Skip to main content

The Koch-funded war on labor unions is only part of a larger battle plan. Meet the DeVos-fronted war on public education.

Reasonable people can, of course, disagree over the wisdom of education voucher plans that pay for charter schools, but a new Talk To Action exposé traces financial and organizational ties to show that many of the people behind campaigns for voucher bills coming before state legislatures this Spring don't want to improve public education; quite the opposite--they want to destroy it.

My colleague Rachel Tabachnick has just released a groundbreaking report that ties voucher initiatives in Pennsylvania, Florida, and elsewhere to right-wing Think Tanks--funded by the DeVos family but also the Koch brothers and foundations of the Scaife, Olin, Bradley, Smith-Richardson, and Walton families--whose leaders have publicly indicated their desire to completely eradicate taxpayer-financed public education.

As the report shows, a central part of the strategy is the use of considerable money to sway key Democratic Party figures to back voucher bills so that support for such bills appears bipartisan, and in Pennsylvania an organization called Students First has played a major role in promoting the push for vouchers, but the DeVos-backed group group is run by a Republican political strategist who served as an aide to President George W. Bush.

As early as April 26th, a voucher bill will come before the Pennsylvania legislature. As Rachel Tabachnick writes in Voucher Advocate Betsy DeVos, Right-Wing Think Tanks Behind Koch-Style Attack on PA Public Schools,

A new wave of school voucher bills is sweeping the nation, which would allow public education funds to be used in private or parochial schools.   As with past waves of voucher initiatives, these new bills are largely promoted and funded by the billionaire DeVos family and a core group of wealthy pro-privatization supporters. They include Pennsylvania SB-1, soon coming to a vote in the PA Senate, and the "Vouchers-for-All" bill approved by the Florida Senate Education Committee on April 14. Betsy DeVos is at the helm of organizations that have set the stage for both bills, but you would never know it based on the propaganda being marketed to Pennsylvanians.  Even if you are from another state, keep reading.  Chances are a Betsy DeVos-led campaign is already at work in your state or will be there soon.  

The DeVos family is recognized as one of the top national contributors to the Republican Party, free market policy institutes, and Religious Right organizations. Many of their previous attempts at using voucher initiatives to privatize the nation's public schools have been transparent. Recent campaigns have been more covert and are camouflaged behind local efforts described as grass roots and bipartisan.

Pennsylvanians should not be deceived. Regardless of where one stands on the issue of school choice, behind the curtain of this effort is an interconnected network of right wing think tanks and billionaire donors, funded by foundations including those of the DeVos and Koch families and the Scaife, Allegheny, and Carthage Foundations of Pennsylvania's own Richard Mellon Scaife. The leaders of many of these DeVos/Koch/Scaife-funded institutes openly voice their ideological objections to all forms of public education. Some even proudly display their support for a proclamation posted at the Alliance for Separation of School and State, which reads,

"I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education."

Years have been spent developing and promoting schemes to privatize public education. The report"Voucher Veneer: the Deeper Agenda to Privatize Public Education" by People For the American Way (PFAW), quotes Joseph Bast, President and CEO of the Koch/Scaife/Walton-funded Heartland Institute,

"The complete privatization of schooling might be desirable, but this objective is politically impossible for the time being. Vouchers are a type of reform that is possible now, and would put us on the path to further privatization."

Regardless of the individual merits of any particular charter school, the promotion of charter schools collectively is key to the hard religious right strategy for destroying public education, because voucher-funded charter schools will siphon money and the best students from public schools.

That, in turn, will degrade public schools, at which point advocates for charter schools and privatization will point to public schools and say, "look! Public schools are a failed experiment. We need more vouchers, more charter schools!"

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (304+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, jnhobbs, Glen The Plumber, Cedwyn, lcrp, moose67, gsenski, Naranjadia, MartyM, Ivan, happy camper, Curt Matlock, ChemBob, ratzo, angry marmot, mswsm, gatorcog, JTinDC, leema, tonyahky, rogereaton, Prof Haley, Dirk McQuigley, Involuntary Exile, willowbug, Unknown Quantity, Nina Katarina, blue aardvark, fiddlingnero, No one gets out alive, spaceshot, Sagebrush Bob, ScienceMom, AnnieR, roadbear, beforedawn, cassandracarolina, Ms Citizen, Joe Bob, bythesea, big annie, Bluescat1, DEMonrat ankle biter, totallynext, psnyder, JanL, semiot, gerard w, Ignacio Magaloni, Preston S, Bluesee, Its a New Day, thomask, obiterdictum, spacecadet1, Tam in CA, Byron from Denver, dazed in pa, milkbone, luckylizard, BMarshall, mightymouse, Nag, TBug, itsmitch, Mostel26, cassandraX, gwilson, frisbee, tin woodswoman, 4Freedom, Carakav, GAladybug, TracieLynn, khloemi, MKinTN, BlueInARedState, second gen, Tookish, lapin, doe, be the change you seek, KJG52, kamarvt, Haplogroup V, wader, cama2008, PrometheusUnbound, historys mysteries, MJ via Chicago, Sun Tzu, EricS, Statusquomustgo, MaizeandBlue, rabel, el dorado gal, ProfessorWho, Gemina13, zmom, dmh44, EvieCZ, Ginger1, sullynyc, magicsister, Amber6541, rimstalker, gloriana, Limelite, timethief, Eddie L, HiKa, Spinster, chimpy, GeorgeXVIII, b tex, kck, SneakySnu, TheGreatLeapForward, LaughingPlanet, RadioGirl, Cronesense, SuWho, progressivebadger, eyesoars, Snud, Pinto Pony, deMemedeMedia, Ckntfld, Ruh Roh, Seamus D, HeartlandLiberal, cybersaur, WiseFerret, sullivanst, SteveLCo, Joieau, Jim P, Catte Nappe, tardis10, zerelda, trevzb, gailwax, alyosha, banjolele, Simplify, TokenLiberal, badger, FlyingToaster, trumpeter, A Runner, johnel, churchylafemme, antirove, elwior, maggiejean, Azazello, Sandino, Gowrie Gal, dotsright, stormicats, sabo33, DWG, barbwires, freesia, where4art, 2laneIA, IndieGuy, NoMoreLies, Bmeis, seabos84, Jake Williams, good intentions, Dartagnan, Simply Agrestic, GrannyOPhilly, MadRuth, WiddieDawg, jazzizbest, El Zmuenga, PBen, Tinfoil Hat, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, Colorado is the Shiznit, karlpk, p gorden lippy, camlbacker, UncleCharlie, vacantlook, quill, TexMex, furi kuri, deha, BarackStarObama, alizard, nominalize, LeftOverAmerica, Black Max, bronte17, AnnetteK, majcmb1, Josiah Bartlett, lilypew, cosette, nervousnellie, Brian B, prettygirlxoxoxo, pensivelady, Steveningen, bibble, vahana, voracious, hubcap, dougymi, myboo, LynChi, cville townie, Montco PA Dem, dkmich, carpunder, Stein, Sylv, commonmass, DvCM, Heart of the Rockies, millwood, neroden, wu ming, xynz, peregrine kate, bnasley, panicbean, kerflooey, highacidity, vicki, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, kurious, doingbusinessas, Sprinkles, Matt Z, CornSyrupAwareness, emal, dewtx, mofembot, Alice Venturi, pbearsailor, notrouble, Rebecca, Tentwenty, most peculiar mama, sanglug, rapala, h bridges, marykk, happymisanthropy, Fiona West, magnetics, terabytes, monkeybrainpolitics, ninkasi23, gulfgal98, ctsteve, rage, jcrit, bkamr, eeff, RhymesWithUrple, nonnie9999, siduri, greenchiledem, NoisyGong, sfgb, snazzzybird, Socratic Method, martini, yoduuuh do or do not, Jonny Cache, Sharoney, NJpeach, manoffire, antooo, peachcreek, Alumbrados, Celtic Merlin, mrkvica, Heimyankel, begone, wsexson, hideinplainsight, denise b, HarpboyAK, etherealfire, AaronBa, Egalitare, OleHippieChick, TheFatLadySings, googie, DiegoUK, msmacgyver, democracy inaction, deben, FarWestGirl, Mom in Maine, Larsstephens, surelyujest
  •  Size matters. (25+ / 0-)

    The way to separate the ideologues form real reformers is to ask them about the size of the vouchers they advocate.

    A good private school education will cost more than $10,000/year. If these guys believe that private schools are better, any voucher they support should be at least as large.

    Charters and vouchers are excellent ideas. But the right-wing is trying to twist them into a scheme to cut educational funding and destroy unions.

    Ask them how big they want their voucher to be. If you don't get a 5-figure answer, they're not serious about reforming education.

      •  We still have to judge... (4+ / 0-)

        ...each plan on its own merits, not on the merits (or demerits) of those who propose it.

        Example: Environmental activists know that their best allies are often hunters and gun owners. These guys may not be particularly liberal, but the are willing to take action to preserve wildlife and slow down development.

