Real Agenda for Charter Schools Please Stand Up!

Charter schools are privately run, but they receive public money and, as already noted, an increasing number of these schools are being run on a for-profit basis. The federal government is subsidizing the CREDIT ENHANCEMENT FOR CHARTER SCHOOL FACILITIES PROGRAM, providing grants to eligible entities to permit them to enhance the credit of charter schools so that charter schools can access private-sector and other non-federal capital in order to acquire, construct, and renovate facilities at a reasonable cost. The tax code makes charter schools very lucrative.

Statistics have proven that where charter schools have proliferated it is more likely that the public schools have experienced financial stress due to the transfer of public assets and institutions into the hands of private corporations. The “New Markets Tax Credit” program that became law toward the end of the Clinton presidency allow firms to invest in charters and other projects located in “underserved” areas, and these schools can collect a generous tax credit up to 39% to offset their costs. Private investors are flocking to charter schools. There is a huge risk factor for any local school district in a state that has passed laws promoting “choice”—especially with an easy approval process for new charters with no caps on expansion. “Race to the Top” grants exacerbate this situation because states promised to drop their caps on charter schools when they took the money.

Charter public schools soak your local tax base, putting monies into a school run by for-profit investors. They have an ideal opportunity to collect a cut of your property taxes. A well-titled article in Forbes, “Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City,” pointedly remarks: “About the only thing charters do well is limit the influence of teachers’ unions. And fatten their investors’ portfolios.” (Source) The article explains:

On Thursday, July 25, 2013, dozens of bankers, hedge fund types and private equity investors gathered in New York to hear about the latest and greatest opportunities to collect a cut of your property taxes. Of course, the promotional material for the Capital Roundtable’s conference on “private equity investing in for-profit education companies” didn’t put it in such crass terms, but that’s what’s going on….

Charter schools are frequently a way for politicians to reward their cronies. In Ohio, two firms operate 9% of the state’s charter schools and are collecting 38% of the state’s charter school funding increase this year….

In Florida, the for-profit school industry flooded legislative candidates with $1.8 million in donations last year. “Most of the money,” reports The Miami Herald, “went to Republicans, whose support of charter schools, vouchers, online education and private colleges has put public education dollars in private-sector pockets.”…

So attractive is the math, according to a 2010 article by Juan Gonzalez in the New York Daily News, “that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years.”

In the Capital Roundtable Conference advertisement it states,

So 2013, and beyond, will see numerous for-profit companies making inroads into public and non-profit education by taking over large swaths of the market. Consider—

• The entire education sector now represents nearly 9 percent of the U.S. GDP.
• Merger and acquisition activity in for-profit education last year surpassed activity at the peak of the Internet boom.
• More and more non-profit colleges are hitting the wall and seeking investors to help them transform into for-profit institutions.” [See Title IV, Higher Education Reauthorization, ed.]
Governor Jeb Bush is in the forefront of this push for charter schools with his Foundation For Excellence in Education. But don’t be mislead into thinking that charter schools are just a Republican thing. Big-city Democrats, like Philadelphia Democratic Mayor Nutter, currently the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, closed 23 public schools this past summer—replaced by charters. In 2009, charters were 15% of the District budget. In 2014, they will be 30% of the District budget. Chicago, of course, is another Democratic stronghold.

Minnesota’s leading newspaper, the Star Tribune, recounts the sordid history of its charter school movement:

Minnesota’s charter school movement, which sparked a national rethinking of public schooling nearly two decades ago, has been infected by an out-of-control financing system fueled by junk bonds, insider fees and lax oversight. (Source)

Another article in the Star Tribune, “Charter school fails and bondholders get bailout,” tells more of the story:

While junk-bond promoters claim taxpayers will never be forced to cover the costs of a failed charter school built with state lease-aid funds, that’s exactly what happened in St. Paul.

The deal dates to 2000, when American Express purchased $8.3 million in bonds used to convert the old Science Museum of Minnesota into a charter school called the Minnesota Business Academy. The project also received $1 million in community development funds from the city of St. Paul….

In exchange for a hefty 8 percent interest rate, American Express accepted the risk of default and nonpayment.

In less than a year, the school was faltering. There were cost overruns and fundraising shortfalls, and the school was forced to borrow another $1.6 million.

