New Hampshire’s Senate Bill 503 Would Allow “Pay For Success” Social Impact Bonds In Pre-Schools

New Hampshire has a current bill which would allow investors to finance pre-schools in an effort to prevent special education remediation.  This “pay for success” program is actually Social Impact Bonds.  This latest craze by investors in education is extremely dangerous and should not even be a consideration anywhere in a child’s education.  It is a system that has the potential to be widely abused in order for outside corporations to make money off student outcomes.

New Hampshire’s Senate Bill 503 has already gone through their Senate and will be heard in their House Education Committee on Tuesday, April 5th at 10am in the New Hampshire General Court.

I have to wonder what state legislators across the country are even thinking anymore.  They are selling out public education to corporations and investors.  New Hampshire couldn’t even give this an accurate fiscal note because it is, when you break it down, a bet.  A bet that had disastrous consequences in Utah and Chicago Public Schools according to education blogger Fred Klonsky.  I wrote about how the legislative apparatus for Social Impact Bonds already happened in Delaware and just today, the Delaware Republican Senate caucus revealed a Poverty Agenda Plan that includes Social Impact Bonds as one of their steps to eliminate poverty.  While it is not known if this plan would include educational “pay for success” programs, I know not all of the GOP Senators in Delaware would even want this kind of program in education.

Most of the Social Impact Bond activities in education would seem to be a violation of federal IDEA special education law.  Corporations and special education are like oil and water.  The former has no reason to be involved at all while the latter is a necessary step towards success for students with disabilities.  Response to Intervention is not a replacement for special education, but far too many states seem to think it is.  And now big business wants to bet that it is.  Response to Intervention (RTI) is based on reading skills and ignores the whole gamut of other areas a disability could come into play.  The only reason states want kids reading by 3rd grade is so they can take the state assessment and let the data gravy train speed up.  Both RTI and Social Impact Bonds are anti-special education measures.  By denying child find, as dictated by IDEA, it is setting up a child with disabilities to fail at an early age.  Both RTI and “Pay for Success” programs in education should be abolished immediately.  The fact the US Government is promoting these kinds of programs is even more troubling.

States with passed Social Impact Bond legislation or have “Pay For Success” programs already in place are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio (Cuyahoga County), Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C. and Wisconsin.  The United States government has several “Pay for Success” and “Social Innovation Funds” projects going on, including a part written into the Every Student Succeeds Act. (source: PayForSuccess.org)

Earlier this month, a second attempt for “Pay For Success” legislation died in Florida.  Other states that explored them but never implemented them are Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey (a bill was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie), Rhode Island, and Vermont.

If I were a parent of a toddler or pre-schooler in New Hampshire, I would voice my concerns with their House Education Committee immediately!  This is absolutely the most disgusting thing I have ever heard of in education and makes all that came before pale in comparison.

New Mexico ACLU Complaint Could Have Huge Impact For Teachers Nationwide

The New Mexico American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint yesterday with the First Judicial District Court of Santa Fe County.  The plaintiffs, five public school teachers and a parent, allege that the New Mexico Public Education Department is violating their First Amendment rights by forbidding them to talk negatively about standardized assessments.

The concerns are serious, touching on one of the most basic functions of government, public education.  They include criticisms that government officials have prioritized profit and politics over public education; have fundamentally changed education, as teachers must now devote significant hours to teaching to the tests, not their students’ actual education needs; and have ignored that the tests are often developmentally inappropriate and traumatic for some students with disabilities.

The teachers and the parent work or live in the Santa Fe and Albuquerque Public School districts.  Both districts give parents the right to opt their children out of standardized tests, but state law forbids teachers from “disparaging” standardized tests.  The teachers and the parent this robs educators of the ability to advocate for students when they have first-hand knowledge of what high-stakes tests do to students.  They also allege these tests give school districts false labels in accountability measures.

I could easily see this case, if not won at a state level, advancing even higher.  It was only a matter of time before this country saw a case like this.  This could have far-reaching implications for opt out across the country.  If the plaintiff wins, it could be used as precedent in other cases across America.  If they lose, I would certainly hope they would appeal.  I truly wouldn’t mind if a case like this wound up in the United States Supreme Court so the decision on parental rights is made once and for all by the highest court in the country.

New Mexico uses the PARCC as their state assessment.

