What “working for public schools” looks like

Wanted to return to school reform industry insider Tony Bennett because as you know I am a student of school reform industry studies.
The Miami Herald, with an outraged editorial:

Tony Bennett slunk away from his job as Florida commissioner of education, leaving us with an ever-deepening distrust of a school-reform movement dominated by for-profit education conglomerates and big-money political donors. He was undone by a grade-fixing scandal of his own making back when he was Indiana superintendent of education (until unhappy voters tossed him out of office in November). But Florida citizens had another reason to doubt Bennett’s objectivity when it comes to charter schools. The Indianapolis Star reported last week that his wife, Tina Bennett, was hired in June by Fort Lauderdale-based Charter Schools USA. It was another of those sweet, moneyed coincidences in Bennett public service. In 2011, he had awarded this very same company nice fat contracts to take over two failing high schools and a middle school in Indianapolis. (One of those schools, T.C. Howe High School, happened to be one of those two schools that had requested but were refused the same kind of waiver granted Christel House last September. Such a small world.) And Charter Schools USA has become one of the big players in the Florida rush to charters.

“During the past 15 years, Florida has embarked on a dramatic shift in public education, steering billions in taxpayer dollars from traditional school districts to independently run charter schools. What started as an educational movement has turned into one of the region’s fastest-growing industries, backed by real-estate developers and promoted by politicians.

Well, obviously, and it’s not just Florida, but what struck me about Bennett’s emails as the parent of a public schooler was not so much that he cooked the scores to benefit the “choice” schools he favors but that in those emails there is no mention, at all, of Indiana public schools. They were changing the scoring. Public schools in Indiana were closed and privatized when they did poorly on Bennett’s grading system. No reformer in state government cared. Public schools aren’t even mentioned. The entire 5 day reformer work week revolved around charter schools. This is a problem because 95% of US public students attend traditional public schools. If you’re not working for public schools (and no one on Bennett’s team was, apparently) you’ve abandoned the vast majority of kids. That’s the deeply unethical part to me of all this, besides all the sleaze. They’re working not for all those kids but for only a select few.

To show you the difference I see between a person actually working for all public schools and Tony Bennett, I’ll go to Fort Wayne Indiana, and show you a letter from school board member. The letter is written in response to this editorial, where a person who supports Bennett-style “reforms” tells us school reform can’t fail it can only be failed. Here’s the school board member’s response:

Thanks for the article posted above. I appreciate your statement in the article that you view the DaHaan charter school as, “stellar” and “amazing” despite its “C” grade. That has been my and others’ point all along. It may very well be stellar, amazing, etc. and still get a C. In fact, it may be all those things even had it receive a “D” or an “F”. The point Tony just could not grasp is that these grades mean so darn little. The school should be evaluated based in part on the standardized assessments but there must be recognition of the challenges faced by the school, the quality of parental involvement, the demographic of the school, the extent of the language barrier in the school, the leadership in the building, the extra-curricular programs, and the willingness and ability of the staff to coordinate the learning experience to bring out the student’s best.
This story leaves me amused, frustrated and angry all at the same time. Amused for obvious reasons – how could anyone with a Ph.D think these really dumb statements would stay secret. Frustrated because I know that the money in the system will continue to influence legislators that the A-F system improves education. But most of all I am angry. South Side High School missed a “C” by one lousy point on this phony grading scale. Many other of our FWCS schools are in the same boat. South Side is not a “D” High School; it is stellar, amazing and deserving of praise. It never received that praise because Tony and the gutless wonders who worked for him (and who should have stood up to him) fixed the system.
I will announce soon that our Board will no longer recognize our schools on the basis of the letter grade assigned by the State. I will apologize for not having taken a stand against the letter grades when we were awarded an “A” (which fell to a “C” as part of the DaHaan grade inflation). We will do what we should have done a long time ago. We will develop our own metrics and award those stellar, amazing schools that work miracles in the lives of our students, regardless of the pay to play designation awarded by the State.
I will continue to take issue with your use of the word “reform” to describe the Bennett policies. Reform connotes improvement that has been proven. The policies initiated by Tony have not reformed anything yet. They have made a lot of people a lot of money. There may come a time when the results of these policies warrant the use of that term, but that day has yet to arrive. Until then, the policies are merely experiments. And if they fail, there will be a lot of young people who will have paid a dear price for Tony’s bluster.

