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Let me state up front that I personally do not have a good overall impression or feeling about charter schools which may spring in main because of some basic cynicism I hold towards the motivations underlying the entire movement in general.

I hope to spark conversation in this thread that will enlighten me and perhaps others. I make no claim to being well-versed in this particular area and will leave it to the educators among us to educate me at the very least.

If this is an area that interests you, please join me below

Why my cynicism?

It springs mainly from my own gut feeling that charter schools are simply a prong in the effort to privatize most of the functions of government and to usurp public education, both in terms of dollars and control, and put it in the hands of individuals who will most likely be connected in a crony fashion to TPTB and who plan to make good old fashioned profit from pocketing taxpayer dollars through their efforts. We're talking major bucks here - 7.3% of our gross national product according to  this :US Education spending tops global list That's enough money to get anyone interested.

The very first ping of awareness I had about the money to be made through public education came in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when Barbara Bush made her thoughtful directed dollars charitable contribution for purchasing her son Neil's "Ignite" learning software for to the Houston school system absorbing Katrina victims.

Gee, the Bushes are just all about education, aren't they? No Child Left behind and all that. They devote a great deal of time and energy to answering the debate about "Is our children learning?"

How to answer that question? Well, obviously, the only way is through testing. They're all about the testing. When I use the term "they're" I am not referring to simply the Bushes anymore. I am now referring to all the people who are turning their eyes to this big delectable plum (public education) that needs to be plucked off the taxpayer tree.

In my opinion, they're all about the testing because the testing will show that the American public education system is a failure and thus will now prompt the follow-up Socratic question and answer session:

Q -Oh wise PTB , Who do we blame?
A- The teachers

Q- Oh, wise PTB, How do we fix it?
A- Charter schools

Are we now enlightened? If the children is not learning,  it obviously must be all those bad, unaccountable, over-paid, lazy, unionized teachers. Bad teachers! Bad union! We must get rid of them. We must make them accountable! They and they alone will be held responsible for the test scores of the children in their classrooms. We will weed out the bad teachers and reward the good ones all predicated on the scores! We will replace the bad teachers and bad schools with charters!

Nothing could go wrong with that, could it?

From Slate:
Cheating Scandals and Parent Rebellion

Here’s a litany of recent setbacks: In the latest Los Angeles school board election, a candidate who dared to question the overreliance on test results in evaluating teachers and the unseemly rush to approve charter schools won despite $4 million amassed to defeat him, including $1 million from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and $250,000 from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Former Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall, feted for boosting her students’ test scores at all costs, has been indicted in a massive cheating scandal. Michelle Rhee, the former Washington D.C. school chief who is the darling of the accountability crowd, faces accusations, based on a memo released by veteran PBS correspondent John Merrow, that she knew about, and did nothing to stop, widespread cheating. In a Washington Post op-ed, Bill Gates, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting high-stakes, test-driven teacher evaluation, did an about-face and urged a kinder, gentler approach that teachers could embrace. And parents in New York State staged a rebellion, telling their kids not to take a new and untested achievement exam.
The article goes on to cite a study by the Economic Policy Institute that enumerates the negative results in the test driven cities of Washington DC, New York City and Chicago, after implementation of the  "reforms". Please read the entire article, it's very illuminating and states that the overly rosy claims of success made by Michael Bloomberg, Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan regarding those cities do not survive scrutiny and are comparable to Bernie Madoff's bogus inflated returns on investment that eclipsed the market - too good to be true. Ouch!

So once again, a cynic like me has to wonder why all TPTB from BOTH parties are jumping so enthusiastically on the charter school bandwagon. Is it really a. (sob!) the children? Or is it b.(gasp!) the money?

Simply because we have had an unlevel playing field for generations regarding the education of poor vs. wealthy children and no one in power has particularly stirred themselves to correct the situation, I am going to have to reluctantly conclude that the answer is B. There is a LOT of money to be made in privatizing public education.

Where is this money? It exists in all the PUBLIC dollars that will be put into the pockets of those who:

*Own and administer charter schools
Not the teachers, sorry. They will all be replaced with Teach For America interns who will be disposable contract labor with no benefits and a paltry salary they will be grateful for in our continued "jobless recovery. There could even be money made by building teacher dorms that resemble monasteries with little garret like rooms that provide just enough space for quiet contemplation about how lucky they are to have a job.

Note: being a "non-profit" does not negate lots of money being available for executive salaries especially when the teachers are paid in cabbages and eggs.

*Own facilities who can rent to charters at above market crony rates paid by taxpayers

*Own service companies to the charters. Unless Newt can get his wish for fourth grade janitors, someone will still need to sweep the floors and clean the toilets, especially if we eliminate the public sector school district jobs.(Do charters have to put this type of work out to bid, or can they simply hire their son-in-law or their crony's new janitorial company? Don't know, just asking the question.)

*Providers of software, textbooks, supplies, assuming Neil Bush hasn't already staked out an "exclusive" deal. Someone is going to have to write and sell all those new readers with Jesus riding a dinosaur and history books talking about all the unhappy overpaid union workers before they were freed by NAFTA and the TPP.  (Note: check to see if Bushes are bottling water from the Uruguayan aquifers to stock the schools yet.)

* Consultants - I am sure that Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee and other "pioneers" of the charter movement can ride this gravy train for a long time. Not to mention all the inspirational books they can write about how they saved American children from the maws of the twisted, liberal, socialist public school system

*Venture capitalists- yes there are already venture capitalists out there who have recognized the opportunity that charter schools provide.

Now, I could be wrong, but I think that our Democrats are just as enthusiastic about charter schools as the Republicans. President Obama did select Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education, after all. I don't think I've seen a lot of support for the teacher's union either, have I?

What does the most recent Democratic platform have to say about our stance on education? Good news - We're going to Out-Educate the world! Democratic National Platform:

President Obama and the Democrats are committed to working with states and communities so they have the flexibility and resources they need to improve elementary and secondary education in a way that works best for students. To that end, the President challenged and encouraged states to raise their standards so students graduate ready for college or career and can succeed in a dynamic global economy. Forty-six states responded, leading groundbreaking reforms that will deliver better education to millions of American students. Too many students, particularly students of color and disadvantaged students, drop out of our schools, and Democrats know we must address the dropout crisis with the urgency it deserves. The Democratic Party understands the importance of turning around struggling public schools. We will continue to strengthen all our schools and work to expand public school options for low-income youth, including magnet schools, charter schools, teacher-led schools, and career academies.
I'm gonna interpret that as, yes, the Democrats are pretty onboard with the whole charter school movement. Are you?

Does anyone else share my feeling that this is simply an effort to privatize and profiteer public education?

I do not discount the entire idea, but if we do move to charter schools funded with public dollars, I want some REAL transparency. I want to know where every single one of those public dollars is going. I want to know if they are overpaying friends, relatives and cronies for supplies, rents and services. I want those contracts to be open bidding and transparent and subject to review.

I would close this essay with my solution to the What's the answer question as briefly as I possibly can.

Public education in our country is a disaster with poorer populations at an extreme disadvantage, primarily because for the most part we fund public education through property taxes. Rich towns have more revenue from property taxes than small towns and therefore have better school systems. It becomes a self-perpetuating loop because better schools make the richer towns more desireable which props up property values which props up taxes, etc. etc. etc. This is why within a couple of miles we can have two school systems in which one school can have an Olympic size swimming pool and an observatory and the other school can have buckets in the halls for roofdrips. This system is stupid and inequitable on its face.

