"It’s almost like a parallel government structure has been created."
September 19, 2015 11:31 PM   Subscribe

Who's Funding Kevin Johnson's Secret Government? — Deadspin's detailed report on a developing scandal involving Sacramento, California mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson's alleged misuse of the power of his office to benefit for-profit charter schools.
Johnson is husband to Michelle Rhee, the controversial school-privatization activist, and there is considerable evidence that their shared desire to turn public schools into engines of profit for private actors is what has driven much, if not most, of Johnson's more recent wrongdoing. Despite, or perhaps because of, this, he's enjoyed the profile and appointments of a national figure on the make: public appearances with President Barack Obama, portrayal as a latter-day Metternich by The New York Times, and the patronage of serious players like Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates.

A new scandal, though, is putting Johnson's rise at serious risk. It involves the mayor replacing civil servants with private citizens funded by the Wal-Mart empire and tasked with the twin purposes of working to abolish public education and bring in piles of cash for Kevin Johnson.

The rising star, it seems, set up a fake government-and some people are starting to notice.

[...]

Ballard Spahr's filing also, though, exposes a bizarre and secretive aspect of Johnson's administration: Lots of folks who used Sacramento city government titles and worked out of City Hall while doing Johnson's dirty work in the NCBM fiasco were in fact not employed by the city government. They were instead charter school advocates, funded by charter school ideologues, who kept their true allegiances and mission hidden.

[...]

With private operatives working out of City Hall and masquerading as public employees, the question is who's bankrolling them-and the rest of the mayor's off-the-reservation missions. It's not hard to answer. Consider that since his 2008 election, Johnson has requested and received millions of dollars for Stand Up, the group that employed the fake civil servants, from the Walton Family Foundation, a conservative grant-giver backed by the founders of Wal-Mart and known for being hell-bent on spreading its pro-charter school gospel. Between 2012 and 2014, while he was planning and executing his NCBM coup, Johnson reported at least six grants from that foundation totaling $1.625 million.

And that's just the Wal-Mart money the public knows about...

[...]

In early 2013, members of Johnson's "education team," made up of both real mayoral staffers and phonily-titled Stand Up employees, received published guidelines on how to raise more money for the non-profit. Johnson's minions were told to be sure to arrange meetings between foundation heads and "MKJ & MR"-meaning Mayor Kevin Johnson and Michelle Rhee-in hopes of bringing in more grants. Johnson put the Wal-Mart money to work. A document outlining the agenda for a meeting of his education team held at City Hall in February 2013 highlights discussion of the "national mobilization" of Stand Up and the targeting of the "National Conference of Black Legislators." No non-profit or foundation with that exact name exists as far as we can tell, but it's likely no coincidence that just weeks after that meeting, Johnson unveiled the battle plan for his takeover of the National Conference of Black Mayors, in the form of a PowerPoint titled "National Meeting `Coup.'"

[...]

What’s now becoming clear is the way various Johnson scandals connect and feed off of one other. In one theory of the case, the mayor’s function as an operative of Wal-Mart and other moneyed players seeking to use the idea of school reform as a way to turn public education into private, for-profit enterprise led to the NCBM coup, which led to the SN&R’s public-records requests, which led to Johnson suing the newspaper and the city in an attempt to cover up his dealings.
posted by tonycpsu (53 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Screwed Seattle out of getting their NBA team as well. Hope he goes down...
posted by Windopaene at 11:36 PM on September 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


A pretty good sign that you're doing something wrong is when you can't tell anyone you're doing it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:59 PM on September 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


To put it another way, Fuck these people so hard and I hope this brings down everything awful Michelle Rhee has stood for.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:00 AM on September 20, 2015 [20 favorites]


Goddamn this guy is crooked. How the hell did he get re-elected again? I don't live in Sac (thank goodness), and I figured that he won at least the first time for being a jock, but... seriously, every day he is doing crooked shit and that was pretty apparent during the first term. It's amazing. And then he's always trying to get that "strong mayor" thing passed on every fucking ballot and every single time the voters shoot it down. I CAN'T IMAGINE WHY.
I have been enjoying the SN&R's taking him down like every week and I hope they fare well in the future.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:04 AM on September 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow. How could things like this go on for so long?
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:48 AM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