To pay off its debts, the school needed 440 students, with each student representing more than $1,000 in annual lease-aid payments. But the plan backfired, and total enrollment crashed to 292 in 2004.

In 2005, city officials approved another bond offering that allowed the school to reorganize its finances. American Express got $6 million, while the city recovered a total of $451,352. The unsecured creditors were paid 10 cents on the dollar. “The corporate folks got their dough,” said St. Paul City Council Member Lee Helgen, who voted against the bond issue.”(Source)

Star Tribune reporter Tony Kennedy, published an article in 2011 titled “State charter schools program is ‘out of control,’ Junk bonds fuel a building spree, but schools are more crowded, insiders are taking fees, and state regulators can’t do much about it.” His article divulged the following alarming statistics:

In the past decade, 18 charter schools have been built with $178 million in junk bonds, with financing costs on some projects chewing up nearly a quarter of the funds raised. Twelve more charter schools have taken steps to buy or build facilities, and the state projects annual spending on lease aid to reach $54 million in 2013, up from just $1.1 million in 1998.

To lure the investors they need for new buildings, some educators are abandoning the intimate campuses their founders envisioned and are building large schools that look more like the conventional institutions that some families are fleeing. Some charter school advocates say the build-your-own trend could undermine an education movement built on small class size and parental involvement….

State lawmakers are frustrated by the building boom. Since 2000, at least 64 public school buildings in the metro area closed because of declining enrollment. Charter schools are responsible for recruiting away some of those students.

Follow the Money

The flight to charter schools leave districts vulnerable for closure. Moody’s Investors Service issued a report on October 15, 2013 that “Charter Schools Pose Greatest Credit Challenge to School Districts in Economically Weak Urban Areas.”

…Tiphany Lee-Allen, the Moody’s Associate Analyst who co-authored the report [said] “Districts may face institutional barriers to cutting staff levels, capital footprints and benefit costs over the short term given the intricacies of collective bargaining contracts – leaving them with underutilized buildings and ongoing growth in personnel costs.”

Charter schools can pull students and revenues away from districts faster than the districts can reduce their costs, says Moody’s. As some of these districts trim costs to balance out declining revenues, cuts in programs and services will further drive students to seek alternative institutions including charter schools.

“Many older, urban areas that have experienced population and tax base losses, creating stress for their local school districts, have also been areas where charter schools have proliferated,” says Moody’s. “Among the cities where over a fifth of the students are enrolled in charter schools are Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. Nationwide about one in 20 students is in a charter school.” (Source)

Consider the ramifications all of these statistics. Public schools will close, locally elected schools boards will be forced out of their positions. Representative government is diminished. Choice sets up this agenda and Charter schools are the end product. But meanwhile businesses are raking in the cash.

Bloomberg News reported that “Goldman to lend $25M for charter schools.”

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the most profitable Wall Street firm, will lend $25 million to a nonprofit community-development organization to finance 16 charter schools in New York City and New Jersey.

The nonprofit group, Local Initiatives Support Corp., will make the money available to the school operators during the next two years, Goldman Sachs and LISC, both based in New York, said Tuesday in a statement. The chairman of LISC, according to the group’s website, is Robert Rubin, former U.S. Treasury secretary. [under the Clinton Administration, ed.]

Charter schools are nonsectarian, public institutions that operate independently of local boards of education in the U.S. under special charters. Goldman Sachs’s Urban Investment Group has committed about $150 million for charter schools in New York and New Jersey, according to the statement.

The financing may allow the charter schools involved to obtain as much as $100 million in additional capital, credit-enhanced by funds awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. (Source)

That was three years ago.

The Detroit Disaster

Legislation in Michigan, under Republican leadership Governor Snyder, House Bill 6004 and Senate Bill 1358 expanded a separate and statewide school district called the “Education Achievement Authority” (EAA), overseen by a governor-appointed chancellor and functioning outside the authority of the State Board of Education or state school superintendent. These schools are exempt from the same laws and quality measures of community-governed public schools. The EAA can seize unused school buildings (built and financed by local taxpayers) and force sale or lease to charter, non-public or EAA schools.

A letter written by the Superintendent Rob Glass of Bloomfield Hills in Michigan on November 28, 2012, tells the story very distinctly:

Dear Parents and Citizens: This is an urgent call to action affecting your Bloomfield Hills Schools and public education in Michigan. A package of bills designed to corporatize and dismantle public education is being hastily pushed through this current ‘lame duck’ legislative session. If we do not take immediate action, I believe great damage will be done to public education, including our school system.

