The knots the pro voucher crowd ties themselves into to support vouchers

The latest pro-voucher op ed comes from James Mattox of the James Madison Institute. To read his piece click the link at the bottom.

 The knots the pro-voucher crowd has to tie themselves in can
be pretty spectacular.  Take for instance
the Florida legislature, they say they are for STEAM (science, technology,
engineering and math), every child should have a great teacher and
accountability, unless your kid takes a voucher and then none of that need
apply.    

William Mattox however takes the cake.  The crux of his argument is that standardized
tests drive curriculum and one size all fits curriculum are bad for education.
Sentiments I completely agree with. The thing is I don’t work for the James Madison
institute, like he does, which has been championing Jeb Bush’s reforms for over
a decade, the centerpiece of which is standardized tests. What Mr. Mattox is
attempting to do is have his cake and eat it too. Hypocrisy should know some
bounds.
Furthermore why isn’t Mr. Mattox shouting from the rooftops that
we get rid of those things for public education? I mean if he is passionate
about kids and education, there are 2.3 million in the system Bush set up and
his think tank endorsed. Why shouldn’t they get a break from the tyranny of
standardized tests, why should only voucher kids get it?
Here is the real thing though, why are Mattox and the rest
of the pro voucher crowd letting the good get in the way of the prefect. If
vouchers are so important, if they do such good and so many kids are desperate
for them, why don’t then hold their noses and accept a standardized test? Why have
they fought so hard against it?
I think it because they know their house of cards will
tumble and it will be found out those students who accept vouchers as a group
will be doing markedly worse than their public school counterparts and why anyone
should expect less. Their teachers don’t have to be certified or have any education
requirements and the schools don’t have to have a recognized curriculum either.
David Figilo the states voucher expert told me that there were great schools
that took vouchers but also very poor ones too. Instead of making the program
better all they have called for is expanding it.
Mattox and the pro voucher crowd want to blame teacher
unions, and the PTA for resistance when the truth is they could have the keys
to the castle if they just gave a little and they refused, even fought against it
and that should tell you all you need to know.

Charter Schools USA lawyer says nobody can know they threatened me with a defamation lawsuit.

Things took an interesting turn when CUSA said via e-mail
that I wasn’t allowed to tell people that they had threatened me with a
defamation Law Suit if that was the reason I was retracting a post about them having business with a Vietnamese company. That however isn’t the reason I will be retracting the post. I am doing so because I checked and Coral Springs Talk took down their original piece, so I thought if they are not going to stand behind it then why should I. 
The thing is the Firm didn’t have to come at me guns blazing,
they could have said, Chris there’s some problems with the story, Coral Springs
Talk took it down and we were hoping you would do the same and I would have
been glad to do so. 
That is the meat and potatoes too. Coral Springs Talk
reported a relationship between CUSA and a Vietnamese group pairing investors
with opportunities to earn green cards and as I will do time to time I found
the piece interesting and reposted it.
Fast forward to a letter, which among other things said in
all caps GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY, that I found kind of threatening. 
Lets be clear though I don’t think anything Charter School
USA does is illegal, heck hooking up foreign investors with investment opportunities that will get them green cards has been going on for quite some time. Also it is quite evident to me that they have teams of lawyers ready to strike
at a moments notice to let them know if they or somebody else is crossing the line but at the
same time they do things that average folks in their kitchens eating dinner or
waiting for elevators over small talk find questionable. Many others and I
think they use their money and influence to rig the game in their favor. What they do may be completely legal but I don’t have to like it.
So where have we come to? They gave me five days to remove
the original post and I definitely will, though I may wait till Saturday
morning to do so. Are they involved with a Vietnamese company they say no and I
have no evidence that says otherwise and quite frankly no reason not to believe
them.
Then lets be clear am I sorry that I put the original post up? Yeah, I don’t
like to get things wrong, because when I do it hurts my position and furthermore I am taking it down because there seems to be legitimate questions about it’s veracity not because of some letters from a bunch of high priced lawyers. I am also very sorry if any of my readers took the story as the gospel because the last thing I want to do is misinform you.       

Finally I would write what I think about the Firm, but I don’t
want to get another letter.

Is Charter Schools USA trading green cards for investments!?!

