Chris Lubienski has done comparative studies of public and private schools for years. In this latest study, he notes the paradox that choice schools tend to become standardized over time, betraying the claim that they would meet the differing needs and interests of students.

DOCUMENT RESUME
ED 439 519 EA 030 327
AUTHOR Lubienski, Chris
TITLE Diversification and Duplication in Charter Schools
PUBTYPE EDRS PRICE
Ontario,Canada,April14-18,19). InformationAnalyses(070) Speches/MetingPapers(150)
DESCRIPTORS
MF01/PCO2 Plus Postage. *CharterSchols;Diversity(Institutional);Educational
IDENTIFIERS
ABSTRACT
Change; *Educational Economics; Elementary Secondary Education;ForeignCountries;FreEnterpriseSystem; Privatization;School Choice Grant Maintained Schols (GreatBritain);*MarketSystems Aproach
Grant-MaintainedSchols:AnExplorationinthePolitical
EconomyofScholChoice. PUBDATE 19-04-0


NOTE


47p.;Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (Toronto.)


This paper examines the political economy of charter schools to understand the tendencies toward standardization and emulation that these schools exhibit. It draws on the developed model of grant-maintained schools in the United Kingdom as an example of the market model’s evolution in mass education. It analyzes the promise of such approaches to explore reformers’ underlying assumptions and thus offers a window into perspectives that have driven these prolific reforms. The paper contrasts the emerging evidence with the public promises of reformers and contrasts these with the disappointing lack of diversification of options for education consumers. It states that widespread and controversial reforms in education across the globe entailed the introduction of market mechanisms of consumer choice and competition among providers in mass education. The text explores the promise of choice plans and charter schools, the effects of competition, and the reaction to uniformity. It concludes that there is a standardizing tendency inherent in markets that both accompanies and counteracts the potential for diversification that competitive markets can generate. The paper claims that market-oriented reformers generally ignore the constraining properties of competitive markets in their discussion of the potential effects of competition in education. (Containsaproximately25references.)(RJM)


Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made from the original document.

