"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

Saturday, May 9, 2015

$3.3 Billion in Unregulated Tax Funds for Charters

In case you missed it...

The Center for Media and Democracy has a new report about charter schools...

New Documents Show How Taxpayer Money Is Wasted by Charter Schools

Democracy Now has a (16 minute) report and interview with Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy. Some highlights...
"The new report analyzes materials obtained from open records requests regarding independent audits of how states interact with charter schools and their authorizers. It concludes that the anti-regulatory environment around charter schools, coupled with their lack of financial transparency, warrants a moratorium, rather than increased charter funding..."

"...we know that the $3.3 billion have fueled an industry that now devotes millions of dollars each year to lobbying for more charter schools, and devotes millions of dollars advertising on public airways for people to send their kids to charter schools, things that public schools don’t have a chance to do. Public schools don’t have the budget to advertise their benefits. Even though these things are called public charter schools, in many respects these operate in many instances for the private sector, for the benefit of CEO’s and Wall Street."

"...the goal is to abolish the public schools."

Democracy Now continues its coverage of the charter industry with a (3 minute) report by co-host Juan Williams detailing with suspension rates of special needs children who are being pushed out by charter schools to improve test scores.
"...the problem is that so many of the charter schools are not subject to monitoring or auditing on a—at the same level as public schools are, so it’s hard, really, to get a lot of the facts. Of course, the Success Academies insist that they retain their children at better levels than the public schools, that their test scores demonstrate that they are doing an excellent job in terms of education. Well, we’ll continue to see how this plays out as the charter school—the battle over charter schools spreads across America."

Williams' article in the New York Daily News...

Success Academy parent's secret tapes reveal attempt to push out special needs student
What school officials did not do, Zapata said, was provide the kind of special education services that her son’s individual educational plan, or IEP, requires.

That plan calls for daily speech therapy and occupational therapy for Yael. It also requires him to be placed in a smaller class, one staffed by both a regular teacher and a special education teacher.

At one point in the tapes, a Success official can be heard telling Zapata:

“We’re technically out of compliance because we aren’t able to meet what his IEP recommends for him.”
In a second meeting, the mother asks why Success admitted her son through a lottery but is not providing him all the services he needs.

“If they have those special education needs, you’re absolutely right that they need to be fulfilled,” an official replies, but then quickly adds that the network doesn’t offer smaller special ed classes in kindergarten.

“We will help them find the [appropriate] DOE placement,” the official says.

In other words, lottery or not, kindergarten kids like Yael who need smaller classes should find a public school that has one. [emphasis added]
$3.3 billion spent on profits, advertising, and lobbying instead of instruction. Add to that more billions redistributed from public schools and spent on private schools through vouchers. Tell me again how public schools are "failing?"

This is why all American children deserve fully funded public schools with public oversight. Public funds spent on public education ought to work for everyone.


The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

Stop the Testing Insanity!





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