Complaints against harassment by the TUSD Desegregation Fisher “Plaintiff” continue

The following open letter to TUSD was posted on this recently posted article’s comment section.

TS and Readers: The following was sent to Board and Supt. today.

August 6, 2018

Dear TUSD Governing Board and Dr. Gabriel Trujillo:

I was very glad to see what the Whistleblowers reported about Gloria Copeland in Three Sonorans. Good and brave of the Whistleblowers! In reaction to the Whistleblowers’ 72nd letter, Dr. Gabriel Trujillo is saying that Gloria Copeland, Fisher plaintiffs’ representative (or whatever her role is) has the same rights to visit schools as any other “citizen.” This immediately shows how oblivious he is about Gloria Copeland’s behavior throughout the District and his lack of power or willingness to protect TUSD employees from Gloria’s out-of-bounds behavior at the schools. Maybe he believes Gloria’s bluff that she has two or three Board members “in-pocket.” (She throws Michael Hick’s name around all of the time and suggests that she speaks to Mark Stegeman regularly and she throws in that when she spoke with Rachael Sedgewick she said this and she said that so that people will know that she is also in contact with her.) It is one of her intimidation tricks. Basically, she is constantly dropping their names. I refuse to believe that any of these three Board members condone what Gloria is doing in the schools or other TUSD offices and I challenge each board member and Dr. Trujillo to condone her conduct or to denounce it. Remaining silent actually condones Gloria’s behavior and it allows her to continue with her awful disrespectful and disruptive behavior. read more

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Whistleblowers demand Fisher Plaintiffs follow TUSD policies including state and federal law

We grant our permission to publish this letter and to distribute it widely. The Whistleblowers are the sole authors of all of our letters. Those who publish or reference our letters are not involved in writing or influencing our letters.

72nd Open Letter to TUSD Governing Board and Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo- Request to Stop Intimidation, Harassment, Insults, Bullying, Threats, and Coercion by Gloria Copeland- STOP HER Meeting at Sahuaro HS on Friday, August 3, 2018

From: TUSD Whistleblowers– Comprised of a Large Group of Extremely Concerned TUSD Administrators, Teachers, Retired Administrators, Parents, & Grandparents read more

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DeVos Plan Makes It Harder for Defrauded Students to Get Loan Relief

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by COLLIN BINKLEY / The Associated Press.

Students who are defrauded by their schools would have a harder time getting their federal loans erased under new rules proposed by the Trump administration on Wednesday.

The proposal, which aims to replace a set of Obama-era rules that were never implemented, drew applause from the for-profit industry but sharp criticism from advocacy groups that represent student borrowers.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the proposal lays out clear rules schools must follow to avoid trouble, while also protecting students harmed by deception.

“Our commitment and our focus has been and remains on protecting students from fraud,” DeVos said.

Under the proposal, students would be eligible for loan relief if they can prove their schools knowingly misled them with statements or actions that directly led them to take out loans or enroll at the school.

That would be a higher bar than rules finalized under Obama in 2016 after the collapse of two for-profit schools, Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute. Those rules allowed relief in a wider range of cases dealing with breach of contract.

Education Department documents supporting DeVos’ proposal argue that, while students should be protected from fraud, they also have an obligation to do their research before picking schools.

“Postsecondary students are adults who can be reasonably expected to make informed decisions if they have access to relevant and reliable data about program outcomes,” the department said.

The new proposal is estimated to save nearly $13 billion over the next decade compared to spending estimates under the Obama rules, primarily by reducing the amount of loan relief awarded to students.

The department said it had received more than 100,000 borrower defense claims from students since 2015.

Schools would also have an opportunity to respond to claims of fraud, under the new proposal, which says schools should have a chance to defend themselves against unsubstantiated claims that could damage their reputations and their revenue.

It would also allow schools to force students into arbitration agreements barring them from suing the school, a practice used by some for-profit colleges that would have been banned under Obama’s rules.

The Education Department said the new rules would apply to loans taken out after July 1, 2019.

Opponents blasted the proposal, saying it places schools ahead of students and discourages victims from pursuing debt relief.

“It encourages abusive and predatory institutions to continue to rip off students with impunity, while slamming the door on the debt relief that Congress has instructed the department to provide to cheated students,” said Toby Merrill, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard University.

