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Coming soon to a school system near you?
Let's say you were running a Christian private school, and were losing students when their families could no longer pay tuition in a tough economy. You'd have a number of options, from raising money from outside sources to cutting costs to shutting down. Or, in the current educational-political atmosphere, you could do what one Florida Christian school is doing: become a charter school.

"Seacoast Charter" is a new K-5 charter school that is run completely separately from Seacoast Christian School, which covers grades 6 through 12. Seacoast Charter will have many of the same students as it did in its previous life as a Christian school—but they'll no longer be paying tuition—and it will expand to include new students. People don't seem worried it will change too much:

Cindy Greene, who's raising a grandchild going into fifth grade at Seacoast, said she loves the school her granddaughter has attended since she was 3 years old. Two other grandchildren also attend the school.

While the Christian atmosphere was a big draw for the family, Greene said she didn't consider leaving. She said the same great teachers will still be at the school, so she's confident that it will remain a good choice for her family.

"I don't think the atmosphere will change," she said.

Same teachers, same administrators, same students. Raise your hand if you think the fact that chapel will no longer be part of the curriculum makes this a legitimate and aboveboard institution of public education in a country in which separation of church and state is the law of the land. While you're at it, raise your hand if you wonder what the rent arrangement will be between the publicly-funded "Seacoast Charter" and the Christian organization that presumably still owns the school facilities.

No matter how they publicize charter schools with tales of impassioned educators starting schools centered around creative ideas and a will to help kids—and such schools do exist—the rush to privatize opens our educational system up to profiteers and creative arrangements like this one.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Florida, Street Prophets , and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Magic indeed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue jersey mom, gustynpip

      A genius aware of his intelligence is an idiot. An idiot aware of his intelligence is a genius. -Blue Tex

      by Blue Tex on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:21:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The private sector is robbing (5+ / 0-)

        the coffers blind, all the way up.  Someday there will be Barista College, Financial Aid for those who qualify.  Which would be totally pointless, because we all know Barista talent is a gift from God and can't be taught.  Of course, I feel the same way about algebra..

        A genius aware of his intelligence is an idiot. An idiot aware of his intelligence is a genius. -Blue Tex

        by Blue Tex on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:28:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I feel the same way about algebra.. (0+ / 0-)

          I write diaries you might want to read. Click my username

          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 10:13:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It's not magic. (7+ / 0-)

      It's a miracle!

      •  praise jebuzzz!!!!!!! (12+ / 0-)

        What do you suppose would happen if say, a church run muslim school suddenly and magically became a public school drawing public funds.  suppose anyone would have a problem with that???

        •  supporting charter schools here at DKos is . . . (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          StrayCat, roadbear

          broadly disappointing and revealingly clueless.

          This is quite openly part of the project to destabilize public schools.  

          It is Milton Friedman's cause.  

          It is an attempt to attract more prepared students out of public schools and put them in an environment where the results of the dessication of the public sector won't be noticed.

          I am speaking as someone who went to Catholic schools and I can tell you that despite the loss of "chapel" or overt religious education, this is quite clearly an unconstitutional establishment of religion.  

          I am writing as a public school teacher now and as someone who knows how the children in the public schools internalize their shame at being "stuck" in "public schools."  

          The propaganda of the right is poisonous.  And it is winning.

    •  Jesus Christ and Andrew Jackson! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat

      (As they used to say in the Maine of my boyhood.)

      The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

      by magnetics on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 07:01:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A couple of points that were omitted (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anthony de Jesus, white blitz

      and seem important to a better understanding of what is happening there.

      In Arlington, Seacoast Charter Academy is switching from a private Christian school to a charter. The K-5 school is on a separate campus from the still-religious Seacoast Christian Academy, which served grades 6-12 and is run separately. Seacoast Charter describes itself as offering an "arts integrated, hands-on curriculum," but the religious aspects to the school, such as weekly chapel, are gone.

      Like many of these religious schools, they either need to close down or find a way to survive as non-secular schools.

