All in the Family

Has Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser been lobbying himself?

Update: Families for Excellent Schools shared via Twitter that Peyser is no longer on their board. No word on why the Secretary of State still lists him as a director of their 501 (c) (3) and (c) (4). And no word on why I got no response when I put the question to FES directly via email on 12/4… 

Reader: having now corresponded from the wilds of education reform land for some three years now (!), I’ve grown more or less inured to the conflicts of interest that seem to bloom like algae wherever homo reformus sets up shop. But when a tipster contacted me, asking if I was aware that Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser sits on the board of a charter school advocacy group, and directs its lobbying arm, even I was agog. So I followed the trail of breadcrumbs that the tipster helpfully provided to the Secretary of State’s corporations division where I typed in Peyser’s name, and voila, there Peyser was, or rather is…

PeyserFES

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Can You Spare $91,440?

Make that $111,039.50…

Update: Since I posted this story, a new study has officially confirmed what was already evident. Massachusetts has among the worst public records access in the country, earning an F from the Center for Public Integrity. That *F* by the way, stands for *fees,* as in the big fat kind. In fact, since our research group submitted our original public records request, several of the charter schools have increased their fees even higher. Boston Collegiate Charter now wants $9,330 for the information we requested. Excel Academy now wants $16,972.50. Match is up to $37,532. And Neighborhood House is up to $17,645. Which brings today’s big fat tally to $111,039.50—and rising. 

Here’s a math question for you, reader. Say one wanted to submit a public records request to a handful of charter schools, inquiring about their recent lobbying activities. How much do you suppose such a request might set one back? If you answered $91,440, you would be on the money.

FOIABut what kind of information could possibly merit fees of that kind? Refresh your beverage, reader, for ours is a long and twisted, not to mention outrageously expensive tale…  Continue reading →

Holy State Takeover!

Nine state takeover takeaways (because I ran out of time before I could come up with #10)

HolyokeWell that certainly didn’t take long. The official state takeover time piece barely registered two hours and the Holyoke Public Schools had officially entered a new state: taken over. If you are keeping count at home, that’s about half as long as the public hearing that preceded the vote, during which some 1,000 + Holyokesters, including some who stood for four hours, packed a hall to register their objections to the state’s takeover plans. In other words, nothing to see or hear here folks, especially, it seems, if you were one of the ten members of the state’s 12 member Board of Education who didn’t actually visit a single Holyoke school prior to casting your vote…

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¡Si Se Puede Take the Test!

Test takers who are still learning English get a special treat this time of year...

good luckPssst: did you know that there is a connection between how well one speaks English and how well one performs on a test conducted in English? If your answer was *no,* *I don’t understand the question,* or *charter schools,* an exciting leadership opportunity awaits. It’s time for another round of Let’s Take Over a District. This season’s lucky winner: scenic Holyoke, Massachusetts. We’re headed west, young reader, and there’s not a moment to spare. Continue reading →

Let Them Eat Charters

Will Massachusetts reduce its public school system to crumbs?

cake crumbsThe rich are different from you and me, reader. For one thing, they are rich, which means that when passion strikes they can forget, for a moment, their billable hours and labor for free. It’s called pro bono, and it is Roman for *charter schools are great.* I am alluding, of course, to the new news that three of Boston’s whitest white shoe law firms, WilmerHale, Goodwin Procter LLP and FoleyHoag LLP, are joining forces for the kids, for free. What makes this new news even newsier is that the three firms have long been fierce rivals in the battle to ensure that no litigation is left unlitigated. Why it’s like that time that crew-sters from Harvard, Yale AND Princeton all climbed into a single shell and rowed down the Charles together! Continue reading →