        This is how politics works in America.

        We need to be practical -- if I can get the Koch Brothers to pay for my daughter's music teacher or for her school building, I'd be a fool not to take the cash.

        •  Here's the point - (65+ / 0-)

          - Regardless of the individual merits of any particular plan, the promotion of charter schools is key to the hard religious right strategy for destroying public education, because charter schools will siphon money and the best students from public schools.

          That, in turn, will degrade public schools, at which point advocates for charter schools and privatization will point to the public schools and say, "look! Public schools are a failed experiment. We need more vouchers, more charter schools!"

          And so on.

          •  Teahadist triangulation of education (43+ / 0-)

            There's NCLB which takes money away from "failing" schools. IMO, despite the law being co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy, it was never fully funded, but was intended to exacerbate the notion of failing schools. The fact that a school can be deemed failing if a cohort such as ESL, or SPED, has a lower pass rate. Moreover, it is easy to accomplish this when the numbers fluctuate from year to year. Allow me to explain:

            Suppose you have 50 SPED or ESL students at a particular school and 40 pass, the baseline number is 80% which is passing. In year 2, the number of SPED or ESL students is now 55 but only 40 pass, lowering the passing rate to 72.7% percent. Now suppose in year 3 that there are 57 SPED or ESL students in the cohort and 41 pass, that number drops to 71.9% —now you have a failing school!

            The students now are free to transfer to other public schools outside the system and the school system loses additional funds both from the loss of said students to the lowering of federal funds due to NCLB.

            That's just one leg of the Teahadist triangulation of education. The second leg is homeschooling.

            A number of conservative and dominionist organizations are actively lobbying so that parents receive money for homeschooling that would have gone to the school system. Interesting and ironically, the homeschooled students do not have to take the standardized tests used by NCLB. Not coincidently, the homeschooled escape accountability vis-a-vis NCLB.

            The third leg of the Teahadist triangulation strategy is charter schools and vouchers (yes they are not the same thing, but the goal of each syphons money away from the public school system which is the RWs goal in any event).

            Then there is the assault on teachers unions; the fact that our schools are teaching to these idiotic tests; and the explosion of uncertified test prep companies that profit from this test fetishism. Add all these ingredients and the system of public education is so weakened that the next step is full-fledged privatization (on the taxpayers dime, of course).  

          •  So, let me get this straight... (0+ / 0-)

            ...because I want to make sure I understand.

            1. My daughter is currently zoned into a Bad Urban School.

            2. You want to keep her (and all other kids) in that school because this will make the school look better.

            3. You want the school to look better because you are afraid that advocates for charter schools and privatization will point to the public schools and say, "look! Public schools are a failed experiment."

            I know that it would be better to increase funding, facilities, teacher/student ratios, etc. at the Bad Urban School. I know that it would be much better to eradicate the poverty in our Bad Urban Area. I hear that a lot, and I believe it. But those things are not going to happen this year. Nor next year.

            They may never happen. But is is currently politically possible for me to get Vouchers or Charter schools into our neighborhood. This will make things at least a little better and it is do-able. Why should I not support this?

            •  Because doing so destroys the fabric of our nation (31+ / 0-)

              And I don't mean that hyperbolically.

              Even the "worst" performing schools contain a mix of high achievement students and low achievement students.

              The scare tactics being used by the promoters of privatizing schooling are all premised on the idea that a school with a lot of poor kids (and thus where on average the students do less well on fraudulent standardized tests than at other schools) is one in which ALL students are thereby automatically "tainted" by failure - as if some students being poor, or not speaking English as their native language is somehow contagious, and automatically makes all the other students failures.

              If you play an active role in your child's education, she will be just fine, even if she attends a school with "those" children.

              The billionaire slimebags are not content with robbing the peasantry of their money, they want to rob us of our educations, too. Don't let their scare tactics fool you into helping them rob us all. They would like nothing better than a built-in slave class too ignorant to fight for their rights to a piece of the pie.

              Meanwhile, the easily manipulated theocratic "christians" are interested in becoming the only available source of indoctrination "education" for the masses.

              Neither of the avaricious "lords" nor the American Taliban wants what's best for your child, or any other child. And BTW - Charter schools don't perform any better than public schools, on average. So don't be fooled by the "it's like a private school for public kids" BS.

              •  Wonderful! (6+ / 0-)
                Charter schools don't perform any better than public schools, on average. So don't be fooled by the "it's like a private school for public kids" BS.

                What kind of thinking leads to where somehow a school that is designed to cut costs and raise profits using taxpayer dollars is going to be anything like a private school? Really? Run schools like a business. Really?
                Some folks I know that are businessmen aren't doing so well.

                People are always trying to get things on the cheap.

                You want a public school you get a public school you want private ..... pay for it.
                That is what PRIVATE means. You pay dearly for the opportunity to go to a particular school if they even admit you, if YOU the parent passes the muster.

                People must not know what a private school is like, when they get fooled by schools that have high teacher turnover, cheating on tests, high student turnover.  Fraud

                •  Here in NYC... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...the Charter schools do perform better.

                  They deliver this performance with less money than the public schools get.

                  They are also not anti-union. In some cases they are actually run by the union.

                  There is research that backs this up. But the best evidence is the huge crowd of parents trying to get their kids into Charter Schools.

                  Do you think these parents are all stupid?

                  •  So (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    radical simplicity, Troutfishing

                    where's your link?

                    Do you proof for that, or are you are just blowing chalk dust again on another education diary, MM?
                     

                    "won't you help to sing these songs of freedom?"

                    by Sprinkles on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 05:10:43 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I'm sorry... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      alizard

                      ...I hit the "post" button without adding my links.

                      NYC Charter schools perform better.

                      "A new report issued today by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that charter schools in New York City are demonstrating significantly better results for their students in reading and in math than their traditional public school counterparts. These trends were consistent for students overall, as well as for several key groups, including Blacks and Hispanics in both subjects, for students who had not previously
                      done well in traditional public schools, for students in poverty in reading, for students enrolled for at least two years or more in reading, and for all students in math regardless of how long they were enrolled."

                      They do it with less money.

                      Based on the 2008–09 school year, IBO found:
                      • Per student general education spending at traditional public schools totaled $16,678.
                      • While public support per student at charter schools was less than at traditional public schools, the size of that difference depended on whether the charter school was located in a public school building or in private space.
                      • For charter schools located in public school buildings, public support was just $305 less per student than at traditional public schools and totaled $16,373.
                      • For charter schools located in private space the shortfall was a more substantial $3,017 per student and public support totaled $13,661.

                      Some of them are run  by unions.

                      "Founded by the United Federation of Teachers, the UFT Charter School is committed to closing the achievement gap and creating a school “built on democratic principles of respect, tolerance, and liberty so that students will also become practitioners of democracy and civic responsibility.” The school exemplifies the original vision of a charter school model as conceived by Albert Shanker, former UFT and AFT President.
                      "
                  •  SOME inner-city charter schools (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Troutfishing, sfgb, Sharoney, alizard, wsexson

                    Designed specifically to aid low-income students, have done better than average public schools. However, according to the studies done so far, it's likely that the key difference is a combination of teaching methodology and much smaller class sizes. If the public school were allowed to use those methods (rather than being saddled with the no-educated-child-left rubric), and were allowed much smaller class sizes, the students would do better there.  

                    Charters catering to well-off communities and to middle-income and upper-income inner-city students do no better (and often do worse) than public schools.

                    Regarding the inner-city schools catering to low-income students, starting entirely new schools just to offer a different methodology and smaller class size for a few kids is not an effective use of our tax dollars when the same changes could be implemented for all students.

                    The opportunity cost of deserting the majority of poor kids is profound.

                    If you really, really want to put your own kid in another school, feel free, but don't ask us to sacrifice the greater good by subsidizing your personal choice at the expense of all the other students.

                    For the record, my family homeschools - but we are happy to pay our school taxes to ensure that other students in our area will be able to enjoy a decent education. We do not feel it would be appropriate or fair to rob other kids of the opportunity to learn just because we wanted to custom-tailor education for our own. Our personal version of private education is our personal choice, as are the related expenses.

                    •  Public schools can't do the job. (0+ / 0-)
                      "If the public school were allowed to use those methods (rather than being saddled with the no-educated-child-left rubric), and were allowed much smaller class sizes, the students would do better there."

                      First, charter schools are subject to NCLB, also.

                      Second, Public schools had plenty of time to try other methods during the 20 years before NCLB. They didn't.

                      "Charters catering to well-off communities and to middle-income and upper-income inner-city students do no better (and often do worse) than public schools."

                      I didn't click your link, but I'll take your word for it that this is true. My answer: <strong>Who Cares? The suburbs have great public schools already. There is no need for charters.

                      "Regarding the inner-city schools...starting entirely new schools just to offer a different methodology...is not an effective use of our tax dollars when the same changes could be implemented for all students."