Diversification&DuplicationinCharter&GMSchols 20
ofsectionsofthemarket inefect,privatizedsuper-LEAswithprimaryacountabilityto shareholders,notcitizensoreven”consumers.”Thereisaneconomicincentivetolimitthe diversityofaproducttosomextent,becauseofresearch,development,production, distribution,andsuportcosts;asTeryMoenotes,”inovationscostmoney.Sometimes alotofmoney”(citedinMolnar,196,p.72).27Thus,thehated”one-size-fits-al” aproachtoeducationthatcriticsclaimisinherenttopublicontrolisalsolikelythrough thecostsavingfactorsofthe”cokie-cuter”aproachtomasprovisionofeducational services.Thesestandardizingtendenciesarebecomingmorevidentwithgrowthoflarge- scalenterprisessuchastheEdisonProject,TeseracT(formerlyEducationalAlternatives Inc.),AdvantageScholsInc.,orSabisInternationalSchols alofwhicharetryingto increasetheirshareofthecharterscholmarket,andalofwhichaveasetaproachto educatingchildren(Farber,198a;Hofman,198;Pole,198;Rhim,198;Sides& Decker,197;Toch,196;Vine,197).Inded,whenDykgraf&Lewis(198)studied charterscholsrunbymanagementcompaniessuchasthese,theyfoundstrongcentral controlexercisedbycorporateauthorities,andlitleopenesabouttheiractivities,which hinderspublicasesmentoftheirpractices.
Thistendencyfliesinthefaceoftheclaimthatcharterscholswilsharetheirinsightsand inovations.ThepromisewasmotivatedbyaperceptionthatLEAscholsareplaguedby adeadeninguniformity(Peterson,190),andnedinterventionsthatareproduced primarilyintheprivatesector(Coleman,190;West,195).28However,sucha perceptiondoesnotexplainhowalackofcompetitionecesarilyimposesuniformity acros15,0LEAsintheUS.Whatisthestandardizinginfluencefor15,0diferent bureaucraciesandmilionsofclasroms?Infact,theargumentcouldbemadethat, inasmuchasclasromsnowapearsimilaracrosdiferentcontexts,uniformaspectsmay beduetomarketinfluencesonthecuriculum,privatesectorcontrolofemployment posibilitiesforgraduates,theriseofindividualism,thecomodificationofpublic education,andothermarketefectsinstandardizingschols(Hogan,192;Labare, 197).Furthermore,itdeniesthemanyinovationsproducedinthepublicsector,and, moreover,ispremisedonhighlyhypotheticalpresumptionofinherentselfishnesof humanaturethatpositsthatinovationspringsfromtheposibilityofself-enrichment.
ButwhileadvocatesjustifiedcharterslargelyasR&Dcentersforpublicschols,itis becomingincreasinglyaparentthat evenifcharterscholsweretodevelopaplethora ofnewpedagogicalaproaches therearenotadequatemeansavailablethroughwhich otherscholscouldhaveacestothosediscoveries(Wels,etal.,198).Whilemarket-
orientedreformersclaimthatitissimplythefectsofcompetitionthatwilforceLEA scholstoimprove,thelogicofmarketsalsocounteractsanyrolethatcharterorGM
27Yet,thecomonlyapliedbusinesprincipleofeficiencyefectivelylimitstheresourcesrequiredfor inovationandexperimentation(seWelch,198).Inded,ironicaly,themarketizationofapublicsector institutionsuchaspubliceducationrepresentsanoveralstandardizationofoptions,chalengingtheunique aspectsofpublicscholsaspublicinstitutions,andforcingthemtoconformoretothedominant “eficiency”modelofaprivatebusines(seOetle,197). 28However,theasumptionthatinovationsareproducedintheprivatesectorignoresthextenttowhich inovativeideasandinstitutionshaveariseninthepublicsector,andthenexitedthepublicscholsystem (e.g.,Wiliams,19).Furthermore,thereismuchevidencethatmanyGMandcharterscholsused market-orientedreformstosimplyprovideaprivate-typeducationatpublicexpense.IntheUK,thishas benthecasewithGMscholsthatembracethegramarscholcuriculum,forexample.InNorth America,theownerofacharterscholmanagementcompanycaledtheEducationDevelopment Corporation(EDC)claimshedoesnotpursueinovativetechniques,but”usessucesfulChristianschols asaneconomicmodelforEDC’snonreligiouscharterschols”(MackinacCenterforPublicPolicy,197; sealso,Opel,19;Red,194;Sanchez,195;Schnaiberg,19;Simons,19;VanDunk, 198).
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scholsmayplayincontributingtotheoveralimprovementofscholing.Thatis,ina competitivemarket,scholssucedorfailbasedonhoweltheyatractandretain studentsrelativetothercompetingschols.Inacasewherecertainscholsare establishedtoproduceinsightsintoimprovingteachingandlearning,butalsoare dependentfortheirsurvivalonatractingconsumers,thereisaninherentincentivenotto shareimprovementsorinsightswithotherschols except,ofcourse,anyotherschols intheircorporatechain,asthecasemaybe.(Ontheotherhand,iftherewereadequate chanelssetuptodiseminateinovations,thefre-riderphenomenonsugeststhatmany schoblswouldnotasumethecostsofinovationifotherscholswildosoandshare withthemthediscoveries.)29
EmulationandDuplicationinConsumerMarkets Whilemarket-orientedreformersjustifytheiragendalargelyonthegroundsthatmarkets creatediversityofoptions,anexaminationinthepoliticaleconomyofconsumermarkets indicatesthattheyareignoringanequalyevidentstandardizingefectofcompetition. Dependingonthecircumstances,acompetitivemarketcanalsohaveconstrainingefectson experimentation,andfosterduplicationinsteadofdiversity.Inadynamicsystemofpublic choice,thelogicofmarketsdictatesthatproviderswiltrytostakeoutpositionsof advantageinordertocomandthepatronageofthemajorityofconsumers.Ifaprovider movestocornerasegmentofthemarket,thereissomeincentiveforotherprovidersalsoto moveinthatdirection,althoughnotquitetothesamextent,inordertocaptureal remainingbusinesuptoandposiblyincludingsomeofthemarketshareoftheirrivals (Hirschman,1970,p.63).Thiscanhavethefectofstandardizingoptionsavailableto consumers,asinasystemofscholchoice.
Forinstance,thisphenomenonisveryevidentinthearenaofpartypoliticsinrecentyears. InboththeUSandtheUK,”liberal/leftist”partiescametopowerlargelybyemulatingtheir oponentsonmanyisues.Ratherthanoferingvotersrealoptions,Clinton’sDemocrats (throughisDemocraticLeadershipCouncil)notonlyatractedvotes,butsimplycornered blocsofvotersbymimickingtheRepublicansoneconomicandsocialquestions.Thus, theytokforgrantedvotersfurthertotheleft,knowingthattherewasnotherviable alternativetowhichthosevoterscouldturn.Blair’snewLabourPartysucesfuly embracedClinton’sstrategyintheUK(Ford,19;Zakaria,198),andtheLiberalsin CanadandotherEnglish-speakingdemocracieshavelargelyembracedmarketprinciples previouslythoughttobethedomainoftheirconservative(clasicaly”liberal”)competitors. Whilesuchtrendsmayindicatethepresumptiononthepartofthesepartiesoftheloyaltyof theirmembers,italsosugeststhatviablealternativesarenotavailabletotemptthese peoplewiththeposibilityofexitingpartiesthatnolongerreflecttheirbeliefs.Regardles, theoveralefectistofervoterslesofaclearchoiceofdiferentoptions,andmany comentatorsfromboththerightandlefthavenotedthatthepoliticalmarketplacecurently
29Onceagain,Coulson(19) asapuremarketadvocate ofersbeterinsightsintotheworkingsof themarket.Whilehewritesoftheincentivesforcharterschols”balancingresearch-and-developmentcosts
againstthenedtokeptuitiondown”(p.305),healsonotesthatthe”onlywaytoenticeducational entrepreneurstotakeontheserisksistoprovidethemwithanincentivethatmakesthefortworthwhile”
(p.318).Yet,whileIagrewithisinsightsintothecorectdynamicsofthemarketpervertedbycharter scholdesigns,Icontinuetodisagrewithisprescriptionthatwemovetowardpurermarketstocorect thebastardizationofmarkettheory.Ifcharterscholsarepublicschols,astheyclaim,thentheyhavea responsibilitytothegreaterpublic,andnotjusttheirimediateclientele.ButunderCoulson’sfremarket model,ashenotes,charterscholswouldbeabletownandprofitfromtheirinovations,andexcludeal otherstudentsfromthenjoymentoftheirbenefits unlestheywerepersonalyabletoafordtopay. Thisistheantithesisofanyconceptionofapublicsystem.Furthermore,itdemeansthefortsandenies theinovationsofalwhoworkforchildrenbecauseofahumanitarianimpulse,insteadasumingthatonly personalgainmotivatesgodworks.
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ofersconsumersoptionsthatarelargelyindistinguishable.30Thus,whilestealingisues mayworkmostefectivelyinaduopoly,italsoapearstohavesomefectinmulti-party systems.InHirschman’sframework,isuemulationwilleadtodiscontentof peripheralizedconsumers/voters.31Butduopolisticorevenpolyopolisticpowerssystems canconstrainthatdiscontentmentthroughefectivecoperationexercisedby”competing” parties.Theirconfluenceofinterestsmayleadtointentionalyconcertedefortsor colusioncausedbythefectsoftheircomoninterestsinmaintaininganefective oligarchy.Thatis,evencompetingplayersmaycoperateinesenceinordertoprevent othersfromalsojoiningthegame.Thus,majorpartiesandproducershaveaninterestin themaintainingthe”thirdparty”statusofthirdparties.Whileattimestheymightlokfora minor-partyalyinordertotipthebalanceofpowerintheirfavor,theyalsohavean interestinremainingtheprimarypartnerinanycoalition.
Consumermarketsalsodemonstratethisconstrainingefectofcompetition,whetheritbe PCsandWindowsbothemulatingandcrowdingoutMacintoshproductsfromthe computermarket,VHSreducingandthenridingthemarketofthebeterBetasystems, bokstorechainsmimickingtheservicesofandtheneradicatingsmalneighborhod bokstores,JapaneseproducersintroducingtheminivanonlytohaveUSmanufacturers adoptstheideandthendominatethemarket,orlarge-scalevideochainscrowdingoutthe cornerstore.Whilesimplelogictelsusthattightcompetitioncaninhibitinovationin existingprovidersbylimitingresourcesavailableforexperimentation(whichisriskyand mayentailalos),evidencealsosugeststhataconfluenceofcompetitors’interestsand efortscanalsolimitinovationandoptions.Dunleavy(197,p.3)notesthese standardizingtendenciesforconsumerchoices(from”hamburgersorcomputers”)inwhat hetermsglobal”Macworld”capitalism:”Thescaleofmarketsandcompetitionhas decisivelyescalatedinsomeareas,screningoutlocalsolutionsandcorporationsinfavour oftransnationalcompanies,dominantbrandsandstandardizedsolutions.”32Whilehe notesadiversityofoptionsinsomeareas,thegeneral”resultisthatsingle-marketchoices
30Se,forexample,Fraser,198/19;Pres,196;Reves,197;andSobran,195. 31Hirschman discusingtwo-partysystems sesanycentralizingtendencylimitedbyideological
diferences,alertandvocalactivists,andpracticalconsiderationsofmaximizingvotersuport(ononehalf ofthepoliticalspectrum,withasmuchofanimperialisticforayintotheotherhalfascouldbereasonably puledofwithoutalienatingtheparty’snativebase):”adoptionofaplatformwhichisdesignedtogain votesatthecentercanbecounter-productive”(p.72).Yetacentralizingtendencycanbeunlimitedinan emulativecontextofnoveridingideologicaldiferences thatis,tacitagrement(perhapssubconscious) onmajorunderlyingisues,aswiththeneoliberalDLCapingRepublicansonisueslikeNAFTA,the deathpenalty,gaymariage,andefensespending.Thisunrestrictedcentraltendencyleavesthemore ideologicalyradicalwingofaparty(anditsnon-partyasociates/sympathizers)unrepresented.Voterson thextremearecertainly”captives”ofthemainpartiesintermsoftherealityoftheunlikelihodofsuces oflaunchinganalternativeparty,andthustheirpowerofexitislimited(bytheirnumbers)whiletheir powerofvoicewasoftenamplified(bytheiralertnes).Butwhenideologicalyemulativemainstream partiesdisowntheideologuesatthends,loyaltykepspeoplewithdiscernibleideologicalconvictions fromcreatingapotentialysucesfulpartythatwouldoferaclearlyideologicalalternativetothemasof votersinthecenter.Manysuchdisenfranchised”havetriedtoexertinfluencewithinoneofthemajor parties,havefailed,andlaterdecidedtoworkontheoutside”(p.85).Butmuchoftheirpotentialsuport restsinsimilarlyfrustratedpeoplewhorefusetoleavetheparty,despitethefactthattheirrapidly diminishingvoiceandpotentialorganizationalalternativepointstothexitsign.Thesealertvoters,even morethanthepotentialyfertilepolofinertvotersmoretothecenter,areletingtheirloyaltyprecludea “rational”option.Butthisaparentirationalityservesapurpose,asHirschmanstates:”Even though.partiesinatwo-partysystemareleslikelytomovetowardandresembleachotherthanhas sometimesbenpredicted,thetendencydoesasertitselfonocasion.Themorethisissothemore irationalandoutrightsilydoesthestubornpartyloyaltylok;yetthisispreciselywhenitismost useful.”(p.81)
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32Or”McWorld”capitalism.

