Department of Education’s Candice E. Jackson is a Fraud

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/06/dept-education-s-candice-e-jackson-fraud

The New York Times just reported that the Department of We Don’t Need No Education has decided that the United States no longer needs to have much of a civil rights office. A memorandum written by Candice E. Jackson, acting head of the civil rights division, has effectively removed federal oversight in all civil rights matters and will allow individual states to decide how to deal with their cases. You know, because there’s no such thing as racism, sexism or prejudice in Trump’s America anymore.

During the Obama presidency, the department attempted to identify and address systemic issues in education whether it was racial, gender, gender identity etc. This in-depth approach and a lack of funding from Congress caused a backlog of cases. With Trump’s budget proposal to starve the department and further cut 46 more full time positions, Betsy DeVos has decided to do what all rich, entitled white people do and simply walk away from the problem, pretending it doesn’t exist.

What this means to you and your children is that your states will now determine how to handle civil rights complaints. So, if your teen is transgendered and you live in North Carolina, he/she gets to hold his/her pee all day. If your daughter is date raped at a university that cares more about the careers of its football players or swimmers, it will be labeled as consensual sex. If you think your for-profit charter school district is purposefully segregating students based on the color of their skin, be sure you’re a citizen before you complain or ICE will deport you.

But what I find enlightening about this memo is who wrote it, because it’s when we look at the author and who she is, we see just where all this nonsense is coming from.

Candice E. Jackson is a right-wing nut job busily retweeting every Alex Jones, David Horowitz (Holocaust denier) and Anne Coutler keyboard vomit she can find. And just like all the other Trump administration jokers, she’s never worked in government or managed a group of people. Yet she was hired by Trump to lead a large civil rights department…er…I mean destroy the Department of Education’s civil rights department, and that’s the whole point, right? Right.

In her senior year at Stanford University, after having lived the hard life of being raised white in Washington state, in a doctor’s family, Candice wrote:

“In today’s society, women have the same opportunities as men to advance their careers, raise families, and pursue their personal goals.”

Wait it gets better:

“College women who insist on bonding together by gender to fight for their rights are moving backwards, not forwards.”

Candice also did a summer fellowship at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an economic think tank founded by Llewelyn Rockwell, Jr. The Institute states that it is based on an Austrian economist’s teachings that promotes free markets and that government interference is the absolute worst idea, which is interesting since it is a 501c3 nonprofit benefiting from not paying taxes on its donations. Apparently, that type of government intervention on their behalf is just fine. And speaking of donors: the Institute is funded by the Koch brothers’ Donor’s Trust foundation which is funded by the Mercers and…wait for it…the DeVos family!

Perhaps it was at the Institute that Candice became a minority hating bigot. I say that because the Ludwig von Mises Institute’s founder, Rockwell and a researcher, Jeffrey Tucker are also founding members of The League of the South, a neo-Confederate white supremacist organization that thinks the southern states should secede from the United States. Tucker has written articles for the League and many of the League’s members have been speakers at the Institute’s conventions. In fact, the Institute has argued that, “Desegregation in the civil rights era, resulted in the ‘involuntary servitude’ of (presumably white) business owners.” The Institute has been labeled a white supremacist hate group since 2000 by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Think about that for a moment. The acting head of the civil rights division of the Department of Education of the United States under the Trump administration attended a fellowship at a neo-Confederate, white supremacist institute.

Candice is also a lawyer who got her start at the ultra-right Judicial Watch, but it’s not through law that she’s made her name known among the right-wingers. She’s best known for writing a book, Their Lives: Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine. As the title suggests, it is an account of abuses alleged by the women in President Bill Clinton’s life. After releasing the book in 2005, she held events at the Clinton library to try and sell herself as the expert on this subject.

As you may have already guessed, it was Candice and Roger Stone who conspired to use PAC money to pay to have these women flown in for the 2nd debate of Trump vs. Clinton in the 2016 election. Additionally, she runs the Their Lives Foundation that claims Hillary Clinton mistreated women throughout her career. On her Facebook page, which she scrubbed, she called the Trump sexual assault accusers fake and said they were merely doing it for “political gain.”

In other words, Candice has made a living from using the stories of Clinton’s accusers, but says Trump’s accusers are frauds. Candice E. Jackson has made a career, if you can call it that, out of being the judge and jury of women’s sexual assault allegations against famous men, spreading lies about a woman who was a 1st Lady, senator, secretary of state and Democratic nominee for president. This and making sure that minorities have no recourse for when their civil rights are violated in our education system have been her contributions to our society.

Bravo Candice, bravo

 

Billionaires Buy L.A. School Board Members

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/05/billionaires-buy-la-school-board-members

Los Angeles’ May 16th election day is coming fast, and citizens are being inundated with fliers, phone calls, texts and emails. Most victims of this advertising tsunami have no clue who exactly is behind this man-made disaster. Thankfully though, someone has been doing their homework. According to Hedgeclippers.org, a group of activists from a variety of citizen organizations, the California Charter School Association (CCSA) has spent a record $4 million in 2017 on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) 2017 Race. Judging by those crazy numbers, either Los Angeles cares more about education than most other cities, or there’s big money to be made in education.

