Charter School Lobby Agitates to Prevent the U.S. Department of Education from Improving Regulation of the Federal Charter Schools Program

The U.S. Department of Education has proposed new rules to tighten up the awarding of grants through its own Charter Schools Program. Seems like a good thing, right? So why did the Department’s proposed new rules lead to a big protest rally of charter school supporters from around the country in front of the White House last week?

The NY TimesErica Green explains the proposed rules: “The proposal would add requirements to the application process for grants from the federal Charter Schools Program, which has doled out billions of dollars over nearly 30 years to help open new charter schools or expand existing ones. It sets tighter restrictions on the schools’ relationships with for-profit entities and encourages more collaboration between charters and the districts they operate in. The most controversial part of the plan would require grant applicants to prove demand and community support for their schools, examine the effect they would have on neighboring district-run schools, and demonstrate that they would not exacerbate segregation.”

The proposed rules would not affect the state laws that establish charter schools and the rules under which charter schools operate in 45 states. The new rules would be limited to establishing that federal grants could no longer be awarded to charter schools operated by for-profit Charter Management Organizations, and that to qualify for a federal grant, a charter authorizer would have to show there is a need for the new school.  This is the sort of sensible regulation that ought to have been part of the program when it was established back in 1994.

During the Clinton administration and through the Bush and Obama administrations, charter schools were popular among neoliberal Democrats who saw publicly funded but privately operated charter schools as kind of a nice compromise with the more visceral school privatization advocates like Betsy DeVos.  Now a lot of Democrats, including the Biden administration, have become more aware of poor regulation of charter schools by states and the federal government, graft and corruption in the misuse and sometimes theft of public funds, and the reality that despite their promises, charter schools on the whole have not surpassed public schools in helping students achieve academically.

As Green reports, some of the Democrats who have always been and continue to be strong supporters of charter schools are angry: “The rally came on the heels of several high-profile denouncements of the proposed rules, including opinion pieces by Michael Bloomberg…. and Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado….  Senators Dianne Feinstein of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado joined Republicans in asking the department to revise them.”  But an increasing number of Democrats see the need for better oversight.

Green quotes Carol Burris, the executive director of the Network for Public Education as a prime supporter of the new rules and Nina Rees, the president and chief executive of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools as a leading opponent of more stringent regulation of the federal Charter Schools Program.  It is important to be very clear about what these organizations are.

Rees’ organization, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the primary mouthpiece for the charter school sector. It has a 32 person staff and is well funded by philanthropists, charter school authorizers, and operators of charter schools. When the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools sponsors a rally at the White House, the organization can afford to fly in charter school parents from around the country to speak for their schools. But the testimony of satisfied parents passionately defending their experience with particular charter schools is not the whole story.

The Network for Public Education (NPE)—a national, volunteer, good government, public school advocacy organization—has been a primary critic of waste and fraud in the charter school sector’s spending of tax dollars, especially by the for-profit Charter Management Organizations. NPE has also condemned the damage to public school districts by rapid charter school growth. Its members have supported a tiny, four-person, mostly part time staff conducting research about what is really happening in the charter school sector.

Despite that federal law has previously prohibited grants to for-profit charter schools, in a 2021 report, Chartered for Profit, the Network for Public Education exposed that too many nonprofits have been turning over virtually all of their state and federal dollars to a for-profit management company without any oversight of the use of the money: “Despite strict regulations against the disbursement of funds from the federal Charter Schools Program to charter schools operated by for-profit entities, we identified over 440 charter schools operated for profit that received grants totaling approximately $158 million between 2006 and 2017, including Charter Schools Program grants to schools managed with for-profit sweeps contracts.”

In an earlier report, Asleep at the Wheel, the Network for Public Education found that the U.S. Department of Education has not been a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars in its management of the Charter Schools Program. “Based on what we found, we believe it is likely that one billion dollars of federal ‘seed money’ has been wasted on charters that never opened or shut their doors. We were equally dismayed to find that many of the Charter Schools Program-funded charter schools that survived did not fulfill their stated mission, especially in regard to enrolling proportionate numbers of disadvantaged youth. As public dollars are pulled from public schools and a more disadvantaged student body is left behind, the students who attend their neighborhood schools have fewer resources and greater challenges.”

