The real Charter School agenda: Private equity and the silencing of teachers

17
4

Charter schools usually run for profit.

We give them our tax dollars and they spend them however they want.

They do not have to account for where the money goes.

So it doesn’t take Shelden Cooper to work out charter schools are so appealing to some. But just in case, let me make it plain:

fist full of dollars

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

You might have the impression that charter schools do better for kids, and that the money is well spent and the secrecy and profiteering is all worthwhile if it gets kids a better education.

Oh if only that were true.

Better results from charter schools?  

The USA’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that students in charter schools performed several points worse than students in traditional public schools in both reading and maths on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test.

The 2009 Stanford University CREDO study found that a ”quarter of New Jersey charter schools have below-average growth and below-average achievement in maths, and the same is true for 35 percent of the charter schools in reading.”

CREDO 2009 also found that when charter school students and public school students from the same districts were compared, only 17% of students did better, 46% did about the same, and 37% of students were doing worse.  Source.

By 2013,  CREDO declared that charter results were about the same as public schools. The same. And all this despite much more funding and 20 years of operation.

upward trend dollars

So what’s the draw?

Well why not go to this conference and find out: “Private Equity Investing in For-Profit Education Companies – How Breakdowns in Traditional Models & Applications of New Technologies Are Driving Change”

The conference description is rather intriguing:

Private equity investing in for-profit education is soaring … for-profit education is one of the largest U.S. investment markets, currently topping $1.3 Trillion in value.

The advert goes on to say:

“What are some of the main challenges that Private Equity investors are facing in the education sector?”

The answer: Teachers.  Thus, we must silence them.

Source 1   Source 2

Well, dear reader, do you still think it’s all about educating the poor kidlets?

Oh wait, there’s more…

Check out this agenda for the 2013 Education Summit in Arizona. (edinnovation.asu.edu) The panel, they crow, will include Ron Packard (of K12 Inc.) and other profiteers discussing:

A Class of Their Own: From Seed to Scale in a Decade: What Does it take for an Education Company to Reach $$$1Billion?

Remember, that’s tax dollars they are salivating over.

Yep, allllll about the students.

Tui - yeah right

As Associate Professor Peter O’Connor said:

Charter schools are part of an international Right-wing attack on progressive and humanist traditions of education…

The attack is not driven by a genuine desire to remedy the ills of the education system, but by the desire to create a cheaper teaching force, one that is shackled by narrow-minded, test-based accountability measures, and one that has less union power to fight back.

Source.

And if you still think charter or partnership movement is about helping our neediest students, you really need to start clicking on some of those sources above.

 

17 COMMENTS

  1. Without doubt, the entire Charter Schools agenda is part of the “private-enterprise-does-it-best” cliche. Something which experience has taught us is sheer hogwash.

    Otherwise, why do so many private schools end up going begging to the State, cap-in-hand, for a bail-out?

    In the late 1980s, New Zealanders resisted Douglas’s $50-per-night/ten-nights-maximum hospital charge. We already paid for healthvcare through our taxes – why should we pay for it again?

    Kiwis need to apply the same staunch resistance to Charter Schools, because make no mistake, this is privatisation through stealth, via the back door.

    Labour is right to issue a clear warning to Charter School operators in NZ: this will not be allowed to stand in our country.

  2. I’m no fan of charter schools and have spent plenty of time on Kiwiblog comments threads ridiculing DPF’s constant enthusiastic propaganda for them. However, it doesn’t help to post stuff that is obviously wrong.

    I found it highly unlikely that an ad for a conference on private education would say “What are some of the main challenges that Private Equity investors are facing in the education sector? The answer: Teachers. Thus, we must silence them”, so I had a look at the sources you provide. As it turns out, only the question “What are some of the main challenges that Private Equity investors are facing in the education sector?” is from the ad – the rest of your quote, “The answer: Teachers. Thus, we must silence them” is from a blog comment, not from the ad.

    Which makes your evidence for “the real agenda for charter schools” an opinion you read in a blog comment – nobody’s going to be convinced by that.

    • Milt, I’m constantly amazed that folk such as Farrar support Charter Schools.

      Private schools are one thing, where private money is used to set up a private institution. That’s their business (excuse the pun).

      But Charter Schools are a whole different kettle of kippers altogether. That’s tax-payers’ money effectively subsidising private enterprise. (Which is nothing new for this government, I guess.)

      One would think that neo-lib purists would oppose that sort of thing (which Hooton does) on principle?

      • Not really.

        The whole modus operandi of the neo liberal movement is for corporations to attach themselves to the public purse like ticks.
        Or be gifted a monopoly, like say … power companies.

        Once you have become the incumbent provider for a service that taxpayers require, you are home and hosed.

        You can then the money provided by the taxpayer for the service to lobby the government for even greater advantage.

      • Doesn’t surprise me any. I believe the agenda is:
        1. Breaking the teacher unions.
        2. Undermining the public education system.
        3. Using middle-class angst about getting the best education for your kids to political advantage.

