Skip to main content

Why is Netflix CEO Reed Hastings so vocal about replacing public schools with non-profit charters? You're about to find out.

The Economic Policy Institute released a report today that examines the business model and "blended learning" approach of national non-profit charter school chain, Rocketship.

With permission, I'm republishing below Bob Peterson's blog post on the report. Bob is President of the Milwaukee Teacher's Education Association and represents thousands of public school teachers in Milwaukee. Milwaukee has been a laboratory for school privatization enthusiasts for more than two decades, and by most counts, the experiment has failed. Rocketship currently operates a school in Milwaukee and has plans to enroll 4,000 kids across the district by 2018.

Our students are NOT for sale!

A report issued today by the Economic Policy Institute raises serious questions about private companies running Wisconsin schools. Wisconsin legislators have repeatedly proposed that each year, 5% of schools with the lowest test scores should be declared failing and ultimately handed over to private charter school operators -- the assumption being that somehow, improvement will follow.

A key conclusion: turnover schemes provide no guarantee of school improvement.  What’s worse, teaching and learning is threatened at privately run charter operators whose bottom line is expansion and turning a profit for investors.

Some of the worst conflicts of interest were found at the Rocketship charter chain, which uses a "€œblended learning"€ model to cut down on costs --€“ placing students in computer labs run by low-paid attendants for a significant part of the school day.

According to Lafer'€™s report, student achievement has not improved at Rocketship --€“ in fact, seven of its schools failed to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress in 2012-13. And, a Department of Education study showed that one of Rocketship'€™s key software programs, DreamBox, had "€œno discernible effects on mathematics achievement for elementary school students."

But Rocketship continues to use DreamBox software despite a lack of results. Lafer connects the dots: Two major investors in Rocketship, Reed Hastings and John Doerr, are also primary investors in the DreamBox software company.

Following the money is important when it comes to our tax dollars. When Wisconsin taxpayers fund charter operators to the tune of $7,925 per student, we expect the money to be used for the child'€™s education. At Rocketship, not only is the money going to for-profit software companies, it'€™s also being used to fund Rocketship's extensive growth plan in other states. Rocketship'€™s business plan states that the charter operator will pay "€œrelatively high facilities fees"€ to a sister company called LaunchPad, so that "€œthe profit margin will be used to finance new facilities."€

Parents, educators, community leaders, and legislators would do well to read this report and question proposals that turn public schools over to Rocketship or any other charter operator. The Milwaukee Common Council, in particular, should stop the blanket authorization of Rocketship expansion in Milwaukee in light of the report’s findings.

The relationships between Rocketship'€™s investors, the software companies they own, and the way that the software is used at the school --€“ despite the lack of student outcomes -- should raise red flags for anyone concerned about how tax dollars are spent in Wisconsin.

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

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

?

More Tagging tips:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site