House Bill 5923: Creates several new forms of charter and online schools with no limit on the number. Bundled with HB 6004/ SB 1358, many of these schools could be created by the EAA. Public schools are not allowed to create these new schools unless they charter them. Selective enrollment/dis-enrollment policies will likely lead to greater segregation in our public schools. This bill creates new schools without changing the overall funding available, further diluting resources for community-governed public schools.

Senate Bill 620: Known as the ‘Parent Trigger’ bill, would allow the lowest achieving 5% of schools to be converted to a charter school while allowing parents or teachers to petition for the desired reform model. This bill will not directly affect our district, but disenfranchises voters, ends their local control, and unconstitutionally hands taxpayer-owned property over to for-profit companies. Characterized as parent-empowerment, this bill does little to develop deep, community-wide parent engagement and organization.

On May 6, 2013, the Detroit Free Press covered the continuing controversy over the EAA during a visit from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan:

Scott [Brenda Scott Academy, a school taken over by the EAA, ed.] is one of 15 Detroit public schools [DPS] operated by the EAA, which has been at the center of controversy in recent weeks. The EAA was established in 2011 with [Republican Governor] Snyder’s support through an interlocal agreement between Detroit Public Schools and Eastern Michigan University. Its objective is to take control over and reform the lowest performing 5% of schools. It does not operate on traditional grade levels, but has an online curriculum that personalizes learning so students progress through school at their own pace.

The EAA has experienced some budget shortfalls in its inaugural year operating schools, and used DPS as a conduit to borrow $12 million. The secretary of the board, mayoral candidate Mike Duggan, stepped down from the board Friday after the loans were made public, saying he didn’t want the EAA to be drawn into the mayoral campaign.

State Sen. Bert Johnson, a Democrat from Highland Park, gave Duncan a letter today asking him and President Barack Obama “to seriously consider the ramifications of giving the appearance of tacitly supporting this failed experiment,” a reference to the EAA.

“What the Republicans are doing does not work, is not working and will not work,” Johnson said. (Source)

In 2011, Detroit Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb hired the National Association of Charter School Authorizers to help evaluate potential operators as part of a plan to transform 41 city schools into privatized charter schools. That’s the same group that the year before worked with Chicago to select charter school operators—and worked in New Orleans in 2005 to transform neighborhood schools into business model factories. Bobb was given expanded powers by the state legislature, including the power to modify contracts and terminate collective bargaining agreements with teachers and fire elected officials. He said he intended to use these powers and issued layoff notices to all of the teachers in the school system, which will give him or other managers the power to call back or reassign teachers without having to consider seniority rights.

In 2009 Secretary of Education Duncan referred to Detroit public schools as “ground zero” for institutional education reform. Academic bankruptcy (i.e., using competency or standards-based tests to target a school for takeover or closure for underachievement), charter schools, EAA, and bankruptcy is ambush to the bigger agenda, taking taxes and school property paid for by you and giving it to others for profit.

“Ground zero”, Secretary of Education Duncan’s description for Detroit “renaissance” for charter school takeover in a city deemed financially broke, has also had some rippling undertones for other cities. Moody’s reported on December 5, 2012:

CitiyMayors.com reported that

In 2009, Moody’s Investors Service put all local governments in the United States on negative credit outlook. It was the first time such a blanket report was ever issued for cities, towns, counties, and school districts. To date, the negative outlook remains. It’s an understatement to say that local governments have been caught up in unfavorable financial and market trends since the economic downturn began in 2008. Local governments have cut services and laid off workers, including police officers and school teachers. The Wall Street Journal estimates that local government personnel reductions add a full percentage point to the nation’s unemployment rate. (Source)

In another article, “Corporatist mission accomplished: charter schools strangling public schools,” it was reported on November 13, 2013 that

A downgrade of the bond ratings of 53 Michigan school districts is proving what charter school opponents have long warned against: charter schools are diminishing public schools’ ability to have stable budgets by siphoning off tax dollars into for-profit corporations.

Moody’s cited “significant fiscal strain related to charter enrollment growth” stating that “A growing number of Michigan school districts” are facing “higher borrowing costs after downgrades by Moody.” The article continues:

Justin Marlowe, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who has written about local government finance, said increased charter school competition and tight state budgets are squeezing the districts.

