Integrity in Education http://integrityineducation.org Thu, 01 Jan 2015 20:25:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.5 TIME is attacking teachers. What about their competitors? http://integrityineducation.org/time-attacking-teachers-competitors/ http://integrityineducation.org/time-attacking-teachers-competitors/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:00:33 +0000 http://integrityineducation.org/?p=606 While the same few people on both “sides” of the education debate go back and forth on the same tired issues, much bigger educational questions are going completely unasked, let alone answered. Take action to change that!

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Take action: Join us to ask TIME’s competitors to dedicate an upcoming issue to letting a diverse group of public school students, teachers and families discuss the future of public education.

Media matters in a democracy. In order for a society run by we the people to function fairly and effectively, we must have accurate, meaningful information on which to base important public policy decisions.

Yet our mass media routinely fails us in this regard. Media outlets often prioritize sensational, irrelevant and even false information over the factual information and analysis we need in order to be informed voters, consumers, and community members.

Furthermore, media outlets often distort our perceptions of the important issues they do cover by making bad decisions about who gets to speak on those issues. Who gets ink and airtime determines what issues we pay attention to and which actions we take. So when the wrong people are given that ink and that airtime, the general public ends up paying attention to the wrong issues, and taking the wrong actions.

This has been a problem for economic policy, environmental policy, and myriad others. And sadly, public education is no different. Education doesn’t get nearly the media attention it truly deserves, but when it is covered, it’s often the people with the least knowledge and experience about public schools, and those who are least representative of the groups most affected by education policy, who are doing most of the talking.

Students’ lives are shaped by the educational experiences they have on a daily basis, yet they’re rarely taken seriously– or even allowed to represent themselves– in education policy discussions. And though the majority of public school students are now people of color, the overwhelming majority of people given the opportunity to address the public on educational issues are white.

B0oOc47IgAAK3JWWorking- and middle-class communities depend on public schools both as sites of education as well as sites of employment and economic opportunity. Yet as we just saw with TIME magazine, many mass media outlets turn to wealthy people who don’t attend, work in, or send their children to public schools to shape the discussion about public education issues.

And while the teaching profession is nearly 80% women, media outlets frequently give men from totally unrelated, majority-male domains like the tech and finance industries space to advance their ideas on education policy, no matter how misinformed or even dangerous their ideas are.

So while the same few people on both “sides” of the education debate go back and forth on the same tired issues, much bigger educational questions are going completely unasked, let alone answered. How can we change funding structures and tax policies to ensure that all students get the resources they need? How can we make sure that the teaching profession reflects the student population it serves, and finally ensure that all teachers are culturally competent enough to respectfully and effectively teach students of different races, genders, orientations and social classes? How can we make sure our schools strengthen our democracy, and contribute to a more just and sustainable world?

These are just a sampling of the kinds of big questions the public won’t get to consider so long as misinformation about issues like due process remains the primary focus of mainstream education coverage.

It’s a shame that TIME has chosen this route, but what about their competitors? As TIME deals with the well-deserved backlash against their distortions, let’s take this opportunity to insist on a better public conversation about education. Please join us in asking the editors of some of America’s most influential and widely-read magazines to devote at least one issue to giving US—members of diverse public school communities—time to discuss some of these bigger questions.

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Release: PA Charter School Fraud Totals $30 million, Education Groups Launch State-by-State Investigation http://integrityineducation.org/pa-charter-fraud-release/ http://integrityineducation.org/pa-charter-fraud-release/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:30:27 +0000 http://integrityineducation.org/?p=590 CONTACTS: Alison R. Park (917) 805-0830, apark@populardemocracy.org Cliff Schecter (202) 270-7011, media@integrityineducation.org Report: Pa. Charter School Fraud Totals $30 Million, Education Groups Launch State-by-State Investigation Groups Call for Moratorium Until Oversight Measures Adopted Philadelphia, PA, Washington, D.C. and New York, NY, October 1, 2014 — Today, the Center for Popular Democracy, Integrity in Education and ACTION United released a report

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CONTACTS: Alison R. Park (917) 805-0830, apark@populardemocracy.org
Cliff Schecter (202) 270-7011, media@integrityineducation.org

Report: Pa. Charter School Fraud Totals $30 Million, Education Groups Launch State-by-State Investigation

Groups Call for Moratorium Until Oversight Measures Adopted

Philadelphia, PA, Washington, D.C. and New York, NY, October 1, 2014 — Today, the Center for Popular Democracy, Integrity in Education and ACTION United released a report titled “Fraud and Financial Mismanagement in Pennsylvania’s Charter Schools” that exposes at least $30 million lost to waste, fraud, and abuse in Pennsylvania since the passage of that state’s charter school law in 1997 and was the subject of a Philadelphia Inquirer exclusive this morning. ACTION United will hold rallies at Governor Tom Corbett’s offices in Philadelphia at 11:00 a.m. today and in Pittsburgh tomorrow.

