Welcome to the Coalition to Protect our Public Schools. We are a group of parents, teachers and education supporters who believe that every child deserves a real school and a real teacher. Our goal is to explain the dangerous drawbacks of privatizing our public schools and provide you with options for REAL education reform. Our purpose is to alert you to the many attacks on our public schools and the horrific harm these attacks are inflicting on millions of school children. Our mission is to arm you with useful ideas on what you can do to fight back against these attacks. Join with us to protect our public schools – and hold the billionaires accountable for the crimes they have committed against our children.
For more than a century, Americans have been the most productive and innovative workers in the world. Because of the innovation of American workers, our economy has been the strongest economy in the world. At the heart of the American economic system has been our public schools - which have consistently produced the most highly trained and creative workforce in the world. Sadly, there is a small group of extremely wealthy people who want to take over and privatize our public schools. They call themselves “education reformers”. But they are really corporate raiders out to destroy the American system of public schools and replace it with a for profit system of private schools paid for with hundreds of billions of dollars in tax payers funds. The death of our public schools would not only mean the death of our economy, but the death of our democracy.
With the future of our children at stake, we need to go beyond merely attending PTA meetings and writing our legislators. If we care about our kids, our economy, our country and our future, we all need to open our eyes and recognize that there is a well-financed war being waged against our public schools – and our children are being used as pawns in this battle. It is time to look behind the curtain and expose those who are waging this war. It is time to examine the real reasons for this attack on our public schools. It is time to admit that we are currently losing this war. We therefore need to develop greater awareness of the tactics of those who are out to destroy our public schools and develop more effective strategies for responding to these attacks. Until we wake up and see this war for what it is, things will only get worse for our kids, our economy and our country.
This is what happens when billionaires take over our public schools
Some people have referred to the billionaire designed curriculum, called Common Core, as being more like bizarre, nonsensical word riddles. Below is one example of a Common Core assignment given to a Kindergarten student in New York State in 2013. The assignment Kindergarten Module 4A Lesson 2 Homework. According to the description on the Engage website, the Objective of this assignment is to “Model composition and decomposition of numbers to 5 using fingers and linking cube sticks.” However, the lesson also includes a concept called “Hidden Numbers” which involves finding embedded numbers. The student is to look at a group of 10 fish and then pretend that five of the fish swam away. Here are the fish.
This is clearly a convoluted attempt to teach children subtraction. What may seem confusing to a Kindergarten child is that seven of the fish are swimming to the left and three to the right. So it is not clear what direction the departing fish are using. Also young children are taught that small fish must stay with the big fish. So why are little fish leaving their parents? It is important to think like a child when creating problems for children. At any rate, after this bad example, the child is given the following even worse “finger” assignment.
There does not seem to be much of a relationship between the fish example and the finger assignment. As you can see, Jaiden was unable to complete the finger assignment. So he asked his dad to help him. The dad has a PHD in Chemistry but he was not able to do this beginning Kindergarten assignment either. The dad is now a vocal opponent of Common Core.
Below is a brief 3 minute video of the new billionaire designed Kindergarten math curriculum in action (Warning: This video looks more like a military indoctrination boot camp than a Kindergarten class. If you are a sensitive person, you may want to skip this video. It gives me nightmares.)
Here is one image from the video...
How many millions of children have already been harmed by the billionaires private schools and high stakes tests?
In Kentucky in 2012, 60% of 670,000 students failed the new tests. The total number who failed the test was 402,000. In New York State in 2013, over 70% of 2.7 million students failed the new high stakes, high failure rate tests. The total number who failed the test was 1.9 million. Thus the total number of students tested so far has been 3.3 million and 2.3 million failed the test. Here is a link to the 2000 page report with the failure rate in New York State broken down by individual school and grade.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 2,000 schools per year are being closed in the US since the push for privatizing schools began in 2004. This is double the rate of school closures in the 1990s where about 1000 public schools closed every year. These school closures affected the lives of over 300,000 students per year.
