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:
...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. ChingAin'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
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.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.
- emphasis added
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