Denver Sanity | Students Treated Like Trash, Literally | Youth Advocating Against Youth | Where LA and Chicago School Employees are Organized and Where They’re Not | Substantive Change in Oklahoma | Progressive Privatization Continues Apace

Access this post on the web here.

Weekend greetings, CharterFolk.

I’m going to try a few different things today.

First, rather than manually making screenshots showing articles from the websites of publications, I’m going to include screenshots of the thumbnails that publications use to summarize articles that are texted to you. The thumbnails don’t include all the information I present when I manually make screenshots from publications’ websites, but using the thumbnails is a lot faster and will save me considerable time.

I’ll show you how things will look different using a fun random article I came across this week as an example.

This is how a screenshot looks that I have made manually from a publication’s website.

This is how it looks just grabbing the thumbnail version.

The main things we lose are the dates of publication, which is often important to be able to see so you can know how current the news is, and the names of authors. Generally, you can assume that articles I post here will have run in the last few weeks, sometimes the last couple of months. If it’s older than that, I’ll specifically mention it, and if the article is from a well-known author, I’ll note that as well. Some publications don’t make thumbnails of their articles or don’t include a picture giving a sense what the article is about. In those cases, I will go ahead and keep making a manual screenshot version.

Secondly, for this column, I’m going to try redacting most of the links from the email version. I’m doing this because we’re finding that some of my posts have so many images and links that they overload our WordPress platform such that we can’t really track open rates and interaction. So if you want to access one of the articles cited here, click on either this link or the one at the top of the post. That will take you to the web version where you can access all the links.

We’ll try it today and see how it goes. As ever, I remain eager for feedback on anything going on here at CharterFolk. So if you have an opinion on any of these changes, ping me anytime at

Meanwhile, enjoy your ice cream guilt free this weekend, CharterFolk!

Let’s get on to the post.

Denver Sanity

I had several of you reach out regarding last week’s post about the Chicago elections and the new Education Industrial Complex that is emerging these days in Chicago and Los Angeles. Pat Donovan at RootED Denver surfaced that the recent mayoral election in Denver, with two strong charter school supporters advancing to the general, is reason for hope that not all cities are barreling down the same dysfunctional path.

I agree that it’s encouraging, further evidence …

… that the charter school movement has a level of momentum in western states that is making political dynamics that are profoundly different from what we are finding in many other places in the country right now.

Students Treated Like Trash, Literally

Meanwhile, Derrell Bradford from 50Can and I connected about my last post and other matters. He compared the results in Chicago to the recent chaos in France. He saw it as what happens when public employee unions are the de facto management of government-provided services. Garbage gets left to rot in the streets if they don’t get their way.

Which led us to rue the bitter irony that kids in the United States are now being treated like European trash …

… left out in heaps in the streets.

Youth Advocating Against Youth

The single thing I find most confounding about Paris and Chicago is how youth …

… in both places …

… are vesting their political power within coalitions that put the interests of youth …

June, 2020

… last.

Interviewed French youth are quoted saying they support their parents getting pension benefits they know they themselves will never get.

And don’t get me started on how the continued underfunding of public education pensions and other retiree benefits gives older people advantages at the expense of the young, most often the young who need greater fairness most.

It equates to youth advocating against youth.

The fight about what history our kids should be learning …

… goes on an on.

It obscures focus on the societal conditions that kids should care about most: the ones denying them the same chance in life that many of us who have come before have been afforded.

Where LA and Chicago School Employees are Organized and Where, Sadly, They’re Not

In several posts in recent months I have been talking about how CTU and UTLA are running the exact same playbook in Chicago and Los Angeles. This week, post-election analysis showed perhaps the most profound similarity:

The coming together of SEIU and the teacher union to amass new levels of political strength.

Meanwhile the evidence that students are still being left out in heaps continues to mount. This week in Los Angeles only very small numbers of students attended optional instructional days meant to address learning loss.

That news was followed up with word that UTLA is leading a boycott of weekly faculty meetings until a new contract is approved …

… confirming the sad reality that Los Angeles teachers have now become far better organized in the streets than they are in their own classrooms.

Substantive Change in Oklahoma

This week we saw further confirmation that religious liberty advocates remain very organized in their desire to make a point using charter schools as their canvas.

I stopped counting at 25 the number of major stories there were nationwide about the denial of the Catholic school charter this week. I understand all the attention. Obviously, the precedent that would be set should a religious charter school be allowed to open will have profound cultural and political implications across the country. But, ironically, I think it highly unlikely religious charter schools will have much practical impact in terms of creating many new learning opportunities for students. That’s because I have a hard time believing that many religious institutions are actually going to want to go through all the challenge of operating a charter school. Aside from the small number who are wanting to make a point on religious liberty matters, the vast majority of religious schools will remain much more interested in continuing to operate as private schools, which shows that the really potentially transformative changes that could happen in Oklahoma are ones that would broaden the state’s voucher program …

… and would create a statewide authorizer for charter schools …

… which would make it far easier and fairer for Oklahoma CharterFolk wanting to open charter schools – the vast majority of which, if not almost every one, will be nonsectarian.

Progressive Privatization Continues Apace

I’ll end in San Francisco, the city I’m calling the sadly most ironic place in the country these days.

This week Paul Gardiner kept up his great reporting at SFEDup, this time reporting on the latest application numbers for various schools in the district.

I found this section of his last post particularly striking.

For next year, 2023-24, SFUSD has assigned 112 fewer students for 9th grade, a drop of 2.4%. How that will translate into enrollment next year remains to be seen.

Despite this decline, the district increased the number of students assigned to Lowell by nearly one-third, from 674 to 893. That would be by far the highest class size in Lowell’s history ….

Overall enrollment in San Francisco Unified high schools appears to be continuing its slide, and in response, the district is vastly increasing the number of students admitted to its selective admissions school. Meanwhile, a former SFUSD board member announced her intention to create a relatively low cost ($18,000/year, which is low cost by San Francisco standards) private school.

Not so long ago, it would have been completely intuitive that someone in a California city who wanted to make a new educational option in the local community would have looked to make it a charter public school. But with San Francisco Unified having the unilateral authority to turn down new charter school applications these days, the only option for creating a new educational option in the city is to open up a new private school.

So what’s the true force driving privatization in progressive San Fransisco?

A school district operating schools that are so unacceptable that parents feel they have no choice but to go private.

And that school district at the same time converting itself to offer programs that are indistinguishable from those offered by private schools.

Progressive privatization, indeed.