"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, April 4, 2013

School Privatization 101

A Confederacy of Reformers

Crazy Crawfish provides a lesson in public school privatization. In each of the sections listed below, he explains how the school "reformers" are using their power, money and influence to privatize and destroy our public education system. He is specifically writing about Louisiana, but his comments are appropriate for many other places...
Intentionally Flawed Teacher Evaluation Systems...
Despite all these studies and findings, reformers and their allies still tout these kangaroo court evaluation systems as valid and necessary, and tie tenure and continuing employment and compensation to them.
Vouchers and Charter Schools are better for “Choice” although not a better choice...
Since they can no longer claim these schools are “better” by their own standards, they have shifted the argument away from quality to one of “freedom” allowing these schools empowers parents by providing them “choice.”
It’s Okay to segregate our schools by class, race, disability as long as we claim to be doing it “for the children”...
...you can create charter schools that through sheer coincidence only enroll white students in a majority minority district, you can split your school district into as many different school boards and zones until you get your preferred racial mix, you can refuse to hire Special education teachers to serve disabled students so they are forced to enroll somewhere else, you can banish all your low performing students or discipline problems to alternative schools...
Student data is a commodity that can be handed over to private entities as long as they claim it is for an educational purpose...
...there is no oversight as to how this data is used or protected, and no way to correct data that may be erroneous...
History and Science are negotiable and can be rewritten to suit conservative agendas...
Schools are teaching slavery was just a misunderstood part of our nation’s history, and not a very bad one.
Virtual Schools with virtually no attendance compliance, or any compliance, and universally poor track records for preparing students are exploding in every education market...
...Virtual school students do worse than their demographic equivalents in physical settings...
Teach for America has been converted into a temp teacher displacement and replacement organization...
Teach for America originally had a noble purpose but it has been corrupted by billionaires and special interests and serves as little more than a temp agency...
It’s better to close schools and spread the students around to higher performing schools to mask the problem....
Rather than trying to fix the schools which have poor students who are performing poorly, Reformers believe it’s better to close the doors and shove all those kids into higher performing schools, no matter how high the class size gets...
In closing he states...
...What I am seeing is a purposeful plot to destroy public schools, and to profit from the destruction. These folks say they are data conscious and want to rely on “data driven decisions” but if that were true the data already readily available shows that everything they are doing is having the opposite effect of what they are purporting to provide. There is too much coordination for this to be accidental, and they are too successful for me to believe they are simply not competent enough to understand the data that disproves everything they claim. These groups have gone out of their way to spin the data, falsify the data, or simply hide or destroy the data to prevent people from seeing what is going on. These groups are fully aware of what they are doing – destroying public education in our country. Some of them are doing it purely for profit driven motives, but there is more going on here.
The privatizers are pushing all across the country. They deny -- or refuse to acknowledge -- the crisis in poverty that is the real culprit in our educational achievement problems and blame a non-existent crisis in education.

With Vouchers, States Shift Aid for Schools to Families
...critics warn that by drawing money away from public schools, such programs weaken a system left vulnerable after years of crippling state budget cuts — while showing little evidence that students actually benefit.

Indiana Legislators are poised to expand the state's voucher program. The privatizers no longer even pretend that it's about helping poor children get better schooling...since there's no evidence that private schools are better than public. It's about shifting money from public education to private and parochial schools. Indiana residents, take the time now to write your state senators. Urge them to vote NO on HB 1003, the voucher expansion bill.

Ind. school voucher ruling could influence others
"As State Superintendent, I will follow the court's ruling and faithfully administer Indiana's voucher program," [Ritz] said in a statement. "However, I personally believe that public dollars should go to public schools, and I encourage Hoosiers to send that message to their representatives in the Statehouse."

There is still some question about how popular the vouchers are in Indiana. Voters elected Ritz over former Republican Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett, long the state's most visible supporter of vouchers. But they also awarded a supermajority to House Republicans, who have pushed for a sweeping expansion of vouchers this year.
See also For Indiana Legislators, Some Choices Get More Respect

Inflating schools' woes eases path to privatization
Instead of publicly elected school boards overseeing superintendents, principals and teachers, a system based on school choice puts public money in the hands of private school administrators, church groups and corporations that run charter schools, none of which is accountable to anyone but itself.
North Carolina Considers ALEC Model Bill to Privatize Schools
Local school boards would be required to lease available buildings or land to a charter school for $1 per year unless they can demonstrate the lease is not economically or practically feasible or that the local board does not have adequate classroom space to meet its enrollment needs...

This is nothing more than a blatant, cynical attempt to re-segregate North Carolina's public schools while placing them under the oversight of corporate charter school operators, and the Koch's libertarian, dystopian fetish with destroying the country.
Chicago's Unfair School Closings Will Gut Remaining Supports for Kids
"Nearly 90 percent of the students in the closing schools are black, though African Americans make up only about 40 percent of the district's entire student population." And second, "In the past, most of the closed schools have eventually become charter schools," and you have clues that begin to lead to the true endgame of school closings.

Charter schools use tax dollars, but are run privately and are not required to admit all students from the surrounding neighborhood.

Where will the kids end up? Kids who are African American or Latino, are low-income, and who have only attended low-performing schools may be less likely to meet a charter school's admissions criteria. Kenzo Shibata, social media director for the Chicago Teachers Union, explained in a recent radio interview that "One thing we know about the charter schools is they don't enroll students with special needs, they don't enroll students who are English language learners, so it creates another tier of education in the city which we don't need. We need to have fully funded public education for all students." This wave of school closings moves us in the opposite direction.
D.C. school facilities plan considers charters for the first time
The decision to avoid specifics is a sign that city officials are grappling with unanswered questions about how to plan for the coexistence of traditional and charter schools. The 2013 facilities plan is the first in the city’s history to consider charters, the taxpayer-funded, independently run public schools that have grown quickly in recent years and now enroll more than 40 percent of the city’s students.
Education reform industry targets Twin Cities
The greatest threat of all is that charter schools are undermining the fundamental American principle that public schools should be governed by the communities they were built to serve. But one need only look at the Board of Directors of these various charter schools to see where education reform is taking us. Hiawatha Academies, for example, has a board of executives from major corporate entities such as United Health, Best Buy, Standard Health, and U.S. Bank. Similar evidence can be found with dozens of other charters. In some cases, the charter chain headquarters are not even located in Minnesota.

It is time for our elected leaders to put a stop to this attack on public education and re-dedicate themselves to rebuilding and renewing the public schools of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Governor Chris Christie Announces Privatizing Scheme For Camden City Schools
Governor Chris Christie has announced a state takeover of the Camden school system to force privatization programs. The privatization program had been stymied by residents and their local representatives who did not want to lose their public school system. Now privatization advocates have been able to go around local authorities and have the Governor hand them power.

Chris Christie was formerly a registered lobbyist for education privatization firm Edison Schools Inc. His current education commissioner, Chris Cerf, was previously President of Edison Schools Inc. at the time of Christie’s employment.
You might also be interested in these other sources of information about privatization:


Stop the Testing Insanity!


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