UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

July 16, 2009

ANOTHER BLACK IVY ASSAULTS PUBLIC EDUCATION

TPR - There is a new generation of black leaders - many of them graduates of Ivy League schools - who got ahead by joining the establishment rather than by crossing picket lines. Included are President Barack Obama, Massachusetts governor Patrick Duvall, Newark mayor Cory Booker and DC mayor Adrian Fenty. One of their common characteristics is seeming to be far more progressive than they actually are. Both Fenty and Booker, for example, set up South African apartheid style roadblocks around communities - just ruled unconstitutional by a court in DC. Obama and Booker both campaigned for the conservative Joe Lieberman against his liberal opponent. But most striking, perhaps, is that all four are participants in the corporate-driven war against public education, in which charter schools are used as the stealth bombers against public local schools. Here's the latest example.

Boston Globe - Governor Deval Patrick will unveil a proposal to nearly double the number of charter school seats allowed in the state's worst-performing districts, a move expected to trigger a fierce debate on Beacon Hill and send tremors through local school systems.

The proposal, which requires legislative approval, would create an estimated 27,000 new charter school seats in about 30 districts across the state, from Boston to the Berkshires, according to a copy of draft legislation obtained by the Globe. . . .

The governor's push comes as President Obama is threatening to withhold millions in federal stimulus dollars from states that hinder charter school growth. The US secretary of education, Arne Duncan, will join the governor at a press conference today unveiling the legislation. . .

Leaders of many of the state's leading education groups said the proposal would be economically devastating for school districts. Students who leave a public school district to attend a charter school take with them a slice of state aid, generally $9,000 to $15,000 per student. The amount is based on a complex state formula that, among other things, attempts to establish how much it would have cost to educate the students in their home districts, but superintendents say the state calculation puts the number too high. . .

“I'm surprised and disappointed,'' said Thomas Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, contending that the state needs to overhaul charter school funding. “We are stripping the neediest districts of necessary resources.''

The state's 62 existing charter schools, authorized under the 1993 education reform act, generally operate independently of local school districts and are not unionized. That has earned them the ire of local education leaders, who lose money to the schools, but have no control over them, and of the teacher unions, who have been key allies for Patrick. . .

Last month, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, a longtime charter school critic, attempted to counter the possible change, advocating creation of a type of in-district charter school that could be controlled by cities and towns, instead of by the state. . .

Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, said Patrick is conceding far too much to charter school supporters.

"What can it possibly be but another indication that the charter school lobby is dictating state policy?'' Koocher said. "Districts will lose more money, and the charter schools will laugh all the way to the bank.''


Frederick M Hess, American Enterprise Institute, 2008 - The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics has compared the performance of students in district and charter schools, reporting, "After adjusting for student characteristics, charter school mean scores in reading and mathematics were lower, on average, than those for public noncharter schools." . . .

Stig Leschly, executive director of the Newark Charter School Fund, has observed that only about two hundred of the thousands of existing charter schools "really close the achievement gap." . . .

Among the eight cities where charter schools enroll 20 percent or more of students are Detroit, Michigan; Youngstown, Ohio; and Washington, D.C. In 2007, Education Week reported that, despite a substantial charter presence, Detroit had the highest dropout rate among the nation's large school systems. A 2007 analysis found that just 57 percent of Youngstown's charter schools, and just 38 percent of its district schools, met Ohio's growth targets for student improvement in reading and math.

In a study of Washington, D.C., which has one of the nation's highest rates of charter school enrollment, researchers Margaret Sullivan, Dean Campbell, and Brian Kisida found no evidence of improvement in D.C. public schools even as they lost nearly a third of their students to charter school competition. They traced inaction to a district "hampered by political dynamics and burdensome regulations." . . .

Change - Charter schools get overwhelmingly positive press and make a lot of claims about their success. But actually, numerous studies confirm that their achievement is indistinguishable from that of traditional public schools. Some are very successful, some are troubled and struggling, and the rest are somewhere in between – just like traditional public schools. . .

The truth is that charter schools may enroll some very low-income students, but they do not enroll the very troubled, high-need, at-risk students who pose the greatest challenge to public education. . .

Enrollment at all charter schools is, by law, entirely by request. No student is assigned to a charter school by default. That means "self-selection" occurs at all of them, inherently, by definition.

That is, parents who care about their kids' education enough to make the effort to learn about and request a school are the ones whose kids attend charter schools. Parents who don't have it together to pay attention, care, or take action to try to improve their kids' education do not choose charter schools. Thus their kids -- obviously likely to be the most challenged and challenging -- are left in the traditional public schools.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bringing in Obama when they did was a stroke of genius for TPTB. 'Liberals' and 'progressives' have been largely neutered. Bush was routinely compared with Hitler for his military aggression abroad and corporatism at home. Obama escalates Bush policies on all fronts and what do we hear from the Left? Mostly excuses.

July 17, 2009 7:26 AM  

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