Research from the Network for Public Education has been replicated by other researchers. In a report for In the Public Interest, economist Gordon Lafer showed how charter schools in just one school district, Oakland, California, suck $57.3 million every year out of the public schools that serve the majority of Oakland’s children and adolescents.  Amazingly, in a series of biennial reports, the U.S. Department of Education’s own Office of Inspector General has condemned the Department’s Office for Innovation and Improvement for poor oversight of the Charter Schools Program.  And in 2021, Wagma Mommandi and Kevin Welner, the director of the National Education Policy Center, published a book, School’s Choice: How Charter Schools Control Access and Shape Enrollment, showing all the ways charter school operators select their students and leave behind in public schools the students who are most likely to need additional expensive additional services—including disabled students and English language learners.

I live in Ohio, where the charter school sector has been out of control for over two decades. When the U.S. Department of Education published its proposed new rules and asked for public comment, I was moved by the comment submitted on behalf of Policy Matters Ohio by Piet Van Lier, who strongly endorses the proposed rule that would ban federal grants to nonprofit charter schools managed by for-profit management companies: “More than 10 years ago Policy Matters began tracking abuses by for-profit management companies operating schools in Ohio. We documented abuses by Imagine Schools, which had a poor record of performance in our state and a business model driven by elaborate school real estate transactions, high management and operations fees paid by nonprofit schools to the corporation, overlapping business relationships, low spending on classroom instruction, and tight control of school finances and business relationships.”

Van Lier continues: “Our subsequent research found additional problematic practices by management corporations including: hand-picking board members of charter schools that are by law responsible for school operations; preventing schools from hiring their own independent attorneys, accountants, and auditors; binding schools to them contractually and financially, making it impossible to seek new management; controlling school revenue from public sources; claiming ownership of school equipment purchased with public funds; and loaning money to schools well above market rates. We also documented the practice of management corporations pretending to comply with Ohio law mandating school closure for poor academic performance by simply changing the names of schools and re-opening them in the same location with largely the same staff. These practices continue today.”

Policy Matters also endorses the need for charter school startups to conduct an impact study and demonstrate the need for the new school: “Examples abound… of charter schools opening simply because they have access to a building and want the public funding that will flow to the school, even if they cannot meet enrollment targets and have no evidence that they have talked to families and other stakeholders in the community about what kinds of schools are needed. Requiring schools and operators to demonstrate community need and interest in their models is simply good policy and will prevent the over-saturation of charter schools many urban areas already face.”

We should certainly not be surprised when the charter school lobby, represented by the National Association of Public Charter Schools, sponsors a rally to protest more stringent rules to block the flow of federal funds to charter schools.  We must also hope that staff in the U.S. Department of Education carefully read the thousands of comments thanking the Department for proposing new regulations to end the flow of federal dollars to for-profit management companies and to require charter school sponsors to consider the needs of the communities where they propose to locate new charter schools.

Ohio Charter School Sector Epitomizes All the Reasons Why the Federal Charter Schools Program Must Be Reformed

In its new report, Public Schooling in America: Measuring Each State’s Commitment to Democratically Governed Schools, the Network for Public Education (NPE) grades the 50 states and the District of Columbia on their commitment to the institution of public education, or alternatively in some states, their commitment to privatized marketplace school choice at the expense of their public school districts.

This blog will take a short spring break.  Look for a new post on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

Implicit in the report is an understanding of the decades-old role of public education in the United States. Public schools—publicly funded, universally available, and accountable to the public—are essential for ensuring that over 50 million U.S. children and adolescents are served. Public schools are the optimal way to balance the obligation to meet the needs of each particular student with the public responsibility for creating a system that secures the rights and addresses the needs of all students.

The Network for Public Education documents that some states are abandoning this public purpose: “Not only do we grade the states based on their willingness to commit exclusively or primarily to democratically governed public schools open to all, but their willingness to put sufficient guardrails and limits on publicly-funded alternatives to ensure that taxpayers, students, and families are protected from discrimination, corruption and fraud in the programs they have.”

Ohio ranks third from the bottom, according to the Network for Public Education’s new report.  Its legislature’s commitment to the expansion of both publicly funded private school tuition vouchers and to the growth of an unregulated charter school sector sets it on a path toward becoming “a publicly-funded, uncoordinated, free-for-all parading as an education system.”