I salute these five teachers and parent for bringing this case forward as well as the ACLU for taking the case.  It is about time people stood up for their own rights, student rights, and parent rights.  I will be following this case closely going forward!  To read the full complaint, please see below:

Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn Talks About School Fights, Bullying, and Senate Bill 207

It must be Matt Denn day here at Exceptional Delaware!  In any event, Delaware Attorney General appeared on Comcast Newsmakers with Jill Horner on March 21st to talk about Senate Bill 207.  This legislation would make it so schools do not have to call the police every time there is a fight in a Delaware public school.  The schools still could, but they would have discretion based on the circumstances and the potential of serious injury.  As well, SB207 would mandate schools disclose the contact information for the Ombudsman at the DOJ who deals with school bullying issues to parents.

A Message From Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn About IEPs And DOE Surveys

Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn wants all parents of students with disabilities with an IEP to read this message!  As part of the IEP Task Force recommendations back in 2014 which became part of Senate Bill 33 last year, the Delaware DOE is required to send surveys out to a representative number of families where a child has an IEP.  The goal of the survey is to see how our schools are doing with the IEP process and implementation.  I strongly urge all parents in Delaware who  have a child with an IEP to take this survey.  Thank you.

“Dear Friends,

I am writing to ask for your assistance in ensuring that our schools are complying with their legal responsibilities to provide appropriate services to students with disabilities. One of the recommendations of the IEP Improvement Task Force that I chaired was to survey families specifically about their experience with the IEP process, so the state could determine if particular schools or districts were failing to comply with their legal responsibilities to children with disabilities. The General Assembly enacted legislation last year requiring the Department of Education to conduct this survey. The Department of Education, through the Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware, is mailing such a survey out to the homes of a randomized group of approximately 5,000 students with IEPs. In addition to these mailed surveys, we have also created an online version which will allow families who do not receive the mailed survey to share their experience. While we request permission to contact the responding families if there are concerns about their responses, they may choose to participate anonymously.

I ask you to share the web address for this online survey with the families of children you serve and encourage their participation, so we can try to ensure that all children with disabilities in our state receive the support to which they are entitled.”

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2T789KW

Sincerely,

Matt Denn

JP Morgan Chase Teams Up With CCSSO For Corporate Race To The Top

JP Morgan Chase will be giving away $75 million in grants over the next five years to different states in their “New Skills For Youth” program.  The goal is to implement career readiness programs in order to have more students ready to enter the workforce.  This is all part of the original design, detailed in a letter to Hillary Clinton 24 years ago.

What is interesting is who is on the advisory committee JP Morgan Chase used for this initiative.  We have the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, and the Education Strategy Group.  The CCSSO was instrumental in launching Common Core on unsuspecting states.  But the last of these groups is very interesting given one of their recent hires this year.

Remember Ryan Reyna?  This former Delaware Department of Education employee was the Director of the Accountability unit under Penny Schwinn.  Schwinn and Reyna were the dynamic duo in charge of creating Delaware’s new accountability system.  You know, the one with the participation rate penalty that would punish schools for opt outs over 5% of the school or any sub-group.

From their bio for Ryan Reyna:

Ryan joined ESG in 2016 to support ESG’s overall college and career readiness strategy.  He leads the organization’s efforts to help states bring stronger, more impactful career-focused indicators into their K-12 accountability systems to ensure that those systems measure and value students’ readiness for the 21st century world of work.

What I didn’t know about Reyna was that before he came to the Delaware DOE, he worked at the National Governor’s Association in their Center for Best Practices.  And take a wild guess what he did there?

At the NGA Center, Ryan led the division’s support of governors’ offices on numerous issues, including college and career ready standards, assessment, accountability, and transitions into postsecondary education and training. He also previously held Senior Policy Analyst and Policy Analyst positions at the NGA Center and worked as a Research Associate at the Data Quality Campaign.

Even Education Strategy Group’s Founder and President has some deep ties to corporate education reform.  Matt Gandal worked as a Senior Advisor to former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and prior to that he was an executive vice-president at Achieve Inc.  Gandal was one of the key players in the American Diploma Project which led to the creation of the Common Core State Standards.  From his bio with Education Strategy Group:

He helped found the organization and was responsible for overseeing its major initiatives, including the American Diploma Project which helped 35 states advance college and career readiness policies; the Common Core State Standards Initiative which resulted in 45 states adopting rigorous academic standards; and National Education Summits that brought together governors, CEOs and education leaders from across the country to commit to ambitious reforms.

Both he and Delaware Governor Jack Markell took part in a “Colloquim” run by the Hope Street Group in January, 2013.  One of the main goals of this gathering of corporate education reformers was, you guessed it, career pathways.  If you aren’t familiar with the Hope Street Group, former Delaware Deputy Secretary of Education Dan Cruce is an executive Vice-President there.  He served under Lillian Lowery when she held the role for a few years when Jack Markell became Governor of Delaware.