Again, thanks for the article.
Mark E. GiaQuinta, Esq.
HALLER & COLVIN, P.C.
444 East Main Street
Fort Wayne, Indiana

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70 replies
  1. 1
    Tone In DC says:

    I like it.

    I used to work for corporate lawyers, a long time ago on a street far, far away. Very few of them would have made their point as unambiguously as Mr. GiaQuinta.

  2. 2
    👾 Martin says:

    The “, Esq.” is really the crown jewel on that response. As if a LTE on education reform would be strengthened by dropping your credentials as an attorney.

  3. 3
    burnspbesq says:

    And yet … not all charter schools are scams. Here in OC, four of the ten top-performing (by API) schools are innovative charters: a magnet in one of the poorest cities in the county, two schools co-located with community colleges, and the extraordinary arts charter of which my kid is a graduate.

    Shibboleths and painting with broad brushes do no one any good, least of all students.

    This discussion should be about figuring out what actually works and deploying it as broadly as resources permit. It seems like it’s rarely about that.

  4. 4
    Ruckus says:

    Ahh money.
    The driver of everything. Good, bad and the very bad.
    I thought schools were bad when I attended them but of course if something can be made to go wrong it will. This is one of the things that makes me glad I don’t have kids/grandkids. Having to see them go to schools which actively work at not educating them would drive me right around the bend.

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    Thanks for this great post, Kay. You are the cherry on the sundae of this blog.

    I’m glad to see the Herald get involved, though anyone who is just now waking up to Bennett and Rick Scott and the GOP pols running various states has been negligently asleep.

    Public schools are a public trust. People should be outraged that this is happening in a democracy. When Bush tried to privatize SS, folks went crazy, immediately recognizing that it was a give-away to the banks and Wall St. This is NO different.

    The only silver lining I can see is that this surely will raise the consciousness of a lot of people who are getting the shaft in terms of education for their (and other’s) kids. Let’s hope the many rise up and do something about this.

  6. 6
    Kay says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Except a judge just ruled that an OC charter doesn’t have to follow due process when they expell.
    So are they public schools? Or do they get to expell wout DP and dump into the public school system?
    These things have to be dealt with.

  7. 7
    Shakezula says:

    I have to wonder what this will do to the kids, particularly at the high school level when they try to get into college. I can see school admissions looking askance at applications from one of these schools.

  8. 8
    BGinCHI says:

    @burnspbesq: That these charters work does nothing to refute what Bennett and others are doing on a local, state, and even national scale. Nothing above says that “all charters are bad.” This is an effort to expose phony reformers, not sincere ones.

  9. 9
    NobodySpecial says:

    @burnspbesq: Defend charters all you wish. Enabling the scammers is all you’re doing. There’s a big pot of money out there that was previously untouchable by these thieves, they want their hands on it, and you’re abetting them. Every time they work on dismantling public education, you pull out the old pom-poms and give a forlorn wave.

    /golfclap

  10. 10
    Kay says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Ft Wayne is interesting. It’s a small city and a toght community. They resisted :)

  11. 11
    piratedan says:

    @burnspbesq: it’s because a good many of the players are scammers Burnsie, folks that are busy robbing the rubes by teaching creationism or allowing private school de facto segregation after the fact all on the taxpayer’s dime. No one is saying that all charters suck, or that all public schools are noble institutions, shades of gray are in play and the mania with which the right has grasped on the public education straw to use as a new plowshare to illustrate how all gubmint is inefficient and ebil is what the crux of the matter is, i.e. how do we embrace reform without buying the monorail.

  12. 12
    Kay (not the front-pager) says:

    Dang, I wish that guy was a member of my school board. Do you think we can clone him?

  13. 13
    👾 Martin says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Here in OC, four of the ten top-performing (by API) schools are innovative charters: a magnet in one of the poorest cities in the county, two schools co-located with community colleges, and the extraordinary arts charter of which my kid is a graduate.

    If I’m not mistaken, those are all public charters, not private ones.