      One of the charters isn't really a new school at all. Seacoast opened as a Christian K-5 school in 1992. But in the economy, some families had a harder time affording the tuition.

      "We really got tired of losing our parents," said Principal Marla Stremmel.

      Finally, charter schools are hardly part of a "rush to privatize". In fact, since they are charter schools and, by definition, part of the no-tuition public school system, they would be more aptly described as "public-ized".

      •  No. They are the theft of public funds . . . (6+ / 0-)

        for the furtherance of a private purpose.

        If these teachers want to teach in a public school, let them apply for a job there.

        Of course they don't want to do that because (a) if they are like most private schools, many of the teachers are not properly licensed, and (b) the entire point of the enterprise is to have the public pay for the ethos of a Christian school.  

        Actually, that's not the entire point.  The long term goal is to destabilize and privatize public education.

        This last is not a secret.  Hell, Lehman Bros. (when it existed) used to have a conference every year on how investors could get in on the coming educational gold rush.  They talked openly of doing for education what the private sector had done for medical care in the 1980s.

        The one and only way forward is excellent free public education for all.  

    •  Hey CT and Laura Clawson (0+ / 0-)

      Was this posted on Saturday or Tuesday?
      The site seems confused.

      SAT AUG 13, 2011 AT 05:15 PM PDT
      Florida Christian school magically becomes public charter school
      TUE AUG 09, 2011 AT 09:17 AM PDT
      Florida Christian school magically becomes public charter school

      Pelosi/Spitzer Spitzer/Pelosi '16

      by HiBob on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 09:11:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I just talked to jesus and he said this is totally (8+ / 0-)

    cool.  Also he wants florida to give me a hundred million dollars.  His will be done.

  •  That's 'teavangelicism', and its creeping into (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orinoco, MKSinSA, Neon Mama, alizard

    everywhere, but in Scott's Fraudia, it figures.

    May you live in interesting times--Chinese curse

    by oldcrow on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:38:57 AM PDT

  •  My mother wants a refund!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GAladybug, Neon Mama, The Red Pen

    My deceased Mother, who worked her entire life in menial jobs to send all FOUR of her children to TWELVE years each in Catholic School, should get a refund for those 48 YEARS of tuition that she paid.

    I mean, WHY should OTHERS pay for a religious education?  My mother DID THE PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE THING and PAID for her children to get that education and now these folks want ME to pay for their education??

    Why don't hear all the Tea Party folks screaming about the Constitution??

    •  A Catholic education... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard

      ...has usually been a decent investment to the point where some non-Catholics send their kids to parochial schools.

      I don't know about these guys...

      Harboring resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

      by The Red Pen on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 12:24:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If they can secularize it, they're welcome to try. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    white blitz, apimomfan2, The Red Pen

    I don't think they'll be able or willing to, and I don't think they'll be able to cover up their inability/unwillingness.

    I'll Rochambeau you for it.

    by Rich in PA on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:45:35 AM PDT

    •  I predict (optimistically?) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard

      I predict (optimistically?) that this school may end up with a mandate to fully secularize or lose its charter, much like the school Bachmann started in the early 1990's.

      Bachmann loves to brag about the school she started — failing (of course!) to mention that she was forced out of its administration because she was breaking the law.

      Harboring resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

      by The Red Pen on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 12:22:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republished to Street Prophets. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    midnight lurker
  •  Got socialism? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neon Mama

    Christianists: you are robbing Peter to pay Paul (literally), taking money out of the public school system so you can have state-sponsored religious indoctrination. And we get stuck w/ the bill. IOKIYAR.

  •  Almost the same thing is being attempted near me (0+ / 0-)

    here in GA.  

  •  Hey, wait a minute (0+ / 0-)

    Even if this was a completely secular private school, if they couldn't stay in business, why on earth are taxpayers now going to fund their operations? (same teachers and administration?!) In a state where schools with elected local leadership (school boards) and certified, union teachers are being starved out of existence. WTF is that nonsense?

