Charter Schools Are Reshaping America’s Education System for the Worse

Buttons opposing charter schools

A protester wears buttons opposing charter schools during a protest in Bellevue, Washington, on October 13, 2017. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren)

Charter schools have been hailed as the antidote to public-school dysfunction by everyone from tech entrepreneurs to Wall Street philanthropists. But a critical autopsy by the advocacy group Network for Public Education (NPE) reveals just how disruptive the charter industry has become—for both students and their communities.

Charter schools are technically considered public schools but are run by private companies or organizations, and can receive private financing—as such, they are generally able to circumvent standard public-school regulations, including unions. This funding system enables maximum deregulation, operating like private businesses and free of the constraints of public oversight, while also ensuring maximum public funding.

According to Carol Burris of NPE, charter schools “want the funding and the privilege of public schools but they don’t want the rules that go along with them.” She cites charter initiatives’ having developed their own certification policies, as well as disciplinary codes and academic standards—a tendency toward “wanting the best of both worlds” among both non- and for-profit charter organizations.

In California, a nonprofit charter industrial model has flourished. The California Virtual Academy (CAVA) network runs hundreds of schools, delivering online-based programs through “cyber” outlets, often concentrated on students in low-income communities of color. CAVA’s political influence has expanded along with its brand.

California’s 2016 primary elections saw fierce battles funded through charter-school industry groups, particularly the Parent Teacher Alliance, which spent several million dollars on races for local superintendents and legislators. Reflecting the ambitions of charter proponents to aggressively expand the sector statewide, the charter boosters pushed candidates who favored lifting district limits on opening new charters. Such policies have sparked controversy, since charter growth is associated with budget erosion for public schools and resistance to staff unionization in the host district. Another measure opposed by the charter sector would “make charter board meetings public, allow the public to inspect charter school records, and prohibit charter school officials from having a financial interest in contracts that they enter into in their official capacity.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District has seen dramatic effects from the expansion of charter schools as it wrestles with budget crises. The teachers’ union recently estimated that charter funding imposes costs on the district of about $590 million annually (the figure is disputed by charter proponents), which to critics affirms that charters receive a growing share of taxpayer funds while leaving regular schools to struggle with chronic funding shortfalls.

The “flexibility” granted to charter schools also drives questionable academic trends. One online charter chain, managed by the Learn4Life network, serves 2,000 students in 15 schools through distance-learning-based programs. But its modular “storefront” teaching system has been accompanied by a churning enrollment with huge attrition rates. According to NPE, in 2015, four-year graduation rates ranged from zero percent in two of its schools, to 19 percent, with an overall average of less than 14 percent making it through all four years.

NPE’s investigation found a similar pattern at a BASIS charter school in Arizona, part of a nationwide charter network. Drawing on an earlier report by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, and reflecting the findings of an ACLU investigation into de facto segregation at Arizona charters, NPE argues that, despite heavy private financing, the school falls short in equity. The predominantly white and Asian-American student body of the BASIS Phoenix school contrasts with the high-poverty, mostly Latino surrounding district. With about 200 students total, BASIS Phoenix ultimately graduated just 24 students in 2016, after shedding 44 percent of the graduating grade’s students over the previous four years. The statistics, which matched similar trends across Arizona’s charter sector, suggest charters may actually be perpetuating the discrimination and exclusionary practices that they claim to help remedy.

In response, several school administrators claimed to be striving to address racial disparities. BASIS has forcefully denied that it is abetting inequality in Arizona’s schools, stating that it is “incredibly proud of the diverse nature” of its schools. BASIS.ed also issued a public rebuttal to NPE contending that its chain of schools, overall, maintained high retention rates, did not discriminate by background or ethnicity, and attracted a diverse range of families, as well as donations from them.

But the values of the BASIS network don’t necessarily reflect community diversity. The NPE report cites a third-party analysis of BASIS in a high-profile ranking of schools, America’s Most Challenging High Schools: BASIS Phoenix earned a top rating, according to publisher Jay Mathews, based on standards focused on performance scores. BASIS denies that it unfairly screens out children, citing overall high retention rates across the network for most K–12 classes. But the company, which admits it is “not for everyone” and that students do leave, also promotes a structure that prioritizes retaining high-scoring students, while lower performers realize eventually they can’t meet the standards.

This approach may boost the schools’ business competitiveness, but education advocates who focus on the social goal of providing equitable education for all see it differently. As NPE argues, “there must be a balance between reasonable challenge and inclusivity.” The demographic polarization linked to charter-school expansion, critics warn, exposes the harmful impact of exclusion on diversity: Charters claim to serve diverse populations, but may actually just be segregating the system further.

