“Failing” Schools, Local Control, Money
In order to cash in on public money spent on education charter school promoters insist that charters are “public schools.” However, in the eyes of the charter operators themselves, when they are put under pressure by the public to “act” like public schools they become private entities. See here, here, here, and here.
Now, the federal government has gotten into the discussion and has decided, through a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that charter schools are, indeed, private.
In other words, charter schools are just another voucher plan that transfers money intended for public education into private pockets.
A recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), concludes that charter schools are private and efforts to start teachers unions in them should fall under their purview, rather than the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) which oversees the public sector.
The decision stemmed from efforts by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) to unionize teachers at the Hyde Leadership charter school in Brooklyn.
PERB had asserted jurisdiction over the school, but the union ended up arguing that organizing efforts should be overseen by the NLRB which administers labor law in the private sector.
The NLRB in its decision, concluded that “Hyde was not established by a state or local government, and is not itself a public school.”
Local public school systems generally face a significant amount of opposition when they try to close a public school. Public meetings are held, parents argue for keeping their children’s school open, alumni come back to talk about the impact the school had on their lives, and citizens argue that the school is an integral part of the community. Closing a public school is often a time-consuming and traumatic experience for the community and the students (See this article about schools closing in my community).
Free-market proponents want schools to be subject to the whims of the marketplace. In such a system, they believe, “bad” schools will close and “good” schools will be supported. The problem is that school closings hurt children. Two weeks before school started, this charter school in Detroit closed its doors. Parents are left having to frantically search for another school for their children. This, it seems to me, is an important benefit of a public school system under the oversight of an elected school board. Real public schools don’t close two weeks before school starts, or in the middle of the year. School boards generally create a plan for relocating students from schools which are closed.
But for the charter industry…school closing is a feature, not a bug.
Just two weeks before the first day of class, a charter school on Detroit’s west side notified parents and students today that the high school has closed.
Officials for University YES Academy held an impromptu meeting today to tell high school students they needed to find another school to attend. Only parents and students were allowed in the meeting, and they were barred from using recording devices.
…as charter schools expand their reach across the country and every year educate a larger share of the nation’s children, the issue of racial segregation has raised significant concerns among integration advocates who warn that it can push low-income students into low-achieving schools and reduce the resources going to high-needs schools.
Even at schools like Tindley that are relatively high performing, critics say graduates will be less prepared to interact with people from different backgrounds later in life.
WHY TEACHERS QUIT
How do teachers live with the cognitive dissonance inherent in today’s educational environment? How can you justify government sponsored malpractice? Each teacher must decide if they can do enough to overcome the damage done by the test-and-punish education promoted by statehouses and the the US Education Department, or whether they will succumb to that which hurts their students.
Teachers must decide…do they stay or do they go? Either way they choose, teachers usually feel guilty.
There are some who say that teachers who recognize the draconian classroom goals and objectives and their professional emasculation, should all quit. They should announce to the world that they hate high-stakes testing, or Common Core, Competency-Based Education (CBE), or an innumerable array of insidious reforms, and then they should proudly stake their career on their beliefs and walk out the door.
Some do this, and then they go fight like hell for the rights of teachers and students.
Some teachers of like mind, ban together and put up a fight, like the teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School who boycotted testing.
Some teachers cry for awhile, then they turn away. They believe the only thing they can do is work on something else that will bring joy and happiness. They focus on their corner of the world, where they feel they have some control.
Who’s the best kind of teacher? That is not for me to judge, although I wonder about teachers who buy into every school reform that comes their way.
Every teacher must make up their own mind what their career means to them and how to best serve the children in their care. And there are always a whole lot of deeply personal outside factors that enter into the decision.
Are America’s public schools failing? The latest PDK poll once again reports that people who have children in public schools give their schools a good rating. Approximately two-thirds of public school parents rate their local schools as an A or B. When you add a grade of C, the number increases to 90%. Nationally, schools are rated much lower. Why? Could it be that the media, politicians, pundits, and “reformers” are promoting the myth of America’s “failing public schools?” What do local parents know that the general public doesn’t?
Stephen Krashen provides an answer to the questions above…
The explanation: Parents have direct information about the school their children attend, but their opinion of American education comes from the media. For decades, the media has been reporting more academic failure than actually exists.
No two public schools are alike…
A simple solution infers that a single strategy, or group of strategies, will be sufficient to address problems across a wide variety of settings–in this case, our public schools. As anyone who has ever spent a day teaching in a public school knows, no two public schools are alike, so the notion that any one idea or approach holds the answer to wide-spread, systemic change in an ecosystem as large and diverse as America’s public school system is either naive or disingenuous. And neither of those traits is a good thing when it comes to making suggestions about our nation’s education policy.
MONEY DOES NOT MEAN EXPERTISE
Bill Gates can’t understand that he’s not an education expert simply because he’s rich. Nate Bowling does his best to explain things.
At the beginning of 2016, Bowling wrote a widely-circulated piece entitled “The Conversation I’m Tired of Not Having” in which he comes down hard on the idea of setting aside questions of education policy until we can honestly grapple with the issues of race and poverty, charging that the powers that be and the folks in the ‘burbs are actually pretty happy with The Way Things Are.
…if the wealthy and super-wealthy had skin in the game, public schools would get the support they need.