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Before the Delaware Legislature this week is a bill that will forever change education in our state.  It is not new, it is very similar to bills enacted in Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and DC years ago.  It provides public funding to charter schools. Yes, public money to set them up, allowing them then to compete for students against public schools.  In Delaware the public schools aren't horrific, and it has been very hard for charter schools (which at their best are mediocre), to steal students away.  This bill should be titled DELAWARE'S WELFARE ACT FOR WALL STREET'S CHARTER SCHOOLS...

Stunning it is.  our state (rather small) is going to build charter schools with public tax money, turn them over to billionaires to run, and let them collect ALL of the revenue from it.  (Yes it's fixed) We figured one proposed operation would net $68 million in 5 years.  Not gross income mind you, but after all expenses were culled and deducted, and before taxes, they would pocket $68 million of public money because our state is building their schools with capital funding. Is this welfare?  Well we figured the best way was to take all those arguments certain Republican right wingers have been making about welfare since it began, and apply it to this bill (Delaware House Bill 165) and see...  Well, .. how does the Charter School movement stand up under that same scrutiny Republicans have given welfare?  How well does it stand under the same accusations?

So borrowed straight from the Republican platform...

Welfare steals away responsibility from religious beneficiaries and charities....

I think this headline says it all: Massive Catholic School Closings Across America.  Is Catholicism In Decline?  With Charter Schools receiving government funding now stealing students away from Catholic Schools, Catholic schools have been forced to undergo mass closings across the country.

Move Welfare participants off Welfare Roles.

This is exactly opposite of what HB 165 does.  Instead, it adds charters ONTO the public dole.  It give welfare payments TO private owners (freeloaders) who do nothing. These private owners could certainly fund Charters using the business model. They could easily get private financing, and since Charters are so profitable, banks would certainly be happy to line up and lend it.  But no. They want our free money. That very money you just worked hard for; they think it belongs to them... They even have hired Wall Street lobbyists who will say so. (At the House Vote, everyone commented on the massive numbers of new people, never seen before, all wearing $5,000 suits)

Welfare:  its giving money for nothing.

Public schools outperform Charter Schools in testing when all other factors are equal. It makes sense.  Venus Williams would play tennis better than a fifth grader starting for the first time.  What HB 165 does is take money away from Venus Williams, give it to that fifth grader's mother, then call for a rematch.  That outcome is the same, just that the fifth grader's mommy can now shop at Nordstrom's.

HB 165 takes tax money from the working man to support the non working one.

You work hard?  You pay property taxes?  HB 165 is making your taxes rise to provide this welfare payment to Wall Street.  Here is how it works.  Wall Street invests in a Charter School Corporation  If you own property, you always have paid taxes into public schools to support everyone's child.  When those children switch to charter schools, your tax dollars follow them. Wall Street who owns the charters, then gobbles up the money.  Is that fair? They do nothing yet take your money? So do you want your tax dollars going to Wall Street to be reinvested around the globe? Or prefer them to stay close by within your own community? At least in your local community, you know it is going to "local" jobs. Where Wall Street puts your tax money, who knows?  Furthermore, do you want your property asset values to keep soaring? Or fall because your school's are becoming slums because of all the Charter Schools coming into your neighborhood?  The outcome of this future scenario all hinges on whether or not, HB 165 can pass the Senate with the help of Wall Street lobbyists on Wed.

It never solves the problem. People living on welfare never get back to the working force, not the formal working force.

Welfare for Charter Schools creates a problem that is not there.  Chicago went charters 10 years ago and now is closing lots of schools.  Philly went Charters 10 years ago and now is closing schools.  When a Charter comes in, it can't compete with a public school. It takes a lot to run a school well, and Charter schools lack the economies of scale to match the ability of public schools and so Charter's test scores are lower.  But as they suck up more and more students, the public schools also have less money to keep up their test scores. Things break, don't get fixed.  Teachers die, don't get replaced.  Principals leave, and no one takes over.  Public school's scores drop also... In a landmark Philly study comparing 2004 and 2011, the total number of students meeting competency  at graduation, decreased BY  ALMOST HALF!.  Yes, by half. Half the number of graduates in 2011 in both charter and public schools, could pass the tests that just public schools passed in 2004.  Because of letting Charters into Philadelphia, half the number of students are as competent as would have occurred  if Charters were never allowed to come in. All students are suffering, and there is now no hope. Students in Charters, bad as they are, certainly don't want to go back into the public schools system and be bussed across the inner city. We've created a Welfare State, where we are subsidizing Charters and will always be subsidizing charters.. That will happen here in Wilmington, if the Wall Street Lobbyists, who were there in force last Wednesday, get HB 165 out of the Senate over the Senator's objections themselves!