    $500 Billion a year (US funding of public education) is the size of the pot. It's kind of like money-fracking. Now that the last easy-money bubble has burst, the investment class is now willing to crack, smash, and reduce (frack) the education system to get at the money buried inside. Luckily for them our political leaders are here to make their job easier with education "reform."

    What a bunch of grifters, and what a con. If I wasn't paying for it (now and later) I'd almost appreciate it for its beauty.

    •  not just education....ALL public coffers ripe for (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nespolo

      the taking in their eyes.  

      You can just picture these grifters just sniffing around looking for the next truffle patch.  They are fooling no one, and they must be stopped.

      "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - Ronald Reagan - 1980

      by livjack on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 06:19:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry Laura. (0+ / 0-)

    But I believe you're jumping a bit too early on this one.

    I went to a religious school for a few years as a kid, and I saw first hand the separation of the secular classes and the religious education. Just because the teacher was a nun didn't mean we were taught that I goes before E except after C because it was jeebus's desire. Really, there was absolutely no injection of the holy spirit into the multiplication tables. Nor were we told that god was why we could see spot. See spot run. Run spot run. Yeah, there were religion classes, and the non-faith kids didn't go, they had some other sort of activity in the library.

    Just because there are some fake schools that have become fundamentalist grand central station, like liberty university, does not mean that any and all denomination-based schools suffuse their curriculum with tales of jeebus.

    And considering how teachers sort of 'specialize' into age ranges for early childhood, middle childhood, high school and into subjects... It's also quite plausible that the teachers for the higher grades will ONLY be dealing with those grades.

    There's one aspect of charter schooling that I've yet to determine... whether as private schools they can manage to evade that entire poisonous self-defeating culture of testing that has led to a lack of teaching critical thinking in favor of teaching to a test.

    If charters are able to do so, effectively allowing a re-boot of the education system from the ground up, then I could go for a town contracting with a charter school to run the whole district, keep the same buildings and personnel, just become a charter district. Entirely a technicality, but I want schools to begin functioning in a good manner before my nephews get too much further into this Teach To The Test And Ignore The Rest debacle.

    "I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool." - Republican Congressman Allen West (FL-22) Rawstory Source

    by JayFromPA on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 04:58:39 PM PDT

    •  charters etc (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, liberalej

      my problem with this issue isn't (completely) separation of church and state, though there is certainly some of that: it's that every time we hear the cry "privatize and save money" the exact opposite is true...and the charter says -what- exactly? will they slam catholicism down the kid's throats? perhaps not: but what will they be teaching, and with what slant?

    •  Thoughtful response. (0+ / 0-)

      I would be interested in reading their charter to see if and how the religious aspect is addressed.

      And as for nuns teaching the kids, it's unlikely that there are too many of them in the school. The Catholic Church has, not surprisingly, seen a massive reduction in the number of sisters. since the Vatican Council II. Currently there are 6,000 in the US under the age of 50.

      The number of Catholic nuns — 180,000 in 1965 — has fallen by 60%, and their average age is now 68. The number of teaching nuns has fallen 94% from the close of the Council.

      I imagine that most of the teachers there are lay teachers.

  •  If there's money to be made (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie

    and kids to be indoctrinated, I suspect we'll be seeing the Scientologists trying this move any day now.


    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 05:18:50 PM PDT

  •  This sort of crap (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    verdeo, Marie, Joe Hill PDX, Nespolo, Matt Z

    is exactly why I don't believe any charter school should get tax funds.  Let them go find private investors/donors.

    The way to combat noxious ideas is with other ideas. The way to combat falsehoods is with truth. - William O. Douglas

    by PSzymeczek on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 05:21:31 PM PDT

    •  You have a misunderstanding of what (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      white blitz

      a charter school is.

      They ARE, by definition, public schools that have written a separate charter and are opened as an alternative to more traditional public schools.

