Monday, July 27, 2009

Obama's Push for Charter Schools SIdetracks Real Reform of Public Schools

Schools are schools, public and private. They all have teachers and classes. And it appears charter and voucher schools, as they expand in number, are adopting many of the same elements as their public school rivals. A school by any other name, charter or voucher, is still… a school.

And as they increase in number, charter and private voucher schools appear to require more funding, just like the public schools. Some predict that K-12 education accounts are just around the corner to help parents pay for future private tuition costs. How nice.

Bottom line; we're creating charter and voucher parallel systems that contain pretty much the same problems as the public school systems, tripling the amount of government oversight required. Wasn't it hard enough watching over the public school systems?
The following story from a recent NY Times article about charter unionization, illustrates the positive and negative similarities between the “different” systems of education. In the end, the only difference will be one system will try and turn a profit, the other will not. Guess which one will require more taxpayer support.

As Charter Schools Unionize, Many Debate Effect

Dissatisfied with long hours, churning turnover and, in some cases, lower pay than instructors at other public schools, an increasing number of teachers at charter schools are unionizing … the nation’s 4,600 charter schools operate without unions, they have been freer to innovate, their advocates say. “Charter schools have been too successful for the unions to ignore,” said Elizabeth Purvis, executive director of the Chicago International Charter School, where teachers voted last month to unionize 3 of its 12 campuses.

Actually they haven’t been successful overall. Nice try Ms. Purvis. But I digress…

But the unionization effort raises questions about whether unions will strengthen the charter movement or weaken it. Paul Hill, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the
University of Washington said, “Labor unrest in a charter school can wipe it out fast. It won’t go well for unions if the schools they organize decline in quality or go bust.”

Moves toward unionizing have revealed greater teacher unrest than was previously known. “I was frustrated with all the turnover among staff, with the lack of teacher input, with working longer and harder than teachers at other schools and earning less,” said Jennifer Gilley, a social studies teacher at the Ralph Ellison Campus of the Chicago International Charter School, who said she made $38,000 as a base salary as a starting teacher, compared with about $43,500 paid by the Chicago Public Schools.

Unions are not entirely new to charter schools. Teachers at hundreds of charter schools in Wisconsin, California and elsewhere have long been union members, not because they signed up, but because of local laws, like those that extend union status to all schools in a state or district.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called the gains of the past year “a precursor.” She quoted Albert Shanker, her union’s founder, as saying charter schools should be “incubators of good instructional practice.” “I’m adding to the argument,” Ms. Weingarten said. “Let them be incubators of good labor practice.”

…in Chicago, where students at several Chicago International campuses have scores among the city’s highest for nonselective schools, teachers began organizing last fall after an administrator increased workloads to six classes a day from five.

For Joyce Pae, an English teacher at Ralph Ellison, the decision was agonizing. Her concerns over what she saw as chaotic turnover and inconsistency in allocating merit pay led her to join the drive. But after school leaders began paying more attention to teachers’ views, she said, she voted against unionization in June. Union teachers won the vote, 73-49.

Here’s another "Race to the Bottom" story that deals with links student testing to teacher pay. Arnie Duncan’s charter money would be denied to states that have banned such a test, like Wisconsin, Nevada and California. More revealing, Republicans who have shunned stimulus money and more government spending, are proposing a law to do away with the ban. These conservative hypocrites are falling all over themselves to get federal money (a handout) so they can promote their pet "charter privatization of schools." Notice how quickly they acted. Have they no shame!

President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Friday unveiled their proposed “Race to the Top” funding.” By Friday afternoon, state Republican Sen. Randy Hopper and Rep. Brett Davis had announced plans to introduce legislation that would change Chapter 118.30(2)(c) to eliminate the prohibition on using state testing in teacher evaluations.

The legislators said they hoped the change could make Wisconsin eligible for up to $612 million in Race to the Top funds. "Wisconsin's statutory barriers between student achievement data and teachers performance is now being ridiculed across the country," Hopper said in a news release.

Ridiculed nationally? Really, I must have missed that story.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent, as usual.

    Saw you similar comment at Schools Matter (?) and decided to let you take it on.

    We are on our way to a public/private system where those with the money will control everything. Reminds me of health care...