Archive for the ‘Utah Association for Public Charter Schools’ 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

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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?


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

PCE hoists Backpack Funding flag at UAPCS

Amazingly, although the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools (UAPCS) board members who are also affiliated with Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) continue to insist the relationship is meaningless or coincidental, the newly released UAPCS lobbying agenda tells a different story.  Utah’s charter schools have long been fighting for equity in funding (getting the legislature to allocate the same amount of money per capita to charter schools as to regular public schools – charter schools receive slightly less).  This year those charter schools who pay dues to the association sailing under the PCE flag will also be adopting the PCE “Backpack Funding” slogan.  Coincidence?  You decide.

Backpack Funding

What is it?  Well think of it this way. It’s basically vouchers with lipstick. Utah Moms Care has an excellent, dispassionate explanation of the concept here: Continue reading

Rep. Mike Morley asks Utah’s charter schools to pony up

To some, it looks a bit like a holdup note.

The “it” is a letter, on Utah legislative stationery, from Representative Mike Morley (R-Spanish Fork) to Kim Frank, the “interim” captain at the hijacked UAPCS (Utah Association of Public Charter Schools) ship, suggesting that Utah’s charter schools contribute, oh say, $2000 – $5000 apiece to help rewrite Utah’s constitution to make sure the “Employee Free Choice Act,” currently stalled in Congress, never ever pollutes Utah’s pristine “right-to-exploit-work” waters.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Employee Free Choice Act (called “card-check” by its opponents), it works basically like this.  In any shop, or school, if more than 50% of the workers were to say they wanted to unionize, they’d get their wish, without the employer being able to put additional obstacles in their way or simply refusing to recognize their choice.

As the law currently stands, employers can insist that employees go to a secret ballot to get their union, and that’s where the trouble starts.  According to Gordon Lafer, a professor on the Labor Education and Research Center faculty at the University of Oregon,

In the American democratic tradition the principle of the secret ballot is not simply the fact that you go into a voting booth and pull a curtain and nobody sees what you do. It is your right to keep your political opinion private to yourself before, during and after the act of voting; that you can’t be lured or coerced into a conversation that is designed to make you reveal your political preferences. In the NLRB, while the vote does take place in a booth where nobody sees what you’re doing, management is allowed to engage in a series of behaviors in the lead up to the vote that force the vast majority of workers to reveal how they’re going to vote long before they ever step into the booth. Continue reading

PCE pirates “search” for Captain to steer UAPCS rig

After Cap’n Steve Winitzky was marched down the Parents for Choice in Education/Utah Association of Public Charter Schools (PCE/UAPCS) gangplank back in May – followed shortly thereafter by his hapless crew – it became obvious that sooner or later, he’d have to be replaced. Kim Frank had certainly performed a useful function as an accomplice, but beyond that, the skill set was somewhat limited.

Finally, nearly 3 rudderless months after prodding Winitzky with the cutlass, PCE/UAPCS issued a job announcement.  On the UAPCS website?  Surely you jest.  On monster.com?  Not bloody likely.  CareerbuilderUtah Non-Profits Association?  Oh, let’s just cut to the chase.

The job announcement was posted on that site better known as Utah’s very own homegrown version of Craigslist, somewhere between the used sofas and homeless parakeets.  That’s right: KSL.com. Continue reading