      •  Is that so? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Hill PDX, Nespolo

        Then please tell me which of the following is not true:
        1.  Charter schools siphon tax money away from the public schools.
        2.  Charter schools are not accountable or answerable to the taxpayers for how they operate.
        3.  Charter school teachers are generally not required to have the same credentials as public school teachers.
        4.  Charter schools can promote an ideology at taxpayer expense.
        5. Many charter schools are founded as for-profit operations.

        About 4 months ago the head of Berean Academy, a charter school operating in Sierra Vista, AZ, reduced his staff's pay by 30% across the board with no explanation except that the school had "run out of money."  This tells my one of two things:
        1  The head of the school, a Fundamentalist minister, had absconded with taxpayer funds, or
        2.  The head of the school had grievously mismanaged taxpayer funds.

        http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/...

        The way to combat noxious ideas is with other ideas. The way to combat falsehoods is with truth. - William O. Douglas

        by PSzymeczek on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 08:26:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What you wrote: (0+ / 0-)
          I don't believe any charter school should get tax funds.  Let them go find private investors/donors.

          I never said there weren't problems with charter schools or that there weren't bad charter schools. There are good and bad. Many are started by activist parents and teachers who want a better alternative than what their local public school system is offering (like in Los Angeles, where I live). Others are started by thieves and cheats who plan to line their pockets with public money.

          In many districts, charter schools SHOULD syphon tax money from underperforming public schools with equally underperforming teachers and use that money to open schools that are responsive to the needs and desires of the families attending them.

          If you don't believe charter schools should get public funds then you don't believe in charter schools. Period.

          •  None of the charter schools in this town (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Nespolo, houyhnhnm

            were started by parents.  Every single one was founded by a corporation from outside Arizona.  And you're right.  I don't believe in charter schools.  Magnet schools run by the school district are fine.

            The way to combat noxious ideas is with other ideas. The way to combat falsehoods is with truth. - William O. Douglas

            by PSzymeczek on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 09:37:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Florida boggles my mind (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oxfdblue

    We're basically a 50/50 state politically and somehow we ALWAYS have one of the most conservative state governments in the entire nation.  In the past decade only two Dems have won a statewide race - Bill Nelson and Alex Sink.  And Sink ran a terrible race for Governor last year, losing to tea bag nutter Rick Scott.  Given the pathetic state of the Florida Democratic Party I seriously doubt we'll even make inroads in 2012 even if Obama wins in a landslide.  

  •  I don't have a problem with this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, dannyinla

    As long as the religious aspects of the former curriculum are not part of the charter school curriculum there's no problem from a constitutional point of view.  If people don't like the fact that the school is housed at a religious venue, well, then don't send your kids there.

    Give this, why should we complain?

    People in general, and minorities in particular, should have a choice of where to send their kids using the state collected revenues that have been set aside for their children's education.

    It may have escaped your notice but many minorities, impoverished or otherwise, are also religious and thus wouldn't find a religious venue offensive at all.  Some may actually prefer it.  So having another choice of where to send their kids can only be a good thing for them, IMHO.

  •  Back in the day, there were no public dinosaurs. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChadmanFL

    Jesus had to charter one.  It all makes sense now ....

    "There's nothing in the dark that's not there when the lights are on" ~ Rod Serling

    by jwinIL14 on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 05:35:38 PM PDT

  •  I would like to provide (2+ / 0-)

    an alternative to this soak the feds for Xian bullshite.

    St. Ignatius School in Baltimore -- no tuition -- just a commitment by parents and students for the students' progress.  Funding from independent of government resources.  Catholic school that accepts all relgious/non-religious students.

    Happy, educated kids who aren't proselytized -- except through example of good deeds.  I know this school intimately -- I donate -- they shouldn't receive federal/state funding but part of me wish they did.

    Vi er alle norske " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 05:45:07 PM PDT

  •  A rose by any other name... n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Oh, there you are, Perry. -Phineas -SLB-

    by boran2 on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 05:56:24 PM PDT

  •  This is interesting. (6+ / 0-)

    I was reading Rolling Stone today, one from about a month ago.  The article was Matt Taibbi's excellent take down of Michele Bachmann.  Turns out her first toe in the water of politics was as a board director for a new charter school in her St. Paul neighborhood back in the late 90's.  In order to keep that money from the government tit coming in they had to keep the curriculum secular.  But slowly Michele and her cohorts started trying to sneak their personal brand of fundiism into things.  They had irate parents breathing down their necks until Michele finally resigned.  Our own Bill Prendergast was quoted in the article, he's apparently been railing against her nutbaggery from the very beginning.

