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Crossposted from Education Votes of the National Education Association for whom I was an embedded blogger aboard the Stop the Greed Agenda Bus Tour of Patriot Majority

Now that the Stop the Greed Agenda Bus Tour is complete, I want to take this occasion to try to reflect upon the Greed Agenda in the context of public education, and to explore in a bit of depth the issue of cyber charter schools, a key component of that Agenda.

The American Legislative Exchange Council has long had a strong focus on education, with an emphasis on things like vouchers and “school choice.”  Its current (17th ) Report Card on Public Education lists states by their rank on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) (often called the Nation’s Report Card and produced by the National Center for Educational Statistics), as well as by its own set of criteria, which

ranks states from A to F based on education reform policies including academic standards, school choice programs, charter schools, online learning, and that state’s ability to hire good teachers and fire bad ones
It will not surprise you that ALEC’s rankings favor states with stronger restrictions on unions and fewer on charters. Although since the rankings combine multiple factors heavily unionized California appears in the top ten while right to work Alabama is in the bottom 5.

Please keep reading below the fold

ALEC’s Task Force on Education is one of 8 around which the ALEC “Greed Agenda” is organized.  Each task force contains private sector members as well as public sector (legislators), with the intent of providing the private sector

an unparalleled opportunity to have its voice heard, and its perspective appreciated, by the legislative members.
An examination of the membership of the task force shows the presence of for-profit charter organizations, both bricks and mortar and online, for-profit colleges and their professional organizations, and think tanks heavily oriented towards the Greed Agenda.

ALEC does not operate in isolation.  It helps propagate the Greed Agenda on education by influencing its legislative members to advocate its legislative proposals.  Americans for Prosperity helps to elect those members and to defeat those seen as obstacles to advancing the Greed Agenda.

A key part of privatizing public education is the expansion of online charters and requiring students to take online courses as a condition of high school graduation.  Virginia recently added the online course requirement, even as there is NO research demonstrating the effects of such a requirement - it does provide revenue to equipment and software providers as well as content providers - all usually for-profit entities.  As to online charters, even as we see them expand, we have clear evidence that they do NOT provide a better educational opportunity for students.

According to a Federal government report, in 2008, of more than 4500 charter schools nationwide, 180 were cyber charters.

The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University, which studied performance of Pennsylvania Charters from 2007-2010, concluded

Compared to the educational gains the charter students would have had in their traditional public schools, the analysis shows that students in Pennsylvania charter schools on average make smaller learning gains
 While 35% of the brick and mortar charters performed significantly better in reading than the comparable public schools and only 34% significantly worse, the pattern for cyber charters was starkly different:  100% performed significantly worse.  A similar pattern applied for math performance, with again 100% of cyber charters performing significantly worse.  

The Greed Agenda seeks to privatize and corporatize public schools.  It seeks expansion of charters, often run by for profit entities.  It seeks expansion of online education without regard to control for quality, especially as it is a means of breaking teachers unions as a first step toward destroying all unions.  It opposes collective bargaining, especially for public employees.  It wants to keep unions from political participation (on this the pending Proposition 32 in California is crucial).  It focuses on controlling state legislatures as a means of overriding local control that might oppose its agenda.  It uses various methods of voter suppression to prevent those who might oppose its agenda from voting against its initiatives and its favored legislative (and executive) candidates.

In going after public education, the Greed Agenda is undermining real democracy.

That leaves those of us who care about public education, who care about democracy, only one path to follow.

We must educate voters.

We must organize and motivate voters to oppose this agenda.  

We must fight the Greed Agenda in the Courts and at the ballot box.

If we do not do so, public education be destroyed.  

So will real democracy.

Originally posted to teacherken on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 05:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, American Legislative Transparency Project, Teachers Lounge, and Education Alternatives.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

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

    by teacherken on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 05:04:46 PM PDT

  •  Yes, I can now see that so called (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, ER Doc, George3, WakeUpNeo, Mostel26

    "education reformers" have only I thing in mind -

    They have "$dollar $signs in their $eyes."

    "We must be the change we wish to see in the world" - Gandhi
    "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little" – FDR

    by smokey545 on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 05:12:54 PM PDT

  •  I see no reason for the existence (6+ / 0-)

    of for-profit charter schools. This is a perfect example of corporate welfare  — private entities getting rich off tax dollars. And since what they are stealing is our education dollars – our future — I think for-profit charters and colleges need to be barred from getting ANY tax money. If they're so wonderful, let them succeed on the "free market."

    Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

    by anastasia p on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 05:32:50 PM PDT

  •  For a long time Republicans have stated that (0+ / 0-)

    lowering taxes is the key to a booming economy.  When I was younger I generally excepted that myself.

    The truth is though, that cutting education is a classically short sighted way of raising cash.  I wonder, if we produce fewer engineers, scientists, managers and so on, will that have any effect on our long term prosperity?

    How about just the average level of education.  If our kids are a little less literate and educated than they used to be while educational standards and competition grows abroad, do you think that might have any effect on which businesses locate here, and which do not?

    You can save a little money today, but in the end what you're doing is screwing your kids.

    Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

    by martianexpatriate on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 05:52:18 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for posting this... (0+ / 0-)

    ... and the LINK to the original. Will pass that around.

    When looking at ALEC content and concepts within Mitt Romney's statements, his Education Plan and speeches are a solid foundation to establishing his credentials as the ALEC adopted candidate (I think Rick Perry was the #1 pick in most of the ALEC cabal ranks early on, but that's more hunch than fact).

    It is ALL about profits and greed. Since they have destroyed so many of America's traditional ecnomic sectors, harvesting personal "transactional wealth" by privitizing public education assets is the next wave of this never ending Age of Greed in this the latest "Gilded Age".

    Moyers this weekend on "Plutocracy" wow - 93 of the first year income went to the 1%.

    In the discussion they talk about "political capture" by the Plutarchs and "cognitive capture" within the 99%, here is Chrystia Freeland:

    "... I think there is a broader cognitive capture of, you know, you might call it the intellectual class, the public intellectuals, around maybe the inevitability of plutocracy. You know, as Matt was saying, this notion that if you're poor, it's your own fault."
    ALEC is the "legislative capture" in all this, a key SERVICE PROVIDER to the INDUSTRY this Plutocracy has created. Key to that is the "myth of infinite Capital" - through education and hard work, the American Dream is assessable - which we know now clearly is farther away than ever.

    For the occasional reluctant tweet

    by Hector Solon on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 08:48:24 AM PDT

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