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Millionaire/Billionaire Funders of the Charter Lobby

Who are the millionaires and billionaires interested in opening legislatures and in some cases, buying school board seats with outrageously super-sized donations, in order to force unlimited charter schools on states? Our friends at Muckety have created a relationship map that shows who’s connected to who. They used as the basis of their map the 2010 effort in Washington State to pass a ballot initiative opening up the entire state to unlimited charter schools. Not surprisingly, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and a number of other high-tech titans from within the state were the chief donors to that effort. But billionaires from around the country, like Eli Broad of California and Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York City, were also contributors. //

K12NN Site Admin May 10, 2013 May 10, 2013 Bill Gates, charter industry, charter legislation, Eli Broad, Gates Foundation, Mike Bloomberg, Washington state
Greatness By Design: Supporting Outstanding Teaching to Sustain a Golden State

Greatness By Design: Supporting Outstanding Teaching to Sustain a Golden State by k12newsnetwork

K12NN Site Admin October 7, 2013 October 7, 2013 California, Teachers, Teaching credentials, Teaching profession
Wall Street Connections to Charter Lobbyists

Those wonderful folks at Muckety created a map that shows Wall Street 1%ers funding charter school chains in NY state and elsewhere. What’s interesting to note is that you’ll see lots of banks and “charitable foundations.” It’ll take another Muckety map to tease out the relationships between bank executives and boards of philanthropic foundations. In order to understand why charter schools are so appealing to the 1%, you’ll also want to see the New Markets Tax Credits map and how this “community development” incentive has been the accelerant fueling bank and hedge fund interest in creating more charter schools. See below.

K12NN Site Admin May 10, 2013 July 9, 2014 charter lobbyists, charters and foundations, New Markets Tax Credit, Wall Street and charter lobbyists
California: Strongest Student Privacy Bills to Become Law? (2014)

The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that SB 1177, if signed into law, could become the nation’s most stringent student privacy law. It regulates “operators” (vendors) and what they may do with regard to student data. It says that any student data generated belongs to the district. Does it define testing companies as “operators”? Remains to be seen. Does it enable high-stakes testing? Perhaps. It may need revisiting to actually build in provisions to slow or halt HST. It’s a good start, at least. This piece from TechWire is an excellent overview of both SB1177 and AB1584. AB1584 spells out what the responsibilities are of local education agencies (LEAs) are to families and students regarding student privacy. For example, AB1584 requires that LEAs: Do establish that the local educational agency owns and controls student records. Do describe how students can keep control of their projects and other content created for school, along with a way to transfer their content to a personal account later. Do prohibit third parties from using student information for purposes outside of those named in the contract. Do describe how parents, legal guardians or students can review and correct personally identifiable information contained in their records. Do outline actions that third parties will take to make sure that student data is secure and confidential. Do describe procedures for notifying affected parents, legal guardians or eligible students when there is an unauthorized disclosure of student records. Do certify that student records will not be retained or available to the third party once the contract is over and lay out how that will be enforced. Do describe how local educational agencies and third parties will comply with the federal FERPA legislation. Do prohibit third parties from using personally identifiable information from student records to target advertising to students. Clearly our federal hole-riddled FERPA law needs updating. Anyway, here’s a link to actual bill text for both SB1177 and AB1584: SB1177 AB1584

K12NN Site Admin September 18, 2014 September 18, 2014
Vermont Resolution Against High Stakes Testing

Vermont was known for administering its state standardized test in October, which I thought was brilliant. It truly made the test diagnostic, because teachers and parents had the information from tests to work on all year long. Now Vermont has taken another bold step: in late July, 2014, it announced the State Board of Education had approved a resolution that rejects high-stakes testing under NCLB and instead urges that “multiple and qualitative assessments” be used to evaluate student work. So why don’t more states adopt this resolution? I’ve attached below and linked to the pdf of the resolution.

