Thursday, August 1, 2013

Network for Public Education Update: Tony Bennett Left His Heart in Tallahassee

Lots of good stuff in this update on Tony Bennett, the Chicago Teachers Union protest against ALEC on Aug. 8 (darn, we're not getting into town until the 9th), and Diane Ravitch's new book.

Volume 1, Issue: #17

August 1, 2013
Inside NPE News
Bennett Announces Resignation in Florida
ALEC Wants to Privatize Our Schools
InBloom Threatens Students' Privacy Rights
Welcome to Our New Board Members!
News About Diane's Upcoming Book Tour
Tell NPE Your Story

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Welcome to August, and welcome to the seventeenth edition of our newsletter. This week we offer you multiple opportunities to fight for our schools in your own hometown. You can protest privatization of Chicago schools on August 8th and fight for students' right to privacy around the country. Additionally, we are excited to announce some of the upcoming dates and locations of Diane's book tour! Read it all here! And like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and JOIN US at our website.

Bennett Announces Resignation in Florida

Tony Bennett to Resign Amid Accusations of Grade-Changing
Tony Bennett, head of Florida's schools, joins a long line of "corporate reformers" facing allegations of unethical and politically-motivated conduct
regarding school leadership.
This morning, Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett announced his resignation. The announcement comes just four days after the Associated Press published e-mails found from Bennett's time as Indiana School Superintendent which revealed that Bennett had secretly altered the way in which schools were graded in order to reward his political supporters. Bennett's changes specifically affected the ratings of charter schools such as Christel House, which Bennett claimed was being unfairly rated under the previous grading system. Despite Bennett's denials of allegations against him, many of his own staff contradicted his denials.

Bennett's resignation comes at a time when many supporters of data-driven corporate reform are finding themselves involved in similar scandals. A piece written this week by Bruce Baker of School Finance 101 claims that rather than referring to corporate reform, we should look at corporate reform for what it truly is: "FAILED corporate management strategy - often hastily adopted in a moment of leadership desperation - and rarely if ever achieving the desire turn around." 

On the flip side, this week we have also seen the punishments facing those in the education community who refuse to perpetuate this "corporate management strategy." In the case of John Barge, Georgia's Education Commissioner, the U.S. Department of Education is withholding funds from the state because Barge will not impose the sort of scandalous strategies that many others are instituting. According to Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, the DOE is harming Georgia's schools because Barge refuses to create "a statistically invalid and wasteful teacher evaluation system."

To read more about these and other stories, we invite you to visit some of this week's News Briefs on our website. 

ALEC Wants to Privatize Our Schools  

Join the Chicago Teachers' Union in protesting ALEC August 8th
Help expose ALEC through protest on August 8th.
On August 8th, the Chicago Teachers Union will be leading a protest against the American Legislative Exchange Council. The CTU estimates that ALEC has helped create hundreds of policies that aim to protect corporations and ultimately harm middle class families. In 2013 alone, ALEC supported 139 bills for privatizing public education and 104 bills that diminish public sector unions and collective bargaining.

Hundreds of ALEC's proposed bills have been turned into legislation through the wealth and influence of Charles and David Koch. Through ALEC, the Kochs have been able to turn their free-market fundamentalism into legislation in every state in the country. 

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) 40th Anniversary Conference will be taking place in Chicago August 7-9. The conference is being held at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel, 17 East Monroe, Chicago, IL 60603. The CTU will protest outside the conference on August 8th at noon, and invites all friends of public education to join them. To sign up for the protest, please click here.

For more information on the corporations and legislation supported by ALEC, please visit We also invite you to read Diane's blog posts about ALEC.

InBloom Threatens Students' Privacy Rights  

Are corporately-backed organizations stealing kids' privacy?
For more information concerning how your student's privacy might be in danger, please visit
Over the past few months, tensions have been building concerning InBloom, an organization that collects information about students around the country in order to create methods of personalized education. InBloom claims on its website that       
"[s]tudent data privacy is a top priority" of theirs. However, parents strongly disagree. After protests led by parents across the nation, four of the nine original states sharing information with inBloom are no longer doing so, while another two are reconsidering the choice. 

One state, New York, has played a large role in the fight over students' privacy rights. New York is currently the only state that allows inBloom complete access to student data in all public and charter school systems statewide. Enraged New York parents have been protesting this practice for months, particularly the fact that the schools do not require any parental consent in order for student data to be offered to invasive corporations such as inBloom. 

For more on this issue, we encourage you to read:

Join Us in Welcoming New Board Members 
The Network for Public Education receives four new board members
New Board members (from upper-left, clockwise): Colleen Doherty Wood, Bertis Downs, Sonya Douglass Horsford, and Mark B. Miller.
We are pleased to welcome four new members to the NPE Board of Directors! These new members have dedicated their lives to public education. They share the values and vision of NPE, and will bring great experience to our ever-growing Network. 
Diane announced the additions to the Board earlier this week, saying that the new members "will be a great resource for the important work of the Network for Public Education. Each of them has unique talents. We go forward with them on our team, determined to strengthen public education."

The four new members are: Colleen Doherty Wood; Sonya Douglass Horsford; Bertis Downs; and Mark B. Miller. We invite you to learn more about our new members in this week's press release

News About Diane's Upcoming Book Tour
You can now look on our website to see if Diane will be visiting your town
Today is officially August, which means that Diane will be on her book tour next month! She will be traveling around the country speaking about public education in relation to her new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools. The book examines the actions taken by the Bush and Obama administrations to privatize public education and discusses how these policies can be altered to promote public schools. 
Now, you can visit our website to keep track of the cities that Diane will visit along the way! Diane's first visit will be in Illinois on September 10th, followed by stops in Colorado, Washington, and closing September with visits to various parts of California. We invite you to take a look at our website, where we will be posting new locations and information about the book tour as they develop. 
Watch for Diane's new book, coming out this autumn!

Tell NPE 

Your Story

NPE wants to hear from you! We would like to publish real stories about the effects of misguided school reforms on our Friends & Allies. Please share this and send responses to
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In solidarity,
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The Network For Public Education

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