KJ and Rhee are both going to crash very very hard. Sooner rather than later.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:36 AM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Never trust a Point Guard that plays like a Shooting Guard.
posted by srboisvert at 2:39 AM on September 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


Hey now, keep my man Lillard out of this.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:45 AM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Johnson is a youngish, attractive Democrat

Aren't all California Democrats owned by the teacher's unions? I can't tell from the bias in the article if the lynch mob is after him for being corrupt or for threatening the idea that public schools are supposed to be engines of profit for public employees. Trotting out the racist trope of sexual predator against a black mayor does little to add credibility to the overall accusations.
posted by three blind mice at 4:12 AM on September 20, 2015


It involves the mayor replacing civil servants with private citizens funded by the Wal-Mart empire and tasked with the twin purposes of working to abolish public education and bring in piles of cash for Kevin Johnson.

Sold.

I will pay $50,000 for that script if it can involve zombies, and you guys would be seeing it on Syfy in about 7 months.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:48 AM on September 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I can't tell from the bias in the article if the lynch mob is after him for being corrupt or for threatening the idea that public schools are supposed to be engines of profit for public employees.

What? Engines of profit for public employees? What does that even mean? Those high-rolling fat cat kindergarten teachers, perhaps?
posted by leotrotsky at 5:01 AM on September 20, 2015 [60 favorites]


Oddly enough, in Georgia, where it is against the law for public school teachers to unionize, the governor is still trying to take over and privatize public schools. It's almost as though destroying public schools is the goal, and the justification is changed for different states.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:32 AM on September 20, 2015 [25 favorites]


Trotting out the racist trope of sexual predator against a black mayor does little to add credibility to the overall accusations.

Really?

Kevin Johnson has quite a history of inappropriate sexual conduct allegations involving children. From Slate:
2) Reports of inappropriate sexual behavior on Johnson's part towards five St. HOPE students, allegations that were uncovered in the course of the financial investigation. It doesn't appear that any legal action ensued, but two former St. HOPE staff members are on the record as having left the organization in protest when Johnson went unpunished.

3) A case from the 1990s involving the alleged molestation of a girl Johnson met when she was 15, which includes taped statements by Johnson that are, at the least, concerning ("the hug was more intimate than it should have been"). Johnson settled the case for $230,000.
From Deadspin:
According to the reports, while investigators were in Sacramento looking into the misuse of funds, they "became aware of allegations of inappropriate contact between Johnson and three female St. HOPE students." Walpin's office later "uncovered evidence of two other female St. HOPE students reporting Johnson for inappropriate sexual conduct towards them."

Walpin's team also was told of various efforts by Johnson and his allies to stonewall the investigations, including one alleged victim who'd said Johnson "offered her $1,000 a month," ostensibly in exchange for her silence.
From The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:
While in Sacramento, Agents Wingers and Morales became aware of allegations of inappropriate contact between Johnson and three female St. HOPE students. Mr. Johnson’s attorney, Kevin Hiestand, approached at least one of the students describing himself only as “a friend of Johnson’s,” and “basically asked me to keep quiet.” According to her interview with OIG investigators, about one week later, Kevin Johnson offered her $1,000 a month until the end of the program, which she refused to accept. Moreover, the OIG uncovered evidence of two other female St. HOPE students reporting Johnson for inappropriate sexual conduct towards them. These are not the first such allegations. Johnson was also accused of fondling a young woman in the mid 1990’s, but no charges were ever filed.
And Michelle Rhee was part of the cover-up, from the House Oversight report:
Michelle Rhee, who is currently Chancellor of the District of Columbia Schools, was a St. HOPE board member at the time. According to Wong-Hernandez, Rhee learned of the allegations and played the role of a fixer, doing “damage control.” Wong-Hernandez’s OIG interview summary states, “When there was a problem at St. HOPE, Ms. Rhee was there the next day taking care of the problem.” After Wong- Hernandez informed Rhee of the allegations of Johnson’s inappropriate sexual conduct, Rhee told her she was “making this her number one priority, and she would take care of the situation.” Soon after that, Wong-Hernandez heard that Kevin Johnson’s lawyer had contacted the victim. Wong-Hernandez resigned and told Rhee in her exit interview that her reason was St. HOPE’s handling of the incident. According to her OIG interview:
In 2007, AmeriCorps Member [redacted] told Ms. Wong-Hernandez that Mr. Johnson, while in [her] apartment, inappropriately touched her, and she described what happened....
Agents Wingers and Morales “immediately recognized what appeared to be improper handling of this allegation by St. HOPE and unethical conduct by Mr. Johnson’s attorney in investigating, supposedly on behalf of St. HOPE, a serious allegation of misconduct by that attorney’s business partner and client.” The mishandling of these allegations by Johnson and his attorney, coupled with the allegations of misappropriated grant funds by St. HOPE, gave rise to a series of subsequent visits to Sacramento by OIG Agents Wingers and Morales.
posted by peeedro at 5:46 AM on September 20, 2015 [26 favorites]