                      No, they can't be "implemented" for all students. It is politically impossible. Here in NYC it is politically impossible to fire the bureaucrats who weigh down the cost structure, to shift teachers around, to cancel the lucrative textbook contracts, to raise the taxes needed to shrink class size.

                      Charter schools solve this problem by going around the mess. It is not an elegant solution, but it is the only one that we have.

                      •  Yes, they can, if parents organize (0+ / 0-)

                        First: Charter schools do NOT have to comply with NCLB. There is a suggestion (official term: regulatory guidance) which is NOT law that states should consider applying the NCLB rules to charters. There is no law requiring it, and most states don't require it. If they did, experimental schools (such as those that focus on engineering, or the arts, for example) simply could not exist.

                        Second: charters do NOT have to accept all students - they have the privilege of cherry-picking.

                        Third: Public schools have been decimated since Reagan took office and started screwing with public funding.

                        These cutbacks had a disastrous effect on cities with high levels of poverty and limited property tax bases, many of which depended on federal aid. In 1980 federal dollars accounted for 22 percent of big city budgets. By the end of Reagan’s second term, federal aid was only 6 percent.

                        The consequences were devastating to urban schools and libraries, municipal hospitals and clinics, and sanitation, police and fire departments – many of which had to shut their doors.

                        You can't cut the budget every single year for more than 30 years, while simultaneously forcing "standards" that continuously reduce the avenues for flexibility, and still expect the schools to somehow rise above all that silly funding and regulation stuff. Tie their hands, and their hands will still be tied, no matter how much you yell at them.

                        Fourth: Politics is decided by the people in the community who choose to fight. When enough parents make enough noise, things will change. Things become politically possible when the polity makes them so.

                        Fifth: Once again, you are arguing for the false premise that the average school-wide score on a test that is scored via well-documented fraudulent means has ANY implications for the quality of education your child will receive.

                        And finally: The one most consistent factor in predicting a child's educational attainment is the parents' active engagement in the child's education. Siphoning money away from the community to achieve a goal you can attain by simply being engaged is likely to make no difference at all to your child, while it promises to be devastating to an already reeling school system.

                •  links on cheating and poor performance (0+ / 0-)

                  2004
                  http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/...

                  Cheating scandal March 3, 2011
                  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/...

                  April 14, 2011
                  Charter schools dump students
                  http://www.substancenews.net/...

              •  Parents aren't usually interested in experimenting (3+ / 0-)

                with their kids education. I know that years ago when forced bussing was going on lots of parents pulled out and went to private schools. No one should have to stay at a shit school. The problem is schools should not be shit, and we have to fund them in realistic ways.

                Everyone in education is so beaten down even the dynamic teachers have to struggle. I would love to pay more money for schools in California, but I don't want to pay it so they can hire more administrators.

                "Pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serving public office." Sheriff Dupnik, AZ

                by voracious on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 02:19:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  A specious argument. (8+ / 0-)

              Were it required by law that a school must accept, at no additional cost, any student presenting a voucher, then your assumption that any school would be able to afford a level of education beyond that of the general community would fall apart.

              Otherwise you are merely arguing for segregation by income level.

              Distrust of authority should be the first civic duty. - Norman Douglas

              by Fossil on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 10:07:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Why shouldn't it be required... (0+ / 0-)

                ...by law?

                Charter schools do this and they are very successful.

                Instead of getting triangulated and outflanked, we need to take the best aspects of the Voucher plan and add our own conditions onto it.

            •  Last I checked (3+ / 0-)

              (current, a grandson is in a charter he's been attending since kindergarten), charter schools ARE public schools.

              Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

              by Joieau on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 10:09:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Joieau (0+ / 0-)

                You have never spent much time in either place recently!  

                •  Now, what in the world (4+ / 0-)

                  would make you say that? Granddaughter who attended the same charter since 2nd grade graduates high school (regular public, that's all there are here) this year. Already accepted to Duke with scholarship, medical research.

                  Charters ARE public in my state. Maybe they aren't in yours, but that's no skin off my family's teeth. They serve a necessary purpose and do very well compared to the regular public schools, better in some measures. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. The charter is smaller, can only take so many students per year. Do you also have a problem with smaller public schools as opposed to those with student bodies in the multi-thousands? Would you bus kids 4 hours a day to make sure the small schools are as crowded as the big ones? Would you pay for the bonds to build the bigger schools instead of maintaining the big schools you've already got?

                  What would you be prepared to do to make sure every child gets exactly the same level of educational experience?

                  Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                  by Joieau on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 12:27:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  They are and they have to accept everyone who (3+ / 0-)

                wants in as long as space allows. I don't know where this myth that there are no special education students in charter schools came from. In my town we have had charter schools for almost 15 years. Most of them started out with a high population of special needs students who were not being educated well in the public schools. I know many parents who feel that charter schools saved their special needs child. I realize this isn't exactly a scientific study, but not all charter schools are a good fit for a special needs child and parents aren't going to keep going to a school that isn't helping their child.

                "Pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serving public office." Sheriff Dupnik, AZ

                by voracious on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 02:22:12 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Apparently Bmeis (0+ / 0-)

                  is laboring under the misapprehension that his own experience trumps everyone's experience, anywhere. His charters aren't public, so ours can't be. His charters are exclusive private schools, so ours must be. And if vouchers are ever educational policy, people will be allowed to send their kids to exclusive private charters and public education will die.

                  I've begun to think maybe he doesn't know all that much about the subject as it applies nationally.

                  Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                  by Joieau on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 02:50:24 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  The myth persists because... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joieau

                  ...there are states where Charters can cherry-pick kids.

                  Anti-Charter groups point out these programs in an attempt to smear the good Charter programs, where no cherry-picking is allowed.

            •  ManhattanMan I suspected you were a republican (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior, Sprinkles, Orinoco

              when I read many of your comments this past week, now I know it!

            •  Schools are neither good nor bad (0+ / 0-)

              and looks are irrelevant, unless you happen to be a person whose behavior is directed by superficial optics. There's a reason for the saying "appearances are deceiving."  It's because most things aren't what they appear to be.

              Some (many) people are not only directed by superficial optics (brown people look like they can't learn), but their preconceived notions (brown people can't learn) are reinforced or validated by what they see.  Such people are a disaster as teachers.  "The soft prejudice of low expectations" is a real phenomenon.

              How do we neutralize preconceived notions?  Not by looking at the results of our efforts.  Perhaps the advantage that religious instructors had was that they weren't tasked with "improving" the children, but with serving God.  So, the objective of their endeavor had nothing to do with the objects of their ministrations and they were able to be entirely objective in their work.

              http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

              by hannah on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 04:22:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Bottom line to ALL this stuff is... (6+ / 0-)

            literally, their bottom line. They see all the money we pay in taxes to the federal and state governments and think it would look much better in their wallets. I think that's behind every single one of these union-busting, screw the poor and middle class, entitlements are bad initiatives we're seeing all over the country. Those responsible for this are just using the ideological arguments to bring the "small folk" over to their side, getting them to avoid asking the question of whether it's in their best interests. I think the only solution is to de-personify corporations.

            "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." Anais Nin

            by SuWho on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 09:54:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Please explain how (4+ / 0-)

            charter schools do this. I live in a rural county, there is a good-size city in the county next door along with a county-wide school system. We live at the far edge of our county, farther from our county high school/junior high than we are from the next county's better schools.

            When we adopted a godchild after her mother died, we paid $2000 a year for her to go to the nearer, next-county high school. She'd come here from Miami, we figured a more urban school would be better. This has always been possible if you can pay out-of-district fees in the public system.

            My grandson, between grade school and junior high, was accepted into a charter in the more urban county. A significant drive for us, but he needed the confidence that he could get from smaller classes, attentive teachers, etc. Being "gifted" in our county is a ticket to bullying. The charter IS a public school. It was a struggle to get it funded properly from the public school budget, and even then it cost us families a good amount in transportation and toilet paper (etc.). Once it was demonstrated by actual statistics that this school was doing as well or better than any other of that county's schools, it got the funding.

            When my kids were in school the city had "magnet" schools. Sort of like charters, but dedicated to certain things - art, math & science, etc. They worked out pretty well too, for students with certain directions to their talents and abilities.

            It was my understanding that the voucher business was a way to shift public money to PRIVATE schools, not to alternative public schools. It's the private market that does the theocratic thing, not any version of public school (they must all follow the public rules).

            Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

            by Joieau on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 10:07:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Joieau - I am sorry that the teachers did not stop (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior, TexMex

              the bullying that went on and maybe your grandson is "gifted" and maybe not.  Charter schools are not the way and when the democratic tide rolls over this land in 2012 hopefully we will get rid of them!  

              Strong public schools with well paid union member teachers are the way!  Have you looked at Finland recently?