    So this isn't something new at all.  It's just that they're getting more brazen about it.

    "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

    by Got a Grip on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 06:07:27 PM PDT

  •  "Separation of church and state" is not the law (0+ / 0-)

    What the first amendment actually says is that the government cannot establish a religion, which in this case means this school, since it receives taxpayer money, cannot teach or favor one religion at the expense of another, or of no religion. If they don't do that, the school is fine, both legally and in my book. And I don't see any reason why they can't -- just don't teach religion in the building, either during or after mandatory hours. Good teachers are good teachers ... I don't care that they used to teach Christianity.

    This isn't anywhere close to a big deal.

  •  Of course we really WON'T... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, Joe Hill PDX

    ...know that "the chapel will no longer be part of the curriculum."

    None of the student body is going to complain if it happens, and no "outsiders" are going to ever get inside that Charter. They have a "baked in" backlog/future waiting list ready to apply and agree to whatever happens inside those walls.

    What a racket!!!!

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

    by Egalitare on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 06:13:55 PM PDT

  •  7 Schools in DC went from Catholic to Charter (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, dannyinla, charliehall2

    The Archdiocese of Washington's gave up operating seven of its Catholic schools and converted them to charter. While the schools officially gave up their Catholic identity, they also maintained the same management, staff and faculty.

    You can see more details here  

    While there has been controversy, the sky has not fallen.

    •  From that interview you linked to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster, Egalitare
      I mean, the school that I visited had a $3-million budget deficit, and that was because it had low enrollment, and the other is because most of the parents who went to that school, as you were pointing out, were non-Catholic, but they were paying, or at least were expected to pay, $4,500 tuition. And very few of them could meet that kind of tuition.

      So this allowed the diocese, I believe, to say, okay, instead of closing them down, why don't we just make a deal with the city? And sure enough, though they have lost their Catholic identity, these schools, since they retained most of their staff, they took in a lot more new kids, but essentially the parents were really, really supporters and great believers in the values education that they were receiving at these schools, stuck around.

    •  Indeed the sky does not fall (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster

      when the government supports religious schools. It is done in Canada,  France, Ireland, Spain, and the UK, among other places. The schools have to teach the entire mandated government curriculum. In Ireland, students even have to learn about other religions and pass a test on the other religion -- one of the past duties of Ireland's Chief Rabbi was to develop a Jewish studies curriculum for the Catholic schools!

  •  The Jesus portion of the education will probably (0+ / 0-)

    become an "after-school" elective held on he same premises.

    And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

    by MrJersey on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 06:40:43 PM PDT

  •  Canada, France, Ireland, Spain, the UK (0+ / 0-)

    What do they have in common? The government gives direct tax support to religious schools in at least parts of all five. And I dare say that the Religious Right has a lot less influence in those places.

  •  It's all a scam. (0+ / 0-)

    Say, you send your kids for private classes in Irish dancing, Irish lit, Gaelic language, & Celtic harp lessons. They go to Catholic confirmation classes. Just leave the Catholic classes as they are & open an Irish studies charter school,  have the taxpayers pick up the tab for the ethnic stuff. In Jersey the Jews do it, the Chinese do it, probably soon the Indians will do it, & maybe the protestant academy & home schoolers will catch on. It's a part of large movement to tear down public education financed by  billionaire  "reform" money. They train & plant administrators in school systems. Newark NJ has one of them now.  Bloomberg wants one in New York.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 07:17:32 PM PDT

  •  Bad precedent being set (0+ / 0-)

    Basically what we are saying here is that tax payers should pay for private schools.   That's wrong.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 06:25:51 AM PDT

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