It's almost as though destroying public schools is the goal,...

Not almost...are

In its place is a comprehensive policy in which (1) NCLB promulgated and imposed metrics and impossible goals to close the most resource-deprived to rationalize allowing Charter schools a limited time to operate without the normal regulations in regard to zoning and unionized teachers while still funding them with public money. (2) Promote for-profit schools that emphasize excellence, such as Gates and others do, and (3) Fund small, new for-profits through vouchers-- that was the glorious, MBA driven plan, that vouchers would subsidize what markets eventually provide. But other than a handful of cities, vouchers (their actual value) hasn't been determined, the specifics can't be realized.

Its excuse is choice. Its rationale was it responded to parents unable to afford private schools and appalled at "the state of education" in their neighborhoods. When vouchers couldn't be politically pushed through, the next best thing was green-lighting homeschooling...the idea being (I think) homeschoolers might affiliate and demand a voucher system.

Its fictions are many and indomitable, a neoconservative assertion.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 6:07 AM on September 20, 2015 [17 favorites]


This (very long) article from The New Yorker about Corey Booker, charter schools, and the city of Newark describes the problems with the educational reform movement.
posted by Drab_Parts at 7:04 AM on September 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Kevin Johnson, not Larry Johnson. At first glance I was a bit shocked that Grandmama got elected mayor of Sacramento but then I remembered that California also elected Arnold.
posted by MikeMc at 7:55 AM on September 20, 2015


Does it not say something about where the U.S. is now that public schools for kids, which have always been run on tiny budgets, are now viewed as this wonderful opportunity to privatize so the wealthy can extract more money out of the system?
posted by jabah at 8:21 AM on September 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


And this is JUST the corruption that we KNOW about.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:29 AM on September 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Does it not say something about where the U.S. is now that public schools for kids, which have always been run on tiny budgets, are now viewed as this wonderful opportunity to privatize so the wealthy can extract more money out of the system?

I feel like I need to write this very carefully because I strongly believe in having a strong, universally available, public educational system. I got a good education in the public schools I want everybody to have (at least) that opportunity.

Having said that, and totally ignoring the situation this post is about, I believe it's possible to give the benefit of the doubt to another viewpoint. Namely, I think it's possible to view public education as a function that government shouldn't be doing, perhaps aside from funding people to get private educations, simply as a matter of political philosophy. I think it's possibly to believe this earnestly, without linking it to profits for private industry.

I also think it's possible to, without malice, believe that an entirely privately run education system, funded but not operated by the government, would be more (financially) efficient and (educationally) effective than that current system. Again, I don't personally think this is true, but I'm sure I could be persuaded given sufficient evidence.

Again, totally separate from the situation described in this post (which I think is awful), I think it's good to keep in mind that good people, with good intentions, can earnestly disagree about policy.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 10:09 AM on September 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Namely, I think it's possible to view public education as a function that government shouldn't be doing, perhaps aside from funding people to get private educations, simply as a matter of political philosophy.

Sure, but this is pretty thin gruel when so many actual instances of "education reform" have been exposed as nothing more than thinly-veiled looting of public funds for private gain. I'm sure there are people who honestly believe that upper-income tax cuts spur economic growth, but the fact that they've been unable to show any such effect despite being given many chances to do so has to be held against them at some point. The same goes for Rheeist education reform.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:18 AM on September 20, 2015 [28 favorites]


Just a few quick notes from Sacramento, specifically the St. Hope Academy neighborhood. I see Kevin Johnson all the time. Sometimes with Michelle.