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expand,buttheoveralrangeofchoicesacrosdiferentcountries’marketsmayreduce.” Inhisdiscusion,hepointstotherestaurantindustryasanexampleofaninstanceof globalizationwhichnoneanticipatedfourdecadesago,butwhichasheavily standardizednotjustfodchoices,but”howcustomersareserved.”Ritzer(196)writes ofthe”McDonaldization”ofmarketsocietyasmarketforcespursueandimposea predictabilitythatreducesalhumaneds,desires,andrelationshipstoacomon economicalculus.Otherobserversalsonotethe”Disneyfication”ofculturethatundercuts globaldiversity(Hanigan,198;Seabrok,198).Similarly,inthe”marketplaceof ideas,”severalauthorshaverecognizedtheconstrainingefectsofcorporatecontrolofthe mediainacompetitiveconsumermarket.Mazoco(194,p.5)writesthatthenarowing competitivefieldlimitsthescopeofwhatisconsideredreasonablebythenewsmedia,and thuswhatislegitimizedaspertinentforpopulardiscusionandebate(sealsoBagdikian, 197;Herman&Chomsky,198).
And,ofcourse,sucesbredsemulation.Whetherthroughinovationorthe reintroductionof”triedandtrue”practices(oranyotherinexplicablypopularproductor service),ifsomething”works”intermsofatractingconsumers,competitorswiltryto duplicatethatsucesbyduplicatingwhateverbroughtonthatsuces,uptoandincluding impingingonanyproprietaryrightsofthesucesfuloperation.Thisemulationisreadily aparentfromtheresearchonthechoicesystemintheUK.There,ratherthanengagingin educationalinovations,market-orientedproviderstendtoemulatesucesfulschols institutionscharacterizedbytheirup-marketclientele throughtheintroductionof inovationsoftenperipheraltotheclasromsuchasuniforms,disciplinecodes,symbols oftraditionalism,andotherformsofimagemanagement(Glater,etal.,197).Whenthey makechangesinclasrompractices,theygeneralydonotintroducenewpractices,but reintroduceolderaproachesasociatedwithmorexclusivelitescholing suchasthe academicemphasisofthegramarscholcuriculuminordertoatractthebeststudents withtheleastamountofproblems,whowouldbetheasiesttoeducateandcosttheleast amountofresources.InNorthAmerica,charterscholreformersalsonedtoshow results.JoeNathan(198,p.502),aleadingproponent,warnscharterscholstoconsider “bestpractices”alreadyproveninotherschols:”Charteradvocatesoughttolokat carefulyevaluated,provenaproaches.”Moreover,thejustificationforcharterschols thatcalsforthetodiseminatetheirinovationsasumesthatotherscholswilduplicate theirpractices(althoughitisnotclearwhatincentiveunderthelogicofmarketsmight encouragescholstosharesucesfulsecretswithcompetitors).
Partoftheisueinthesecasesmaybetheilegitimacyoftheasumptionofmarket-oriented reformersthatconsumerdemandshapesmarkets.IntheiradvocacyofcharterandGM schols,proponentsofscholchoicecontendthatscholswilriseinresponseto consumerpreferences.Theyasumethatapre-existinglandscapeofthewantsandneds ofeducationalconsumerswilbereflectedinthegeographyofareactivemarket.Schol choiceadvocatescontendthatconsumerscontrolthemarket.However,thereismuch evidencetoindicatethatthecausalarowalsopointsintheotherdirectionaswel;thatis, marketscanalsoshapeconsumerpreferences.Producerscultivatewantsandnedsin consumers.Inthatrespect,simplywitnesthebilionsthatmarketentitiesinvestin advertisingandimagemanufacturing,particularlyaroundproductsforwhichtherewasno pre-existingdemand.Furthermore,insomemarkets,producersorproviderscanselect theirconsumers.Ineducation,thismeansthatscholschosethestudents.Thishas increasinglybenthecaseintheUK,asscholsnowsetoutcriteriaforprospective studentsinordertobeterpursuetheschol’smisionorphilosophy(Dean,193b;Dean,
193c;Edwards&Whity,197;Fitz,etal.,197;Walford&Pring,196;Whity& Power,197).Whilethishasbenoficialyencouragedinrecentyears,itwasinitialy donethroughcovert-selectiontechniques e.g.,parentinterviews,requiredalegianceto disciplinecodesoraschol’sspecializedmision/philosophy,andsymbolictrapingsof
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traditionalism(Dean,192;Francis,190;Glater,etal.,197;Walford,197a;West, etal.,197).ThereisnoreasontoasumethatthesametrendwouldnotocurinNorth Americancharterschols,asmanyscholsnowrequireparentorstudentcontracts, volunterhours,adherencetomisionstatements,orothermeansthatencourageself- segregationbyparentstomaskselectionofstudentsbyschols(Carl,198;Farber, 198a;Farber,198b;McGhan,198;McKiben,19;McKiney,196;Rothstein, etal.,198).Itsemslikelythatregulationstoblockovertselectionwilbelargely inefectual,asmarketcompetitionencouragesorevenforcesparentsandscholstofind waysofsortingthemselves.
Inovation,Diferentiation,andImageManagement Thistendencytowardemulationincompetitivemarketsraisestheisueofthedegreto whichdiferencesbetwenchoicesarereal,orperceivedresultsofimagemanagement. Eveninamorestableorstaticmarketcontext,diferencesbetwencompetitorsin consumermarketsareoftenemphasizedorexageratedinmarketingandpresentation. ThereisnotmuchdiferencebetwenPepsiandCoke,orbetwenFord,Dodge,andGMC trucks.Asexperienceshows,therearetwowaystomakeaprofit:(1)inovationinorder toatracttheconsumerwithabetervalueonabeterproduct,(2)orbetermarketing.In situationswhereconsumerinformationisobscureorinacesible(orcanbemadethatway throughimagemanagement),thelaterismorelikely.So,producerstrytocultivatetheal- importantbrandloyalty(recently,byintroducingtheirproductstothecapturedclienteleof schols).Therefore,advertisingcampaignsoftenfocusonsmaldiferencesofdegres, andnotoverwhelmingsimilaritiesbetwencompetingproducts.Infact,thecoland hamburgerwarssugestthatthebigestcompetitorsareoftenthemostsimilar,withthe majorairlines,networkandlocalnewscasts,andbigthreautomakersalbut indistinguishablefromeachother.Butinsteadoffocusingonthequalityorcost- efectivenesofproductsasrational-choicetheoristswouldlike,thesecompetitorsoften emphasizequestionsofstyle,atitude,andasociationinapealingtocustomersand workingthemarket.3Whilesmaldiferencesandbels-and-whistle(orsmoke-and- miror)inovationsmaybeusefulandcost-efectiveforproducers(oftensimplyto enhanceprofitmargins),itisthefectivenesandcosteficiencyofmarketingthatdeters theincentivetoferrealimprovementsandcostlyinovationsinaproductline.34Itis oftencheapertocultivatediferencesinimage-asociationintheyesofconsumersthanto researchandevelopabeteralternativetoacompetitors’product.Andmarketingisoften (evenusualy)designedtobscurewhetherachangeinaproductisanimprovement,or simplyachange.
Thisaspectinthelogicofmarketswouldalsobepresentforcharterscholscompetingfor per-studentfunding.AsscholsintheUKandtheUSbecomemoreinvolvedin marketingthemselvestopotentialconsumers,itwilbeimportanttonotethextentto whichemphasizediferencesareamateroftruecuricularorpedagogicalinovations,or simplyrepackagingofolderideasandtargetingthemataparticularsegmentor demographicgroupofthemarket.Niche-marketingsimplylimitsproducerstonon-growth areasofthemarket.So,whilerationalconsumersmaysekoutascholbasedon academicriteria,muchevidencesugeststhatthisisnotthecase.Whilechoiceplansin theUKandmanyjurisdictioninNorthAmericaresuportedbythepublicationofleague tablesorotherindicatorsofrelativestudentachievement,itisverydificult,ifnot
3Inafascinatinganalysis,Wink(192,ch.10)observesthisphenomenoninmanyareasofhuman competitionandconflict includingpoliticsandwar asoposingpartiesoftenemploythesamemeans inacontest,therebyemulatingorimitatingeachotherinpractice,andbecomingmorealikeinesence, whilexageratingdiferencesinordertojustifytheirpublicpositions. 34Inded,aproductioncost-orientedincentivenednotbepasedontotheconsumerintheformof savingsexcepttothextentthatitwouldslightlyundercutacompetitor’spriceifatal.