Sets a threshold for the cost of labor.

If a person gets $100 dollars a day for doing nothing, then the most menial jobs must start over $100 a day, otherwise why would one work at them?  Paying your property tax money to Charter Schools does the same thing.  All one has to do is open a Charter School to get free money. A contract gets signed for 5 years, or renewed for 10 years.  Once signed, the owner doesn't have to teach one darned thing.  He has 5 years until the contract ends,  free money coming in.   HB 165 allows free money to flow into the Charter School movement. The Charter School investment scheme was originally based on competition.  They sought students who brought money with them. That was how Pencader (former Delaware Charter) was pitched and founded; as a better opportunity than what was in the public high schools of Glasgow or Christiana High. Now, since that money is not flowing fast enough for investors they have pushed HB 165 thru Delaware's Governor Jack Markell (Wall Street Support for President 2016)  to give them a direct conduit towards funding...  So now, even if those kids say "eww" and don't come, our state tax dollars will keep making the payments that keep those investment opportunities a good risk. If the exact same scheme were applied to minorities in Southbridge, East Side, Hilltop, or West Side (all low income areas of Wilmington) we'd be calling for Welfare Reform right now. Since Charter Schools can't fail because of state welfare payments, they will always get students by a) being less disciplined, b) by not enforcing quality standards, or c) allowing pot in classrooms with teachers joining in. Public schools will be forced to follow suit and also lower their standards just to keep the money behind those types of students from switching.  Delaware suburbs will become the inner city Philadelphia of education.

People in real need get help from their community. If they're good people and show good will and try to get over their problems, they get help. If they abuse the generosity of others, they don't get any more help.  With the government running the system, it's the opposite situation.

That is the distinction.  Charter Schools were and (according to some "old" people) still are the market place solution to solving public schools.  However that statement was not thought out well enough in advance.  Consider this. When you have two grocery stores competing across the street, both are always busy and the price wars to get your interest benefit you greatly.  But after 5 or 6 more grocery chains move into the shopping center, all are barely staying financially afloat, and all must squeeze every penny off every product they can.  All the prices are high.  So what HB 165 is doing is giving money to those 4 or 5 newcomers who all came in late.. So instead of direct competition keeping things in check, where those 4 or 5 would normally fail and we'd be back to two large ones performing happily, we subsidize poor performance. Everyone loses.  HB 165 will provide public money to charters, those education facilities that are doing poorly. With the government intervening in supporting the those that don't work, it is destroying the system of what does, and up to now, has always worked.

When you're really in need, you don't get help. The one who never worked is in extreme social distress and it's supported immediately. If you've been working all your life and all of a sudden get laid off, they'll wait until you loose everything to give you help

This concept is valid with education.  HB 165 will only give support to Charter Schools. It bleeds money away from existing Public Schools.  In the supermarket analogy above, I showed how the bleeding of customers away from the two good viable stores is kept up longer than the competitive marketplace would allow by the continuous feeding of free money to its competitors, the newest entries.  With the welfare payments subsidizing poor private charter performance, just as would the two large stores get forced out of business, so will the public school system en masse. I present to you today's evidence of the school districts of Cleveland, Philadelphia, DC, and Chicago.  In this case HB 165 is a direct subsidy to poor performance.  Where is such help for public schools, who right now, with this additional state funding could really make a tremendous difference?  It is getting sliced out of each subsequent state budget. State support for those who just need a little to stay on their feet, is being withheldso that those who "Play The Game" can get free money for doing nothing.. The signal sent is this:  "if you do absolutely nothing, I'll give you free money".  Seriously, what kind of an investor can pass up a deal like that?

The welfare system is ran by a huge team of bureaucrats and they have no incentive to take care of your money. In fact it's the exact opposite. The more money they spend, the better they look in the results.