  14. 14
    BGinCHI says:

    @Kay: Kay, Ft. Wayne is not interesting. Oh, you mean this case of the schools in Ft Wayne. Got it.

    I’m glad to see that lousy little city fighting back, especially given the tide pushing the other way in IN right now.

  15. 15
    sharl says:

    Kay, do you know if anyone has looked at whether the following dynamic maybe took place? (oversimplified, obviously):

    Clinton-era “welfare reform” –> pressure added to schools to help resource-deprived students (feeding, more crisis counseling, etc.) –> schools appear (or actually) start to crack under the pressure of the demands –> $chool Reformer$ look and say “oh hey look hahaha public schools failin’ lets turn them over to private sector those people are geniuses they can do anything!”

    Haven’t read them, but I’m aware that there are some studies out there on the fate of those welfare recipients dropped from the roles back in the 90s. But I’ve been wondering if the “school crisis” – at least that part of it which isn’t a total fabrication by champions of the big money folks in politics and media – may have been driven in significant part by that 90s-era “reform”.

  16. 16
    BGinCHI says:

    Kay, where did you get that excerpt from the GiaQuinta letter? I followed your link but it’s just a story on Bennett from the Star (yuck, though good reporting on this one story).

    Where did his letter appear in the public record?

  17. 17
    Another Holocene Human says:

    During the past 15 years, Florida has embarked on a dramatic shift in public education, steering stealing billions in taxpayer dollars from traditional school districts to independently run charter schools.

    I would post a link to a case of a charter school principle embezzling $150,000 by paying for personal expenses with the school credit card but my local gerbil litter (and late-nite vomit stopper) has unpersoned that particular news item. Hmmmm.

  18. 18
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @sharl: It is totally manufactured in that student aptitude scores have been rising since this current wave of corporate “reform” began.

    I question reform that yanked money out of good educational projects to force kids into high stakes testing, especially when as in Massachusetts the state was already doing diagnostic testing (no stakes, for the students taking the test, thus little incentive to game the results) to identify which schools had the problems.

    Also, how dumb are boomers at a good old shell game or “hide the sausage” when they decide that it makes perfect sense to take money OUT of the failing schools instead of plowing that money IN? See NCLB, state implementation thereof.

    Of course, for some people, that was the plan.

  19. 19
    Roger Moore says:

    @burnspbesq:

    And yet … not all charter schools are scams. Here in OC, four of the ten top-performing (by API) schools are innovative charters: a magnet in one of the poorest cities in the county, two schools co-located with community colleges, and the extraordinary arts charter of which my kid is a graduate.

    So they’re proving the basic charter school principle: you can get good looking test results by cherry picking the best students. If you want a charter school to impress me, find one that takes the students who are being failed by our current system and gets them to graduate.

  20. 20
    Zifnab says:

    We will develop our own metrics and award those stellar, amazing schools that work miracles in the lives of our students, regardless of the pay to play designation awarded by the State.

    Listen, I’m all for sticking it in the eye of the “reform” advocate corporate trolls. That said, why on earth would I accept any rating of any school after this debacle? The whole purpose of the “ratings” regime is to access schools based on merit and in relation to other schools. If a local school district assigns itself a grade – good or bad – why am I not now expected to hold this grade just as suspect as I’d hold any other rating?

    I feel like we’ve got a sort-of “Who watches the watchmen?” dilemma here. I’m honestly on board with a degree of standardized testing for students and a generic rating system for institutions. But I need to know that I can trust the test makers and the graders in ANY such system.

    Can we figure out a transparent, objective, independent method for evaluating the quality of education at classroom and school house level? Right now, everything I’m seeing seems to suggest these ratings schemes are little more than marketing ploys and advertising schemes for a particular political agenda.

  21. 21
    hoodie says:

    The problem I see with charters is there is no evidence they can scale, and it seems very likely they will go bad in the aggregate if there are too many of them. My kids go to a (public) charter middle school. It is a great school, but it has no athletics or music and very little art instruction, and little or no resources for dealing with special needs. They make up for that with some effective instructional techniques, but those could deteriorate quickly due to minor changes in personnel or administration, because the school is really more dependent on individual personalities than any institutionalized process. The idiocy about charters is very similar to the idiocy about vouchers. Do people really believe that we won’t have a proliferation of lousy private schools and/or massive inflation in tuition at the better private schools if suddenly everyone has a government-financed voucher? Just look at post-secondary education if you need a hint. I guess charters are ok as long as they’re used as laboratories for experimenting on certain instructional techniques on a very limited basis, but I can see how they can easily be abused, especially if the profit motive is involved.