The sexual misconduct allegations are real, there are a lot more that aren't substantial enough for court or even journalism. He likes high school girls, he started a high school. hmm.

He won re-election because no one with any money or polical clout. Basically he ran against 5 small fish who split the vote, And he won a lot of basketball fans over by building an area in a place where all of the freeways in Sacramento come together.

I am not sure why gawker has a beef against him, but I am glad they do. He is suing the Sacramento News and Review and they don't really have the money to fight him.
posted by Duffington at 10:28 AM on September 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


Again, totally separate from the situation described in this post (which I think is awful), I think it's good to keep in mind that good people, with good intentions, can earnestly disagree about policy.

When good people with good intentions find out what their earnest policy produces - over and over and over again - and think it's just bad actors and not the policy, they stop being "good people" and "earnest" and become simply "gullible chumps".
Dangerous gullible chumps.
posted by Alter Cocker at 11:52 AM on September 20, 2015 [19 favorites]


Wow. What an incredible set of articles. I love seeing journalism like this continue to exist outside of the traditional big-name outlets. Thank you so much for posting it here.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:40 PM on September 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


This whole thing is horrible. I note that Wal*Mart has it's greasy fingers all over this. I think Anonymous could have a little fun here.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:04 PM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


The role of government in a democratic republic is to provide the basic services we deem necessary to function as a society to everyone, regardless of means. (This is the ideal--we fail miserably at it here in the US, always have, probably always will.)

It has been shown time and again that "privatized" government services are less efficient and lead to worse outcomes than the same service provided by the government. Private industry claims to be able to "run leaner" but, as it turns out:
  • That "leanness" never leads it to being cheaper (the money goes to the fat cats running the service instead of the people doing the educating).
  • Nearly all of the people in the "bloated government" agency are there for good reasons--it takes a certain number of people to accomplish certain things.
Government-run schools (in theory) are also free of the influence of private sector interests like religion (but good luck ridding the US of puritan nutjobs). It is also using facts, as opposed to make-believe, as the basis for what kids are taught (again, good luck--however, the government at least tries; private schools are indoctrination centers for whatever the interests of the owners are).

Schools also are an important window into the welfare of citizens who essentially have no rights. Society has an interest in seeing that our children grow up free from abuse, malnutrition, neglect and other awful things. Children themselves need access to a trusted body where they can go for help if needed.

To argue for private schools is to argue any or all of the following:
  • An education is a privilege, not a right--nor necessary to meet the goals of the preamble to the constitution for the child.
  • That it is more important that the money we spend as a society on education ends up in a few private pockets than distributed across the pockets of the folks who work for the government educating our kids.
  • That government should not be able to interfere with the indoctrination of children into whatever their parents want them to believe, nor to have any say in how parents treat (or mistreat) their children.
  • That society as a whole sees no benefit from an educated populace.
posted by maxwelton at 1:30 PM on September 20, 2015 [25 favorites]


That "leanness" never leads it to being cheaper (the money goes to the fat cats running the service instead of the people doing the educating).

Case in point, the now state-run Philadelphia School District's disastrous contract with a private firm that's been trying to fill substitute teaching jobs. The company takes its cut, but the jobs go unfilled, because the pay is shitty, because the company took its cut.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:40 PM on September 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


Thanks maxwelton, well said.
I started worrying about the whole conversation about education when educators started using "get a job" as the essential reason to go to school.
We educate our children - all our children - so that one day they may become thoughtful citizens in a democracy and know how to evaluate a ballot.
That's enough reason to support a considerable bureaucracy.
Jobs are the purview of job training, (almost non existent) apprentice programs, trade schools (like MIT e.g.) etc.
posted by Alter Cocker at 1:51 PM on September 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


public schools are supposed to be engines of profit for public employees.

You really should get that head injury checked-out.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:06 PM on September 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm actually in favor of charter schools, but I'm also aware enough to see that many other proponents are dangerous zealots.
posted by miyabo at 3:56 PM on September 20, 2015


It's almost as though destroying public schools is the goal, and the justification is changed for different states.