        Strikes me that DPF would be wholeheartedly in favour of all of those. And, as you point out, it’s taxpayers’ money subsidising private enterprise – when have any of our supposed classical liberals ever had any problem with that?

    • Duly noted, Milt – my error in editing the piece, which I have now corrected. Editing aside, the point still stands – breaking the teachers unions is key to profiteering from the education sector.

  3. Oh my god, where to start with this – I will try at the beginning

    The first thing I would like understood is that I am a huge, huge fan of alternative education, and all parents should, in an ideal world, have choice for their kids.

    The second thing I want to state, that in my view, charter schools, as we are being presented with them, are NOT the way to go.

    Firstly, profit, even in England, Charter schools are not allowed to profit, earn their keep, yes, profit, no. I see charter schooling ending up like rest homes, not the best care for the residents, rubbish pay for the carers, but profit still delivered to the share holders. Unforgivable in the care industry, a hanging offence, to me, in education.

    Next, offering disadvantaged kids an alternative. Come on, pull the other one please. How many charter schools do you think you will see springing up in poor areas, how many people in those areas can you see being able, even if they want to, to afford to get their kids to s charter school, as there won’t be one of every corner.

    Teachers, now I have had a gutsful of the way teachers are put down these days. Dollars to doughnuts, just about to a man, those hurling the criticism of them, wouldn’t step foot in front of a classroom if their lives depended on it. Teaching in many places is a tough call these days, and rather than brickbats we should be collectively showering them with bouquets.
    The bottom most of school pupils not succeeding are, unfortunately, coming from unsupportive home backgrounds, and to expect teachers to fill the gap is just asking too much. Kids who come from a supportive background prepared for school, can be taught sitting under a tree.

    Having said that, I would love to see a whole lot of Andre Agassi’s involved in education.

    The big problem is kids not prepared for school, not schooling itself, and alternative forms of education can come from WITHIN the system. The enemy is poverty and apathy outside the school, absolutely not the teachers within.

    My solution is that we could proceed with a form alternative education, but it absolutely MUST be not for profit, I think that could solve some of the issues. Plus teachers must be registered and mainly qualified, although I can see a place for, say, tradespeople turning their hand to teaching older students not having to be qualified teachers, but no way should little kids have non qualified teachers in front of them.

    • Raegun – love your response and agree wholeheartedly. Especially with your assertion that we need ‘alternative education’ – certainly an alternative from what is currently offered in today’s schools. Sir Ken Robinson puts this as only he could in his most recent TED talk – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX78iKhInsc – he talks about all those kids who have ‘failed the system’ being offered ‘alternative education’. Yet, the alternative education offered is exactly what sound evidence and research would suggest actually works with kids (not the research the Minister currently falls on when justifying her sledgehammer policies at present). Real evidence. Charter Schools certainly aren’t the way to provide this alternative education.

    • @ Raegun. You say the following: “The bottom most of school pupils not succeeding are, unfortunately, coming from unsupportive home backgrounds, and to expect teachers to fill the gap is just asking too much. Kids who come from a supportive background prepared for school, can be taught sitting under a tree.

      Having said that, I would love to see a whole lot of Andre Agassi’s involved in education.

      The big problem is kids not prepared for school, not schooling itself, and alternative forms of education can come from WITHIN the system. The enemy is poverty and apathy outside the school, absolutely not the teachers within.”

      So, given that the reasons for educational underachievement lie outside the school gates and beyond the purview of teachers, I’m puzzled that you see any role at all for alternative education – whatever that means in practice. Nor do I see where someone such as Andre Agassi would fit in.

      Surely the strategies to fix underachievement also lie outside the school gates?

      @ Dianne Khan: you’re preaching to the converted, so to speak – in this neck of the woods at least. A change of government is the only hope, I suspect.

  4. In August 2012, John Banks had to resort to telling lies about Finland supposedly using Charter Schools to further his agenda; http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/charter-schools-another-lie-from-john-banks/

    None of it was true, of course. Finland doesn’t employ charter schools. What the Finns do is invest heavily in education, teacher training, and higher salaries.

    Politicians in Finland do not deride teachers (as far as I’m aware) for political point scoring.

    The Finns understand the basic concept that good education costs.

    Charter schools is a cheaper’n’nasty education system. It uses unqualified (ie, low wage) teaching staff.

    It is cost-cutting as well as back-door privatisation.

    • You are right , Finland see the teaching profession as a profession of value perhaps in the same way we value the legal and medical professions, they attract the top students to enter the teaching profession, invest top dollar in teacher training ie they attract the “best and the brightest” what I am trying to say is that Finland place a high value into teachers and teacher training, unlike NZ where this government seem to be always criticising the teaching profession, getting into battles with the teachers unions, closing schools etc

  5. My first foray into the daily blog. really interesting providing a refreshing alternative to popular media with its predictable coverage of events and people.

Comments are closed.