Oh, come on! Of course it’s about the money. LAUSD has more than 640,000 students and a budget of about $7.6 billion is up for grabs. Yes, that’s billion with a B. According to the CCSA, there were 292 charter schools in the LAUSD with over 40,000 students on waiting lists in 2016. Pro-charter organizations anticipate that these numbers will explode should the candidates they are backing win.

And chances are that they’re right. The CCSA alone has increased it’s spending on state and local legislative officials and lobbying of those officials every single year. Last year they spent $602,469.56 with three different firms lobbying for charter school expansion at the state level.

Pro-Charter Candidates Taking Large Donations from Charter Organizations

The California Charter School Association Advocates (CCSAA), the funding arm of the CCSA, is pouring unbelievable amounts of money into the race. Some of that “influence” money, as Betsy DeVos likes to call it, is directly contributed by CCSAA to pro-charter candidates. Some of it is contributed to candidates by the Parent Teacher Alliance (PTA), an organization we all know and love. That is until you look behind the curtain and discover that the CCSAA is funding the PTA.

A word to the wise, whenever you see an organization with a name like the PTA or Students for Education Reform (SFER), chances are the names are intentionally misleading. You might think the SFER is composed of actual students based on it’s title, but it is actually a big business organization like all the other charter school advocates. The name is derived from the claim that students from ivy league schools started the organization. In reality, it is simply a means for organizations and investors to funnel their money to for-profit charter groups without being known.

Candidates taking money from these organizations are pushing hard for charter schools in L.A. just as their masters demand they do. Of major concern is that the LAUSD presidency is up for grabs this year. Public school supporter and incumbent Steve Zimmer has so far kept pace with pro-charter candidate Nick Melvoin. However, Melvoin’s corporate backers have picked up the pace this month. Public school advocates are rightly concerned that voters will have no idea who is behind these candidates since those statistics won’t be released until after the election.

The majority of these corporate interest groups are not even located in L.A. Speak UP, another pro-charter advocate, is located in Pennsylvania. The PTA is out of Sacremento, and SFER is located in New York City of all places. LA Students for Change was a CCSA concept and though students are involved, they are led by CCSA adults. The following is the latest (5/13/2017) breakdown per LAUSD candidate that is being backed by these corporate interests:

Monica Garcia – District 02

  1. CCSAA – $120,374.42
  2. PTA – $42,183.98
  3. SFER – $31,895.20

Nick Melvoin – District 04 and President

  1. PTA – $1,823,462.24 and $1,539,910.86 (ads against Zimmer)
  2. Speak UP – $90,071.93
  3. SFER – $55,532.23
  4. LA Students for Change – $1,277,343.66 (ads against Zimmer)

Kelly Gonez – District 06

  1. CCSAA – $1,961,279.46 and $632,861.09 (ads against Padilla)
  2. PTA – $458,481.67 and $24,369.56 (ads against Padilla)

Billionaires & Millionaires Behind Funding

This labyrinth of pro-charter organizations are funded by a handful of billionaire investors. These families are the ones funding and running the push for deregulation and for-profit educations. Additionally, they are supporters of Trump and the Republican party.

  1. DeVos family from Michigan, Amway Corporation, worth $5.5 billion.
  2. Walton family of Arkansas, Walmart, worth $130 billion
  3. Broad family of California, KB Homes, worth $4 biilion
  4. Richard Riordan of California, fomer mayor of L.A., worth $100 million
  5. Fisher family of California, The Gap, worth $3.3 billion
  6. Michael Bloomberg of New York, New York City mayor, worth $47.5 billion
  7. John and Laura Arnold of Texas, Centaurus Advisors LLC hedge fund, worth $2.8 billion

These groups and their billionaire/millionaire backers want to turn public education into a private industry. Their goal is to access the never ending supply of tax dollars to fund their education corporations. Instead of tax money going directly to schools, they use charter management companies to take a cut from money that was intended for schools. These corporations also are involved in supplying charters with buildings, property, supplies and programs. This enables them to take more of the budget from schools.

L.A. parents and voters should know what exactly who they are putting in office. A vote for these candidates will ensure that taxpayer money for education will be diverted from their children to this giant web of for-profit charter school managers and suppliers. They should also ask themselves why so much money from out of county and state is supporting these candidates.

 

How DeVos Deregulation is Robbing Your Kids’ Education

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/05/how-devos-deregulation-robbing-your-kids

In September of 2016, the Office of Inspector General released a study on charter management organizations (CMOs). The report targeted their research towards how the use of CMO’s affected education programs, identified problems and recommendations. Even though these charter organizations received federal taxpayer money, Republican led states (which are the majority of states) have demanded that the federal Department of Education get their grubby little hands off of their schools. Their dreams came true with the election of Trump and his appointment of the deregulation and privatization queen of education, Betsy DeVos.

