Lloyd Lofthouse, a regular commentator on this blog, has written a succinct history of public education, bullet points that show the good and the bad, as well as the recent efforts by billionaires to destroy public education.
This post was distributed by Bill Phillis of the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition.
The charter school industry does not exist to “fix” public schools; its ultimate goal is to privatize public education
Public common schools have been and still are the crown jewels of America, in the majority of communities across the country. But a cabal of greedy and ideologically driven people believes that anything done by public agencies and institutions undermines capitalism. These people are putting their desires for money and power above the common good.
Dr. Thomas M. Stephens Professor Emeritus, College of Education and Human Ecology, Ohio State University and Interpersonal Psychological Coach provides the following perspective.
Political operatives who favor Charter Schools have stacked the deck in three critical ways.
First, they hyped the failures of public schools by misrepresenting why public schools are unable to fully meet the educational needs of all their students. They are accomplishing this trick by attributing students’ learning problems primarily to the quality of teaching, while ignoring how family culture and children’s poverty affect teaching and learning. In doing so they fabricate the role that poverty plays as the major factor in student achievement.
This simplification, that teaching is the main reason for students’ school success, has also been widely claimed by teachers and their professional organizations, despite years of research evidence to the contrary. Thus the corollary of that falsehood has become a convenient hammer for enemies of public schools: mediocre teaching is the main reason for students’ failures.
Secondly, they create narrow and flawed metrics and standards that determine what constitutes successful schools. They further game this system by politically changing the metrics and standards so that ultimately fewer and fewer public schools will meet these phony standards. These requirements force public schools to waste precious resources in time and money to meet these figments of what constitutes “successful schools”. This clever deception is designed to phase out public schools like a block of ice that slowly melts away.
Third, they hype results of these “failures” to entice public school parents to get “free quality education” by enrolling their children in charter schools. They use paid advertisements with funds that have been transferred from public school tax receipts for this purpose. All of these machinations are facilitated by “bought” legislators who are indebted to the charter school industry.
These “stolen” public funds are also used to underpay instructional staffs while overpaying the for-profit administrators and their corporate sponsors. Excessive leasing and rental fees are also paid with public money to the same entities that own or are related to the charter schools. All of these actions are the result of elected officials who have sworn to uphold Ohio’s constitution!
Politicians are aided in this chicanery by several federal and state court decisions that have made theft of public school funding legal. These decisions allow corporations to use funds they received from public schools to support political campaigns and travel, lodging and sumptuous meals for politicians whose votes they are buying. All of this is provided with money that had been legally authorized for public education!
Those well-intentioned individuals and organizations who naively believe a public school/charter school collaboration can work for the benefit of our youth and their communities by tweaking current policies and regulations misunderstand the problem we face: the charter school industry does not exist to “fix” public schools; its ultimate goal is to privatize public education.
The single best way to stop this systematic destruction is for public school advocates and their organizations to unite under one umbrella. This coalition must include parent groups as well. Then put both political parties and their minions on notice. Expose their real intentions and help the electorate remove them from office.
Ohio E & A
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Thanks to reader Chiara for noting this meeting of corporate reformers in Chicago. Funding was provided by the Walton Foundation, which pours about $160 million into charter schools and vouchers every single year, as well as advocacy for privatization in some of our major media.
The ironic note is that the first selling point in the invitation to the meeting is that it will offer “small classes.” Corporate reformers mock the idea of small classes for children in public schools. But it is a selling point for their own meetings.
Broward County, which already has 99 charter schools, approved an additional 13 new charters. Some of the charters are designed specifically for children with disabilities. Five of the new charters are sponsored by the for-profit, politically connected Charter Schools USA.
Of the 12 new charters that opened this fall, three shuttered within the first month of school. Another closed for earning back-to-back failing grades on the state assessment.
It is the new world of publicly-funded education in Florida. Charters open, charters close. Some get high scores, some get low scores. Parents go shopping for schools the way they shop for shoes or milk.
Peter Greene knows that breaking up is hard to do. But it is happening. The people who love charters also were promoting Common Core. They had a common goal: make public schools look bad, then watch the stampede to privately-managed charters.
What is it about Common Core that has made it toxic? The more teachers use it, the more the polls show they don’t like it. Rhetoric to the contrary, CCSS does tell teachers how to teach, based on the likes and dislikes of the authors, few of whom ever were classroom teachers. Rhetoric to the contrary, the early grades set absurd expectations that some children will meet easily, and others won’t reach for a year or two. No one on the writing team had ever taught little kids or had no idea that they develop at different rates. No one had any experience teaching students with disabilities, most of whom will look bad on Common Core tests. Greene points to the number of governors, like Malloy and Cuomo, who disowned the Common Core, but I think it is better to wait and see what happens now that the election is over.