Safe to say those vultures could care less about 'reforming education', except in the same sense that they reformed the International Workers of the World, or reformed Air Traffic Control, or reformed massive corruption and massive pocket-lining.

Making sure tax dollars wind up in the RIGHT pockets, moving ALL and ONLY potentially profitable taxpayer-funded orgs into their dominating influence are the only agenda ... that has NEVER been secret, just covert, as with most creeping reptilian things.
posted by Twang at 5:32 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile in San Francisco
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:29 PM on September 20, 2015


I assume that many folks advocating for charter schools have some sincere reasons to do so.

I personally have been certainly been convinced that FOR PROFIT charter schools are not a positive thing, for a ton of reasons that have been articulated in this thread, but to more depth in other threads.

That being said, I think one sincere reason for advocating for charter schools (or at the very least for serious reform to public schools) is that the current system DOES NOT WORK. Some folks are wary about teacher unions because they remember the awful teachers that had jobs that could not be fired. People are bewildered when they remember their school years or have children going through the school system how some teachers who obviously should not have a job are continuing to teach. Some of these teachers are apathetic, others are downright abusive, many are absolutely incompetent. They (critics of our current system) view the teachers union as the institution that protects incompetent and harmful teachers.

The critics of the current system view school as an institution that is incapable of preparing their kids for the world we live in. When collaboration is seen as cheating, when lecturing is seen as the way to impart information (in contradiction to studies that show this is not the most effective way to impart knowledge), when technology is rarely understood by teachers... The parents (and taxpayers) have immense frustration.

So a ton of people think that teaching methods should be drastically different than the ones employed. They also believe that the teachers union has a vested interest in the status quo. They believe that most teachers would be unwilling or unable to deal with fundamental changes in how they teach.

So, I think this is where a lot of the drive and demand for charter schools comes from.

Now, all that being said, private industry sees charter schools as a profit centre. And many folks are rightfully suspicious of the motives of those that would step in to replace public schools.

And any time privatization occurs there is ripe opportunity for corruption (some argue that the process itself is by definition a product of corruption).

Personally I think that public charter schools are the answer. That any organization that wants to run a school should be nonprofit.

Regardless, I think drastic reform that serves the entire population of children (instead of hand-picked children that for-profit schools deem worthy) would cost more money than we are currently spending, and don't think that people are willing to pay more taxes for such reform.

/rant
posted by el io at 9:50 PM on September 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I had some pretty bad teachers too even in a top tier public school system, but I'm pretty sure "bad teachers" as a factor in "bad schools" is a minor factor compared to funding discrepancies and (maybe more than anything) the home lives of the kids. And I'm pretty sure privatization advocates intentionally promote focus on this red herring.
posted by atoxyl at 10:33 PM on September 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is there any real evidence that the teachers in private schools are better at their jobs than the teachers in public schools? You have to factor in things like student nutrition, home life, class size, parent involvement, and a million other things.

I would think it would be very easy to be a "better" teacher to a class of 20 well-fed children (none of whom have learning impairments, in all likelihood) whose parents are wealthy and involved than a teacher in the public system with nearly twice the number of students, many of whom are hungry, some of whom have serious learning impairments, etc., etc.

I don't like the idea of private schools, but as long as their parents pay into the public system, it's a minor issue. But when private schools steal public funding, that's "fuck you, got mine".
posted by maxwelton at 10:35 PM on September 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


I would love if we could stop beating the "students literally can't learn" drum unless we are also going to acknowledge the extra flexibility charter schools have to address these problems (notably, longer school days and often longer school years that don't include the traditional summer break).

These kids can, in fact, learn. If you want to know why parents in many areas desperately want their kids out of public schools it is at least in part because of the attitude that their children can't learn. It is nonsense and it is often racist & classist nonsense to boot, no matter how much you wrap it in concern for the child who doesn't have adequate this or that at home. The child can learn. Give them the opportunity and they will.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:34 AM on September 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is there any real evidence that the teachers in private schools are better at their jobs than the teachers in public schools?

yeah, I'd like to know that, too. I had some spectacularly bad, and even abusive, teachers in private school, and because it was private, the school had the freedom to just say, "Shut up or GTFO" if anyone protested.