Is Charter Schools USA trading green cards
for investments?
Let me start by saying, they say they aren’t. No, make that, they
adamantly say they aren’t as illustrated by thier retraction demand in response to a re-post I did from Coral Springs Talk.com.
You know I am sorry if I get things wrong from time to time, make that very, very sorry high priced lawyers, who refer to themselves as the Firm, and I am glad to make corrections too, me being wrong hurts my position but you know what gets me? This where
they draw the line, this is where they say, no, no, no that is not us. This is the same company that has a business model, their
non-profit secures a charter school contract, hires their for profit to manage
it while the for profit’s construction arm builds it, that would make Colombian
money launderers envious.
They have also sent thousand of dollars to Jason Fischer the
Mandarin school board member who voted for a CUSA school to open even though I
can’t find anybody in Mandarin who wanted it or thinks its necessary.
And even though they do no business in Delaware that I can
see and practically all their business is in Florida where the CEO also lives they
are registered out of Delaware, presumably for some low tax dodge purpose. Now I believe they are paying taxes, just less in taxes than they would be paying if they were registered in the state where they did the bulk of their business.  
I could go on for a while but the thought of them
associating with a Vietnamese group is somehow beyond the pale. 
Are they basically selling green cards to Asian investors,
something other companies have been reported as doing? Immica the
Vietnamese company in question which has Charter Schools USA being quoted on their
website and images of their schools and videos of their CEO appearing to
endorse their schools seems to at least imply there is some type of
relationship.
http://coralspringstalk.com/we-apologize-to-our-readers-7358

CUSA however says that’s not the case, make that says adamantly that is not the case. 

Becky Couch said what about charter schools?

When talking about charter schools, school board chair Mrs. Couch
should only say things like, complete capitulation, they say jump we ask how
high and yes may I have another.  Despite
her indicating the need to bring students back from charters to traditional
public schools, since Mrs. Couch has been on the board we have seen the amount
of charter schools double whether we need them or not.
That’s why I found what she said in a Times Union piece
about the legislature trying to make it easier for charter schools to expand so
ironic.  In case you didn’t know it the
legislature, despite over 260 charter schools having failed in Florida over the
past few years is pushing to create a standardized contract that all the
districts would have to use. In the end it probably wouldn’t matter in Jacksonville
because we fold like a house of cards in a hurricane but some districts have actually
fought back against the proliferation of charter schools.  They have put reasonable restrictions on
performance and expansion, something we haven’t considered, and the Florida
legislature is vehemently against.
I wish I could link you the piece but I am not a member of
the Times Union’s special club but suffice to say her comments considering her
actions were pretty ridiculous.

Nadia Hionides, the principal of the Foundation Academy has thousands of reasons to support school choice and each starts with a dollar sign.

I went to the Foundation Academy’s web site where they promoted a Christian education but they didn’t promote much else that you couldn’t get at most public schools, which begs the question is their a manifest necessity families get a voucher so their children can go there.
What she is asking the people of Florida to do is first blur the line between church and state and then to subsidize a parents choice, not need but choice, and she asks this to the detriment of all of us.
You see public education isn’t just for the families that have school age children, it is for all of us whether we have kids or not and when resources are siphoned out it hinders the ability of public schools to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
The Foundation Academy made do a great job educating the children that go there, then again they may not because the state has refused to put accountability measures on private schools that take vouchers but at the end of the day it doesn’t truly matter.  What does matter is making our public schools as strong as possible a lesson lost on supporters of vouchers.
Chris Guerrieri

