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Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education And America’s Public Schools

People nominated and confirmed to be in the President’s cabinet are supposed to represent ALL of the people in the country, not just those with vested interests. This has not been the case with Betsy DeVos. Ms. DeVos has every right as a private citizen to lobby for her views on public education. She does not have the right to serve as a lobbyist for charter schools at the expense of public schools.

There are numerous examples of this:

  • DeVos recently made headlines when she attempted to cut the Department of Education’s funding for Special Olympics only to have the decision reversed by the White House. President Trump countermanded Ms. DeVos recommendation of eliminating funding for the Special Olympics which provides 272,000 students with disabilities with athletic opportunities at school. Her proposal would eliminate $17 million.
  • Neither Ms. DeVos, her husband or her children attended public schools. Ms. DeVos has literally spent millions of dollars lobbying for charter schools. While she has recommended huge cuts in overall education spending, she has requested a $517 million increase in funding for charter as well as private-school vouchers and an additional $1 billion for local districts to implement “open enrollment” programs allowing student to attend any area public school, as well as charters and to take state and federal funds with them.
  • The Democrats has requested spending $100 billion to fix up crumbling schools. DeVos has prioritized charter and private-school vouchers at the expense of traditional public schools while cutting over $7 billion for the Department of Education overall.
  • For the third straight year, the Trump administration has proposed a cut in funding for the U.S. Department of Education.
  • She has expanded on her ideas of budget cuts in the US Department of Education while at the same time requesting additional funds for charter schools.
  • She has made misstatements that increased school spending hasn’t helped students, but there is substantial research that indicates increased spending has resulted in better academic outcomes.
  • Educational spending in inflation adjusted dollars has remained relatively flat. While federal spending has increased, Some states have cut spending.
  • She suggested that American education has gotten worse since 1979. But nationally fourth-and eighth grade test scores as well as high school graduation rates have generally risen.
  • She says we need better prepared teachers, but her Fiscal Year 2020 budget requested a cut of more than $4 billion K-12 education programs that support education professional development. At the same time, she has requested more than $5 billion for school vouchers.
  • According to an article in the New York Times Magazine: ““The DeVos family, owners of the largest charters lobbying organization has showered Michigan Republican candidates and organizations with impressive and near-unprecedented amounts of money this campaign cycle: 1.45 million in June and July alone- over a seven-week period.”
  • There isn’t any oversight to Michigan’s spending. By 2000, Michigan had 184 charter schools, third after Arizona and California. According to a NY Times Magazine article, “Michigan has gone from being fairly average state in elementary and math achievement to the bottom 10 states. A 2017 Stanford University study found that increasing charter school enrollment in a school district has done little to improve achievement gaps.
  • The Detroit Free Press (January 18, 2017) conducted a yearlong investigation and published in June 2014 which showed that Michigan taxpayers invested nearly $1 billion a year into charter schools. The newspaper viewed two decades of charter school records and found wasteful spending and double dipping by school board members, school founder and employees steering lucrative contracts to themselves.
  • Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn highlighted an inspector general study that stated that closed charter schools stated that $1 billion in federal funding was wasted on charter schools that never opened or were closed to mismanagement.
  • A 2016 review commissioned by the National Education Policy Center found that Michigan’s per-pupil spending has fallen in Midwestern states from the middle to near the bottom.

Our education budget is a reflection of our values. In an era where we need to have globally competitive schools, safe schools, schools where the ceilings do not leak, where floor titles are not cracked, where paint is not cracking, where water is fit to drink and where teachers are paid a living wage, money should not be siphoned off from public funds into private pockets.

For more of Franklin’s thoughts, see www.schargel.com

 

 

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Mixed feelings about Charter Schools

I have mixed feelings about charter schools.

