Skip to main content

Apple with F

At the National Opportunity to Learn Education Summit earlier in December, Diane Ravitch (PDF) explained how a false civil rights rhetoric came to be attached to charter schools rather than to public schools accessible to everyone:

When I was active a decade ago with the Manhattan Institute, which is led by conservative business leaders, it was decided that the best way to market charter schools was to present them as a way to save minority children. This strategy, it was believed, would win liberal support for a very conservative idea. They were right. Liberals could not resist this narrative.

So today we see Wall Street hedge funders and billionaires saying that they are leading the civil rights movement of our time. I have trouble imagining Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., walking arm in arm with billionaires in a crusade to privatize control of public education. Dr. King understood that social movements need a mass base, and that they are not based in Wall Street. He knew that the civil rights movement depended on its moral authority as well as its ability to mobilize poor and working people in coalition with labor unions. He had no desire to privatize. He wanted to make private interests bow to the demands of the public interest. As I watch rightwing politicians doing their best to destroy the public sector unions, I recall that Dr. King was assassinated at the very time that he was fighting to organize the sanitation workers of Memphis. How dare they invoke his legacy to attack public education and public sector workers!

We know—or we should know—that poor and minority children should not have to depend on the good will and beneficence of the private sector to get a good education. The free market works very well in producing goods and services, but it works through competition. In competition, the weakest fall behind. The market does not produce equity. In the free market, there are a few winners and a lot of losers. Some corporate reformers today advocate that schools should be run like a stock portfolio: Keep the winners and sell the losers. Close schools where the students have low scores and open new ones. But this doesn’t help the students who are struggling.

The evidence shows, as Ravitch reviews in her talk, that "[o]n the whole—and study after study shows this—charters don’t get different results from regular public schools," that "[t]he market does not produce equity," that the market-based reforms beloved of the corporate reformers do not shrink the gaps in achievement between rich and poor or black and white, that the tests we have now don't tell us which teachers are good and which are bad. But it's important also to remember the breathtaking cynicism with which these so-called reforms are being marketed.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Dec 21, 2011 at 12:37 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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

  •  it's all about the deregulation, privatizing, (6+ / 0-)

    union-busting subversion of public education in the name of market-driven corporate profit with no attention to the pedagogical crisis being created.

    The evidence shows, as Ravitch reviews in her talk, that "[o]n the whole—and study after study shows this—charters don’t get different results from regular public schools," that "[t]he market does not produce equity," that the market-based reforms beloved of the corporate reformers do not shrink the gaps in achievement between rich and poor or black and white, that the tests we have now don't tell us which teachers are good and which are bad. But it's important also to remember the breathtaking cynicism with which these so-called reforms are being marketed.

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

    by annieli on Wed Dec 21, 2011 at 12:46:23 PM PST

    •  agreed, when can we as a people come together and (0+ / 0-)

      decide that certain things should not be run for profit. Among these are education, healthcare, military, public recordkeeping (thinking MERS here as an example), police and fire services, etc...capitalism works just fine when only MOST industries are run for profit, and even then...the concept of 'reasonable profit and gains' needs to be reintroduced. But that is a discussion for another time...

  •  Apropos, from the Investigative Fund (4+ / 0-)

    (which deserves our support!): Selling Schools Out

  •  Since We've Never Fixed the Crappy Schools (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    available to the poor and minorities, it was a perfect pitch.

    It was guaranteed to generate a lot of interest on the part of minority/poverty activitists who rightly saw that government wasn't delivering for them, with both parties becoming conservative within a decade and a half after civil rights passed.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Dec 21, 2011 at 01:22:40 PM PST

  •  It's cynical as Hell, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

         but it appears to be working. Anybody remember this ?


  •  How better to get hold of one of the last (8+ / 0-)

    remaining untapped buckets of money in the economy?

    They've already turned the basic societal needs of defense and health care into funnels for feeding profits into their own pockets.

    The next big public expenditure to bleed dry: schools. Which is a two-fer, because un-educated students will be less likely to fight the privatization of social security.

