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View Diary: Report Exposes DeVos Plot To Destroy Public Education (176 comments)

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  •  As a private school headmaster (38+ / 0-)

    in the San Francisco Bay area said in an interview I saw on a Bay Area TV station a few years ago, private schools are inherently small, inherently selective, and there is no interest in building very many more of them, no matter how many vouchers people throw around. They are very expensive to start up.

    There will never be enough private schools to educate the majority of American kids. Never.

    And you know what happens to the tuition at a private school when you throw a $5000 voucher at it? It goes from 10k to 15k.

    •  If you throw a $15,000... (0+ / 1-)
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      ...voucher at it, a new school will be started. That is the whole point of my comment.

      We have already seen hundreds of Charter Schools started by various groups. They started these schools based on the promise of much smaller public per-pupil payments.

      How can you say that nobody will start more schools, when I can walk up the block and see a Charter School being built before my eyes?

      •  the charter school is a public school (27+ / 0-)

        in most states. These schools are not being paid with "vouchers". They are given a steady, guaranteed funding stream similar to a public school, often based on attendance or enrollment. The difference is they have drastically less accountability and lower standards.  They are often able to leverage some of the services of local school districts, too, depending on the particular state's arrangement, something that private (and especiall parochial) schools often cannot do.

        truly private schools, even those that make use of vouchers, are intentionally small, run by groups that do not want to educate every child in the community, and are inherently different than charter schools.

        As for 15k, why not give that to existing public schools and see how well they do? In many states, public school funding is half what you just quoted. Why would you try to create an entire new school system for that price instead of just trying that level of funding on what you already have? Unless you want to destroy public schools....

        •  "The difference is they have drastically less... (7+ / 0-)

          accountability and lower standards."

          Our experience with my daughter's public charter IB school has been the opposite.  She is in third grade.  She has science with experiments 3 or 4 times per week, University of Chicago math, French, PE, music -- regular writing assignments.

          The teachers are young, enthusiastic, and committed.  The classes are capped at 25 students.  The administrators who opened this school in September have been working around the clock for the last 18 months to work out all the kinks any new program and facility will have.

          This school was the best thing that happened to our family this year.  I wish every family could find a school like this one for their children.

          Traditional public schools here in California's Central Valley are failing miserably.  I favor all types of experimentation.  Something has to change!

          "Since when did obeying corporate power become patriotic." Going the Distance

          by Going the Distance on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 08:23:36 AM PDT

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          •  Standards (7+ / 0-)

            My daughter graduated from the IB High School program and she did it at a normal public High School.  

            The disconnect you're seeing here is that IB is a complete curriculum with standards and it all comes from IB headquarters in Geneva.  Your daughter's school is an exception to the rule because most charter schools don't have those sorts of standards to follow.  They have the State guidelines (usually) but otherwise they're free to do whatever they like.

            Assuming you aren't having to subsidize the enrollment fees yourself and it's free to attend, I would suggest that from my experience it isn't the charter school that's making the difference here, it's the desire by the committed administrators and teachers at your school to implement a good IB program.  

            The same thing happened at my daughter's High School.  The IB program is very good because the school and the IB coordinator and participating teachers are all dedicated.  The fact that you're getting a great IB program at your school isn't due to the fact that it's a charter school and what you're encountering can be just as successful in a public school.

            But don't get me wrong, if I was in your position I'd do exactly the same thing as you.  The IB program is pretty fantastic and I'd encourage you to encourage your daughter to stick with it into High School.  It's tough, but well worth it and a great accomplishment to graduate from IB.  It's certainly not for every student though.

            [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

            by rabel on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 09:22:15 AM PDT

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            •  Not in my experience. (2+ / 0-)
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              ManhattanMan, alizard

              Where the charter that my grandkids attended was much better than the regular public schools - smaller classes, teachers who actually mastered the subjects they taught, etc. Sure, we had to provide transportation and lunches, buy toilet paper and school supplies until they got the public funding the city fought.

              In my state charters ARE public.

              Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

              by Joieau on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 10:17:55 AM PDT

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              •  Are the teachers members of a union? (1+ / 0-)
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                •  Some are, some are not. (1+ / 0-)
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                  75% of teachers must be certified, may join the union same as other public school teachers. As I said, charters here ARE public schools, their contracts with teachers are the same as in other schools, though the teachers aren't shifted into subjects they aren't certified in, as too many big public schools do.

                  The other 25% (50% in high school level charters, there are none in my region though I wish there were) are usually retirees or on-loans from various industry/universities. Physicists, geneticists, chemists, doctors, researchers, etc., who usually participated in on-loan programs previously that are sponsored. We also have a pretty good sponsorship program to the participating universities (UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, etc.) where students get much of their further education paid for.