My personal solution would be for school funding to be divorced from property taxes and that one statewide tax would be implemented that would cover all residents of the state and that would be distributed on a per student capita basis to every child in the state. I would also implement a gigantic infrastructure and rebuild program for all the neglected and below standard schools in the poorer areas. I would also consolidate school districts and save dollars on duplicative administrative structures. It is asinine for every little town to have a separate superintendent when the districts could be regionalized and one superintendent could supervise a number of towns. The dollars saved could go to for the students and not the bureaucracy.

If you read this diary, I thank you and look forward to your input.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yet another part of the public discourse (56+ / 0-)

    where Democratic and Republican policies converge -- to the detriment of society.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 06:52:07 AM PDT

    •  I tend to agree .... (15+ / 0-)

      I don't have any specific knowledge about Charter Schools, except an innate distrust of the Republican notion that private industry is the answer to what ails public education. I have this distrust of many of these folks pushing Charter Schools that they're just trying to get ahold of all the $$$$ they can vs actually trying to improve an education system for the benefit of the general population.

      It seems to me that Charter Schools are a step back...not an improvement to...educating our citizens. By that I mean, I was able as a poor person's child to get an excellent "public" education. It wasn't until I went to graduate school that I went to a private university. By going to a Charter School system...will this devolve into 'good' vs 'adequate' choices? If you come from a family w/ lots of money, do you get to go to a better school... now supported by public funds? I have to wonder what sort of education I would have received if my only choice of schools was one that only had 'adequate' resources.

      Also, if you run a charter school, does this mean that a specific religion and their teachings can become part of the curriculum? Again...funded by public $?

      I thank the author of the diary for starting the conversation.

      "I'd like to find your inner child and kick it's little ass." -Don Henley.

      by Olkate on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:32:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Charter schools started as an alternative (12+ / 0-)

        We've had a charter school in our town for over twenty years. It started (and still is) as an alternative to our local school system, able to teach and facilitate learning in ways that didn't fit the structure of our public schools. It was run by a board that had one requirement: all board members must be parents. The teachers were hired by the board for their openness to new ideas such as experiential learning, alternative tracks for so-called "late readers", and supporting children who wish to focus on a subject they are interested in, as opposed to the standardized inch-deep/mile-wide public curriculum.

        It worked, for some kids and families. It didn't work for others.

        Eventually, state and local school board requirements brought the school essentially in line with testing-based standards and evaluations: your third-graders are x on the scale compared to local and state schools, and your funding will reflect that performance.

        We've also had a couple other local schools turn into charter schools, again managed locally by parents and teachers, one with amazing success.

        What I've noticed is that it wasn't until ten years ago or so that the education industry and capitalists noticed an opening for the conversion of schools into private profit centers that they started promoting charter schools.

        When charter schools started it was an attempt to bring the educational experience back to a local, and more sensitive, approach.

        •  More than 10 years ago (10+ / 0-)

          My young cousins got sucked into a charter, thanks to rosy marketing BS, nearly 20 years ago. It was a horror show - students were denied recess if interim test scores weren't good enough (they not only taught to the test, they taught to the pre-test), promised programs never materialized, teachers were poorly trained, and turnover was high. Their mom pulled them after a few months.

          The school's still going, though. They seem to do an excellent job of pitting parents against their children; and pitting parents against each other, so they factionalize. The parents who hate those parents who leave will keep their kids there just to "show" the other parent, and many of others will keep their kids there just to show the kid who's boss and teach them that they need to obey authority figures (even if those authority figures are under-trained, underpaid, unprofessional kids). What a waste. Forget the money - the opportunity cost of screwing all those kids has to be massive.

        •  it's not charter schools, per se .. (6+ / 0-)

          it's the corporatization of charter schools which is the problem.

          Having a board composed of parents and teachers is great, but you still need to run the infrastructure .. somebody's got to order the chalk, pay employees, wash the floors, and other non-education stuff. Did the board hire administrators and non-teaching staff as well? I'm wondering what kind of organization developed from a parent-controlled charter ..

          "Electronic media creates reality" - Meatball Fulton

          by zeke7237 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:31:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am a charter high school teacher. (8+ / 0-)

            I taught in the regular, factory model, 2500+ student school for 22 years before. I made the switch 5 years ago.  I teach math at a charter school that has a focus on the arts ( the kids joke I am a teacher of the dark arts).  We are a state charter, and run under the rules every other school in the state does.  We are small, less than 200 kids, class sizes under 20.  The school is incredibly calm and safe, no fights.  We pay our teachers well and have union backing.  

            We have had our problems, there was an issue that the top people paid themselves too much at first, but we have worked this out.  Oversight in all schools is needed.  

            Our graduation rate is higher than the state average, we have lots of AP classes, even calculus.  There is a high population of openly gay students.  The place rocks.

            Some kids need a smaller safe environment.  I am sure there are charter school disasters, but please don't paint them all with such a broad brush.  Go after the bad ones, and the ones for profit, sure, but leave my school the hell alone!

            Sent via African Swallow carrying a coconut

            by ipaman on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:32:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well (7+ / 0-)

              If your class sizes are substantially smaller than the other schools in your system, then that alone could account for improved student performance.

              Charter schools can't be evaluated without controlled studies. Per-pupil spending has to be controlled, assignment to the schools has to be randomized, etc. Otherwise we don't know what we're looking at.

              When and if charter schools can do these things, I will support them:

              1) pinpoint through controlled studies exactly what they are doing differently from other schools that leads to better outcomes, and demonstrate that they can do this with randomly assigned students from the entire population and without more money.

              2) demonstrate that the other schools can't implement the same changes without the creation of charters. If something is shown to work, then regular public schools can adopt it. I suspect that the only thing that really requires charters are breaking the unions, increasing the workloads of teachers, and privatization.

              3) do this long enough to determine the impact on the teachers, including the quality of students going into the profession and how long they stay in it.

              As far as I can see, we are nowhere near to establishing any of these things. We can't even establish whether kids do better or worse in charters, which to me is a good indication that the rush into them was highly premature. This constitutes a mass experiment on schoolchildren, to the possible detriment of many of them.

              BTW, In "Thinking, Fast and Slow" the economist Daniel Kahneman makes the case that the reason smaller schools appear to get better results is strictly a statistical phenomenon.

              It is easy to construct a causal story that explains how small schools are able to provide superior education and thus produce high-achieving scholars by giving them more personal attention and encouragement than they could get in larger schools. Unfortunately the causal analysis is pointless because the facts are wrong. If the statisticians who reported to the Gates Foundation had asked about the characteristics of the worst schools, they would have found that bad schools also tend to be smaller than average. The truth is that small schools are not better on average; they are simply more variable.
            •  Your school sounds great. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mightymouse, ipaman

              I realize that my diary may have painted with a broad brush my mostly negative impression, but I admitted that up-front and was hoping that there were some positives as well.

              I am happy to hear about a well-run state charter with public accountability and well-paid union supported teachers.

              I have only one question - why do only "some kids" need a smaller safe environment?

              I can imagine that the population of openly gay students appreciates accepting and non-threatening surroundings, but the students in the mainstream school deserve the same.

              In your opinion, will there develop or is there the risk of developing a 2 tier system with charters and everyone else being "left behinds"?

              Is your school ethnically and income diverse? How are the students selected?