  •  Charter investments are profitable as all hell! (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, devtob, JanL, Egalitare, Matt Z, rexxnyc

    Hedge funds can double your money in only seven years:

    "Wealthy investors and major banks have been making windfall profits by using a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction," Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez write in the New York Daily News. "The program, the New Markets Tax Credit, is so lucrative that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years."

  •  How are charter schools not (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MattFromVermont, Linda Wood, RandW

    "public schools available to everyone"? And Ravitch is wrong: there are studies that show that charter schools are more effective than public schools in certain instances. In the end the proof is in the pudding: parents and kids generally prefer to send their kids to charters when they have the chance. Not so with their assigned district schools in many cases.

    •  You can interpret the stats any way you want (6+ / 0-)

      Your key phrase is of course "in certain instances".

      Ravitch is correct. The CREDO Report on charters indicated that overall charters do not do as well as public schools. That hasn't stopped the Republicans or that Obama administration from backing the creation of more charters.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 08:33:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  just like some public schools are more "effective" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob, boophus, theunreasonableHUman

      than other public schools. Usually having to do with socioeconomic factors in a given district.

      In addition, charter schools can cherry pick, exclude the most expensive to educate (special needs), and put on airs of exclusivity.  You've got it wrong, Pilkington.

      I find it ridiculous that anyone cannot see this for precisely what it is:  a plundering of yet another public pot.  Only the politically naieve cannot see it for what it is.

      His silence says everything we need to know.

      by livjack on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 08:35:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Because in my experience it's not at all true (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MattFromVermont, Linda Wood

        I've helped establish about a dozen or so charter schools, and they have invariably been started by community-based organizations, parents and teachers in low-income communities who are genuinely interested in nothing other than improving then lives of poor children trapped in failing schools. The kids love them because they are safe there. Parents love them because they feel empowered as part of the school community, and many of them are excellent learning environments, and the ones that aren't tend to lose their charter rather quickly. It's a "no-brained" to me; of course we should tap into all of that energy out there for the benefit of these kids. Nobody I'm involved with is making any profits from these schools.

        •  So it depends on who is defining the term (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Linda Wood

          In this nation of laws, I suspect the definition of the term "charter school" is dependent on who is writing the legislation.

          I'm also more likely to believe those who are interested in profiteering will want to leave it as broad as they can.

          Are you sure the final nail in the coffin of our democracy didn't happen with the Bush Bank bailout? Maybe Obama's had a bit more on his plate than you realize. Sooo...why didn't YOU vote in 2010?

          by etlingjm on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 10:09:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, I believe that there are states (0+ / 0-)

            where for-profit charters are not allowed, and those who are pushing to make that the rule nationally. I wouldn't agree with that though; if someone can make a profit in providing quality education for the same per pupil spent in traditional public schools, more power to them. The important ing is that the schools be monitored to ensure that they are truly open to the public and that they are closed down when they aren't working.

            •  Questions (0+ / 0-)

              Who determines when and how these charter schools are failing?  Where do the students go when a 2nd school that they've attended has been deemed a failure?  What happens to the building , the teachers, the other staff if said charter school fails?

              •  The "charter" is granted by a charter granting (0+ / 0-)

                authority, usually but not always the local school district. There is an extensive and complicated set of rules for how charters are granted and revoked, but suffice it to say, the application process is onerous, and there is a lot of oversight. Charters can and do get closed down all of the time.

                If a school closes, the building is still leased or owned by whoever has a lease or ownership of it. In the cases that I've seen, there are always charter schools desperate for space, so a better charter school usually takes over the lease for the building. The teachers and the other staff are obviously going to have to hit the job market.

            •  then you haven't been following the legislation-- (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              which in certain states will allow for no standards measurement, oversight, nor gains assessment to be placed upon these charter schools.  They are benefiting from federal and state tax dollars but are not held under the same regulations as public schools.  They are OUT TO MAKE MONEY OFF THE BACKS OF TAXPAYERS--standard course, these days, no?

              The politicians are facilitating this for the privateers.  

              Need to bone up on what's really happening out there, Pilkington.

