Archive | January, 2016

Magnolia Public Schools

19 Jan

On January 8, the San Diego Union ran an article about a charter school system withdrawing its application to put a new school in the Oceanside School District.

“Orange County-based Magnolia Public Schools notified the school district this week that it would resubmit the petition within two weeks after fixes are made to the document. The school didn’t specify what changes it planned to make, and officials could not immediately be reached for comment.”

The report goes on to say Magnolia plans to open a k-12 STEM focused charter school with about 180 students in 2017 with a goal of 1000 students by 2027. Michelle Crumpton, Magnolia’s chief academic officer “said that the ‘the fast growth of high-tech clusters in San Diego County’ will provide future high wage job opportunities and that her company’s program will help meet that demand.”

STEM (science technology engineering and math) education is a phony. There is no shortage of STEM graduates and if one gets a STEM degree, good luck competing for a job with all the H1B visa holding STEM graduates from India and China. Corporations want them because the visa ties them to the corporation – US citizens are much freer to take a different job offer. When I see STEM being pushed, I suspect scam.

A quick search of Magnolia took me to the web page, Charter School Scandals, where I learned that Magnolia Public Schools are part of the Fethullah Gulen charter school empire (about 160 schools). CBS News reported (May 13, 2012):

 “Over the past decade scores of charter schools have popped up all over the U.S., all sharing some common features. Most of them are high-achieving academically, they stress math and science, and one more thing: they’re founded and largely run by immigrants from Turkey who are carrying out the teachings of a Turkish Islamic cleric: Fethullah Gulen.

 “He’s the spiritual leader of a growing and increasingly influential force in the Muslim world — known as “The Gulen Movement” — with millions upon millions of disciples who compare him to Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Gulen promotes tolerance, interfaith dialog, and above-all: he promotes education. And yet he’s a mystery man — he’s never seen or heard in public — and the more power he gains, the more questions are raised about his motives and the schools.”

 One year ago on January 8th the Los Angeles Daily News reported “Magnolia Public Schools appointed former Los Angeles Unified School Board President and charter schools champion Caprice Young to head operations amid scrutiny that threatens to close two campuses.”

Reporting on the same story the Los Angeles Times said:

“A recent L.A. school district audit concluded that Magnolia Educational and Research Foundation was $1.66 million in the red, owed $2.8 million to the schools it oversees and met the federal definition of insolvency. In addition, the audit found fiscal mismanagement, including lack of disclosure of debts, weak fiscal controls over the principals’ use of debit cards and questionable payments for immigration fees and services, among other issues.

 “Young said Magnolia is not in financial trouble, but suffers from weak management and a lack of transparency — problems she said would be corrected in an effort to win support from L.A. Unified.”

 Caprice Young has been putting together a business turnaround team including a public relations spokesman. In their story about the problems at Magnolia the public broadcasting station KPCC reported:

 “Our school leadership has always embraced a policy of transparency and accountability when it comes to the fiscal solvency of Magnolia Public Schools and our commitment to superior student achievement,” said Mike MeCey, a spokesman for Magnolia.”

 Real public schools don’t hire people like Mike MeCey and his firm Magnetic News.

Caprice Young has been a cheerleader for public school privatization since her first and only successful campaign for a seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District board. Bloomberg gives this extended profile of Ms. Young:

 “Dr. Caprice Young served as the Chief Executive Officer and President of KC Distance Learning Inc. of Knowledge Learning Corp. Previously, Dr. Young served as Interim Chief Executive Officer at KC Distance Learning Inc. Dr. Young served as Vice President of Business Development & Alliances at Knowledge Universe. She also served as Chief Executive Officer and President of The California Charter Schools Association until September 2008. Dr. Young’s professional experience spans higher education, business and government, including: Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations for the Anderson School at UCLA; strategy consulting group manager of IBM’s West Coast e-Business Innovations Design Center; and Assistant Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles. Dr. Young has a strong track record in education reform, having served from 1999 to 2003 as a Member and President of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, which governs the second largest school district in the United States. Her professional experience spans higher education, business and government, including: Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations for the Anderson School at University of California, Los Angeles; Strategy Consulting Group Manager of IBM’s West Coast e-Business Innovations Design Center; and Assistant Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles. She also serves on numerous boards, including California Governor Schwarzenegger’s Advisory Committee on Education Excellence and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. She served as President and Member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. She has been a Director of KC Distance Learning Inc., since October 2008. She is a recipient of the Coro Foundation Crystal Eagle Award for Achievement in Public Service. Dr. Young holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Yale University, an MPA from University of Southern California and her Doctorate of Education from the University of California, Los Angeles.”