  22. 22
    Trollhattan says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Public schools are a public trust. People should be outraged that this is happening in a democracy. When Bush tried to privatize SS, folks went crazy, immediately recognizing that it was a give-away to the banks and Wall St. This is NO different.

    This. Whatever anti-public school traction I encounter locally seems to revolve around the teachers union and how ther’re protecting bad, horrible, probably criminal teachers. If not for that, every area kid would become a particle physicist. The specter of Michelle Rhee haunting our fair city has me nervous as hell, but she’s taken a few hits lately and I suspect her sights are set on a national, not local, role. IIUC her kids are three time zones away, so there’s that.

  23. 23
    cckids says:

    @burnspbesq:

    This discussion should be about figuring out what actually works and deploying it as broadly as resources permit. It seems like it’s rarely about that.

    I agree. There are a few charter schools here in Vegas, too, which are doing well (Andre Agassi’s is one). The problem is that there isn’t a formula that you can roll out to fit everywhere, just like there isn’t one for public schools or for individual students, for that matter. There are too many variables, which is why there are waves of “reform” that sweep the country all the damn time.

    All of those things, from “new math” to “whole language” work for some kids. The traditional, centuries-old type works for others. It is INCREDIBLY difficult to individualize education for each student or even type of student while our society is determined to cling to traditional education methods, most of which were aimed at teaching the most you can to the majority of the kids. Over the past decade or so, though, the aim has been shifted almost exclusively to test scores, which helps neither the child or the teacher.

  24. 24
    Zifnab says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Whatever anti-public school traction I encounter locally seems to revolve around the teachers union and how ther’re protecting bad, horrible, probably criminal teachers.

    Both my aunts are bright blue NY democrats and professional school teachers to boot. Even THEY support breaking up teachers’ unions. It’s utterly maddening. I have to recite the litany of abuses that occurred in my own Texas schools (good teachers getting fired for being gay or liberal or talking too much about evolution, while bad teachers endure because they know who in the administration to suck up to) just to get either one of them to consider that maybe busting up unions isn’t the solution. I don’t think I won them over, of course. Bad teachers need to be fired after all, and apparently we should liquidate the entire public school system to make it happen. :-p But at least they stopped and considered it.

  25. 25

    @Trollhattan:
    The Xtianist, wealthy IGMFY libertarian and conspiracy theorist right have never liked public schooling. The conservative movement hates helping people in general. In the conservative mind, this is a liberal/conservative conflict and has been for awhile now. Since they’re in scorched earth mode, there are huge opportunities for nutcase zealots or grifters here. Conservatives will support them doing ANYTHING to education. It all filters down to the GOP voter as sticking it to fags, communists, welfare queens, and liberals who want to indoctrinate their kids that evolution is real.

  26. 26
    gene108 says:

    None of that cheating stuff much mattered after K12 doled out $21,000 in campaign contributions to key Republican state legislators and a $25,000 check to the state Republican Party.

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/201.....rylink=cpy

    Why are our politicians so cheap?

    **************************************************

    Charter schools aren’t inherently bad. What’s being done to turn them into profit making entities for the well connected isn’t good. We need to purge the scammers from the system.

  27. 27
    Belafon says:

    @Zifnab:

    Can we figure out a transparent, objective, independent method for evaluating the quality of education at classroom and school house level? Right now, everything I’m seeing seems to suggest these ratings schemes are little more than marketing ploys and advertising schemes for a particular political agenda.

    Not really. Public money is involved in the school system, therefore politics will always be involved.

  28. 28
    cckids says:

    @👾 Martin:

    If I’m not mistaken, those are all public charters, not private ones.

    Aren’t all charters public charters? If private, aren’t they just private schools? (Actual question, that has just been my belief on the subject)

  29. 29
    gene108 says:

    @hoodie:

    I guess charters are ok as long as they’re used as laboratories for experimenting on certain instructional techniques on a very limited basis

    I believe that was the original idea and intent regarding charter schools 20 to 25 years ago, when the idea was started. Have a real world laboratory, where new teaching methods could be measured and then open them out to the broader school system.

