The many ways one powerful nonprofit organization and its leader help charter schools

Washington Post Reporter

July 31 2019

Building Hope is, according to its website, a national nonprofit organization based in Washington that “partners with investors and philanthropic and government organizations to provide comprehensive charter school services.” Those services include providing financing for charter schools facilities “at below-market rates,” helping developing charter facilities, serving as an incubator space for new and expanding schools, offering financial consulting, and more.

Its website also says that it has provided more than “$281 million in direct loans, credit enhancements, and equity investments to support over $1.7 billion in school construction” to help 273 charter school projects in 18 states and the District of Columbia, affecting more than 133,000 students. It is in the District that Building Hope says it has “enjoyed its biggest impact,” with its assistance resulting in 47 percent of public school students attending public charters.

All of that makes Building Hope a powerful organization. Its president is S. Joseph Bruno, who oversees and directs “all aspects” of Building Hope’s operations. His biography says he is “a certified public accountant with 35 years of accounting, finance, business and management experience; was a partner in two of the ‘Big 4’ international accounting firms; and was the CFO of a public company.”

His biography says he was the first hire of Building Hope — as a consultant in 2003, the year it was formed — “and has guided the organization ever since.”

This post is a look at Building Hope and some of the connections it has developed over the years. The author is Carol Burris, who is executive director of the advocacy group the Network for Public Education and a former award-winning principal in New York. She has written for the Answer Sheet for years on corporate-based school reform and the charter school movement, most recently in a piece titled “A report that detailed up to $1 billion in wasted federal funds on bad charter schools may have underestimated the problem.”

Bruno declined to answer questions about this post.

Here’s Burris’s piece:

My response to the claim that “it was not the time or place” for Movimiento Cosecha to protest at the debate in Detroit

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Yesterday, we reported on the various actions taken by Movimiento Cosecha Michigan, in Detroit during the Democratic Presidential candidate debates. 

There has been tremendous support for the actions that Movimiento Cosecha has taken in recent weeks, especially those actions that have confronted Joe Biden for his role in the deportation of 3 million immigrants, while acting as the VP in the Obama administration.

However, some people liberals and Democrats have not been supportive of the actions taken by Movimiento Cosecha. One commenter that was critical of the protests that disrupted the debates on Wednesday night, said:

Not the time or place. The behavior at tonight’s debate was disgraceful and unprecedented. 

This statement is instructive on many levels, so lets spend some time unpacking it.

First, the action during the debate was NOT unprecedented. Dissidents have been interrupting political candidates for decades, which makes this observation false.

Second, why…

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Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System (MPSERS) educational seminars schedule have been announced