I would love if we could stop beating the "students literally can't learn" drum unless we are also going to acknowledge the extra flexibility charter schools have to address these problems (notably, longer school days and often longer school years that don't include the traditional summer break).

These kids can, in fact, learn. If you want to know why parents in many areas desperately want their kids out of public schools it is at least in part because of the attitude that their children can't learn. It is nonsense and it is often racist & classist nonsense to boot, no matter how much you wrap it in concern for the child who doesn't have adequate this or that at home. The child can learn. Give them the opportunity and they will.


You know what would make public schools better able to address the problems that give some students trouble learning? The funding that's being funneled away from them into charter schools.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:50 AM on September 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ok, as long as they use that funding to extend the school day and school year, I'm fine with that. And yes, they should pay the personnel required for that and not just tack more work onto already hard-working teachers.

The solution absolutely cannot be "well those kids are poor" and then we quit. It absolutely cannot be "this school is in a bad neighborhood" and then we quit. If those are your excuses for public schools, they are bad ones.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:55 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


People have tendencies that make private school problematic in other ways:
  • People give more credence to adults over children ("The principal assures me that bullying isn't a problem at St. Private, maybe if you tried being friendly!");
  • People believe that they are savvy consumers and that they're hard to rip off ("I seriously doubt St. Private would hire a teacher who does something like that");
  • People want to believe that writing a check equates to solving or being done with an issue ("I've done my part--you need to work harder, do you know how much it costs for you to attend St. Private?");
  • Private schools are almost certainly more inclined to "keep things quiet", making it difficult for students to get support for issues at home ("Stan, your daughter says you've been touching her inappropriately...is this true?");
  • Private schools can be completely opaque to scrutiny in any meaningful way ("Our staff is completely vetted, you'll understand if we cannot share that information with you.").
For the "wrong" kid, with the "wrong" home life, in the "wrong" school, there would be nowhere to turn.

Granted, there can be (will be?) problems at public school, but there are policies, public oversight, regulations (gasp) and, of course, people's built-in skepticism that government anything is a quality product. These work to keep the system honest, or at least provide a map to fix it if it isn't.

Now just give them the damn money they need to do the job, which is to give kids enough critical thinking skills that when they're adults they don't elect asswipes like Kevin Johnson.

(Complete aside: a certification or degree should be a standard accreditation--the origin of said accreditation should not be a legal basis for hiring a particular candidate, nor something the employer should be able to ask about. Ideally, proof would be a national register able to be queried: "Yes, person 123456789 earned a Bachelor of Science, April 2015." This, with some actual teeth behind it, might interrupt the vicious chain of "must attend" institutions needed to be a successful candidate for certain fields.
posted by maxwelton at 10:04 AM on September 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


The solution absolutely cannot be "well those kids are poor" and then we quit. It absolutely cannot be "this school is in a bad neighborhood" and then we quit.

Personally, I've never heard anyone say quite that. What I hear people saying is that "Well, these kids are poor, so you can't just say 'bad teachers, fire the bastards' when the poor kids perform badly on the standardized tests which are used to determine whether or not the school continues to get funding." It's the people who place the blame solely on "bad teachers," take the funding away, and give it to charter schools who are "quitting." When people say there are reasons other than teacher competency for poor test scores, they're usually saying it because they think the answer is probably more resources to help teachers instead of mass firings and school closings.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:25 AM on September 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's not just private or charter schools, or powerfully connected men who get away with molesting students for years. There's a local teacher who just this year was convicted of multiple cases of child molestation. Girls in his class had been complaining for years, but all the people at the school refused to listen, and in one case said that the full on, penetration intercourse this teacher had with a student was because the student was a temptress. It wasn't until he had sex with a girl not at his school that he was caught, prosecuted, put on the sex offender list, and is awaiting sentencing.

People tend to circle the wagons to protect their own. We see it in cases like this mayor, and the teacher in my story, and the Irving isd and the clock. There is much to be reformed in the education system, like the pay should be doubled in most cases, but wanna be teachers should have to be deeply psychologically scanned to weed out the narcissists and the psychopaths.