“Pennsylvania’s children and families have been robbed by charter school operators to the tune of $30 million, and enough is enough,” said Ted Stones, who is on the board of directors of ACTION United. “Leaders in Michigan and other states are taking a stand, recognizing that there’s no sense in expanding a broken system without the oversight and integrity that our children deserve. We hope Governor Corbett has the same common sense.”

The report’s authors and local groups in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are calling for a moratorium on new charter schools until the report recommendations are met, including that all charter schools must undergo fraud risk assessments so that oversight agencies can conduct targeted fraud audits as necessary—a practice various federal agencies currently employ.

“Public funds should be spent nurturing students’ growth and potential, not on charter industry fraud,” said Sabrina Stevens, Executive Director of Integrity in Education. “With over $1 billion going to charter schools in Pennsylvania, it’s time for charter schools to be held to the same standards of transparency and oversight that public schools are held to.”

“The current oversight system in Pennsylvania falls miserably short when it comes to detecting, preventing, and eliminating fraud,” said Kyle Serrette, Director of Education at the Center for Popular Democracy. “We plan to uncover fraud in charter schools state-by-state. The millions of children who are enrolled in charter schools nationwide deserve strong protections.”

The report attributes the system’s deep vulnerabilities to grossly understaffed oversight agencies lacking the most basic resources; auditors’ failure to adequately check for fraud; and possible violations of fiduciary duties by charter school boards of directors. The report suggests that $30 million is the minimum possible amount lost to fraud, and in addition to the state moratorium, calls on the Attorney General to launch an investigation. The report’s release marks the beginning of a state-by-state initiative to investigate charter school fraud by the report authors.

To read the full report, click here.

The Center for Popular Democracy promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda. Visit www.populardemocracy.org and www.twitter.com/popdemoc.

Integrity in Education is a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring integrity to the conversation about public education. IIE exists to promote education for democracy, by shining a light on the people making a positive difference for students and communities, while exposing and opposing the outside interests that stand in their way. Visit www.integrityineducation.org and www.twitter.com/EduIntegrity.

ACTION United is a nonprofit membership organization of low and moderate income Pennsylvanians working to build power through organizing communities to win changes on the issues that are important to them. ACTION United’s 53,000 members are organized into 17 neighborhood chapters throughout the state.

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“Don’t let distractions erase genuine critiques of Rhee & Brown” http://integrityineducation.org/dont-let-distractions-erase-genuine-critiques-rhee-brown/ http://integrityineducation.org/dont-let-distractions-erase-genuine-critiques-rhee-brown/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:23:37 +0000 http://integrityineducation.org/?p=580 Some education observers are trying to distort the record when it comes to important critiques of prominent privatization advocates like Michelle Rhee Johnson and Campbell Brown. But we’re not willing to let that slide. This past weekend at Talking Points Memo, our director Sabrina Stevens wrote, As someone who has been subjected to sexist and racist attacks from “both” sides

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Talking_Points_Memo_27987Some education observers are trying to distort the record when it comes to important critiques of prominent privatization advocates like Michelle Rhee Johnson and Campbell Brown. But we’re not willing to let that slide.

This past weekend at Talking Points Memo, our director Sabrina Stevens wrote,

As someone who has been subjected to sexist and racist attacks from “both” sides of the education debate, I agree there’s no room for oppressive behavior in this conversation — regardless of the feeble denials and/or justifications the offenders and their protectors try to offer. But it’s also important not to overlook the many substantive reasons why people object to how figures like Rhee (now Johnson) and Brown choose to participate in this debate. The ignorance that animates any sexist or racist insults directed at both women doesn’t erase the rhetorical and material harm both have caused in the course of their advocacy.

Be sure to read the rest over at Talking Points Memo.