              Thanks so much for your input.

              “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

              by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:04:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So we live close to the southern (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                StrayCat, Phoebe Loosinhouse, marksb

                border.  The school is 70 percent Latino (lots of poverty in the area and our school).  Our student choose to come to our school and are selected on a first come basis, until we reach 200 no one is turned down.  It is and art school, no sports (our only PE is dance), so that keeps many away (kids are allowed to play at their home school if they want to and can make the team).  

                All kids need a safe environment.  But the factory model of schools has failed.  Put 2500 kids in a small space and there will be conflict.  Yes, we probably are doing better due to our class size.  Why can't all schools do that?  Their money is spent else where.

                I complained that schools were too big for years, I'm glad I moved to one of a more sensible size.  I am making a difference for kids, I don't care what you call my school.

                Sent via African Swallow carrying a coconut

                by ipaman on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:46:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  sadly (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Phoebe Loosinhouse

                  this illustrates perfectly the way specious reasoning and misrepresentations of public education and its historical context are used to advance an agenda bent on destroying what is quite probably America's greatest accomplishment.

                  It's the same every time (broadly speaking), whether it be public education or any other service once provided to all by our government.

                  Strip the targeted service/program of funding, then gnash teeth and moan about said service when the funding cuts result in a deterioration of the service.

                  Slash the salaries of public education teachers, then gnash teeth and moan about the lack of "quality" teachers.

                  Close school after school under the banner of "streamlining", then gnash teeth and moan about class size.

                  Follow up with right wing think tank pro-privatization studies (no need to mention conflicts of interest... this isn't the world of academia, after all)

                  Follow up with paid 'journalists' and talking heads hitting the corporate press with sophistic odes to the wonders of privatization and the evils of the teacher's union. Remove all context, history, and integrity from the discussion.


                  After a decade or two the broader context is remembered by only a handful. The press (that now shares investors with the charter schools) invite an endless parade of (often paid or financially invested) pro-charter talking heads. Other corporate entities release grossly dishonest pro-privatization movies and television plots (the way most Americans get the information that forms their opinions).

                  Now, people that weren't there for the decades-long assault on public schools and public school teachers genuinely believe charters are something other than an attempt to destroy America's (imo) greatest achievement. Progressive values and larger context be damned if one's personal experience seems positive.

                  Despite the assertions contained in the comment to which I've replied, less than 1 in 8 charter schools are unionized (and that's the stat offered by the charter school lobbyists themselves).

                  Sadly, this passes for wisdom in many quarters these days...

                  "But the factory model of schools has failed"

                  It's a talking point mentioned at least twice in the comments above.

                  'What "factory model" is that?', you might ask. I have to assume that this assertion refers to the overcrowded schools that were the direct and intended result of funding cuts specifically designed to result in the death of public education. I'm sorry, but to refer to this as a "model" suggests that you aren't aware of the history of public education in this country., or you're not interested in it.  

                  For anyone interested, I suggest exploring the subject in depth before falling for any of the specious anti-citizen, anti-progressive, anti-child, pro-wall street, 'yay privatization' nonsense that frequently litter the comment sections in good, pro-public education diaries like this (and kudos to the diarist, btw)

                  There are many great books on the subject (like 'Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools' [please read this one!]), but here are a few articles that are only a click away:

                  "Thanks to a little discussed law passed in 2000, at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, banks and equity funds that invest in charter schools and other projects in underserved areas can take advantage of a very generous tax credit – as much as 39% -- to help offset their expenditure in such projects. In essence, that credit amounts to doubling the amount of money they have invested within just seven years. Moreover, they are allowed to combine that tax credit with job creation credits and other types of credit, as well collect interest payments on the money they are lending out – all of which can add up to far more than double in returns. This is, no doubt, why many big banks and equity funds are so invested in the expansion of charter schools. There is big money being made here -- because investment is nearly a sure thing..."

                  Corporations Advise School Closings, While Private Charters Suck Public Schools Away

                  "The biggest question facing the board of newcomers is to what degree they will embrace charter schools. Last year, Georgia voters passed a constitutional amendment that enabled the creation of a state-appointed commission authorized to bypass local and state school boards in approving new charter schools. Critics say the measure passed because the text on the ballot, written by governor Nathan Deal, referenced “parental involvement” and “student achievement,” but not the specific authorities of the commission. In this climate, APS, which already has the most charter schools of any Georgia school district, will only avoid becoming the next laboratory for corporate education reform with significant pushback from the new school board.

                  That’s where Arthur Rock comes in. And a lot of other rich people, too...."

                  How Wall Street Power Brokers Are Designing the Future of Public Education as a Money-Making Machine Why are Wall Street types investing in local school board elections? Just follow the money.

                  "I was interested in hearing the conference keynoter, Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. In Finland, that's roughly the equivalent in rank to Arne Duncan, although the comparison stops there.

                  Pasi is a real thinker and a man of action. I've been a fan of his ever since I saw this interview with Andrea Mitchell back in Sept. 2010. He told an astonished Mitchell that the secret of Finland's celebrated school success was essentially doing everything just the opposite way from current U.S. school reform policies. Some of the major differences:  Finland puts the focus on collaboration rather than on competition. Finnish education policy supports public good and equity over privatization and school  choice. The Finnish school system de-emphasizes standardized testing. Finland has implemented high standards for entry into the teaching profession, rather than using mass purges of the profession and school turnarounds.


                  "But I almost fell out of my chair when Anderson offered that all of  "Arne's" policies and so-called reforms "were in step" with Pasi Sahlberg's earlier presentation. What!?

                  Anderson exited the stage before anyone could question such an outrageous proposition.

                  I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It's the great disconnect between our Democratic administration's words and deeds. No need to go into detail on this. But there would be no better place to start than right here in Chicago, where all the blather about school reform being the "civil rights issue of our era" goes hand-in-hand with the whitenizing of the city and with accompanying massive school closings and disinvestment in communities on the south and west sides of the city."

                  The Great Disconnect

                  Charter schools are a Trojan horse. Talking points issued in their support are superficial, context-free, and nearly always deeply misleading. Scratch the surface, and you'll find either myopia, or a concern for money rather than a concern for children.

                  The Network for Public Education is linked here at Daily Kos.

                  my fucking user name came from a program to redistribute restaurant food that would have otherwise gone to waste - okay?

                  by LeftOverAmerica on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:43:53 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thanks for the links. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    marksb, LeftOverAmerica

                    I have read bits of "the reign of error".  Agreed with what I read.  My school is a public school.  We use the same money and funding as all the other area schools.  I don't know how it works in other states.  If we fail to show growth of our kids, we get shut down.

                    Our big schools work great for many kids, I taught in those schools for years, but there are kids who don't thrive in that type of environment and do in my current school.  One size does not fit all.

                    Sent via African Swallow carrying a coconut

                    by ipaman on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:33:05 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Fantastic comment. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    My diary was about my impressions of the current drive for charters being money and privatization motivated in many instances and having very little to really do with the welfare of the students except in a mostly PR fashion to drive the creation of more charters. (I'm NOT speaking of teachers here, but of the monetarily driven owners of some charters)

                    Your comment on the other hand is far more deeply researched and grounded. I would ask that you publish your comment as a diary, expanded upon or not.

                    I have questions about the testing apparatus that created the need for charters in the first place. If the charters do not provide a quantifiable superior result, aren't the tests also the seeds of the charters destruction in our numbers obsessed society?

