In writing the state budget, New York legislators totally capitulated to the billionaire-funded charter industry. Of course, they were egged on by Governor Cuomo, who now sees himself as a national leader of the school privatization movement. (He is even leading a retreat with other prominent figures of the movement to turn public schools over to private management. Please note that the “philosophers” who wrote the invitation to the retreat couldn’t manage to spell the name of James Russell Lowell correctly.)
The budget deal includes these terms:
The private corporations that manage charter schools in New York City will never have to pay for using public space.
The de Blasio administration must offer space to all charters approved in the dying days of the Bloomberg administration. De Blasio had previously approved 14 of 17; now he must approve all 17. Whatever Eva Moskowitz wants, Eva gets.
The charters located inside public school buildings may expand as much as they wish, and the mayor can’t stop them. If this means pushing out children with severe disabilities, so be it. If it means taking control of the entire building and pushing all of the students out of their public school, so be it.
If a charter chooses to rent private space, the New York City public schools must pay their rent. Where will the money come from? Well, the public schools can always increase class size, or they can lay off social workers and counselors and psychologists. Or they could cut back on the arts. That’s their problem.
In addition, the budget deal includes a provision to authorize merit bonuses of $20,000 for “highly effective” teachers based on the state’s highly ineffective educator evaluation system. No one bothered to tell our legislators that merit pay failed in Nashville, where the bonus was $15,000, failed in New York City, where the bonus went to the whole school, failed in Chicago, and has consistently failed for neatly 100 years.
The bottom line is that when billionaires talk, the New York legislature and Governor Cuomo listen. Actually, they sit up, bark, and roll over.
You see, the charter schools say they get higher test scores (they don’t; on the 2013 state tests, the charter schools had the same scores as the public schools). The billionaires believe that students with high test scores deserve more privileges than students with low scores. Sort of like their own world, where those with the most money get to live in bigger houses, drive nicer cars, and have multiple privileges.
How did the Legislature capitulate to the billionaires? Ask Paul,Tudor Jones, who manages $13 billion and has decided that it is up to him to “save” American education. Ask Dan Loeb, hedge fund manager. Ask Democrats for Education Reform, which is the organization of hedge fund managers that is politically active in many states to promote privatization. Maybe they can explain why a child with high test scores is more deserving than a child with disabilities.