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Thompson: Private Emails & School Privatization

Andrea Eger's State Emails Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Discussions of School Report Cards in the Tulsa World, is painful reading for anyone seeking compromise solutions for troubled schools. 

image from economic-globalization.wikispaces.comBy all accounts, Oklahoma’s attempt to implement Jeb Bush’s A –F School Report Card has been riddled with errors.  Keith Ballard, Tulsa’s highly respected superintendent who has taken a lead in working with the Gates Foundation and implementing tough accountability systems, and 300 superintendents challenged the first report card.  A compromise fell through.

At the same time, Damon Gardenhire, the State Superintendent’s communications officer, left his position for the Walton Family Foundation, which pushes for school vouchers.  On his last day on the job, Gardenhire told the Tulsa superintendent that he hoped to work with him in his new role.  In an email released through the Freedom of Information Act, however, Gardenhire wrote: "A big part of why I took the Walton gig was because I see real promise for bringing positive pressure to bear that will help cause a tipping point with enough (superintendents) that the ugly voices like Keith Ballard will begin to be small and puny."

You can imagine my embarrassment when secret discussions by advocates of the report card were revealed.  I had just been challenged by Diane Ravitch, in her “A Brief Conversation with John Thompson” to explain why I believe it is too early to conclude that the real goal of “reform” is privatization.  Commenters argued that my reluctance to use the p-word amounts to appeasement.  At any rate, Ballard no longer has any qualms in saying that the private discussion “reveals an agenda to divert dollars intended for public education to vouchers and for-profit vendors that should be very frightening to all Oklahomans."-JT(@drjohnthompson) 

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Congratulations, John. You found your red-hot, smoking gun. Hope it's not too late.

The privatization movement has been keeping a lot of secrets from a lot of people for a long time. So far only a few have leaked out.

In Chicago: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-school-closings-1217-20121219,0,1445270,full.story

In NJ: http://www.wnyc.org/articles/new-jersey-news/2012/aug/02/documents-detail-nj-school-reform-plan/

And of course, then there's ALEC: http://www.alternet.org/education/inside-alecs-education-task-force-private-players-manipulating-public-education

The proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Here in Los Angeles, Superintendent John Deasy has announced that he'd like every one of the more than 600,000 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District to have an iPad tablet. Cost estimates for their purchase vary, but one board member argued that a figure of $500 million was possible. This despite the fact that Deasy has bemoaned LAUSD's critical $300 million budget deficit during which he's laid off thousands of teachers and other school staff members.

And who knows how much repair, loss and damage costs for these tablets would amount to? Deasy wanted to pay for them with bond money, but a Bond Committee narrowly rejected his proposal. With a reasonably projected life span of perhaps five years, the tablets would be paid for by a bond generating significant interest over the 20 years it would take to pay it back.

All in all, either a gross mismanagement of district funds or a thinly disguised attempt to put district funds into the hands of private enterprise.

Sharon,

Thanks. I've already blogged on the first two of the very important links you provide. I'll get on the third today.

Michael Paul, yes, I hope its not too late. I can't control those issues. I'd be satisfied if we looked at problems the way that Brian does. I'd be satisfied if we could counter the gross mismanagement so we can then argue for better policies next time.

If Deasy et al keep up their utopian decision-making, then privatizers will take over the resulting shell of our public school system.

John,
Collusion is alive in Ohio as well as Oklahoma.

Thank you for your willingness to dig deeper into the privatization of public schools movement as reported in Diane Ravitch's blog.
The smokescreen is methodically being unveiled regarding the corporate movement to take over public education for profit's sake in our country.
State superintendents, state supreme courts (LA), school board members, parents, educators and concerned citizens are rising up and becoming vocal.
This is not a union/non-union issue, this is about the foundation of our democracy and our children's futures being siphoned off to feed greed.

I am a 29 year veteran educator, former Ohio Teacher of the Year and just completed a run for the Ohio House.
I was in the lead with extensive professional polling in a gerrymandered district w/ 3 weeks to go and the ORP and Michelle Rhee of StudentsFirst dumped 1.5 million into malicious ad campaigns in the last 14 days of the campaign. My race became the top targeted House race in the state.

Why spend 1.5 million to keep an experienced, veteran teacher who has advocated for decades on the local, state and national levels for our children and public education out of the Statehouse?

You guessed it.... privatization... building corporate entities under the guise of "ed reform and choice."

Having been blocked from entering the Ohio House, I am working from the "outside/in," to join with others nationwide in unifying our efforts to expose this movement for what it is.

FY interest, here is a link to Diane Ravitch's blog regarding my latest article...

"Opposite Day," at the Ohio Statehouse with Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst dream team..."

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/12/12/brilliant-opposite-day-in-ohio-with-studentsfirst/

Also, a link to an article I wrote regarding collusion at the Ohio Statehouse which is a core reason why an unprecedented 1.5 million was spent against my race.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2011/06/11/charter-schools-are-lousy-investment-of-tax-dollars.html


Keep your voice strong, keep seeking the truth and spreading the word,
For our kids' sake,

Respectfully yours,
Maureen Reedy

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