                    Children are NOT rolled out on a conveyor belt. Their innate abilities, backgrounds and experiences should automatically mean that there would be variances from year to year for all schools. Since the children are not consistent, how can scores possibly be consistent?

                    I have to believe that there will be testing scandal after testing scandal after testing scandal. The testing process should not EVER be implemented and assessed by the school being tested, IMO. I think that there should be a separate testing facility where the tests are taken and evaluated far from the subjects - kind of the SAT model. This is the only practice that can ensure objectivity and neutrality.

                    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

                    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 04:41:01 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  The driving force behind charters are school (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          zmom, Sparhawk, TexMex

          districts that have had terrible schools for decades - so people look for an alternative to the local failed public school.

          We don't see much interest in charter schools where the public schools provide a great education.

          The best way to fight against charters, is to turn around or close failed public schools.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:32:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) (9+ / 0-)

      is the Democratic Party's Wall St lobby working to destroy teacher's unions & privatize public education. Obama has been relentless in his demonization of public education.

      Obama's secretary of education is working to Dumb down the teaching profession. Arne Duncan sneaked into Boston to meet with a for-profit teacher mill that is training low wage teachers for Charter schools.

      The plutocracy's favorite charter school queen is also Andy Cuomo's bff  & workingto smear Bill DeBlasio

  •  I put my kids in the local charter school for 3 (26+ / 0-)

    months but switched before the day they count heads for funding. Our $12K of state money went to the public school.

    Most of my objections were of a different nature than yours.

    Our local charter had very good teachers, small classes, and they scored highest on state standardized tests. The teachers were outstanding and I think teachers are the single most important part of the equation.

    Another good thing about the Charter was that it put intense competition on the public school. All kinds of new and fun extracurricular activities at the public. Early morning sports and a Chinese language program to name a couple.

    My problem with the Charter was that there was a lot of pressure to donate money. They posted the names of those donating $100 or more in the front lobby. Some parents gave these debit card things to teachers (for supplies) in the amount of a couple thousand dollars. Is my kid going to get treated the same as the child of that parent? The fund raising via other sources was intense and unremitting. It goes on at the public school too but I feel less stigmatized ignoring it.

    The Charter had ethnic diversity but not income diversity, we felt out of place. They had quite a few students whose parents were African but no African Americans. Our town has a large Hispanic population stretching back for generations, now my kids go to school with them at the public school.

    My kids can walk to school and a lot of kids here do, at the other school almost no one did. The public school has programs with phys ed, music, art, etc that have teachers who specialize in those areas.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:04:32 AM PDT

  •  Nice post, THANK YOU (30+ / 0-)

    There is a "river" of money flowing next to schools from federal, state, and local governments.  Of course those who own charter school corporations will never let on it's about the money, pleading those "poor" kids being held hostage by lousy public schools.  My city was at one time ground zero in the charter movement but overall, test scores are no higher consistently and guess what?  Several have gone out of business mid-year because of financial problems - some were so messed up, their books could not be audited properly.
    I am a life-long Democrat but on this issue, as a public school teacher, I part company with President Obama and Hoops Master Arne Duncan.  It is a stain on his legacy and I hope he pays attention before the end of his term and brings his quisling Democratic buddies with him.  Teachers and their unions are not the problem, and we cannot bully/fire/intimidate our way to higher test scores...if that's all that matters.

    Think what you are doing today. -Fred Rogers

    by JanL on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:15:52 AM PDT

    •  What city? nt. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, corvo

      “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

      by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:30:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ohio... (19+ / 0-)

        Dayton, but the charter movement is worse now because of our nasty governor, John Ka$ick, who is doing what his paymasters at White Hat and other charter corporations tell him to do. All the time, he is bad-mouthing teachers, fire-fighters, and police officers.
        I like to tell people "don't get me started" because I can go on and on about it, frothing at the mouth, no doubt. ;)
        Poverty drives low test scores - not race, gender, religious preference, or "culture" as Paul Ryan likes to point out.  All of the students in my classes, since I started 22 years ago, are poor and I mean hungry, no heat/lights, no clothing except from Goodwill, poor.  They come to school significantly behind academically but by 5th or 6th grade, more than half are on "grade level".  I love my job, and all of us, including my co-workers - bus drivers, paraprofessionals, food service workers, custodians, administrators (for the most part) give it our all every day to get them on track.  We don't get all of them to grade level, but most of them move forward despite their home situations.
        It is staggering to think what might happen if we provided a 'floor' under which no family or child could fall. We have the money but it's easier to point fingers and lay blame - and more profitable, as well.

        Think what you are doing today. -Fred Rogers

        by JanL on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:45:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The question I would like to ask Obama (6+ / 0-)

      "Why didn't you try to reform health car by launching a war on nurses?"

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 01:18:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When it comes to Common Core, Bill Gates (27+ / 0-)

    Let the secret slip:

    It's all a moneymaking racket.for Pearson and Microsoft as they publish curricula, tests, and all sorts of software parents and schools can use.

    Schools will become cube farms and teachers just minimum wage babysitters.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:39:02 AM PDT

  •  Charters- the next big bust? (10+ / 0-)

    I wouldn't be surprised if Charter schools don't bust completely in about 5 years.  

    Even in Washington, we voted to approve them.  After a number of attempts, they were successful.  

    I think they are destined to fail.  I have worked with a variety of schools over the years.  I have seen where a school gets a motivated parent base, but then that motivated base moves on, and some who are not as motivated pick it up.  

    I would like to see what the failure rate is in the first five years for new charter schools.  


    by otto on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 07:40:12 AM PDT

  •  The two roads of Charter Schools (12+ / 0-)

    I was originally against Charter schools (this is way back when they started in the Clinton era.  I was involved with the start up with one of the first Charter schools which was attached to a university).  I thought the Charter was nothing more than an incursion against unions - the venture capitalists had not entered the fray yet because nobody knew about the law where they could earn enormous tax benefits from investing in them - or it hadn't gone into effect.  Seeing the cynicism behind the initial attempts I really disliked Charter schools and argued against them every chance I could.  Then a colleague who had studied the philosophy behind Charter schools from the beginning invited me to study a Charter school that was developed as originally intended.  A local community had worked to take over a school and worked hand in hand with the union to develop a unique curriculum that met the needs of that particular community.  The parent involvement in a working class community was absolutely extraordinary.  Going to their meetings every other week I started to believe this is what education should be and I started to become a big backer of Charter schools.  Then I began to have friends in teaching who urged to look at what politicians were doing using Charter schools, in particular Emanuel in Chicago and Bloomberg in New York.  They weren't just trying to enrich their friends and break unions - there are many other agendas which I can't go into here.  And Charter schools became horrifying again.  I guess the short answer is that our plutocrat, greed driven culture with destroy any idea.

    •  There's a lot to like in the concept of (18+ / 0-)

      charters, most especially a lower teacher to student ratio. Who wouldn't love to feel that their child is a special flower in a smaller garden as opposed to a potato in a thousand acre field?

      But why can't we simply take on the task of improving public education for every single child?

      I worry about building a two tier system where the poorer students will continue to be directed to holding pattern public schools and the better off will be siphoned into what will become essentially private academies funded by taxpayers.

      I read an Amy Goodman transcript a while ago some very strange things that were evolving in the Chicago charters, like proto-miltary academies being established.