During this same time, the number of privately controlled charter schools rose from under 2,000 schools to more than 5,000 schools – with enrollment skyrocketing from under 500,000 students to nearly 2 million students. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_108.asp
Because this attack is based primarily on lies, the truth is our greatest weapon. But we need to recognize that it does no good to get informed without also taking action. And it does no good to take action if that action only falls on deaf ears. Some have claimed that we should write letters to Congress or to our State legislators. But it does no good to write letters to Congress or to our State legislators when Congress - and the Legislatures in nearly every State - are owned and controlled by the billionaires intent on taking over our schools.
Others claim we need to write letters to our local TV stations, radio stations and/or newspapers. But it does no good to write letters to the editor when the local and national media are also under the control of the billionaires club and their weapons of mass deception.
Others say we should get more involved with political parties or our local PTA. But it does no good to pass resolutions in your political party or at your local or State PTA when both majority political parties and the leadership of State and national PTAs have been bought off by the billionaires.
There is an entire website devoted to parents and teachers writing hundreds of letters to Bill Gates explaining how his education reform efforts have harmed their children. But it does no good to write letters to Bill Gates when he has made it clear that he does not care about child development research or the number of children harmed by his reforms. Bill, like the other billionaires, is only interested in how much profit he will make. This may sound harsh. But with the future of 50 million children on the line, it is time for those of who do care about children to wake up and understand the ugly corruption and greed that lies behind the pretty face of “school reform.” We need to find a way to get past the avalanche of education reform propaganda and find a better way to protect our public schools. That is the goal of this website. To lift the curtain on corruption and speak truth to injustice – no matter how harsh or ugly the truth may be.
Understand that the underlying cause of this problem is GREED
So what can we do? The most important step is understanding the underlying motivation behind school privatization. It is not now and never has been about school choice or helping students or charter schools or parents rights. The real motivation behind the move to privatize our public schools is greed. There are about 50 million school children in the United States. Wall Street sees every one of these children as an untapped gold mine and an opportunity to increase corporate profits. We spend about $10,000 per student per year on operating costs of public schools. This provides our kids not only with well trained, experienced teachers, but also with councilors, librarians, principals, cooks, bus drivers, nurses, playground monitors, technicians, books, copy machines, desks, markers and white boards. In addition, we spend about $5,000 per student per year on building and repairing schools, school playgrounds and athletic fields. The total is about $750 billion dollars per year. Greedy billionaires and Wall Street hedge fund managers do not just want a part of this $750 billion. They want it all. Education reform is the “weapon” they are using to get their hands on this money.
The weapons of mass deception these corporate raiders use include No Child Left Untested, Race to the Bottom, voucher schemes, charter schools, common core, unfair, unreliable and counterproductive high stakes tests – which are then used as an excuse for mass firing of teachers and mass closures of schools. All of these weapons are known to harm children, demoralize teachers and shatter communities – especially the poorest students and communities that need the most help.
On this website, we will provide specific information on the drawbacks of the harmful weapons of reform. We will also provide information on alternative actions that would improve our public schools. But instead of wondering why the reformers are so cruel and heartless, or why they are so badly misguided, we need to understand that education reform has nothing to do with improving the education of children and everything to do with improving the profits of a few billionaires.
It does no good to point out that the educational reforms harm students. Those advocating for reform do not care about the harm their reforms inflict on children. All they care about is money and power. If billionaires cared about our children they would not be going to such great lengths to evade paying their fair share of State and federal taxes. Nor would they be spending millions of dollars working to divert billions of dollars away from public schools and into private for profit corporations.
Only Real Action will lead to Real Reform
Certainly, reading the articles and watching the videos on this website are a good start. But this alone will not protect our public schools from being taken over by the billionaires. There is a national organization for concerned parents called Parents Across America that is not under the control of the billionaires. They have exposed corruption, elected members to school boards and promoted real education reform. You should join Parents Across America. Their website is www.parentsacrossamerica.org. There is also a new book by one of our nation's leading educational researchers, Diane Ravitch, called Reign of Error which is essential reading. This is another good step in becoming better informed about the attack on our public schools.