Examining the broader social impact of charters, NPE tracked financial manipulation and fraud at various schools. In Pennsylvania, lax financial regulations have allowed charters in some districts to absorb extra funding with little oversight. In the New Hope–Solebury School District, for example, the government contributes $19,000 per pupil attending a charter school, even if they are only learning through a screen, since “Those costs must even be paid to cyber charters that have no facilities costs at all.” Another financial question surrounds lopsided pay structures with much higher salaries for charter principals.

Another subsurface problem at many schools is harder to measure: Charters are known for high faculty-turnover rates. Although turnover is a problem in both charter and non-charter schools, NPE’s Burris notes that chaotic management and unregulated expansion, combined with intense academic pressures and high student attrition, can destabilize the whole institution. Traditionally, however, public schools have served as social pillars for the surrounding community. In stable schools, teachers and families grow up together. “Community schools are family schools in many, many ways,” Burris says. “And when they become businesses all of that is destroyed…those relationships are just not there, the way they are in the neighborhood community school.”

Charters may offer a different relationship to communities, but their brand of “free market” schooling carries costs. Who accounts for the lost social opportunities when education becomes just another market investment?

[“Source-thenation”]

Several new and refurbished Razer laptops are on sale

We may have said goodbye to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but not to tech deals altogether. There are some nice discounts available as we progress through the holiday season, including ones from Razer, which is having a sale on several of its Blade, Blade Pro, and Blade Stealth laptops.

Razer’s sale includes a mix of new and refurbished models, both in the US and UK. Here’s a look:

UK DEALS

Razer Blade Stealth 12.5″ 4K: £1,250, Razer (save £700) – This laptop pairs a Core i7-7500U processor with a 1TB SSD, giving you ample storage. It also has 16GB of RAM. Bear in mind that it’s running integrated Intel HD 620 graphics, so for more serious gaming, you’ll want to pair this with a external GPU enclosure.

Several other configurations of this laptop are on sale as well, though some are sold out. We’re listing them here anyway in case they come back in stock.

  • Razer Blade Stealth 12.5″ 4K w/ i7-7500U 512GB SSD:  £999, Razer (save £550) – sold out
  • Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ 4K w/ i7-7500U, 256GB SSD:  £1,305, Razer (save £45) – sold out
  • Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ 4K w/ i7-7500U, 512GB SSD:  £1,460, Razer (save £90)
  • Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ 4K w/ i7-7500U, 1TB SSD:  £1,810, Razer (save £90)
  • Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ 4K w/ i7-8550U, 256GB SSD:  £1,455, Razer (save £45)
  • Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ 4K w/ i7-8550, 512GB SSD:  £1,610, Razer (save £90)
  • Razer Blade Pro 17.3″ Full HD w/ i7-7700HQ, GTX 1060, 256GB + 2TB: £1,830, Razer (save £270)
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade 14″ Full HD w/ i7-7700HQ, GTX 1060, 256GB:£1,700, Razer
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade 14″ Full HD w/ i7-7700HQ, GTX 1060, 512GB: £1,850, Razer
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade 14″ Full HD w/ i7-7700HQ, GTX 1060, 1TB: £2,200, Razer
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ QHD w/ i7-7500U, 128GB: £850, Razer – sold out
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ QHD w/ i7-7500U, 256GB: £1,100, Razer – sold out
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ QHD w/ i7-7500U, 512GB: £1,200, Razer

US DEALS

REFURBISHED Razer Blade V5 14″ QHD: $1,750, Razer (save $350) – This thin and light laptop has a Core i7-6700HQ processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and a GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. Razer backs it with a 1-year warranty.

Here are several other configurations and models that are on sale. Note that all of these are refurbished models, backed by a 1-year warranty.

  •  REFURBISHED Razer Blade V5 14″ QHD w/ Core i7-6700HQ, GTX 1060, 512GB:  $1,800, Razer (save $500)
  •  REFURBISHED Razer Blade V5 14″ QHD w/ Core i7-6700HQ, GTX 1060, 1TB: $2,000, Razer (save $700)
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth V1 12.5″ QHD w/ Core i7-6500U, 128GB: $750, Razer (save $250)
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth V1 12.5″ QHD w/ Core i7-6500U, 256GB: $950, Razer (save $250)
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth V1 12.5″ UHD w/ Core i7-6500U, 256GB: $1,000, Razer (save $400)
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth V1 12.5″ UHD w/ Core i7-6500U, 512GB: $1,100, Razer (save $500)
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth 12.5″ QHD w/ Core i7-7500U, 128GB:$850, Razer (save $150) – out of stock
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth 12.5″ QHD w/ Core i7-7500U, 256GB:$1,050, Razer (save $200)
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth 12.5″ QHD w/ Core i7-7500U, 512GB:$1,150, Razer (save $250)
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth 12.5″ 4K w/ Core i7-7500U, 512GB:$1,300, Razer (save $300)
  • REFURBISHED Razer Blade Stealth 12.5″ 4K w/ Core i7-7500U, 1TB: $1,500, Razer (save $500)

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info.