      And I personally DO NOT believe in funding specific religious schools at public expense. I just don't. I see that as an express route to entrenching both  discrimination and intolerance. Some kid either did or didn't go to the approved religious charter in town and does or doesn't get a job in town due to that fact later in life.

      I always thought one of the best benefits of public education is that kids from all creeds and belief system study and play together and find community in the public school. How old-fashioned and hippyish of me.

      “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

      by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:21:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Since 2004 I have regularly made it a point (18+ / 0-)

    to talk with boys of high school age who work at my local grocery store. My town is small and is a religious mecca for many fundamentalists. The Creation Evidence Museum is here and it is located just outside a state park famous for dinosaur tracks in a riverbed.

    I go to the grocery almost weekly and because the parking lot is built on a sharp hillside it takes two to put the groceries in the back of my car: one to hold the cart while the other moves the groceries. It happens every time. So I chat with these boys who are in high school and I ask them about their schools. I ask them if they go to school here, and their answers of two types. One group is animated and they freely talk about their school. They seem to be proud of it, and they seem to enjoy school. I ask them about their college plans and most of them have ready answers. The other group is not so happy about school. They don't have very well defined college plans, and they don't like the questions I ask about sports and other extracurricular activities. The first group goes to the local public schools, and the second goes to a charter school or is home schooled. It seems to me that the difference between the two sets of boys is socialization. The public school boys seem to be looking at the world as a place of opportunity. The others seem to look at the world as dangerous and they are suspicious.

    I should add that I am a former schoolteacher in high school. I was the golf coach as well. I think I know how to put young people at ease, and I think I know how to read them.

    So, I have had about 400 encounters with a variety of high school boys over nearly a decade, and I think that there is a marked difference between the boys in the public schools and the boys who go to other schools.

    I was an employer for most of my working life, and I hired lots of young people who were just out of college. Again I saw the difference. Charter schools did not exist for most of those years but religious "academies" did, and the students from those schools were not very good workers. They were often uncommunicative and resented inquiries into the progress they were making on their projects. As a business owner, I could not grant my employees unfettered freedom to do as they pleased. I had made commitments to my customers with respect to costs, delivery times, and capabilities. I needed to make sure that each part of a large project was proceeding on schedule. Former academy students were often resentful of such requirements. In fact, the word, "surly" often came to mind.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:02:09 AM PDT

    •  This entire "home schooled" generation is creating (7+ / 0-)

      a social time bomb that will ripple through society over the next few generations.  It sort of reminds me of the young men in Pakistan who are being trained in madrassas in Islamic culture, and not much else.

      These home schooled kids are being self separated from the society that they will have to work and survive in when they have to go out and make a living.  They will be a serious disadvantage to those kids who are able to cooperate and work with others on a daily basis.  

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

      by MrJersey on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 03:59:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My take is similar to yours. (20+ / 0-)

    Education is now being presented to people as "training" or a consumer choice with the intent that trained but broadly ignorant children will be turned out cookie-cutter style.  In that manner the MBAs can exert undue influence in areas where their sociopathy does not belong.

    Meanwhile, the only predictor of educational success being the economic class of the parents has not changed.  Yet, we do nothing to improve the ability of working-class parents to give their children the time and advantages that promote a continuity of learning.

    The stupidity being thrown around is breathtaking.  Case in point - Bill Gates' ignorance about simple statistics in order to promote small class size because he just does not get the central limit theorm; that means of small samples are overrepresented in the extremes of a distribution.  And like any sociopathic billionaire, he thinks that just because he bought DOS from Gary Kildall and gouged the overeager suits of IBM in a license deal, he has the credentials to bloviate about education.

    So, yes, charter schools are one part of the aim to destroy public schooling.  We know that Democrats who support charter or private schools are only part of the moneyed elite who see society as working for them.

  •  I know for a fact that there are a lot of crooked (8+ / 0-)

    charter schools in LA.  Really, criminally crooked.

    Charter schools can theoretically have their place in the US system, but they are rife with corruption, and as such are just quickening the pace of the destruction of the US public school system.  

    I can not WAIT until my kids are through this damn system.  It is sucking the soul out of all of us, me included.  I loved school when I was in it, but I just loathe it now.  

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:08:36 AM PDT

  •  Charter School document (9+ / 0-)

    This gives you an idea of Charter school organization's intentions. Destroy unions .

    You Don't Happen To Make It. You Make It Happen !

    by jeffrey789 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:24:43 AM PDT

  •  They've been a disaster in Ohio (21+ / 0-)

    Massive amounts of theft, misappropriation of funds, etc. Test scores are either below or equal to public school scores.

    They're promoted as a way to break the teacher's union and to provide personal profit to friends and donors of elected officials.  Google White Hat Management Ohio.

    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by Betty Pinson on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:30:30 AM PDT

  •  An unequiocal no to Charter Schools and vouchers (13+ / 0-)

    for private schools of any kind.

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:35:33 AM PDT

  •  I was driving back from Florida, I was in SC, IIRC (12+ / 0-)

    listening to NPR.

    Imagine my surprise when I heard the sponsor announcement for the Walton Foundation:

    The Walton Family Foundation is committed to improving K-12 education in the United States at every level – in traditional public schools, charter public schools and private schools.
    Totally unreal.

    I believe that most Democrats are against charter schools, but the new members of the Party we've gotten since the Republicans went apeshit and the party leadership are totally down on:

    Our core strategy is to infuse competitive pressure into America’s K-12 education system by increasing the quantity and quality of school choices available to parents, especially in low-income communities.
    That is the second sentence on the Walton's Education reform about page, and it dovetails nicely with the Democratic Party Platform that you posted here. It also portends to our future given the invincibility of Hillary, Inc. Wonder where she'll come down on Public Education...

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

    by k9disc on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:39:34 AM PDT

    •  Shopping and working at Walmart . . (12+ / 0-)

      . . requires no education.  
      Walmart's commitment to education is entirely based on union busting.  
      Pay your employees a living wage, Walmart, and stop mooching off the taxpayers.

    •  Well remember how in Idiocracy the (9+ / 0-)

      guy got his law degree from CostCo University. That movie is quite the portent.

      So, WalMart, Clintons, Obama, Democratic platform, venture capitalists, etc. etc.

      I'd say the train's left the station.


      There was an interesting broohaha on Morning Joe this last week where DiBlasio was lambasted for his opposition to a charter school in Harlem, which apparently was getting some of the highest math and English scores in the state.

      How could DiBlasio be against something like that? It turned out he was against that particular charter because it was located within another existing school for kids with learning disabilities and was overcrowding the facility or something. I'll have to find out a little more. The fight seemed to be very bitter between DiBlasio and the woman who ran the charter.

      Maybe someone here has more insight into that particular situation.

      I mention it because much effort seemed to be made in casting DiBlasio as the villain who was against this wonderful charter school in Harlem and how could he be against helping disadvantaged kids succeed?

      I note that almost all the PR on charters stresses low income communities, but they do not exist solely in low income communities do they? I'm starting to think  this is a smokescreen.

      BUT I have also noticed that the places with the greatest momentum in charters are often economically challenged cities.


      “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

      by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:09:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Should schools be competitive or constructive? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, Chi, Temmoku, gulfgal98, StrayCat

    Is that a good question for throwing a monkey wrench in results only education?

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

    by k9disc on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:40:51 AM PDT

    •  Both (0+ / 0-)

      The reality of the situation is students are competing for spots in universities and will compete for jobs in their future.  We have to educate our students, but we also have to prepare them for life after school.  It's a tough position to be as a teacher at times, but I try to balance both sides of it when I teach my students.  