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imposible,togiveconsumersasnapshotofhowmuchonescholenhancesthe achievementofastudentascomparedtotherschols.Suchefortsarebefudledby problemssuchasfindingtheapropriatecomonmetric,orcontrolingforconfounding variablessuchasper-efectsandsocioeconomicstatus.
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Inlieuofaneasyindicatorofaschol’sabilitytoenrichastudent’spotential,rational consumersareforcedtorelyonotherevidenceofaschol’sworth.Unfortunately, evidencefromtheUKsugeststhatsuchindicatorsareoftensymbolicreflectionsofre- emergingsocialhierarchiesuniforms,theracialandethnicompositionofaschol,etc.
ratherthanimediateacademicfactors.Inded,thereismuchevidencefromboth NorthAmericandtheUKthatconsumersactualygravitatetowardsthesenon-academic
criterianywaywhenchosingaschol(Bal&Gewirtz,197;Carol&Walford, 197a;Carol&Walford,197b;Glazerman,198;Hirsch,194;Petronio,196;
Smith&Meier,195;Walford,192).Manyifnotmostparentsarenotusualyloking forinovationorevenexcelence.Whilerational-choicetheoristsasumethatconsumers sekthemostefectiveducationaloptionfortheirchildren,real-worldexperienceshows parents constrainedbysuchfactorsasconvenience,transportation,location,work,and theabilityandesiretoparticipateinandvalueachild’seducation lokatotherfactors suchassportsteams,proximitytohomeorwork,tradition,astudentbodythatreflects theirchildracialyoreconomicaly,achild’sdesiretobewithfriends(orawayfrom enemies),andsoforth.Evenrational-choicetheoristimplicitlyafirmthisphenomenon, oftenusingracialcodewordsthatmaskretrenchedracism,orsegregationisttendencies basedonsocial-clas noteducational diferentiation.Forexample,Moe(194,p. 27)debatesthecontentionthatBritishparentsfocusoncriteriaperipheraltoacademic enrichment,denyingtheimportanceof”sportsanduniforms”andinsteadclaimingthat informedpeoplewant”disciplineandorder,achievement,andproximity”(Mano,etal., 198a;Mano,etal.,198b;Schneider,Marschal,Teske,&Roch,198;Vanourek,et al.,197).Whatisnoteworthyabouttheseparentalpreferenceshereisthat,asadvertising increasesinimportanceinacompetitivemarket,thesetendenciessugestthelikelihodthat scholswilfocusonon-academicriteriaintheirmarketingcampaigns,promoting imagesthatdonotfocusimediatelyonpotentialacademicenhancement,butonon- academicriteriasociatedwithracial,ethnic,andsocialclasdiferentiation.
ConstrainingEfectsofConsumerPerceptionsinaCompetitiveMarket Ontheotherhand,whilemarketsshapeconsumers,consumers’perceptionsofwhatare apropriateproductsoftenconstraininovationthroughmarketforces.Parental asumptionsofwhatagodproductorserviceis whethertothpasteorscholing providesincentiveforstandardization,notjustdiversificationofoptions.Ifpeoplethink thatcolashouldbecaramelcolored,thenPepsiClearwilfail.Ifpeoplequatediscipline, rotememorization,andhightestscoreswitha”god”education,thentheromfor inovationinamarketcontextisconstrained.ThiswasthecaseintheUK,wherepopular conceptionsofeducation(atleastforactiveconsumers)meantthatmoretraditionalismand elitismwouldbetheprimary”inovation”drivenbythemarket.Subsequently,intheUK, scholshavebenforcedtopayatentiontotheirimagemanagementthroughmarketing, administration,andpresentation,oftenatthexpenseofeducationalconcerns(Bal& Gewirtz,197;Gewirtz,etal.,195).Thismay,infact,beoneofthecentralelementsof themarketdynamicthatistheconstrainingfactorineducationquasi-marketsinNorth America,asparentalperceptionsofwhat”god”scholingisaremanifestedinaconfining demandfor”back-to-basics”scholing.Kohn(198),forexample,claimsthatafluent andambitiousparentsintheUSdonotwantinovationsintheirchildren’seducation,but, instead,whatarecomonlysenassolid,tried-and-trueducationalpractices.Onthe otherhand,peopleoftencanotreachacomonunderstandingoftruly”inovative” education.GlobalLearningAcademyinCalgarywasestablishedtotry”diferentiated”
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learning,an”inovative”aproachtoeducation.Butthescholclosedafterparentsand evendiferentteacherscouldnotagreonwhatthatmeans(Shepard,198).
Discusion Thisesayshouldnotbeunderstodasanargumentagainstthepotentialformarket-
orientedscholstofosterdiverseandinovativeoptions.Instead,Ihaveatemptedto demonstratethattherearestandardizingtendenciesalsoinherentinthemarketmechanisms importedintopubliceducation,andthatacountingforthesetendencieshelpsus understandtheunexceptionalrecordofcharterscholsinpromotingexperimentationin teachingandlearning.However,theprecedingdiscusionraisesbothimplicationsand questionsthatdeservefurtheratention.
Diversity Diverseoptionsareoftenaparentincharterschols,GMscholsandCTCs.Inded,
someofthesescholsapeartoembraceintensiveuseoftechnology,ofervarious pedagogicalaproachessuchasa”back-to-basics”ordiscipline-areaorientedcuriculum,
andsmalerclasandscholsizes.However,whileIhavenotedthatnoneofthese “inovations”arerealynew,anothertrendistowardethnic-basedandhome-scholed instruction.Theseoptionsdefinitelyoferadiferentiatedsetofoptionstoconsumers. Althoughscholsegregation(bylaw,tradition,residency,orevenself-segregation)isnot neworinovative,whatisuniqueaboutsuchtrendsisthattheylegitimizeresegregationof “public”scholsinthepost-Brownv.Boardera.Ofcourse,publicscholshaveben notoriouslysegregatedbyraceandclasinrecentdecades.Butpursuingthediferentiation ofprovisionthroughtheoptionofrace-andethnic-basedscholsrepresentsalegal institutionalizationofthatsegregationthroughtheauspicesofademocraticaly-run institutionthathadoncebenknownasthe”comon”schol.Likewise,”home- instruction”islargelyamovebyhome-scholerstopt-intopublicfinancingofprivately- orientededucationafterhavingexitedpublicschols(se.g.,AmericansUnitedfor SeparationofChurchandState,197;Fin,etal.,197;Rothstein,etal.,198).These newconsumeroptionsraisequestionsaboutthebalanceofpublicly-fundedprivate consumerrightsagainstthepublicinterestincultivatingacomonculture,tolerance,and socialcohesionwithpublicresourcesforthepublicgod.Such”diversity”ofconsumer choicesincharterscholoptionsstandsinstarkcontrasttoliberalefortstoachieve diversityoverthelastseveraldecades.
ContrastingSourcesofInovation Charterscholreformerspubliclyadvancetheiragendasaconsumer-orientedreform measure.However,experiencewithconsumermarketsindicatesthatmarketscanalsobe producer-oriented aphenomenonthatturnsthecausaltablesoncharterreformers’ asumptions.Yetthisfactisignoredbymarket-orientedreformersintheiradvocacyof charterschols.Furthermore,asitbecomesmorevidentthatprivatebureaucraciescanbe justasinflexibleaspublicbureaucracies,onewonderswhythisisnotalsoreflectedinthe rhetoricpromotingcharterschols.Ifgovernmentbureaucraciessquashinovative tendenciesduetoself-interest,donotloyaltiestostockholdersalsodivertinovative potentialitiesthatarisearoundcustomerserviceinprivatebureaucracies?Yetmanycharter scholreformerspersistinadvancingthesimplisticimageofaninovativeprivatesector juxtaposedtoaconstrainingpublicsector.Thisstarksimplificationisreminiscentof Orwel’sAnimalFarmtwofet,bad;fourfet,god(Chomsky&Barsamian,196,p. 121).Butthisasumptionignoresconsiderablevidenceoftheinovativepowersof publicsectors,constrainingfactorsinprivatesectors,andthefolyofautomaticaly opositionalizingthemalofwhichshouldproblematizeandcomplexifysuchclaims (Cohen,1982;Kutner,197;se,e.g.,Coulson,196).
