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- by Peter Greene | writer, teacher - May 8, 2014

This article written by a teacher spoke to me. It spells out in the kind of plain language a non-academic can understand and made sense of something I've be feeling since reading about the argument that's been going on between the Michelle Rhee testing advocates and Diane Ravitch and others;  whether privatization of our national public school system is improving education (Rhee's take) or turning education into yet another commodity to be milked for profit enriching the testing industry and those invested with no real benefit to the students education.

Diane Ravitch, much as the author of this article, Peter Greene, saw the benefits of charter schools - at first that is.

Peter Greene opens with this:

In the past, many charters were launched that focused solidly on providing unique and exciting educational experiences for their communities. These schools were innovative. These schools were connected to their communities. These schools were icing on the public school system cake. And these schools were run by chumps. There's only one question you need to answer to gauge the success of your charter school -- am I making money.
He sounds exasperated, and not a little bit angry at the profiteering that is the systematic hollowing out of public education.

 Diane Ravitch had hopes too, that evaporated with the gold rush of profiteers:

The original purpose of charters, when they first opened in 1990 (and when I was a charter proponent), was to collaborate with public schools, not to compete with them or undermine them. They were supposed to recruit the weakest students, the dropouts, and identify methods to help public schools do a better job with those who had lost interest in schooling. This should be their goal now as well.
Peter Greene makes a to-do-list of things that every supply side profiteer should keep in mind. A how to properly cash in on the charter school movement list:

  Diversify!

 

...Not the school -- your portfolio. Set up multiple companies. Create a holding company that owns the building, and charge the school rent and facilities fees.
Make sure to hire yourself !

  Don't Overlook the Obvious

There's no legal limit to what you can be paid as the charter school operator. The only limits to your salary are the limits set by your own sense of shame. If you have no shame, then ka-ching, my friend. Ka. Ching
 Ain't Too Proud To Beg
Have a fundraiser. When you wave schools and children at people, they fork over money like crazy, whether you actually need it or not.
Kind of like hugging babies and puppy dog photo ops

  Students Are Marketing Tools

Students have a job at your charter, and that's to make your charter look good and marketable.
Make sure to fire any students that can't ace the tests and won't pass/finish the testing/programming.. graduate

And remember..

  Students Are Also The Revenue Stream

The other function of students is to bring money in while not costing any more than is absolutely necessary
.. be careful of special needs children as they can cut into profits. So a careful consideration of photo opportunities must be balanced against overall cost. And bad behavior of any kind is grounds for immediate firing of students - but not until maximum revenue has been secured first

  Only Use McTeachers

Make sure your teachers are young, cheap, and easily replaced.
unions are strongly frowned upon

  Remember -- You Are A Public School

You are entitled to public money, public resources, public buildings, public anything you can get them to give you.
It avoids all lot of explaining to just lie up front

  Remember -- You Are A Private School

Never let anybody see your financials, ever.
especially not tax payers

  Make the Right Friends

It's true that not everybody can afford to buy, say, an entire legislature or the governor of a state, but even outside of New York, it's possible to use the giant pile of money you've accumulated to help important people understand what a great public service you're performing.
Peter Greene ends with this:
In Modern Times, we better understand that a well-run charter operation can contribute to an important job -- the business of taking money away from undeserving taxpayers and putting it in the hands of the deserving rich.
Which mirrors what Diane Ravitch has been warning of:
Our nation is heading in a perilous direction, toward privatization of education, which will increase social stratification and racial segregation. Our civic commitment to education for all is eroding. But like police protection, fire protection, public beaches, public parks and public roads, the public schools are a public responsibility, not a consumer good.

- emphasis added

According to Daine Ravitch, while there are good charter schools, the notion that our public schools must be replaced by private charters schools is a myth. Public schools are NOT out performed by private for profit charter schools in most cases, and when that happens it is almost always because of slashed funding and poverty.

