Why Does Betsy DeVos Tolerate Fraud in the Charter Sector?

Diane Ravitch's blog

That is an easy question. Betsy DeVos believes that parents can choose really dreadful ”schools,” where their children won’t learn anything about the modern world and it’s okay.

But Betsy’s not a pundit on FOX News. She is Secretary of Education. People listen to her incoherent babbling and try to make sense of it.

As the AP reports, Betsy has decided to ignore evidence that her own Department—during the Obama Administration, wasted nearly $1 billion on failed charter schools. She can’t defend this outrage. Where are the other charter cheerleaders?

Why is it okay to fund charters that never open or close within a year?

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Florida: The Graveyard of American Public Education

Diane Ravitch's blog

Florida has the worst education policies of any state in the nation, and it is about to get even more destructive, more ignorant, more backward.

Read this alarming article and remember that Betsy DeVos points to Florida as a model.

A model, yes. A model of how religious extremists, rightwing ideologues, and uneducated political hacks can destroy public education, drive away teachers, and fund “schools” that indoctrinate students in religious dogma.

The post was written by Kathleen Oropeza Parent Activist in Orlando.

Jeb Bush started the descent into the swamp of ignorance. Now the torch is carried by Ron DeSantis, who wants to arm teachers, expand the state’s voucher programs to include middle-class families with income up to $100,000 a year, reduce the power of local school boards so they can’t block new charter schools, and undercut public schools in every way their little minds can imagine.

Oropeza writes:

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Bernie Sanders’ Staff Called Me to Talk About Education Policy

Diane Ravitch's blog

I got an e-mail recently from Senator Bernie Sanders’s education advisor. She said she reads the blog and wondered if we could talk. I said sure but I was not ready to endorse anyone in the Democratic primaries.

I asked for and got her permission to share that this conversation occurred. As everyone knows who ever gave me confidential information, I never write or speak about what I was told in confidence.

We set a date to speak on the phone since I am in New York and she is in D.C.

She called and conferenced in the campaign’s chief of staff.

Here is what happened.

I told them that I was upset that Democrats talk about pre-K and college costs—important but safe topics—and skip K-12, as though it doesn’t exist. Every poll I get from Democrats asks me which issues matter most but doesn’t mention K-12.

I expressed my…

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DeVos’s Staff Blocked Researchers Trying to Investigate Federal Charter Schools Program


Writing this week for The Washingtonian, Rachel M. Cohen describes the responses of eighteen federal workers when she interviewed them about what it’s really like to work for the Trump administration.

Cohen quotes an anonymous staff person in Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education, someone who reflects on Departmental priorities these days and her own particular concern: “I definitely get the sense that the appointees don’t feel many functions of our agency are necessary anymore. Words like ‘regulatory overreach’ and ‘burdensome regulations’ come up a lot, and while it’s true sometimes oversight is burdensome, and ensuring efficacy and quality can feel like overreach, we give out a lot of money—and if we don’t maintain some standard for those funds, then we’re not doing our job.”

Apparently the politically appointed leadership at the U.S. Department of Education wasn’t happy when, on March 8, 2019, the Network for Public Education (NPE) tried…

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Laura Chapman: Did Betsy DeVos Violate the Law?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Laura Chapman read the post about the U.S. Department of Education threatening to cut off $340 million in Title 1 funding from Arizona unless all high school students took the same test—either the state test or the SAT or the ACT. She pored through the Every Student Succeeds Act and could find no legal basis for this threat.

Laura Chapman writes:

I have spent several hours looking at ESSA. I could find nothing about specific tests other than those required for the International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement. Neither the SAT or ACT is mentioned but there are technical requirements for ESSA accountability tests. As Diane notes, the SAT and the ACT are designed for college admission, not as a high school accountability test or a test aligned with state standards, a requirement for ESSA. Use for high school accountability is in violation of ESSA. I do not understand why EdWeek…

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USC and the College Admissions Scandal: Implicated Students Not Allowed to Dodge Investigation via Withdrawal


Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are facing multiple charges associated with a massive college admissions scandal, including fraud and money laundering. Both appear unlikely to escape prison time.

Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly spent $500,000 to have their two daughters, Isabella and Olivia Giannulli, fraudulently admitted to the University of Southern California (USC) by passing the young women off as members of the university’s rowing team. Neither daughter has any experience in the sport. According to FBI wiretaps, Loughlin and Giannulli funneled $400,000 in the form of two $200,00 payments through a nonprofit and sent $100,000 in the form of two $50,000 payments to a USC coach. (See page 88 of this FBI key complaint for the details of the Loughlin-Giannulli emails and phone conversations related to the scam.)

It seems that one of the questions raised concerns whether USC allowed Isabella and Olivia Giannulli to…

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Intrinsic Motivation is Key to Student Achievement – But Schools Can Crush It (Tara Garcia Mathewson)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Tara Mathewson wrote this for The Hechinger Report. It appeared March 27,2019.

Mathewson describes how “traditional” schools “crush” motivation. The age-graded organization–a mid-19th century innovation in organizing public schools (recall the “traditional” one-room school that it replaced)–is the quarry she targets. She describes students who do poorly in such schools.

Mathewson then compares another kind of organization that has arisen in some high schools across the country where teachers and administrators alter significantly the key structures of age-graded schooling. She profiles a Big Picture school called The Met (Providence, RI).  I have been describing another Big Picture school in Oakland Unified School District (CA) called MetWest in a series of posts over the past month.

When Destiny Reyes started elementary school, she felt highly motivated. Like most young children, she liked learning new things, and she excelled at school. She got good grades and reveled in her success, thriving in…

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Well-Intentioned Ohio School Finance Plan Must Be Revised to Eliminate Savage Inequalities


After a decade of tax cuts brought by Governor John Kasich and a supermajority Republican Ohio Legislature,  Ohio—still dominated in the House, Senate and Governor’s mansion by Republicans—is considering a new school funding formula intended to address what have been glaring problems for the state’s public schools. The new plan is bipartisan. We all owe enormous thanks to Representatives Robert Cupp and John Patterson for their leadership.

Currently, only 107 (18 percent) of the state’s 610 school districts are receiving their calculated formula level of school funding from the state—an amount that supposedly represents what the state should contribute based on each school district’s capacity to raise local revenue. All the rest—503 school districts—are operating on guaranteed or capped funding.  We have reached a point—years and years after the last funding formula adjustment, where nobody can really explain how the state is dividing up its contribution through the formula.


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DeVos Continues D.C.’s Mad Obsession with Standardized Testing

Diane Ravitch's blog

Betsy DeVos’ team warned Arizona that it could lose $340 million in federal funding if it persists in offering options to students taking standardized tests. The state has to pick one test for high school students—either the state test, SAT or ACT-or it may lose Title 1 funding for disadvantaged students.

Leave aside the fact that the SAT and the ACT are designed for college admission, not as a high school accountability test. Leave aside the fact that all standardized tests are normed on a bell curve to produce “winners” and “losers” and are completely misaligned as high school tests of competency. Leave aside that using these two commercial tests is a multimillion dollar windfall for two private testing corporations.

The federal government should not be holding any state hostage over its decision about how or whether to use certain tests. It should not threaten to withhold funding for the…

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Charter School Sector Swindles the Public, Burns Tax Dollars, and Cheats Children—Part 2


Yesterday’s post launched a two day summary of abuses by charter school operators and charter management organizations due to the absence of regulation of a 44-state privatized education sector.  Recent reporting, including an investigation by the Network for Public Education of the federal Charter Schools Program and newspapers across several states, have exposed a sector awash in financial scandal, fraud and conflicts of interest.  The stories confirm what striking schoolteachers have been showing us all year: Charter schools suck money from the public schools—most often in the poorest city school districts where the needs of the students are greatest.

It was promised that charter schools—less regulated institutions than their traditional public school counterparts—would foster innovation.  What we have learned from this 25 year experiment is that charter school operators have proven themselves extremely innovative in the way they have made piles of money at public expense.

Yesterday’s post featured the…

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