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View Diary: if you care about what is happening to public education (4 comments)

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  •  Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
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    teacherken

    I've been having a conversation with my right-wing BIL on charter vs. public and I appreciate all the facts I can get!

    "The fears of one class of men are not the measure of the rights of another." ~ George Bancroft (1800-1891)

    by JBL55 on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 07:29:04 AM PST

    •  stoongly sugest you read Ravitch's blog (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 10:06:01 AM PST

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      •  I have, and I've used her stuff from op-ed pages. (0+ / 0-)

        Since it seems to be just you and me, here's what he wrote to me after we had both been conversing admiringly about Thaddeus Stevens and I had underscored Stevens' championing of public schools:

        The most important component of a healthy community … population growth, economic prosperity and quality of life (my measures) … is a quality, effective and efficient primary and secondary education opportunity.  

        Good schools attract younger families … younger families attract new businesses … new businesses attract more families magnifying the first effect of a quality education opportunity.  

        Public education is for the great majority a great institution … we suffer some problems with it here in Pulaski County Special School District. Don’t want to go into it here but let’s just say a really bad superintendent coupled with a union that spent more time protecting unperforming teachers then trying to advance new technology for students, and a board unable to find agreement on anything.   Finally, State of Arkansas stepped in fired the Superintendent (didn’t even know he worked for them) … disbanded the board … and installed its own superintendent with the board being just the Sec of Education.   Now we pay taxes to run a district without a board.  

        Largest problem I see is the fight by unions and the minority party in Arkansas fighting against establishment of charter schools and limiting growth of existing charters and private schools.  Administrative growth has been a problem although not to the extent as in NYC.  

        http://www.nypost.com/...

        In short … public education for students can be a great thing.  But using public education as a jobs program as we have here … and in NYC … is not a good thing.

        Just my thoughts …

        And here's what I wrote back:
        Private schools are wonderful for those who can afford them.  I should know: I graduated from a great one.  But for the vast majority of Americans, private schools are simply not an option, either because of the cost or because of their relative scarcity and/or geographical inaccessibility.

        I understand charter schools are seen by many as a guiding light that can provide specific solutions tailored to local situations, as well as a way of making the public schools “compete” and be more “accountable.”

        However, and you will not be surprised to hear this, I disagree.  :-)

        Charter schools are for-profit corporations that make their profits from education tax dollars, taking hundreds of millions of dollars from local public schools while generally failing to provide a better alternative.  Unlike public schools, they don’t serve all the students, just the ones they choose to accept, so they often demonstrate results that can create the illusion that they are better than public schools.  But when one performs an apples-to-apples comparison of public school performance with charter school performance in the same school district, the public schools are at a significant disadvantage because they teach ALL the kids, including higher percentages of special ed kids, kids from non-English-speaking homes, etc.

        Ever hear of Diane Ravitch?  She was an assistant secretary of education (under President George H. W. Bush) who used to like the idea of charter schools, so you know she’s not a flaming-liberal union-lover like me.  Here are just some of her points about charter schools:

        • Numerous national and state studies have shown that charters on average don't get better results than regular public schools. A small percentage get high scores, more get very low scores, most are about average in terms of test scores. Why kill off a community's public school to replace it with a privately managed school that is no better and possibly worse?

        • Charter schools weaken the regular public schools. They take money away from neighborhood public schools and from the district budget. As charter schools open, regular public schools must cut teachers and close down programs to pay for them.

        • Many of the "high-performing" charter schools succeed by skimming off the best students, even in poor districts. The more they draw away the best students, the worse it is for the regular public schools, who are left with the weakest students.

        • Many charter schools succeed by excluding or limiting the number of students they accept who have disabilities or who are English language learners. They are also free to push out low-scoring students and send them back to the local public school. This improves their results, but it leaves the regular public schools with disproportionate numbers of the most challenging students.

        • Many charter operators are for-profit, and the district winds up paying them tax revenue that should be invested in students. Many of the nonprofits pay exorbitant executive compensation that wouldn't be acceptable in a regular public school district.

        • Charters fragment communities. Instead of everyone working together to support the children and schools of their communities, charters and regular public schools fight over resources and space. This is not good for education or for children.

        (from http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/...)

        There are lots of data to support her contentions.

        If you want to believe that non-union teachers are better for our kids than union teachers, go right ahead.  But consider the fact that charter-school teachers are less likely to hold state certification than teachers in public schools. Charter schools typically pay teachers less than traditional public schools do for longer working days while – you’ll love this -- charter school administrators earn more than their school-district counterparts, which may contribute to the high turnover rate of charter school teachers.

        Remember, teachers are only one-fourth of the picture when it comes to education, the other three fourths being school boards, parents, and the students themselves.  While teachers are the most important in-school factor affecting student performance, the single biggest predictor of student performance is family income. It is a sad but true fact of life that children from higher-income families get a huge head start thanks to a variety of factors such as better nutrition and a larger vocabulary spoken at home. Blaming teachers for problems rooted in poverty demoralizes the very people who are in the trenches doing the work every day: teachers.

        I know entirely too many union teachers who spend countless hours of unpaid time and dollars from their own pockets on their students to think unions and their professional ranks are the problem.  Of course exceptions exist, as is the case with any group of people, from doctors to lawyers to programmers.  There are scum bags everywhere.  But the vast majority of teachers are hard-working professionals who work their tails off to educate the future citizens of our country, and they don’t deserve to be demonized and scape-goated by those looking to make a buck off the privatization of public schools.

        So who stands to make a buck?  Just for two examples, Entertainment Properties Trust and Public Properties Development, Inc., who seem to believe building and managing charter schools offer great business opportunities.  See http://www.businessweek.com/...

        And of course, where there are business opportunities, there are politicians eager to add to their campaign war chests.  See http://www.ajc.com/...

        It’s like I always say when the subject of privatization comes up: Follow the money.  Who stands to profit?

        Peace ~

        PS  For some reason charter schools are near and dear to Maine Gov. LePage’s heart, so much so that I can’t help but wonder who finances his political campaigns.  Here’s an example of a recent tantrum: http://www.pressherald.com/...


        I thought of posting our conversation in a diary, but I wouldn't be able to hang around to respond to someone who might show up.

        "The fears of one class of men are not the measure of the rights of another." ~ George Bancroft (1800-1891)

        by JBL55 on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 12:45:32 PM PST

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