The result is stuff like this:
- Charter schools spend $1 billion per year in state taxpayer money, often with little transparency.
- Some charter schools are innovative and have excellent academic outcomes — but those that don’t are allowed to stay open year after year.
- A majority of the worst-ranked charter schools in Michigan have been open 10 years or more.
- Charter schools as a whole fare no better than traditional schools in educating students in poverty.
- Michigan has substantially more for-profit companies running schools than any other state.
- Some charter school board members were forced out after demanding financial details from management companies.
- State law does not prevent insider dealing and self-enrichment by those who operate schools.
In September 2005, Emma Street Holdings bought property on Sibley Road in Huron Township for $375,000. Six days later, Emma Street sold the parcel to Summit Academy North, a charter school, for $425,000.Michigan's largest for-profit charter chain responded with a huge ad buy. Eclectablog writes:
Who made the quick $50,000 at the school’s expense? The founders of Emma Street, two men with close ties to the school — one was president of Summit’s management company, the other was married to Summit’s top administrator.
My friends at Progress Michigan did some research and found that the typical price for just one day of this type of advertising is $37,500. Multiply that by four days at two newspapers and NHA has spent roughly $300,00, over a quarter million dollars, on this ad campaign.Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.
And it’s only Wednesday.
And the Free Press charter school series runs through Sunday.
A fair day's wage
- Just a little local story—but play it out repeatedly around the country and think about the chilling effect it has: Workers say Manhattan's Book Culture bookstore fired them after a successful unionization vote:
McNamara was fired just hours after the election, along with two of her coworkers at the 112th Street store. All three are now forbidden from entering the bookstore, according to e-mails obtained by Gothamist.This kind of retaliation is all too common, but it's a shame to see it happening at the kind of independent bookstore you'd otherwise want to patronize.
In those emails, Doeblin also explicitly states that he fired his employees for voting to unionize: “It was indicated to me . . . that two people in our mangament [sic] group voted in the union and effectively undermined the interests of the store. The store always being in opposition to the Union. Unfortunately there is no other recourse but to remove these people from our employ effective immediately.”
- If you're not listening to the Belabored podcast with Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen, you should be. This week, they talk to Dave Zirin about the World Cup.
- Ten reasons we're against unions.
- A little good news:
Another major retailer in the United States is giving a boost to its base salary, although the size of the increase will vary from state to state. On Thursday morning, the Swedish furniture retailer IKEA announced that it would be adopting a new wage structure which is expected to increase pay for about 50% of its American employees. The change in company policy will take effect on January 1, 2015.Of course, workers shouldn't have to hope for a semi-decent employer to make a semi-decent wage.
The new policy will base entry-level compensation on the MIT Living Wage Calculator, which estimates the wages required “to meet minimum standards of living” in each county of each state. IKEA’s new compensation system will offer different base wages at different store locations, depending on the cost of living in the surrounding area. The average minimum hourly wage across all store locations will become $10.59, a 17% increase from what it is now.
- Rosie the Riveters storm National Zoo.
- Labor hits $10 billion goal for Clinton Global Initiative jobs and infrastructure investment:
In 2011, the American labor movement made a pledge to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to raise $10 billion over the following five years to invest in the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and to boost the sagging job market. [This week], two years ahead of schedule, that pledge was fulfilled.$10 billion is a lot, but America's needs are so much greater—and congressional Republicans are standing in the way of the government investment we really need.
- When it comes to temps, who's the boss?
Call it the “Who’s the Boss” phenomenon: The business models of many major U.S. companies depend on workers who are legally employed by someone else. Labor groups argue that such sprawling supply chains make it harder to hold companies accountable for abuse, let alone organize the workers involved. Now they’re pushing back: A California bill would put companies on the hook when employees get cheated by their contractors.
- Women spend nearly an hour per day more on chores than men.
- A domestic workers bill of rights in Massachusetts:
The legislation, which passed the House overwhelmingly last week and awaits the governor’s signature, establishes basic rules on working hours, rest breaks and dealing with work-related complaints. Similar to and building upon comparable laws in New York, California and Hawaii, the bill grants domestic workers 24 hours of consecutive rest weekly for 40 hours of work per week, plus overtime for each excess hour worked. Bosses who employ a worker for more than sixteen hours per week must provide the terms of employment, including wages and working conditions, in writing up-front. Workers have formal civil rights protections through the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, giving them recourse against common problems in this sector like sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. Workers are also protected from retaliation for complaining about wage violations.
- Chicago is not done with the layoffs in its schools:
Chicago Public Schools announced staff layoffs on Thursday for 550 teachers and 600 other members of the Chicago Teachers Union.Then there are the teachers and staff at schools that are being closed. And that's all after massive layoffs in 2013. But tell me again how what we should be focusing on in schools is attacking teacher tenure, not fighting for better funding.
- A teacher who got a teacher of the year award four times in six years tells why he's leaving teaching:
Every year, our district invents new goals (such as “21st Century Skills”), measuring sticks (most recently a “Growth Calculator”), time-consuming documentation (see “SMART goals”), modified schedules (think block scheduling and an extended school day), and evaluations (look in our seventy-two page “Teacher Performance Plan”).
As a district, we pretend these are strategic adjustments. They are not. The growth calculator was essentially brought forward out of thin air, SMART goals are a weak attempt to prove we’re actually doing something in the classroom, etc. Bad teachers can game any system; good teachers can lose their focus trying to take new requirements seriously.
These hoops have distracted me from our priority (students). I’ve concluded it’s no longer possible to do all things well. We need to tear down these hoops and succeed clearly on simple metrics that matter.
Over the past six years, I can’t remember a time where something was taken off my plate. Expectations continue to increase and we play along until we invent new hoops.
- In February, Agustin Morales spoke out against "data walls" on which students' test scores were publicly displayed at a school committee meeting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where Morales is a teacher:
In May, he was elected president of his union local. In June, his contract was not renewed. Fellow teachers and parents of his students have spoken out in support of Morales, and close to 2,000 people have signed a petition urging the school committee to investigate what looks a lot like the retaliatory firing of an activist—an activist who happens to be one of the few Puerto Rican teachers in an overwhelmingly Puerto Rican school district.
In New Jersey, another local union president is threatened with firing after he protested against a surveillance system his school district had installed to monitor teachers and students. That teacher, Mike Mignone, is suspended pending a hearing; if he didn't have tenure, he might have just been let go as abruptly as Agustin Morales. Mignone, too, has significant community support.