 Magnolia’s new leader has a history of promoting and profiting from on-line education, privatizing public schools with privately managed charter schools and cultivating strong connections with state republican leaders such as Richard Riordan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

However, she is a menace for the public school system that is the foundation of American democracy and the source of American creativity.

Oceanside should reject this charter school chain that is associated nationally with fraudulent behavior and in Los Angeles with instability. The misguided charter school movement opens the path of fraud, instability and segregation while forcing taxpayers to pay for redundant management systems. Especially in a place like San Diego County where we have well run public schools, charter schools do not make sense.

Isn’t it time to put a moratorium on charter school expansion in California and see what we have?

Californian Abandons NGSS – Sort Of

6 Jan

In California, education technocrats are busy replacing the Clinton era science standards with the even worse Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) – sort of.

Standards based education and testing have cursed schools for millennia. Powerful people who never stood in front of a classroom demand that educators be held accountable by an ancient education ideology.

The Nobel Prize winning scientist Glenn Seaborg is credited with leading the development of the first California State Science Standards. Professor Seaborg was Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission under presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. He was a member of President Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education which wrote the unsupported polemic “Nation at Risk.”

However, Professor Seaborg was not an expert on either early childhood education or secondary education. The familiar pattern emerges; people with limited education background are making decisions about instruction, while experts are ignored.

The science standards produced in California were at least workable. They inhibited creativity and coupled with the big test thwarted progress toward improving classroom instruction but, they covered basic science in a coherent manner.

The new NGSS has all of the inherent problems associated with standards based education plus they are incoherent.

To their credit, California education technocrats recognized that the NGSS were awful. To their discredit, California adopted the NGSS knowing it must be rewritten. The State Board of Education reports:

 “Revising the Science Framework to align with the new science standards is an important component in the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS) adopted by the SBE [State Board of Education] in September 2013. The revision of the Science Framework is a multi-step process involving the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC), the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), and SBE.”

The new California science framework represents a significant change. A 60-day comment period on the new draft finishes this January 19th. Another round of edits and another comment period are scheduled before public hearings on the proposed new framework in the fall. Who knows when the standards will also be rewritten? Yes, California has abandoned NGSS – sort of.

In 1996, Louis Gerstner hosted the US Governors Association at the IBM conference facilities in Palisades, New York. He and the other 48 business men there forcefully called for national standards. The 40 governors in attendance responded by establishing their own non-governmental non-profit, Achieve Inc. Louis Gerstner was named chairman of Achieve and given a mandate to create and sell national standards. No professional educators were involved.

The Carnegie Foundation was chosen to oversee the development of “a new conceptual framework” which elevated engineering to equal rank with science and conceived of 13 science and engineering standards that would be taught from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The original Framework states:

 “The framework is designed to help realize a vision for education in the sciences and engineering in which students, over multiple years of school, actively engage in scientific and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their understanding of the core ideas in these fields.”

 Without ever piloting these concepts in classrooms, the NGSS was published and state leaders were convinced to adopt them. Achieve Incorporated holds the copyright on the NGSS.

Elevating engineering to the same status as science is wrong headed. Science is the foundation of engineering. Science is a prerequisite to engineering. Differentiation between science and engineering need not happen before upper division at universities. K-12 students need basic science delivered by teachers excited about the subject.

The 13 NGSS standards are repeatedly assigned to each grade level in a somewhat randomized manor (about 5 standards each year). Adding the three dimensions of learning (core ideas, associated practices, and crosscutting concepts) plus engineering makes these science standards not just bad theory but unintelligible.

In 600 AD, China was the most advanced country in the world in science – some estimates say at least 400 years ahead of any other nation. They instituted standardized education with testing accountability and all scientific progress halted. They became unable to defend themselves after the industrial revolution.

Standardized education’s main advantage is population control but it inhibits cultural progress.

Final decisions about education should be left to local jurisdictions.

Federal and state education departments could enhance professional peer review processes by supporting curriculum research. Local communities and professional educators should be freed to select and implement fresh ideas about curriculum that they find appealing for their circumstances. In this manor, popular ideas will be adopted and bad ideas will die naturally.

We need to improve education but today’s misguided “corporate education reform” causes great harm. We have a good system for tracking education progress (NAEP testing). We have the best educated and trained teaching force in the history of the United States. Unfortunately standards based education squanders this talent and opens the door for; fraud, abuse, segregation and waste.

Louis Gerstner and Bill Gates, without whom there would be no NGSS or Common Core, are billionaires not education experts. Their education thinking is shallow and amateurish. Reason dictates that we let experienced professionals lead education.