      "I'm a progressive man and I like progressive people" Peter Tosh

      by Texas Lefty on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:47:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree with 'competing' for jobs. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mamamedusa, orestes1963, StrayCat

        That's a loser from an individual standpoint and a huge boon to the corporate institution.

        There are too many people in this world to be competing for jobs and there is always someone who will be desperate enough to do it for less.

        I'm pretty sure that the idea back in the day wasn't to get an education to compete for jobs. That was distinctly my generation - coming of age in the 70s and 80s. Am I wrong about that?

        You can also see the change in costs of education around that time as well.

        Competing for jobs is not what education is about. It might be an unfortunate byproduct of our current situation, but I think it's unfortunate, and not a natural requirement.

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

        by k9disc on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:11:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't say it's about competing for jobs (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It's about preparing my students for life, which includes competition in a variety of areas of life, including employment.  That's reality whether you want to agree or disagree.

          "I'm a progressive man and I like progressive people" Peter Tosh

          by Texas Lefty on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:51:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Like I said, it's an unfortunate reality of today. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            There are too many people in the world to be competing for jobs.

            I agree that teaching should be about life, and that you will have to overcome challenges - school should prepare you for that, but that is the test, the ultimate test.

            That competition happens in upper education and post education.

            To put it into primary schooling is not solid pedagogy, IMO.

            I think we're largely talking past each other here, but I am pretty firm on that point - competitive primary education is poor pedagogy.

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

            by k9disc on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 12:08:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  It's important (10+ / 0-)

    to distinguish between neighborhood start up charters managed by parents and school staff, start ups managed by outside companies, and conversion charters.

    In other words, zero tolerance shouldn't apply except in the case of outside managed charter schools that run off of public funds.
    No one should be making a profit off of public ed.

    Reading the Charter documents for neighborhood start ups and conversion charters is of the utmost importance before making up your mind to support an individual charter effort or not. Some county systems like my own trend towards corruption by the individual board members and their friends, and getting a Charter approved sometimes helps mitigate the damage caused by that.

    My opinion. :)

  •  Education is not about competition, it's about (12+ / 0-)


    The whole idea about public education is to construct a framework of understanding, a good set critical thinking skills, and to experience a variety of topics so you can build upon your strengths as a student.

    This whole idea about competition in education is really foreign to me. It's a good thing too. I was off the charts on all of my standardized testing - literally - the asterisks in every topic ran off the page, not just the chart.

    I'm really glad it wasn't about competition. I might have been an insufferable prick, like a top shelf QB at a football school.

    The damage that is being done to kids by this competitive focus on education must be staggering. I train dogs for a living for sports and for assistance work. I traffic in learning theory.

    I'm absolutely positive that competition built into the learning process damages a large portion of the subjects being taught. Hell, a simple artificial timeframe can impede learning and desire for learning.

    This competition based schooling that these out of touch CEOs are pitching are a really bad idea, and is only about skimming the creme. That's all these guys want.

    The rest of those idiot kids don't matter, they're just data points attached to profit streams.

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

    by k9disc on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 08:53:55 AM PDT

  •  i don't like charter schools but i do support (5+ / 0-)

    schools where the truly talented can attend such as Bronx Science and Stuyvesant High

    formerly demographicarmageddon

    by bonzo925 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:08:46 AM PDT

  •  Charter Schools are an abomination and 1% trick (6+ / 0-)

    to undermine the public schools and ultimately make the serfs children stupider and stupider.

    They must be outlawed, they are child abuse incarnate and a BLATANT violation of the Equal Protection protections of the US Constitution.

    They gotta GO.

    •  Put the effort into stregthening public education (3+ / 0-)

      I saw a special a while back promoting charter schools and it was sponsered by University of Phoenix (Koch brothers sponser this university) -- big red flag right there. I grew up in a small town in Minnesota and we had wonderful public schools. They had all the programs that seem to be cut from a lot of public schools these days (music, art, phy-ed, bus trips for further exposure to educational events outside the community). When I hear parents say they like Charter Schools better than the public schools because they have the "extra" programs like music, etc., I think "What the hell happened?" These programs use to be the "norm" in public schools -- not the extras. I feel fortunate that I attended public school at a time when this country had its act together. If a Republican or a Neoliberal is behind the Charter School idea, then I smell profit over people, and that's never a good idea. Never.

  •  Thanks for starting this discussion (7+ / 0-)

    We had a good group into education here on Dkos that was fighting against NCLB back in the day -- 2007 or so.

    There's no question that charters are a trojan horse into the $500 billion in funding that powers public education in America.  There's a myriad of dots that all point to the same thing.

    Why do democrats support this?  That's something that is very disappointing and has been surprising from the very beginning of charter schools in the early '90s.  

    But the reasons are clear:  money, and lots of it flowing to politicians that support charter schools.  And all of this can be traced back to the raging income inequality of modern America.  Dems need the money to compete with Repubs and seeming to get out front on the issue of education makes them seem like thought leaders and cutting edge reformers, at least in their minds and the minds of people with big money.

    But, unfortunately, most of the charter movement just results in cronyism and stupid reform and education philosophies that don't work and never have.

    Now, all that said, public education is a huge industry and has an incredible burden to bear, especially in the inner city.  It cannot be and should not be beyond reach or reform.  But, how to do that in a responsible, reasoned and effective way -- that's tough and takes a long time, quality leadership and great and caring teachers.  And, right now, it's not happening very much at all.

    Thus, we are in a transitional and transactional stand off, with the adults running around with their heads cut off, using political slogans to infect their thinking, while the kids are left to their own devices, having to suffer through a greatly diminished educational program built around standardized testing.

    What a mess.

    Industrial food production in America ruins our health, our environment and consumes more fossil fuel than any segment of our economy.

    by Mi Corazon on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:19:08 AM PDT

  •  Neoliberalism at work (6+ / 0-)

    and its a bipartisan movement.

    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 09:30:48 AM PDT

  •  This is a very good diary and I have some personal (11+ / 0-)

    experience with this issue. My daughter, until this year, was enrolled in a charter. We did this because we had moved into an area where the large high schools don't have the best performance, but we learned some things over the last two years and we ended up moving her to the local high school. Some of the things we learned through the process:

    1. Comparing the charters performance with the local high school is difficult. Many of the kids in the charter school have one parent who stays at home. That is a huge plus regarding parental involvement and has nothing to do with teacher performance.

    2. Charters are heavily marketed and operate more like a business- and that's in Colorado where they are not for profit, I would hate to see what games they play in Michigan. We were constantly asked to go to fund raisers, give money, etc. In fact, the attitude I received from one of the administrators because my step-daughter qualified for free lunch and fees (her fathers income) was disturbing.

    3. We can't afford charters. Nobody wants to tell you this, but without Wall Street or private sector cash, we can't afford to put up school on every street corner to indulge the "choice" that Americans seem to want, but not pay for. The charter my daughter went to recently built a new facility for the 8-12 grades. They didn't have the money to build a proper parking lot, library, or athletic fields. The city didn't have the money to upgrade the roads in the area, so traffic backs up and inconveniences the entire community every morning as cars flood the area taking kids to school (charters don't bus, another waste of resources). Regarding the money issue- charters schools in Colorado have recently formed a PAC where they are lobbying the legislature for more funds (A neoliberal democrat who taught for TFA is the only democratic sponsor). Where the money comes from will be interesting since Colorado voters recently voted down an amendment that would have restored some of the funding that has been cut out of the system since our great depression.