              •  You're kidding, right? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nervousnellie, voracious

                There is precisely 1 public high school in my county, and it's 40+ miles away. Grandson did 4 years there because the charter only went through 8th grade, but much better able to handle himself after two good years of good schooling. Graduated at the top of his class. There are nine high schools in the next county, one is just 7 miles away from our home. That's where adopted daughter went. It would have been nice to have a voucher to pay that $2,000 tuition to the better school closer to home, all of these are public.

                I've no problem with public charter and magnet schools. Though in this state the magnets are so few and far between they are basically boarding schools. THAT's a pain in the ass, but if your kid is on his/her way to being a brilliant rocket scientist, why would you want him/her to go to the lousiest schools available?

                There are a great many things wrong with public education these days (and have been wrong for at least a couple of generations). Charters and magnets were designed to address some of those problems. Penalizing everyone's children because you don't think kids on certain academic tracks should get curriculums geared toward those tracks is as terminally stupid as gutting public education in toto.

                The religios can always home school to keep their children ignorant. Or pay for private religious schools to do it for them. Your agenda looks to be quite different.

                Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                by Joieau on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 12:19:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  When you have walked a mile in my shoes (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  neroden

                  maybe you can try to educate me about education.  I don't just have a BS in secondary education I also have a MS in CIA.  I grew up in the Philly suburbs and I know a lot about magnet schools they are a good thing.  But charters destroy public schools and I feel that all children have a right to a great education.  Not just a few that get a stinking voucher.

                  Oh one last think - In most cases there is nothing wrong with the schools - it's the parents!

                  •  If your charter schools in (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ManhattanMan, alizard

                    PA are not public - but private and require tuition paid with vouchers - then you have an issue. But it's not valid in North Carolina, where charters are public schools and there is no tuition or cross-district fees. And they must teach to the same tests regular public schools do, and they must be as integrated as public schools are, and they must jump all the public hoops all public schools must jump.

                    It's just that our charters deal better with a certain subset of at-risk students, have smaller class sizes and more engaged teachers, and offer much more in the way of actual experiential learning beyond mere test-taking. This has helped to improve public schools across the board as methods that work are shared among teachers and administrators, everybody wins.

                    One size doesn't fit all. Your personal vendetta against charters simply doesn't apply in many states, and when you arrogantly insist it does you lose credibility.

                    Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                    by Joieau on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 02:29:07 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  You are out of your mind. Democratic (4+ / 0-)

                progressive parents in my area are flocking to charter schools. We are a few years away from having no band at our high schools because they have gotten rid of it in elementary school, now they can't find band members for junior high and this is only getting worse. Our local charter schools all have successful music programs.

                Our homeschool charter school has over 600 students now. And that school pays for kids to participate in extracurricular activities like piano lessons and theater. Even sports.

                We have lost so many of our great teachers to layoffs, guess who hired them? Our charter schools.

                Districts across the state are managed by nincompoops who seem to work very hard to make the wrong decision when it comes to school closures and program development. At charter schools you don't have to deal with the idiocy of school district management.

                "Pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serving public office." Sheriff Dupnik, AZ

                by voracious on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 02:26:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Idealists are people who have an idea, or (0+ / 0-)

            preconceived notion, and then require action to implement it or make it real.  What happens is that, since these idealists have few or no practical talents is that they rely on their powers of persuasion to get practical people to implement them.
            For example, Clinton was persuaded to reduce the deficit and generate a surplus and he did.  Clinton, the practical Democrat, was also persuaded to reform the Pentagon into a more modern military and he did to the point that the invasion of Iraq went great.  It was the idea that the U.S. should stay there, the idea of Bush/Cheney, which they couldn't carry out.
            If we know that idealists' ideas are screwy, practical people shouldn't even try to carry them out.  Because, if we succeed, they take the credit and, if we fail, it's our fault. Democrats have to stop trying to be so accommodating.

            http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

            by hannah on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 03:55:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I, me, mine (11+ / 0-)

          That's YOUR "practical"' agenda. Screw everybody else, eh?

          "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

          by Ivan on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 07:28:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It would be foolish to accept the cash (35+ / 0-)

          knowing the strings that are attached. Troutfishing is doing a great job of illuminating the strings.

          If you want to fund your school with the Koch money, then we need to tax them at much higher rates and use that money to fund public education.

        •  No-- you'd be a fool to take the cash (11+ / 0-)

          if it is given in such a way as to advance the Koch brothers' agenda. And count on this: the cash IS being given in such a way as to do just that.

          "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

          by NWTerriD on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 07:53:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Weird comparison (13+ / 0-)

          Environmental activists and hunters tend to care about an intersection of the same things, when it comes to preserving animal populations and their needed habitats, for example.  Both groups have common interests in some areas, not all.

          This says nothing about the validity of a goal in tearing down public education by promoting private, usually for-profit and non-unionized school replacements as a smokescreen towards funneling tax dollars into a very few private hands for eventual ownership of education as a market - much as we've already seen in various other industries which have taken over government-funded and provided roles.  Such as defense and security, prisons, etc.

          There has been expose after expose showing how these voucher efforts specifically attempt to tap into the worst performing areas of public education pockets in order to paint the larger, more successful picture of what is being accomplished as vastly corrupted and underperforming.  Charter schools are often used as the more palatable carrot instead of private, religious or otherwise exclusive academies that could otherwise benefit from vouchers - with the added benefit that charters are slowly being built by fewer and more consolidated business owners.  Some charters have come into a depressed area and found results and not all are private+for-profit, but they could just as easily never be built and have the local public system revamped for more effectiveness using the shortcut techniques that charters allow in some cases (assuming union contracts can be adjusted to enable such).

          You're creating an abstract equivalence that loses context of reality on the ground, I'm afraid: new ideas are always reasonable to consider, but after awhile we should recognize that public education is being maligned and attacked for many of the same reasons that climate change denial occurs: to benefit the few hands of executives who desire more control of money flows in various industries or business channels of interest.  Any positive impact by cowtowing to their business plans are almost always transient and coincidental, at best - most Executives have no interest in furthering public goals beyond engendering enough goodwill to keep their businesses growing and returning targeted earnings per share.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 09:10:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Very poor analogy (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, neroden, Orinoco, Rebecca, FarWestGirl

          I would never assume that hunters and gun owners are against natural resource preservation. What in the background of that particular group would make you think so?

          On the other hand, when groups who have been actively hostile against a policy in the past are found to be involved in similar policy activism now, why should I NOT judge them based on their previous behavior?

        •  You obviously have not been... (0+ / 0-)

          ...paying attention to who Betsy DeVos is and what she has been doing for DECADES.

          The so-called "rising tide" is lifting only yachts.

          by Egalitare on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 03:11:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Charles Manson had some great ideas too (0+ / 0-)

          and they're just as good as Gandhi's. Am I right?

      •  The thing is... (7+ / 0-)

        ...there's no infrastructure. Where I live, in the middle of South Carolina, there are quite a few "white flight" private academies named mostly after Revolutionary and Civil War heroes from the area. There still isn't the possibility that all the low-income students from the (very doubtful) public schools in my county could all line up with their $10,000 vouchers and start going to these schools.

        Even if they could double or triple their enrollments, they'd lose what makes them desirable for some parents -- small class sizes, homogeneity, discipline, parental involvement and so on -- will quite naturally disappear overnight.

        One trend that is emerging here, and I imagine that it's even more pronounced elsewhere, is the phenomenon of every decent-sized Baptist church in the area seems to be starting up a school, one-grade at a time, in their education wings. This nationwide effort to funnel tax money into these schools simply HAS to be considered the primary motivating factor. Most of the private schools around here have now been open nearly 50 years since the public schools were integrated, and there's never been this kind of push to funnel them tax money, probably because the parents that support these schools don't want government interference in what they do.

        This push for taxpayer funding of private (church) schools, however, will probably make or break the movement. If they can't get taxpayer money, most of them, being somewhat fly-by-night operations anyway, will will wither on the vine. If they do, we can all hope to find a good church in order to educate our children, or do it ourselves at home, because public schools will cease to be a viable option.

        So which billionaire is hoping to gain control of YOUR child's education?

        -5.38 -4.72 T. "...a mosque that rejects radicalism is not a symbol of the enemy's victory; it is a prerequisite for our own." Michael Gerson

        by trevzb on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 10:05:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Saboteurs that want to destroy Public Schools.* (0+ / 0-)

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 10:51:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I know you love charters (22+ / 0-)

      Please stop trying to confuse the issue.  Charter schools are NOT the same thing as public schools, as has been pointed out to you repeatedly, so bringing them up in a thread like this does no good.  It also obfuscates the issue of the DeVos, Koch, Scaife, and other right wing families doing their best to destroy the public education system that made America great.

      •  Did you mean to write... (0+ / 0-)

        ..."Charter schools are NOT the same thing as vouchers"?

        Charters and vouchers are very closely linked.

        A Charter is really just a voucher that the school can't refuse.

        Instead of fighting the Voucher plans, we should be co-opting them. We should be demanding that the Vouchers be larger, that private schools cannot be permitted to cherry-pick kids, that any school accepting a Voucher must meet State Standards.