              His silence says everything we need to know.

              by livjack on Wed Dec 28, 2011 at 10:34:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Wow (0+ / 0-)
          I've helped establish about a dozen or so charter schools,

          You might want to consider going into another line of work.

          Rather than helping set up vampire institutions that suck financial resources out of public schools while limiting access to special needs students or students with discipline problems, perhaps your energies should go toward improving public schools for all students in your area.

    •  If you're going to refute Ravitch, (6+ / 0-)

      you're going to need some data to back up your assertions.

      As for your suggestion that charter schools are equally available to all, the Miami Herald recently published an investigative report that showed that charter schools "admit few special needs children," and that this "trend has also been observed in New York, Los Angeles and New Orleans." Another part of the series showed that, in the area studied, "the number of poor children enrolled in charter schools is disproportionately low compared to traditional public schools" and "Charter schools in Miami-Dade also enroll a smaller share of black students than traditional public schools, according to federal data. In traditional public schools, one-third of children are black, compared to one-fifth of children in charter schools."

      Charter schools are a con.

      "It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it." George Carlin

      by psnyder on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 08:48:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We went through this when the study was (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        released a few weeks ago. It's ironic that it accuses charters of cherry-picking when it cherry picks a particular part of the country and then extrapolates from there to the rest of the country based on, yes, anecdote.

        Nationally, the statistics are that the demographics of charters closely mirror the populations of the schools districts where they are located.

        •  Educationnext=privatization (0+ / 0-)

          When you choose articles by conservative organizations that are behind the privatization movement you again reveal your bias. Education should not be a profit making enterprise. And that is what charters are.

          For that matter neither should health care be a profit center but this country does not care that our health care system leaves our total populace worse off than most industrial countries.

          •  Mission statement (0+ / 0-)
            In the stormy seas of school reform, this journal will steer a steady course, presenting the facts as best they can be determined, giving voice (without fear or favor) to worthy research, sound ideas, and responsible arguments. Bold change is needed in American K–12 education, but Education Next partakes of no program, campaign, or ideology. It goes where the evidence points.

            I don't have a "bias" towards privatization, but I also don't have a bias against it. If someone can make a profit providing better education to kids for the same per pupil dollars spent in public schools, I have no problem with it. Sacrificing kids future in the alter of some anti-capitalist ideal is not what I'm "biased" in favor of.

      •  A Republican con in Ohio (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, rexxnyc

        Ohio in the 90's had a company named White Hat that bilked the state  out of millions of dollars for charter schools.They were sued and they won.We had a Republican governor , Taft , that should tell  you all you need to know.Taft was connected to other scandals as well.
        Anyone remember "Coingate"?

    •  !. Charter schools have more opportunities (6+ / 0-)

      to select their students than public schools do.

      2. There may be "studies": Ravitch is talking about valid studies rather than small sample anecdotal studies.

      3. Charter schools can be good ... sometimes. There are charters developed to meet specific needs that work quite well. However, many charters, probably most by this time, are for-profit ventures that do not show in their test scores or other measures significantly better results than most public schools in their area.

      4. Because of the self-selection bias involved in making the effort to find out about and get their children into charter or magnet or any special program, most parents are likely to prefer their choice.

      And, the loss of just these parents who care about their child's education and are savvy enough to find out about other options leaves the public schools with the uncaring or un-savvy, the non-English speaking, and the overwhelmed  parents who won't be able raise funds, run a PTA, support clubs or perhaps even help with homework. Thus making the public schools a little less able to educate the kids who most need them.

      Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw. ~John Donne

      by ohiolibrarian on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 08:54:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So those parents should be forced to send (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        their kids to assigned schools so that those schools won't be deprived of their better students? When affluent white liberal parents start sending their kids to failing inner city public schools en masse, then I'll consider your point. But you and I both know that the don't so don't force parents with less resources but who still care to do so.

        •  Actually, many large city school districts had (0+ / 0-)

          a policy of creating 'magnet' schools in inner city neighborhoods in order to create racial/ethnic diversity without forced busing. Some of these were designed to retain some of the local population and draw in suburban whites who would come for programs in arts or science. So yes, white liberal parents do send their kids to inner city schools, albeit not failing inner city schools.

