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*** UPDATED x1 *** The rest of the story

Thursday, Apr 10, 2014

* From Illinois Watchdog

The Illinois House has approved a three-year ban on virtual charter schools, the moratorium coming shortly after a one-year ban expired.

“It’s an amazing story about what they want to do here in Illinois. We are going absolutely backward in terms of education reform and education innovation,” said Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute.

Much of the political pressure for the ban came from teachers unions, Dabrowski said.

“The school districts in Illinois have massive power. We have 868 school districts, the most in the nation, and they have massive power to keep out charter schools. They want to keep out competition, and so the unions and a couple of the legislators…have worked very hard to block reforms,” Dabrowski said. “There’s a lot of politics as usual.”

* But Dabrowski isn’t just on the Illinois Policy Institute’s payroll. From a June, 2013 Daily Herald story

A controversial push to open the Illinois Virtual Charter School at Fox River Valley in August ended during Tuesday’s state charter school commission meeting, barely 24 hours after the applicants withdrew their pending appeals in a surprise change of course.

School boards in 18 districts from Algonquin to Plainfield refused to grant a charter to Virtual Learning Solutions, a fledgling nonprofit that formed last winter to apply for the school. The applicants appealed to the state commission for a second opinion, launching a process that was expected to wrap up in late July after public hearings and interviews by commissioners.

Then, on May 24, Gov. Pat Quinn approved a one-year moratorium on the establishment of new virtual charter schools, throwing the appeal process into limbo. […]

Ted Dabrowski, a Wilmette resident who works as vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, took over as president of Virtual Learning Solutions when Sharnell Jackson resigned the week the moratorium became law. He said Monday it was “obvious” the one-year moratorium required his group’s project be put on hold.

Dabrowski had served as the company’s treasurer before taking over as president.

*** UPDATE *** A peevish response from the Illinois Policy Institute…

Rich,

Do you even care about facts? Ted is a VOLUNTEER at that school, no comp, only gives his time because he cares about educating kids who are under served by the traditional system.

You are wrongly feeding the union backed narrative that something is going on that is not. What is going on is the public system continues to fail the poor and minorities and it is the unions that are preventing choices that help the very people they lock into the failing system.

Helping to inaccurately disparage good people who volunteer their time, whether you agree with their policies or not, is appalling. The school is a non profit, and Ted is a volunteer board member. You should have pointed that out, he has no financial interest in that charter or the expansion of charters. To say or imply otherwise is to mislead your readers. Meanwhile, the unions DO have a financial interest, as do local school boards, in blocking charters that would help children.

What a sad commentary.

John


John Tillman
CEO

Illinois Policy Institute
Illinois Policy Action

- Posted by Rich Miller        


31 Comments
  1. - Gabe - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 9:04 am:

    You know…I’m starting to get the feeling that the folks at the IPI might not be telling us the whole truth.


  2. - PublicServant - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 9:11 am:

    Thanks for following the money Rich.


  3. - OneMan - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 9:12 am:

    The whole virtual charter thing was really unpopular with school boards (and based off what people were saying at my local school board meeting, folks in the districts in general)
    in the Fox Valley.


  4. - William j Kelly - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 9:16 am:

    I am starting to believe that people might be starting to believe that iPi is duplicitous.


  5. - Demoralized - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 9:24 am:

    What. A. Joke.

    The IPI shows yet again why it’s a worthless organization.


  6. - Judgment Day - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 9:53 am:

    So, would this ban extension affect a ‘virtual’ charter school that decided to base it’s ‘virtual operations’ around the Khan Academy lesson plans?

    Link: https://www.khanacademy.org/

    If so, that’s just sheer lunacy by the teachers unions. Khan Academy is a proven operation.

    Don’t want the state of Illinois to get a reputation as being a leader in “trailing edge technology”.


  7. - Walker - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 9:56 am:

    Is IPI any better a source for information than Dan Proft?


  8. - OneMan - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 9:59 am:

    Judgement Day…

    At least in my district the opposition wasn’t driven by the school teachers at all. It was driven in large part by the school board who didn’t want to see money going to a charter operator…


  9. - Obamas Puppy - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    you mean school reformers are trying to make money off of kids? Shocking (sarcasm). I guess local control only matters when it works in your favor.


  10. - SonofSuperAbe2014 - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    Like the idea of virtual charter schools, but have grave concerns about IPI. I understand they are moving their home office to Cicero. Makes it much easier for Dan Proft to commute.