Earlier this month, the expansion and oversight of charter schools took center stage in the policy debate as the U.S. Department of Education proposed to tighten up oversight of the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP), founded in 1994 to spur innovation by expanding charter schools. The program has been shown by the Network for Public Education and by the U.S. Department of Education’s own Office of Inspector General to be poorly regulated, and in early April the Department proposed to strengthen its own rules and regulations.  When a period of public comment was initiated, the charter school lobby stimulated a storm of comments opposing regulations.  Public school supporters submitted a mass of comments supporting better oversight.

Piet van Lier submitted a comment on behalf of Policy Matters Ohio which caught my attention because it speaks so profoundly about the reasons why NPE’s new report awards Ohio an “F” for its lagging support for the public schools that serve 1.8 million of our state’s children.

First, the comment from Policy Matters Ohio speaks to the need for much stronger rules and regulations to rein in the for-profit charter management companies that have been ripping off Ohio’s taxpayers for two decades:

“As a state policy research institute, Policy Matters believes that public education is an essential public good and must be fully supported at every level of government, from local to state, to federal. For decades now we have been tracking the growth of charter schools in Ohio, and for that reason we are encouraged by the proposed changes to rules governing the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP)… We strongly support the proposed change that charter schools receiving CSP funding must provide assurance that they have not and will not enter a contract with any for-profit charter school management organization…. More than 10 years ago Policy Matters began tracking abuses by for-profit management companies operating schools in Ohio. We documented abuses by Imagine Schools, which had a poor record of performance in our state and a business model driven by elaborate school real estate transactions, high management and operations fees paid by nonprofit schools to the corporation, overlapping business relationships, low spending on classroom instruction, and tight control of school finances and business relationships.”

Van Lier continues: “Our subsequent research found additional problematic practices by management corporations including: hand-picking board members of charter schools that are by law responsible for school operations; preventing schools from hiring their own independent attorneys, accountants, and auditors; binding schools to them contractually and financially, making it impossible to seek new management; controlling school revenue from public sources; (and) claiming ownership of school equipment purchased with public funds and loaning money to schools well above market rates. We also documented the practice of management corporations pretending to comply with Ohio law mandating school closure for poor academic performance by simply changing the names of schools and re-opening them in the same location with largely the same staff. These practices continue today.”

Policy Matters also supports a second rule the U.S. Department of Education has proposed. To qualify for federal funds, the new charter school would be required to conduct and report on a community impact study to demonstrate the need for the new charter school.

Van Lier writes: “We strongly support new rules that would require charter schools receiving CSP grants to demonstrate need for the proposed schools and locations and to provide evidence that they engaged with residents in planning for the schools.” Policy Matters summarizes Ohio’s very different experience with charter school startups: “Examples abound… of charter schools opening simply because they have access to a building and want the public funding that will flow to the school, even if they cannot meet enrollment targets and have no evidence that they have talked to families and other stakeholders in the community about what kinds of schools are needed. Requiring schools and operators to demonstrate community need and interest in their models is simply good policy and will prevent the over-saturation of charter schools many urban areas already face.”

Of course, many of the appalling practices Policy Matters describes will not cease even if the new federal rules are formally adopted and enforced. The federal Charter Schools Program provides only a fraction of the funds fueling a rapidly growing and poorly regulated charter sector in Ohio. But strengthening the federal rules would set an important precedent which just might help increase public pressure on a legislature like Ohio’s, which, as the Network for Public Education’s new report explains, seems bent on expanding publicly funded school privatization at the expense of the public schools. Remember, NPE ranks Ohio third from the bottom in its support for public schools—ahead of only Florida and Arizona.

New Statewide Campaign Pressures Ohio Senate to Pass School Funding Reform in FY22-23 State Budget

On Wednesday, four key organizations announced ALL in for Ohio Kids, a statewide campaign to demand that the Ohio Senate will pass a major a new school funding formula as part of the FY 2022-23 state budget.

The new coalition brings together four organizations: the Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers, representing public school teachers; the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, pulling together public school parents and community members; and Policy Matters Ohio, adding the weight of complex policy expertise.

A new school funding plan, developed over several years, was passed on April 21st by the Ohio House of Representatives as part of the FY 2022-2023 state budget and submitted to the Ohio Senate. The Ohio Legislature must, by law, come up with a compromise by June 30.