          My point was (1) that these schools might be doing better if people put their efforts toward improving them rather than fleeing to charters, and (2) that in fact, charters are not actually performing all that much better than the schools being fled. So aside from a form of re-segregation, I'm not sure what benefit charters bring.

          Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw. ~John Donne

          by ohiolibrarian on Sun Jan 01, 2012 at 11:20:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The truth about alternative schools is that they (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        take from the regular schools and are left with less money to work with.

    •  The facts are: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Citizenpower, JanL

      Here is the relevant study on charter schools. It shows there is a 1 in 5 chance students will do better in a charter school than in a comparable public school in the same area. There is a 2 in 5 chance they will do worse and a 2 in 5 chance they will do the same. Overall it is more likely they will perform at a lower level if they go to a charter school. This is the definitive study.

      Other studies do show that in isolated instances students can do better in charter schools. Those schools spend much more per student than public schools do. The Harlem Children's Zone so prominently displayed in the film Waiting for Superman spends $16,000 per student plus thousands more per student from corporate benefactors. In addition Geoffrey Canada the leader takes home a $400,000. per year salary. Yes you read that correctly.

       If you would say that "parents and kids generally prefer to send their kids to charters" show me the studies that verify that. Otherwise you are speaking from ideology and opinion and not the data.

      •  There's no need for a study (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        Just try to get your kids into a charter and see what happens. Open a new charter and see what happens. I know of no place that has charters that has experienced difficulties attracting applications for available spots. They often have to establish lotteries for entrance.

        •  Wow. "There's no need for a study." (0+ / 0-)

          Just... wow.

          The word "gobsmacked" comes to mind.

          •  Do you think millions of parents are just too (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood

            stupid to know what's good for their kids?

            •  Do you seriously think millions of parents (0+ / 0-)

              are clamoring for charter schools?

              Really? And you don't think any independent verification of this claim is necessary?

              GIANT credibility gap...

              •  Umm . . . yes (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Linda Wood

                There are two million kids enrolled in charter schools right now, with another 400,000 on waitlists. So clearly "millions of parents" are interested in them enough to send their kids to them.

                There are surely millions more that would if they were able. There are only 16 states that allow an unlimited number of charter schools; the rest have caps in place. In some communities, there are way more applicants for charter schools than there are spaces in them. In New York City for example, there were 48,000 applications for 12,000 spots in the 2010 lottery.


                •  Here's the thing... (0+ / 0-)
                  In the end the proof is in the pudding: parents and kids generally prefer to send their kids to charters when they have the chance.

                  You then changed that statement to denote millions of parents.

                  Since there are about 50 million children attending public school, preschool through 12th grade, and about six million more in private school, the fact that you can currently find two million enrolled in charters is not terribly surprising - particularly with the full court press of the pro-privatization forces currently demonizing public education at every opportunity.

                  It is a patently ridiculous stretch to claim that there is a general preference for charter schools, and one that cannot be plausibly made without genuine, non-partisan data to support it.

                  Again, your credibility is being stretched extremely thin when you not only make that claim in the first place, but continue to press it.

                  Here's a link, btw - I'd hate to leave myself open to a charge that I demand statistics without supplying them.

                  •  You asked for statistics to back up my claim (0+ / 0-)

                    that "millions of parents" have chosen charters, I provided it. There are millions already enrolled or waitlisted. My other claim is that given the chance, parents and kids generally prefer them. That is evidenced by the fact that wherever they are available they are oversubscribed leading to lotteries for admission. I cited one particular example from the largest city in the nation where they have four times the applicants as spots.

                    You cited statistics as to the number of students enrolled in all kinds of schools generally, and said statistics are not inconsistent with anything I've stated or cited, so I don't know exactly why, other than to just claim that you've "cited statistics".

        •  You are caught by the marketing. (0+ / 0-)

          If it is popular it must be good. But the studies show they are not good, they do not cost less and they do not serve everyone. Special needs students are not enrolled in comparable numbers, are not given comparable services when they are allowed to enroll. In addition they are often disenrolled if they don't perform. Public education can be a true democratic institution. In many ways it has fulfilled that ideal. Our middle class is born from many lower income children who succeeded by getting a good education and earning a good job. Privitization forces would love to restrict who gets a good education. The privatization efforts have engaged in a PR campaign. And they got you.