    4. Teacher churn. My daughters school started it's teachers at $32,000. Teachers were in and out every year. They frankly could not afford to stay there. They often were using old computers and printers, due to the financial condition of the school. The math teacher had to get donations of old computers to do his lessons, some of them running on software almost 20 years old. Interesting enough the principal of the charter drove a new Mercedes, I asked to get information about her pay from the school district and my request was never answered. See the pay fiasco of charters recently exposed by the Daily News in New York City.

    5. Everyone of the kids in our upscale neighborhood goes to the local high school, they have a top notch Stem program and great parental involvement from parents that believe in public education. My daughter will now be joining all of those kids on the bus everyday, we had no idea that this was the case when we moved to the neighborhood.

    6. A bizarre political mix at the school of left wing neoliberal market ideologues and going Galt right wingers. The one thing all of these people seem to have in common is their hatred of unions. They seem to believe that teachers unions can be blamed for everything wrong with education, even though with a little reading they would figure out that Finland and Japan have teachers unions (Freedumb or something).

    7. Every year the public school that my daughter is going to sends kids to the Ivy League, University of Colorado, UCLA, etc, but the school also has a large population of kids who are poor, lack parental involvement, and are behind on their skills. Does that make it a bad school? No. It makes it a public school that struggles to educate American kids in a dysfunctional society with a broken political system.  

    An additional bonus, I found out that one of my past college professors teaches at the public school. I think she's brilliant. I took her for three anthropology courses, she couldn't find a position in the University of Colorado system so she ended up there. She's been there for 11 years and loves the school. Sarah was talking about income inequity in her classes when I had her 14 years ago. I'm thrilled that my step daughter will get to have her as a teacher!!!


  •  great post. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Loosinhouse

    my baby stepping in blogging were on charter schools and Hispanic Americans.
    It is dated.
    On Charter schools – either believe the ultra right or believe educational experts

    Follow up on charter schools: the facts

  •  the Camden charters run by Professor Gloria (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Loosinhouse, MrJersey, TexMex

    bonilla Santiago, a social worker of all tings, were extremely hostile to unions to the point the teachers took her to court and won. This was before George Norcross, the governor of NJ, took over the city.

  •  Thee Stories Containing All You Need to Know (11+ / 0-)

    ... about "failing" schools, school "reform," and high stakes testing in the US.

    The Myth Behind Public School Failure

    For a document that’s had such lasting impact, “A Nation At Risk” is remarkably free of facts and solid data. Not so the Sandia Report, a little-known follow-up study commissioned by Admiral James Watkins, Reagan’s secretary of energy; it discovered that the falling test scores which caused such an uproar were really a matter of an expansion in the number of students taking the tests. In truth, standardized-test scores were going up for every economic and ethnic segment of students—it’s just that, as more and more students began taking these tests over the 20-year period of the study, this more representative sample of America’s youth better reflected the true national average. It wasn’t a teacher problem. It was a statistical misread.
    School Privatization is a Hoax, "Reformers" aim is to Destroy Public Schools
    If the American public understood that reformers want to privatize their public schools and divert their taxes to pay profits to investors, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If parents understood that the reformers want to close down their community schools and require them to go shopping for schools, some far from home, that may or may not accept their children, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public understood that the very concept of education was being disfigured into a mechanism to apply standardized testing and sort their children into data points on a normal curve, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform.


    The leaders of the privatization movement call themselves reformers, but their premises are strikingly different from those of reformers in the past. In earlier eras, reformers wanted such things as a better curriculum, better-prepared teachers, better funding, more equitable funding, smaller classes, and desegregation, which they believed would lead to better public schools. By contrast, today’s reformers insist that public education is a failed enterprise and that all these strategies have been tried and failed.


    Perhaps the most curious development over the three decades from “A Nation at Risk” to the 2012 report of the Council on Foreign Relations was this: what was originally seen in 1983 as the agenda of the most libertarian Republicans — school choice — had now become the agenda of the establishment, both Republicans and Democrats. Though there was no new evidence to support this agenda and a growing body of evidence against it, the realignment of political forces on the right and the left presented the most serious challenge to the legitimacy and future of public education in our nation’s history.

    Inside the Multimillion Dollar Essay Scoring Business
    Then came the question from hell out of Louisiana: "What are the qualities of a good leader?"

    One student wrote, "Martin Luther King Jr. was a good leader." With artfulness far beyond the student's age, the essay delved into King's history with the civil rights movement, pointing out the key moments that had shown his leadership.

    There was just one problem: It didn't fit the rubric. The rubric liked a longer essay, with multiple sentences lauding key qualities of leadership such as "honesty" and "inspires people." This essay was incredibly concise, but got its point across. Nevertheless, the rubric said it was a 2. Puthoff knew it was a 2.

    He hesitated the way he had been specifically trained not to. Then he hit, "3."

    It didn't take long before a supervisor was in his face. He leaned down with a printout of the King essay.

    "This really isn't a 3-style paper," the supervisor said.

    Puthoff pointed out the smart use of examples and the exceptional prose. The supervisor just shook his head and pointed out how short the paragraphs were.

    "You know, it's more of a 2," the supervisor repeated. "Not enough elaboration."

    Puthoff quickly learned these were not arguments he could win. But as time went on, he found himself having more and more of them.

    Farley now understood the reasons why, when he'd been a scorer, his team leaders would tell the room he wanted to start seeing more 3s or 4s or whatever. Supervisors were expected to turn the test scores into a nice bell curve. If his room did not agree at least 80 percent of the time, the tests would be taken back and re-graded, wasting time and money. The supervisor would be put on probation or demoted.

    When Farley complained to a fellow supervisor about his problem, she smiled wryly and held up a pencil.

    "I've got this eraser, see," she told him. "I help them out."

    So Farley simply began changing Harry's scores to agree with his peers'. The practice soon spread well beyond Harry.

  •  1 of 2: Diane Ravitch's blog a daily MUST SKIM if (7+ / 0-)

    you really really want to stay current on things education, such as charters.


    Michael Powell on the “Gilded Crusade” for Charters


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:36:57 AM PDT

  •  2 of 2: DLC Sell Out Yuppie SCUM Are "Democrats" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lostinamerica, Temmoku, orestes1963

    pushing this charter / ed deform bullshit.

    ya know that branch of the Democratic Party hiding behind their social issue merit badges as they sell us little know nobodies out to AHIP & Pharma & Wall Street & Big Energy & Secret Trade Agreements ... ??

    Well, in that management sewage tank of grabbing, grasping, back stabbing, self promoting parasitical elite$, at the tippy top is the Yuppie Scum layer.

    Ta Da.

    As we get closer and closer to Nov. 2014 and Nov. 2016, their defenders will be out in force with their Lessor Of Two Evil (LOTE! LOTE!! LOTE!!!) "logic".



    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 10:44:05 AM PDT

  •  In an ideal society (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Temmoku, justintime, mrblifil

    charter schools would work exactly as their proponents claim.  Of course, in an ideal society there would be no need for them because public schools would function ideally, too.

    Unfortunately we live in a corrupt venal society in which every genuine reform initiative is perverted either by stupidity or greed.