        But anti-reformers are using the weaknesses in the voucher plans (and the fact that they are often proposed by our political enemies) to continue to stall on any reform.

    •  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-)
        Recommended by:
        Hidden by:
        Bmeis

        ...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

            [ Parent ]

            •  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

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not in my experience. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                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

                [ Parent ]

                •  Are the teachers members of a union? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  elwior
                  •  Some are, some are not. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    alizard

                    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

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You have many facts about education wrong! (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      neroden

                      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-)
                        Recommended by:
                        alizard

                        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

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  As for the teachers, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        alizard

                        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

                        [ Parent ]

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

                    ...with educating kids?

            •  Going the distance - Is the school failing or the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior

              parents?

              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

            [ Parent ]

          •  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-)
          Recommended by:
          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

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is not a market-demand situation. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chimpy

            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

              [ Parent ]

        •  It will be started as a scam (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          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-)
        Recommended by:
        Bmeis

        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-)
          Recommended by:
          ManhattanMan

          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

          [ Parent ]

        •  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-)
            Recommended by:
            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.

    •  I have to disagree--it's not just a question (21+ / 0-)

      of how big the vouchers are. A for profit company is going to do everything they can to maximize their profits. Giving a private entity more money does nothing to guarantee that the funds they receive will actually be spent educating the children.

      Privatization of public schools--even partial privatization, often ends up making things worse, not better. A case in point would be what has happened in my own children's school district this last year. The board voted to hire a private contractor to replace the district's janitorial staff. It was supposed to save the district about $200,000. However, it has recently come to light that it actually only saved the district about $5,000. In addition, since the hiring decisions have been taken out of the hands of school district personnel, at least two employees of this private contractor have been found to have criminal backgrounds. One woman was wanted for drug charges in another state, while another man was found to be on the sex offender registry in yet another state! In addition, many teachers, parents, and students have complained about the sloppy job this company is doing.

      •  Economists really have to start looking... (16+ / 0-)

        ...at the profit motive itself as a source of severe economic inefficiencies (at least when compared to providing the same services through the public sector).

        This can't be happening.

        by TheOrchid on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 08:03:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Don't fall for the hype. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Going the Distance, chimpy
        "A for profit company is going to do everything they can to maximize their profits. "

        That's true. But who says the school has to be for-profit?

        Any group can start a school. Disenfranchised communities that were once unable to access funding can now fund their schools through vouchers.

        Many of them will be religious. But I would accept that if I had the chance to send my daughter to the "DailyKos Academy of Politics and Policy" (Grades 8-12, with in internship in DC).

        Parents will have many choices, and we'll be able to pick a school that is the very best for our unique children.

      •  Janitorial Services (7+ / 0-)

        Ugh, I did IT some work in the Janitorial field for a while and while I'm sure not every Janitorial company is the same, what I was hearing from most of the companies is that they lowball the initial bid in order to win the contract.  Then, over the course of term of the contract, they steadily decrease the amount of service, effort, etc so that towards the end of the contract they're making a lot of money.  Eventually, the client gets sick of their sloppy service and fires them and puts the contract up for bids again and the process is repeated by a new company.  The company that was fired will go bid on the contract that the new company was just fired from because they all do it.

        Well, not ALL of them, but the ones that are legit and do their best to provide a good service are of course not able to compete on price.

        To me, this little microcosm of business is a very good explanation of why privatization of government services is a bad idea.  

        [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 09:28:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't see how adding a middleman (6+ / 0-)

        would save money.

        •  We are removing a middleman. (0+ / 0-)

          Charter schools remove a huge block of bureaucracy. Their executives get paid more, but they often do multiple jobs.

          For example, in my daughter's Charter School there are no secretaries. If you call them on the phone, you get the Principal or Assistant Principal.

          The Principals at NYC Public Schools are much to proud to answer their own phones.

          •  lol... too proud, eh? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rabel

            Mr. Maynard had a secretary. He wasn't a very proud guy that was too cool to be answering his own phone.

            He was usually busy with students, district meetings or teachers I'd guess.

            Getting phone calls from Johnny's mom about not being first string might be a bit distracting from your 1300 students.

            Your schtick here is really dismissive of reality.

            The people you are blindly supporting here are the very people who Sabotaged the public schools in the first place, as this diary is entirely about.

            Your situation is great. Wonderful! But come on. You are carrying water for Koch and the RW Think Tanks here with your stink eyed framing of Public Schools.

            Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

            by k9disc on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 11:22:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  The right-wing twist is to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      k9disc, wsexson

      redistribute public money for public education to home schoolers, religious schools, and charters.  

      If you don't stand for something, eventually you stand for nothing.

      by dkmich on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 02:45:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Outsource it. Self Service... (0+ / 0-)

        How much time do we waste putting our cans in those can crushing machines in Meijers?

        How about that convenient 'self check out'.

        Pay to do it yourself. "I Love Whitewashing this fence... Yes indeedy... sure is fun."

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 11:24:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  In addition to being (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard

      "a scheme to cut educational funding and destroy unions."

      The major purpose of the "plans" hinge on corporate profits.

      Privatize everything. It's a religion to these people.

      Government is good for protecting corporations with laws they write, and cannon-fodder if they need reinforcements for their mercenaries - everything else should be left to the private sector and "free' markets.

      Including our children's education and their futures.

      An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics - Plutarch

      by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:54:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Vouchers of any kind (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      k9disc

      are simply another method designed to kill public education.  They are used to appeal to parents of children in poorer performing school districts. But what they do in reality is drive down funding for all public schools bu removing revenue from them.  If a parent wants to improve public schools, they must get involved.  

      I am a product of public schools and believe that public schools are one of the best ways to achieve equal opportunities in life for all children.  I want our public schools to have the best revenue stream possible to successfully educate our children.  Therefore, as a taxpayer, I expect that my school tax dollars to be spent on public schools, not to enhance the bottom line of a private, for profit school.  Conversely, if a parent wants to send his or her child to a private school, then that parent should be prepared to pay for it, not expect public tax dollars to do so.

      More tax cuts would be gluttony in a time of starvation. That is not America. That is a nation about to be plundered, and a people laid to waste. - Charles Blow

      by gulfgal98 on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 07:16:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The DeVos family has been prominent in trying (48+ / 0-)

    to undermine public schools since they were part of the charter membership of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy which formed about 1986, I believe.  And don't forget that Betsy DeVos's little brother is Eric Prince, founder of Blackwater.  Lots of bucks and enfluence there - all the wrong kind, I'm afraid. We really have to fight and expose all these greedy bastards.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." A. Einstein

    by moose67 on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 07:18:24 AM PDT

  •  DeVos made his fortune (33+ / 0-)

    or more properly, his father made a fortune,  as the founder of Amway Corporation, a legal pyramid scheme. Little Dickie just inherited the loot.

    Wife Betsy is not only the sister of Erik Prince, she is the former chair of the MI Republican party, who once famously opined that failing to cut taxes was a tax increase. She stepped down only so hubby could get his ass handed to him--he barely got 30% of the vote--by Jennifer Granholm in the '06 governor's race.

    Not content to meddle in MI politics, they have for years tried to push their anti-education agenda nationwide.

    The Ohio Elections Commission has levied a record $5.2 million fine against a political action committee headed by former Michigan Republican Chairwoman Betsy DeVos that supports candidates who favor school choice.

    All Children Matter's political action committee in Virginia sent $870,000 to its PAC in Ohio for the 2006 election cycle. The contribution was illegal because All Children Matter's Virginia PAC wasn't registered in Ohio, said Philip Richter, the commission's executive director.

    Since 1999, the DeVos family has poured at least $7 million into expanding school choice -- vouchers, tuition tax credits and charter schools -- and promoting candidates who back those causes.

    Their support goes beyond their sizable checkbooks, as Dick and Betsy DeVos have been the public face of the voucher movement in Michigan and, in many ways, nationally. The couple chaired the failed 2000 voucher initiative in Michigan.


    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 07:40:32 AM PDT

  •  The senators under recall in WI had robos call (18+ / 0-)

    asking people not to sign the recall and it was paid by a DeVos backed group. Then Sen. Darling -- one of the senators under recall -- introduced a similar bill.

  •  This diary... (7+ / 0-)

    ...is so much more re-worthy and important than the silly RFTB/RFTT diary sitting atop the Wreck List right now.  Thanks for providing this incredibly important information to us.

    The public sector--that is to say, the American People--really are under a full-scale assault now by moneyed interests who want to squeeze profit out of every last aspect of our lives.

    This can't be happening.

    by TheOrchid on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 08:00:59 AM PDT

  •  Destroying public education... (15+ / 0-)

    The plot goes beyond destroying schools, the right wing are also working on more lie-filled "documentaries" like Waiting for Superman. I read about this several months back but can't seem to find links about it but, in any case, brace yourself for more Waiting for Superman's in the not too distant future.