          Let's go back to those studies you don't think are necessary. (By the way do you care if the medicines you take have been verified for safety and effectiveness or do you just believe that they are good because your doctor or a friend told you they were?) Read this article for support of what I am about to say. (Bracey, G. 2009. Education Hell: Rhetoric Versus Reality. Alexandria, VA: Educational Research Service.
          Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13.)
          The international studies that say we are doing so poorly are misleading. If you look at the performance of US students and their level of poverty our students do quite well. The best. Finland is heralded as a fantastic school system and scores at the top regularly. Their poverty rate is 5%. Ours is 25% as determined by those who qualify for free and reduced lunch. If you look at schools in the US that have only 25% poverty (Many of the schools used in studies have more than 50% poverty.) the US students end up in the top 5. If you look at those with 15% poverty we are number 1. This has been shown repeatedly when you disaggregate the data from these studies.

          We have been sold a bill of goods about American education and its poor performance and you purchased it.

          •  It's unbelievable that you jokers keep recycling (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood, eumaies

            the same studies in your talking points to try to rationalize forcing low income students to attend failing schools. I have no problem with anyone studying anything as it relates to public education, and I can cite you studies that say that charter schools don't cherry pick, that their demographics reflect their local communities in general, and that similarly situated students do better there than they do in public schools.

            You can cite studies that say all the opposite, and then now you want to cite a study that I suppose argues for the status quo because wow, actually our schools do quite well considering the low quality of students that they have to serve.

            And I say fuck all of that and let the parents decide for themselves what kind of education they prefer for their kids, and provide them with the support necessary to realize their choice: neighborhood schools, small schools, large schools, magnet schools, charter schools, parochial schools, and private schools.

            For me the rule that says that you can only attend certain schools based on the accident of your address is just as oppressive and wrong as the Jim Crow rules that you used to say that you can only attend certain schools based on the accident of your skin color. It is also a fact that the amount of racial segregation brought about by the former rule is just as much as the racial segregation that was brought about the latter. That is to say that schools are just as racially segregated now as they were in 1954, and the reason is residence-based assignment to school districts. Furthermore, the amount of damage done to the lives of those caught on the wrong side of that particular fence is probably even worse than that done by segregation.

            So, yeah, I really don't give a fuck about how academics explain away failing schools, or how they poo-poo charters. I'll support charters until parents stop choosing to send their kids to them. And right now they are overwhelmingly choosing them. in Harlem for example, the charter school lotteries only accepted 18% of the applicants. If you read the linked report, it notes that the rate tends to drop as the charter schools mature, so that statistic promises to only get worse.

            And this has nothing to do with "marketing". I've taught at inner-city traditional public schools, and I've helped establish over a dozen inner-city charter schools, and I'm personally familiar with dozens more.

            •  To back up what you are saying (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              about the wrong side of the fence, during the 1980's I met a public high school teacher who happened to mention that there were no African American kids in her classes. Startled, I said, "How come?" And she said, "Because they're not in the college-prep track."

              Stunned, I said, "This city has a tracking system? Based on RACE?" And she said, "No, no no no no no. We have a tracking system based on neighborhood. If you live west of such-and-such street, you're in the low track, if you live east of such-and such-street you're in the middle track, and if you live east of this other street you're in the college-prep track."

              Flabbergasted, I asked her why on earth the city would want to keep the kids west of that street from getting a college education, and she said, "Because we don't want them to get their hopes up."

              The element missing from this frustratingly endless discussion about education reform at DailyKos is that so many defenders of public schools assume all public schools provide an equal opportunity for all students and that poor children perform poorly because they are poor. I question that assumption, and I support you in pointing out that parents choose charters because public schools are failing their children.

              •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Linda Wood

                It's a bit of a lonely battle here at Daily Kos, but out here in the "real world" I don't think most people see charters are some sort of right-wing plot. It's a way for parents and communities to work towards better education for their children.

