Jeb Bush Supports Betsy DeVos

Many of you may know that the nominee for U.S. Secretary Betsy DeVos serves as a board member on Jeb Bush’s pro choice Foundation for Excellence in Education.  Bush has written a letter in support of her nomination.

Bush argues that opposition to school choice is based on two false narratives.  The League has no formal position on this appointment.  So, you decide.  Let your Senators know what you think.




Continue reading

FINALLY! U.S. OIG Issues Charter Management Problems Alert

cash-burningThe U.S. Inspector General has recognized the serious nature of the charter management problems.  The League of Women Voters has been calling for  better transparency and management oversight for several years.  Now, the federal government has joined us—-well, a part of the federal government.

It is one step toward better accountability for our tax dollars.

Continue reading

Losing Control of Schools

classroomThere are many reasons to love charters and to loathe them.  One of the biggest conundrums is over local control.  Some parents think schools are too rigid in their regulations.  While trying to be efficient and fair to all, school systems can seem to be inflexible.  Enter charter schools.  Each can set up their own procedures more or less.  Their advisory boards and/or their management companies set the rules.  If parents are unhappy, they can leave. Of course finding a school to suit them might be a challenge.  Consider the situation in Detroit, Michigan.



Continue reading

Detroit: Lots of choice, but no good choice

money-40603_1280The New York Times ran a story about Detroit.  The city is recovering from bankruptcy, but school choice has bankrupted its schools.  The story is told in human terms.  Your learn about a family trying to find a good fit for its four children.  They move from charter to charter, full of disappointment as hopes are dashed.  They are besieged by hype and gifts for recruiting, but the realities of too many schools from which to choose means that no school is very good.  This is a cautionary tale.  Detroit has the lowest achieving children in the nation.  Ten percent of its children graduate at ‘college ready’.

Michigan has less charter regulation than Florida.  Charters proliferate whether or not they succeed academically.  Eighty percent of its charters are run by for-profit companies. The fight with each other to get students.  By last winter, Detroit schools were bankrupt.  The legislature agreed to help, but it refused to support regulations to manage charter growth.

Spectacular Charter Fraud in Michigan

Diane Ravitch posted a story from Michigan.  It could have happened in Florida.  I am reposting it here.  When Senator Gaetz said it was time to end the private enrichment schemes in Florida’s charters, he was right.  Unfortunately, his version of the choice bill did not make it through the 2016 legislature.  It would have tied public money to public ownership of school facilities.

Michigan has a greater percentage of for-profit charters than does Florida.  They have little oversight.  The same is true here.  We really do not want to play the ‘who has the greatest scandal’ game.  We need to push our legislators to curb the exploitation of public funds.

Florida Gets an ‘F’ Again

FAILED1Which states get it right?  Not Florida.  It was one of eight states that received an overall grade of ‘F’ when its grades were averaged across the categories studied.   The Network for Public Education rated states based on six criteria.

For each category, I combined the percentages of A, B and C grades received across states.  I was surprised at the results.  Relatively few states (11) use test scores to punish students and teachers, but Florida is one of those that do.  You can see the combined percentages (think of them as passing scores) at the end of each of the criteria.

Continue reading

Michigan: When the Bubble Bursts, Our Children Are At Risk

detroit-819696_1280The auto industry in Detroit was once the silicon valley of the U.S., but the influx of black workers lead to white flight.  The decentralization of automotive plants to other cities reduced jobs.  Population dropped by forty percent.

Policies to curb dissent rather than face needed changes brought bankruptcy.  The fall is city wide and may not be fixable.

Flint, Michigan suffered a similar fate.  Now, press reports from Michigan describe poor decisions to cut costs that have resulted in thousands of children suffering from lead poisoning.  Their brain damage is likely permanent.  In order to save money in the troubled city, the governor appointed a financial manager who decided to shift the source of the water supply to a river.  The pipes were lead, and the water did not contain chemicals to prevent their corrosion.

Clearly, city managers in the past had not been able to make decisions to stem the economic decline.  Now, state officials have done no better.  Anyone who could leave, left.  Those who remained suffer.  Schools are underfunded, and there is no local money to fix the problems.  The children will have even greater problems than before.

Michigan is just one of many states with similar problems.  Charter schools will not fix them.  They could make the problems worse by further dividing communities and resources.  What should be done instead?  We could begin by facing these economic problems instead of putting them off.  It will take a national will…local, state and federal energy must converge around viable strategies.  This is the lesson learned from Detroit and Flint.  Our children are at risk.


Statistics Don’t Tell It All: A Story About Two Michigan Schools

bee-705412_1280Some of us believe in data.  I usually do.  They tell stories unless you read closely.  Here is a story of two schools that seem to be the same, but one excelled in third grade reading and the other did not.  None of the usual reasons apply.

It is time to read closely.

There is a bumble bee in the story that gives us hope.  Hope matters.

Continue reading