Archive for the ‘Parents for Choice in Education’ Category

Jeb Bush and Robyn Bagley team up on SB 65 shakedown

The Gravy Train Copy Desk

Last spring and summer while I watched Robyn Bagley’s feverish moves to take over the Utah Association for Public Charter Schools I guessed that she was angling for a leap on board Mitt Romney’s corsair in 2012, but now I’ve changed my mind.  Let’s be serious.  Neither Romney nor Huntsman have any chance anyway, except maybe in Jeb’s cabinet.  No, now I’m placing my bets on Bagley for Bush.  We had the Bagley organized Bush roadshow here last August, and now we have Bagley and Bush teaming up on SB 65, “the best K-12 online learning policy in the country…setting the standard for the rest of the nation.”

It was very kind of Bagley and Bush to send me a copy of Bush’s op-ed on SB 65 for copyediting.  Thanks!  My copy edits are shown in red.  The op-ed was co-signed by former West Virginia governor Bob Wise (D).   Are you getting yet that the for-profit education industry is a bipartisan project?

An Op-Ed from Governors Jeb Bush and Bob Wise

Governors Jeb Bush and Bob Wise have written this Op-Ed as Utah legislators are considering the expansion of digital learning.

Wednesday, the Utah Senate passed legislation that will put Utah and its students at the forefront of K-12 Digital learning policy in the country. open the pockets of Utah’s taxpayers to out of state digital education providers. Unleashing the power of technology in education expands access to high quality education regardless of a student’s language, zip code, income levels or special needs which is why Utah has made its Electronic High School available to students throughout the state free of charge since 1994.

As Governors, we learned firsthand the high stakes when it comes to preparing students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and careers. Digital learning has the power to transform education to address the individual needs of students in a way never before possible, as Utah’s free Electronic High School has proven.

To that end, this year we launched Digital Learning Now, a national lobbying campaign to define the elements of funnel public school monies from hard-pressed school districts to the for-profit digital learning industry and advocate for the policies that will assist states with integrating current and future technological innovations into K-12 public education as a cover for the destruction of public education.

Digital learning can customize and personalize education so all students learn in their own style and at their own pace, maximizing their chances for success in school and beyond. With digital learning, every student from rural communities to inner cities, can access high-quality and rigorous courses in every subject, including foreign languages, math and science.

Digital learning can also be the catalyst for transformational change in education. It is a tool that can address the myriad some of the challenges faced by schools, community leaders, and policy makers.

With access to multiple online course providers Utah’s free Electronic High School, students in even the most remote areas can connect with high-quality college – and career – prep courses taught by highly qualified teachers who do not work inside their school building or even, home school. These options EHS can be a powerful tool for teachers who are facing the challenge of meeting a variety of student needs. They can connect communities to a vast network of resources that will help their students compete and succeed in the global economy.

With online and digital learning, Utah high school students will be able to customize their education to better meet their academic goals and prepare them for post-secondary education, vocational and careers.  More options, better questionable outcomes, reduced increased costs—it’s a great horrible deal for Utah’s students, schools, and taxpayers.  But a great one for Robyn Bagley and Howard Stephenson.

Utah is on the verge of establishing gutting the best K-12 online learning policy in the country and setting the standard for the rest of the nation.  We are watching with great admiration and enthusiasm.

Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida 19992007, future U.S. president

Bob Wise, Governor of West Virginia 2001-2005, professional board member

Reborn convicted felon Michael Milken betting on Utah’s SB 65

K-12 Training for Public School Looters sign at Utah's Capitol, March 8, 2011

Once a thief….

There is no greater proof that the United States of America is the land of second chances than the for-profit education company known as K-12, partially financed by convicted felon Michael Milken.  With his eagle eye for a quick buck (and what better revenge than to extract money from the very citizens who convicted him the first time around?), Mike and his brother Lowell (and other rapacious sorts) are zeroing in on the public education treasury, under the guise of “school choice.”

The National Coalition for Public School Options (NCPSO) is K-12’s national “grassroots” lobbying organization.  It’s what Utah’s Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) tried to do on the local level, but failed, hence the takeover of the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools with its UCAN (Utah Charter Advocacy Network) mailing list.  Why re-invent the wheel when you can steal one?

K-12 was hard at work yesterday at Utah’s capitol building, training marks parents to provide lobbying support for public school looting bills like Howard Stephenson’s SB 65, Merlynn Newbold’s HB 301 & 313 and immigration dimwit Chris Herrod’s HB 388.

Meanwhile, anybody want a rooster?  Because PCE can help you get one (scroll down).  Whether you get a House or Senate rooster, keep in mind that this year’s crop is especially ill-tempered, but that opens certain betting possibilities.  Why should Mike Milken have all the fun?


Howard Stephenson and PCE’s Judi Clark, pushing the vouchers you can’t refuse

Don Corleone

Virtual Vouchers and the key to the public treasury

Early in 2010 when the Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) pirates began planning their 2011 campaign to sneak education vouchers through Utah’s back door, they knew they’d need a little more than a hijacked charter school association and a lobbying hitman to get their legislation passed.  Two strategies were crucial.  The first would be to split their wishlist into as many different moving targets as possible, but the second would be to have a legislator who could be trusted to shepherd the whole project to conclusion.