     This fall the Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System (MPSERS) educational seminars schedule have been announced.  This is an opportunity for members to learn more about your 2020 retirement system health plan.
Each seminar will feature information to help you stay informed and understand your plan, get the most value from your plan, and connect you to helpful tools and resources. Seminars will include presentations about each component of your retirement system health plan.
In addition to the presentations, representatives from Blue Cross® Blue Shield® of Michigan, Delta Dental®, EyeMed and OptumRx® will be available in the Learning Center to answer specific questions about your coverage. Registration is not required to attend.
See the schedule below and choose the seminar that is most convenient for you.  This only applies to members who have Blue Cross PPO health insurance.
8-Oct                    Marquette
Holiday Inn Marquette
1951 US 41 West
Marquette, MI 49855
9-Oct                    Escanaba
Island Resort & Casino
W399 Highway 2
Harris, MI. 49845
10-Oct                  Bay Harbor (Petoskey/Charlevoix)
Great Lakes Center of the Arts
800 Bay Harbor Drive
Bay Harbor, MI. 49770
11-Oct                  Gaylord
Treetops Resort
3962 Wilkinson Road
Gaylord, MI. 49735
14-Oct                  Lansing
Eagle Eye Golf Club
15500 Chandler Rd
Bath Twp, MI 48808
15-Oct                  Midland
Great Hall Banquet Center
5121 Bay City Road
Midland, MI 48642
16-Oct                  Kalamazoo
Delta Hotels Kalamazoo Conference Center
2747 South 11th Street
Kalamazoo, MI. 49009
17-Oct                  Holland
DoubleTree Holland
650 East 24th Street
Holland, MI. 49423
21-Oct                  Flint
Holiday Inn Gateway Centre
5353 Gateway Centre
Flint, MI 48507
23-Oct                  Livonia
Laurel Manor Banquet & Conference Ctr.
39000 Schoolcraft Rd
Livonia, MI 48150
24-Oct                  Ypsilanti
312 EMU Student Center
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI. 48197
25-Oct                  Novi
Four Points Novi
27000 South Karevich Drive
Novi, MI. 48377
29-Oct                  Sterling Heights
Wyndham Garden Sterling Heights
34911 Van Dyke Ave
Sterling Heights, MI. 48312
6-Nov                   Tucson
Hilton Garden Inn Tucson Airport
6575 S. Country Club Road
Tucson, AZ 85756
7-Nov                   Scottsdale
DoubleTree Scottsdale-Paradise Valley
5041 N Scottsdale Rd
Scottsdale, AZ. 85250
10-Dec                 Ocala
Holiday Inn & Suites Ocala Conference Center
3600 SW 38th Ave
Ocala, FL. 34474
11-Dec                 St. Petersburg
Holiday Inn St Petersburg-Clearwater Airport
3535 Ulmerton Road
Clearwater, FL. 33762
12-Dec                 Sarasota
Holiday Inn Sarasota Airport
8009 15th St. E.
Sarasota, FL 34243
13-Dec                  Fort Myers 
Holiday Inn Ft. Myers Airport
9931 Interstate Commerce Drive
Fort Myers, FL 33913

Cosecha Michigan Shut Down the US/Canada Tunnel, disrupted the debates and elevated the voices of immigrants in Detroit today!

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

(Editor’s note: I participated in the Cosecha Michigan actions today, in the capacity of doing crowd safety.)

With the national news media present for the 2nd night of debates between Democratic Presidential hopefuls, Movimiento Cosecha Michigan made their voices heard and put immigrant justice at the center of attention.

Several hundred people gathered at Hart Plaza around 4pm in downtown Detroit to make it known that despite the so-called debates taking place, the immigrant community had their own vision and their own demands that were not up for debate. The demands that Movimiento Cosecha has put forward for all presidential candidates are as follows:

  1. An End to All Detention & Deportations on Day 1.
  2. Immediate Legalization for all Undocumented Immigrants.
  3. Family Reunification For All – Dignity Not Deportation.

About 4:30pm, organizers with Movimiento Cosecha Michigan invited members of the Anishinaabe community to welcome people to the land that they…

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Fake Play and Its Dangerous Alignment to Standards and Data

Where does pretending come in? It relates to what philosophers call “counterfactual” thinking, like Einstein wondering what would happen if a train went at the speed of light.

~Alison Gopnik, “Let the Children Play, It’s Good for Them” Smithsonian Magazine. July 2012.

There’s a troubling phenomenon happening in early childhood education. It involves aligning standards to fake play.

Children own real play.

In Educating Young Children, Mary Hohmann and David P. Weikart discuss the HighScope preschool program and the welcome backseat adults often take to allow children to freely play. They say: When children are playing or starting to play, and are receptive to other players, adults can sometimes join them in a nondisruptive manner. This is real play.

via Fake Play and Its Dangerous Alignment to Standards and Data

Racial & Class disparities in local public education: Another look at the recent GRPS school improvement article from MLive

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

(This article was written and submitted by former GRPS teacher, Jack Prince)

The M.Live article posted July 22 titled: See 55M in Grand Rapids Schools summer construction/improvement projects raises some real questions. Could not the bond passed five years ago been implemented sooner for the benefit of the students at GRPS? 

