Damage control at the NEA.

 

A couple of days ago a reader sent me a video of a speech NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia made to the Campaign for America’s Future.

The CAF is a liberal Democratic Party group. The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, former AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa  have served on its board of directors.

The video began with Eskelsen Garcia telling some silly story about being on a plane with a guy who called her “darling’ and who challenged her as to what teachers did.

The NEA President then proceeded to list all the things teachers do, listing them in a rapid fire way.

My reader included a copy of a statement from a national group of lawyers that represent parents of special needs students. It condemned Eskelsen Garcia’s speech.

There was horror, angst and disgust felt this past weekend when Lily Eskesen, the President of the National Education Association gave a speech about all the tasks teachers do and listed the “chronically ‘tarded” and the “medically annoying” as part of her list.

In the days since, a number of national organizations representing people and students with disabilities have voiced outrage and issued statements demanding an apology.

I listened and watched the video several times. I wrote my friend back and said that I was skeptical Eskelsen Garcia said what they said she said. It was hard to make out because Eskelsen Garcia was speaking so fast. I don’t believe the NEA President would have used the offensive term “chronically ‘tarded.” It sounded to me that in her speedy delivery she had stepped over the word “tardy.” I mean, whoever heard of the phrase “chronically ‘tarded”? As for “medically annoying”? I couldn’t even figure out what she meant.

I didn’t post anything. I wanted to wait and see.

Well the stuff hit the fan. The Youtube video of her speech got a million hits.

Garcia had to offer an apology. And she did.

Epic fail. In my attempt to be clever and funny, I stepped on a word in one phrase, and I created another phrase that I believed was funny, but was insulting. I apologize.

Fair enough. Her speech was clumsy and offensive. But it wasn’t policy.

It will be up to the families of children with special needs to decide if the apology is accepted.

This week the NEA has been asking members to call Washington in support of the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Yet there has been not a word from the NEA or President Garcia about the spectacular weaknesses in the bill when it comes to special needs students.

The weaknesses include language that approves of Pay for Success initiatives for special needs students. Pay for Success is the program that pays a bounty to Wall Street investment firms like Goldman Sachs for every needy student not receiving special education services.

There has been no apology for that. And it will really hurt students with special needs in ways that a mispronounced word or a thoughtlessly awkward phrase won’t.

Mark Kirk has gone AWOL on ESEA and Pay for Success.

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-Bev Johns

On Monday and Tuesday please call the offices of our U.S. Senator Mark Kirk urging him to act on removing/modifying the Goldman Sachs Pay for Success part of S. 1177, the reauthorization of the Elementary andSecondary Education Act (ESEA which used to be called No Child Left Behind).

 Sen. Kirk, despite weeks of contacts on Pay for Success, apparently has done nothing, even though he was a Member of the Conference Committee between the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate on ESEA.

I received a telephone message on Thursday from Sen. Kirk’s Washington, D.C. office saying nothing could be done by Sen. Kirk.

The actual language of S. 1177, based on concepts approved by the Conference Committee, will not be  released until November 30.

Changes were being negotiated on Friday after the Conference Committee was over, and that will continue this week.

Utah is using Pay for Success to reduce special ed by 99 percent (and is the first project to actually start to pay back Goldman Sachs), and Chicago will be paying Goldman Sachs $9,100 EACH YEAR for each student NOT identified for special education (multiple payments for the same student).

Please express your concerns to Sen. Kirk’s staff on his lack of action on Pay for Success in S. 1177, and the absolute requirement for action to avoid permanent harm to special education students and their parents in Illinois. (for D.C., if you want to speak to a live person, do not take any options offered but simply wait untilsomeone answers)

U.S. Senator from Illinois Mark Kirk

Washington, D.C.: 202-224-2854

Chicago: 312-886-3506

Springfield (often no one there): 217-492-5089

Keep Goldman Sachs out of ESEA. No to Pay for Success.

ESA

-Bev Johns, Chair, ISELA – Illinois Special Education Coalition

ISELA, the Illinois Special Education Coalition, opposes the inclusion in ESEA of Pay for Success as a possible use of Federal funds authorized under ESEA.

A majority of the 15 Statewide Associations that are Members of the Illinois Special Education Coalition voted last week to seek to remove in the Conference Committee between the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, used to be called No Child Left Behind) the provisions that allow States and local school districts to use Federal funds for Pay for Success.

In both the State of Utah, and in Chicago, Illinois, Goldman Sachs and the Pritzker Family Foundation are being paid public funds for children NOT receiving special education.

For every child that avoids special education in a specific population receiving early education, Goldman is paid a fee ($9,100 in Chicago) every year for each and every child that continues to avoid special education.

This is a dangerous incentive not to identify children as needing special education.

In Utah a demonstration project claimed a 99 percent success rate: of 100 children suspected of being eligible for special education, 99 were later NOT so identified.

There is no evidence that any complex educational program exists that has a 99 percent success rate,let alone for the tremendously varying types of disability recognized under Federal law.

The permissive use of Federal funds for Pay for Success is now in both the House and the Senate ESEA bills.

These are the parts of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate ESEA bills that need to be removed in the Conference Committee.

House ESEA (was No Child Left Behind): HR 5 – Student Success Act Title II Subpart 1 Grants to States Sec. 2113 (b)(2)” (F) support State or local Pay for Success initiatives that meet the purposes of this part.”

Title II Subpart 1 Formula Grants to States Sec. 2211 (d)(3)(A) “(ix) Supporting State or local Pay for Success initiatives that meet the purposes of this part.”

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Senate ESEA (was No Child Left Behind): S.1177 – Every Child Achieves Act (1) allows states and local school districts to invest their Title I, Part D funds (Programs for Neglected, Delinquent, and At Risk Children and Youth,

$47.6 million in FY15) in Pay For Success initiatives; 2) allows local school districts to invest their Title IV, Part A funds (Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities, $70 million in FY15) in Pay For Success  initiatives; and (3) allows states to invest their early childhood coordination funds (Early Learning Alignment and Improvement Grants, newly authorized program) in Pay For Success initiatives

—————————————–

Contact your own U.S. Representative and your two (2) U.S. Senators.

SAY TO YOUR TWO U.S. SENATORS:

In Conference Committee on S.1177, please remove Pay for Success as an allowable use of funds through Title I, Part D (Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk) and Title IV, which funds programs addressing student health and safety, from the Senate version of ESEA on the ESEA bill.

SAY TO YOUR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE:

In Conference Committee, please remove from H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, the provisions that make Pay for Success initiatives an allowable use of state and local funds in Title II and in the Teacher and School Leader Flexible Grant.

TELL THEM WHY:

Pay for Success has been used in Utah to prevent 99 percent of children supposedly headed for special education from actually being identified for special education, and paid Goldman Sachs and other investors for each child NOT placed in special education. This is a huge financial incentive to NOT identify children as needing special education, and there is absolutely no research stating 99 percent Keeof students in special education should not be there.

In Chicago, Pay for Success may allow Goldman Sachs to double its investment, depending on how many students are NOT identified for special education.

CPS’ Pay for Success. Putting a face on it. Sadie Stockdale.

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Chicago Public School has adopted the Pay for Success program funded with Social Impact Bonds.

As I have written here before, Social Impact Bonds partner investors and corporate philanthropies in profit-making ventures in the public sector.

In a post written for this blog, special education advocate and activist Bev Johns wrote:

Pay for Success has been used in Utah to prevent 99 percent of children supposedly headed for special education from actually being identified for special education, and paid Goldman Sachs and other investors for each child NOT placed in special education. This is a huge financial incentive to NOT identify children as needing special education, and there is absolutely no research stating 99 percent of students in special education should not be there.

In Chicago, Pay for Success may allow Goldman Sachs to double its investment, depending on how many students are NOT identified for special education.

And Catalyst reported:

When the first cohort of students enters kindergarten, CPS will begin paying the lenders for each fewer child who needs special education services when compared to the control group. CPS will pay $9,100 per child annually, an amount that increases by 1 percent each year.

Just to be clear: Goldman Sachs, a giant Wall Street investment firm, will receive over $9000 every year for each identified child that does not receive special education services at CPS.

When Sadie Stockdale came to CPS from her previous work at Teach for America where she was Director of Recruitment she came to do Goldman Sachs’ work.

From Sadie’s Linked In resume:

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I thought you might want to see the name and face and past of the current education policy advisor to the Mayor.

Keeping retirement weird.

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Illinois State Comptroller Leslie Munger announced there would be no pension payment from the state in November and maybe not December and maybe not until June.

We will still be getting our pension checks.

It means that the state will not be making their monthly payment to TRS and the other state pension funds.

Read the previous posts by trustee Bob Lyons for the numbers.

Not that Governor Rauner would give a rat’s ass if retired state workers did miss a few checks. He wants to shake things up, remember.  He’s holding the state’s budget hostage to his union-busting agenda, and if that means no pension checks to old folks, so be it.

So, Anne and I stopped off at Whole Foods the other day for a few items to take on a weekend drive. We don’t normally shop at Whole Foods because it is just too expensive. If we’re going to spend extra money on fresh produce, we still have the Logan Square farmers’ market – for a few more weeks anyway.

Walking in I noticed that Whole Foods has created their own certification program called Responsibly Grown.

Or Not Really Organic. What they have done is make up a name for products and requirements for farmers and agribusiness. It allows them to sell more stuff – still over priced, but slightly cheaper – without actually meeting the tougher government requirements for organic labeling.

It is a form of corporate self-regulation.

Am I comfortable with that? Nope.

How is that different than the other stories I have been posting about?

Social Impact Bonds and Pay for Success allows Wall Street and Goldman Sachs to create criteria for identifying special education students which substitutes those criteria for regulations that the feds have created through special education laws.

Government regs replaced by self-governing for-profit corporate regs.

Comfortable with that?

Or edTPA.

Pearson, the for-private education monopoly is now running teacher certification programs. Pearson and Stanford University have teamed together to replace the state teacher certification function with a private for-profit one.

Feeling more comfortable?

Or the CPS scandal.

Here is what the investigative journalist Sarah Karp wrote in her original Catalyst story that broke the news on Barbara Byrd Bennett and SUPES.

Yet the certification issue raises red flags as well. For one, Illinois, like most states, has its own certification for principals and administrators, called a Type 75 certificate. The certification issued by the Supes Academy, through the American Academy of School Administrators, is an additional, unofficial certification that is intended to “sharpen the skills of superintendents.” In addition, the Supes certification was just launched in April of this year—and it was at least partly self-created, by Supes itself.

Privatizing certification and corporate self-regulation.

What could possibly go wrong?