The Ed Reform movement has always been a marriage of different groups whose interests and goals sometimes aligned, and sometimes did not. The Systems Guys, the Data Overlords, the Common Core Corporate Hustlers, the Charter Privateers, the Social Engineers– they agree on some things (we need to replace variable costly teachers with low-cost uniform widgets), but there are cracks in the alliance, one seems to be turning into a fissure.
The Common Core Hustlers are being dumped by the Charter Privateers. It’s not an obvious break-up– the privateers haven’t texted the Core backers to say, “Hey, we need to talk.” It’s the slow, soft drop. The unreturned phone calls. The unwillingness to even say the name. Not even making eye contact when they show up at the same party. It’s awkward. It’s painful.
It wasn’t always like this. Charters and the Core were a match made in heaven. To spur financing and enrollment, the Charter forces needed a way to “prove” that public schools suck, and that meant finding a yardstick with which public schools could be measured and found failing. That meant some sort of standardized test, and that meant something to test them on. So, Common Core. The Core and the Tests (from which it could not, must not, be separated) would be the smoking gun, the proof that public schools were failing and that only privatizing schools would save Our Nation’s Youth.
The corporate folks liked it because it was another opportunity for market growth. The fake liberals liked it because it could be packaged as a way to bring equity to the poor. The fake conservatives liked it because it could be packaged as a way to use market forces to get those slacker poor folks into line.The Core and Charter really got each other. They wanted all the same things.
But soon, the love affair between charters and the Core started to show strain. The Core would show up late at night, smelling like Big Government. And while everybody’s friends liked the Core when it first started coming around, but as they got to know it, they started whispering behind its back that it was kind of an asshole. Pretty soon, old friends like Bobby Jindal were calling the Core out in public. And when election season came, they weren’t invited to the same parties together any more. Jeb Bush had been the Core’s oldest and best friend, and even he had a huge party where Charters were held up for praise and applause and the Core wasn’t even mentioned.
There was no longer any denying it. When Charter walked into the cafeteria, instead of sitting down with the Core and telling friends, “You should come sit with the Core. It’s cool” instead Charter would sit on the other side of the room and say, “You don’t want to sit at that table with that thing.”
Once the Core had been a marketing point. Public schools were bad news because they couldn’t do Common Core well enough. Now public schools are bad news because they are trying to do Common Core well enough. We used to market charters as a way to run toward the Core; now we market them as a way to run away from it.
None of the reformsters who now disown Common Core are dropping any other part of the reformster agenda, especially not privatization.
And you can bet they are not dropping high-stakes testing either, unless the public revolt gets loud enough for legislators to hear it.
I read a story about a charter school in Germantown, Pennsylvania. It is called Imhotep Charter School. It has a new $10 million facility. I can’t figure out who is in charge and where the money goes. Isn’t there an auditor? Stories like this are happening with increasing frequency as charters multiply and accountability shrinks.
There seems to be a tug of war between the school and the nonprofit to which it is connected about who owns the building. Meanwhile the founder of the school has been fired by a board, whose chairperson is the founder’s daughter.
I bring this to your attention because I can’t understand what is happening. I know that this school is publicly-funded but it seems to be in more than the usual turmoil, not what you are likely to find in your neighborhood public school.
“Sankofa Network Inc., a related nonprofit that owns Imhotep’s campus, filed a Common Pleas Court lawsuit last week alleging the charter owes $1.2 million in rent, interest, and fees.
The court action comes after the school, which opened in 1998, was rocked by months of turmoil, including the ouster in late June of M. Christine Wiggins, Imhotep’s founding chief executive.
The Imhotep board voted not to renew Wiggins’ contract after the School District’s charter office said in April that it would recommend not renewing the school’s charter on several grounds, including poor academic performance.
The lawyer for the school said the lawsuit was frivolous and that all bills were paid.
Sharon Wilson, a lawyer who represents Sankofa Network, said the nonprofit acted after it was told by the bank that as of Oct. 1 it was delinquent nearly $900,000 in repaying a construction loan and a line of credit.
In addition to uncertainty about the financial stability of the school, charter authorizers worried about its academic performance:
Concerns about academic performance at Imhotep prompted the district’s charter office to express reservations about renewing the school’s charter.
Although Imhotep, which has 525 students in grades nine through 12, has been praised for sending a high percentage of its graduates to college, the school’s records show that in 2013, only 9 percent of Imhotep students scored proficient on the state’s Keystone exams in Algebra 1 and 5 percent in Biology 1. In literature, 37 percent were proficient.
When I see billionaires throwing huge sums into local and state elections with the hope of opening more charters, I wonder if they believe their claims that charters will improve American education. Do they know that none of the world’s high-performing nations have charters or vouchers?