Commodification our Public Education System by the "supply side investors" - Iow's the extractors in our society. Oil, coal, our labor, Post Offices, Medical need everything.. whatever for profit is what is wrong in our society today.

 Some things are worsened by the motive for profit

I can think of three four of those parts of society that are worsened: Prison; financing of Medical need; our military; and our national school system (explanations @ link)

 - end of rant and thank you for stopping by and putting up with me, a non-teacher, for steaming on this
~~~~~~~~~~~

P.S. hope I didn't exceed the number of words allowed to copy - it needed saying

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Comment Preferences

  •  The biggest irresponsibility of republican state (6+ / 0-)

    administrations is their blatant privatizing attempts aimed at destroying or degrading the public school system through charter schools.

    The reason for the charter school push does not have anything to do with betterment of the education of students.  The charter school movement is mostly about trashing teacher union and community control of schools.

  •  Sent to the Badass Teacher Association ^0^ (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mama jo, WakeUpNeo

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri May 09, 2014 at 06:31:09 PM PDT

  •  Don't show financials? Good luck in California. (0+ / 0-)

    I don't know where Greene is from, but that's not the reality in California, which has more charter schools than any other state. I clicked off and found audited financials for the first five charter schools that came to my mind -- easily, and I'm not in the field.

    And the implication that having fundraisers distinguishes charters from traditional public schools is risible. Traditional public schools here are constantly raising money -- through the kids, through their parents, by way of endowments and foundations, door to door solicitation, and every trick they can think of. The wealthy traditional districts are the biggest players in the game. So yeah, let's shame the teachers and administrators with 80% poor kids in their charter schools for trying to scrape up some bucks for the occasional music or art class. Nice.

    •  the courts have ruled they do not have to show (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson

      financials as they ARE NOT public schools. Do you think people like Ravitch and Greene are making shit up? Yes, let's shame the hedge fund owners of charter schools for having the unmitigated gall to pay half a million to a school director, pay their inexperienced nonunion non certified staff shit, and then ask the community for donations. ON TOP of all the freebies the cities are already giving them....public schools have fundraisers because they don't have enough money. Budgets are tight even in the best of districts as politicians drain the well and give the money away to the wealthy in the form of subsidies and tax cuts. Wake the fuck up.

      •  Apparently, California didn't get the memo (0+ / 0-)

        from "the courts." California law requires regular, independent financial reporting. In California -- the subject of my comment -- charter schools are public schools. You can adopt your own advocacy-based definition of public, or you can adopt the definition of some court in some other state if you like, but I wouldn't recommend to a California charter school that it adopt your pet definition and fail to file the reports, because it would lose its charter.

        Your description of a charter school applies to many charter schools in some states, and some charter schools in CA, but is far from universally true. Here's a more comprehensive comment from a teacher.  

        The tax-cut damage to California public schools began in the late 70s with Prop. 13, and they've just recently dug out of a recession-based disastrous several years of underfunding. True for both traditional and charter public schools. Both underfunded and wealthy schools here engage in extensive fundraising. It's pretty to think it's just the impoverished schools, but it's not. The wealthier communities are determined to keep the gap firmly in place. Here's one fundraising arm for the traditional public schools in an extremely wealthy area in CA. It gave nearly 6 million dollars out to its seven schools in one year, and that was not an aberration. These groups are common.

        Ravitch knows her stuff. When asked, she will acknowledge there is considerable interstate variation on charter school regulation and operation. Greene shows no evidence of knowing anything beyond his own experience, perhaps his own state. I'm perfectly willing to accept that things are different in your state. I don't understand why you would be so invested in believing that your local experience or knowledge about school funding, regulation, and operation is universal.

      •  No, not making stuff up (0+ / 0-)

