…federal programs have fueled and accelerated the privatization movement. The constant barrage of bad news, based on unrealistic goals, was used to justify hostile takeovers, profiteering, mass layoffs, and a death sentence for too many schools, in an effort to convince the public that this was the only way to address low achievement. The stories of escalating failure acted as a sort of “shock doctrine” that make almost any remedy seem palatable. The promoters of privatization promised miracles that would shame snake-oil salesmen. Their remedies, they claimed, would produce a dramatic increase in test scores and graduation rates. The media, always suckers for “miracle” claims, retailed stories of charter schools or so-called turnaround schools where everyone succeeded, without bothering to examine even the most obvious evidence suggesting exclusionary policies, expulsions, or attrition rates.
Not content with owning the Governor’s office, both houses of the state legislature, and the state school board, the privatizers in Indiana are bent on taking over the only state-wide office supporting public education — the State Department of Education. To that end, Indiana Governor Mike Pence created a duplicate department of education — a “department of privatizing education,” if you will — called the Center for Education and Career Innovation. The CECI is led by chief privatizer, Claire Fiddian-Green. The graphic below shows some of the public money being wasted on a duplicate, pro-privatizing, shadow Department of Education.Doug Martin follows the money…
Without having received one single vote from the Hoosier public, Claire-Fiddian Green will be making $120,000 in taxpayer money a year as Pence’s main CECI helmsperson*. Fiddian-Green was former Democratic mayor Bart Peterson’s princess at the school privatizing Mind Trust and carried the water for the group’s CEO David Harris, the tie-wearing $200,000-a-year paid corporate slackie. Fiddian-Green comes from mega-drug giant Eli Lilly, which calls the shots on Indiana education policy from behind the scenes. After leaving the pseudo-liberal Teach for American-promoting Mind Trust, Fiddian-Green went on to run the Indiana Charter School Board, where she had a killer privatizing team with member Todd Huston, who gets a paycheck from those selling Bill Gates’ Common Core. Now a legislator, Huston left his job as Tony Bennett’s chief of staff to land a gig with Cisco Systems, then turned around and sold Bennett video-conferencing equipment from Cisco which was never used, some of it never even delivered. It cost Indiana taxpayers $1.7 million.
Ohio legislators aren’t even trying to hide their group favoritism for charter schools. Charters get more money…
Next year, for example, charter schools could get an estimated $7,392 per student in state aid while traditional public school districts will get only $3,895 per student on average, according to draft funding The Enquirer obtained from the Senate this week.
…and they aren’t required to follow the same requirements. Parents who think they’re getting the same education as in public schools should think again. Here are just two of over 150 state laws from which charter schools are exempt…
3313.60: School course of study requirement
A sentence or two can’t quite do this one justice, and you really need to click the link and read the law to get the full effect, but a summary of the law reads like this: [A school district] shall prescribe a curriculum for all schools under its control … in any such curriculum there shall be included the study of the following subjects: The language arts, including reading, writing, spelling, oral and written English, and literature; Geography, the history of the United States and of Ohio, and national, state, and local government in the United States; Mathematics; Natural science, including instruction in the conservation of natural resources; Health education; Physical education; The fine arts, including music; First aid.
Charter schools? EXEMPT
3313.602(B) and (C) – Requirement that the “principles of democracy and ethics” be emphasized and discussed in appropriate parts of the curriculum and to encourage a school’s employees to be cognizant of their roles to instill in students “ethical principles and democratic ideals”.
This might explain why charter school proponents are able to, with a straight face and clean conscience, continue spreading the lie about them being “more accountable” than public schools — no need for those pesky ethical principles.
Charter Schools? EXEMPT [Emphasis Added]
Not to be outdone by its Midwest neighbors, Michigan is also giving away tax-payer’s money to privatizers.
But as overall enrollment was falling, charter schools were growing: They had 120,000 students in Michigan at the end of the last school year and the number of schools rose by 8 percent for this school year, to 298.
Michigan’s Electablog reports: “This is no accident. It’s a plan that’s been in place by those who wish to diminish the ability of teachers to bargain collectively for wages, benefits, and working conditions and to redirect tax dollars earmarked for educating our children into the coffers of for-profit charter school companies.”
In short, this is the culmination of efforts to privatize public education, remove any rights of teachers, and replace public education with profit-making businesses.
It’s a simple formula which is being repeated all over the country — Buy politicians, who blame schools and teachers for low achievement caused by high poverty and, in turn, throw public money to their donors. It doesn’t really matter what the locals want (think: Choice?).
Governor Bob McDonnell received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from virtual learning company K12 Inc., and promptly requested the introduction of ALEC model legislation to expand virtual education in 2010.
It passed in the Virginia legislature, and K12 Inc. swung into action in Carroll County, one of the state’s most impoverished counties, to maximize the public money it would receive. Even when the school board voted to close K12 Inc. down because it did worse than traditional schools on 20 out of 22 measures, Virginia legislators with ALEC connections enacted a law in 2012 requiring high school students to take an online course to graduate.
Do any of the teachers in your community make $19 million a year paid for by the taxpayers?
K12 Inc. is a publicly-traded (NYSE: LRN) for-profit, online education company headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. On its own and as a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), K12 Inc. has pushed a national agenda to replace bricks and mortar classrooms with computers and replace actual teachers with “virtual” ones. As K12 Inc. notes in its most recent 10-K, “most of (its) revenues depend on per pupil funding amounts and payment formulas” from government contracts for virtual public charter schools and “blended schools” (combining online with traditional instruction), among other products.
In 2013, K12 Inc. took in $848.2 million from its business, with $730.8 million coming from its “managed public schools” and thus the U.S. taxpayer (10-K, p. 69). In other words, over 86 percent of the company’s profits are due to taxpayers.
What does K12 Inc. do with all that money? According to new data, it does not educate children very well (only 27.7 percent of K12 Inc. online schools met state standards in 2010-2011, compared to 52 percent of public schools), but it does pay its CEO very well. From 2009-2013, Packard made over $19 million in compensation, and compensation to his top executives skyrocketed 96 percent in 2013. Thank you taxpayers!
America is the land of child poverty. We lead the so-called “developed” world in this unenviable statistic. We should be ashamed, but, instead, we allow, and even encourage, politicians paid by privatizers to take taxpayer’s money from public education and drop it in the pockets of edupreneurs. High achieving nations provide more resources for children with greater needs. We do just the opposite.
The privatizers clamor for vouchers and charters to improve education, but such methods generally don’t serve those who need it most. According to a Center on Education Policy report, private schools serve 12 percent of the nation’s elementary and secondary students, but only one percent of disabled students. Forty-three percent of public school students are from minority families, compared to 24% of private school students.
Meanwhile, as teachers continue to get blamed, the Census Bureau tells us that an incredible 38 percent of black children live in poverty.
The lie continues. Privatizers push charter schools and vouchers and claim that children will get a better education. Meanwhile for-profit companies benefit, not children and the choice belongs to the privatizers, not the parents.
Greater school choice for families and greater autonomy for schools leads to greater academic outcomes, right? Maybe not. Using two nationally representative datasets, we recently conducted one of the most comprehensive studies ever performed of school type and achievement in mathematics—a subject widely held to be the best measure of in-school learning. We analyzed instruction and performance for over 300,000 elementary and middle school students in 15,108 public, charter, and private schools. What we found surprised us. Students in public schools actually outperform those in private schools.
Here’s an article from a science blogger…proof that the truth is starting to spread.
But this also requires more than education. It also requires that we make sure those kids are well-fed from infancy forward, which means expanding our food aid system from the paltry food stamp program we currently have (and which is now being cut even more). A child who is undernourished in their early years is a child who is much more likely to fail educationally once they get to school. Poor children start off by giving wealthier kids a huge head start, guaranteeing inequality at every stage later.
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.