    "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 08:04:18 AM PDT

  •  White Hat charter schools in Ohio bled the (7+ / 0-)

    state of millions of dollars under a Republican governor and didn't produce good results.

    They were sued  and some of the money was returned.

    Not all charter schools are alike but they all should be viewed with caution. They are indeed taking money from the public school funding. One should ask if they give back what they take out. Accountability is the trick.

    Even public school schemes like alternative programs within the public schools should be viewed with a careful
    eye. Kansas City went bankrupt from alternative programs that didn't educate and costs the school district millions.

    Sometimes I am in favor of starting from scratch and getting back to the most basic needs in education until we get a handle on the way we fund schools. We should at least be looking at the way successful schools in other countries work. Either way, we need some changes.

  •  Not much need to sway what's left (6+ / 0-)

    of the Democratic party, when the War on Public Schools already owns the president and his Department of Education.

    The president, when he appointed Arne Duncan, a charter schools advocate, as his education department secretary, has made it crystal clear - yet again - who he is working for.

    I was going to provide a link to information connecting Duncan, and Obama's newly corporate-run department of education, to the push for publicly-funded support for corporate-owned for-profit charter schools - but there were so many to choose from that it just seemed silly.

    But here's the google result:

    http://www.google.com/...=

    One of the many frightening things about Obama and his administration is that they clearly feel that they don't even have to care how this sort of thing looks ...

    We don't need a third party. We need a second party.

    by obiterdictum on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 08:37:39 AM PDT

    •  Well, Obama went to the finest Prep Schools you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard

      can, really.

      It was private and Public/Private all the way.

      Why should he not support his experience. It worked awesome for him.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 11:30:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  public education has already destroyed itself (0+ / 0-)

    as a former public school teacher, i contend that most public schools in this country are little more than glorified day care centers that don't prepare kids for the world that awaits them.

    people with means have always been able to ameliorate this circumstance, either through the ability to pay for private school or the ability to purchase homes in areas with adequate public schools.

    why should we deny this ability to parents lacking such means?  i am 100 percent in favor of a voucher system and letting parents make the choice of where their child attends school.  public education needs competition and if in the process bad teachers, teachers unions, and poor schools get left behind, such is the price to be paid to properly educate our kids.

    public schools in this country have already destroyed themselves by failing to accomplish what they are intended to do.  why are people so worked up about plans and ideas to solve this problem?

    •  Please Provide More Info (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, LeftOverAmerica, k9disc, Knarfc

      How long did you teach? When? Where? What kind of training did you have?

      Find me fast on Daily Kos by following me.

      by bink on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 10:04:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sounds like you have an AXE to grind! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, LeftOverAmerica
    •  Republican nonsense. (7+ / 0-)

      "destroyed themselves"?

      Shame on you for this delusional right wing bullshit.

      For decades you and your fellow republicans have done everything in your power to undermine public education. Every aspect of the education system has been defunded/underfunded, and you don't just blame the heroes who are out there in the trenches doing their best with a criminal lack of resources, you jump straight to claiming that the public school model itself should be abandoned for a private for-profit system?

      public education needs competition and if in the process bad teachers, teachers unions, and poor schools get left behind, such is the price to be paid to properly educate our kids.

      Such horseshit.

      If it's true that you are a former teacher, i'm glad you left a system you don't believe in. I've often wondered why republicans seek public office when they don't believe in public service or government, but that's another discussion i suppose.

       I would regale you with shaming tales of what is expected of public school teachers - and what they are paid for it - but i rather suspect you aren't interested in facts.

      Schools need resources, and public education is about more than just test results (though test results - real tests of learning - are obviously critically important).

      Schools are community. Our schools are us - all of us - learning together in a safe, supportive, secular, inclusive environment.

      public schools in this country have already destroyed themselves by failing to accomplish what they are intended to do.

      Public education needs public support.

      Public education didn't fail us - We failed public education.

      The last thing this country needs is the Shock Doctrine approach to the education of our children advocated by the republican party and people like yourself.

      Money speaks for money, the devil for his own... Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone?

      by LeftOverAmerica on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 01:52:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In my district, school boards and administrators (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k9disc, alizard, LeftOverAmerica

        compounded the problems caused by underfunding and by thoughtless, teacher-ignorant, student-ignorant diktats from above.

        From what I can tell, privatization and "charters" generally invite even worse administration, and for-profit schools invite the worst of all.  Obviously, there are exceptions.

        If you don't support public education, and specifically if you don't support administering it competently, you are just making the problem works.  And competently means by someone who knows the students and knows the teachers and knows the parents in that school.  (In that order.)  Administrators flown in from outside without local buy-in are a recipe for disaster, yet they've been the "solution" offered by so-called school "reformers" over and over and over.

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

        by neroden on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 03:22:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  testify, neroden. (0+ / 0-)

          Competent administration is critical, and many school districts suffer from the lack of it. Yet another aspect of underfunding, in that the best and brightest are often not interested in seeking positions that are all work and no pay.

           Despite the theoretical imaginings of those on the Right, privatization would would remove any practical chance the average citizen has of holding bad administrators accountable (often not an easy road even in the best of circumstances).

          The same basic arguments have been made again and again when it comes to transitioning a government service to the private market. Each and every time we've encountered a host of nightmarish developments that "no one could have predicted", and we've learned that any existing systemic problems don't go away - they just get more expensive.

          Money speaks for money, the devil for his own... Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone?

          by LeftOverAmerica on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 01:29:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Bravo! Thank you to you and to the diarist. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alizard, LeftOverAmerica

        As a science teacher, I had a budget of 5 dollars per student this year to provide ALL the materials for my science classroom.  

        $5 dollars. (And, I know there are many teachers in this country who get nothing.)

        Think about that.  Imagine running a science classroom with labs on a total daily budget of$1.38 a day for ALL materials ranging from glue to scissors, markers, paper, beakers, chemicals, slides ... We get to buy books every 7-10 years, and we only get "classroom sets," anymore.  Every child doesn't even have their own book in class either, since we've increased class sizes since we bought the current "classroom set."

        I'm just grateful that we used to have some money in the past, and we were able to buy microscopes and triple beam balances back then.  Lord knows what we're going to do when they need to be replaced...

        I spend over a thousand dollars every year out of my $475/ week take home pay doing my best to give my kids as many hands on labs as I can.  And THAT is not easy at all since my husband has been unemployed for 2 years.

        Thank you for your wonderfully supportive comment.

        Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

        by bkamr on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 07:53:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank (0+ / 0-)

          you, bkamr.

          Thank you for all your hard work. Thank you for refusing to give up. Thank you for holding the line against all odds.

          You, and every teacher like you, are truly heroic. I don't understand how people can fail to appreciate the herculean challenges public school teachers face; nor am i able to grasp how they can miss what it says about the teachers that meet those challenges day after day, year in and year out.

          In what other profession do we find people so willing to use a significant percentage of their (criminally low, in most cases) take home pay to buy supplies for the betterment of others? All while under relentless attack from your own government (in the budgetary sense) and your own people (in the tea party [et al] sense).

          What you do isn't just noteworthy, bkamr - it is noble. The character and dedication inherent to your actions represent the very best of what this nation is capable of producing.

          Public school teachers are the foundation upon which the future of our country is built. We need to remember that fact before people like the OP fundamentally change (/debase) our national character.

          Bless you all.

          Money speaks for money, the devil for his own... Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone?

          by LeftOverAmerica on Sat Apr 23, 2011 at 07:47:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Know your enemy (5+ / 0-)

    Earlier comment posted: "Know you enemy"
    Eric Heubeck, the author of Mr. Weyrich's manual, does not mince words. Here is a sample of the most immoral political program ever adopted by a political movement in this country. Notice that the manual begins with the adoption of the fundamental fact of Machiavellianism:

    Snip...

    "Our movement will be entirely destructive, and entirely constructive. We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them. We will endeavor to knock our opponents off-balance and unsettle them at every opportunity. All of our constructive energies will be dedicated to the creation of our own institutions..

    Reading their manual is a must read for anyone who believes in America.

  •  Education funding in PA (7+ / 0-)

    Is a horror show. We base local funding on propery taxes, not the ability to pay. Our state income tax used to cover 70% of educational costs, now its between 30-35%. We created a nonsense charter system that works on 68% of per pupil costs from sending districts and allows any Tom, Dick, and Harry to open a school. Now throw in a voucher system and you're looking at another layer of problems in trying to get enough $ into the system to educate all of the children in this state.

  •  Koch Family Unites with Bush Family? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, elwior, neroden, Matt Z, k9disc

    Top diary one year ago today: Anatomy of a thrilling GOP disaster.by Rian Fike.

    April 21st must be National Come-a-Cropper Day for Republican saboteurs of public education.