Utah Sen. Howard Stephenson - photo: Brian Nicholson, Des. News

After Sheldon Killpack, the Utah legislator and charter school go-to guy was suddenly indisposed last spring, PCE would be forced to turn to Utah’s lobbyist/legislator godfather, next to whom PCE/UAPCS lobbyist Chris Bleak is a mere piker.  I’m talking of course, about Howard Stephenson.

Stephenson, the Utah Taxpayer Association Don who is famous for never having seen a piece of pro-business legislation he didn’t like, and whose answer to the immigration debate is a full-employment act for bounty hunters funded by the runaway slaves themselves, wasted no time.  With PCE’s Judi Clark doing the drafting and Killpack’s abandoned campaign war-chest to draw from (Killpack donated an astonishing $4,000 to Stephenson in 2010), the result was a fistful of bills friendly to charters and hostile to school districts. Continue reading

Utah Legislature Rep. Bill Wright tells public to get lost

Everybody knows vampires hate daylight

…so when the Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) vampires launched their hostile takeover of the Utah Association for Public Charter Schools (UAPCS) in order to get their Vouchers Plus program passed, the one thing they absolutely wanted to avoid was any sunshine or public comment on their plans.  Because we all know how that turned out last time.  For that, they would find no better friend than dairy farmer/bull semen merchant Bill Wright.

Wright, who has spent the better part of the last two decades in the Utah legislature while other people milk and service his cows, is the sponsor behind HB 116, which seeks to re-establish the plantation system in Utah by providing guest worker visas for Mexicans to furnish slave labor to Utah’s dairy industry.  Since the federal government is the traditional source in the United States for visas of any kind, presumably Utah will have to secede first for Wright’s law to take any effect, but don’t worry, there’s a plan in the works for that too. Continue reading

Parents for Choice one step away from obtaining Vouchers Plus

A Cruel Joke

Merlynn Newbold

Parents for Choice in Education‘s Charter School funding bill, HB 313, sponsored by Merlynn Newbold, passed out of the House Education Committee this morning by a narrow margin. So score one for the resurrected Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) and their KSL.com hire, über-lobbyist Chris Bleak, tasked with getting vouchers passed this session, come hell or high water.  It’s not for nothing that he’s been running a full time shop at the Capitol for the last four months running.

But the path to this morning’s rigged vote on the bill actually started more than four months ago.  More like 14 months ago, when PCE, tactically and conceptually trashed from its 2007 voucher campaign, decided it needed a facelift to make another run at vouchers.  The Utah Association of Public Charter Schools (UAPCS) was selected as the ideal victim vehicle, but first there was the inconvenient matter of its director, Steve Winitzky, being a wee bit hostile to PCE.  Suddenly, late in 2009, two vacancies appeared on the UAPCS board when two board members resigned for unrelated reasons. PCE saw its opening and pounced. Continue reading

Unmasking the anti-teacher/anti-public school rhetoric (VIDEOS)

Today, two great video tutorials to understand the truth behind the anti-teacher/anti-public school rhetoric, whether it’s coming from Parents for Choice in Education, their poster child Jeb Bush, or Barack Obama.  The attack on public education in Utah and the rest of the United States is not a partisan one.  It’s a neoliberal one.  Bush’s No Child Left Standing Behind is the godfather of Obama’s Race to the Top.  It’s a heads I win, tails you lose sort of thing: heads the privateers win, tails children (society) lose(s).

First, this one from Daniel Willingham, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.  It’s a very short, engaging explanation of the problem with judging teacher performance through “value added measures” in order to hand out raises/bonuses.

In this second one, Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union explains to Paul Jay of The Real News Network why what U.S. schools are facing in this time of economic crisis is a “perfect storm of disaster”.  But she also explains how teachers are being unfairly “painted with the bad teacher brush,” how people have got to get over thinking of schools as “magic castles” disconnected from the reality around them, and finally, how using tests that are designed to measure student achievement as a basis for “high stakes decisions” about teachers/schools is a totally flawed concept. Nine minutes that will help you sort the truth from the hype.

After Jeb Bush’s PCE sponsored roadshow: a reality check

 

Jeb Bush's failed testing model: coming to Utah schools?

Jeb Bush was in Utah yesterday thanks to the pirates at Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) who are already gearing up for their renewed assault on Utah’s public education system when the legislature reconvenes in January.

His sales pitch: holding schools accountable by grading them, like he did in Florida, and holding third-graders back who test poorly in reading.  Legislators Wayne Niederhauser and Greg Hughes (the new board chair at the scandalously mismanaged Utah Transit Authority) are chomping at the bit to duplicate Bush’s program here and are already working on a bill.

Speaking of grades, we’ll give the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Lisa Schencker a B for her story on the Bush visit, because Lisa at least finds it worthwhile to mention that Parents for Choice sponsored the Bush roadshow.  Sadly, Elizabeth Stuart at the Deseret News, gets a D on this assignment, for completely avoiding mention of PCE and even beginning her story by calling Bush’s plan “avant-garde,” followed by something that looks suspiciously like a cut and paste from a PCE press release.

But for the real juice, take a look at what a Utah mom who used to live in Florida had to say about Jeb’s performance, in the DesNews comment section: Continue reading