                  Works out pretty well, though I do have an issue with the state magnets, basically boarding schools. More local magnets would serve more students and families with far less disruption and expense.

                  Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                  by Joieau on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 12:48:55 PM PDT

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                  •  You have many facts about education wrong! (1+ / 0-)
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                    Teachers in public schools cannot teach classes that they are not certified in. NCLB cured that thankfully.  And since you mentioned Duke and Wake Forest I now know that you are North Carolina which is probably tied with MS as the worst state for education.  

                    You seem to think that anybody can teach and that is just not the case.  I have seen math teachers that have taught at colleges attempt to teach high school math in the classrom next to mine.   And they did not last more than 2 years.  This has happened twice in the past 5 years.  

                    Not everyone can handle 30 teenagers and get them to learn.

                    •  How insular your cuccoon (1+ / 0-)
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                      must be to feed your arrogance with so much HFCS. Somehow I doubt your tactics will affect much on the public education front nationwide. That's a shame, because the voucher deal really is a problem.

                      Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                      by Joieau on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 02:38:26 PM PDT

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                    •  As for the teachers, (1+ / 0-)
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                      of course they can. Primary teachers in my state are blanket-certified, all subjects. Secondary teachers get a subject certification, but at our charters the law requires only 50% certification in anything (and there's leeway on that) so community, academic and professional volunteers can offer their knowledge and experience.

                      I established the state-funded at-risk intervention and after-school program for 12-14 year olds in my county, ran the program for two years until it was well-established. That meant working closely with schools and administrators, county and state social services, the general and special educational communities nationwide, etc., etc. I know about the common and unique challenges 'the system' faces, just as I am heartbreakingly familiar with the common and unique challenges kids and their families face.

                      You insist your insular view is the only view that counts. That your limited experience is the only experience that counts. Neither of these things is true, even though most of us are indeed concerned about the state of education in general and public education in particular in this country. Workable plans of direct and coordinated action to address the problems don't come from one person demanding universal embrace of his own limited views and experience.

                      It is clear your mind can't be changed by facts. I just thought to correct your erroneous assertion that the voucher system has anything to do with charter schools, or that charter schools are a threat to public education. They may be in your city. That isn't the case everywhere in the country.

                      Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                      by Joieau on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 03:05:50 PM PDT

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                •  What does that have to do... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...with educating kids?

          •  Going the distance - Is the school failing or the (1+ / 0-)
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            I am a high school teacher with over 10 years experience and I can tell you I have never seen a student whose parents are involved with the students education fail.

        •  You hit the nail on the head! (10+ / 0-)
          Why would you try to create an entire new school system for that price instead of just trying that level of funding on what you already have? Unless you want to destroy public schools....

          "R's big lie: Too much govt spending created Grt Recession, and cutting spending will get us out. O and Ds refuse to rebut the lie." -- Robert Reich

          by Sagebrush Bob on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 08:24:26 AM PDT

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        •  We need to create... (0+ / 0-)

          ...the "entire new school system" so that parents have a choice of different types of schools.

          Most parents are satisfied with their public school. Only the parents in the worst schools will leave.

      •  For $15k, a new 'school' will be started (4+ / 0-)
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        Catte Nappe, elwior, Matt Z, Orinoco

        Someone will see the market demand, inflated by 'free' money, and cash in. He will be ready with glossy brochures full of smiling kindergarteners and proud graduating seniors. He'll have pages full of happy testimonials from parents at his company's one good campus out of many mediocre ones. He'll have a campus leased from the shrinking district, freshly painted and landscaped.

        And, he'll have this all ready on the day the voucher law passes, because his company will have written that law.

        Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

        by chimpy on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 09:36:45 AM PDT

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        •  This is not a market-demand situation. (1+ / 0-)
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          Here in NYC the best charters are run by non-profits. Some are run by one of the Teachers' Unions.

          If you believe that Charters are successful because of some kind of market-driven, business-focused magic, you are believing the right-wing hype.

          Charters are successful because they can offer a different education for different kids. Instead of one choice, families get two or three choices.

          •  Two meanings for 'successful charter shchool' (0+ / 0-)

            One, which I gather you've seen in NYC, is the school that successfully educates children of widely varying economic backgrounds, lifting each student's performance above generally-accepted expectations. We'd all like to see more of that, whatever business model a school operates under. Many long-established private schools do a fine job educating both their whole community and each individual student, with scholarships available for less advantaged families. As in the public system, these schools (and the staff running them) have invested decades of work to develop their philosophies and methods, each to leverage a neighborhood's assets to serve a neighborhood's families. Each school had different ideas, and over decades (or longer) the best thrived.