            •  So fuck all that medical research! (0+ / 0-)

              Go to a faith healer if you get into a car accident or have diabetes. You are so caught by the marketing. So go and read the research. All of it. I have pages of studies I have read. When you look at it all you come to the conclusion that the charter school movement will not improve the situation. A comprehensive set of changes, including making sure students are well fed. The studies are there showing the effect of poor nutrition on student performance. I have been an educator for more than 35 years at a variety of levels and stages. Presently I am working with prospective teachers. Do you know anything about education and the various pedagogies or are you a charter school marketer. Have you actually read the studies I cited? You just are not a rational person. It is like arguing with a creationist/intelligent design person.

              Have a nice day but decide to be serious if you want to have a real conversation.

              •  Geezus Kryst quit with the melodrama (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Linda Wood

                Spouting on about your "credentials" on a blog discussion is just stupid. Maybe I've been studying education reform for decades. Maybe I don't know the difference between a voucher and a verb.

                I'll tell you one thing though . . . the idea that I'm some kind of a charter school marketer carrying on at Daily Kos for pay is absurd. Check my history, probably fewer than 5% of what I've written here has anything to do with education at all. It just happens that I work as a legal aid lawyer in a community where a lot of people have an interest in starting charter schools and so I've helped them do so, and have become familiar with their efforts. Because of those experiences, I take offense when people characterize charter schools in a way that is 180 degrees opposed to what I know them to be from personal experience and so end up in these discussions at Daily Kos.

                I'm not saying that there's no value in conducting studies, but the fact is that every school is different, charter or traditional public. There are unquestionably good traditional public schools, and there are unquestionably bad ones. There are also unquestionably good charter school and unquestionably bad ones. I've never suggested that charter schools are some sort of panacea for what ills education.

                But for me, unless the studies showed the charter schools were by definition ruinous to the education of their students and they clearly do not, then I will support them because parents who live in areas with failing schools want them. If the education establishment were willing to get rid of the rule that says that your educational choices are determined by the accident of your place of residence, then I might consider reconsidering that position in light of a new reality in public education.

                •  But the studies do show that they are not, on (0+ / 0-)

                  average, any better than the average public school, and in fact are worse.

                  That's what the studies show.

                  So, clearly, you are in favor of a system that is, on average, no better or even worse than the existing system, simply because there are no studies that show all charters to be ruinous.

                  That's a hell of a set of standards you maintain, there.

                  •  If you take the studies as a whole, pro and con (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Linda Wood

                    they are essentially a wash. Some studies show that charters are on average a little worse, some a little better. Invariably, questions of methodology and testing and control groups, etc., come into play. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that it takes time to build quality educational institutions. It's no accident that most of the schools in the United States considered to be the very best, are also the very oldest. So even if charters on average are slightly worse than comparable public schools on average, I would focus my energies on closing down the ones that are clearly below average, and supporting those that are clearly above average. Actually, that's true for all schools, charter and traditional. But over time, I expect that you'll see more of a weeding out process amongst charters because (1) they can lose their charter more easily than a traditional public school can be closed own; and (2) nobody has to go to them, so if they aren't good, they won't get students over time and they'll close of their own accord.

                    But again, I trust parents to determine what's best for their children over anyone else including academics who purport to inform them that they're choices are wrong.

                    •  Nope. The primary study showed clearly (0+ / 0-)

                      that a small percentage of charter schools were above average, a large percentage were no better, and a large percentage were worse than the average public school.

                      That is not a wash. That is an argument against the vast majority of charter schools.

                      The rest of your comment leads back to ideology.

                      •  The "primary study" . . . (0+ / 0-)

                        Fuck off. Say what you want, parents are demanding them, they're opening at an exponentially increasing rate, traditional public schools are losing students by the thousands. And it's all for the better, notwithstanding your specious arguments to the contrary.

                        •  Ah, you've reached the table-pounding stage. (0+ / 0-)

                          The surest sign of a winning argument.

                          Oh, wait...