So it is with Charter Schools. Except the bureaucrats in this case are Wall Street's investors.  The last free source of money on earth is in American Education.  There is no other unclaimed resource left to be mined. Public education spends vast amounts of money, 8/10ths of a trillion every year. Most of our property taxes go to education costs we impose upon ourselves by levies, not to local government.  Historically all that money was in public hands.  Now, it is being privatized.  Just as lumber in national forests were once deemed a public asset, they are now logged for free and sold..  Just like water under ground was once considered a public asset, it is now pumped and sold by the investor who pumped it.  Just like a mountain was once a public asset, it gets stripped, pushed into the creek, while its assets get sold by a private concern with no benefit to the real stockholders, we the public.  So it is with education.  Except the resource this time is all that tax money from every piece of property in the great nation of the United States of America.  Wall Street wants to mine, log, and profit off all those tax dollars you (our your bank escrows) pay out every year... They want it bad because like trees, coal, gold, rare earths, the product is free. And it is in demand.  Anytime you have a high demand for something that is free to you, there is a very high rate of return...

Which is why, last Wednesday, I have on good authority to know, Wall Street brought in the best, the richest, the trickiest lobbyists they could muster, just to make sure HB 165 slid through Delaware's House of Delegates with enough votes.  Look this is not a nasty finger pointing session; just a statement of fact. I would have done exactly the very same thing if I were in their shoes. I just wanted you to know why there is a reason, a very good reason, that this bill which goes against public opinion, which goes against every voter's gut instinct, which goes against what is best for every child's education, is currently sailing through the General Assembly barely being debated...

So when you wake up one day, and that hill you loved seeing is clear-cut, devoid of trees, that mountain you played on as a child, is gone, that river you used to swim in, is now a dry bed, you will know it came down to one day, one vote, when you were too tired to pick up the phone and call your Senator, or you had no idea because no one said anything because your newspaper kept you in the dark, or you resigned yourself to the fact that it would happen anyway so what's the use, you will know it was because of whatever reason to strike your fancy, you failed at that one moment to make your voice heard.
Maybe you would not have made a difference... But then again, maybe you would wind up being the deciding factor? That finally, someone opens everyone's eyes to what is really happening..

Me?  I do this solely because I have to look into the eyes of school children each day I come home.  If the enemy outspends us, it outspends us. If they blackmail legislators, they blackmail legislators. If big money wins, big money wins. If we lose, then we lose... but I don't have the luxury of being happy that my children will be fine with the outcome... anymore than we thought those trees would be fine, anymore than we thought that mountain would be fine, or that river would be fine...  

Sometimes one has to do all one can.  Even if it is just a phone call saying...

"You know Senator?  This is way too fast. There is a lot of facts against this bill out there that make a lot of us real suspicious and squeamy about it. We don't have to rush it this year, possibly losing your seat next election over something turning out really bad that was rashly done. Vote to take it up next January, that's only six months, and give everyone a chance to look at the ramifications. Let's debate this a little more in the arena of public opinion. After all, what's a six month wait for something that could turn Delaware's into those of Phllly or Chicago, huh? Twenty six weeks? Then, with good judgment, after everyone has seen all the pieces, you can then vote on it."
"We all have parts to play; we choose which side to play them."

Originally posted to kavips on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 05:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good points, with one change requested (0+ / 0-)

    I am an opponent of charter schools, and your treatise is fascinating.

    I would just change Vanessa Willams (the singer/actress/model) to Venus Williams (the tennis player).

  •  While I agree with your (0+ / 0-)

    larger point, this

    charter schools (which at their best are mediocre)
    is not true, at least not in Delaware. The Charter School of Wilmington is by far the best high school in Delaware. I wish it had been an available option when I was in high school (Glasgow High, early 90s).
    •  Early 90's yes; Today no (5+ / 0-)

      That distinction is held by Newark High School, with Middletown High School coming in second.

      When Russo (the original headmaster) left, the school slumped.  

      Also, when making comparisons, (something I learned was being dishonestly done by those saying Charters were better than Public Schools), it is very important to compare racial mixes and free lunch registrants of both schools being compared.  Of course an affluent all-white Charter School will score higher than a public school that is all minority, and 100% free lunch.  Charter schools. when selling themselves, freely do not make that distinction.