    In Kansas City, one of the two contestants in the sudden death spelling bee that made the national news was from a Frontier school, which is apparently quite good.

    Then there was the horror story that was Imagine Renaissance Academy.

    What will the majority of charter schools be more like if the public education system is dismantled -- Frontier or Imagine?

    Call me a cassandra -- I don't care -- I foresee a future in which public education (with all its flaws) has been replaced by "non-profit" "charter" schools which are little more than warehouses or way stations in the school to prison pipeline

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:04:19 AM PDT

  •  Charter schools are a method (6+ / 0-)

    for gutting the public school system.
       It aims at people's blind faith in capitalism to fix everything in society.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:05:43 AM PDT

  •  Then there's homeschooling . . (0+ / 0-)

    . . but that's another touchy subject.

  •  They're not all bad. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Loosinhouse

    our son went to this one.  (I know, I'm being lazy, but it's easier just to post that.)

    "Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar." ~ Edward R. Murrow

    by CJB on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 01:59:40 PM PDT

  •  As a taxpayer, (4+ / 0-)

    I want to see my public dollars being invested into public infrastructure, of which, the most important is the public school system.  It is fine if some people here have had a good experience with a charter school, but it does not change the fact that school is being supported by public tax dollars.  For each tax dollar that goes into a charter school, that is one less tax dollar that is being invested in regular public schools.  And yes, Florida statute calls them public schools, but they are competing on a different playing field than regular public schools.  

    Since Florida has allowed charter schools, they have sprung up like weeds, most of them part of a corporation of charter schools.  A number of charter schools have been the subject of investigation for misuse of funding or enormous salaries paid to administrators. Someone is getting rich off these "schools" otherwise we would not see so many of them springing up.

    If we want a stronger community and stronger public education system, we should not allow it to be incrementally bled to death by funneling our public dollars into these creations (school choice, charter schools, vouchers, etc) that are designed to benefit one group of children over the good of all our children.

    "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

    by gulfgal98 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 02:00:04 PM PDT

  •  It would be nice (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zmom, TexMex

    if school administration practices at the macro and micro level were also taken into consideration when the discussion turns to best ways to save our schools.

  •  Smaller districts serve their communities better (0+ / 0-)

    The large centralized districts are unmanageable with layers of bureaucracy and hierarchy distant from the actual children and their families. Policies turn into generalized mandates from afar.

    I've seen small and medium districts able to make changes appropriate for the children they serve with superintendents who are in contact with the community. In a medium sized district the board and the superintendent can be more accessible to citizens-just as teachers are more accessible to students when there are fewer of them.Perhaps we could say smaller class sizes, smaller schools, smaller districts--personal and personally responsible.

    Large districts have also provided an opportunity for big out of district money to back their candidates to win school board elections with drastic results for tens of thousands of children (see Jefferson County, Douglas County in Colorado).

    Rather than centralizing, we should be breaking districts back up to what they once were with true community oversight.

    Thanks for bringing up the issue of Charter Schools. Apparently there is plenty of money to mine from public education monies.

  •  I taught at a Texas charter school for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrJersey, Phoebe Loosinhouse

    for 3 years. I don't claim that what I experienced was indicative of all charter schools. But here are some things I saw or that were reported in the newspaper.
    * The district has about 2,500 students and the CEO is paid more than $250,000 a year.
    * The CEO improperly billed the district for first class plane tickets for herself and her family, among many questionable expenses, including hiring her son as her chauffeur when she was out of town.
    * The district purchased a building for use as a school, with taxpayer money, and then leased the building to the CEO for use by her church on the weekends for $1 a year.
    * Meanwhile we were so short staffed I taught up to 7 different grade levels or classes. I even had 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders, all taking different courses, in the same room at the same time.
    * We only had 5 world history textbooks, and had more students than books in several classes.
    * We often ran out of supplies, like copy paper, markers, tape, etc, and the teachers had to buy them.
    * Parents were promised their children would graduate, and were granted credit for courses not completed or even taught at the school.
    * We did not have a "Principal" because principals have to pass a state test to become certified. Instead, we had an "Administrator," friend of the CEO, running the school.
    * In fact, we went through 6 Administrators in 3 years.
    * Teachers jobs were constantly threatened if standardized test scores were too low. In fact, it was common at district schools for half or more of the teachers to be fired on the last day of school.
    * Parents were sold the school as a "school of the arts," but there was only one arts teacher, who quit halfway through the year and was not replaced.
    I could go on, but you get the picture. I was ashamed to be working there, although very proud of what I did for my students. I am so glad to have moved on to a public school.

  •  In the best possible light (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Loosinhouse

    the charter school movement is about creating a new market for business.  Business must constantly have new markets in order to continue to thrive (as old markets die off).  Over the past 40 years, the public sector generally has become a focus of new markets- prisons, being the obvious example.  But at smaller levels, more and more work that was once done by government employees has been farmed out to private enterprise (see the NSA outsourcing as a horrifying example).  

    The purpose of the charter school movement is simply to turn education into a private enterprise that is funded by the state.  This is why, I would argue, the closing of underperforming schools is a key component of the federal program.  Those schools become available real estate for charter schools.  In NYC, charter schools have encroached upon public school space at an alarming level (depriving students of gyms, auditoria, and classroom space all at public expense).  

    When Bill DeBlasio, mayor of NYC, proposed extremely tepid revisions to charter school largesse from the city, Eric Cantor threatened to hold congressional hearings on the admin's educational policies!  Just last week, scumbag in chief Andy Cuomo attended a pro-charter school rally in Albany, further alienating DeBlasio and the wishes of NYC.  

    The charter school issue is a glaring example of the huge disconnect between the needs/desires of the people and those of politicians and their wealthy donors.  As this issue makes clear, both Dems and republicans are all-in on privatizing education.  Shame on them all.

  •  this This THIS (0+ / 0-)

    Is this the most destructive thing that is happening in our society.  In a tanning America our education system is the only way we can build a multi racial society,  with a striving diverse middle class.  This direct assault on our education system have long and lasting implications.  
    The champions of charter schools name the few successes and use those over and over again as if it is the norm.  But most charter schools do not test better than their public counterparts.  Lots of charters do not even  have lunch programs even if they are located in poor neighborhoods.  But the media treat the Rhees and the Steve Perrys as superstars, allowing misinform parents to seek out any charter in hopes for better educational opportunities for their kids.  
    I'm afraid that once the research is done it will be too late to help, a whole generation of kids catch up.
    Minority parents like myself, understand that there is a problem with the public schools.  We see really bad teachers regularly with no way to remove them or make substantial input in curriculum.  Its a never ending frustrating circle.  Bottomline we can't fix a growing charter problem without fixing our teacher unionproblem.

  •  conservative Republican legislatures are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Loosinhouse

    passing anti public school pro voucher legislation simultaneously right now in a number of states.
    so what is up with that? i hardly think it is in the best interests of education.
    they want to gut the  public school system. they  favor education  corporations  and church schools. follow the money
    tearing down the public school system would be the worst possible thing we could do but they are hell bent on doing it.
    i know there are many great charter schools out there, but look at the legislation, look who is supporting it and ask , what the hell is going on?

  •  Main reason is segregation, IMHO (0+ / 0-)

    These people hated integration, and have been trying to get rid of it ever since it was implemented.

    After all, if different children grow up around each other, they will be friends and maybe even marry! Horrors!

    Women create the entire labor force.
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 07:24:03 AM PDT

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