PRIVATIZATION: PUSH-BACK IN TEXAS
A small group of Texas pastors has come to the aid of public school students focusing on fighting vouchers, and the separation of church and state. The Pastors for Texas Children (PTC) have grown to become a force in the Lone Star State and lead a coalition of public education advocates to push back against the forces of privatization.
Other states have copied the PTC model, In Oklahoma, the Pastors for Oklahoma Kids has started advocating for public education.
Numbers of pastors and educators have started similar groups in other states, including Indiana.
We can’t afford multiple, parallel, state funded, systems of education in Indiana. The state should fund the public schools. Period.
“I am a Baptist Christian. I have certain convictions that have shaped my experience of God, faith, church and – frankly – I don’t want my tax dollars supporting religious programs that I don’t agree with, any more than my friends of other faith traditions don’t want their tax dollars supporting religious programs that might adhere to my own beliefs,” he said.
…The powerful case offered by Johnson and Pastors for Texas Children, however, could have many rethinking the blurring line between government and Indiana’s church-based schools.
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has organized a petition campaign in opposition to Purdue’s acquisition of Kaplan University, a for-profit company. This new aspect of Purdue’s university system will be named Purdue University Global.
The problem according to the AAUP is that, under a move by Governor Holcomb, all this would be exempt from public open records laws. This, says AAUP, does what most privatization schemes does…it favors shareholders over students.
Senators Sherrod Brown and Dick Durbin are concerned about the predatory history of for-profit colleges and urge transparency.
According to AAUP,
The Purdue-Kaplan deal puts Kaplan shareholders over Purdue students.
- Pays 12.5% of revenue to Kaplan after operating costs are met
- Pays Kaplan an “efficiency payment” of 20% of any cuts in operating cost
The Purdue-Kaplan deal takes resources from a public university and gives them to a private corporation.
- Gives tax revenues and Indiana’s scholarship money, like the 21st Century Scholars Program, to a private corporation
- Establishes a “public-benefit corporation” operated by and for the profit of Kaplan
A charter school buys its building, then rents it to itself. The rent, of course, is reimbursed by the state. The school’s CEO calls it “a great perk.”
Like many charter schools, Executive Education Academy spends a good chunk of its budget on rent, some of which is later reimbursed by the state. That’s allowed, as long as the school doesn’t own its building, which Executive Academy doesn’t — technically.
The school at 555 Union Blvd., Allentown, is owned by the Executive Education Academy Charter School Foundation, a nonprofit set up solely to support the school. The school used to pay about $2.2 million a year in rent to a private landlord and get $100,000 back from the state.
Now the school will pay $2.3 million a year in rent to its foundation, which bought the building last summer, and still be able to apply for reimbursements from the state.
“That’s not the reason why we would do this, but that’s a great perk for a charter school,” said Robert Lysek, the school’s CEO. “I hate to say ‘it is what it is,’ but it kind of is.”
Read this story about how charter schools enrich their executives and end up closing in the middle of the school year, leaving parents and students scrambling for a new school (Note: Naturally, they often end up back at the stable, traditional, and open to all, public schools).
The lack of public oversight often leaves parents and children with few options. Whose choice?
The issue of charter schools funneling payments through entities owned by executives is not unique to Discovery Creemos.
A study by GCI last year found 77 percent of charter schools engage in business transactions involving their owners, board members or their families, a practice known as “self-dealing” or “related-party transactions.”
…IN NEW YORK
The bottom line for corporate owned, privatized schools, is profit, not children. In-house training would allow those schools to hire cheaper, and therefore, more profitable, teachers…oh, and they wouldn’t have to worry about that pesky teachers union, either.
The regulations allow SUNY-authorized charter schools to certify teachers who complete the equivalent of a month of classroom instruction and practice teaching for 40 hours — compared to at least 100 hours under the state’s certification route, according to the lawsuit. And unlike teachers on a traditional certification route, they are not required to earn a master’s degree or take all of the state’s certification exams.
When my local school district decided to close four elementary schools (three of which I had worked in!) due to funding shortfalls and declining enrollment, local members of the school board held town meetings all across the district to hear from citizens and explain why they wanted to do what they were going to do. The process took an entire year…and many voters were against the plan. If they chose to, those voters were able to exercise their displeasure with the plan during the following school board election.
Unfortunately, parents who patronize charter schools, and teachers who work in such schools, have no such electoral protection. Parents, students, and teachers, have no “choice” when a charter school closes. The money is gone. The students’ educational year is disrupted. Teachers are out of a job.
Parents began looking for transcripts and were trying to get their kids transferred to new schools. Teachers were waiting for stipends and belongings from their classrooms.
While reading a prepared statement, Contreras-Douglas got emotional. She insisted staff was aware of the school’s low enrollment and financial troubles before shutting down Wednesday.
“Several meetings with teaching staff were conducted to specifically address this issue throughout the school year,” Contreras-Douglas said.
But teachers say they didn’t have any idea the school was closing until it happened.
Public schools have locally elected and locally based school boards. The schools are subject to the financial oversight of both the local school board and the state department of education.
Charter schools ought to have the same public oversight.
This legislation speaks to the bigger issue of what we want charters to be. When they first came into being, the intent of charters was to be laboratories where alternative approaches could be tested without the interference of public-school bureaucracies. Many have succeeded doing exactly that.
But some ideologues are trying to use charters as the leading edge of an educational disruption movement with the intent of dismantling the public school system and the teachers union, replacing it with a marketplace where every parent goes shopping for schools. In that view, the state school board represents market suppression.
PRIVATIZATION: PUSH-BACK AGAINST “CHOICE” IN IOWA
Thousands of Iowans are pushing back against “school-choice” in Iowa.
A grassroots group made up of Iowa public school parents and activists is fighting what organizers say is an onslaught from lawmakers intent on eroding the state’s public education system.
Iowans for Public Education was formed online in November 2016 after Republicans won majorities in both the Iowa House and Senate. It has since grown to more than 12,500 followers.
The group organized a Teachers Rally last February that brought thousands to the Iowa Capitol grounds to oppose changes to Iowa’s collective bargaining law. It has launched petitions and letter-writing campaigns.