The “proliferation of charter schools and ongoing state budget problems have put more pressure on local school districts,” Marlowe said, adding there “doesn’t seem to be any immediate solutions unless we rethink how we finance school districts.”

But as overall enrollment was falling, charter schools were growing….[bold in original] (Source)

The Plan for Losing Local Control

This is the plan. Rethinking how to finance school districts falls under the domain of the re-authorization of ESEA where funding follows the child. The system of property taxes must be dissolved and replaced by a more equitable plan. Elite Zip Codes and wealthier schools may no longer be a destination. Common Core and ESEA will level the playing field. Charter schools and choice will break the backs of public schools. All schools will be contract public schools. Teachers may come under contract from the state that certifies them. Parent trigger bills will allow parents and teachers to take over a school, in turn forming charter schools. Elected positions must be dissolved for a socialist takeover.

In Indiana right now there is a power struggle with Governor Pence’s (R) newly formed agency called the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI) and the elected State Superintendent. The governors “power grab” is shifting resources and education policy matters to the unelected Center for Education and Career Innovation formed through an executive order. These unelected state authorities are pilots for regional economic development and job training. This is but another example of how a governor can take over, eliminating the representative authority and accountability of locally elected officials.

Another economic downturn could put most cities out of business. Bankrupt! This could be the point of no return for a declining America, the takeover of cities through fiscal control boards, a platform to usher in charter school takeover. CityMayors.com explains this concept:

A fiscal control board is a temporary team of “experts” appointed by the state that takes over the financial management and budgetary decisions of a local government that is about to default on its debt, cannot meet it payroll, or cannot provide basic services. Sometimes a state mandates a control board; in other cases, a local government requests one. Although the composition and responsibilities of control boards may vary, local elected officials invariably lose most authority over their government’s revenues and expenditures. Often control boards have the power to issue debt or re-negotiate labor contracts.

Control boards are essentially an intensification of a state’s existing authority over local governments. In normal times, states regulate local governments’ finances by providing aid; capping local income, sales, and property taxes; requiring balanced local budgets; limiting local investment options; and mandating specific services. A control board is a mechanism by which states can impose, alter, or suspend such financial regulations to address the emergency needs of a particular local government. Control boards are not meant to be democratic, but efficient. Their focus is on re-establishing long-term fiscal stability, and the wishes of citizens and elected officials for particular services are often ignored. [emphasis added] (Source)

The downslide into fiscal crisis continues. During September, 23 schools were closed and more than 4,000 employees were laid off in Philadelphia.

The city pledge of $50 million that month allowed a thousand employees to come back, just enough to open the doors the first week of school.

“We had cut all assistant principals, all guidance counselors, all art, all music, all sports, all secretaries,” [said Philadelphia School Superintendent, William Hite].

Philadelphia’s school crisis has been building for years. Debt and pension obligations piled up as students moved out to charter schools or the suburbs. Federal budget cuts have cost the city $130 million in aid. (Source)

It’s a familiar pattern showing up in the country’s biggest school districts over the last 18 months: Chicago laid off 3,000 teachers and closed 49 schools. In Cleveland, 500 teachers and staff lost their jobs in 2012. And in Los Angeles, 4,000 teachers and staff were unemployed.

And then there is Katrina and New Orleans Charter School Agenda. The devastation of Katrina to the poorest of poor in New Orleans cannot be overstated. But Republican Governor Jindal’s overhaul of public education in New Orleans can equally be said to be devastating. More than half of all public school students in New Orleans attend a charter school, more than any other US major city.

How many more stories do Americans need to hear before we all acknowledge there is something terribly wrong going on? The onslaught of charter schools is astounding. More and more pieces of America are going up for auction. How far down this road can we go without a collapse?

Senator Reid and Legislation: Technology and Bandwidth

In the Department of Education ‘Race to the Top’ grant for this past year there were some interesting reports made under paragraphs “Lessons Learned.” Schools that are not properly wired for the new technology architecture must come up to speed before the agenda can proceed.

Since states and districts need to understand the requirements to administer the computer-based assessment system with sufficient time to procure any additional devices or improve bandwidth or internal wiring in schools, PARCC established minimum technology guidelines in April 2012 which they updated in December 2012. This may limit the consortium’s options regarding the platform or its ability to develop an interoperable system.