            Those private schools that survive today are the best-performing out of many other attempts. Some of their success may be due to the shortcut of choosing bright students to enroll. But, they all had that chance, and parents know other parents, so to some extent, they can see through this, and correct for school selectivity when choosing the best school for their child. Plus, with limited scholarship dollars, and the less-than-stellar offspring of some rich parents, merit-based scholarships may be their easiest way to get a mix of both classroom performance and economic class. So, whatever their philosophies, some schools have excelled and persisted.

            The start a charter successful in this first sense, one needs leaders with both a sound educational philosophy, and a developed bank of skills with which to apply it. It also helps to draw on local talent, who will know the culture and assets of the neighborhood. This usually means hiring teachers and administrators away from a mix of local public and private schools. Maybe it means converting a school intact from some other business model into a charter. In either case, it means drawing on local talent, and the local system might only develop enough of it for one charter every few years. Realistically, it means letting your personal finances and well-being suffer to invest in the community's future.

            If an influx of 'free money' can warp the market, to make opening a charter school attractive as a business proposition alone. If everyone in the neighborhood has $15k vouchers, plus a little cash of their own, they just might try a charter. They might even just try it for a year or two just to see what the buzz is all about. Even if their kid was doing great where he was.

            If there's so much money, that dozens of charters open up, the obviously can't all hire the superstar administrators and the veteran teachers from the other systems. They'll be kit-built on a model developed elsewhere, and staffed by teachers running from scripts written elsewhere. And, even if the enabling law has standards to safeguard performance? You can bet that those standards were written by lobbyists as both a stamp of approval on their bosses' business, and a barrier to entry for their competition. Months before the public or their competition hears a thing, the big players will know what the rules will be, what the budgets will be, and when the starting gun is set to fire.

            This is the second sense of 'successful charter school': the school that successfully soaks up tax dollars and sends them out of state to its parent corporation.

            Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

            by chimpy on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 10:15:44 AM PDT

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      •  It will be started as a scam (5+ / 0-)
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        Bmeis, elwior, neroden, Matt Z, wsexson

        another crony-capitalist scam, BS for profit schools run by Bush minions and connected christianists. That's what you are advocating? Another trough for the corrupt to loot the public while providing a shoddy to illusory public service?

        Any support of vouchers is a support of a purely destructive propaganda campaign with no actual educational purpose, merely a political one.  Your faux objectivity just provides cover for corporatists.

    •  Starting more schools (1+ / 0-)
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      Don't you think there will be fairly substantial interest from the same kinds of companies you have done the same in higher ed - ATI, U. of Phoenix, etc? Maybe not enough to educate the majority of kids, but it would look like a pretty attractive endeavor (assuming you weren't too concerned about quality)

      •  Half those companies are scams. (1+ / 0-)
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        U of Phoenix is supposed to be OK, but a lot of those "online higher education" operations are really just outright scams.

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 03:25:56 PM PDT

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      •  Trust the parents. (0+ / 0-)

        The dark heart of the anti-reform movement is that the anti-reformers don't trust parents to choose.

        This hurts us -- it plays into the stereotype of an educated elite handing down judgments on What Schools Are Best For Harlem. (Don't think we haven't noticed that most anti-reformers live in places with good public schools).

        Let the scammers come. Let the for-profits come. Bring them on. Parents will make good choices for their kids if we trust them.

        To the Teachers on this site: Stop thinking about how you can shut down my daughter's charter school. Instead think about how you can open up a better charter school.

        •  It's not all about you (3+ / 0-)
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          Fiona West, alizard, Calamity Jean

          You seem to be in situation where you have a school (public?/private?) that meets your childs needs extrememely well. Good for you. May it continue.

          Not all charter schools are that great - research seems to show that they are about on par with regular public schools - some awful, many acceptable, a few stellar.  Private schools, in general, are perceived as being quite superior - so far.

          I am pointing out that a new market for "for-profit private schooling" is likely to result in the kinds of rip-off operations that we have long since been seeing in post-secondary schooling; both trade schools and "colleges". And it's not a matter of "trusting parents"; it's a matter of slick advertising and scams. If everyone were able to see and evaluate on the merits we wouldn't have those rip-off private trade schools and colleges. We wouldn't have pay day and title lenders. We wouldn't have had people sucked into impossible home loans.

          That you were smart/lucky/clever enough to end up with a good schooling option for your child is wonderful. Good for you. Now get out of your own little bubble and think about the rest of the people around you. Your charter school works for you and your child. Something styling itself as similar is going to be the road to ruin for the society your child will grow up to live in.

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