With Ohio’s Republican supermajority House and Senate, you might suppose that members of the Ohio Senate would simply affirm the proposal forwarded by their colleagues in the House. You would be wrong. While the plan was originally sponsored by and developed under the guidance of House Speaker Bob Cupp and passed by the Ohio House in a stand alone bill in December by a vote of 87-9, the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Matt Dolan refused to bring the House bill forward for a vote by the full Senate. Therefore, the bill died at the end of the FY 20-21 legislative session.

The New All In for Ohio Kids Campaign and Policy Matters’ Wendy Patton Release Major Report

Outlining Ohio’s urgent need for the Fair School Funding Plan, Policy Matters’ state fiscal expert Wendy Patton released a position paper as part of the launch of the All in for Ohio Kids Campaign: “For many years Ohio lawmakers have provided neither sufficient nor fair distribution of state support. Even as policymakers have expected public schools to do more, they have cut state aid to public schools over time, by allowing it to be eroded by inflation and diversion of funds to charter schools… and vouchers… As a result, public schools have increasingly relied on local resources, which causes unequal funding…. This is because our state’s school funding system relies heavily on property taxes, which advantages wealthier districts… As corporations eliminated jobs with living wages in Ohio, racial discrimination in employment and government-sanctioned segregation forced Black, Indigenous and other people of color into neighborhoods of concentrated poverty…. Schools in these communities need additional resources, but the declining local tax base cannot generate what’s needed. Many rural and small-town districts have faced economic challenges that make it hard for them to provide local funding.”

Patton outlines what has happened to the state’s level of investment in public schools: “On average, local governments paid for the greater part of school funding in each of the last 40 years but three, 1987-1989. At times, the gap narrowed between state and local share, but the 2006-07 budget halted that progress by eliminating major business taxes and phasing in big state income tax cuts. Gov. Ted. Strickland made positive steps using federal stimulus…. But Gov. John Kasich promptly reversed that effort with a $1.8 billion cut to school funding imposed over the two-year budget of 2012-13. School funding has lagged ever since. By 2020, the state share of school funding had fallen to its lowest point since 1985.  Lawmakers…. also changed the formula for granting state aid four times over the past dozen years. Uncertainty in state aid makes planning and staffing hard for districts.”

Although the Ohio Constitution requires the state to establish a “thorough and efficient system” of public schools, and despite that the 1997 Ohio Supreme Court declared the state’s school funding unconstitutional and overly reliant on local property taxes—a decision whose demands have never been met, Patton describes the state’s funding of public education today as “a system of Band-Aids and patches”: “Today there is little connection between the funding of Ohio’s schools and the cost of educating a student: Formula funding is simply frozen at 2019 levels. Lawmakers provided no increase to cover the effect of inflation and the rising cost of education since then. According to projections used in the governor’s budget, between 2019 and 2023, state formula funding for public education will lose over $600 million in value as a result of inflation.”

Patton castigates the legislature for diverting an ever growing amount of state education dollars to charter schools and private school tuition vouchers at the same time Ohio’s legislators have failed to fund the public schools which serve 1.6 million Ohio students. Funding for charter schools is by school district deduction, which counts the student as though enrolled in the public school district, sends the state’s basic aid school funding amount to the public district, but then deducts from the local school district budget the state’s allocation for each charter school student. In many cases, the state charter school deduction from the school district’s budget is significantly more than the district receives in basic aid for that same student.  Patton provides an example: “Columbus received $4,815 per student in the 2018-19 school year in state formula funding, but the district had to provide an average of $8,305 per student in the 2018-19 school year to students at charter schools. In other words, for every charter student, Columbus must provide $3,489 more than it receives from the state.”