For the states who submitted applications for this grant from JP Morgan Chase, the selection committee included the following: IBM, Southern Regional Education Board, CLASP, James Irvine Foundation, Jobs For The Future, New America, National Governor’s Association, US Chamber and Chamber Foundation, National Skills Coalition, the Aspen Foundation, a high school principal, and a former Kentucky Commissioner of Education.  Look at their bios.  Follow the trail of breadcrumbs from one corporate education reform company to the next.

It was only a matter of time before financial institutions got involved in these “pathways to prosperity”.  In a letter to the editor that appeared in USA Today back in January, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and University of Maryland, Baltimore County President Freeman Hrabowski stated:

Awarding grants to U.S. states will encourage them to implement career and technical education programs that correspond to the needs of area employers. High-quality, rigorous career technical programs would arm students with the skills to work as aviation mechanics, nursing technicians or IT specialists. The result is great jobs.

And so begins the Corporate Race To The Top.  But I doubt JP Morgan Chase will be the only company doing this.  Yesterday, Bank of America’s lead for corporate communications, none other than Tony Allen himself, had a very interesting tweet:

So I’m sure we can expect more of this from Bank of America and other big banking corporations out there.  It seems like many states are jumping on this Career-Technical Education bandwagon.

Read the “Dear Hillary” letter if you haven’t already.  This was planned a quarter of a century ago.  This isn’t a Republican or Democrat thing.  It is a Corporate thing.  Designed for the vast majority of society to be given a pre-determined career path based on standardized test scores.  To keep the bulk of the population in low-paying jobs while the top 1-5% keep the control.  Think about it, if students are “guided” toward certain career trajectories, they will most likely serve that job for the rest of their life.  Everyone will have their designated role in life while the fat cats reap the profits. 

We hear big companies talking all the time about the cost of training employees.  By getting rid of that and having public education do all the training, guess who pays for it?  The taxpayers.  While the big companies score even more profit.  Do you really think they are doing this to help disadvantaged students?  These are some of the same companies that caused the housing collapse and the worst recession this country has ever seen.  That wasn’t even ten years ago folks!  Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if it was one day revealed these companies wanted that to happen so they could implement all of this.  Where did all the funding for Common Core and Race To The Top come from?  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. 

The major players in the corporate education reform movement have been at this for a long time, well before Common Core became a headache for parents helping their kids with math homework.  We have Bill & Melinda Gates, Marc Tucker, and Matt Gandal as some of the key figureheads in everything that has come to pass since 1992.  Their policies and agendas have become embedded in nearly every single state’s educational and workforce landscape.  It is the complete restructuring and redesigning of American society.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell is actually a big piece of this puzzle, and has been for a long time.

These plans, long in scope and design, include corporate leaders, members of Congress, a couple Presidents, non-profit companies, state legislators, and every single education think tank and organization that has been paid one cent or more since 2009.  If they received money from Race To The Top, they are in on it.  And now, with personalized learning becoming the “next big thing”, we see companies like Schoology benefitting immensely from this charade we call corporate education reform.  You can read about this grand design in a blog from one of the pilot states for the personalized learning and Competency-Based Education guinea pigs.

Teachers as we know them now will be a thing of the past in just a few short years.  They will become moderators of the personalized learning and competency-based education platforms.  The teacher’s unions will disappear.  Student data will flow freely from the states to even more companies because they will now be considered “education agencies” based on initiatives like today’s announcement by JP Morgan Chase.  Our children are mere cattle for investors.  They will hedge bets on student outcomes and they will profit off these as well.  And for every single standardized test your child takes, no longer a once a year cram but a series of small high-stakes tests, your child’s uniqueness and individuality will disappear into the abyss as they become another drone of Corporate America’s Workforce.  They won’t have the ability or capability of being able to have independent thought.  They will be programmed and conditioned for their career pathway and you won’t be able to do a damn thing about it.

This is why the opposition against opt out is so huge among the education-workforce players.  Opt out kills their plans.  As former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said at a Senate meeting on opt out, “The data is important to us.”  You bet it is!  Without it, these plans are dead in the water.  Opt out now.  Seriously.  What more do you need to know to convince you?  If you are thinking “it won’t happen to my child”, think again.  It already is.  What can you do?  Stand tall and offer resistance.

beavoicenotanecho

From the Delaware DOE’s press announcement on the JP Morgan Chase “Corporate Race To The Top” initiative:

Delaware wins grant to develop plan to improve career preparation systems

The Delaware Department of Education has secured a $100,000 grant to develop a detailed career readiness action plan, which is an essential step to expanding economic opportunity for young people across the First State.

