A CONCRETE PROPOSAL
Costly Freedom in Afghanistan
Opposition to Charter Schools
Fight for Water
Ronald j. Morgan
Health Care Crisis Will Continue
Occupying a House Auction
Race, Gender, & Occupy
Occupied Higher Ed
Unpredicatable Life of the Occupy Movement
Zuccotti Park Press
STATE OF THE U.S.
Investing in Obama
Nicolas J.S. Davies
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Growing Opposition to Charter Schools
Across the U.S., state and local tax revenues are down. This fiscal trend is hammering traditional public schools. Just ask students and their teachers coping with layoffs and larger classroom enrollment in Sacramento and statewide. A decidedly different picture prevails for tuition-free public charter schools. They operate with a contract (charter) from a public entity. Stephanie Grisham, with Larson Communications, is a spokesperson for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), a non-profit advocacy group based in Washington, DC. Public charter school operators range from charter management organizations, such as Aspire, KIPP, and Rocketship, to education management organizations like the for-profit Academica and Mosaica.
Last but not least are the freestanding independent public charter schools, or “mom and pops.” According to the Alliance, over 2 million students were enrolled in about 5,600 public charter schools in the U.S. in 2011, representing a 13 percent year-over-year increase. In 2010, California led the nation in public charter schools with 983, serving over 412,000 students (7 percent of the overall enrollment of 6 million pupils statewide). The next 4 states—in order of total public charter schools—are Arizona, 524; Florida, 520; Ohio, 360; and Texas, 284.
According to Grisham, NAPCS compiled the 2010 figures from state education departments and state charter school groups. Asked why California has the most public charter schools, Grisham noted its 1992 law establishing public charter schools with 31 in 1993, the biggest state populace nationwide and a “great” California Charter Schools Association (a private firm). “CCSA actively advocates for the promotion and access of public charter schools, academic achievement, and increased accountability,” according to its website. The CCSA focuses in part on state governance bills and policies under the Capitol dome in Sacramento. The CCSA seeks to increase funding for charter schools at the state and local level, which includes revenues produced by parcel taxes—according to Vicky Waters, CCSA director of media relations.
What are the most recent year- over-year state budget figures for spending on public charter schools as part of the overall budget for traditional K-12 public schools? Such data is unavailable, said Cindy Chan, a spokesperson for the Charter Schools Division of the California Education Department. According to her, figures for state funding of traditional public school and public charter counterparts exist, but as separate data sets.
What, if any, are the funding inequities between public charter schools and traditional public schools in California? “Large funding gaps do exist between public charter schools and traditional public schools,” Waters said. “On average, according to studies by Bellwether Education Partners and Ball State University, the gap in funding between public charter schools and traditional public schools is higher than 19 percent ($2,247 per pupil) in California. Charters receive funding primarily through block grants, which are significantly less on a per pupil basis than the funding provided to traditional public school students.
“Also, charters usually don’t have access to local school bonds or parcel tax revenues, despite the fact that charter parents in those communities are paying for them. Deferrals (state imposed delays in entitlement payments to schools), lack of access to short-term borrowing, and facilities inequities also exacerbate charter’s financial situation.” Waters continues: “Education Code 47630 (a) states that ‘It is the intent of the Legislature that each charter school be provided with operational funding that is equal to the total funding that would be available to a similar school district serving a similar pupil population’.”
One prominent critic of what she terms corporate school reform is author and education scholar Diane Ravitch. She spoke before 3,000-plus people at the Sacramento Convention Center on January 20. In her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Ravitch cast a skeptical eye on the economics and politics of education reform and reformers.
For Ravitch, the function of private money in public education leads to what she terms, “The Billionaire Boys’ Club.” This club includes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Microsoft Inc.) and the Walton Family Foundation (Wal-Mart Inc.). Both of these well-heeled foundations fund CCSA.
Meanwhile in Sacramento, funds from the Gates Foundation in 2003 helped the non-profit St. Hope Foundation under current mayor Kevin Johnson—a Democrat and past NBA all-star guard for the Phoenix Suns—to obtain a charter to operate the formerly public Sacramento High School. The Gates Foundation is also a donor to Capitol Impact, LLC, a “Sacramento-based consulting firm dedicated to improving policy and practice in California, with a particular emphasis on public education,” according to its website.
Private interests and government intervention loom large in the growth of public charter schools. The trajectory of a former CCSA employee to state government service is instructive. Ting L. Sun, co-founder and educational program director of the Natomas Charter School, worked for the CCSA from October 2003 to December 2006. Former GOP California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) in December 2007. At the California CTC, Sun served as a public representative until December 2011 and was Commission chair from January 2010 through December 2011. In a phone interview, she confirmed her employment as a senior consultant with Cambridge Education, LLC, a privately-held management firm, from 2007 until 2009.
Kathy Carroll of Sacramento, a former state CTC employee, questions such public-private relations in education. She was an attorney for the California CTC from October 2006 to November 2010 and a whistleblower who alleges that her employer fired her for speaking out on misconduct such as violations of statutory mandates (providing for fair and impartial decision-making). In a wide-ranging interview, Carroll criticized officials like Sun who serve the public interest and a private enterprise like Cambridge Education, LLC. That particular example creates a situation that fosters the potential for financial and political conflicts of interest, according to Carroll who is opposed to such activities between public officials, private interests, and public charter schools.
Organized resistance to public charter schools is underway. Sacramento labor organizer Karen Bernal joined 50-plus protesters from the Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education, Sacramento City Teachers Association and Occupy Sacramento in a silent rally at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in downtown Sacramento on January 25. Inside the library, education reformer Michelle Rhee—past head of schools in Washington, DC, (and wife of Mayor Johnson)—presented her ideas on reforming public education. Rhee’s StudentsFirst group, which, according to Ravitch, vows to pit students and teachers against each other, is opening an office to advance a slate of education reforms that include restructuring public school teacher unions. Hence, the significance of protesters wearing tape on their mouths, re-enacting Rhee’s alleged classroom directive to tape shut students’ mouths who spoke when instructed to be silent.
The United Public Workers for Action held a conference at Laney College in Oakland to “look at how the destruction of public education is taking place in California—who is doing it and how to stop it and defend the right to a public education for all working people.” Carroll joined a slate of speakers there addressing K-12 and higher education issues impacting those public institutions.
According to January 27 Federal Commerce Department figures on GDP, 2011 saw the steepest drop in state and local government spending since 1944. Consequently, the nation’s traditional public schools face a worsening budget crisis. Such tumult, plus big dollars from the wealthiest families in the country, nurtures the growth of public charter schools. It’s unclear what impact the opposition can muster to change this equation in 2012. It’s us against the Billionaire’s Boys Club led by the Gates and Walton families. Then again, nobody said that class struggle would be easy.
Seth Sandronsky lives and writes in Sacramento, California. Photo: Labor organizer Karen Bernal (right) speaks to youth at a Sacramento rally against corporate school reformer Michelle Rhee; photo by Seth Sandronsky.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.