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20141105_Imhotep_Charter_sued_by_related_nonprofit.html#JH5qSVv1MbVO1cd7.99
I blogged this article before. Having just finished Bob Herbert’s brilliant new book Losing Our Way, I decided to post it again. This is to remind you that thoughtful people outside the field of education see clearly what is happening. Understand that some very rich and uninformed people are trying to grab control of our public schools and that they use the false narrative of “failure” to justify their intervention into the world of schooling, about which they know less than nothing. Less than nothing would be a good description of the knowledge base of Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton family, John Arnold, and David Welch (Vergara man). Less than nothing is when people are misinformed, have wrong-headed ideas, and do damage to children and teachers but call it “reform.”
I will write a full review of Bob Herbert’s book. Let me just say as a brief summary that it is the best book on the current state of America that I have read in many years. It is sobering, thoughtful, and gripping.
Will he bust the “police monopoly” or the “firefighters” monopoly? Will he privatize other essential public services as he now threatens to privatize our public schools?
The Alliance for Quality Education and other groups said:
ALBANY (October 28, 2014) – AQE, local school superintendents and leaders of the state’s major community organizations issued the following statement in response to Gov. Cuomo’s vow to break the public schools “public monopolies” and replace them with more privately-run charter schools.
“Gov. Cuomo has laid clear plans to expand his frontal assault on our public schools through high stakes testing, starving our public schools and privatization,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “It’s not that shocking when you look at the enormous pile of cash he has raked in from the Wall Street billionaires who are investing in charter schools. He is rewarding his financial backers at a devastating cost to our children.”
“Governor Cuomo’s public school bashing hurts students and families, especially in low-income immigrant communities hardest hit by the inequality that has grown under his tenure. Instead of addressing overcrowding, the loss of vital resources, high dropout rates among Latinos, or record-high inequality between school districts, he’s stuck on tired talking points that are divisive and benefit a small few,” said Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road Action Fund.
“New York State’s graduation rates for black and Latinos ranks at the bottom of all states nationally. It has also been established that NYS clearly discriminates against those same children when it comes to equal distribution state education aid. If you are white and/or rich in New York, you get the best of all state aid worlds. If you are poor and/or black or Latino, you get the short end of the education aid stick,” said Kenneth Eastwood, Superintendent of Schools of the Middletown Enlarged City School District. “So lets redirect the real issue of education in New York State to the evaluation of teachers using data from a failed common core test that the Governor admits is so bad that the same data should not be used to evaluate students for the next five years. Political hyperbole at the expense of fair funding and opportunities for all students in New York State only results in greater sales of smoke and mirrors and larger numbers of disenfranchised poor and minority students in New York. Stop running for President and do what’s right for New York’s poor and minority students.”
“The Governor’s words demonstrate that he really doesn’t understand the important role of public education in the continuing re-tooling and development of the American economy,” said Robert Libby, the Cohoes City School District’s Superintendent of Schools.
“It is outrageous that Mr. Cuomo calls our public school system a ‘monopoly.’ While the governor calls for school competition, what he’s really pushing is a ‘survival of the fittest’ charter school model,” said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change.“What the governor should be doing is complying with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s decision to fully fund our schools and pay the $2.5 billion New York City public schools are owed. Every child in New York City should have access to good schools and we will be in Albany next year to make sure this happens.”
“New York’s leaders need to stop blaming everyone else and instead address the real problem with our education system: the state’s chronic under-funding of schools,” said Karen Scharff, executive director with Citizen Action of New York. “Declaring war on teachers is just an excuse for the budget cuts that are undermining our kids’ opportunity for success.”
“The Governor’s assertion that competition is an adequate substitute for equity should be an affront to New Yorker’s sensibilities,” Schenectady City School District’s Superintendent of Schools Laurence Spring said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo promised, in a meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board, to “bust” the public school monopoly.
Vowing to break “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” Gov. Cuomo on Monday said he’ll push for a new round of teacher evaluation standards if re-elected.
Cuomo, during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, said better teachers and competition from charter schools are the best ways to revamp an underachieving and entrenched public education system.
“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”
He said the key is to put “real performance measures with some competition, which is why I like charter schools.”
Cuomo said he will push a plan that includes more incentives — and sanctions — that “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.”
Cuomo expects fierce opposition from the state’s teachers, who are already upset with him and have refused to endorse his re-election bid.
“The teachers don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations — I get it,” Cuomo said. “I feel exactly opposite.”
Cuomo sounds more and more like Scott Walker of Wisconsin every day. Bust the unions. Humble the teachers. Crush public schools and introduce free market competition.
Carl Paladino, a multimillionaire in Buffalo who ran on the Republican ticket for governor against Andrew Cuomo in the last election, got elected to the Buffalo, New York, school board.
He supports charter schools. He also invests in them. He makes money investing in charter schools. “If I didn’t, I’d be a frigging idiot,” he said.
Conflict of interest?
PS: Sorry to say that the Buffalo newspaper removed this story from the Internet, although it still appears on Google.