The article maintains that due to  the climate in Michigan many schools don’t have air conditioning. The City Middle/High School has had air conditioning for two years, yet sat without it for decades until it became a magnate school drawing choice affluent students from all over Grand Rapids. By having air conditioning installed at City Middle/High School prior to Union or Ottawa High schools while bond money was on hand says something about the priority system within GRPS. The excuse that because of Michigan’s climate there are scant buildings in the district that have air conditioning is…

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Why I Do Not Support Mayor Pete

Diane Ravitch's blog

There are many reasons why I would like to support Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He’s young, he is well-educated, he is smart, he has an admirable record of service to his country, he’s brimming with ideas. I find him very attractive on many levels.

But on education, he is a stealth corporate reformer.

I had an inkling of this when I read a review of his autobiography, which described his formative years at McKinsey and his data-driven, technocratic approach to solving problems. But I didn’t reach a judgment.

Then I learned more when a friend sent me an invitation to a fundraiser for Mayor Pete, hosted by Reed Hastings. Hastings is the billionaire founder of Netflix who is a charter school zealot. He served on the California State Board of Education where he used his influence to minimize any regulation of charters. Since then, he has given many millions to charters…

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State Takeovers: Radical Seizure of School Districts vs. Organic, Community Grounded School Improvement


This blog will take a one-week, mid-summer break.  Look for a new post on Monday, August 5.

We are in the midst of a wave of state school takeovers.

On Tuesday evening In Providence, Rhode Island, the state Council of Elementary and Secondary Education granted the authority for Rhode Island’s recently appointed State Education Commissioner, Angelica Infante-Green, to take over the Providence Schools. A new and scathing report by a team from John Hopkins University had criticized the current operation of the school district—already under mayoral governance.  For the Providence Journal,Linda Borg reports: “Under a 1997 statute, Infante-Green now has the power to revamp the teachers’ contract, revise how the school district is governed, even make decisions over hiring and firing… Infante-Green also confirmed that she will hire a superintendent to takeover the schools by early November. In fact, she is already speaking with several individuals, although…

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The D.C. “Miracle” Disappears

Diane Ravitch's blog

I am reposting this post because the main link was dead and I fixed it. Also, it was originally titled “The D.C. ‘Miracle’ turns to Ashes,” and a reader said a miracle can’t turn to ashes. So it has a new title.

A year ago, reformers were touting D.C. as their triumphant example. Those graduation rates!

Unfortunately, like every other reformer tale, it was a hoax. The graduation rate was phony. Students were walking across the stage without the necessary attendance or credits. Metrics!

From PBS:

“Critics view the problems, particularly the attendance issue, as an indictment of the entire data-driven evaluation system instituted a more than a decade ago when then-Mayor Adrian Fenty took over the school system and appointed Michelle Rhee as the first chancellor. Rhee’s ambitious plan to clear out dead wood and focus on accountability for teachers and administrators landed her on the cover of…

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It has been more than 2 months since the Civilian Appeals Board voted to overturn the GRPD’s decision on Captain VanderKooi

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

It has been 10 weeks since the Civilian Appeals Board voted to overturn the GRPD’s Internal Affairs investigation of Captain VanderKooi

The Grand Rapids Civilian Appeals Board (CAB) voted 6 – 2, to overturn the decision by the GRPD to return VanderKooi to active duty. On May 15, when the CAB was making there decision to overturn the GRPD’s decision about VanderKooi, there were two overriding themes. First, that the GRPD conducted a weak investigation, which was evident since when questioned by the CAB members, the two cops involved in the investigation either couldn’t answer the questions or had vague responses. Secondly, to many people in the room, even without seeing all the documentation that the Civilian Appeals Board had, it was clear that Captain VanderKooi demonstrated significant bias during the Jilmar Ramos-Gomez case, which is exactly the conclusion that the Civilian Appeals Board landed on.


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