“Delaware has made tremendous progress in aligning our education and workforce development systems through Governor Jack Markell’s Delaware Pathways initiative,” Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky said. “We are thrilled that these funds will further create opportunities for students to earn industry-recognized credentials and early college credits to accelerate their career goals.”

Delaware is among 24 states and the District of Columbia that secured grants for this work through phase one of New Skills for Youth grant opportunity. The grants are one piece of a $75 million, five-year initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Advance CTE, aimed at increasing economic opportunity for young people by strengthening career-focused education, starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with business needs.

Today, too few young people are receiving the education or training in high school and beyond that would put them on a track to qualify for these careers. By the age of 25, only about half of young Americans have a meaningful postsecondary credential that enables them to compete for good jobs, and the U.S. youth unemployment rate is more than double the national rate.

In Delaware, the 2014 youth (age 20-24) unemployment rate for men was 15.8 percent. For women, it was 8.8 percent. This is compared to 5.8 percent for all other age demographics. For men and women of color, the youth unemployment rate was even higher at 18 percent for African American and 11.1 percent for Hispanic youth.

Through phase one of New Skills for Youth, Delaware and other selected states will each receive a $100,000 six-month grant, in addition to expert technical assistance and peer support from other grantees, to perform a diagnostic assessment of their career preparation system and prepare for implementation of a new action plan.

Through Governor Markell’s Delaware Pathways initiative, Delaware has revamped career and technical education (CTE) to ensure youth have the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials and early college credit to accelerate their career goals. And, these opportunities are expanding quickly. By the 2016-17 school year, more than 5,000 students in 29 of 44 public high schools will be enrolled in state-model pathway programs aligned to areas of high demand in Delaware’s economy. These programs include: finance, allied health, culinary and hospitality management, CISCO networking, computer science, manufacturing logistics and production, manufacturing/engineering technology, biomedical science, and engineering.

This work is further accelerated through the Delaware Pathways Strategic Plan, which was unveiled in February 2016 to more than 300 educators and employers.

“This grant is a testament to Delaware’s focus on preparing our students to leave high school college and career ready and well positioned to compete for the in-demand jobs driven by today’s global economy,” Governor Markell said.  “We’ll put it to good use to help ensure that we meet our commitment to the Delaware Promise that we announced last year, that by 2025, the percentage of Delawareans with a college degree or professional certificate will match the percentage of our jobs that will require one – 65 percent.”

States across the country are adjusting their career readiness programs to ensure they adequately prepare students for their next step after graduation, said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. “States have seized this grant opportunity to pursue bold plans for pathways that will put kids on a course for success after high school and beyond.”

Chauncy Lennon, head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase, said, “We must address the youth career crisis, and it starts in our schools. These grants kick start an effort to ensure career and technical education systems are better aligned with the needs of business and leaders throughout states are committed to tackling youth employment.”

An independent advisory committee recommended phase one grant recipients after a rigorous review process that considered states’ proposed plans, cross-sector partnerships, and demonstrated commitment and capacity to transform their systems of career preparation according to the grant guidelines.  In the judgment of the advisory committee, the selected states showed promise in their career readiness plans and indicated strongly that this work is a priority for them.

Delaware, and the other phase one planning grant states, will be eligible to apply for the phase two grant opportunity, which will require states to demonstrate the commitment and capacity to execute the action plans developed in phase one.

This grant opportunity builds on CCSSO’s Career Readiness Initiative, launched in 2015 to help close the skills gap in this country. The goal is to ensure that students are not only college-ready, but that all children also graduate from high school prepared for careers.

CCSSO’s work has been guided by the recommendations made in Opportunities and Options, a report of CCSSO’s Career Readiness Task Force.

The report encourages states to make high school programs more responsive to the labor market by enlisting the employer community as a lead partner; significantly raise the threshold for quality career pathways in secondary schools; and make career preparation matter to schools and students, in part by expanding accountability systems to emphasize career readiness.

Go back and click on all the links in the Delaware DOE press release.  Find out if your state is a part of this budding enterprise.  Research, write it down, and expose.  If you don’t have an avenue to do so, reach out to me.  There are plenty of ways to get information out there.

One final thought.  If you go to this JP Morgan Chase document, go all the way to the bottom of the last page on the right.  Look at the footnotes, #12.  A report from the Center for American Progress, the creator of the bogus “Testing Bill of Rights” released last week (not to be confused with the valid Parent Bill of Rights for Education that I created last week in response, for which you can sign a petition on at Change.org).  Notice the name of the author of that report in the footnotes: Sarah Ayres.  Who JP Morgan Chase discloses is now an employee of JP Morgan Chase.  This is how it is in corporate education reform.  People jumping from one position to the next.  Working for state Departments of Education at one point.  Thousands of players, involved in any potential place where education policy is discussed.

