BURLINGAME – California’s educators launched the “Kids Not Profits” campaign today, calling for more accountability and transparency of California charter schools and exposing the coordinated agenda by a group of billionaires to divert money from California’s neighborhood public schools to privately-managed charter schools. Billionaires like the Waltons and Koch Brothers are spending record amounts of money to influence local legislative and school board elections across the state.
The coalition is calling on Governor Brown to sign AB 709. This bill requires all charter schools to be transparent and accountable to parents and to disclose how they spend taxpayer money, including budgets and contracts. It prohibits charter school board members and their families from profiting from their schools, and requires charter schools to comply with California’s open meetings, open records and conflict of interest laws.
The campaign is launching with a series of radio ads and an informative website –www.KidsNotProfits.com – where parents and the public can get more information about privately-managed charter schools, their impact on students, the billionaires behind them and take action to demand accountability, transparency and equal access for all students.
“Public schools should be about students and inspiring young minds – not profits,” said Eric Heins, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association. “Educators, parents and civil rights advocates have been talking about the need for accountability and transparency of these privately-run charter schools for some time. We can’t let a group of billionaires with no classroom experience push their profit-driven agenda on our public schools.”
The coalition includes education, civil rights and community organizations all supporting legislation now headed to Governor Brown for his signature.
The first radio spots are running in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. Listen to the English and Spanish radio ads here.
Menifee- In a show of unity with their negotiations team, more than one hundred Menifee Teachers Association (MTA) members who represent 14 schools throughout the Menifee and Quail Valleys packed the Menifee Union School Board meeting to express their frustrations with the District over the longstanding contract dispute with Menifee Union School District.
Competitive salary and benefits are the cornerstone to attracting and retaining the next generation of teachers for Menifee’s schools. With compensation among the lowest in the surrounding area, Menifee is not positioned to be competitive as the California Teacher Shortage intensifies.
MTA and the district’s negotiations team have reached tentative agreement on most language issues. However, salary remains a stumbling block. The district has offered less than half of what MTA believes would be a fair settlement to make progress toward equitable salaries and to keep their teachers in Menifee’s schools.
Woodland Hills CA- A Daily News investigation published in May found that El Camino Real Charter High School’s Executive Director David Fehte had made numerous lavish charges to his school-issued American Express card, including $15,500 at Monty’s Prime Steaks & Seafood in 2014 and 2015, and several personal expenses, such as first-class airfare and luxury hotel rooms. Fehte’s charges also included more than $6,700 for a four-day trip to the Michigan headquarters of Herman Miller, the designer furniture manufacturer, for himself and two other school employees when there was a showroom 25 miles from the school. Fehte has denied doing anything wrong.
And Fehte may yet prevail in a “Wild West” environment where tax dollars are spent without regard or accountability to the taxpayers footing the bill. On Sunday, Jon Oliver’s HBO show Last Week Tonight featured the issue of private for-profit charters and the overall lack of fiscal and/or educational regulations in the industry.
Read the follow-up story on El Camino Charter High School by the LA Daily News here. El Camino Charter High School is encouraging parents who wish to be updated to visit their website.
The Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based nonpartisan think tank, concluded in a report released Tuesday that public school educators wages have not kept pace with compensation in other professions. In the past two decades, teachers have gone from earning 1.8 percent less on average than other comparable workers to 17 percent less, adjusted for inflation. When factoring in health benefits and pensions, teachers earned the same as other workers with college degrees in 1994 but 11 percent less by 2015, the report found.
The study suggests California will face an uphill battle in addressing the growing teacher shortage as graduates with excessive college debt turn to professions with higher pay and benefits.
Read the Ed Source piece here.
An Istanbul court issued a warrant accusing Pennsylvania-based charter school mogul Fethullah Gülen for orchestrating the failed 15 July coup attempt aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Gülen, whose 120 for-profit charter schools are publicly-funded and founded by individuals who are secretly followers of the imam. Allegations from former Gülen educators include poor pay and no curricular support. Collectively they form a worldwide covert network called the Gulen Movement.
Read the original story published in the Guardian.