Bob Shireman, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a former education official under Obama, said the proposal “is perhaps the most damaging action Betsy DeVos has taken since assuming office.”

“These changes would effectively strip students of their right to recourse if they believe that a college or university has misled them, making it next to impossible for defrauded students to get the relief they are entitled to,” he said.

But the changes were hailed as an improvement by the for-profit college industry and some Republicans.

Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the trade group Career Education Colleges and Universities, said previous versions of the rules allowed for “carte blanche approval” of fraud claims, to the detriment of schools and their students.

“The department has undertaken a thoughtful and deliberate approach to this rule, and we applaud their hard work on this important matter,” Gunderson said.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee and chairman of the Senate’s education committee, said DeVos’ proposal will prevent taxpayers from footing the bill for “unreasonable or unsubstantiated claims of fraud.”

“The Obama administration went too far in rewriting this provision by setting overly broad and vague standards and as a result, put taxpayers on the hook for too many loans,” he said.

Education officials under Obama created new rules to clarify the debt relief process after thousands of students said they were defrauded by for-profit colleges.

Before that, federal officials relied on a patchwork of state laws to determine if students deserved loan forgiveness.

Shortly before the updated rules were scheduled to take effect last year, DeVos delayed them and opened the process to rewrite them. Meanwhile, the Education Department’s work processing fraud claims has ground to a halt, with nearly 100,000 pending applications.

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Sick of Student Loans? Some Schools Are Accepting Parts of Future Earnings Instead

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Clara Romeo.

Norwich University will offer its students an income share agreement as an alternative to traditional repayment of education-related debt. The agreement will allow students to forgo loans and instead pay a portion of their future earnings over a set period.

The military university hails the program, which it announced earlier this week, as an “initiative aimed at improving affordability, student retention, and degree completion.” Lauren Wobby, the school’s chief financial officer and treasurer, said, “Norwich University is committed to offering this new way to help pay for college in a way that aligns incentives and helps reduce financial barriers to degree completion.”

To offer the payment option, Norwich University has partnered with Vemo Education, which has provided an estimated $23 million to fund income share agreements at other colleges.

Vemo Education touts its funding project as a way to increase upward social mobility. Co-founder and CEO of Vemo Education Tonio DeSorrento commented, “In many cases, the college degree remains a prerequisite for social and economic mobility—but rising costs and questions about affordability often lead students to underinvest in their higher education or not finish their degree program.” Social mobility may not be the only goal. When Purdue introduced ISAs, the institution saw return of 5-7%. Vemo has since partnered with the university.

Some others in the academic community are wary of the payment system, expressing doubt that it will make higher education substantially more affordable.

“I’m very concerned if we are saying it’s a positive that on top of people coming out with federal student loans to repay, we’re going to take another bite out of their income by adding an ISA [income share agreement] obligation,” Jessica Thompson, policy and research director at the Institute for College Access & Success, told The Washington Post in January after Point Loma Nazarene University instituted a similar repayment system.

Some voice concerns that discriminatory practices will be directed against students who choose to study subjects deemed less profitable by institutions. “If income share agreement providers aren’t careful, they can definitely see unintended consequences in discriminatory terms toward students. This is one of the biggest differences between income share agreements and federal student loans,” said Clare McCann, deputy director for education policy at the New America Foundation.

The Economist reports, “The share of income signed over ranges from 2% to 17%, with students in high-earning fields, such as medicine or engineering, usually paying a smaller share of earnings for a shorter time than students of literature or fine art.” Typical ISAs are structured to be paid over a period of ten years, but the payment period varies depending on the individual student’s agreement.

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Billionaires Fuel Powerful State Charter Groups, Analysis Finds

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by SALLY HO / The Associated Press.

SEATTLE—Dollar for dollar, the beleaguered movement to bring charter schools to Washington state has had no bigger champion than billionaire Bill Gates.

The Microsoft co-founder gave millions of dollars to see a charter school law approved despite multiple failed ballot referendums. And his private foundation not only helped create the Washington State Charter Schools Association, but has at times contributed what amounts to an entire year’s worth of revenues for the 5-year-old charter advocacy group.