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Inded,thisquestionofinovationleadingtodiversityineducationparalelsevidencein theconsumermarketsthatcharterscholreformersoftenhighlight.Buttheirreferencesto thesemarketsonlyapeartoconsideronesideofthequation.Anotherexamplemightbe seninthedialecticalprocesoutlinedbyDarwin’stheoryofevolution(and,inded,much ofmarkettheoryreflectsthisinitssurvival-of-the-fitestethos).Oneofthethrebasic dynamicsonwhichthistheoryoforganicprocesesisbasedisstandardization(asthe synthesis).Thatis,evolutionpositsthatthethesisofuniformityischalengedbyan aberation(theanti-thesis),which,dependingontheconditions,maychalengeoreven overwhelmthestatusquo,resultinginanewsynthesis.Thus,standardizationisjustas muchanesentialpartofsuchaprocesasisinovation,andisnecesaryfortheproces ofchangetounfold.35Bothpublicandprivateinstitutionsareoftenlikenedtorganisms, andtheycanbeflexibleintheiryouth,andstagnantandefensiveinmaturity.Wink (192)usesareligiousanalogytodescribethispatern:institutionsarecreated,falen, and/orredemed.
Market Fundamentalism Religiousimagerymayalsohelpexplainthetreatment,orde-emphasis,ofevidencein market-orientedreformers’advocacyoftheiragenda.Thesingle-mindednesofmarket- orientedreformersinperceivingonlyfavorablevidencefromconsumermarketssugests azealotryoffaithinmarketmechanisms.Inded,theprolificaplicationofmarketmodels topublicscholswasprecededbyverylitlehardevidenceastotheirefectsinmodern education.Whilethiswaspartlyduetothefactthattherearevirtualynocomprehensive andanalogousmodelsfromwhichtodrawpolicyinferencesonhowmarketswouldwork inschols,36itisalsoindicativeofanideologicalfaithinmarketprocesesabelief systemthatasuresthefaithfulofthepowerofmarketdisciplineasacorectiveto waywardpublicsectorinstitutions(thusdiscountingthenedforevidence).Infact,the discourseisliteredwithreferencesto”beliefs”onthisisue,inlieuofhardorcompeling evidenceonthepowerofmarketstodiversifyandinovateprovisionofeducation.37But, aswithanyfundamentalist,market-orientedreformersapearcapableofselective perceptionlimitedtoconfirmingevidence.Theyareabletoignoreorexplainawayany confoundingevidencethatchalengestheirbeliefsinthepowerofmarketstoprovide.38 Charterscholadvocatesdonotdemonstratethatmarketsfosterinovationincharter scholclasroms,becausetheyhavealreadysenenoughevidencefrom(aone-sided viewof)theautoindustryto”prove”thatdiversificationandinovationfalwithinthe purviewofmarkets.Hence,marketreformersareunableorunwilingtoconsider,much lesembrace,contradictorytendenciesinmarketsthatbothdiversifyandstandardize consumer options.
35Naturalprocesesareparticularlypertinenthere,sincemanymarket-orientedreformerspromotetheir agendasanaturalororganicalternativetoartificialstateregulation premisedontheasumptionofa universalhumanaturepreocupiedwithpursuingone’sownself-interest.Forafascinatingdiscusionof standardizationindynamicorganicproceses,seGould(1989). 36Coulsondisputesthelackofevidence(196;194;19). 37Ironicaly,thisissimilartohowscholexpansioningeneralisoftenforwardedbyreligious-likefaith andrhetoricregardingthepowerofeducation(Bowen,19;Meyer,1986;Mockler,194;Tyack,Kirst, &Hansot,1980;Walkom,190). 38AfterDisneyboughttheAmericanBroadcastingCorporation,MexicanovelistCarlosFuenteswrote: “Inaworldtornbyeverykindoffundamentalismreligious,ethnic,nationalistandtribal wemust grantfirstplacetoeconomicfundamentalism,withitsreligiousconvictionthatthemarket,lefttoitsown devices,iscapableofresolvingalourproblems.Thisfaithasitsownayatolahs.Itschurchisneo- liberalism;itscredisprofit;itsprayersareformonopolies;andnowitshalosareMickeyMousears.” (quotedinTheMenonite,196,p.17;sealsoWalkom,190)
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Moreover,likeanyfaith,marketfundamentalismestablishesaversionofhumanatureasa universaltruth.Theirclaimthatinovationwilflowfromindividualswhentheyare unleashedtonaturalypursuethenhancementoftheirself-interestdependsonavery debatableasumptionofauniversalhumanature.Whilemarket-orientedreformersclaim thatmaximizingself-interestisthedrivingforceofhumanprogres,thereisalsoevidence tosugestthat,inded,”humanature”isshapedbysocial,cultural,andinstitutional conditionsaswel.Furthermore,itapearsthatsomepeoplearewilingtotakerisksand pursueinovationsoutofphilanthropicandhumanitarianimpulses,orsimplecuriosity.
ResearchandPolicyBorowing Whilethelackofcompelingevidencefromeducationsugeststheideological(asoposed
toempirical)natureofthisreformagenda,theglobalscaleofmarketreformsraisesisues regardingtheroleorresearch,evidence,andideologyacrossocio-politicalcontexts. ParticularlyinthecasesoftheUKandNorthAmerica,thesimilaritiesofthesereforms pointtoeitherintentionalpolicysharingoraplicationsofuniversalaspectsofmarket ideology.Forthemostpart,theUKledthewaywiththesereforms,fromThatcher’s governmentthroughthepresentBlairadministration.YetthegeneralycriticalBritish researchliteraturehasfailedtopenetratetheUSdiscoursetoanygreatextent(Moe,194). Thatis,whilepolicyborowingapearstobeprevalent,policymakersdemonstratea concurentandcurioushesitancytoengageinserious”researchborowing.”Whilepartof thismaybeduetoachronicethnocentrismonthepartofAmericanpolicymakers,such parochialismisincreasinglyinexcusableinatimewhenresearchiswidelyacesible,and contextsandpoliciesarebecomingmoresimilar.Whity,forinstance,whohasbenvocal inhisobservationofthelackofinovationintheUKmarketreforms,hasbenquite wilingtosharehisinsightswithNorthAmericanaudiences(e.g.,Miner,197).Itis unclearwhytherehasnotbenmorediscusioninNorthAmericaoftheUKexperience beforembarkingonrapidandwidespreadmarket-orientedreforms,andonecanonly speculateabouttheknowledgeandintentionsofpolicymakersandmarketreformers.This raisesquestionsabouttheabilityofresearchandevidencetoinfluenceanideologicaly- drivenreformagenda.Butitalsoraisesquestionsabout”hegemonic”controlofthe discourse;thatis,whataretheinterestsofthepeoplewhohavethemicrophone,andhow aretheirinterestsandagendaservedandchalengedbyresearchevidence?
Ontheotherhand,someobserversspeculateonthexistenceof”policynetworks”to explaintheaparentpolicycopyingbetwendiferentcontexts(Carl,194;Whity& Edwards,198).Inded,thereisevidenceoftrans-Atlanticolusionandcoperationof like-mindedthinktanksandotherinterests.Yetwecanotdiscounttheposibilitythat similaritiesinmarket-orientedpoliciesareindicativeoftheideologicalparadigmofthe times reflectingnotsomuchpolicy-borowingaswhatLevin(198)sesasadiseaseor “epidemic”ofsuchpolicymakingintheraitdefines.However,whilehisanalogy discountsintentionallearningandaplicationbypolicymakersofthemarketzeitgeist explanation,otherevidenceindicatesthatrecently,deliberatepolicy-copyingisnow ocuringinaneasterlydirection.AlthoughtheUKsettheprecedentforquasi-market reformsofeducation,thelectionofBlair’sLabourPartysetthestagefortheUSto becomeamodel.ItapearsthatBlairhasmodeledmuchofhispoliticalstrategyonhis neoliberalmentorinClintononisuessuchaswelfarereform(Jones,198;McGuire,
198/19).Ineducation,likewise,there-emergenceof”crisis”rhetoricintheUK sugestsnotadisatisfactionwiththeresultsoftheToryeducationpoliciessomuchasa desiretocontinuetocultivatepopularsuportforreforms(e.g.,BritishBroadcasting Corporation,19).IntheNewStatesman aforumforNewLabour”modernizers” Bilefsky(198)recentlyadvancedtheposibilityofemulatingUSfor-profitmodelfor charterscholsintheUK.Nowitapearsthatthismodelwilbeimportedasthe corectivedisciplinarianforporlyperformingschols(MacLeod,19a;MacLeod,
19b;Raferty,19),therebylegitimizingthelocationofblameasthefaultofindividual 30