DeVos incessantly preaches about school choice, charters and voucher programs. In her uneducated opinion, she sees value only in deregulated, privately owned schools. I say uneducated because DeVos readily admitted her ignorance of the public education system during her confirmation, and she has expressed no desire nor any intention of educating herself. Her only goal is to have a Department of Education that is simply a bank for private charter schools. Her claim to support public education is an outright lie since so called public charter schools are actually privately owned and managed. She believes the Department of Education should have no say in how that money is spent, what programs it is used for or if that money is used wisely or within any guidelines.

This might seem like an interesting experiment in education reform if it hadn’t already been done. The truth is that the system DeVos is proposing already exists today because states do not bother to follow federal rules and regulations for charters receiving federal grant money. They can’t even be bothered to follow the minimal state requirements. No one is being held accountable for these violations. Regulations don’t mean a hill of beans if you aren’t able to gather data and perform audits. They mean even less when you can’t enforce penalties for violations, whether we are talking about the state or federal level. So, in practice, an unregulated education system has existed for decades.

OIG 2016 Report Summary

A CMO is an organization, whether for-profit or nonprofit, that consists of administrators that run the day to day operations of charter schools. They are responsible for hiring, firing, supplies, education programs, funding from state and federal grants, payroll etc. There is not a consistent definition of CMOs from state to state. Some states require a board of directors for each charter, while others allow a bundling of schools under one board. Additionally, states may have state education associations (SEAs) and local areas can have local education associations (LEAs).

The study found many CMOs with major “internal weaknesses.” This caused financial waste, fraud and abuse. There was a severe lack of accountability which created performance risks because no one from parents to teachers to administrators to legislators could evaluate whether these charters were even reaching their stated goals:

  1. CA, NY and FL could not tell auditors where their Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding went after it was given to LEAs.
  2. PA and CA couldn’t even tell which charters were using CMOs.
  3. MI and FL knew who was using CMOs, but could not provide any other information because those CMOs would not give them the data.
  4. FL did not bother to collect any data on federal grant allocation.
  5. CA, PA and TX could not provide data on how many students were enrolled in charter schools from 2011-2013. NY did not know how many charter school students they had from 2012-2013.
  6. CMO’s, SEAs and LEAs routinely failed to report how they were using federal grants, which is a violation of the Uniform Grant Guidance rules.

How CMO’s Can Rip Off Taxpayers

According to guidelines for those receiving federal education grants, officials cannot participate in decisions if they have a personal or financial interest in the outcome. But that didn’t stop the conflicts of interest. Since states have no reporting requirements, they have no clue what types of fraud are occurring.

The most popular way some CMO officials have skimmed taxpayer grant money to charter schools is by rental agreements. CMOs often own the land and buildings that house the schools they manage. CMO’s can inflate the rental price and therefore take whatever they want for lease agreements. In an effort to distance themselves from the fraudulent inflation of lease prices for schools, CMOs will create a subsidiary company to handle the rental. That subsidiary then sells the property to a partner company that deflates the rent allowing for the parent CMO to keep the extra.

It works like this: ABC Charter School is managed by Great CMO. Great CMO leases property to ABC for $2 million/year. Great CMO creates subsidiary Screw You LLC. Screw You LLC takes over and sells property to a partner firm, You’re Suckers LLP. You’re Suckers LLP then leases property back to Screw You LLC for $1 million/year. Then Screw You LLC has a profit of $1 million/year that goes to its parent company, Great CMO because the school originally paid $2 million/year. They have just taken $1 million/year more than the value of the property from taxpayers. All the while, transaction fees and such are also added.

Other scams involve CMO officials that also own the companies supplying services to the charter. The CMO managers then are the ones drawing up the contracts with the vendors which are essentially themselves. States are not bothering to ask for itemized receipts because they have not set up any systems for monitoring how education funds are being spent. This way John Doe, who owns the textbook company, can charge and approve those charges since he’s also the CMO manager. All this comes from federal and state grants that originate from taxpayers. In TX, an attorney was a member of the CMO while providing legal services to the charter school it managed. When a vote came up regarding how much to pay him for his legal services, he never bothered to recuse himself. As a provider and a member of the school, he used both positions to set his compensation amount.

Many CMO’s will charge exorbitant amounts for their services. The industry standard is set at roughly 14% of the charter’s costs. But many CMOs have been charging as much as 40%. This leaves schools without money for supplies and basic needs. Teachers end up with less pay and benefits because funds are going to the management companies. This explains why Betsy DeVos has also spent millions trying to break up teachers’ unions.

Recommendations

OIG recommended the use of federal oversight, legislative changes, and routine audits. Consistency in the education system is needed to facilitate these recommendations. But none of this is going to happen with Trump and DeVos in office. This confusion and self dealing is exactly what they propose for our children’s education system.

The swamp is overflowing. What say you?