Read through that link very carefully.  Look at what states will be required to do to receive this Corporate Race To The Top seed money.  The changes they will need to make.  And then go look at the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Read through it very carefully, absorbing every single word.  While doing so, keep this article in mind and what the new federal education law is really about.  How it was rushed out in its final wording and how many organizations blindly accepted it.  Once again, they were either fooled or they already knew about all of this.

Other recipients of JP Morgan Chase’s “Corporate Race To The Top” career-readiness agenda are Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, and Montana.  At press time, these were the only states I could find press releases on in this first phase of the New Skills For Youth plan.

 

 

Delaware GOP Poverty Plan Would Bring Social Impact Bonds & Glorified Vouchers To Delaware

Matt Albright with the Delaware News Journal unveiled the Delaware Republican Senate’s Poverty Plan before it was even presented to Delaware lawmakers.  Included in these 11 potential ideas are two items that are highly disdained by advocates for public education: Social Impact Bonds and school vouchers.

As if we haven’t learned enough from the problems with corporations dipping into education waters, the Delaware GOP wants Social Impact Bonds, or “Pay For Success” programs in Delaware.  I wrote about how Delaware opened the door for Social Impact Bonds last month.  This is extremely dangerous for any public education system.  Having corporations get the ability to earn a profit from student measures is a potential minefield.  If a goal, for example, is to have 95% of students in a pre-school not get special education in the elementary school system based on early interventions in reading, how do we know the results won’t be pushed towards that goal regardless of what a student actually needs?  As well, for some students, a disability may not manifest until a later age.  We have seen how Goldman Sachs attempted this in another state with very controversial results.  Social Impact Bonds have no place in K-12 education.  Students should not be fodder for corporate investment.

Also included in the poverty plan is a form of school vouchers called “Scholarship Tax Credits”.  This latest round of tax credits in Delaware would give additional tax credit to those who donate to non-profits for the purpose of scholarships to low-income students to attend private schools.  This is just another way of getting a school voucher system going.  If this point were brought into legislation, it would recognize school vouchers as an additional education funding mechanism in Delaware.  This is something Governor Markell opposes on any level.  This is one of those rare areas where the two of us are in agreement.  Vouchers would further deplete traditional school districts of funding when they are already losing a great deal of local and state funding to charter schools and other choice schools.

There are some other Easter eggs in this plan that concern me.  The plan calls for removing some restrictions from federal grants aimed at fighting poverty.  Instead of allocations to certain areas, the Delaware GOP wants those restrictions lifted.  This could result in the Delaware Department of Education wanting funds to go towards more “focus” or “priority” schools.  While most can agree schools with high concentrations of poverty certainly need more money, once the Delaware DOE gets involved, there is no guarantee those funds would make it into the classroom.  We saw that happen with Race To The Top funds where the DOE got half of the $119 million the state won.  Instead of actually making a difference with that money, most of it went to outside vendors whose reports made Delaware schools look bad and our State Longitudinal Data System, which makes it possible for corporate education reformers to get student data and use it to their advantage.

The part of the plan that also concerns me is an idea concerning more people entering the workforce as an apprentice.  The article in the News Journal specifically mentions Zip Code Wilmington, which is run by Ben DuPont.  The DuPont family is a huge influence on the Delaware GOP.  They are also a huge influence on Delaware charter schools.  They run the Longwood Foundation which has donated millions of dollars to Delaware charter schools.  This is just more of the same.  Governor Markell’s “Pathways to Prosperity” program is clearly designed to track students into certain career paths.  I covered a great deal of this master plan a couple weeks ago  and I have to wonder how much of it is included in this poverty agenda.  I know, many will assume I am looking for things that don’t exist.  They said the same thing when I said the Smarter Balanced Assessment will replace the SAT.  While it was the opposite, the SAT became more like the Smarter Balanced Assessment when the College Board retooled the SAT to align with Common Core.

One glaring omission about a whole agenda to lift folks out of poverty is no mention of increased wages.  The Delaware GOP consistently, as a majority of their party, fights against minimum wage increases.  That should be the first step to decreasing poverty.  Families can’t survive on the minimum wage.  It just isn’t possible.  While the plan concedes not all members of the GOP Delaware Senate agree on all of these ideas, it opens the door to Delaware Democrats who may actually want to see programs like Social Impact Bonds in Delaware.  Like everything in Delaware, it will come down to who is involved with any type of task forces or committees if this gets to that point.

To read the entire plan, see below: