July 14, 2015

The Verdict on Charter Schools?. . . Do charter schools lift students as much as they reflect the aspirations of political activists and private donors? It seems that the abstract idea of charter schools began to outshine hard evidence on whether they were having a positive impact on student learning. Established charter schools such as KIPP that have been in operation for years, along with those serving large shares of black and Latino kids, do often lift achievement at higher rates than do traditional counterparts. But charter campuses can limit the learning of white, urban students relative to their counterparts who remain in traditional public schools, according to Stanford’s Margaret Raymond, who tracked over 1 million charter students in dozens of cities over five years.   The Atlantic

PA: In Pennsylvania city, the poor are paying the price for a bad water deal. . . By all practical measures, Coatesville is 2 square miles of ghetto. Yet more than a dozen residents told Al Jazeera that, despite low use, they spend more than $100 each month for water, on par with residents of major cities such as San Francisco. All of their money goes to the private company that owns Coatesville’s water system, Pennsylvania-American Water Co., or PAWC. The dilapidation of Coatesville is closely intertwined with the growing cost of water. Back in 2001, city officials sold the rights to the system to PAWC, in the hopes that the revenue from the sale could spark an urban renaissance. But that turnaround never came. Now thousands of low-income people must pay exorbitant prices to access a basic resource. Al Jazeera America

PA: Fighting Back Through Resistance: Challenging the Defunding and Privatization of Public Education. . . The premise of the “Reclaiming the Promise of Pennsylvania’s Public Education” campaign is that the old Republican Governor, Tom Corbett, recently left office after having followed the national trend of defunding public education. This tour is designed to put pressure on the new Democratic Governor, Tom Wolfe, to make an effort to deliver on one of his key campaign promises, that is, to restore the millions of dollars that Corbett cut from public education while Governor. Truth-Out

NY: An Altar to Donald Trump Swallows Up Public Space in Manhattan. . . .What was promised as a pedestrian causeway in crowded Midtown Manhattan now more resembles an altar to Mr. Trump, one that New York City officials have struggled for a decade to dislodge. Now that he is vying for the Republican nomination, public-space advocates are hoping all the attention might help resolve their territorial dispute with Mr. Trump as well. It is a New York peculiarity that an atrium lined with golden mirrors, Gucci logos and an 80-foot waterfall would qualify as a public amenity. Yet there are hundreds of these privately owned public spaces, colloquially known as POPS, dotting Manhattan and a sliver of Brooklyn. New York Times

MI: Michigan ends prison food contract year after company fined. Michigan has terminated a three-year, $145 million contract with Aramark Correctional Services a year after the company hired to feed state prisoners came under scrutiny for unapproved menu substitutions, worker misconduct and other issues, state officials announced Monday. . . Michigan fined Aramark $200,000 last year for unauthorized food changes, inadequate staffing and employee misconduct such as fraternizing with inmates and drug smuggling.Centre Daily Times

MN: Residents Defeat Plan to Privatize and Demolish Glendale Townhomes. Following months of protests, residents of Glendale Townhomes, a public housing complex in Minneapolis’ Prospect Park Neighborhood, are claiming victory after pushing back city plans to demolish and privatize their community.   Socialist Alternative

WI: What Gov. Scott Walker is about to do to Wisconsin’s public schools. . . Buried within the budget are 135 non-budget policy items — a toxic cocktail of attacks on public education, democracy, environmental protections and labor rights. For Wisconsin’s schools, the budget is a blueprint for abandoning public education. In Milwaukee, in addition to insufficient funding, the budget includes a “takeover” plan that increases privatization and decreases democratic control of the city’s public schools. Washington Post (blog)

NY: New York ditches controversial test-maker Pearson. The state awarded a new five-year deal to Questar Assessment Inc., a Minneapolis-based company that has emerged in recent years as a smaller competitor to Pearson, the dominant vendor in the country’s lucrative standardized testing market. The switch allows the state to distance itself from Pearson, which has faced intense criticism for missteps and errors included in its New York tests and become symbolic of broader concerns about the privatization of public education. Chalkbeat Colorado