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Release: House Passes $300M Giveaway to Charter Industry With Few Accountability or Transparency Measures to Prevent Fraud http://integrityineducation.org/release-house-passes-300m-giveaway-charter-industry-accountability-transparency-measures-prevent-fraud/ http://integrityineducation.org/release-house-passes-300m-giveaway-charter-industry-accountability-transparency-measures-prevent-fraud/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 21:39:40 +0000 http://integrityineducation.org/?p=533 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 9, 2014 Contact: TJ Helmstetter, Center for Popular Democracy (973) 464-9224; ttjhelm@populardemocracy.org Sabrina Stevens, Integrity in Education (720) 295-0238; media@integrityineducation.org NO STRINGS ATTACHED: HOUSE PASSES $300M GIVEAWAY TO CHARTER INDUSTRY WITH FEW ACCOUNTABILITY OR TRANSPARENCY MEASURES TO PREVENT FRAUD Bill Passes Days After Release of Report Detailing Over $100M in Waste, Fraud, and Abuse by Charter

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 9, 2014

Contact:
TJ Helmstetter, Center for Popular Democracy
(973) 464-9224; ttjhelm@populardemocracy.org

Sabrina Stevens, Integrity in Education
(720) 295-0238; media@integrityineducation.org

NO STRINGS ATTACHED: HOUSE PASSES $300M GIVEAWAY TO CHARTER INDUSTRY WITH FEW ACCOUNTABILITY OR TRANSPARENCY MEASURES TO PREVENT FRAUD

Bill Passes Days After Release of Report Detailing Over $100M in Waste, Fraud, and Abuse by Charter Operators

(WASHINGTON) — Following the passage of H.R. 10, the charter school bill heard in Congress this week, leaders from two groups, the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education reacted with disappointment.

Both groups released a report this week finding that poor oversight of the charter sector has resulted in charter school leaders in 14 states and the District of Columbia stealing or losing over $100 million in taxpayer dollars. The report only examined those 15 geographies, representing one-third of the states where charter schools operate nationwide.

“Given the sheer volume of waste, fraud and abuse we found even in our look at just 15 of the 42 states that have charter schools, it’s very disappointing that the House would vote to pass a bill that includes so little in the way of oversight,” said Kyle Serrette, Director of Education Justice Campaigns at the Center for Popular Democracy. “But we are all very heartened by the 45 congressional representatives who voted no on the bill. We are especially grateful to Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI), among others, for their leadership in attempting to add common sense protections to this bill.”

“Charter schools were supposed to empower educators to explore new ways of educating some of our neediest students, thus helping students and the public school system as a whole,” said Sabrina Joy Stevens, Executive Director of Integrity in Education. “They were never meant to be the profitable industry they have become. It’s indeed disappointing to see the House pass a bill that would leave children and taxpayers vulnerable to fraud and abuse, but it’s very encouraging that some representatives had the courage to do the right thing. We look forward to seeing which members of the Senate exhibit that same courage.”

The report was cited by Reps. Grijalva and Moore in their statements opposing H.R. 10. The bill was opposed by 45 members, including 11 Republicans and 34 Democrats, despite heavy lobbying from the charter industry. A companion version of H.R. 10 was recently introduced in the Senate, but has not yet been acted upon.

The “Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse” report has been highlighted by the Washington Post, Salon, the website of education leader Diane Ravitch, Education Week, and other publications.

The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with innovative base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda.

Integrity in Education is a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring integrity to the conversation about education. Integrity in Education exists to shine a light on the people making a positive difference for children, and to expose and oppose the corporate interest groups standing in their way.

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#WeAuthorize…solutions to the charter fraud crisis! http://integrityineducation.org/weauthorize-solutions-charter-fraud-crisis/ http://integrityineducation.org/weauthorize-solutions-charter-fraud-crisis/#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 19:33:33 +0000 http://integrityineducation.org/?p=525 Starting today, Integrity in Education is joining the Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) to host #WeAuthorize Wednesdays, a weekly opportunity to highlight ideas worth spreading in education policy and practice. Learn more about WeAuthorize Wednesdays here. Paul Rosenberg, writing at Salon about the report on charter fraud we co-authored with the Center for Popular Democracy, had this to

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Starting today, Integrity in Education is joining the Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) to host #WeAuthorize Wednesdays, a weekly opportunity to highlight ideas worth spreading in education policy and practice. Learn more about WeAuthorize Wednesdays here.

Paul Rosenberg, writing at Salon about the report on charter fraud we co-authored with the Center for Popular Democracy, had this to say about our recommended solutions to the problem:

If most of these sound like simple common sense, that’s pretty much just the point. There are plenty of issues around education that are controversial. Protecting ourselves, our children and their future against a massive white-collar crime wave should not be one of them.

With that in mind, here are those recommendations, offered in stand-alone format for easy reading and sharing. We urge you to keep them in mind as you take action regarding the charter bill currently in Congress!

Recommendations for Transparency, Accountability and Democratic Governance in Charter Schools by EduIntegrity

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