One of the state’s voucher programs, EdChoice, works the same way. The state sends the school district’s basic aid amount but then deducts $4,650 for every K-8 voucher and $6,000 for every high school student voucher. And because EdChoice voucher qualification rules limit the vouchers only to students living in the attendance area of a school designated by the federal government for Title I, school district deduction EdChoice vouchers are concentrated in areas of family poverty. Here is Patton’s explanation: “The use of vouchers is heavily concentrated in a limited number of districts. Fifteen of the 31 districts that transferred 10% or more of their total state aid to vouchers are located in Cuyahoga County.”  Cuyahoga County, an urban county with significant child poverty, includes Cleveland, to which the state has assigned its own voucher program, and several inner-ring suburbs with concentrations of children from poor families who qualify for the EdChoice Program. The irony in the majority of these school districts is that students taking vouchers out of the public system are students who have never been enrolled in public schools. Students already enrolled in private and religious schools are extracting state dollars out of public school districts serving concentrations of poor students, districts where more money is desperately needed for the students who are enrolled.

Patton concludes:  The Fair School Funding Plan is based on the actual cost of education….  When fully funded, it would help nearly all public schools by boosting the average state per-pupil aid from $6,835 to $8,459…. A predictable formula would create stability and certainty in planning and hiring… The funding for economically disadvantaged students would increase from $272 to $422 per student…. This will help students experiencing poverty and give needed resources to schools that serve communities where poverty is concentrated.” She adds: “The Fair School Funding Plan… would separate charter and voucher funding from the state’s formula funding system… Charter and voucher programs would… be funded through a separate line item in the state budget.”

What Is Holding Up Support for the Fair School Funding Plan in the Ohio Senate When Public Schools Are Desperately in Need?

Here is the problem: Senate President Matt Huffman’s website defines him this way: “President Huffman is devoted to quality school choices for all families, lowering taxes and reducing regulations on Ohio’s small business.”  And the Ohio Coalition for Adequacy and Equity of School Funding quotes Senate Finance Committee Chairman Matt Dolan: “Where a child gets educated is not as important to us as: ‘The child gets educated.'” Huffman and Dolan are committed to marketplace school choice at public expense; neither is committed to public education as one of our most essential community institutions and our mutual obligation to our children.

The All In for Ohio Kids Campaign is all about calling members of the Ohio Senate to uphold the state’s constitutional mandate for adequate public school funding, distributed equitably according to need and considering each school district’s capacity to raise local school taxes. The Ohio Constitution does not provide for diverting public dollars to privately operated charter schools or, as tuition vouchers, to pay for private schooling.

Pearson’s Operation of the GED: Kicking Down the Very People Who Need a Leg Up

Alarmed by what the corporate education giant Pearson has done since 2014 to undermine educational opportunity, Policy Matters Ohio just published a report by Hannah Halbert, GED Collapse in Ohio: State Needs Launch Pads Not Barricades.  Halbert explains: “The number of Ohioans who pass the high school equivalency exam has plummeted since Pearson VUE, the world’s largest private for-profit education corporation, took over testing, tripled the cost, changed the test and created other barriers… After the Pearson changes were implemented, the number of Ohioans passing the GED… plunged by 85 percent, from more than 14,800 a year on average between 2009 and 2013 to fewer than 2,200 in 2014.”

After watching GED scores across the United States collapse in each of the past two years since it took over the GED program, Pearson just reset the passing score to lower the bar for passage.  And it made the new easier cut score retroactive for the two years since it took over the design and administration of the test.  Cut scores on standardized tests are, after all, not scientifically calibrated but are instead set by the corporations and politicians who design and implement the tests.  Pearson’s recalibration of the passing score demonstrates that Pearson is worried about the number of  states that have chosen to abandon the GED for tests being proffered by other corporations, tests that do not pose so many barriers to test takers.  In Ohio, Pearson’s recalibration has helped some test takers, but it hasn’t changed the overall GED test score collapse: “A recent change in GED scoring increased the total number of Ohioans who passed the GED over the last two years by 1,425.  Even with this change, we estimate that there are about 22,000 fewer Ohioans with an equivalency degree than we would have had….” under the old GED exam used before Pearson took over.

If you consider the group of people likely to try for high school equivalency by taking the GED test—people who have dropped out of high school—people who are likely to be poor and may be unemployed—people who may struggle to buy a computer and afford on-line access, you might wonder if Pearson is either ignorant about its target population or just, for some perverse reason, making it hard for them to use its product: “The changes Pearson made include tripling the cost of the test from $40 to $120, requiring test-takers to use a a computer, testing more analytical and complex skills, and requiring online registration with an e-mail address and a credit card.  In a perverse way, the changes create huge barriers for the very population that needs a high school equivalency.”  Halbert describes what would appear to be Pearson’s elitist bias: “Some assume that the whole world is perpetually wired into the Internet and that everyone has an e-mail address and credit card.  But that ignores the reality of how many people without a high school education live.  Census data show that about 47.9 percent of Ohioans without a high school diploma or equivalent have no Internet service or no computer at all.  The FDIC estimates that about 50.9 million American adults don’t have bank accounts, meaning that they have to resort to alternative financial services like payday lenders to obtain services like credit… Many low-income Ohioans without a high school degree lack computer access and skills.  Now, to get into a technical program that would help them obtain those skills and increase their income, they must pass a relatively expensive, computerized test.”

Why do people who have dropped out of high school decide to try for a GED credential? According to Halbert, nearly two-thirds of Ohioans who sign up for the test said they did so to further their education and half said they did so in hopes of finding better jobs: “Most respondents who selected education were taking the test to enter a two-year program…. Another 19.6 percent hoped to go to a technical or trade school.  Among those motivated by employment, 44.5 percent were seeking a better job, more than 8 percent were trying to get a first job, and 11.9 percent were trying to keep a job or fulfill a job requirement.”

In an obvious mismatch, however, Pearson’s new GED is coordinated with the new Common Core Standards that emphasize college readiness and more critical thinking.  Pearson’s partner in this venture, the American Council on Education (ACE) is an organization of college presidents, and it is presumably with ACE’s encouragement that Pearson emphasizes college readiness in the new test despite that many who seek to pass the GED aspire to job placement or technical education.

Policy Matters suggests that like the 21 other states that now offer alternatives to the Pearson test, Ohio should consider switching GED providers.  Alternatives  mentioned are a test from the Educational Testing Service and another from CTB/McGraw-Hill.

Policy Matters concludes by reminding Ohioans that funding for the network of programs that help candidates prepare for the GED has also been reduced in recent state budgets along with cuts to a range of programs to support vulnerable citizens : “Under this (Kasich) administration Ohio has cut taxes by more than $17,000 each year for the top 1 percent of Ohioans, while increasing taxes for the 20 percent with the lowest income.  Rather than prioritizing tax cuts, the state could invest in our system and put thousands of Ohioans on a path toward a career, helping employers meet their talent needs, and enriching communities across the state.”

Ohio School Choice Leaves Behind Traditional Public Schools of Last Resort

Policy Matters Ohio has released Misleading Measurements: How Ohio School Ratings Foster False Comparisons, a new report on school ratings in Ohio’s large urban districts.  The report examines demographic characteristics of students in Ohio’s highest rated urban district public schools (often special or magnet schools) and highest ranked urban charters.

“Policy Matters compared demographics of the urban schools scoring highest on state measures with the districts in which they are located.  We found that the majority of the highest-rated schools served different populations from those districts, enrolling fewer children with disabilities, fewer poor students, and fewer minorities.”

Here are specifics:

  • Of 28 high-rated schools studied, 27 enroll a lower percent of students with disabilities than the school district where the school is situated.
  • While Ohio’s urban districts serve, on average, 86 percent of students in poverty, the higher rated district and charter schools average only 50 percent poor students.
  • Highly ranked schools, with one or two exceptions, serve significantly fewer black and Hispanic students and more white students.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the schools studied are selective.  Examples of screens include a minimum GPA, standardized test scores, auditions, interviews, or the requirement that students or parents sign contracts.
  • High scoring schools frequently cap their enrollment (which means they turn students away)  to keep class sizes small.  Some have early application deadlines that screen out late-comers.  Some do not replace students who drop out.
  • Many of the charters in particular  that are located in urban districts accept students from surrounding suburbs.

School choice programs where selective screens are permitted segregate children not only by race and economics but also by disabilities. If the selection process is quite complicated then the selective schools screen out children whose parents are less able to be savvy advocates.

Selective screens create yet another way to concentrate advantage in selective schools and concentrate need in traditional public schools that soon become schools of last resort for the children who appear less desirable.  This philosophy of education differs markedly from our traditional American belief in public schools called to serve all the children who come through the school house door.

The words of the Rev. Jesse Jackson once again describe what is happening: “There are those who would make the case for a race to the top for those who can run.  But lift from the bottom is the moral imperative because it includes everybody.”