    The originators of the idea never meant for it to be a replacement for the public school system.

  30. 30
    burnspbesq says:

    @Roger Moore:

    find one that takes the students who are being failed by our current system and gets them to graduate.

    I just gave you two: Early College and Middle College, the schools that are co-located with community colleges, are pulling students primarily from four pretty stinky conventional public high schools, Santa Ana, Valley, Costa Mesa, and Estancia.

    The last two are especially important: in the bizarre Newport-Mesa school district, substantially all the resources go to the affluent, white east end of the district, and only crumbs are left for the poorer, mostly Hispanic west end. I don’t know this for certain, but I’m willing to bet that very few students at Middle College would otherwise be at Newport Harbor or Corona del Mar. A group of dedicated teachers and administrators, with parent support, essentially turned a bunch of unused portables on a community college campus and into something pretty special.

  31. 31
    Another Holocene Human says:

    ot: Juicers, I need some real assistance

    I (stupidly) paid for airline tickets for three people for a trip that ended up being cancelled. I paid extra for Priceline’s “insurance” which is supposed to refund the amount. However, even though my wife was just laid off, they refused to pay because it wasn’t her name on the tickets. We called the airline, and they want to give travel vouchers … to the three people whose names are on the tickets. They can’t/won’t pay us back.

    What are my options? It’s $900 worth of suck here.

    I don’t suppose credit cards include travel insurance of this kind any more.

  32. 32
    kindness says:

    Hosanna. Speak Kay, speak.

    My other half is a public school teacher of 17 years now. She hates the shift from teaching to teaching for the tests.

    The fact that the hucksters out there can say that a for profit entity can do better with the same amount of money is a grift, pure and simple. That parents or citizens fall for it is beyond me. Must be something in the water or something.

  33. 33
    cckids says:

    @gene108:

    Charter schools aren’t inherently bad. What’s being done to turn them into profit making entities for the well connected isn’t good.

    This. Many of them were started to help out the kids being failed by poor public schools, whether by parents or whoever. But they should not be about making money.

    And, as someone says above, they are not scaleable. (sp fail, I know).

    I truly believe that the bigger that public schools get, the worse they are. Traditional education is excellent at making kids feel like “another brick in the wall”; having a grade school with 700 kids or a high school with over 3000 & you just amplify that.

  34. 34
    BGinCHI says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Check your credit card assistance for sure. Call them and ask directly.

  35. 35
    cckids says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Some do, call the cc company and ask. They are pretty good at getting your money back if, for example, you buy a TV that is a lemon &the store gives you grief.

  36. 36
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Zifnab: Sometimes bad teachers do endure. Two of my children wasted an elementary school year because the teacher was a barely functioning alcoholic who couldn’t be helped because she didn’t ask for help or treatment, and couldn’t be fired because of a medical issue due to union rules. A year or two later she drank herself to death and the problem went away, but that’s a year of education my kids didn’t get back.

    A difficult situation, I know, but still…

  37. 37
    MattR says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Kay, where did you get that excerpt from the GiaQuinta letter? I followed your link but it’s just a story on Bennett from the Star (yuck, though good reporting on this one story).

    Where did his letter appear in the public record?

    It sounds like GiaQuinta left a comment on the editorial by Tully, but I scanned through them all and didn’t see it. Guessing it was deleted, but not going to jump to conclusions about who did that or why.

  38. 38
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @cckids: Read up on Brockton (Mass) HS. Poverty, many non-English languages, the whole gamut, and the largest high school in the state (4k+, iirc.) Resoundingly successful.

  39. 39
    BGinCHI says:

    @Gin & Tonic: This is absolutely true: there are bad teachers. But you cannot create a system that is 100% effective at avoiding the human element. You can only try to minimize it.

    In a perfect world we would not need collective bargaining. But sadly the abuse of power means it is very often a necessity. My union is really flawed but I’m better off with it than without it.