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schols(seThrup,198).Moreover,theEdisonProjecthasplansforinternational expansion,includingtheUK(Walsh,198a).
Questions for Further Investigation Thisexplorationalsoraisesseveralquestionforwhichasearchforanswersisbeyondthe scopeofthispaper.Isuesdeservingoffurtheratentioninclude:
Whatmarketconditionspromoteitherthediversificationorstandardizationof consumeroptions?Whatconditionssuportorconstraininovations?Towhatextentcan thoseconditionsbemanipulatedthroughpolicyinstruments?Howouldtheyaplyto educationquasi-markets?
WhatprecedentsareavailableregardingpublicfinancingofR&Defortsby privateproviders,particularlyexamplesthatspeaktothepotentialbenefitsandangers
inherentinthecharterscholmodel?Whilepublicmoneyhaslongonetonon-profit researchfoundationsanduniversities,whatlesonscanbelearnedfromthexamplessetin publicresourcesandprerogativesgoingtofor-profitendeavors?Somemightclaimthatthe defenseindustry,forexample,hasabuseditspositionwithwastefulandfraudulentuseof publicmoniesforresearchandevelopment(e.g.,MultinationalMonitor,19).Others mightpointtothegeneralbeneficialefectsofpublicfunding,proprietaryalowances,or privateprerogativesgrantedtoprivatendeavorsinpharmaceuticalresearch,forinstance (e.g.,Tulock,196).
Towhatextentdoestheparticipationorpenetrationofinvestmentcapitalpromoteor constraininovationsinmarket-orientedschols?Dosucesfulinvestmentcapital operationstendtobecomecautious,lokingforwaystomaintainposition?Oraresuch endeavorsmorelikelytopursuerisksandsuportentrepreneurialeforts?(Onthistrendin education,seWalsh,198b)
Whatistheroleofthecomongodinconstrainingandcultivatinginovationand diversification?Furthermore,whatistheroleofthestateorthepublicindefiningthe comongodanditsaplicationtothisquestion?Thereapearstobeapresumptionthat diversificationisinherentlygod.Butaremorechoicesalwaysbeter?Towhatextent doesthediversificationofconsumeroptionsencourageamovetowardthelowestcomon denominator,andrivedownthegeneralqualityofchoices?Forexample,some neoconservativesmightclaimthestatehasaninterestinregulatingthentertainment industrytothextentthatthepursuitofprofitspromoteslicentiousnes,hedonism,andbad taste.Similarly,healthadvocatesmightmakeaparalelclaimregardingthedutyofthestate tomonitororregulatethefastfodortobacoindustries,therebyconstrainingconsumer choices.Abeterexample,perhaps,involvesconsumerrightsintheautoindustry. Benetetal.(198)claimthatamonopolisticDetroitautoindustryfailedtohedconsumer preferencebybuildingtomany”expensive,gas-guzlingvehicles”inthe1970sand
1980s(p.28).WhiletheDetroitautoindustrydideventualyrespondtothechalenge posedbymorefuel-eficientJapaneseimports,recenttrendsindicatethat atleast partialybecauseofconsumerdemandandmarketingalautomakersarenowbuilding more”expensive,gas-guzlingvehicles”thaneverbefore,aslighttrucksandsportutility vehiclesnowoutnumbercarsinewvehiclesales.Doesanyoneclaimthatmore dangerous,leseficient,morepolutingvehicles(drivenbyconsumerpreferenceand imagemanufacturing)enhancethecomongod?Theagregatefectsmaybe detrimentaltoal.Butwhatistheroleofthestateandthepublicsetagainsttherightsofthe consumerinthisquestion?Theanswerwouldhaveimplicationsfortheroleofthestate andpublicintheregulationofconsumerchoiceandcompetitiveprovisioninmarket- orientededucation.
Finaly,whatistheapropriateroleofthestateinademocraticsocietyinrequiring rationalchoice?Theimplicationsofthisquestionareimportant.Sinceitisnotalways cleartoconsumerswhenevermarketingrepresentsinformationoninovationsorthe obfuscationofalackofimprovements,doesthestatehavearoleinregulatingthis informationintheinterestoffuldisclosure?Ifafre-marketsocietyispremisedonthe
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fre-flowofinformationtoalowfulexerciseofrationalchoice,doesthestatenedto intervene,ironicaly,inordertodefendthelaisez-fairelementsinherentinacompetitive systemofinformation-basedchoice?Furthermore,doesthestatenedtorequirethe provisionoftruechoice,ortheguaranteofarangeofoptions,ifmarketfailureconstrains thoseaspectsofasystemofconsumerchoiceinanarealikeducation?
Inconclusion,thisesaydemonstratesthatthereisastandardizingtendencyinherentin marketsthatbothacompaniesandcounteractsthepotentialfordiversificationthat competitivemarketscangenerate.Thisanalysisisanatempttoprovideamorebalanced viewofthelogicaldynamicsofmarketprocesesineducationthanthatwhichisnow evidentinpolicydiscourseofchoiceineducation.Thus,whilenotdisputingthatthereare someconomicincentivesforinovationandexperimentationembededinthelogicof markets,thexamplesdiscusedhereindicatethattendenciesneglectedinpolicydiscourse canalsohaveoposingefects.Market-orientedreformersgeneralyignorethe constrainingpropertiesofcompetitivemarketsintheirdiscusionofthepotentialefectsof competitionineducation.Theirasumptionsofdiverseandinovativeoptionsareoverly optimisticandsimplistic.Inlieuofevidenceontheworkingsofmarketmechanismsin education,theymakeone-sidedalusionstoconsumermarkets,orideologicalasumptions abouthowmarketsshouldworkineducation.
ThexperiencesofcharterscholreformersinNorthAmericahasledtoareconfiguration oftheclaimsforcharterschols.Premisedontheclaimthatpublicscholclasroms wereinherentlyunproductivebecauseofbureaucraticLEAgovernance,charterschol reformerspromisedthatachangeingovernancewouldleadtoinovationsinthe clasrom.Asreal-worldproblemsandcompetitivemarketsdynamicsconstraintheability todeliverinovations,theyefectivelyretracttheirpromiseofclasromexperimentationin favorofthemoreasilyatainablegoalofoferingoptionsinvariouslocalities.Reformers ignorethexamplesofcompetitivequasi-marketsintheUK,andfailtotakeamore balancedviewofconsumermarkets.Thisanalysiscalsintoquestiontheclaimthatthe lackofeducationalinovationwasunpredictable.Thus,whilepromisesofeducational inovationcanbesenasharmlesorwel-intentionedinthemselves,theactual standardizationtrendsexposetheimprecisionofsuchclaims.Andtheirpredictability highlightstheservicethatthosefalseclaimsprovidedforinvestorsinopeningupublic educationasamarketforprofit-makingventures.
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This post appeared on the Network for Public Education website.