                          •  The perspective you seem to be coming from (0+ / 0-)

                            is that privatizers in the form of charter school forces are coming into school districts and misleading and persuading parents into sending their children to charter schools. I may misunderstand you, but that's the impression I get. If that's what you're asserting, I agree that privatizers are like locusts and that they are swarming wherever opportunity arises for the transfer of taxpayer dollars into their private hands. I also agree that the forces of privatization have the destruction of universal public education as their goal. I am with you if that's where you are.

                            But an assertion that parents are happy and have been happy with the public schools during the last few decades is false. Parents are leaving the schools in droves. Parents are working extra jobs to put their kids through private schools, they're homeschooling their children in greater numbers every year, they're hiring tutors to help their children when they cannot afford private schools, and they are initiating the creation of charter schools because the schools have confronted them with very questionable reading and math programs and have allowed a breakdown of discipline that threatens their kids' safety.

                            I agree that privatizers are taking advantage of this crisis, and I really do see it as a crisis. But the problems of curriculum and discipline came first.

  •  Private Sector Makes Plenty Of Scrap And Rejects (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, JanL, Egalitare, Matt Z

    That's not the model you want to apply to children.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 08:28:22 PM PST

  •  You're looking at the wrong studies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What investors in charter schools are concerned about is whether they are seeing a profit, or tax write-off that will save them money. That is the only result they care about.

    Are students meeting or exceeding learning standards?


    Form follows function -- Louis Sullivan

    by Spud1 on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 08:34:47 PM PST

  •  sidebar: misleading labels/'branding' (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, etlingjm

    Senator Rand Paul and his father Congressman Ron Paul call themselves Libertarians and 'Conservative' Constitutionalists

    in no way are they conservatives - - - they want to eliminate the Department of Education ( and four others)

    they are by definition RADICAL constitutionalists and that should be their BRAND If you Liked George W. Bush's Foreign Policy You're Gonna Love Mitt Romney.

    by anyname on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 08:39:07 PM PST

  •  There are 11 charter schools (6+ / 0-)

    in Albany, NY, the state capital.

    All are run the the Brighter Choice Foundation, which is run by a Republican political operative (Tom Carroll) whose CHANGE-NY PAC helped get George Pataki elected in 1994.

    Pataki started the charter school thing in NY in his first term; the operative left his patronage job and used his connections with GOP donors (Manhattan Institute types) to start a charter school in Albany almost immediately.

    The Brighter Choice test results have been somewhat better than the city school district's, probably because of self-selecting parents.

    Brighter Choice plays political hardball -- running ads against the city school district's budget and the salaries of its top administrators (which are less than $200K).  

    Carroll makes about $350,000 as the superintendent/chief fundraiser of his charter school district.


    A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

    by devtob on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 08:52:02 PM PST

  •  Test scores actually do tell you alot (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MattFromVermont, Linda Wood

    I think there's plenty of good reasons not to want to rely too much on "value added" measures directly for teacher evaluation.  Unless you have multiple years of high quality data, the results tend to be very noisy and may be counterproductive for use in HR policy.  

    That said, it's juvenile to stick one's head in the sand and ignore compelling evidence that teacher value added and student test score gains really do matter and really do have the capability to tell you something about teacher effects.

    For example, a slew of recent papers has demonstrated that teachers identified using multiple years of value added have very large effects on students' long term life outcomes.  (Example paper linked below). These are substantive impacts -- single teachers at various points in students' academic experience can significantly change lifetime incomes, chance ofcompleting college, incarceration, etc...

    This doesn't mean that the changes in test scores themselves are what's driving these life improvements.  But it does tell us that as a proxy for which teachers change kids' lives for the better, value added is quite powerful.

  •  The libertarian Cascade Policy Institute (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda Wood

    Is running anti-public schools ads on radio in the Portland, Oregon, area.

    The ads start with a "fact" that public schools have failed, and go on to beg for donations to the "Children's Scholarship Fund" (CSF) to provide scholarships for public school students to instead attend private schools, which more often than not (possibly exclusively) happen to be religious, parochial  schools.

    CSF was started by one of the Walton spawn, John T. Walton, and  the late Theodore J.Forstmann, a Republican equity fund owner.