[“Source-pcgamer”]

Infected apps are secretly stealing money from millions of people

android

A 3D printed Android logo is seen in front of a displayed cyber code in this illustration taken March 22, 2016 / REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

‘All of this illicit activity takes place without the victim’s knowledge’

Malware that secretly charges users for fake services has been downloaded by millions of people, a new report says.

“ExpensiveWall”, software designed to cheat users out of their money without them realising, was hidden in at least 50 apps in the Google Play store. A list of apps can be found further down this page.

According to the Check Point researchers who discovered it, ExpensiveWall has been downloaded between one million and 4.2 million times.

“The malware registers victims to premium services without their knowledge and sends fraudulent premium SMS messages, charging their accounts for fake services,” the researchers said.

“In some cases, the SMS activity takes place without giving the user any notice. In other cases, the malware presents the user with a button called ‘Continue’, and once the user clicks the button, the malware sends a premium SMS on [their] behalf.”

A number of people who installed ExpensiveWall-infected apps tried to warn other users off downloading them by leaving negative reviews on Google Play. Some of these read:

“The comments indicate that the app is promoted on several social networks including Instagram, which might explain how it came to be downloaded so many times,” said Check Point.

The ExpensiveWall apps were reported to Google on 7 August and removed from the Play store.

However, Check Point says more infected apps were made available to download on Google Play “within days”. These were taken down four days later.

The ExpensiveWall apps requested a number of permissions from users after being downloaded, including internet and SMS access.

These are fairly common permissions that most users wouldn’t think twice about granting, but allowed ExpensiveWall to operate.

However, Check Point says it could have caused a lot more damage.

“While ExpensiveWall is currently designed only to generate profit from its victims, a similar malware could be easily modified to use the same infrastructure in order to capture pictures, record audio, and even steal sensitive data and send the data to a command and control (C&C) server,” it said.

“Since the malware is capable of operating silently, all of this illicit activity takes place without the victim’s knowledge, turning it into the ultimate spying tool.”

Check Point says ExpensiveWall is a new variant of a malware found on Google Play earlier this year by McAfee, and says “the entire malware family” has been downloaded between 5.9 million and 21.1 million times.

If you downloaded an ExpensiveWall-infected app, you should delete it immediately. Check Point has listed the following apps online:

  • I Love Fliter
  • Tool Box Pro
  • X WALLPAPER
  • Horoscope
  • X Wallpaper Pro
  • Beautiful Camera
  • Color Camera
  • Love Photo
  • Tide Camera
  • Charming Camera
  • Horoscope
  • DIY Your Screen
  • Ringtone
  • ดวง 12 ราศี Lite
  • Safe locker
  • Wifi Booster
  • Cool Desktop
  • useful cube
  • Tool Box Pro
  • Useful Desktop
  • ดวง 12 ราศี Lite
  • Horoscope2.0
  • Yes Star
  • Shiny Camera
  • Simple Camera
  • Smiling Camera
  • Universal Camera
  • Amazing Toolbox
  • Easy capture
  • Memory Doctor
  • Tool Box Pro
  • Reborn Beauty
  • Joy Photo
  • Fancy Camera
  • Amazing Photo
  • Amazing Camera
  • Super Wallpaper
  • DD Player
  • Fascinating Camera
  • Universal Camera
  • Cream Camera
  • Looking Camera
  • DD Weather
  • Global Weather
  • Love Fitness
  • Pretty Pictures
  • Cool Wallpapers
  • Beauty Camera
  • Love locker
  • Real Star
  • Magic Camera
  • Wonder Camera
  • Funny Camera
  • Easy Camera
  • Smart Keyboard
  • Travel Camera
  • Photo Warp
  • Lovely Wallpaper
  • Lattice Camera
  • Quick Charger
  • Up Camera
  • Photo Power
  • HDwallpaper
  • Wonderful Games
  • BI File Manager
  • Wallpapers HD
  • Beautiful Video-Edit your Memory
  • Wonderful Cam
  • useful cube
  • Ringtone
  • Exciting Games
  • Replica Adventure
  • GG Player
  • Love Camera
  • Oneshot Beautify
  • Pretty Camera
  • CuteCamera
  • Cartoon Camera-stylish, clean
  • Art Camera
  • Amazing Video
  • Fine Photo
  • Infinity safe
  • Magical Horoscope
  • Toolbox
  • Cute Belle
  • CartoonWallpaper
  • Ringtone
  • Best Camera
  • Colorful Locker
  • Light Keyboard
  • Safe Privacy
  • Enjoy Wallpaper
  • File Manager
  • Fancy locker
  • Cute Puzzle
  • Smile Keyboard
  • Vitality Camera
  • Lock Now
  • Fancy Camera
  • Useful Camera
  • Vitality Camera
  • Sec Transfer
  • Lock Now
  • Magic Filter
  • Funny Video
  • Amazing Gamebox
  • Super locker
  • Music Player