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 09:19:27 AM PDT

  •  Just the other day (11+ / 0-)

    I posted this in a comment to another diary:

    1.  There is a substantial fraction of the nation's population who absolutely detest public schools.  Their motivations vary -- some dislike any government program; some want education to be limited only to the privileged; some want to slip the billions spent on public education into the pockets of the private school industry; and some want parochial schools to become the model, where religion is front and center in our nation's educational system.  The various motivations don't matter in the end, as they all share a common goal: diminish and, if possible, end public schools.

    2.  In support of this goal, a multi-pronged strategy has been developed and implemented over the decades.  The key prongs are:

    2a -  Use the power of the popular media to convince the American people that public schools have "failed." You can't have missed that? Those drums have been beaten for at least the last three decades, their volume increasing year in and year out.

    2b - Starve the schools financially. Who wants to throw good money after bad? If the schools aren't doing their job (we're convinced it's "bad" due to 2a), who in their right mind would support school levies or bonds?  Let them get on the right track and then maybe we'll support them, right? This, of course, creates a bit of a death spiral, as physical facilities degrade, curriculum materials grow outdated and tattered, teachers are demoralized at year after year of cuts, and so on. Who wants to send their kids to such places?  We need alternatives!  (see 2d below). What a brilliant strategy!  It puts the schools into a financial vortex with little hope of escape.


    2c - Demonize teachers and their unions.
    The third prong of the strategy is to convince the public that teachers are overpaid, lazy, greedy, and are in it not because they love teaching and students but because of that high pay and sweet, sweet, benefits.  This has become a favorite tactic over the past decade. Read the comment board on any newspaper's website in the nation and you will see how firmly it has taken root. The Scott Walkers of the nation are using it as a meat axe to go after all unions, including (and with great relish) teachers.

    2d - Introduce the two Trojan horses: school vouchers and charter schools. These sound nice and helpful and may even be effective on an individual basis in some cases. But to those who hate public education, any action that helps more  schools fail and that draws the financial noose laid in 2b more tightly around the necks of districts nationwide is a good thing; even if a few students are helped along the way.  Call it collateral damage, if you will, on the road to eliminating public education in the U.S.  The details don't matter. Anything helps.  And both vouchers and charter schools heighten the challenges facing struggling public schools while simultaneously bleeding precious financial resources from districts.  Rather than help the schools in aggregate, these are mechanisms to concentrate well-performing or motivated students/parents in as few schools as possible, so that proportionately more of the remaining public schools decrease in performance and appear even more convincingly to have "failed."

    I can understand the motivation of parents who live near under-performing public schools in wanting an alternative.  Who wouldn't?  But that doesn't change the fact that vouchers and charter schools are a means to an end: the elimination of public schools.  

  •  Mass public education is the key to superpowerdom (8+ / 0-)

    it is why America become a superpower.

    It is why China is becoming a superpower.

    Funny, how libertarians and PRC talking points about American interventionism are one and the same lately.

  •  I wonder what would happen . . . (7+ / 0-)

    . . . if it was required that:

    • Vouchers did not require any co-payment by people presenting them to a school. (covers all costs in full)
    • A school must accept any student who presents a voucher.
    • A school cannot dismiss any voucher student without due process.

    I think if the schools were required to be completely open to anybody presenting a voucher without further barrier to attendance, then the reactionary right would lose their stomach for vouchers.  It is just another way of segregating our society to them.

    Distrust of authority should be the first civic duty. - Norman Douglas

    by Fossil on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 09:43:41 AM PDT

  •  Erik Prince is the brother of Betsy DeVos (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bink, mrblifil, elwior, neroden, Matt Z, bkamr

    Sarah Palin is like a torn and tattered American flag that should have been taken down long ago.

    by mojave mike on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 09:51:29 AM PDT

  •  I know Devo isn't having hits anymore (0+ / 0-)

    But really, is that any reason to harm children?

    http://youtu.be/...

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 09:53:01 AM PDT

  •  With This Much Right-Wing Money (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, elwior, Matt Z, bkamr, alizard

    Floating around, Michelle Rhee will be employed forever.

    Find me fast on Daily Kos by following me.

    by bink on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 10:01:19 AM PDT

  •  They never stop for so much as a breath. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    They push their agenda 24/7 non-stop.

    I, for one, refuse to live in their America.

    10 long years to retirement. Then, regrettably, Im outta here.

    No home. No job. No peace. No rest.

    by A Runner on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 10:18:40 AM PDT

  •  Experiments in privatizing schools (14+ / 0-)
    •Dallas Independent School District: School district officials found in 2001 that their Edison-run schools would cost $5-20 million more than projected. The district terminated its contract with Edison in 2003.[4]

    •Tyler (Texas) Independent School District: District officials found that having Edison run one of its middle schools cost about a half million dollars more per year than it would have cost the district to operate the school on its own. Tyler ISD ended its contract with Edison in 2004.[5]

    •Sherman (Texas) Independent School District: The Sherman school district where two schools were among Edison’s first ventures let its contract with Edison expire in 1999. School district officials said they ended up paying the firm up to $1 million a year more than they had anticipated because of hidden costs in the Edison contract. As enrollment increased, Edison had also cut teaching and staff jobs to save on costs.[6]

    •Philadelphia: In 2002, days before classes were to start at 20 Edison schools in the city, the cash-strapped company sold off textbooks, computers, lab supplies and musical instruments. Student were left with decades-old textbooks and no equipment. Executives also moved their offices to the schools to save on office rent elsewhere. Jaws dropped when the company asked school board officials for permission to put students to work an hour each day in school offices, presumably without pay

    http://www.tfn.org/...
  •  One note, (9+ / 0-)

    the corporate right does not favor ending government involvement in education. They favor ending local democratic control over curriculum and practices, they favor ending non-profit public education, but they still want the government to collect the tuition for their for-profit schools. This is what vouchers are. The government collects the money and then pays it to the private sector in a classic third-party screwing. This is how the "defense" industry works and it is the reason Paul Ryan wants vouchers for medicare.
    It's about the money.

  •  Privatizing schools (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Bmeis, Matt Z

    also plays to a "faith-based" curriculum in which (in some cases) bigotry is likely to be approved.  Its like the gay adoption issue in VA which jst got decided today with the help of Cuccinelli; the excuse for keeping bigotry legal is that the "faith-based" adoption agencies need to be able to apply their standards, no matter how discriminatory.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 11:02:37 AM PDT

  •  DeVos owns the Orlando Magic. (5+ / 0-)

    He just got done ripping off the City of Orlando by convincing them to build a new Arena at taxpayers expense.

    How about some loud protests at all Magic games.

  •  The war on public education IS the war on unions. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, bkamr, Troutfishing, alizard

    They may have started out simply wanting the state to pay for the religious education of children, but the real aim is to destroy the teachers' unions by destroying the public education system.

    Most charter and private schools do not have unions, or if they do, each school has its own union to bargain with.  A union of teachers at a single school does not have the power of the unions that represent an entire district of public schools.  

  •  I just don't understand those people (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, Troutfishing, Calamity Jean

    It's so incredibly short sighted to say "I want a tax cut so let's destroy most of America's future, both of individuals and the country as a whole to finance it"

    What do they think poor people will do to get an education?  Perhaps they just want them to stay poor and ignorant so they have cheaper slaves...err, I mean, servants.

    They apparently refuse to recall the lessons of the French Revolution...if they got their way, eventually Betsy would meet Madame Guillotine!

    New favorite put-down: S/he's as dumb as a flock of Sarah Palins

    by sleipner on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 01:28:02 PM PDT

    •  it's an unsuccessful parasite strategy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sleipner

      When a parasite bleeds out the host, it finds a new and healthy host or dies. What happens after the oligarchs get SS, national health money, public education funding delivered to their bank accounts?

      Once the low-hanging fruit that can be gathered using government they bought as a upward transfer of wealth tool has been gathered, they board their private jets and go somewhere to enjoy the profits of looting an entire nation.

      The problem here is that their relocation choices are now restricted to either viable places which will tax the shit out of rich expats or places where the native parasites are doing precisely what the DeVos and the Kochtopus and a whole bunch of other wingnut billionaire families are doing, looting their nations for profit.

      If enough nations collapse, technological civilization goes down for lack of a consumer class required to make high tech goods and services available to anybody at any price.

      The failure of the elites is at the level where they can't even be trusted to look after their own

      Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 11:48:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good to make the name DeVos infamous as Koch (7+ / 0-)

    Kudos to you and Rachel!

    If you thought grizzlies were tough, you don't wanna mess with a Mama Badger.

    by avadoria on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 02:10:12 PM PDT

  •  The antagonism is towards anything (5+ / 0-)

    public.  We the people are the enemy of the elite and the only thing the public treasury is good for is as a teat to suckle the elite.

    http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

    by hannah on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:31:20 PM PDT

    •  Well, in terms of the DeVos' of the world. (0+ / 0-)

      Anyone who is not part of their religious gang is 'the Other'.

      That's what's so effective about power seeking Religious Sects as politically useful tools. They are exclusive and discriminatory at their base level. All you have to do is gin up a little blashphemy and project the sect's mission onto other religious groups or secular institutions.

