As I was researching the story about the closing of Allan elementary school in Austin, which will be replaced in the fall by an IDEA charter school, I came across this story about the Gates compact.
What is the Gates compact? Austin was the 16th district to apply for $100,000 from the Gates Foundation to sign a compact with the charter schools, agreeing that charter schools and public schools would receive equal treatment. By signing the compact, a district then becomes eligible to win millions of funding from the Gates Foundation. But of course, it may never win anything more.
So what’s the deal? Charter schools win recognition and are treated henceforward as if they were public schools, entitled to equal funding. This legitimates their status. So, rather than being experimental, or even laboratories of innovation, their inroads are made permanent thanks to the generosity of Bill & Melinda Gates.
The Gates compact works sort of like Race to the Top. By competing for funding they may never win, the districts agree to commit millions of their own dollars to equalize funding for charter schools.
Meanwhile, the charter schools continue to pursue policies that skim the best students from the public schools and to take disproportionately small numbers of students who are English language learners and have special needs. The public schools are left with the most expensive students to educate, and the charters get equal funding. The charters have fewer regulations and get extra resources while the public schools get budget cuts and are daily rebuked that they are failing, failing, failing.
The Gates compact cements the gains of privatization.
Worse, it persuades the leaders of the public schools to endorse a plan that undermines the future of public education.
How embarrassing that so many public education leaders call press conferences to acknowledge what they have done when they should be embarrassed.