        No, not making stuff up, they are however skewing information and presentation to fit a bias. Just as there is no single public system of education, but rather hundreds, singular events only illustrate a point of view without evidence to back up an argument of causation. That's the kind of thing you learn in school. Mine was public, and as long as charter schools don't dilute the funding of a public system, and as long as they support the effort to educate the general population, then it doesn't matter how they get "there".
        Regarding teacher unions, I think they are bashed too much, but everyone knows they put themselves in the public relations bind they are in. Its the same thing many police guilds are doing around the country. There are many teacher unions that are working with administrations and parent groups to help educate kids, but some still believe they are above the fray. That has to change. There are better tools for accountability, and they need to be used, and teachers need to embrace that culturally. The idea that pedagogy is some mystical art no one can understand is baloney.
        Finally, there is no fix to education, only improvement. How or when people are paid to participate in the system is irrelevant. Its about outcomes. And the outcomes that matter is do people get an education, do they learn how to learn, and can they be productive members of society.

  •  Everything you said was correct (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, Friend of the court

    I do take offense, being that I spent the last 36 years as a Carpenter. I hope you understand that Carpenters are not the bottom of the barrel that is reserved for the ignorant. I guess working from 6A.M. and then getting home at 10:30 P.M. from my Apprenticeship for 5 years. Did make me a little brain dead in other people’s eyes. The long hours never fazed me. It was the way people looked down on the folks that use their hands to build things. Next time you drive over a bridge remember it is the Carpenters that read the blue prints issued by the engineers; we are the ones that typically tell the engineers to pull their heads out of their axes and correct their mistakes so it can be built correctly.

    •  That's my fault. I forgot to say the words (0+ / 0-)
      I do take offense, being that I spent the last 36 years as a Carpenter. I hope you understand that Carpenters are not the bottom of the barrel that is reserved for the ignorant.
      I've too have been a carpenter all my life; passed the .. California General Contractors test in 1982. B license

      Sorry if my use of carpenter sounded as though I was disparaging the trade. The exact opposite is what I believe. People who work with their hands, body and minds to produce beautiful useful creations.

      On the final General Contractors licensing test B license is a detailed blueprint. An A license is the engineering license. That's not me; maybe someday when the bones get to fragile to swing a hammer

      For the General B license You must calculate cost of: surveying for elevations; grading; electrical hookup; utility hookup (water,gas etc); easements; lumber; concrete electrical; insulation; sheetrock (including taping & mudding); paint; roofing; siding; sheerwall requirements; premanufactured truss vs stick framing; everything within 15%

      Labor costs; subcontractors etc.

      Their is also a section on what load capacity of different wood: Douglass fir vs Hemlock Fir for load bearing. Even using pine for framing in some zones.

      Paint and what makes up colors.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~

      And then their is the Law half of the Licensing test.

      Iow's the test is an actual bid on the construction of an home. You've got to get it right to pass the test.

      So yes carpenters need to know a lot of very detailed disciplines.  
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      This:  

      It was the way people looked down on the folks that use their hands to build things.
      I know this story. I have one a few of my own.

      On a remodel job during the tear-out phase the pounding caused one of those ridiculous multi song doorbells to go off. it had a variety of elevator music songs.

      We couldn't get the damn thing to shut off without cutting the power to it. I got sick do death listening to "Greensleeves" after switching songs all day and finally cut the power to it.

      The owner was a lawyer and to save money put on a cheap tool belt claiming "I worked my way through medical school as a carpenter".

       We had to insist he stop helping. We had to undo and redo his "work"

      That asshole charged us $850.00 dollars for a new door bell. Came right off the top of what he owed.

      I vowed that day if any person ever said that "they had worked their way through (fill in the non-carpenter college degree job here) college as a carpenter" I would respond by saying: "yes I get it man, I had to work filing legal briefs for an entire summer while I was studying to pass the General Contractors B license test.

      I've gotten over it, but yes, that kind of arrogance along with the supercilious looks and three piece suits and shiny cars used to grate on me. Now though, I steer clear of jobs when I sense that kind of entitlement right of the bat

      Thx for supporting the tradespersons johnmcfarlane

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