      When one compares predominantly white affluent Charter Schools with predominantly white affluent Public Schools, Charters do worse. Public scores are higher.

      Likewise on the low end, those charters performing with the lower economic strata, do poorer than the public schools dealing with the same population...

      Until 2012, Charter schools were allowed to test with their own, "easier" tests, and public schools were given the standard, tougher, harder, more challenging test.  Many legislatures responded as did PA and require the same test be applied to Charters.  Only recently then has it been proven through data that Charter Schools fail in every economic strata to keep up with the Public school's performance.  

      Saying Wilmington Charter School was the best in the 90's, masks the fact that they cherry picked the best of the students from all schools, and so... of course they'd be best over all.   But then.. so would a public school if allowed to segregate all those it "interpreted" as being unfit for their lofty aspirations....

      •  Again, not true (0+ / 0-)

        Wilmington Charter School continues to be the best high school in Delaware, if one considers the role of high schools to prepare students for college. Here's the most recent awards page: http://charterschool.org/...

        * The Charter School of Wilmington was ranked the #5 STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) High School in the nation by U.S. World News & World Report (May, 2012).
        * The Charter School of Wilmington was rated 11th on the list of Top Charter Schools in the U.S. by World News & World Report (May, 2012).
        * The Charter School of Wilmington continues to have the highest high school scores on every Delaware State Assessment Test.
        * The Charter School of Wilmington continues to have the highest SAT scores in the State among all public high schools.
        There is no other school in Delaware where 80% of the students take AP exams (and 97% of those receive AP credit).

        The reason they get to cherry-pick the best students is that they apply to go there. The reason those students apply (certainly the reason my Latin American brother went to Charter in the early 2000s) is that the school offers an environment where academic growth is nurtured, and athletics and non-academic extra-curricular activities are given their proper due (which is to say, they are secondary to academics). How you can call a school with >25% Asian students "all-white" is an open question.

  •  In before the pro-charter Dems (4+ / 0-)

    That they still exist means we have much more work to do in educating liberals and progressives about the snake oil that is the Hedge Fund-funded charter movement.

    Join the fight for student power on campus: ForStudentPower.org

    by Liberaltarian on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 09:47:02 AM PDT

    •  It will take time (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JVolvo, whaddaya

      I'll reminisce for a moment.  Until this February I really never paid attention either.  School was the stuff that always seemed too full of abbreviations that everyone else knew but me...  I had other things to worry about...

      Then, my friends daughter told me she hated English and I was shocked because last year she was one of those most amazing pupils, that every teacher dreams of having. One who takes the ball and runs with it carrying the class along with it...   This year she was on Common Core....  She's in High School, and her phrase, "We're reviewing what we learned in 5th Grade"  stuck with me.

      So as I looked at Common Core, and realized this was really about money and not about students; we were just in a marketing phase of a "better new toothpaste" that had the same amount of active ingredient as every other toothpaste on the market....

      Then our legislature started "sneaking" charter bill through.. We'd get 12 hour warning on votes.  

      It is money. Nothing more and nothing less. The problem with privatizing education, is that like health-care, the money becomes the deciding factor of just how healthy we will be, instead of what reality dictates is necessary to do.

      Education will go the way of private hospitals.

  •  I can hear the GOP and charter school Dems now... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya

    "Oh no, it's unfair to hold us to our own standards!"
    /snark

    This diary should be the "standardized test" by which the charter school movement is graded.  Right now, they're getting a generous "D-".

  •  But the miracle of free enterprise will save ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue B, whaddaya

    ... education from the inefficiencies of socialism, just as it has healthcare.   ;-)

  •  So how do the charter schools work now? (0+ / 0-)

    My kids are out of school, have been for years, and I really haven't been keeping up on how their funding is set.

    Don't they get some public funding now? Are they required to be non-profit? Are the students charged tuition over and above whatever the school gets from current funding?

    I don't know that what's proposed is much different than the way they're currently working, so some short, easy to read, background would be helpful.

    Because we DO have them, we just don't have that many.

    •  Here is a link (0+ / 0-)

      It answers most of your questions...

      http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/...

      I chose it because it seems to answer almost all of your questions...  It is three years old, but, due to the economy not many changes took place over the interim so its facts are probably close if not exact.

      As our state's legislature activity list implies, it is about to explode in the next two years.

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