    The goal, as with charter schools, is always to provide "choice."

    But, same as charter schools, "choice" is nothing but a Trojan horse to fool the well-intentioned but naive to act to further de-fund public schools in hope they eventually collapse.

    It's a multi-pronged attack.

    1.  Push the theme that public schools have "failed." This helps defeat ballot measures for public school funding (who, after all, wants to "throw good money after bad"?); strangling schools of resources they need to succeed.

    2.  Push charter schools to further suck financial resources away from public schools.  

    3.  Demonize public school teachers as greedy union "thugs," who go into teaching because they can't do anything else (remember that knee slapper? "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.").  You know the theme: teachers are lazy, teachers are incompetent, teachers don't care about students, they only care about their unions negotiating those sweet, sweet salaries and benefits.

    4. Might this help a few students get a better education than they otherwise might?  Sure -- that's a great side benefit that can be used as "evidence" that public schools have failed.  In reality though, it's a collateral benefit of the larger push to destroy public schools and return education to the "rightful" realm of the wealthy or those who have access to church schools.

    It's all a carefully constructed series of lies to:

     o  Convince the public that public schools have failed

     o Turn parents against teachers

     o Portray "choice" and charter or parochial schools as the only way to successfully educate children

     o Encourage people to vote against school bonds to "send a message" that public teachers "need to do with less, just like everyone else" and administrators need to "trim the fat." After all, who is stupid enough to send more money to a failing, greedy, enterprise that exists only to enrich union thugs?

    It's clever...and it works, as evidenced by the charter school apologists you come across even in fairly liberal places like Daily Kos.

    They evidently don't realize, or don't care, that they're the  foot soldiers in the Republican/libertarian war against public schools and our largest remaining unions.


    •  I recommend your excellent points here, (0+ / 0-)

      but I'm also replying to disagree in part.

      I agree with everything you say about the effort to destroy public education, but if you think the Forces of Oppression have just now, in the 21st century, discovered the concept of destroying universal public education, you're kidding yourself. They have been doing it since the Civil War. This country has had a 3-tiered educational system since the beginning, a gatekeeping system built to provide a low income work force, a skilled management sector, and a college educated elite. Parents who see their children failing to learn to read or do simple math in the public schools are leaving in droves.

      I am a person who has never voted against a public school funding measure in my life. But reading about teachers attending a national conference to continue developing ways around the mandate to teach reading to primary school students got my attention last year, and for the first time I considered sending a message of disapproval.

      Please consider the possibility that insidious methods of oppression are in the schools now and have been for a long time and that parents are looking for better schools, even as they are aware of the evils of privatization.

  •  I have asked conservatives for years (0+ / 0-)

    why they are so opposed to the two most democratic (small 'd') institutions we have:  public schools and public libraries.  I have yet to received an answer - in Oregon they often rail against the retirement benefits of teachers, but they never get to what seems to me to be the heart of their objections - they don't want to pay the taxes that support schools and libraries, no matter how universally they are used.

    At least in Portland, the library is so popular and well used that they have trouble defunding it.

    My daughter is one of those 'lazy union thugs', who is tens of thousands of dollars in debt to pursue the profession she loves.  Unlike other professions, she will never make more than about $80,000 a year, she will continue to spend her own money to make sure her kids have everything they need in the classroom, and she will spend hours and hours of unpaid time providing the best education she can to the 30 kids in her class.

  •  "Charter" Does NOT Equal Corporate: Non-profit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda Wood

    As a progressive proponent of non-profit Charter schools, I get that there is a white-hot liberal nerve when the topic of Charter schools comes up. I agree that profit motive and education are not a good mix, and concur that for-profit Charters should be categorically ruled out.  But non-profit Charters provide a real choice to what, in many cases, are weak or failed one-size-fits-all school district.  They are entrepreneurially by teachers usually for all the right reasons, and they innovate.  Some work better than others, and unlike District education, the ones that don't work, don't get the enrollment and close naturally.
       My main point is, don't paint all Charters with the same broad brush, and particularly don't lump profiteers with non-profit mission-driven charters.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site