We do public school because we couldn't afford both our 5k (out of a 7k total property tax) school tax, to pay for that shiny new football stadium, and pay for a non-wacko private school...and I considered charter schools, but even with the stupid football thing, I decided it made more sense to keep my tax dollars here, rather than having them rebated to a private organization.

But I do wish there was a way to suss out the predators and the bullies before I entrusted children to them.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:58 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some mistatements here.. Charter schools are not private schools. They are publicly funded and authorized by school districts. They don't steal money from public schools because those students would have to be educated by the same people who authorize the charters. Usually it's done with less money because the authorizer charges a fee for the privilege of operation of the school. In Colorado and most states they get no property tax revenue to use like the regular school does. So the kids who have to be educated by the authorizer get educated for less and usually better.

Teacher unions hate charters because teachers are most often not union in charters so that performance becomes paramount not job security.
posted by OhSusannah at 9:26 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thank you for opening with "Some mistatements here..", but in the future it's not necessary to title the content of your posts.
posted by superfluousm at 9:56 AM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Charter schools are not private schools. They are publicly funded and authorized by school districts.

Tell that to charter advocates. Depending on who you ask and what the question being asked is, they may be described as public, private, or a mixture of both. When it comes to regulating them, they're described as private, but when it comes to discussing how they're doing on tests, they're described as public.

Usually it's done with less money

Cite, please? Every time I've seen this claim made, the evidence to support it has focused only on the public funding (ignoring the money that these charters get from private foundations etc. that usually makes them as or more expensive than public schools) or has include charters that don't have to serve the entire population including special education, which adds significantly to costs. If you have solid evidence that charters are "usually" cheaper that doesn't have these problems, I'd be very interested in seeing it.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:51 AM on September 22, 2015 [6 favorites]




Johnson may have bigger problems than an inquisitive alt-weekly to deal with now - one of his first victims has broken her bought silence.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:31 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Tip of the iceberg.
posted by Duffington at 1:59 PM on September 25, 2015


It may very well be - Arne Duncan just announced his resignation as SecEd at the end of the year. Considering that he has said in the past that he intended to serve through the full Obama Administration, there's a lot of questions this raises.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:41 AM on October 2, 2015


Police Video Shows Teen Girl Graphically Accusing Kevin Johnson Of Sexual Abuse

The victim had been in touch with Deaspin before, and according to the author (in comments), gave the go-ahead for them to post the video.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:43 PM on October 8, 2015


ESPN has shelved their film about Johnson's efforts to keep the Kings in Sacramento. There are even reports that Kings brass are being quietly encouraged to not attend the public showing.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:31 PM on October 12, 2015


Again, totally separate from the situation described in this post (which I think is awful), I think it's good to keep in mind that good people, with good intentions, can earnestly disagree about policy.

"Good people" is a meaningless phrase, and "good intentions" are completely irrelevant. It sounds great to say, "earnestly disagree about policy," but what those words really mean in the American political context is usually, "have baseless, strictly ideological opinions".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:28 AM on October 13, 2015


And it looks like this story might have legs - Slate has picked up the ESPN shelving story (which they're using as a way to give a recap of the whole sordid mess), and apparently the accusations came up at a recent White House daily press briefing.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:41 AM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Last Friday, ESPN pulled the media screener of the documentary, citing piracy concerns. But before it was pulled, I was able to see the film in its entirety. And despite the best efforts of ESPN’s PR apparatus to try to convince the media otherwise, the film goes well beyond portraying Kevin Johnson in a positive light. Down In The Valley amounts to a 77-minute political advertisement for Johnson, a man who in 1995 paid a 15-year-old over $230,000 to keep quiet after she alleged that he had sexually abused her.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:23 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Adventures In Hagiography
So this would appear to be the American counterpart to the recent autoerotic celebration of Sepp Blatter in film, which earned a robust $918 in its American run. (I’m pretty sure Gerard Depardieu just jumped in front of Michael Caine in the queue for the Indiscriminate Script Approval Hall of Fame.) At least it was FIFA that took most of the bath for its vanity project. Why ESPN wanted to invest in a hagiography of a terrible mayor and terrible person to tell the story of his “success” in pulling off the odious American grift of funneling large amounts of taxpayer dollars to plutocrats who own professional sports franchises is…less obvious.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:13 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


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