Funding for technology, bandwidth, rewiring and electronic devices in the hands of every person, is a must for the agenda to proceed. This is why both Zuckerberg (of Facebook) and Bill Gates are funding $100 million dollars in San Francisco toward broadband updating. This means time is running out. Technology will soon catch up.

Of course, the push is on to pass this legislation. Senator Reid holds “choice” in his hands if he releases the reauthorization of ESEA to conference between the two chambers of Congress and then out for a vote. Note: both Republicans and Democrats have assisted, Obama will be credited for pushing America over the edge by changing our system of government through publicly-funded, so-called “private” charter schools, creating unelected school boards as the end goal. It is frightening to see Democrats scrambling for the power of “choice” money when Republicans have always strongly supported “choice” in private and religious schools. The two pieces of federal legislation—the House with a majority of Republicans, the Senate with a majority of Democrats—proves the point that they are working together fighting over who gets the profits from this robbery. It’s like insider trading, only worse. Our children and country are at stake. (See: Source and Source)

The Struggle For Survival

For those families that live in wealthy school districts who think their schools are great, here’s the bad news. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sounded an alert never before heard in America, in his now-famous speech denigrating “White suburban moms’ delivered in Richmond, Virginia on Nov. 13, 2013. Duncan blurted out this statement in frustration to parents objecting to Common Core,

“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback [against Common Core, ed.] is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said. “You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.” (Source)

According to the Obama/Duncan equalization plan, an elite Zip Code may no longer be a destination. There is much more to this statement that clearly shows an underlying hatred against capitalism, for families who worked hard, who live in the suburbs, who own a home, and must pay property taxes. Parents are counting on the school district where they chose to buy a house so that their kids can go to a good school, but they are being scorned because they do not believe Common Core is good for their children. These parents intuitively know that something is wrong.

It is a punch-in-the-gut feeling and knowing that the system is somehow skewed. Education and common sense has been turned upside down. The tests do not measure academics anymore. And Secretary Duncan has news for you. His Big Brother message to the parents who live in the suburbs is saying in effect—“We will change how business was done in the past. We will redistribute the tax base so all schools and funding are equal and mandate that you, your child, and your teacher will bend under the will of subjective tests and dumbed down Common Core, so that all children will be equal. If they don’t test well, because they have the strong individualistic attitudes and values. We will fire your teachers. Your children won’t succeed in our new system. They won’t be accepted to college, and your world will come crashing down. That is our intent. We will force your schools to change and your child, too.” So….

What are we going to do about it?

If the Reauthorization of ESEA happens as noted, be prepared for a tsunami of political oppression. Public schools are going down quickly as a relic of the past.

The obvious conclusion is that we no longer will have elected representatives in our local school district. The impact of the collective and overlapping dissolution of elected local, county and state officials remains to be seen. Our tax money will be pooled toward an economic authority, or controlled from the state which has collected the individual, longitudinal data so that funding will be distributed equally across the economic spectrum for each child. No one is sure what will happen to property values when the transfer of power is wrested away from private landowners (taxpayers) and local elected officials.

Charter schools, privately owned and publicly funded, will replace public education under the auspice of an outside third party authorizer and considered a contract school. If teachers are not teaching Common Core, they will be fired and replaced with younger submissive, compliant drones. Teachers will be contracted by the state, appearing on a list of prospective positions, but apply through the school district.

Charter schools will break the back of unions, thus leaving teachers with no voice. When private and religious schools are forced to take “choice” students, they will learn that they must teach Common Core and submit to national testing. You can multiply school closings in all major cities and towns attributed to federal choice programs, and the expansion of charter schools with governors and mayors from both red and blue states. All of this downfall puts no caps on charter schools. When public schools fail, charter schools using public funds are there to take their place, their property, and their funding using your hard earned tax money without your voice and without your vote.

The outlook is pretty solemn. We are witnessing the demise one of our greatest American foundations—your neighborhood school, thanks to “choice” and charter schools, Republican and Democratic shysters and the Obama agenda together are hell-bent to get it done and finish the job.

The Good News Plan

What is the answer? Your state MUST put caps on charter schools or your local neighborhood school will be crushed. Your local school board must fight for their independence against a mayor or governor seeking to destroy their elected positions in your community. They must file suit to keep their positions. We must also fight against the federal legislation and meet with your elected officials to stop choice and vouchers in that reauthorization of ESEA where the funding will follow the child. You must also fight the Common Core Standards and do not be side-tracked by the debate of which standard is best.