[“Source-independent”]

Feeling Drained? These Are The Apps To Blame

Image result for Feeling Drained? These Are The Apps To Blame

For something we use so often, we certainly have a love/hate relationship with our smartphones. These devices, while endlessly useful, can often be the bane of our day-to-day lives when they give us the dreaded ‘1% battery’ notification. Yes, they can transform hour-long monotonous commutes, but that same distraction can also leave us wondering how we have come to rely on them so much. It’s all too familiar a scenario that, when we do need to use our phones for an important call or to reply to emails, we find them drained from too much time on Facebook.

But rather than burdening ourselves with battery packs or searching for easily accessible plugs, there is an easier way to extend battery life – simply by altering the way we use certain apps.

After conducting extensive research into over 3,000,000 Android users, Avast’s Android App Performance & Trend Report allows us to see which apps are the worst offenders for draining battery life, taking up storage and affecting overall performance. Meaning that when you choose to drain your battery by uploading statuses about last night’s Game of Thrones, at least you did it knowingly.

Social Media and Instant Messaging: the Reformed and the Repeat Offenders

Historically, social media apps have been recognised as greedy users of both data and battery. This unwanted reputation has led to a number of improvements for well-known apps in the past year, showing that concerns around performance are equally important to their creators as they are to consumers.

Take Snapchat and Facebook. The popular image messenger and social media behemoth have made concerted efforts in the last six months to reduce the impact they have on Android devices. Having previously held the top two positions for performance-draining apps, both have shown marked improvements by removing themselves from the top 10 overall worst offenders list, according to our report.

Instant messaging apps are some of our most commonly used in daily life and each person has their own personal favourite. But which one is the most efficient at maximising your phone’s performance? Despite improvements in the overall categories, both the Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps are still gluttons for battery and data.

Many users may not be aware that this can be quickly remedied by simply accessing the social media site through a browser, rather than the app. It means the app can be deleted which will save battery and free up some all-important space.

WhatsApp is another prime offender for leeching charge. The instant messenger service ranks as the sixth highest battery drainer in apps that run from start-up.

Spring-Cleaning Your Smartphone

Many people won’t be aware of this, but Facebook and Instagram use your phone’s internal memory to stow away a whole host of files you didn’t even know were there. Considering a whole host of other apps also run from start-up, a bevy of files begin to accumulate before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee. Browsers like Chrome and Firefox, as well as messenger and navigation apps, are also guilty of similar problems.

Designated cleaning apps are a great fix for this as they monitor and scan the hidden caches on your device, ensuring that your smartphone is fully optimised without any unnecessary baggage.

Streamlining Your Streaming

While the move from storing media to streaming has afforded our smartphones a lot more space, there are still a number of apps moonlighting as serious storage hogs. Key culprits are Netflix and Spotify, which adds insult to injury as they’re both very high up the list of battery sappers, too.

Streaming apps are best used when your device is plugged in and charging, but if you really need your latest fix of EastEnders while on the go, most streaming apps have offline modes to conserve both your battery and data. Downloading a programme while connected to Wi-Fi before watching it later offline is the most economical way of viewing your favourite shows. It will ensure you don’t get caught short missing the crucial cliff-hanger as your battery slowly dies.

Top Tips for Prolonging Battery Life

In addition to the aforementioned points, there are a number of other ways to help you get the most out of your device. Push notifications are useful for urgent news updates or as gentle nudges to continue our Spanish lessons. But do we need Facebook telling us we haven’t ‘updated our profile in six weeks’? Push notifications consume valuable resources. Evaluate which ones you can live without.

While GPS can get you out of a number of sticky situations, it’s not always essential. Switch it off when you don’t need it and give your phone a much-needed boost.

But alas, all of these performance-affecting apps have nothing on the number one cause of battery consumption: screen brightness. Amazingly, screen brightness is accountable for up to 80 percent of entire power consumption. Most modern smartphones come with an ‘auto’ option for screen displays, increasing and decreasing the brightness depending on your surroundings. Leaving this option on will not only ensure your eyes get the break they sometimes need from a bright screen, but you’ll also gain more precious minutes on your smartphone.

[“Source-huffingtonpost”]