Paul Huang and Olivia Peebles: It’s time to pass a Fair School Funding Plan

This op-ed from Cleveland.com was written by a pair of students from Shaker Heights High School. Paul Huang is a senior; Olivia Peebles in a junior. Both are members of the Shaker Heights High School Student Group on Race Relations. In this op-ed, they lay out a defense of their high school against Ohio’s flawed school rating system.

In Shaker, we are fortunate to have educational opportunities ranging from honors courses and AP/IB classes to vocational training. We are also fortunate to have an administration and staff that strives to close achievement, opportunity and wealth gaps that stem from systemic racism.

Yet the Shaker Heights City School District has three so-called “failing” schools and received an overall “C” average on the Ohio Department of Education’s annual report card.

The school report card is based heavily on standardized achievement data, which is linked to socioeconomic status. Standardized tests do not consider the specific challenges some districts have, such as high poverty.

Schools with larger numbers of Black and brown students or children whose families have low incomes are more likely to be deemed “failing.”

The report card also grades districts on closing a “racial achievement gap,” without considering the opportunity barriers communities of color face due to years of segregation, discrimination and exploitation.

When the state considers a school to be “failing,” it can send the district’s funding to private schools via vouchers. This gap-closing metric actually widens achievement gaps by underfunding the schools that need extra resources to close them.

Read the complete op-ed here.

You can view the post at this link : https://networkforpubliceducation.org/blog-content/paul-huang-and-olivia-peebles-its-time-to-pass-a-fair-school-funding-plan/

Jeanne Melvin of Ohio’s Parent Education Partners has provided a useful guide to help readers discern the differences between actual parent groups and billionaire-funded astroturf parent groups.

Actual grassroots parent groups rely mostly on volunteers. They want to strengthen, preserve, and protect their public schools. They lobby the state legislature for more funding for public schools.

Astroturf parent groups are supported by billionaires, and they usually have a sizable staff of well-paid people. They exist to carry out the goals of their funders. They complain about how terrible the public schools are, and they advocate for charter schools and choice.

Melvin names names. She calls out “Parents Defending Education,” “Freedom Works,” “Parents Rights in Education,” and “Moms for Liberty,” among others. Some of they may be at work in your state, representing themselves as ordinary parents who want “change.” The change they want is privatization, not better public schools. Before you get involved in any parent group, find out what their budget is and who pays the salaries and how many leaders have salaries.

Follow the money is a good rule.

William Gumbert has written a series of posts demonstrating that students who attend public schools in Texas consistently get better results than those in charter schools.

In this post, he shows that the regular public schools in Dallas outperform the privately-managed charter schools.

Using state records, he finds that Dallas County schools have higher academic ratings while serving a higher proportion of students with the greatest needs.

Among the regular public schools, 92.9% received an A or B rating from the state, while 58.7% of charters were rated A or B.

7.1% of regular public schools were rated C, compared to 31% of charters.

No public school (0.0%) received a rating of D or F, compared to 10.3% of charters.

Yet, he notes, parents are regularly bombarded with solicitations to attend a charter, where their path to success in college and life is assured.

This is a well-funded lie.

In recent decades, states have reduced their subsidies to institutions of high education, shifting the financial burden to students and families. After World War II, the federal government recognized that investing in higher education would benefit society as a whole. The rise of libertarianism in the past forty years has promoted the view that the consumer, not society, should pay for what is now seen as a personal benefit. This attitude exacerbates inequality, since those at the top can more readily pay for their children’s education than those with less money. It’s worth mentioning here that all higher education in Finland is tuition-free. The Finns consider education to be a human right, which people should not be required to purchase.

Making college free for all creates problems, to be sure. What about students and families already deeply in debt? Shouldn’t their debts be forgiven? What about those who already sacrificed to pay staggering debt?

Two Connecticut professors—Stephen Adair of Central Connecticut State University and Colena Susankreed1 of Gateway Community College— review some of the issues here, in an article that appeared in the New York Times.

The last 40 years have seen an ever-widening income gap between those with college degrees and those without. Over that interval, incomes have soared for those with advanced degrees and declined for those with high-school diplomas or less. As a result, the route to economic security for young people depends increasingly on access to higher education. Yet it keeps getting more expensive.

Since the Great Recession, the public portion of the operating costs for state universities and colleges in Connecticut, where we teach, has declined 20 percent; since the 1980s, it has declined by nearly half. In the 1960s, tuition for a Connecticut state university was $100 a year, which could be earned by working fewer than 100 hours at minimum wage. Today, a student needs to work nearly 1,000 hours at the state minimum of $12 an hour to pay the $11,462 required for tuition at the least expensive state university in Connecticut.

Our state is hardly unique in abdicating its responsibilities to the next generation. By 2018, only four states had returned to prerecession funding levels at public two- and four-year institutions. In Arizona the decline has been especially acute: 2018 per-student higher-education funding was down 55.7 percent from 2008, and average student tuition costs at four-year institutions increased by 91 percent. In Louisiana, these figures were 40.6 and 105.4 percent, respectively.

The Biden administration has proposed reforms to ease the student-debt crisis. But a real solution must upend a system of cascading inequities. Restoring the dream of higher education as an equalizer requires a holistic solution that attacks all the sources of the problem: a lack of investment in common goods, growing tuition and student debt and exploitative labor practices that undermine the quality of education.

The rise in tuition costs, combined with the growing economic value of a college degree, fuels the crisis of student debt, which today totals $1.7 trillion. To pay for a year of school, three-quarters of American families pay at least 24 percent of their average family income, even after grants are distributed.

As students pay more, they often receive less. Nationwide, nearly 75 percent of all faculty positions are off the tenure track, often without benefits or long-term job prospects. Ironically, hundreds of thousands of some of the most educated people in the country now shuttle to and from campus, juggling gigs to try to eke out a living while unable to give students the attention they deserve.

While President Biden’s American Families Plan includes a provision for free community college, this is an incomplete solution.

The College for All Act of 2021, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Pramila Jayapal, would address the crisis in full. In addition to making community college tuition-free for all, it would make two- and four-year public colleges and minority-serving institutions free for poor and middle-class students and increase funding for programs that target students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Nationally, in 2016, the net average price of college attendance (the total cost minus all grants awarded) for students coming from the lowest family income quartile amounted to 94 percent of total family income. Unsurprisingly, poorer students are less present at higher levels of education nationwide. In Connecticut, students of color are overrepresented at the introductory levels and increasingly underrepresented at higher levels.

We stand to exacerbate racial and class divides if we create a dead end for poorer students by cutting off funding at the associate level, stunting their progress or requiring them to take on debt to continue. By including both two- and four-year institutions and by expanding Pell grants so they can be used to cover living and nontuition expenses, the College for All Act would help bridge the significant earning gap between those with some college education and those with bachelor’s degrees.

The measure would also address the labor precarity corroding learning conditions: It would require that at least 75 percent of courses be taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty members and help transition short-term and part-time faculty members to those positions.

To fund these reforms, the bill proposes a tax on trades of stocks, bonds and derivatives, to raise more than $600 billion over the next decade.

The College for All Act complements recent efforts in states like California, Connecticut, Georgia and New York to boost two- and four-year institutions. While these efforts are distinct, they all seek to facilitate the movement between two-year colleges and public universities and improve equity...

To the extent that higher education reinforces existing inequities, it contributes to the affliction it is supposed to ease. Solving this problem will expand opportunities for individuals, grow the middle class, improve the skills of America’s work force and strengthen democracy. But this won’t happen on its own; it needs a push. So let’s push.

During the 2020 Presidential campaign, candidate Joe Biden pledged to educators that if elected, Betsy DeVos’s priorities, such as charter schools, would be gone. That’s what he said in a nationally televised forum in Pittsburgh for educators in December 2019 (start about 4:40). In Pittsburgh, he also promised to end the federal pressure for standardized testing. In his campaign documents, he promised that no federal funds would go to for-profit charter schools.

So far, his batting record is poor. The first consequential decision, made before the confirmation of Secretary Cardona, was to insist on the resumption of federal testing in the midst of the pandemic.

Now we know he backtracked on charter schools. The federal Charter Schools Program—though riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse, though used in North Carolina to fund segregation academies—will receive the same funding as under DeVos ($440 million a year).

Here comes the next insult to the nation’s public schools: Secretary Miguel Cardona will be the lead speaker at the National Charter Schools Conference. Contrary to President Biden’s statement in Pittsburgh, charter schools will not be gone.

