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Archive for November, 2019

A Short, Blunt Case Against Philanthropy

November 30, 2019 Comments off

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Axios offers a succinct explanation of how philanthropy is undemocratic. After reading this it is not hard to connect the dots between “charitable giving to charter schools” and profiteering billionaires.

Not ‘Free Stuff,’ But Public Goods: Ocasio-Cortez Denounces Neoliberal Talking Points on Publicly-Funded Education and Housing

November 30, 2019 Comments off

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez eloquently counters the neoliberal arguments against free college by noting that ANYTHING that is funded publicly is available to everyone. The argument that free college underwrites the children of billionaires is a preposterous as arguing that road construction benefits them more because they drive nicer cars. The debate she’s raising is what constitutes a public good; what is government’s responsibility to the public. When we can afford to pay for more public goods if we raised taxes on those who make billions the question is “Why aren’t we doing it?”

Source: Not ‘Free Stuff,’ But Public Goods: Ocasio-Cortez Denounces Neoliberal Talking Points on Publicly-Funded Education and Housing

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Scorecard Assumes Education’s Primary End is $$$$$

November 27, 2019 Comments off

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It comes as no surprise that Betsy DeVos’ USDOE sees earnings as the primary metric for determining the value of post secondary education. One possible way to change her perspective on this might be to emphasize that she is pursuing an Obama era initiative. For sure her boss would abandon it if he knew that was the case!

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NBC Editorial WAY Off Base

November 27, 2019 Comments off

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This article is so full of untruths and half-truths it’s hard to know where to begin. My thought since Mr. Cuff references PA schools is to enter “charter school corruption in PA” into a Google search.

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NYTimes Deceptive Headline and All But One of Their “Picks” Mislead Readers

November 27, 2019 Comments off

The NYTimes headline to an article written by Erica Green and Eliza Shapiro reads:

Minority Voters Chafe as Democratic Candidates Abandon Charter Schools

There are at least four problems with this headline and the article.

The first is this fact, which is buried near the end of the article:

Black and Latino approval for the (charter) schools remained basically steady at about 47 percent for each group.

47% hardly constitutes a majority of “minority voters” and I daresay if you asked them a narrower question, one that reflects the actual position of the Democrats, they would lean toward the positions the candidates are actually, taking, which is not “abandonment” but rather “regulation”.

Which brings me to the second point: each and every candidate quoted was not opposed to ALL charters. Indeed, the most progressive of the candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, made it clear that they opposed deregulated and/or for-profit charters.

The third problem is that the NAACP, arguably a voice for African Americans, took a stand against charter schools in 2016 that is, in fact, the basis for both Warren’s and Sanders’ positions, a fact that the article DID highlight:

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders say their education plans would address the causes of educational inequality, in part, by significantly increasing funding for high-poverty schools.

Both plans echo the N.A.A.C.P., which called in 2016 for a moratorium on new charter schools. Mr. Sanders has gone further than Ms. Warren by linking charters to school segregation.

Josh Orton, a spokesman for Mr. Sanders, said the senator believed that “all students deserve a world-class public education, regardless of their ZIP code.” He added that “too many charter schools are unaccountable and contributing to privatization.”

Finally, the article references the progressive candidates’ position of cutting federal funding for schools without noting the facts referenced in yesterday’s post noting that nearly 25% of the $4,000,000,000 allocated went to schools that never opened!

To make matters worse, the article went overboard posting fingers at unions as the driving force behind the shift away from charter expansion. And not only did they do so in the article, they amplified this position in the comments they selected as “picks” with the two leading ones deriding unions as greedy and uninterested in the welfare of children.

I could go on… but instead I am going to paste in a comment by Chris Gray, of Chicago that captures my thinking on the NYTimes coverage of this issue perfectly:

This is a very deceptive article. The data point given shows that fewer than half of black and Latino Democrats approve of charter schools, even as they’ve plunged much lower among white Democrats. Most of the “activists” cited in this article are simply representing the interests of their financial backers and racializing support for charter schools because they know how that plays in Democratic quarters and liberal media outlets set up to focus on identity politics. These faux activists aren’t really representing blacks and Latinos, they’re representing money. Charter schools provide a means to privatize and capitalize on public schools. They divert tax money from the socialized system into one that is set up for the benefit of capitalist investors. They cherry-pick the best students and leave the rest in the old system, and even then they don’t show better results overall. The problem with the education of low-income minorities is one of poverty and institutional racism. The problem is not public schools. Setting up a separate system where Wall Street receives a dividend primarily helps Wall Street, which is paying for this astroturf activism.

Time to Abandon SAT and ACT

November 26, 2019 Comments off

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No surprises in this article, which indicates that the gap between children of affluent families and those raised in poverty are widening while the correlation between college success and test scores is diminishing. Time to abandon these tests!

Elizabeth Warren’s Charter Funding Cuts Misrepresented

November 26, 2019 Comments off

Unsurprisingly yet maddeningly the mainstream press continues to misrepresent Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to cut federal funding for charter schools, a misrepresentation that is at best unwittingly misleading and at worst intentionally so. A recent article by Carol Burris and Kevin Welner that was reprinted in Valerie Strauss’ Washington Post column explains how the plan has been presented incorrectly:

…The commentary (of those who oppose Warren’s plan) hinges on this claim: that Warren’s “education platform includes eliminating federal funding for charter schools.” In reality, Warren’s plan would greatly increase the federal funding provided to…charter and public schools.

To understand why, consider two other elements of Warren’s education plan. First, she proposes quadrupling Title I funding so that it rises to levels that have long been pledged by Washington politicians but never reached. Secondly, and similarly, she would more than double federal funding for students with special needs served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — again aiming for levels long promised but never fulfilled.

Both Mr. Welner and Ms. Burris have done extensive research on the charter schools that benefitted from federal funding and each independently came to the same conclusion: over $1,000,000,000 of the $4,000,000,000+ went to charter schools that never opened and a lion’s share of the money went to charter chains:

The federal Charter Schools Program, which began as a modest experiment in 1995, has turned into a cash cow for a number of organizations that lobby on behalf of charter schools, for real estate developers through its facilities program, and for the huge multimillion dollar charter chains that are constantly seeking to expand.

Warren’s proposal is to stop this waste while also providing greater support to all schools, both public and charter, as they do their best to provide learning opportunities to students in real need.

In short, Ms. Warren seeks to redirect public funds to public institutions and eliminate the middleman: the profiteers who seek to increase revenues by cutting costs and limiting compensation for workers. Such ideas fly in the face of what passes for conventional wisdom– that businesses operate more efficiently than public institutions— in this case “government schools”– and the market place can best sort out winners and losers. Changing THAT paradigm seems to be every bit as difficult as changing the paradigm that students must be batched by age cohorts and tested annually to ensure that they are making progress. Our schools will never improve as long as those paradigms remain in place.