Monday, August 4, 2014

Charter school arguments are affront to the facts By Bruce C. Ditata

The clock is ticking and the charter school wonks are getting desperate to regain the field after the Massachusetts Senate rejected a bill that would have raised the cap on charter schools in some districts. In the aftermath of this recent legislative battle, the charters' hawkers and shills have sunk to record lows.

First into the fray is the late Dixiecrat, George Wallace, whose political expediency on maintaining segregation in Alabama in 1962 was used by Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass in their Guest View ("Vote on charter caps was just wrong," July 24).

Wallace's tactics, in their view, supported the position that all the no votes by Massachusetts senators were not substantive, but designed merely "to appease the monied interests of the education establishment." So the gauntlet has been thrown down for following the money trail.

Do a little research and you will see that the Pioneer Institute, which employs both Chieppo and Gass, has close ties to organizations and individuals who represent the most monied interests in these fair shores of ours. In addition to being a right wing think tank, the Pioneer Institute is an affiliate of the State Policy Network (SPN), whose annual meeting in September, as reported by the Center for Media and Democracy, "featured a legislative agenda that included privatizing and profitizing schools."

In his Pioneer Institute biography, Mr. Chieppo lists accomplishments in governmental service that include "easing state restrictions against privatization." This experience has perfect symmetry with the Pioneer Institute and "monied interests."

Over the past decade, its top private donors have included David Koch, an original member of what education historian Diane Ravitch has coined the "Billionaire's Boys Club," who gave $125,000 in 2007 and over $100,000 each year from 2008-12. The Koch brothers' vast corporate empire funds many of the most powerful right-wing groups in the SPN.

Until last year, the Pioneer Institute was also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose "core education agenda," according to Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association," is about vouchers and privatization."

The next affront to our sensibilities in the Chieppo/Gass article links the senate's vote to a rejection of the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling. In its essence, the 1954 Supreme Court decision struck down segregation in American public schools, with the enduring mantra that, "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

The article states that the vote "blocked justice from being done and approved the 21st century version of segregation by preventing more poor and minority children from accessing high quality educational opportunity." Again, public relations techniques and flowery rhetoric do not jibe with plain facts.

Theoretically, charter schools open doors to all comers via a blind lottery, but, over the course of the journey, roadblocks create detours for those inside their hallowed halls. A case in point is Boston Preparatory Charter, the Pozen Prize winning institution of 2013.

BPC's website states "For the fourth spring in a row, 100 percent of BPCPS graduating seniors have been accepted to college." However, what's hidden is the terrible truth behind those numbers: students who don't fit their model for success are elbowed and pushed out along the way.

For example, BPC's class of 2011, which began in sixth grade with 106 students, actually resulted in 13 diplomas, only 12 percent of the starting class. By any statistical gauge of success, this number is miniscule.

So, how does an 88 percent attrition rate equal true access to, "high quality educational opportunity"?

It's apparent by the lopsided 49-13 state senate vote that momentum is shifting. The dirty secret behind the Charter School Industry is finally unmasked and buyers are finally starting to beware.

Charter school promoters clearly need a new play book. By conjuring up George Wallace and Brown v. Board of Education as means of supporting their sagging position, the charter school movement appears to be signaling for a "no-huddle offense" or the "2-minute drill" to win.

For that, they might need to conjure up Tom Brady.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like this Bruce.