  40. 40
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Zifnab: It’s maddening that people want to empower principals on a power trip. The good principals I had didn’t need magic labor trampling powers and the bad principals don’t need to be given that kind of power … empowering cliques and crap like that doesn’t enhance education.

  41. 41
    cckids says:

    @Gin & Tonic: That is great. I do note, however, the state it is in :) Mass. in general seems to value education more than many other states.

    It just dumbfounds me that in the 21st century we are still largely using an educational model from the 17th century.

  42. 42
    NickT says:

    You can find a full copy of the letter here:

    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/0.....n-indiana/

  43. 43
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @kindness:

    The fact that the hucksters out there can say that a for profit entity can do better with the same amount of money is a grift, pure and simple. That parents or citizens fall for it is beyond me.

    Maybe the appeal (status aspiration!) of BUYING a shiny! new! thing as opposed to the boring, resentment-inducing process of paying taxes.

  44. 44
    MattR says:

    @NickT: Does that mean that GiaQuinta sent the letter to Ravitch who then posted it?

  45. 45
    NickT says:

    http://www.nationofchange.org/.....1375711095

    The notion that charter schools outperform traditional public schools is not supported by the facts. An updated 2013 Stanford University CREDO study concluded that privatized schools were slightly better in reading and slightly worse in math, with little difference overall. Charter results have shown an improvement since 2009.
    An independent study by Bold Approach found that “reforms deliver few benefits, often harm the students they purport to help, and divert attention from…policies with more promise to weaken the link between poverty and low educational attainment.”

  46. 46
    NickT says:

    @MattR:

    I don’t know. Sorry.

  47. 47
    negative 1 says:

    @hoodie: This, a thousand times this. As a person who has a very big interest in the demise of charter schools, even I can point to a very few successful situations where they are a godsend instead of a blight. In my just-barely-a city, we have an ESL charter school that everyone in the community, attendees and non-attendees and both categories of families, loves. Why is this school so good? Because it, and the cost of running it, are small enough that by its creation it hasn’t adversely affected the quality of education across the rest of the district. Also, it circumvents a logistical challenge in the remaining schools (i.e. that the students in the ESL charter are advanced in non-linguistic areas like math and science, especially if they can receive instruction in their native language, something that would be logistically impossible in the traditional schools).
    But… this isn’t what ed “reformers” are talking about. They want to create charters as little gated communities so that in the resulting “left behind” ghettos they can show that their methods work and traditional public schools are the problem, donchaknow. The only thing to do is break the teachers unions so that those lazy parasites will turn our schools into the paradises they would be without lazy teachers, just like in the movies.

  48. 48
    Davis X. Machina says:

    The fact that the hucksters out there can say that a for profit entity can do better with the same amount of money is a grift, pure and simple.

    Let me try it on one leg.

    All that is, can be bought and sold.
    That which cannot be bought and sold, is not.
    All that can be bought and sold, must be bought and sold.

    That is the whole of the new Law, and the new Prophets.
    The rest is commentary.

  49. 49
    cckids says:

    @negative 1:

    They want to create charters as little gated communities so that in the resulting “left behind” ghettos they can show that their methods work and traditional public schools are the problem, donchaknow.

    This. When charters see a problem & solve it, it is because that problem & their solution is very area & event specific (like your example). That is what charters can do well. They absolutely cannot take the place of public schools.

  50. 50
    MattR says:

    @NickT: Oh well. It is really not that big a deal at this point. (OTOH, if it goes viral it would probably be good to know the original source where it was posted) Thanks anyway.

  51. 51
    catclub says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Part of education is dealing with a lousy teacher for a year. Not ideal, but part of the way the world seems to work. Has anyone gone through 12 years of public school and not had at least one bad one?

  52. 52
    negative 1 says:

    @Trollhattan: What really blows their minds is when I tell them that I work for a teachers’ union and our members get fired all the time. It’s just that we sort of insist that the firing party show that they’ve done something to warrant it.
    The real scenario is a little more like this — every day Bob and Jane get up and do their job the same way for 10 years. They’ve never been a discipline problem at work, they’ve had good reviews, etc. Are they all-stars? Not necessarily, but they’re the kind of generically good employee that exists in all of our jobs. Now all of a sudden yesterday they became incompetent? Why then, all of a sudden? Doesn’t it seem marginally unlikely? Wouldn’t you like to see a little bit of proof before coming to that judgement? And if they were bad all along, why have we waited 10 years to deal with it?