Fight the transfer of power that are putting in place to destroy traditional education. Refuse the psychoanalyzing of your student at school. Stress academic solutions. Support your traditional teachers; they are being forced to change or be fired. Also, insist on a federal investigation against FERPA and the personal data-trafficking on your individual child that was unlocked by Obama. This is a tall order, but it can be done. It’s called local control and states rights.

In conclusion, a story about the community of Bridgeport, Connecticut is worthy of national attention. A group of citizens filed suit against Mayor Finch for dismantling the locally elected school board. Finch, along with Superintendent Paul Vallas, who had previously been hired to run the schools in Chicago, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, has had a set back. The challenging group won their seats back and they won control of the majority this past election. They have promised that Vallas will be gone. This is how a beneficial power-play is made, and this can be done in your city or a city near you.

Good luck, and may God bless this free land of ours.

Author’s Note: Concernig the “Inconvenient Truth About Waiting For Superman” Conclusions. The video responds to the adverse conditions in New York facing public schools with a list of solutions at the end of the video. I disagree with two of the issues that were listed. # 5 suggests equity in funding. This is part of the bigger agenda to change tax structures. #8 wants pre-school funding and early childhood programs with federal funding involved. Federal money drives compliance. This is the Obama agenda of changing attitudes and values at an earlier age, womb to career. This is part of the bigger agenda.

For more information: Order the “Exposing the Global Road to Ruin through Education” disc set with historical documentation from researchers across the United States http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Global+road+to+ruin+education&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3AGlobal+road+to+ruin+education

Read Charlotte Iserbyt’s historical books, deliberate dumbing down of america and Soviets In the Classroom, which detail the history documenting how our country has been taken over from within through massive education funding, treaties, and deception. Iserbyt identifies names, both Republican and Democrat. This extremely important background information and her expertise will connect you to the ‘internationalization’ of education and inevitable global citizenship. Whatever name you want to call the control—Socialism or Communism—the agenda is people control, and the United States has been the prize. Total Quality Management will force the ultimate compliance to the system-individual people control. See www.deliberatedumbingdown.com for more articles on these topics.

Source Material for this article included:

Mayor Action Guide, Source

National Governor’s Association Push for Charter School Expansion, Source

Investing in Education, Source

Bridgeport, Conn Board files suit to keep elected positions, http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/City-school-board-tips-away-from-Finch-4958627.php and http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Challengers-win-school-board-primary-4803511.php

Arne Duncan on ” white suburban moms.”Source

Michelle Rhee Controversy with test erasures, Source

DC Public Schools Flagged For Erasures, Source

Chicago Mayor Daley’s Renaisance 2010, Source

Chicago spends $17 million On Safe Passage, Source

Chicago Safe Passage Routes-Unsafe, Source

Chicago School Closings, Source

New York Parents Lawsuit, Source and Source

The Village Voice, Eva Moskowitz, the Invasion of Charter Schools, Source

Credit Enhancement for Charter Facilities, Source

Charter School Gravy Train, Source

Capital Roundtable For Profit Education Conference-Private Equity Investing in For-Profit Education Companies ENCORE ROUNDTABLE, January, 2013, Source July 25,2013, Source

Charter Schools Pose Greatest Credit Challenge, Source

Troubled US Local Gov’t, Source

New York, Goldman Sachs Partners with LISC and Charter Schools: Source

“Goldman to lend $25M for charter schools, Source

Minnesota- State Charter Schools Out of Control: Source

Charter Schools Fail Bondholders Get Bailout, Source

Detroit named Ground Zero by Duncan: Source

Chicago Reform that Duncan Left Behind: Source

Chicago Charter Schools Equitable Funding: Source

Chicago and Philadelphia Closing Schools and Funding Charters: Source

Obama’s Betrayal of Public Education, Source

The Inconvenient Truth About ‘Waiting a for Superman’-rebuttal video against charters, Video

PARCC Grant Document-LESSONS LEARNED page 22, Source

Documents used in this article are used for research and educational purposes. Fair Use in Copyrighted Materials for Educational and Research Materials Section 107 of Title 17 of the US Code: http://www.copyright.gov/title17



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