On the positive side:

  • they provide another road to graduation for children who may need an alternative choice.
  • Some children may want and need a vocational training that they cannot receive at their traditional neighborhood school.
  • They tend to serve minority communities where schools may be low performing.
  • They have enormous flexibility.
  • They educate six percent of the student population but are 1/3 of US New and World Reports top 100 schools.
  • They have been supported by both Republican and Democrat presidents including George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump

On the negative side:

  • They take students and funds from traditional schools.
  • In some states, there has been limited or no oversight.
  • Some of them have closed in the middle of the school year, leaving students and parents scrambling to find other schools. In 2014, the Naples Florida Daily News reported that 14 charter schools had closed before finishing the first year.
  • Teachers have limited security because many of them are hired for one year.
  • There isn’t any union protection because there aren’t any unions.
  • Teachers and administrators are leaving more quickly than traditional educators.
  • Minority teachers are leaving more quickly than traditional educators.
  • Many of them are operated by for-profit businesses generating large profits for their owner by using computers in place of live teachers therefore limiting student interaction or the ability to question.

Charter schools are taxpayer financed schools run under a contract or charter issued by the local community or the state. Some are run by public school districts; others are run by private, for-profit businesses. Using National Center for Educational Statistics, (NCES) there were 6,900 charter schools in 45 states and Washington DC. They are free to experiment with different techniques. As originally envisioned, these schools would serve as “learning laboratories” where best practices could then be replicated by other schools. By and large, this has not been true.

I do support alternative education having worked in a non-traditional career and technical school. But for-profit schools should profit students, parents and society and not business people who wish to profit on the backs of children. Charter school operators include real estate investors who buy or rent existing properties such as empty supermarkets and then rent them to charter schools at a profit. In Ohio, which has a large number of charter schools, the largest one (ECOT- Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow) with 12,000 online students was shut down after reporting suspicious attendance figures. Ohio spent nearly $10.4 billion in state taxpayer money including lottery money between mid-2016 and mid 2017. (Cincinnati Enquirer, May 19, 2018, Jessie Blamert) About $929 million of that, about 9 percent went to charter schools. ECOT received $104.3 million of that amount. An audit of the 2015-2016 school year found that ECOT was receiving money for 9,000 students without proof that those students existed or were learning anything. According to the article in the Enquirer, large donations had been made to politicians in Ohio by ECOT officials. White Hat Management, another charter school operation, had the thirty-two of the lowest performing schools in Ohio.

Not all charter schools are low performing. The KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) and Success Academy Charter Schools are outstanding examples of charter schools’ success. There are 224 KIPP schools in 29 states plus Washington DC. It is the largest charter network with almost 100,000 students. Eighty-two percent of KIPP graduates go onto college.  The Success Academy Charter Schools operate in the New York area with 47 schools. In Albuquerque NM, the Robert F. Kennedy Charter Schools under the guidance and direction of Principal Robert Baade is a Title1 charter school.

I do not have a problem with the concept of charter schools. I do have a problem when there is a limited or lack of oversight by the state or local school agencies.

When schools experiment; some will fail. Betsy DeVos, US Secretary of Education who is a proponent and operator of charter schools in the state of Michigan. (More in a subsequent article.)

 

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Speaking for Children and Parents of Incarcerated Families

I recently was honored to speak for Wings for L..I.F.E which is an empowerment program that provides life skills, education and training for children and family members of prisoners and at-risk youth. I spoke about Creating Safe Schools, bullying and preventing school dropouts.

  • Children whose parents are incarcerated are bullied more frequently than most students.
  • The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s prisons, a 500% increase over the last 30 years. (The Sentencing Project, 2015)
  • 1 in 35 adults in the United States are under some form of correctional control. Currently 100 million people (1 in 3 U.S. adults) have a criminal conviction that impacts their employability and future. (New Mexico Prison Population Forecast, 2015)
  • 95% of offenders will be released back into the community and of those, 75% will return to incarceration within 5 years. (U.S. Justice Dept.)
  • Nationally the female population has been the fastest growing correctional population, increasing by an average of 3.4% annually. (NM Prison Population Forecast, July 2015)
  • Children of prisoners are up to 72% more likely to become incarcerated themselves.
  • New Mexico is 3rd in U.S. for kids with imprisoned parents. 52,000+ children in NM (about 10% of NM’s child population) have had a parent in jail/prison. (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2016)
  • Of the 10% of New Mexico children with an incarcerated parent, 19% are Native American and 11% are Hispanic. (datacenter.kidscount.org, 2015)
  • The annual cost to incarcerate one juvenile in New Mexico is approximately $182,000 compared to the lowest, $46,662 in Louisiana, and the highest, $352,663 in New York. (Albuquerque Journal, 2015)
  • In comparison, New Mexico spends $7,933 annually on education per child and nationally $11,014. (National Center for Education Statistic, 2015)

Comments included:

Franklin Schargel is not only an expert in his field, but is witty, funny and very engaging. He is an excellent public speak who is very knowledgeable and keeps the audience totally involved.

Bless you for caring like you do.

If you would like Franklin to speak to your group about this vital topic, contact him at franklin@schargel.com

 

 

 

 

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Comments about Franklin’s Presentation at Teachers of Education’s Annual Conference.

Franklin spoke at the ATE (Teachers of Education) Annual Conference held in Atlanta. GA regarding his new book, Who Will Teach the Children? Recruiting, Retaining and Refreshing Highly Effective Educators.

 Below are two comments from those who attended. Used with permission.

Franklin presented straight talk and practical information. I enjoyed Franklin’s ability to share his information and thoughts in a straight forward manner. Too often presenters get caught up in “education speak”. Franklin kept it practical and useful.

Schwengel-Gosz, Teacher Coordinator, WI.

Franklin’s presentation was insightful, research-based and entertaining!

Dr. S. Grogan, Harding University Arkansas, Associate Professor

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Working With At-Risk Students

The following article was written by John Lutz. John is currently the Coordinator of Alternative Education for Newark City Schools in Newark, Ohio. Newark City Schools are located in Central Ohio and is a high poverty 7000 student district. John is currently in his 30th year in education service. John has spent thirteen years as a classroom Special Education teachers and has previously held Special Education administrative positions in Pre- K to 12, District level, Vocational and separate facility settings. I am indebted to John for sending this to me and allowing me to reproduce it here.

What guides your work with at-risk students?

 One of my favorite jobs growing up was working in a pizza shop in a little crossroads of a town in central Ohio. Each shift I would receive a phone call and an order that was, shall we say, extremely individualized. My standard response to the caller was, “I can make it but you will have to eat it.” Some twenty years into my career in education I recalled those fond memories of my youth and the pizza shop and made the connection between my work there and my work with at – risk students.

Shouldn’t we be just as willing to create a “special order” educational experience for students as we would be making them a pizza? Shouldn’t we be willing to say,“Yes! – I can make this happen for you, but you will have to do the work.”  Too many times students seeking enrollment at the Newark Digital Academy would share stories about the lack of flexibility in their school offerings and how it impacted their ability to make progress toward graduation. We have sought to be something different.

We have 9 Pillarsthat guide our work with students at the Newark Digital Academy. Pillar 4 is Individualize by Including the Student. The inspiration for this pillar is, you guessed it, the pizza shop. We have been amazed by what some students can accomplish when given choice and flexibility. Pillar 4 philosophy tells us to do education with the student, not to the student.

The culminating result of individual students succeeding is a high achieving organization. In October 2017, the Newark Digital Academy became the only Dropout Prevention and Recovery School to achieve three consecutive Exceeds Standardsratings by the Ohio Department of Education; a feat that had never been accomplished by any of the nearly 100 Dropout Prevention and Recovery Schools in Ohio. This was a major victory for students who had rarely enjoyed academic success and an outstanding achievement for the staff that serves them.

So, what guides your work with at-risk students? Have you thought about it? Do you draw leadership inspiration from your own personal experiences? Have you been listening to your students? What are they they teaching you?

 

 

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Teachers Are Saying Enough is Enough

According to the National Education Association, nearly 1,500 current, former teachers and other education professionals are running for elected offices. The number is a record for the number of educators seeking office in a single election cycle. They are seeking a variety of state legislative seats and even one governorship. More than 1,000 are running as Democrats, with another 433 running as Republicans. Most of them are women.