  53. 53
    catclub says:

    @Davis X. Machina: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study it.”

    I always like to capitalize the last C, to remind me of the magazine.

  54. 54
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @catclub:More like “That which is profitable to you, do unto your neighbor. Go and do a case study of it it.”

  55. 55
    Sad_Dem says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: A while ago I was able to draw a conservative on my local paper’s comment board out into an open declaration that when the local district rewards unionized public school teachers with extra pay for a master’s degree, that’s corrupt liberal BS, but when a private company rewards teachers for getting masters degrees, that’s fostering excellence.

  56. 56
    chromeagnomen says:

    O/T are we going to get the ‘recent posts’ box back?

  57. 57

    They’re working not for all those kids but for only a select few.

    Yes, their own.

  58. 58
    Zifnab says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Two of my children wasted an elementary school year because the teacher was a barely functioning alcoholic who couldn’t be helped because she didn’t ask for help or treatment, and couldn’t be fired because of a medical issue due to union rules.

    There was an Economics teacher in my high school who was, likewise, a barely functioning alcoholic that remained remarkably unfireable. Needless to say, this being Texas, there was no union to protect her. She got her cover from the school principal who buried every complaint and otherwise ignored the problems she created.

    That teacher just happened to be the most glaring example I can think of, but there were plenty of others that engaged in all sorts of stupid, obnoxious, lazy, or otherwise fireable behaviors and still kept on trucking. Getting rid of unions doesn’t do anything to get rid of bad teachers.

  59. 59
    CVS says:

    how could anyone with a Ph.D think these really dumb statements would stay secret.

    When I grew up in the South, we called that “being educated beyond one’s intelligence.”

    I my travels since, I have met more than a few that I would lump into that category…

  60. 60
    👾 Martin says:

    @burnspbesq:

    The last two are especially important: in the bizarre Newport-Mesa school district, substantially all the resources go to the affluent, white east end of the district, and only crumbs are left for the poorer, mostly Hispanic west end. I don’t know this for certain, but I’m willing to bet that very few students at Middle College would otherwise be at Newport Harbor or Corona del Mar. A group of dedicated teachers and administrators, with parent support, essentially turned a bunch of unused portables on a community college campus and into something pretty special.

    This is correct.

  61. 61
    hoodie says:

    @Sad_Dem: yeah, the whole thing is a proxy for an ideological attack on any kind of public capital. They cloak it by pretending to care about “the kids”, but it really just defunds and delegitimize the public system by sleight of hand (the graft is a side benefit). A similar privatization phenomenon has been occurring in higher ed. We’ve had several years of defunding state universities, supplanted by a growing federal subsidized loan system, all of which has fed tuition inflation at private and public universities. Some public universities have lost so much state funding, they’re now effectively private. Of course, now they want to pull the rug out from under student loans because of the rates of delinquency. Presto, you’ve effectively destroyed public higher education and put in place a system where only the rich can afford to go to college, which reinforces social stratification. The historical amnesia is striking; why do people think state colleges were created in the first place?

  62. 62
    👾 Martin says:

    @cckids:

    Aren’t all charters public charters? If private, aren’t they just private schools? (Actual question, that has just been my belief on the subject)

    Private charter is administered by a company/corporation, paid for by taxpayers. Public charter is administered either by the district or a non-profit. OCSA, which burnsy references above is jointly administered by a non-profit and the district. I’m pretty sure Middle College is jointly administered by SAC and the public school district.

    Unlike some other states, CA does not allow private schools to be converted into charters. Charters need to be converted either from publics or created new as charters. This has helped cut down on the grift here quite a bit. And most of CAs charters are not private charters. They’re not run by companies, instead by non-profits or the district itself.

  63. 63
    Roger Moore says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I just gave you two: Early College and Middle College, the schools that are co-located with community colleges, are pulling students primarily from four pretty stinky conventional public high schools, Santa Ana, Valley, Costa Mesa, and Estancia.

