Home > Uncategorized > Three Posts by Diane Ravitch Illustrate How Three State Legislatures Enable Profiteers to Test, Pillage, and Escape Punishment

Three Posts by Diane Ravitch Illustrate How Three State Legislatures Enable Profiteers to Test, Pillage, and Escape Punishment

August 15, 2018

Three of yesterday’s posts by Diane Ravitch illustrated how charter school profiteers operate: they get legislators to pass bills that close schools that are failing based on standardized test scores, deregulate those schools, and allow them to escape with no adverse consequences if they fail to provide an education to the students.

In Arkansas, Diane describes how the Waltons “...used their billions to leverage control of the State Education Department, the Legislature, and the State Education Board” by getting legislation passed that enabled them to get a former lobbyist appointed to Commissioner of Education and passing a law that required

“…Arkansas school districts to turn over buildings constructed with local property taxes to be turned over to any charter school that wants them, no matter how unproven the charter operator, no matter how damaging the charter might be to existing — and successful — true public schools.”

That’s not Diane Ravitch’s interpretation of the language: that IS the language! Then, when six of Little Rock’s 48 public schools were labeled “failing,” the state to took control of the entire district, ending local control. This is Ms. Ravitch’s reaction:

Read that again. The low test scores of 6 of 48 schools were grounds for the dissolution of democratic control in the entire district.The goal, of course, was to enable the Walton puppets to introduce private charter schools, which are controlled by private boards.

In another post Diane drew from a post by Mercedes Schneider describing how the Louisiana legislature passed laws that assign letter grades to schools and then use “low grades” as the basis for school closures and takeovers by profiteers. Ms. Schnieder describes the gambit underway at their State Department of Education where a recalibration of grades will result a decline of 38% in the number of A rated schools and a 57% increase in the number of F rated schools, which will broaden the pool of schools that coulee be privatized. But wait! Who are those F rated schools?

“Of course, the great irony here is that most charter schools in Louisiana are concentrated in New Orleans, and 40 percent of those scored D or F in 2017— prior to the anticipated, 57 percent increase in F-graded schools. But in the view of market-based ed reform, it is okay for charter schools have Fs because theoretically, these can be replaced by new charter schools ad infinitum with charter-closure churn being branded as a success.”

Churn might happen in Louisiana… but based on another post of Diane’s it is extremely difficult to create churn in Florida, where it is seemingly impossible of the school board to close a failing charter school. Eagle Arts Academy owes the Palm Springs School District $700,000, has declining enrollments, has shifted many of its revenues into the business of it’s head administrator, and has poor test scores. In the “free market” of charter schools, Eagle Arts Academy should be out of business… but the legislature has made it extraordinarily difficult to close a “failing charter” even though it makes it extraordinarily easy to close a “failing public school”.  As Diane Ravitch laments:

Okay, so the director puts the school’s money into his personal business. Is that a problem? So it hasn’t paid rent? No problem. The director explained that the test scores are low because the students are visual learners, you know, artistic types.

Taken together these three posts describe the life cycle of profiteers: pass legislation that makes it easy to close failing public schools; require the cash-strapped public schools to open their buildings to profiteers; and allow the profiteers to stay in business even if they fail to meet the expectations set for public schools. Oh… and last but not least make it impossible for democratically elected boards to close the profit centers. Test, plunder, and escape punishment…. all in the name of “reform”.

 

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