Tom Ultican, recently retired teacher of physics, has embarked on a mission to cover the Destroy Public Education movement. His posts have taken him to several cities, where the school choice movement has destroyed public education without putting anything better in its place. In fact, the “new” schools are usually worse than the public schools.

In his latest foray, he studies the destruction wrought by the Destroy Public Education movement on the public schools of Philadelphia.

The trouble started when Republican Governor Tom Ridge hired the Edison Project to conduct a study of the Philadelphia public schools and come up with solutions (such as, taking charge of the entire district themselves, nothing like conflict of interest to stir the commercial juices.)

Ultican relies heavily on Samuel Abrams’ excellent book Education and the Commercial Mindset, which began life as a study of Chris Whittle’s Edison Project.

Things went downhill from there. The whole point of “reform” was not to make the schools better, but to save money.

“Edison’s report was not impartial. Both the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News called it a charade. (Abrams 116) The report was overly critical of the school district and recommended that the Edison Project be put in charge of running it. Edison also called for reforming “failing” schools by turning them into charter schools.

“Helen Gym (now on the Philadelphia city council) speaking for Asian Americans United, asked, “If this [privatization] is so innovative why aren’t they doing it in Lower Merion.” (Abrams 114) This turns out to have been a perceptive question. Lower Merion is 85% white and rich. Still today, there appear to be no charter schools in Lower Merion Township. Charter schools mostly exist in poor communities without the political capital to protect their schools.”

Broadies, Broadies everywhere! Closing public schools. Starving them. Opening charters. Destroying the district. The great Charade of “Reform.”