K12NN Site Admin September 18, 2014 September 18, 2014 State Board of Education resolutions, Vermont
California: SSPI Tom Torlakson’s Greatness By Design vision of the teaching profession

In 2012, when the state of California was only just starting to emerge from the depths of the Great Recession and our millionaire’s tax ballot initiative to fund public education had not yet passed, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the results of a study he conducted that identifies the ways he plans to improve the career path for teachers at public schools. The long-term study is a plan to introduce more steps on the career ladder for teachers so that they can be recognized as master teachers in the classroom and also master teachers of other teachers. It’s called Greatness By Design. Torlakson explored best practices in several high-achieving countries that have student/family demographics similar to that of California. He gathered and sifted all the information together to drive forward a new vision of the teaching profession and the ways the state of California could support and develop new and seasoned teachers. Diversity, retention, reliance on research-backed and proven best practices, peer mentoring, resources to support teaching professionals, and continuing reflection on and perfection of one’s craft are central to Greatness By Design. See below for the full report. California Department of Education: Greatness By Design

K12NN Site Admin September 19, 2014 September 19, 2014
Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Resolutions re iPads TOOLKIT

So far a number of Neighborhood Councils, maybe a dozen or more, have passed resolutions asking that iPad purchases be halted and the facilities bond fund money spent on repairs to schools as originally intended. Pacoima Neighborhood Council Education Committee, resolution passed on 10/4/14 Pacoima Neighborhood Council Education Committee Resolution: LAUSD School Board re John Deasy

K12NN Site Admin October 8, 2014 October 8, 2014
Maryland Testing Refusal Guide
mornamcdermott October 19, 2014 October 19, 2014
High School Student-Led, On-Campus Voter Reg & Education Laws

As of this writing (November 2014), 10 states have laws to enable 17-year olds to pre-register, or in some cases, to enable students to lead peer-to-peer, campus-based voter registration efforts. See here: Several states, including Connecticut, Iowa, Florida, Maine, Wisconsin, Missouri and Texas – now allow 17-year-olds to pre-register. In Hawaii, 16-year-olds may pre-register so that their voter status is automatically activated when they turn 18. Wisconsin, according to a report from New America Foundation, reaches out to young voters through a state law establishing at every high school a “registration deputy,” filled by a volunteering teacher or staff member. The article further discusses how it works in California: The statute also reiterates that the last two full weeks in the months of April and September – now known as “high school voter weeks” – be designated as “high school voter education weeks,” and it authorizes each school administrator to name one or more students as voter outreach coordinators to encourage student registration during that time. “We know that when young people experience the importance of voting and a culture of civic engagement in high school, they are much more likely to be active voters once they are eligible,” Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a statement last week. “We also know peer-to-peer education is one of the most effective ways to develop students’ interest in democracy, and we’ve seen wonderful examples of it throughout the state.” Getting the word out to the state’s nearly 2,000 schools with grades 9 to 12, however, may be the more difficult task. And, even then, planning and coordinating a school-wide voter registration event takes a willing administrator and an active student council to see it through. If your state does NOT yet have a law like this, maybe it’s time to work toward one. The way to combat voter suppression and caging is to make sure we always have a new crop of freshly registered voters who are conversant in civics and understand all aspects of the democratic process. Additional resources and reports: Project Vote has great sample legislation, research, and recommended practices for putting into place high school voter registration programs. League of Women Voters has a comprehensive toolkit and high school voter registration training manual, current as of 2013. Fair Vote has an abundance of resources in general and a very interesting section on the ability of state-recognized parties to permit 17 year olds to participate in partisan primaries and caucuses.

K12NN Site Admin November 7, 2014 November 8, 2014 high school voter registration
WA State’s I-1351: Successful K-12 Class Size Reduction

Great news for WA state coming out of the 2014 elections! Voters there passed a class size reduction ballot initiative. Provisions include: Initiative 1351 would lower class sizes for kindergarten through 12th grade and create 25,000 more jobs, including about 7,400 for teachers. The state Office of Financial Management estimates the measure would cost $4.7 billion through 2019. Mostly supported by teachers’ unions, the measure would establish limits for class sizes – 17 students for kindergarten through 3rd grade and 25 students for grades 4 through 12. Low-income schools would have smaller classes. Read about the margin of voter approval and other details having to do with the funding requirements to support this new policy change here. Bill text from the state of Washington is attached as a pdf.

K12NN Site Admin November 13, 2014 November 13, 2014 class size reduction, laws (passed)

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