Will Secretary Cardona tell the attendees that he is cutting off federal funding to charters that operate for profit? Will he tell them that the federal government will no longer fund charters operated by for-profit managers? Will he explain why he kept the wasteful federal Charter Schools Program at the same level as it was under Betsy DeVos?

Don’t count on it.

Jerry Z. Muller wrote a warning about how data-driven organizations can distort their own goals and purposes.

In education, we have known about the dangers of incentives for test scores for a long time. In 1976, sociologist Donald Campbell that “the more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social process it is intended to monitor.” When the tests assume too much importance, there will be cheating, gaming the system, narrowing the curriculum, and other unwanted consequences.

A dozen years ago, Richard Rothstein wrote an excellent paper called “Holding Accountability to Account,” showing how incentives can perversely affect and undermine the goal that are sought (it is free on the internet).

In 1990k Andrea A. Gabor wrote a book about W. Edwards Deming called The Man Who Discovered Quality, in which she explained Deming’s contempt for merit pay and bonuses, which cause employees to think about themselves and not about the organization and its larger purposes.

Muller wrote a recent article about “metric fixation” in which he reviewed the flaws of data-driven work:

More and more companies, government agencies, educational institutions and philanthropic organizations are today in the grip of a new phenomenon. I’ve termed it ‘metric fixation’. The key components of metric fixation are the belief that it is possible – and desirable – to replace professional judgment (acquired through personal experience and talent) with numerical indicators of comparative performance based upon standardized data (metrics); and that the best way to motivate people within these organizations is by attaching rewards and penalties to their measured performance. 

The rewards can be monetary, in the form of pay for performance, say, or reputational, in the form of college rankings, hospital ratings, surgical report cards and so on. But the most dramatic negative effect of metric fixation is its propensity to incentivize gaming: that is, encouraging professionals to maximize the metrics in ways that are at odds with the larger purpose of the organization. If the rate of major crimes in a district becomes the metric according to which police officers are promoted, then some officers will respond by simply not recording crimes or downgrading them from major offences to misdemeanours. Or take the case of surgeons. When the metrics of success and failure are made public – affecting their reputation and income – some surgeons will improve their metric scores by refusing to operate on patients with more complex problems, whose surgical outcomes are more likely to be negative. Who suffers? The patients who don’t get operated upon.

When reward is tied to measured performance, metric fixation invites just this sort of gaming. But metric fixation also leads to a variety of more subtle unintended negative consequences. These include goal displacement, which comes in many varieties: when performance is judged by a few measures, and the stakes are high (keeping one’s job, getting a pay rise or raising the stock price at the time that stock options are vested), people focus on satisfying those measures – often at the expense of other, more important organizational goals that are not measured. The best-known example is ‘teaching to the test’, a widespread phenomenon that has distorted primary and secondary education in the United States since the adoption of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

How many times do we have to hear the same advice and ignoring it?

Tom Ultican tells the sad story of the Johns Hopkins University Education Policy Institute, which was once known for unbiased scholarship.

As he recounts the politicization of the Institute, he explains the upside of joining forces with privatizers, disrupters, standardized testing zealots, allies of Relay “Graduate School” of Education and the charter industry. The Institute is now the recipient of millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation, Charles Koch, the Walton family, and other very rich luminaries of the philanthropic world.

In one of JHU’s consequential reports, it was commissioned to study the high-poverty Providence, RI, school district. Only weeks later, they turned in a gloomy assessment that set the stage for a state takeover. Then-Governor Gina Raimondo hired ex-TFA Angelica Infante-Greene, who never been a principal or a superintendent, as State Commissioner of Education. She, in turn, hired a new superintendent and deputy superintendent for Providence, who were both fired after the deputy was caught forcibly massaging boys’ toes.

Infante-Greene has now been inducted into Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change (which had previously designated by Chiefs as a future leader.)

Is it worth mentioning that the outcomes of state takeovers have been dismal?

I endorse Maya Wiley for the Democratic candidate for Mayor of New York City.

There are many candidates in the Democratic primary for Mayor of New York City. Whoever is chosen will be the next mayor because the city is 3/4 Democrat and the Republican field is weak (Michael Bloomberg spent $100 million of his own money to win the mayoralty as a Republican and one of his top priorities was to persuade the state legislature to give him total control of the public schools).

My first choice initially was Scott Stringer, the City Comptroller, who has deep experience as a citywide official. Stringer was endorsed by the United Federation of Teachers because of his strong support for public schools. But his chances began to fade when a woman stepped forward to accuse him of groping her twenty years earlier.

Then two men emerged at the top of the polls: Andrew Yang and Eric Adams. Both have received large donations from GOP billionaires who support more charter schools.

The next top contender was Kathryn Garcia, a longtime city bureaucrat who has competence and experience. She was endorsed by the New York Times and the Daily News. With all of Garcia’s plans for change, the one area where she is weakest is education. Thanks to Bloomberg, NYC has mayoral control of the schools. Garcia has promised to lift the cap on charter schools (New York City already has nearly 300), to protect the elite public high schools, and to open more of them. she has shown little or no interest in helping the 88% of students who are in the public schools for which she would be responsible. She is a graduate of the city’s public schools, but treats them as an afterthought. For this reason, I cannot support her.

I endorse Maya Wiley. Wiley is a civil rights lawyer whose values and vision align with my own. She is not beholden to billionaires or the powerful real estate industry. In the debates, she shined as a fearless and principled advocate who did not defer to the front runners. She is committed to improving the lives of children, families, and communities. She is opposed to lifting the charter cap. A Mayor with a clear vision can hire outstanding talent to manage the city’s huge bureaucracy. What matters most is that she has a clear vision, grounded in a commitment to the public good.

https://www.mayawileyformayor.com

Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat reports on a research study that concluded that most state takeovers of low-performing districts were unsuccessful. Local school boards, it was believed, must be the cause of low test scores because they lacked oversight.

The study was written by Beth E. Schueler and Joshua Bleiberg and released by the Annenberg Insttitute.

State officials have taken for granted that the state education department knows better than local school boards how to run school districts. Yet, as the study shows, most have either made no difference or failed. In most cases, the districts that were “taken over” consisted of mostly black and brown children, whose communities lose a democratic institution and as well as a route to political power.

Barnum writes:

Now, a new national study casts significant doubt on the idea that states, at least, are better positioned to run schools than locally elected officials. Overall, researchers found little evidence that districts see test scores rise as a result of being taken over. If anything, state control had slightly negative effects on students.

Frankly, it was always a silly idea to think that state education departments were staffed by top-flight educators. They are working in schools and districts. Most people who work in state education departments (and the U.S. Department of Education) are administrators and bureaucrats, not educators.

Barnum goes on to summarize the study:

The paper is the most comprehensive accounting to date of a strategy that has appealed to policymakers in many states but also brought fierce blowback. The study doesn’t suggest that takeovers never succeed on academic grounds — there are clearexamples where they have.

But the successes appear to be more exception than rule, and the uneven academic results bring into sharp relief the costs of state takeover: the loss of democratic institutions, disproportionately in Black communities.

“These policies are very harmful to communities in terms of their political power,” said Domingo Morel, a Rutgers University political scientist who has studied and criticized state takeovers. “And then what the state says is going to improve — this research shows it’s not doing that either.”

The new study focuses on the 35 school districts from across the country that were taken over by states between 2011 and 2016. These takeovers often happened in small cities and the vast majority of affected students were Black or Hispanic and from low-income families…

To find out what happened next, Schueler and coauthor Joshua Bleiberg of Brown University used national test score data to compare districts that were taken over to seemingly similar districts in the same state that retained local control.

In the first few years of the takeover, the schools generally saw dips in English test scores. By year four, there was no effect one way or the other. In math, there were no clear effects at all.“The punchline is, we really don’t see evidence that takeover is benefitting student outcomes, at least in the short term,” said Schueler.

Many states, Barnum reports, have cooled on the idea of state takeovers, although there are two big exceptions: Providence, Rhode Island, which has already fired its new superintendent because his deputy had a bad habit of massaging boys’ feet without their permission. And Texas is eager to take control of the Houston Independent School District because it has one high school with very low scores, and a disproportionately high number of students needing special education and living in poverty. The students in both districts are majority black and brown.