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Texas Rebellion, PACs in Education, Vampire Charters

February 5, 2012

In a NY Times article Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott called a new State law linking assessments to graduations and promotions a “perversion to the original intent” of student testing, mirroring feedback he was receiving from Superintendents and parents across the State. Texas was the first State to go all in on testing… will it be the first to abandon it? Probably not… but it is heartening that there is some backlash to the whole test mania.

Super PACs are coming to public education… at least that’s the conclusion I took away from an article on Chicago public schools published in today’s NY Times. It seems that a group favoring charter schools (ostensibly because they are a “miracle” but more likely because they are non-union) has put together a 35 minute “documentary” splicing Rahm Emmanual’s favorable comments about charters with the union’s opposition to charters. The notion that “charter schools” <=> “reform” is necessarily going to pit unions against whoever the reformer is… real reform will happen when we abandon the factory school and move to individualization across the board.

Charter Schools are like vampires, according to Chester Upland school officials, “sucking up more than their fair share of resources” and leaving the public schools in the dust. In a NYTimes article trying to explain 18 years of complicated budgeting blues in Chester Upland it is evident that despite several state interventions, Chester Upland can’t figure out how to get paychecks to teachers on time and appear to be operating under a separate set of rules from the regular public schools. In the meantime, the real issue is buried in the middle of the article:

Chester’s troubles also show just how deeply budget cuts bite in poor districts. With a median household income of $26,000, just half of the state median, Chester has one of the state’s most meager tax bases. State financing makes up about 70 percent of its budget. For comparison, nearby Radnor Township, with a median household income of $85,000, draws just 10 percent of its school budget from state money, according to a town spokesman. The largest share is real estate taxes, at 83 percent.

“Poor schools in this state are underfunded,” said Thomas Persing, acting deputy superintendent for the Chester Upland district. “Poor kids aren’t going to get the same shot as wealthy kids. That’s the society we are in now.”

The touting of technology as an elixir is debunked in an LA Times article that was posted in Naked Capitalism. It appears that Apple has no evidence that the replacement of textbooks with technology but there is lots of evidence that it will add to their bottom line in many different ways. One problem: the article bases its conclusions undercutting the efficacy of technology on the fact that student test scores remained stagnant. The point of technology is individualization: letting students move through the curriculum at their own pace. The fact that annual test scores don’t change is unimportant because annual standardized tests don’t measure what’s important…


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