School teacher 

The truly maddening things about superintendent Vitti

When Superintendent Vitti got to town he was a breath of
fresh air. One of the first things he did was go on a listening tour of the
city. The last time Ed Pratt Dannals toured the city he told people about the
doom and gloom of impending budget cuts and never mentioned the 120 million we
had squirreled away in the couch cushions. Then Vitti sent out a memo saying we
should relax the learning schedule and principals should not retaliate against
teachers that fell behind. This guy is going to be all right, I said to myself.
Then he wanted to bring back the arts and increase
discipline; a lack of both was really setting us back. Next dyslexic and
overage kids were no longer going to be ignored and more resources would be
heading towards them. He was checking all the boxes.
Somewhere though the wheels have begun to come off the bus.
Teachers say principals bullying them is just as bad if not worse, perhaps a
byproduct of his choice of area chiefs. Discipline is still a joke as ISSP has
become a playground in many schools and he even pushed back against a local
judge saying things weren’t all that bad, though putting extra security, deans
and ISSP teachers in our schools seem to belittle his point. Then art, music and p.e. classes
are to huge to be manageable and to give kids any real benefit. He had some
really great ideas but then followed them through half-heartedly at best.
Then lets talk about the QEA initiative, he plans to pay
teachers gobs of money to go to our neediest schools, well the evidence says it
won’t work but I get it we have to try and get our best teachers at those
schools but then rather than supplementing them with professional teachers he
(the QEA initiative) is blowing millions on TFA hobbyists, who provide their students
the exact opposite of what research says they need.  
He has also said recently we need social workers and
counselors at our neediest schools a sentiment echoed dozens of times in
Education Matters but rather than investing in them he’s throwing money at TFA
and undoubtedly some teachers who weren’t going anywhere in the first place. He hopes to pay for them by cutting other positions elsewhere.
Vitti has all these great ideas, he’s hitting the nail with
the hammer describing what we need but then inexplicably like an easily
distracted child he is off to the next thing, open enrollment anybody?
Vitti’s got to slow down if he wants to get it right. He has
to treat teachers like valued colleagues and assure his subordinates do the
same. He has to provide wrap around services for our most difficult kids
because often why they act up or do poorly has nothing to do with school. He
needs to make our schools safe and assure kids get consequences for bad
behavior. Now I am not saying drop the hammer but something meaningful has to
be done or it’s a waste of both time and resources. Then he has to put in place
classes that stop school from being such drudgery for kids, manageable and
meaningful classes. He does those things he can help turn it around.

Right now he talks a lot of the talk, but his walking
is all over the place.  

Vitti switching course on policy decisions.

From a Reader
Dr. Vitti
Beginning to Reverse Course
It
began with the news item that he was thinking it made financial sense to pay a
fine rather than hire the necessary number of classroom teachers to meet the
class-size amendment.
Previously,
his stance was that DCPS wasn’t constructing master schedules correctly and he
would show them how so that they could meet class-size requirements without
additional personnel and resources in the schools.
 What that meant was that
principals looked for non-classroom personnel who could be given classes and
found them in Support Facilitators. This year, when teachers are desperate for
help with ESE students, they are on their own because Support Facilitators are
teaching classes and are not available to work with the ESE students, which
should be their focus.
 Now,
in his latest budget proposal, he is thinking about reducing the ranks of
instructional coaches, whereas one year ago, he said if his leadership of DCPS
was going to make transformational change in our schools, it would be through
the work of instructional coaches.
(I apologize
that this link is behind the T-U paywall for readers who don’t subscribe.)
I’m
not going to argue for or against the role of instructional coaches in this
brief post, I’m simply noting the change in thinking.
Will
we soon see the picture of the former superintendent on billboards around the
city with the caption, “Miss Me Yet?”

Post Removed

A post linking CUSA to a Vietnamese company paring investors looking for green cards with investment opportunities was removed.
The reasons, CUSA notified me that they didn’t have the relationship and the paper that printed the original article retracted the piece.
I apologize for any inconvenience.

Barrak Obama and Arne Duncan continue their assault on teachers.

Now they plan to drive out of business schools
that send their teacher graduates to urban districts where test scores will be
low and gains slow to come by.
From Politico: The goal: To ensure that every state evaluates its teacher
education programs by several key metrics, such as how many graduates land
teaching jobs, how long they stay in the profession and whether they boost
their students’ scores on standardized tests. The administration will then
steer financial aid, including nearly $100 million a year in federal grants to
aspiring teachers, to those programs that score the highest. The rest, Duncan
said, will need to improve or “go out of business.”
Are some teacher colleges better than
others? Undoubtedly but thanks to the president and secretary of playing
basketball with the president, we will need all the teachers we can get in the
next few years.  These two have done all
they can to handicap the teaching profession with their corporate/standardized test
reforms.
They are despicable. We can’t chalk it
up to them just being ignorant anymore. Their reforms represent a calculated
attack against the teaching profession.
I also can’t help but think there
favorite group TFA which does the exact opposite of what we know to be good and
puts their non-education majors through a five week class is going to get a
pass. The summer institute is not a teacher college after all.