All told, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given about $25 million to the charter group that is credited with keeping the charter schools open after the state struck down the law, and then lobbying legislators to revive the privately run, publicly funded schools.

It’s an extreme example of how billionaires are influencing state education policy by giving money to state-level charter support organizations to sustain, defend and expand the charter schools movement across the country.

Since 2006, philanthropists and their private foundations and charities have given almost half a billion dollars to those groups, according to an Associated Press analysis of tax filings and Foundation Center data. The review looked at 52 groups noted by a U.S. Department of Education website as official charter school resources in the 44 states plus Washington, D.C., that currently have a charter law, as well as the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Most of the money has gone to the top 15 groups, which received $425 million from philanthropy. The Walton Family Foundation, run by the heirs to the Walmart fortune, is the largest donor to the state charter advocates, giving $144 million to 27 groups.

“We ought to be paying more attention to who these organizations are, and what kind of vision they have, and what drives them. A lot of these organizations have extraordinary influence, and it’s often pretty quiet influence,” said Jon Valant, an education policy expert at Brookings.

Charters aren’t subject to the same rules or standards governing traditional public schools but are embraced by Gates and other philanthropists who see them as investments in developing better and different ways to educate those who struggle in traditional school systems, particularly children in poor, urban areas. Studies on academic success are mixed.

The charter support groups, as nonprofits, are typically forbidden from involvement in political campaigns, but the same wealthy donors who sustain them in many cases directly channel support to pro-charter candidates through related political action committees or their own contributions. In one indication of the philanthropy’s success in asserting its priorities, Georgia’s lieutenant governor was recorded saying he was motivated to support school choice laws to curry the Walton foundation’s favor for his gubernatorial campaign. The Walton family has denied any connection to the candidate.

Nationwide, about 5 percent of students attend charters. They have become a polarizing political issue amid criticism from some, notably teachers unions, that they drain resources from cash-starved schools and erode the neighborhood schooling model that defines communities.

The Walton foundation notes the groups it funds have resources that often pale in comparison to the war chests of teachers unions, the usual foes in their battles over state education policy.

“The philanthropic support is essential for a small group of schools” that represents disadvantage families without their own political power, said Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a University of Washington-affiliated think tank that has in the past been funded by the Gates foundation to do work supporting charter schools.

But John Rogers, an education policy expert and UCLA professor, said it’s a problem for democracy that billionaires who back a certain model of education reform can go toe-to-toe with a critical mass of professional teachers.

“A handful of billionaires who are advancing their vision of education reform is very different than having 200,000-some odd teachers across the state representing their understanding of public education through their union representation,” Rogers said.

In California, the Waltons are the biggest backers of the powerhouse California Charter School Association, which has gotten more than $100 million since 2006 with support coming also from Gates, Michael and Susan Dell and the Mark Zuckerburg-backed Silicon Valley Community foundations.

“We’re proud of our partners and very open about our desired outcomes, and that is, honestly, access to more better schools,” said Marc Sternberg, who leads the Walton foundation’s education program.

Sternberg said the foundation doesn’t set the agenda but wants to empower the local vision, which has included the charter association’s fight for more money and access to public school buildings through lawsuits against Los Angeles Unified, the country’s second-largest school district. The California charter group said it works aggressively when painted into a corner.

A political arm of the association also has been a force in Golden State politics. It’s now focusing on pushing pro-charter candidates in the November election, including former charter schools executive Marshall Tuck for state schools superintendent, and a number of legislative seats.

In Washington state, charter skeptics say Gates single-handedly propped up the entire charter school network. He gave at least $4 million to help pass a state charter school law, though the concept had failed three times at the ballot. Voters eventually approved a charter school law in 2012, making Washington one of the last states to adopt the schooling model.

After the state’s highest court ruled in 2015 that the charter law’s funding model was unconstitutional, the Gates-backed state charter group shepherded almost $5 million to keep the lights on at six charter schools and urged legislators to pass a new law. In 2016, its political arm called Washington Charters Action was created, and an affiliated political action committee has already given small amounts to dozens of state lawmakers up for election this fall.

Today, the state’s teachers union is challenging the second version of the law. The Washington Educators Association’s spokesman Rich Wood said the charter group inserted itself into the case after the union sued the state.

The Washington charter group — and all the charter schools in the state — wouldn’t agree to be interviewed. The Gates foundation said in a statement it is not involved with the lawsuit but values the association’s technical work helping charter schools blossom.

Some critics say money can define the advocacy itself, so not all charter support groups accept money from the billionaire philanthropists.

A second statewide charter support organization in California, the Charter Schools Development Center, relies on programming fees to preserve its independence, according to director Eric Premack.

Though the two California charter groups share many similar values, Premack said, they’re on different sides of the testing issue: how to and how much to use test scores to determine educational quality. Premack said he rejects test-based accountability — embraced by the California Charter Schools Association and many of its business mogul donors — as antithetical to the charter movement’s innovative spirit.

“You often find them being close political bedfellows — if not the same — who support high-stakes testing,” Premack said.

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Associated Press journalist Larry Fenn contributed from New York.

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Trump to Rescind Obama-Era Guidance on Affirmative Action

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by ERIC TUCKER / The Associated Press.

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration is rescinding Obama-era guidance that encouraged schools to take a student’s race into account to encourage diversity in admissions, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

The shift would give schools and universities the federal government’s blessing to take a race-neutral approach to the students they consider for admission. Such guidance does not have the force of law, but schools could use it to help defend themselves against lawsuits over their admission policies.

The action comes amid Supreme Court turnover expected to produce a more critical eye toward schools’ affirmative action policies.

The high court’s most recent significant ruling on the subject bolstered colleges’ use of race among many factors in the college admission process. But the opinion’s author, Anthony Kennedy, announced his resignation last week, giving President Donald Trump a chance to replace him with a justice who will be more reliably skeptical of affirmative action.

A formal announcement was expected later Tuesday from the Justice and Education departments, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak on the record.

The guidance from the Obama administration gave schools a framework for “considering race to further the compelling interests in achieving diversity and avoiding racial isolation.”

In a 2011 policy document, the administration said schools have a “compelling interest” in ensuring a diverse student body, and that while race should not be the primary factor in an admission decision, schools could lawfully consider it in the interest of achieving diversity.

“Institutions are not required to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable,” the guidance said. “In some cases, race-neutral approaches will be unworkable because they will be ineffective to achieve the diversity the institution seeks.”

The administration issued a similar guidance document in 2016 aimed at giving schools a framework for “considering race to further the compelling interests in achieving diversity and avoiding racial isolation.”

The Obama approach replaced Bush-era policy from a decade earlier that discouraged affirmative action programs and instead encouraged the use of race-neutral alternatives, like percentage plans and economic diversity programs.

The Trump administration signaled Tuesday that it planned to reinstate the Bush administration’s philosophy.

Civil liberties groups immediately decried the move, saying it went against decades of court rulings that permit colleges and universities to take race into account.

“We condemn the Department of Education’s politically motivated attack on affirmative action and deliberate attempt to discourage colleges and universities from pursuing racial diversity at our nation’s colleges and universities,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement.

In 2016, the Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Kennedy, granted affirmative action policies a narrow victory by permitting race to be among the factors considered in the college admission process.

Kennedy wrote that the University of Texas’ admission plan was in line with past court decisions that allowed for the consideration of race to promote diversity on college campuses.

The ruling bitterly disappointed conservatives who thought that Kennedy would be part of a Supreme Court majority to outlaw affirmative action in education. Justice Antonin Scalia died after the court heard arguments in the case but before the decision was handed down.

Eight states already prohibit the use of race in public college admissions: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the move.

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Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

Associated Press writers Mark Sherman and Jesse Holland in Washington contributed to this report.

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Denmark Imposes New Restrictions on Immigrants

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Ilana Novick.

Denmark is requiring residents in 25 majority-immigrant enclaves to send their children to mandatory Christian and Danish values classes or risk losing their welfare benefits. It’s the latest in a series of immigrant-restricting proposals not only from the Danish government, but from far-right politicians across Europe who are revising government policies regarding immigrants.

In June, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban implemented the “Stop Soros” law (named after Hungarian philanthropist George Soros), which bans individuals and organizations from providing aid to undocumented immigrants. As Vox explains, “ [The law] is so broadly worded, that, in theory, the government could arrest someone who provides food to an undocumented migrant on the street.”

Also in June, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini proposed a census of the country’s Roma population, drawing parallels, as CNN observes, “with race laws approved during the regime of Benito Mussolini.” It’s not yet a law, but as Al-Jazeera reported Sunday, local authorities cleared a Roma camp of  approximately 450 people shortly after Salvini called for the census.

Denmark’s laws, however, are particularly striking, both in terms of how they target specific areas based on immigrant population, and in the severity of punishments for noncompliance, which in some cases can result in jail time or loss of the country’s extensive welfare benefits.

The Danish government, The New York Times reports, is “introducing a new set of laws to regulate life in 25 low-income and heavily Muslim enclaves, saying that if families there do not willingly merge into the country’s mainstream, they should be compelled.”

The series of laws, also known as “the ghetto package,” includes proposals to double jail time for certain crimes committed in the neighborhoods and to punish parents for sending their children on long trips to their country of origin. One proposal that was rejected for being too radical would have banned certain immigrant children from the 25 enclaves from being outside their homes after 8 p.m.

The proposal requiring mandatory Danish and Christian values education, however, was passed by the Danish parliament last month.

From the time children are 1 year old, the Times explains, they “must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in ‘Danish values,’ including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments. Other Danish citizens are free to choose whether to enroll children in preschool up to the age of six.”

Danish Minister of Education Merete Riisager explained the reasoning behind the law to The Copenhagen Post, saying, “There are a number of parents who come from the Middle East who have a totally different understanding of pedagogy, childhood and school than their Scandinavian counterparts.”

In addition to Danish and Christian education for preschoolers, Time magazine reports that 5- and 6-year-old students in 24 Danish schools will be “ ‘guinea pigs’ for a new policy aimed at integrating non-Western immigrants into Danish society. From 2019, it will become law for schools that take more than 30 percent of their students from “ghetto” areas to force their students to take language tests.”

Denmark has long struggled with how to balance its generous welfare state, intended to serve a small, mostly white, Christian population, with an influx of immigrants, many of them Muslim. The white Danes the Times quoted were as supportive of these new laws as they were disparaging of immigrants.

Anette Jacobsen, a retired pharmacist’s assistant, praised the welfare benefits that gave her and her four children free education and health care, saying that  “she felt a surge of gratitude every time she paid her taxes,” but maintaining that she and other white Danes are deserving of Denmark’s benefits, unlike immigrants, who Jacobsen believes abuse the system. As she explained, “There is always a cat door for someone to sneak in,” and, she continued, “their culture doesn’t fit here.”

Never mind that, as Rokhaia Naassan, a daughter of Lebanese refugees and a resident of an affected neighborhood told the Times, not only does she speak fluent Danish, she talks to her children in Danish, so much so that her children’s grandparents complain that they can’t talk to their grandchildren in Arabic. In addition, Naassan and her sisters said, they’d move out of their neighborhood if they could afford to.

When they were growing up, the sisters said they rarely encountered Islamophobia. Now, Rokhaia’s sister Sara wonders, “Maybe this is what they always thought, and now it’s out in the open.” She added, “Danish politics is just about Muslims now. They want us to get more assimilated or get out. I don’t know when they will be satisfied with us.”

 

 

 

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Latino Students Plaintiff responds to TUSD Supt Trujillo over latest Deseg court filings attacking Latinos

Last week on June 14th, 2018, TUSD Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo was on the Bill Buckmaster Show and was asked why TUSD is filing to dismiss the Latino Plaintiffs (Mendoza) from the over four-decades-old Desegregation Case. A short audio excerpt from the show is included below.

Trujillo responds that this is not true, but rather TUSD “has complied with ALL provisions of the Unitary Status Plan [aka “Deseg Order”] as it pertains to the Mexican American student portion.”

Trujillo goes on to say that this is “a radically different statement than saying ‘get rid of the plaintiff representative.’” Trujillo also goes on to agree with TUSD Board President Mark Stegeman’s claim that TUSD will be off of this Deseg Order within 4 years and explains how this will occur; that audio excerpt is also included in the video above for your convenience. read more

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