But rather than wasting time writing corrupt officials, you should spend time talking with your friends and neighbors to help them understand how they are being misled by the billionaires. Consider running for your local school board. Even if you do not win, it will give you an excuse to go door to door talking with other parents about the danger of turning over our public schools to a few greedy billionaires. In fact, run for ANY elected office and use it as an opportunity to talk with your neighbors about the need to protect our public schools from corporate raiders. One of the underlying problems in protecting our public schools is that the billionaires have taken over the news media in the US. This gives the billionaires the ability to deceive and manipulate parents into helping them privatize and destroy our public schools. The only way to beat the billionaires is not fall for the lies. Instead, learn the truth and then stand up and speak out.
Instead of Common Core what we really need is common sense. It is common sense that replacing thousands of experienced teachers with poorly trained “TFA” recruits will not help our students. It is common sense that forcing 3rd graders to take high stakes tests knowing they will lose their teacher and maybe even their school should they fail the test is harmful to 3rd graders. It is common sense that tests which fail 70% of the students are simply unfair tests. We hope you will take the time to learn more about the attacks on our public schools and what you can do to protect our public schools. If you have any questions, feel free to email us.
David Spring M. Ed. and Elizabeth Hanson M. Ed.
Why the Washington State Constitution Matters
Republicans and Democrats use our current unconstitutionally low level of funding as the baseline to conclude that they are “increasing funding” for our schools. Current inadequate funding is NOT the correct baseline. The correct baseline is what our Constitution demands, what our Supreme Court demands and what the legislature has promised parents and the Supreme Court for the past 8 years. Current law is not the current level of funding. Current law is the prototypical school model – a model that pinky promises an increase in state funding of more than $6 billion per year beginning in the 2018 school year. Current State law also includes the Class Size Initiative 1351 which adds another $1.4 billion per year in addition to the $6 billion in the Prototypical school promise. Thus, the correct baseline with which to compare the Republican and Democrat plans is current funding PLUS $7.4 billion more per year.
Since both the Republican and Democrat plans provide no real funding source, both plans are a cut in school funding of at least six billion dollars per year. Our Supreme Court ruled that the Prototypical School model would meet our State Constitutional Paramount Duty to amply fund our public schools. The legislature repeatedly promised our Supreme Court they would come up with this money by the 2018 school year. What we are now seeing from both political parties are “Bait and Switch” tactics reneging on year after year of empty promises by now presenting hollow proposals which utterly fail our kids and ignore our State Constitution.
Here is a link to the Republican Plan, Senate Bill 5607 in case you would like to read it:
We have previously provided a detailed analysis of the drawbacks of the Republican Plan which you can read at the following link:
In this article, we will briefly review the drawbacks of the Democrats plan and then compare both plans to what is required by our State Constitution. We will then conclude with a simple solution that would comply with our State Constitution without any major changes to existing state law – simply by repealing a $5 billon per year tax break for the super rich.
Drawbacks of the Democrats Plan
You can read the Democrats plan at the following link:
Here is a link where you can submit written comments about this bill:
Page 1, Line 19 says that state funding must correspond to the cost of providing students… In fact, what our Supreme Court has said repeatedly is that state funding must correspond to the ACTUAL COST of providing students with an education. What the McCleary lawsuit is all about is that there is a huge difference between what the legislature currently provides for school funding and what we all know the actual cost of school funding is. Our State Constitution and our Supreme Court require the legislature to provide for the full, actual cost of funding our schools.