    But they’re “pulling from” those schools, not taking them over. The same kind of sorting effect you’re describing between the affluent and poor kids happens within the poor kids. If you open up a new school that promises to give better education to some kids, you wind up siphoning off the kids who care enough about their educations, or whose parents care enough about their education, to try getting in. That gives you one school full of motivated kids and kids whose parents will push them, and one school that’s had the most motivated and best supported kids taken away. Unless the kids are randomly assigned to one school or the other, the results are suspect because of that sorting effect.

  64. 64
    👾 Martin says:

    @Roger Moore: I think you guys are describing two different things.

    Burnsey is saying that the charter schools aren’t just a taxpayer grift to provide cheap private schools to rich people. And that’s true here in CA. They do deliver a real benefit to low-income kids here, and are well run.

    You’re saying that the schools create unequal opportunities, and that’s true, but that’s always true. The opportunities at OCSA are very nearly unique to that school here. If OCSA didn’t exist, those opportunities would go to nobody, and not every kid is interested in going to a school of the arts, and there’s no way we could afford to outfit every high school in the county with what OCSA offers. So, we create a magnet school for those students. Is it fair? Well, no. But not doing it is also not fair. But it’s not unreasonable either. Students that have worked hard and shown an aptitude for something get a different opportunity. That’s hardly radical. Within every school you have GATE and AP and college prep tracks and so on. That’s just how all education works, and that’s not controversial.

  65. 65
    mai naem says:

    @burnspbesq: Arizona was one of the earliest states to have charter schools. We have some very good charters – Basis has been in the top five schools in the country in US News. Basis also has a waiting list. There are three really good charters which have waiting lists. I know people who have their kids at Basis. These are super involved parents with kids who have their kids in Math Counts, Academic Decathlon, College programs, involved in college.research projects as a HS student, take SAT prep classes etc. No teacher given those kind of kids and parents is going to get fired for poor performance. I even know a teacher who taught at Basis for a year. He had a masters in engineering with a couple of decades of work experience. And, BTW, I know kids who’ve attended other charters who can’t even write a simple note without misspelling simple words. Overall, charters have done worse than public schools in AZ.

  66. 66
    gelfling545 says:

    @burnspbesq: My granddaughter was (in spite of my protests) in one of the top performing charters in our district. Supposedly, admission was by lottery. In actuality 85% of the student body came from the same zip code and not the one the school was located in which might be understandable. It is the zip code containing the highest assessed properties in the city and the school was, in all essentials, a private school for the upper middle class professionals who did not choose to pay tuition at one of the private schools. A few “outsiders” from the neighborhood, like my granddaughter, were tolerated for the look of the thing but were not really made welcome. We decided to remove her at grade 6 due to the fact that students who were not from the select neighborhood were marginalized socially and, to some extent, academically. Given the SES, they ought to be one of the top performing (testing wise) schools simply by virtue of their clientele. Most of the other charters here have performed no better and sometimes worse than the public schools they are supposed to be replacing and this in spite of the fact that they can return a child to the public schools if s/he has any issues that might make him/her more challenging. They also have “parent involvement” policies in place that are virtually impossible for parents who are average hourly workers (who are not able to schedule their work at their own convenience) to meet which keeps the population of “outsiders” pretty low.

  67. 67
    EthylEster says:

    @BGinCHI wrote:

    Thanks for this great post, Kay. You are the cherry on the sundae of this blog.

    Yes!!!
    He went on to write other stuff I agree with.
    My God, could the folks in the state of Florida actually wake up and realize what’s going on?
    I’d like to think so and that Miami Herald editorial (full o’facts) gives me hope.

  68. 68
    rikyrah says:

    Kay,

    cannot thank you enough for your dedication to the topics that you bring to us on a regular basis. I always look forward to seeing what foulness you have uncovered and help expose to a broader audience.

    thank you.

  69. 69
    Roger Moore says:

    @👾 Martin:

    You’re saying that the schools create unequal opportunities, and that’s true, but that’s always true.

    No. What I’m saying is that the schools don’t have equal students, so we have no idea if the educational ideas behind them are successful or if they have better numbers because they have convinced better kids to go there. It’s a serious problem with measuring the results of almost all charter schools.

  70. 70
    brantl says:

    Mark E. GiaQuinta, Esq. can really write.

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