  11. - From the 'Dale to HP - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    If there is a bigger scam than “school reform” in Illinois these days, I’d love to know about it.


  12. - Willie Stark - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:10 am:

    IPI is just a bunch of grifters guzzling wingnut welfare gravy by the gallon. All part of the big con. Blago may have left town on a rail, but a different kind of razzle dazzle machine spins on. Enjoy it while you can, hucksters, it won’t last forever.


  13. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    “The school districts in Illinois have massive power. We have 868 school districts, the most in the nation, and they have massive power to keep out charter schools. They want to keep out competition, and so the unions and a couple of the legislators…have worked very hard to block reforms,” Dabrowski said. “There’s a lot of politics as usual.”

    It is really convienent for those to push charter schools to blame unions & politics for opposition. The reality is that those pushing these schools treat the word charter as if it were a magic pill that somehow fixed all of the problems present in the education of Illinois’ children. Yes there are some charter schools that are excellent, but there are also union staffed public schools that are as good, or even better. There are also charter schools that are mediocre or worse. Many charter schools cherry pick the students they will take. The expulsion rate is significantly higher in charter schools than public. These facts skew the reliability of comparisons. Except for a handfull of specialty schools, public schools have to take everyone who resides in their district. They have significantly higher rates of special ed students than the charters. I do believe that charters should be an option for parents, however, they are not the solution that some would paint them to be.

    The real issue here is money. There is a lot of money that can be made from charters. Even the non-profits have well compensated CEO’s and other officers.


  14. - Downstater - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    Virtual schools can provide a real impact on improving education in Illinois and other states. These schools should be supported financially.


  15. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    Khan Academy is good for supplementing what the teachers are doing in the classroom. I have colleagues who have used their math materials and find that it appeals to many students and is most helpful for explaining complicated problems and concepts.

    However, not all students function well without an educator present when doing online courses. There are times when they have questions that are not answered through the computer and need a teacher to assist.

    We used the Illinois Virtual School (http://www.ilvirtual.org/home) that offers a variety of online courses. I had students take these courses when they were short a credit or wanted/needed a course not offered in our school.

    Again, most were able to do the work via computer but told me that they would not like to do online all day.

    My question is do we need a virtual charter school when there already exists online courses and materials for students? How about incorporating what we have into the public schools and let those students who would do well online use them?


  16. - Walker - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    Nearly Normal: Wow! Common sense in an education discussion. Thanks.


  17. - Judgment Day - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    Nearly Normal:

    Thank you for the information. I’m just cautious of these ‘bans’ where it turns out to be more for reasons of political ideology than the existence of real problems. I was hoping it was not another case of being a ‘ban’ (see Senator Ira’s causes for examples) trying to ban/restrict something like ‘virtual charters’ just because ‘it’s new’.


  18. - archimedes - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    The Virtual Charter for Fox Valley was poorly designed with presentations to local school boards done by anyone they could send. When asked any question, they said they would have to get back to the Board on that, and never did.

    Virtual schools have a place - augmenting Home Schooling, augmenting regular (ala Kahn Academy) - but replacing regular school at over $10,000 a student is ridiculous.


  19. - CD - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    Don’t forget, one of Scott Reeder’s kids likes to use an iPad so that means we need to support the for profit charter company that Dabrowski is affiliated with. IPI, IPA, ay ay ay.


  20. - MrJM - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 11:02 am:

    Just when I think I’ve become too cynical about the whole charter school racket, it turns out I’ve been naive.

    – MrJM


  21. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 11:02 am:

    Is there something preventing Dabrowski from starting a private, virtual school? You’d think an IPI guy would want to go the free enterprise route, rather than feed at the public trough.


  22. - Demoralized - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    ==Do you even care about facts?==

    That statement is hillarious considering who it is coming from. Mr. Tillman is skilled at the art of providing misinformation.


  23. - Here we go... - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 11:35 am:

    IPI complaining about special interests is like calling the kettle black!

    IPI IS the special interest of the 1%er’s - folks like… Koch,Rauner, Griffin, etc.

    IPI serves their special interest masters with an extremely low rate of return on the investment.

    At least you get what you pay for with labor!