This article updates the article I wrote yesterday called “Ten Reasons Parents and Teachers Should Oppose the Republican Education Plan.” On January 29, 2017, the actual 122 page bill was released. You can download the 122 page draft of this bill at the following link:
The actual language in this bill was much worse than the summary that was released to the public on January 27, 2017. Instead of 10 drawbacks, we have compiled a list of the top 40 drawbacks. I want to state for the record that this was the worst bill I have ever read and if adopted would certainly lead to the destruction of our public schools here in Washington state. It appears to me that this is the real goal of this bill – not to fund our schools but to destroy them. In order to put all of the drawbacks into one document, here are the first ten drawbacks (with the introduction) from our original article:
On January 27 2017, Washington State Republicans released their Education Funding Plan which they claim will comply with the Washington Supreme Court McCleary Decision requiring the legislature to comply with our State Constitution by fully fund our public schools. While Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal has commended the plan, in this article, we will provide ten 40 reasons all parents and teachers, regardless of their political party, should oppose the Republican Education Plan.
Note: Washington Democrats have not released their Education Funding plan yet. They claim it will be released in a few days. We have reason to believe the Democrats Plan will not be much better than the Republican Plan. We will write a critique of the Democrats Plan when it is released. But for now, we will simply focus on the problems with the Republican Plan. Here is a link to a 10 page summary of the Republicans Plan in case you want to read it yourself:
Here is a link to their slideshow about their plan:
Here is a quote from their plan claiming that it will help our schools, when in fact, if it passes, it will severely harm our schools: “Our proposal provides ample, dependable and equitable funding for all Washington students.”
Here is a link and quote from Superintendent Reykdal commending the Republican Plan.
“The proposal shows that Republicans are serious about solving the funding problem and that it understands additional resources will be needed. The proposal itself is very comprehensive. It would create a guaranteed funding level for each and every student. .. That funding level would be paid for, in part, by a state property tax capped at $1.80 per $1,000 of assessed value. I appreciate the emphasis on accountability and on providing additional support for underachieving students… I also appreciate the emphasis on teacher recruitment and retention… In the coming weeks and months we will work with the House and Senate to create a bipartisan solution that improves student achievement, empowers educators and maximizes local control.”
The Washington Education Association a more critical view of the plan.
Here is what the WEA had to say about the Republican Plan
“Though it purports to add funding, take a look at what it really does:
Cuts pay for many teachers...
Slashes special ed funding by prohibiting use of local funds for special ed.
Freezes funding for small rural districts.
Increases class size... by eliminating I-1351.
Lowers teaching requirements, allowing anyone to teach as long as they pass a basic background test. No teaching certificates would be required.
Expands the number of charter schools.
Privatizes public education.
Severely limits collective bargaining, the right to strike and due process.
It goes without saying that WEA adamantly opposes this proposal.”
A Review of Crimes Already Committed by the leaders of Both Major Political Parties Against Our Kids
Before we get into the serious flaws of the Republican Plan, which are way more serious than any of the above comments by the WEA would indicate, let’s first review the crimes already committed against our kids by the Washington State Legislature. Note that a “crime” is a serious voilation of the law.
A lot of people do not understand this, but our State Constitution is not just a series of suggestions, it is the highest law in Washington State. So violating our state constitution is actually committing a crime. The Washington State Constitution has the strongest school funding language of any constitution in the nation. Here is just a couple of quotes for those who may not have read it.
Article 9.1: Unlike other states, which made it the duty of the legislature to adequately fund our schools, the drafters of our State Constitution created a shared Paramount Duty - a duty applied to the entire State Government including the Supreme Court - when they wrote Article 9, Section 1: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders."
Paramount means the highest and most important duty.
Article 9.2: The first sentence in Article 9, Section 2 of our state constitution states:
"The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools."
This sentence means that the legislature must provide the funds for a uniform system of public schools. Our state constitution specifically prohibits a system of rich schools that can pass local levies and poor schools that cannot pass a local levy. It also prohibits a two-tier system of public schools in which some kids get a qualified teacher while other schools get a babysitter or no teacher at all. Uniform means that all kids are treated about the same and have the same right to a real education. These are the two laws that led to the McCleary lawsuit and the two laws that our Supreme Court have been trying – without much success – to get the State legislature to comply with.
Here are the first ten reasons to oppose the Republican Plan: