Let’s ask about the money

Anne Laurie wrote yesterday about lobbyist Michelle Rhee’s latest media blitz to promote the privatization of public education. The word on the (lively!) pro-public education blogs is that Rhee is launching this blitz ahead of Frontline raising questions about whether the district she ran cheated on any of the many, many standardized tests she insists you purchase. Here, lobbyist Rhee has joined with Joel Klein to deliver another stern lecture on why we have to deregulate public education. Joel Klein was Mayor Bloomberg’s school reformer until Klein hit the revolving door between public employment and lucrative lobbying, and he now works for noted education specialist and corrupt plutocrat Rupert Murdoch.

I’m amused that we’ve decided to outsource education policy to a person who (allegedly) has some ethical issues regarding cheating on tests and another who works for the media owner who has created the least- informed audience in the country. Isn’t cheating on tests generally frowned upon in educational circles? I was a lousy student in high school- I didn’t like school and I didn’t work very hard-but I always prided myself on drawing the line at cheating. I was a juvenile delinquent, sure, but I had standards. As Michelle Rhee might say I had “no excuses.”

Worse than the ethical clouds and the plutocrat connections, however, is the failure of the national celebrity school reformers to mention this:

Increasingly, locally elected school officials are finding their districts competing against charter schools allied with big organizations with big money and their own ideas for students.
“It’s had a large impact on the growth of charter school reform,” said Gary Miron, an education professor at Western Michigan University who studies charter schools.
The number of education management organizations has exploded on the national scene — for-profit groups growing from five in 1995-96 to 99 in 2010-11 and nonprofit organizations growing from 48 in 1998 to 197 in 2010-11 — according to the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder.
That report showed that 35 percent of all public charter schools in the nation were operated by education management organizations — both for-profit and nonprofit — enrolling 42 percent of the nation’s charter school students.
Mr. Miron said charter school growth plateaued around 2001-02 but got a significant boost from education management organizations.
Ron Cowell, president of the Education Policy and Leadership Council and a state legislator when the charter school law was passed, said the Legislature didn’t envision “this idea of a national outfit deciding that there’s a business profit-making opportunity in Pennsylvania and they would come in and either help to establish a not-for-profit or find a not-for-profit.”
As education management organizations grew, they began to play a major role in fostering growth of charter schools, including encouraging the formation of some cyber charter schools which attract thousands of students.
“What we are having now is private control of public schools,” said Mr. Miron.
As a publicly traded company, K12 releases certain data for investors, including the fact that former financial analyst Ronald Packard, who founded K12 in 2000, served as CEO at a salary of $618,942 for fiscal year 2012. His total compensation was $3.96 million.
In Pennsylvania, the three charter schools that spent the most overall — all cyber charter schools — used education management organizations for at least some functions.
In Pennsylvania, there are efforts to pass legislation that would put charters under the same laws and regulations that apply to traditional districts and that aim to promote transparency and guard against conflicts of interest and ethical violations.
“I think charter schools are here to stay,” said Mr. Cowell. “They ought to be part of the public school menu, but charter schools also should be required to operate under the same rules that other public schools operate by around accountability for student performance and accountability for the use of taxpayer money.”

Education reformers never mention this part. They never mention profit. They never mention how incredibly lucrative school reform has become for the owners, executives and managers (although not the teachers or lower-level support employees). They must be aware of it. Privatization is happening all over the country; in Ohio, in Michigan, in Indiana, in Florida. Privatization is what follows immediately after reformers get done union busting and deregulating.

Rhee never addresses it, Bloomberg never addresses it, Arne Duncan and President Obama never address it and certainly the media personalities who promote school reform never ask about it. This is public money. Don’t school reformers have a duty to let people know they sold us “public school reform” and it’s now turned into privatization? I’ve actually looked for an opportunity to ask Arne Duncan about this, in person, but he doesn’t seem to come out to Ohio or meet with anyone not named “Gates” or “Broad”, so no help there. Perhaps I could impersonate a Wal Mart heir and get his attention that way. How are we NOT talking about where the public money goes? When people signed on to school reform, were they aware school reformers would be answering to shareholders rather than parents? Why is Rhee advocating more deregulation when we obviously can’t properly regulate the for-profits now?

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

66 replies
  1. 1
    Sly says:

    Klein was the one who foisted Rhee upon the public in the first place. Rhee headed up a teacher training consulting firm in NYC called The New Teacher Project, which worked closely with Klein starting when he first became Chancellor of NYC schools in 2002. It was Klein who recommended Rhee to Mayor Fenty of D.C. to be their Chancellor in 2007.

  2. 2
    lol says:

    As a publicly traded company, K12 releases certain data for investors, including the fact that former financial analyst Ronald Packard, who founded K12 in 2000, served as CEO at a salary of $618,942 for fiscal year 2012. His total compensation was $3.96 million

    Can you imagine the outcry if a public school district superintendent made that much money in 10 years let alone one?

  3. 3
    Kay says:

    @Sly:

    It’s an amazingly inter-connected group. You need a sketch, with arrows.

  4. 4
    Kay says:

    @lol:

    Ohio has a hot charter school scandal right now where the CEO paid herself 300k a year. She also hired her entire family.

  5. 5

    And here we have “Oregon charter school founders accused in $20 million racketeering lawsuit.”

    Where does teh stooopid come from? If a government spends a penny over, there’s outrage. But let a private organization loose $20 million and it’s “meh.”

  6. 6
    Deen says:

    Isn’t cheating on tests generally frowned upon in educational circles?

    Ah, I see what your problem is – you still think it’s education, while in actuality it’s business. And after sufficient deregulation, “cheating” becomes “great business model”.

  7. 7
    Broken Wingnut Tautology says:

    Profits made by shareholders are blameless and holy.

    Profit made by schoolteachers is evidence of how lazy and shiftless they are collectively.

    In the end, all forms of profit are equal, but some are more equal than others.

  8. 8
    Rich2506 says:

    As far as cheating goes, I control the spam for an IMC site and zap out a number of advertisements promoting “We’ll write your school paper for you!” One of them said “If you’re just too busy to write papers…” I was like “Wha-a-at?!?!?!?!” Dude, if you’re “too busy” to perform an essential function of being as student, you have no business being a student in the first place!

  9. 9
    Keith G says:

    I used to be highly anxious about what I saw to be the pernicious process and effects of education privatization. I am feeling better as I see the air is being let out of that bubble. Usable data is becoming more explicit and the snake oil peddlers are being found out.

    The conflict is not totally over, but analysis of marginal increase in educational outcome for extra dollar spend is showing privatization to not be the wondrous success story it was initially trumpeted to be. I think centrists in both political leadership and the general public are now much more suspicious of the claims made by privatization proponents. At least this is what I perceive here in coastal Texas.

    To be clear, I think there can be an important niche role for wholesomely regulated, privately run charters.

  10. 10
    Roger Moore says:

    Isn’t cheating on tests generally frowned upon in educational circles?

    This isn’t about education anymore. It’s a confidence game with public money. The goal isn’t to educate our kids, it’s to convince the public that we’re educating our kids for long enough to eviscerate the public school system and turn it into a corporate cash funnel.

  11. 11
    Face says:

    whether the district she ran cheated on any of the many, many standardized tests

    From everything I’ve read, she absolutely did. And got paid a fuckton of money b/c of it.

  12. 12
    jp7505a says:

    Two comments on this.
    1. We have been ‘reforming’ education since at least 1983 and still haven’t gotten it right. Meanwhile Singapore, S. Korea and a host of other countries routinely beat the US in the international testing scores. Maybe we should see what it is that THEY are doing since it seems to be working.

    2. AN article in WAPO discusses Rhee’s latest report card on education reform. Louisiana comes in at the top of the list as the best performer. This is a state that funds schools that teach that Jesus rode dinosaurs. Why anyone would take her seriously is beyond me. But then Bernie Madoff was a financial wizard, until he wasn’t

  13. 13
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Keith G: I agree, I think school reform is going to become a highly unpopular idea in the next few years. We should throw them an anchor and start calling charter schools McSchools.

  14. 14
    jayackroyd says:

    Public-private partnership. It’s the third way.

  15. 15
    Kay says:

    @Face:

    Frontline has been great about for-profit education. The last series they did was on for-profit colleges, so I hope they’re moving to for-profit K-12.

    Meanwhile, NBC had for-profit colleges sponsoring their “education series”. So sad. This big University of Phoenix banner behind the assembled governors. Just so you know who’s really running the show.

  16. 16
    BGinCHI says:

    Educating is hard work. Creating and managing a system that works for so many people in different socio-economic areas is even harder.

    People who want to make a profit do not want to solve these problems. They want to benefit.

    If the privatization model keeps chugging forward, you are going to see a big drop in people entering the K-12 teaching profession. The pay gets worse, the work gets more bureaucratic and more thankless, and our culture does not appreciate the work being done. Young people are already starting to walk away.

  17. 17
    Dave says:

    Kay, as ever, stands out as the most informative writer here.

    You should have a paid gig at MoJo or something.

  18. 18
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Ohio has a hot charter school scandal right now where the CEO paid herself 300k a year. She also hired her entire family.

    @Kay: We had one locally here at one of our elementary schools, same deal except the salary was a cool 500k per year. They the “company” closed the school with no warning in the middle of the year.

    The district let them keep the money if they promised to vacate the building without any legal action. Which they did.

  19. 19
    SatanicPanic says:

    @jp7505a: I know what you’re saying about S Korea, Singapore and maybe it isn’t a good comparison, but I have some experience with Japanese schools, and I’d prefer we just continue to have crappy scores than go that route. I’m not convinced that good schooling had much to do America’s past success in the first place.

  20. 20
    Karounie says:

    @Keith G:

    Any attempt on the part of communities flush away the snake oil is going to be expensive. There have been some big lawsuit settlements – the equivalent of golden parachutes – to get them to go away.

  21. 21
    scav says:

    @Broken Wingnut Tautology: Profits made by shareholders are blameless and holy

    pretty soon they’ll follow the example of AIG and consider suing the public school districts and local governments for denying them and those same holy shareholders their reasonable profit off every child in the monopolized zone.

  22. 22
    Chris says:

    @jp7505a:

    1. We have been ‘reforming’ education since at least 1983 and still haven’t gotten it right. Meanwhile Singapore, S. Korea and a host of other countries routinely beat the US in the international testing scores. Maybe we should see what it is that THEY are doing since it seems to be working.

    You know, that’s pretty much my solution to everything;

    1) What’s wrong?

    2) Have any other countries had this problem?

    3) If so, have any of them done a reasonable job of dealing with it?

    4) If so, how do we take what they’ve done and imitate it over here?

    (Heck, it’s no different from third world countries asking for training from the U.S. military because they recognize that it’s damn good at what it does).

    But it simply cannot happen. We simply MUST NOT, EVER, admit that ANYONE, anywhere on Earth is capable of doing ANYTHING better than we can, and even if it were possible, we still would be honor-bound to not imitate them, because American Exceptionalism and shut up that’s why.

  23. 23
    Kay says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    The district let them keep the money if they promised to vacate the building without any legal action. Which they did.

    I’m actually surprised they hadn’t transferred title to the for-profit operator. That happened in Ohio. The last I looked it was still in a common pleas (county) court and the parent-board wasn’t doing too well getting their property back. It’s happening in Pennsylvania, too. They’re actually guaranteeing construction loans for private operators in Pennsylvania, but then, the 4 biggest campaign donors in the state are charter school operators, so maybe it’s not surprising.

  24. 24
    cyntax says:

    @BGinCHI:

    If the privatization model keeps chugging forward, you are going to see a big drop in people entering the K-12 teaching profession.

    What I found interesting were the few people I ran across in my masters program that were going into charter schools. Most everyone wanted to teach at some sort of public school (this program was specifically designed for teaching English at the community college level) but there were a couple people who were teaching at charter schools and planned to continue doing that. I asked them a few general questions but never felt quite right going with the “What the hell are you thinking?” line of questioning.

  25. 25
    BGinCHI says:

    @cyntax: There is an allure there. Especially with new schools where there is a lot of energy and “new thinking.”

    But in my experience, my students who go that route get burned out really fast.

    Look, education is not a flashy, sexy business at the level of actually educating people (especially very young people). It takes patience and commitment and the willingness to fail, then try again, perhaps fail better. It’s not, I repeat, NOT an exact science.

    No amount of testing will make people smarter. It isn’t the test that teaches.

  26. 26
    Bulworth says:

    The reformer’s “deregulated” schools somehow don’t sound very decentralized. In fact, the opposite. And unaccountable, or at least unaccoutable to the public.

  27. 27
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Maybe we should see what it is that THEY are doing since it seems to be working.

    @jp7505a: I’ll tell you, it’s not rocket science.

    1. Classrooms that are wholly homogeneous: Same social and economic class, one ethnicity, one culture.

    2. Exclusion of “special ed” kids: The United States is the only nation on the planet that puts sped kids (for want of a better term) in with mainstream classroom kids, and includes their scores in the total testing results. Ask any teacher on the record how well this works, they’ll tell you it’s great. Ask them off the record and you’ll get the truth – it’s been a total disaster for all the kids.

    3. Teacher pay/social status: In countries such as Finland, South Korea and Singapore, teachers make as much money as doctors and lawyers, are treated with utmost deference, and their word in the classroom is law. Here in the US, we have states that pay teachers minimum wage, the media mocks them openly, and parents think nothing of suing a school district to force a teacher to reverse a justly earned failing grade.

    There are other reasons, but these are the big three. We just don’t give a shit about education in this society, is what it boils down to. Never have. We just care about the piece of paper, diploma and degree, and how much money getting one can earn you.

  28. 28
  29. 29
    dead existentialist says:

    @jp7505a:

    Maybe we should see what it is that THEY are doing since it seems to be working.

    Because American Exceptionalism, that’s why.

    ETA: Rats! Chris beat me to it. Like the American educational system, I are all fail.

  30. 30
    Joel says:

    Rhee is married to Kevin Johnson, which is too bad because I always liked KJ.

  31. 31
    Miki says:

    This, in a[n] gently edited nutshell, says it all –

    Privatization is what follows immediately after reformers get done union busting and deregulating…. This is public money…. How are we NOT talking about where the public money goes? When people signed on to school reform, were they aware school reformers would be answering to shareholders rather than parents?

  32. 32
    Barry says:

    @Chris: “But it simply cannot happen. We simply MUST NOT, EVER, admit that ANYONE, anywhere on Earth is capable of doing ANYTHING better than we can, and even if it were possible, we still would be honor-bound to not imitate them, because American Exceptionalism and shut up that’s why. ”

    It’s far, far worse than that. Take Finland. If we were to try to imitate them, we’d:

    Cut poverty by amazing amounts.
    Make teaching an elite and respected profession.
    Give teachers massive freedom.

    None of which the neoliberals want to do.

  33. 33
    Kay says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    the media mocks them openly, and parents think nothing of suing a school district to force a teacher to reverse a justly earned failing grade.

    That never made sense to me, either. Media and conservatives spout this nonsense about education but they constantly trash teachers. Do they think kids are deaf? You can’t talk trash about teachers in your house and then send your kids out with instructions to “respect” them. That’s not going to work. The whole mindset is bizarre. When Christie spit out that venom that teachers were “babysitters!” am I the only person in the country who was thinking “WTF?”
    Even if teachers were “babysitters”, they’re not, but if they were, babysitters are the people one entrusts their kids to. Do people really have contempt for the people they hire to care for their kids? “Those disgusting… BABYSITTERS!”

    I think it’s a wildly important job.

  34. 34
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    I’m actually surprised they hadn’t transferred title to the for-profit operator. That happened in Ohio.

    @Kay: Wouldn’t happen here. Our local school boards are quite protective of their property. This is Southern California oceanview property, the land alone is worth over 2 million an acre. The citizens would crucify (literally) a school board that did such a stupid thing.

    I guess I should be grateful.

  35. 35
    cyntax says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Now that you mention it, I think you may be right about the allure of the “new thinking.” Also, at least here in the Bay Area, it’s much easier to find a job at a charter school than at one of the more prestigious community colleges. The first full time position I applied for had 170+ applicants.

  36. 36
    Kay says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    I think I’m protected from reformers in the other direction. We have rural districts and I don’t think there are enough stray students around to make this county a profitable venture. People would object anyway. The public school is the center of the place. It’s as much a community center as a school district. Without public school activities we’d never see one another.

  37. 37
    gene108 says:

    President Obama never address it

    Obama’s problem with public education is he’s never been a part of it.

    He’s always gone to private schools.

    He’s a hypercompetitive alpha male. He doesn’t understand us slackards, who don’t want to be President or go to Harvard Law School.

    To him, not pushing to do these things isn’t acceptable. He wants to push everyone to conform to his standards.

    He doesn’t get that what made American education great was the flexibility people had to socialize, be creative and explore opportunities, rather than be driven to get a top mark on an exam or be the best in their class.

    As good as Obama’s been on a whole front of issues, he just doesn’t have it in him to understand the importance of public education, the importance of the “chaos” local school districts brought to the table – I went to college, with people from rural NC, who had farm oriented classes in high school, because that was important in that district – or the importance of teacher autonomy.

    I really don’t see anyone, whose been a product of the public education system step into place to challenge President Obama or Arne Duncan or other reformers.

  38. 38
    Tokyokie says:

    I’m not sure what lessons we can learn from South Korea and Singapore. Both those countries are pretty ethnically and culturally homogeneous, and I believe that similarly ethnically and culturally homogeneous U.S. suburban systems are considered to be doing well.

  39. 39
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    You can’t talk trash about teachers in your house and then send your kids out with instructions to “respect” them.

    @Kay: But parents don’t do that. They tell their kids their teachers are assholes and moochers (I have emails to prove it) and frankly I’ve gotta hand it to most of the kids in that they don’t act like they believe it.

  40. 40
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    From the article:

    “The EMO will do a market analysis and decide where they want to locate a charter school

    Really? Because I thought charter schools were supposed to be due to poor local schools and parental demand.

  41. 41
    Kay says:

    @gene108:

    Yeah, I supported him as you know. I think education is his biggest failure. It depresses me.

    I loathe Arne Duncan. I can’t listen to him speak. It’s just that marketing language that I have really come to hate. The whole thing with the tuxedo and the starry-eyed worship of Bill Gates, ugh. I just think he has absolutely nothing to do with the reality of public schools here. He’s irrelevant to my experience.

  42. 42
    RSR says:

    It’s all about feeding at the public trough. The FBI has charged a charter school founder here in the Philadelphia region with $6 million in fraud over about four years!

    http://www.fbi.gov/philadelphi.....aud-scheme

    My wife once ran into her at a professional development event, and she asked if the public school teachers were being compensated for being there. “Yes,” replied my wife. “I don’t believe in that,” Ms. Brown responded, while wearing her fur coat. So her compensation: good; and my wife’s: bad.

    Also, look at the idea of having armed guards in every school. Mother Jones reports that the NRA’s School Shield program is headed by Asa Hutchinson, who sits on the board of a company that stands to benefit from the program. Yet another way to suck money out of the educational system.

    http://www.motherjones.com/pol.....s-lobbyist

    Keep an eye on Pennsylvania. Besides the charter movement in general, the lack of success, the fraud and indictments, Philadelphia teachers are about to open up new contract negotiations. I’m expecting a bitter and protracted battle.

  43. 43
    rikyrah says:

    Charter schools are SCAMS.

    ok there might be a miniscule group that’s not…

    but for the most part it’s a damn SCAM.

  44. 44
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    When they can’t get American teachers, they’ll use H1Bs to hire foreigners.

    Gülen has used his time in America to become the largest operator—or perhaps merely inspirer—of charter schools in the United States. … Thousands of Turkish nationals, almost all of them male, have come to America on H-1B visas specifically to teach in them…..

    The schools claim, according to an article written by Higgins in the Washington Post, that they are unable to find qualified teachers in America—which seems implausible, given that we’re in the depths of the worst economic downturn in postwar memory…

  45. 45
    rikyrah says:

    @Kay:

    I’m with you…of all the people the President has hired I despise Duncan. He’s an unqualified assclown and nobody Black with his lack of resume would ever have gotten the Secretary of Education job.

  46. 46
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Sly: Klein didn’t have a cheating scandal per se, although it turned out that the gains that Bloomberg and he were trumpeting were based on making the tests easier each year. I believe that “scandal” lasted about a week. Klein didn’t just leave for a lucrative job at Fox.

  47. 47
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The goal isn’t to educate our kids, it’s to convince the public that we’re educating our kids for long enough to eviscerate the public school system and turn it into a corporate cash funnel.

    Yup.

    When you think about it, it took them a long time to get around to privatizing education. All those hundreds of billions of dollars, just waiting for some forward-thinking entrepreneurs to roll up their sleeves, get in there, and start siphoning off public funds.

    They’ve gotten away with it largely by demonizing teachers, who they say are “failing.” When was that supposed to have started, exactly? How did we end up with school systems teeming with these supposedly incompetent, lazy, good-for-nothings? My daughter is a senior in high school (in San Diego). I’ve met every teacher she’s had since kindergarten, and sat in on more than a few classes. My non-Rhee-ish assessment: Good to excellent, K-12. And the teachers’ dedication, to a man and woman, has been off my conceptual chart: I can’t even begin to understand how they do it — more than a few of them (the younger ones) under threat of termination at the end of every school year, depending on how the budget works out.

    These coordinated attacks on them, engineered by rapacious, soul-dead corporate raiders, is way beyond infuriating.

  48. 48
    Kay says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I don’t understand why charters get away with fudging attrition rates. I’m not “in education” and I know that if you lose 40% of your entering freshman over 4 years to other schools you can’t then claim a 100% graduation rate.

  49. 49
    Sad_Dem says:

    @Roger Moore:

    This isn’t about education anymore. It’s a confidence game with public money. The goal isn’t to educate our kids, it’s to convince the public that we’re educating our kids for long enough to eviscerate the public school system and turn it into a corporate cash funnel.

    QFT.

  50. 50
    PurpleGirl says:

    On my way out for a few hours… I usually try to avoid education threads because I’m burned out of interest, ideas, whatever, in education and “reform” or improvement.

    Having been raised in NYC and attending its public schools during the 1950s and 1960s I have memories of how things were done in working class schools.

    Then having worked at an educational nonprofit for close to 16 years, I saw another side of the NYC public schools.

    In my job search, I’ve tried to avoid any job involving elementary education. I’m just too tired of and bored by education at this point of my life.

    Not promising to re-read comments later but I might. Forum Transmitted Disease — you’ve got a line on some of the problems.

  51. 51
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Kay: All schools fudge attrition rates. In NYC/NYS, they play a game of “students move and we don’t know where they’re registered now” to avoid calling students drop outs and having them negatively affect graduation and promotion rates. They’ve done it for years.

  52. 52
    Rich2506 says:

    @Chris – Heh! When I got back to the US after a two-year tour in Gaeta, Italy (I served on the Sixth Fleet Flagship, the USS LaSalle AGF-3), I was disappointed by how crappy our train service in Philadelphia was by comparison. I wrote to SEPTA and asked why it was that we couldn’t bring our trains up to the Italian standards. For some reason, they never got back to me.

  53. 53
    Suffern ACE says:

    @PurpleGirl: Was it Indiana or Atlanta where they dropped the poor performing kids from their rolls before the big test dates and then reinstated them after. So basically, a bunch of kids had become drop outs without even knowing it. Or maybe they dropped them for a few weeks so that their scores wouldn’t be counted since they hadn’t been enrolled long enough during the year.

  54. 54
    SatanicPanic says:

    @gene108:

    He doesn’t get that what made American education great was the flexibility people had to socialize, be creative and explore opportunities, rather than be driven to get a top mark on an exam or be the best in their class.

    This. For once I disagree we need to follow the example of other countries, we’ve been doing things right for a long time in education. All we really need to do is fund it.

  55. 55
    catclub says:

    @Dave: “You should have a paid gig at MoJo or something.”

    Oh, so you want her to have the BIG money. None of that mere ‘high two figures’ stuff like The Nation pays.

  56. 56
    catclub says:

    @Kay: “Without public school activities we’d never see one another. ”

    Homeschool kids suing to be allowed to play football is another thing gnawing at support for the public schools. on the other hand it shows how important the public schools still are.

  57. 57
    negative 1 says:

    @Karounie: That’s not really true. Just end their grants. That’s what states would do if they were found to be molesting/harming children. It’s really easy to do. Stop paying them, and they go away.

  58. 58
    Jebediah says:

    @BGinCHI:

    No amount of testing will make people smarter. It isn’t the test that teaches.

    Exactly so. But high-stakes testing sure can fuck up the teaching.

  59. 59
    Antonio says:

    You know, we went through this with Edison Learning in the early aughts. They failed to have the cost reductions they said they would and they failed to improve results. We don’t even need to go look at other countries to know that this didn’t work. We just have to remember 5 years ago.

  60. 60
    Original Lee says:

    @catclub: And suing to be allowed to participate in All-State ensembles. In my state, the schools that participate in All-State fund the ensembles by paying a registration fee. Without that fee, their kids don’t even get to audition. Most of the years my oldest child was eligible, her school cut that line item from the budget, so nobody from her school was in the ensemble. The first year her school paid up, five kids made it in, so it wasn’t as if they lacked talent or anything.

    Many of my friends and acquaintances homeschool and have various reasons, not all of them for religious wingnuttery, but part of their decisionmaking took into account that they were opting out of a bigger system that provided the structure for bands and sports teams and clubs. They found alternatives or near-equivalents for their kids, instead of whining that OMG now there’s something my kid wants to do that only kids who do go to school get to do.

    Grrr.

  61. 61
    dww44 says:

    @Raven: Yeah, I was so sick and disheartened by this vote. Not to say that the amendment was worded to suck in the mostly uninformed voters on the idea that no one could possibly be against providing more choice to parents and students.

    My daughter and son-law teach in the biggest school system in the state and they were explicitly told they couldn’t speak out against the amendment, even though the school system itself was very much anti the charter school amendment. Too much push back from the governor and others.

  62. 62
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: I’m a special ed mom and I’m the first to say that mainstreaming — or what we’re calling “inclusion” these days — isn’t always appropriate.

    But a lot of times it is. Depends on the kid and the disability, the severity of the disability, the grade level, the teachers’ and staffs’ training, the school’s resources and culture, and probably ten other things I can’t think of at the moment.

    It’s possible for a kid to be included in the general ed classroom for some parts of the school day and pulled-out to a different setting for others, again, depending on the kid’s needs and the school’s set-up. Also, the special ed continuum is a long one: did you know that some kids on IEPs have above average IQs?

    It’s worth noting that it really wasn’t that long ago that many special needs kids received no education at all. In my state, in a lot of districts, parents were forced to sign away their kids going to school and in turn were given a little card, about the same size as a credit card. It was to show any authority who accused the kid of being truant that he’d been legally excused from school permanently.

    It was a great step forward for civil rights when the right of children with disabilities to recieve the same free, public education as their typically-developing peers was finally recognized in the late 1970s. Being educated in the least restrictive setting is part of that right, separate not being equal. Really, it’s something we should all be proud of about our country.

    The main underlying issue with special ed is that it is woefully underfunded. The federal government has never lived up to its promise to properly fund it. That leaves schools without the resources they need to do special ed the right way.

    But yeah, including special ed scores in with everyone else’s in order to show that schools are “failing,” that’s a scam, perpetated by those working to undermine/dismantle/privatize public education.

  63. 63
    Bill Murray says:

    @Ohio Mom: My HS graduating class was the first at my school to have mainstreamed students graduate. I have never seen a prouder, happier set of families than those of these students. It really worked for them. Maybe things have changed in the intervening 30 years, but it was definitely worth it for those that i knew

  64. 64
    JoyfulA says:

    My husband read something to me yesterday saying of the 10 worst-performing schools in Pennsylvania, 8 were charters. I can’t find it now, but it fits with the here and there I hear about rip-offs in Philly, gangsters running the charters in Chester, and indictments with cyber schools.

  65. 65
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Bill Murray: What a wonderful memory!

    Research shows that kids who have been included with their typically-developing peers during their school years do better as adults; I like to think that in turn, those of us who are typical are enriched by sharing our school days with them.

    Things *have* changed in the past 30 years, and for the better. Back then not much was known about how to teach and help special needs kids but teachers, given the chance and responsibility, figured a tremendous amount out. I sometimes say that most of the advances in treating and habilitating my kid’s disability, autism, has come not from medical science but from women with master’s degrees.

  66. 66
    Jebediah says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    The main underlying issue with special ed is that it is woefully underfunded. The federal government has never lived up to its promise to properly fund it. That leaves schools without the resources they need to do special ed the right way.

    When I was getting my M. Ed. one of my professors was an administrator in a small district. He told us that when he had students with expensive IEP’s, he would get no extra money. He would just have to find the money – which often meant losing some program or other. If we are going to require public schools to provide FAPE (as we should!) then we should damn well be willing to pay for it. No school should have to lay off a music teacher to accommodate an IEP – we, as a society, should be willing to pony up the extra bucks needed.

Comments are closed.