      They really are a powerful and efficient political tool.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 11:52:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Western religions are mostly about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k9disc

        exercising control by relying on persuasion and the fear of punishment in the after-life.  While there's always a temptation to resort to punishment in the here and now, in the long run it's not nearly as effective because physical aggression prompts retaliation and revenge (often by relatives acting much later).  If the threat of punishment can be actualized with a demonstration on a real live example that's disposable and whose relatives are impotent or non-existent (if you're going to tag a group as exemplars, it's best to round up the relatives, as well), there's still the risk that the example won't impress where there's a lack of empathy to begin with.  So, for example, the harassment of Hispanics has not sufficiently impressed the natives to make them content with their miserable wages.  
        Actually, the history of Germany would seem to teach us that the treatment of exemplars has to be really drastic to make an impression on their neighbors.  Most people come equipped with the preconceived notion, "it can't happen to me."  So, in the long run, the threat of eternal damnation works better, at least with people who can think ahead.  People who live for the day in the ineffable present are pretty hopeless as far as direction goes.

        http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

        by hannah on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 02:49:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The ghost of Milton Friedman (2+ / 0-)

    ..isn't just in DC any longer. It seems to be hanging out in statehouses across the country.

    Time for an exorcism.

    An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics - Plutarch

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 04:32:47 PM PDT

  •  Scary stuff. (3+ / 0-)

    Underscoring yet again how threatening knowledge can be to power.

  •  it's a bit surprising that the "new tech" (0+ / 0-)

    companies like Google aren't pushing back against this.

    Illiterates don't really have a lot of use or the ability to use high-tech goods and services. While they all may figure on getting their professional employees from nations where somebody else's taxpayers paid for their education (google pays an effective tax rate of < 3%), it's a bit surprising that they're willing to write off their entire US customer base in the long run.

    Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 10:14:43 PM PDT

  •  It's Sabotage. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick

    How many situations have to set up like this for people to grab a hold of the Sabotage Frame.

    This is plainly Sabotage and there has been a multiple decade parade of Saboteurs throwing monkey wrenches at our Public Schools and the rest of our Public Services.

    On every front, every issue, the Saboteurs are calling the shots:
    Banking and Finance?
    Healthcare?
    Global Warming?
    Trade Agreements?
    Green Energy?

    All of these serious issues have been Sabotaged, plain and simple. We need to draw attention to that.

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 10:49:05 PM PDT

  •  Another side of the coin.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick

    In Eugene, citizens are trying to pass a local tax bill to make up for school shortfalls. Say what you want about fairness and Oregon's funding of public schools, but who from outside is pouring money into the fight to not pass the new tax?  

    The Koch bros.

    •  Wow! Koch Sabotages "Save Our Schools Bill!" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peachcreek, OleHippieChick

      Gawd, that ought to be a slam dunk.

      We really need to do a better job of keeping Madison and Michigan on the brains of Americans.

      Just like Governor Scott Walker and Koch Bros sabotaged the budget in WI to harm public workers and set up a firesale for public assets, Koch is reaching out to sabotage the City of Eugene Oregon's Save our Schools Bill.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 12:00:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Conservatives want to know, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick, Knarfc

    "whom do we exploit today?"

    If there's to be an elite, somebody's got to be scorned.  You can't have one without the other.  And that's how bi-polar people like it.

    http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

    by hannah on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 03:09:45 AM PDT

grytpype, Rebecca, Bob Johnson, Mary, Tookish, RakDaddy, Alumbrados, davej, Sylv, vicki, scribeboy, MadRuth, Jackson L Haveck, dalemac, alyosha, teacherken, deben, El Zmuenga, Ivan, Geenius at Wrok, Nina Katarina, Gooserock, nicolemm, Reino, Sprinkles, karlpk, Spinster, tommurphy, TheGreatLeapForward, Shockwave, trevzb, wu ming, LynChi, Stein, eeff, xynz, EVale, hubcap, Heart of the Rockies, NoisyGong, EvieCZ, bronte17, TracieLynn, EricS, magnetics, highacidity, Xapulin, Geonomist, shanikka, mrblifil, rabel, chimpy, khloemi, Frederick Clarkson, Ignacio Magaloni, vmckimmey, itsmitch, corncam, fumie, ctsteve, Iberian, Cedwyn, antirove, artebella, admiralh, wader, k9disc, Quege, tomephil, psnyder, Nag, marko, TexDem, 2laneIA, kdrivel, modemocrat, duncanidaho, cosette, churchylafemme, BMarshall, Steven Payne, Catte Nappe, lcrp, alizard, 313to212, FlyingToaster, zerelda, Curt Matlock, jcrit, TheOrchid, Black Max, BigDuck, vacantlook, Toddlerbob, AaronBa, furi kuri, bibble, Limelite, Gowrie Gal, tami33, Dirk McQuigley, maybeeso in michigan, Danjuma, historys mysteries, Bluesee, Tinfoil Hat, NoMoreLies, denise b, Ckntfld, el dorado gal, UncleCharlie, gerard w, lilypew, rimstalker, jarneys dad, wsexson, b tex, Chinton, democracy inaction, PBen, Alice Venturi, kamarvt, JohnB47, grimjc, Bill Section 147, panicbean, dewtx, ChemBob, juliesie, stagemom, Brooke In Seattle, ratzo, majcmb1, Sun Tzu, where4art, jcitybone, Burned, most peculiar mama, SheriffBart, jane123, Sandino, Isara, mswsm, Ozzie, neroden, dazed in pa, manoffire, Brian B, doe, SocioSam, mightymouse, Alan Arizona, Snud, Jim P, begone, Reality Bites Back, martini, LeftOverAmerica, gwilson, snazzzybird, Orinoco, cas2, cybersaur, BlueInARedState, Naranjadia, Kimball Cross, tonyahky, cookseytalbott, KenBee, dougymi, kck, hideinplainsight, blueoasis, MJ via Chicago, aloevera, 4Freedom, nonnie9999, gatorcog, Sagebrush Bob, happy camper, Preston S, totallynext, rage, Unknown Quantity, doingbusinessas, fiddlingnero, kurt, Statusquomustgo, kurious, louise the dog, BeerNotWar, ammasdarling, out of left field, Cronesense, byDesign, dmh44, camlbacker, verso2, ninkasi23, leema, Dartagnan, gloriana, yoduuuh do or do not, DvCM, HeartlandLiberal, terabytes, greenchiledem, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, DWG, bnasley, RosyFinch, second gen, prostratedragon, jnhobbs, millwood, carpunder, hopi13, rogereaton, GeorgeXVIII, janatallow, eyesoars, Prof Haley, cville townie, MKinTN, alkalinesky, bkamr, TheFatLadySings, OleHippieChick, Involuntary Exile, elwior, wade norris, KJG52, monkeybrainpolitics, moose67, Jake Williams, Neosho, TokenLiberal, Seamus D, royalscam, Gemina13, luckylizard, HarpboyAK, magicsister, Simply Agrestic, lgcap, gsenski, GrannyOPhilly, forgore, Celtic Merlin, Ellid, maggiejean, prettygirlxoxoxo, McGahee220, spacecadet1, emboyo, deMemedeMedia, juca, An Affirming Flame, be the change you seek, Methinks They Lie, notrouble, Partisan Progressive, pbearsailor, Carakav, obiterdictum, sanglug, Question Authority, avadoria, RadioGirl, Lacy LaPlante, Larsstephens, cassandraX, Amber6541, commonmass, RhymesWithUrple, p gorden lippy, roadbear, tdub901, LaughingPlanet, NJpeach, Tea and Strumpets, NoVAVoter, Eddie L, gulfgal98, sullivanst, DiegoUK, Floande, soaglow, slice, translatorpro, Colorado is the Shiznit, CornSyrupAwareness, kerflooey, nervousnellie, sabo33, nicethugbert, vahana, Reality Ck, MaizeandBlue, freesia, GammaRae, FarWestGirl, California06, cama2008, trumpeter, boomerchick, thomask, Muskegon Critic, BarackStarObama, antooo, peregrine kate, pensivelady, sound of progress, poliwrangler, Vatexia, blue aardvark, Nightshade Q, googie, DEMonrat ankle biter, PrometheusUnbound, good intentions, RuthT2A, No one gets out alive, Azazello, Mathazar, A Runner, IowaBiologist, SuWho, AnnetteK, quill, Tentwenty, nominalize, stormicats, JTinDC, IndieGuy, ahumbleopinion, Mostel26, surelyujest, AnnieR, Socratic Method, Trotskyrepublican, Ginger1, Lh1695, Mike RinRI, cedar park, Th0rn, peachcreek, Ruh Roh, progressivebadger, TBug, radical simplicity, MartyM, etherealfire, GAladybug, Norm1952, Jonny Cache, Ron Ebest, ProfessorWho

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site