There has been a series of work stoppages and teacher walkouts in West Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina, Kentucky, Arizona, and Oklahoma. Educators in those states have had enough with putting up with low salaries, poor working conditions, having to spend $450 in of out-of-pocket expenses, having to work with tattered textbooks, outdated computers and computer programs, leaky roofs, unairconditioned, or unheated buildings. No business people would work in such poor conditions. In addition, a number of state legislatures have cut public education budgets, teacher salaries and in some cases, changes to pension, retirement and health care plans.

Victories for teachers in the November election could reshape state legislatures and discussions over public education. There may be no more critical election than this one.

GET OUT AND VOTE AND ENCOURAGE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO VOTE.

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Bullying can have dire effects on people; especially young people.  Teenagers desire to fit into their peer groups but bullying and cyber-bullying prevent that from happening. There are several types of bullying. For males, the majority of bullying is physical. For females, it is emotional, psychological. Cyber-bullying is 24/7/365 and anonymous. Girls are two-times more likely than boys to be cyber-bullied. Most children who have been bullied do NOT tell their parents or any adult. Children who are students with disabilities or a member of the LGBTQ community are 3 to 8 times more likely to be be bullied.

I have written a Bullying Prevention White Paper which can be found on this website.

I will be delivering a workshop on Bullying Prevention at the National Dropout Prevention Center’s Annual Conference to be held at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio on October 27-31.

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Are Politicians Encouraging Students to Dropout of School?

Are politicians encouraging students to dropout of school and educators to quit?

Politicians supposedly represent all citizens – men, women and children. Because children don’t vote, some politicians feel that they can ignore children and treat them as second-class people.

Detroit’s public schools remind some people of prisons. There are chains on doors, dirty water in water fountains, bathroom stalls that lack doors, floor tiles missing, peeling paint on ceilings and walls. Students lack computers and current textbooks. Students and teachers work in “temporary” non-air-conditioned buildings in the heat of the summer and non-heated building in the cold of the winter. This would not be allowed to happen in affluent suburban schools. The Detroit school system hasn’t been receiving enough money from the state legislature to fix its crumbling schools.  The school district estimates that it needs $500 million to fix its schools. The state voted to allocate $25 million.

On a per pupil basis, the Detroit Community School District receives less state funding than Grosse Pointe Public Schools. Because Michigan allocates funding for schools based on property taxes (as do most states), Detroit with a low property school tax base gets $7,511 per student according to the 2017 budget, while Grosse Point, an affluent suburb gets State per-pupil funding while Grosse Point Public Schools gets $9,924. Does this happen in your school district? In your state?

Politicians claim (correctly) that education is expensive. But ignorance is far more expensive.  Few complain about the cost of incarceration. And research indicates that 80+ percent of prisoners are school dropouts. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that the cost of incarceration now exceeds $1 trillion. In the 2010 fiscal year that came to $31,286 per person. No state budgets that much money for its schools.

 

 

 

 

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Nobody in America who works should be poor

“We need a new language for talking about poverty. “Nobody who works should be poor,” we say. That’s not good enough. Nobody in America should be poor, period. No single mother struggling to raise children on her own; no formerly incarcerated man who has served his time; no young heroin user struggling with addiction and pain; no retired bus driver whose pension was squandered; nobody. And if we respect hard work, then we should reward it, instead of deploying this value to shame the poor and justify our unconscionable and growing inequality. “I’ve worked hard to get where I am,” you might say. Well, sure. But Vanessa has worked hard to get where she is, too.
But they’re working too many jobs to vote, they don’t buy enough important stuff, they live in “that” part of town so they must be “those” kind of lazy druggies and welfare queens, they are transparent and can be safely underpaid, politically ignored, and blamed for their fecklessness.”
Source: Mathew Desmond, NY Times Magazine, September 18, 2018
I am indebted to Tom Miles for bringing this to my attention.
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September is Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide has become the second leading cause of teenage death – replacing automobile accidents which moved to position #3.

I will be delivering three workshops at the National Dropout Prevention Conference in Columbus Ohio, October 27-31. For additional information check, wwwdropoutprevention.org

Check out The Children’s Safety Network for additional information.

 

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