  24. - Union Thug - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    Pretty disingenuous story here from IL watchdog. The charter commission itself recommended an extension of the moratorium to develop polices to govern them. Its crazy that groups can publish stories like this and get away with it. Here’s the article on the commission recommending the extension:

    http://beaconnews.suntimes.com/news/schools/25703175-418/commission-recommends-virtual-charter-ban-extension.html

    As for Dobrowski, he’ll need to wait a few more years before the big pay day.


  25. - From the 'Dale to HP - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    “What is going on is the public system continues to fail the poor and minorities and it is the unions that are preventing choices that help the very people they lock into the failing system.” So IPI and Tillman are all for allowing kids from Waukegan or Rodgers Park to go to school in Winnetka? I mean if you want choice, let anyone go to any public school, anywhere.


  26. - Pete - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    at Union Thug…

    “The charter commission itself recommended an extension of the moratorium to develop polices to govern them.”
    ________________________

    This sounds like the Ethics reform bill that everyone voted for, but lingered in committee because it just wasn’t strong enough.


  27. - Larry the Cable Guy - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    Don’t disparage Ted the Disparager? Now that there’s funny.


  28. - the Other Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    The problem with peevish comments is that it piques the interest of people like me.

    Virtual Learning Solutions was incorporated only in January 2013 as an Illinois Not-for-profit. However, it is not a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. There is a difference between the two, and to the extent that IPI paints VLS as some sort of charitable, do-gooder organization the tax status belies that claim.

    Plus, if you look at how money flows to privately owned charter schools, any compensation received by Dabrowski might not necessarily flow through VLS. Usually the organization getting the charter has a management contract with a for-profit entity, and compensation flows through that entity.

    I’ll accept that Dabrowski does not receive compensation from VLS, and that he may never receive compensation from them. The real question is whether any entity will be giving him compensation as a result of his involvement in VLS.


  29. - justsayin' - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    Let’s see. IPI takes $500,000 plus from Rauner and helps in its own “501c3 way” his campaign. IPI’s board member is Rauner’s co-finance chair. IPI’s sister group Dan Proft’s IOP - all those people are involved in Rauner’s term limits group. Ted Dambrowski of IPI is the head of VLS and IPI was lobbying on behalf of virtual schools last year. Proft’s partner, Eric Kohn, was treasurer of VLS. VLS stood to receive millions in taxpayer dollars. IPI also sponsors Proft’s radio show on WLS. Ethical? Pot isn’t just calling kettle black. Pot is screaming at kettle.


  30. - Old and in the Way - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 8:56 pm:

    In the interest of honesty and accuracy Illinois does not have the most school districts of any state. Texas has nearly 1,000 districts. If IPI can’t get this right what does it say about the rest of their info? Come on man…..


  31. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Apr 10, 14 @ 10:44 pm:

    ===If so, that’s just sheer lunacy by the teachers unions. Khan Academy is a proven operation.

    Okay, what does that mean? Show me a study where the Khan Academy provides the primary educational content for a school virtually and where it is shown to have ‘proven’ results.

    Khan is a good enrichment program–my daughters have utilized it when they are ahead of the rest of the class to keep from being bored. However, that doesn’t mean it should be the basis for a virtual school. Enrichment and an entire curriculum aren’t the same thing.

    ===Virtual schools can provide a real impact on improving education in Illinois and other states. These schools should be supported financially.

    Really. Show me the studies that demonstrate this. Or are you confusing some virtual education plans with an entire virtual curriculum. Where do these claims even come from that virtual schools are some magic bullet?

    ===Thank you for the information. I’m just cautious of these ‘bans’ where it turns out to be more for reasons of political ideology than the existence of real problems. I was hoping it was not another case of being a ‘ban’ (see Senator Ira’s causes for examples) trying to ban/restrict something like ‘virtual charters’ just because ‘it’s new’.

    Let’s just try a random idea and hope it works. What a fantastic way to create public policy. I heard this great idea from the grifter down street-let’s throw money at it. Wait, I’ve heard that story before…Gary Indiana…Gary Indiana….It’s kind of catchy.

    Here’s what you do–you do an actual study of the methodology involved in the curriculum before you hand a bunch of grifters money to try it out.

    Online education can be very useful, but especially at the primary and secondary level as enrichment or in blended settings. Even in post-secondary education we are moving towards blended settings. We do that based on evidence and not some random idea that a right wing think tank thinks is awesome because their funders tell them to think that.

    == You’d think an IPI guy would want to go the free enterprise route, rather than feed at the public trough.

    No, no you wouldn’t. Not if you have been paying attention.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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