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Madfloridian's Journal
Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Apr 11th 2010, 09:27 PM
I am amazed at how fast this is moving. It is like a tidal wave engulfing public schools and the teachers. Not enough money or time for teachers to stop it or even fight back.

DC schools under the leadership of Michelle Rhee are heading to a vote on merit pay that will be funded by the Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and also a billionaire hedge fund manager called the John Arnold Foundation.

These groups will apparently provide about 64 million to underwrite a merit pay plan for DC teachers.

From Labor Notes:

DC Teachers to Vote on Privately Funded Merit Pay Plan

Washington Teachers Union President George Parker and DC Schools Chief Michelle Rhee announced a tentative agreement this week. Flanked by Mayor Adrian Fenty and AFT President Randi Weingarten, the two lined up behind a deal that would institute a privately funded merit pay plan while continuing to whittle away at teacher job security. Photo: Washington Teachers Union.

After nearly three years without a contract, Washington Teachers Union President George Parker and DC Schools Chief Michelle Rhee announced a tentative agreement this week. Flanked by Mayor Adrian Fenty and AFT President Randi Weingarten, the two lined up behind a privately-funded agreement that would institute merit pay while continuing to whittle away at teacher job security. The agreement is sure to receive scrutiny from teachers and city council. The council’s financial officer has yet to approve the newfangled funding mechanism, which draws on foundation money.

..."Contract talks stalled, but Rhee’s slash-and-burn agenda didn’t. She resurrected an obscure district law to put hundreds of teachers (including outspoken critics) on 90-day evaluation plans, which led to an untold number of terminations. Last fall, she used the district’s emergency powers to pursue a “reduction in force.” She fired 266 more teachers in a move that drew the ire of students—who walked out of several schools in protest—and a rebuke from City Council President Vincent Gray, who brought her before the council to explain the firings.

Here's how it will work if approved.

The actual decision to hire a teacher at a particular school would depend on a principal’s consent. And in making the placements, principals would now prioritize teacher "performance," as determined by Rhee’s new evaluation system, over years of experience. WTU President Parker touts a side agreement that would form a working group to review details of the evaluation system—which by law, teachers can’t negotiate over. Teachers haven’t yet had access to those side agreements before the vote.

Across-the-board raises of 20 percent over five years (retroactive to 2007) and the merit pay system are to be funded to the tune of $65 million in private money from the anti-union Walton and Broad Foundations—and others. The unprecedented move to let private donors underwrite merit pay is Rhee’s attempt to show that D.C. schools are serious about upping test scores and tying teacher evaluations to them—a key criterion for winning federal money in the Race to the Top competition.

Rhee is a good investment for the foundations’ corporate-style overhaul of education, which seeks to bust the unions, dismantle schools, and turn them over to private charter operators.
And this deal could protect her job.

Dismantling schools, firing teachers, hiring private charter operators...and letting anti-union corporations provide funds for teachers merit pay.

My mind is blown away thinking how much influence this will give those companies over the teachers. Probably eventually over the teaching agenda as well. Money buys power and gives control.

Here is more from The Washington Post DC Insider on Rhee's Houston connection with the hedge fund managers.

Rhee's Houston Connection

Rhee funds contract with Houston connection

A Houston foundation created by a billionaire hedge fund manager who began his career as a trader for Enron would finance part of the proposed contract between DCPS and the Washington Teachers' Union. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation would provide $10 million of the $64.5 million Rhee has assembled to pay for teacher raises and performance bonuses under the tentative agreement announced this week.

While a couple of the names in the private funding mix, Eli and Edythe Broad and the Walton Family Foundation, are highly recognizable brands in the world of educational philanthropy, the Arnolds are relatively new players. Their IRS Form 990 for 2008 lists a $5 million donation to Baylor College of Medicine and another $5 million to Texas Children's Hospital. Published reports say they provided $10 million for a major expansion of the KIPP and YES public charter schools in Houston.

Their money for the teachers' contract would be limited to underwriting the merit pay program that Rhee plans to initiate this fall, according to Cate Swinburn, president and executive director of the D.C. Public Education Fund, the non-profit that will manage the private grants for DCPS. The same restriction applies to the $10 million pledged by Broad. The $44.5 million from the Walton and Robertson foundations could be used for both bonuses and the 20 percent salary increase that is also built into the contract.

A Florida county school district has already joined with the Gates Foundation to set up their merit pay plan. 100 million from Gates is bound to give the Gates Foundation influence.

100 million from Gates Foundation for merit pay in Hillsborough County, Florida.

From last year...they did get the grant. It has at least exempted the county from the disastrous bill passed this week by the Florida legislature. Guess it pays to get Bill's money...likely others will be standing in line.

Now the Hillsborough County school system stands on the verge of getting a $100 million boost from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to emulate that model. The district — already a finalist in the foundation's latest, $500 million effort to remake U.S. public education by improving teacher effectiveness — was asked this week to submit a contract to carry out its proposal.

Officials say districts in Memphis, Omaha, and Pittsburgh received similar requests, along with a group of Los Angeles charter schools.

"We really see this as groundbreaking work to be done in education," said superintendent MaryEllen Elia. "And we want to be the ones doing it."

Hillsborough County also has joined with the Walton Foundation for corporate vouchers for children who are financially disadvantaged. That exempts the foundation from paying taxes on that money....and it takes tax money from the public schools.

There are many ways to skin a cat...many ways to infiltrate public education.

In a move that experts are calling nearly unprecedented, the Hillsborough County schools and teachers' union have joined forces with a nonprofit Florida voucher group to help train private school teachers.

Step Up for Students — which runs the state's tax credit voucher program — plans to spend at least $100,000 on classes for teachers who serve its scholarship students, among the county's most economically disadvantaged children. The school district and union will provide space in the jointly developed Center for Technology and Education.

"Bottom line is these are our children, they are disadvantaged children, and they often return to our public schools," said Jean Clements, president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers' Association. "I want them to get the best possible education, wherever they get it."

Most of the children, who receive up to $3,950 a year in tuition under the Florida Tax Credit. Around 23,400 students were served last year in the Florida voucher program, which gives corporations a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on donations. The new training program is funded by contributions from the Walton Family Foundation and John Kirtley, the chairman of Step Up for Students.

The Walton Foundation will profit from this venture by paying less taxes.

Other groups offer corporate vouchers to the poor. Last I heard Florida would lose about 31 million next year and up to 228 million in future years from taxes to fund needed services.

The attacks on public education are coming from all sides now. Charter companies have funded parents groups to fight for them and disparage public schools. It was even found out that Green Dot was paying parents to sign a petition to favor their charter schools.

Public schools don't have the money to fight, and teachers are under assault from all directions.

Seems the inevitable is about to happen under a Democratic administration.

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