A Look Inside The Mind Of A Charter Advocate

Filed in National by on January 11, 2013

Over at Kilroy’s an interesting comment from Publius e decere was posted laying out his/her vision concerning charter schools and vouchers.  It is quite enlightening.

Kilroy,

A $2500 voucher is no voucher at all. A full-cost voucher ($11,000+ comparable to today’s expense level) is something to support. So how about this:

. Vouchers for all — $11,000+ per student — funded by the fed, state and local funds collected today through taxes. For use at any establihsed DE school. Provided that such school commits to delivering student reslts and if they fail will forfeit their right to receive vouchers for some period in the future.
. No more limits on charter school enrollment — let schools which are in demand enroll everyone who wants to attend.
. Force districts to REALLY make unused space availabel for charter schools. In a district with two school buildingls operating at 70% capacity, move kids from one to the other to fill it and let the residual-building open space of 60% be made available for charter schools at a lease rate which recovers district cost pro rata. No gouging.
. Don’t like that? Then make it a requirement that referendum capital money be spent in strict proportion to the number of students in public (i.e., TP and charter) schools. So if a charter school attracts alot of students, they get alot of the capital money (from referendum) for their building.

The premise you have to accept is that maybe, just maybe, the TPSs will not attract enough students to be viable.and will have to close. A capitalist dream scenario. A Darwinian solution. A school of hard knocks answer to fixing schools.

TPSs are merely one form of education. Thy are not the only way. And they are not entitled to survive if they don’t deliver value in the form of measurable student results. Just like charter schools: Close them if they don’t deliver student outcomes, and triage them (not close them) if they deliver student outcomes BUT have management challenges at the adult level. Like Pencader.

Publius

Stunning.  So stunning I had to reply:

Let’s look at Publius’ suggestions:

. Vouchers for all — $11,000+ per student — funded by the fed, state and local funds collected today through taxes. For use at any establihsed DE school. Provided that such school commits to delivering student reslts and if they fail will forfeit their right to receive vouchers for some period in the future.

For all? I don’t need a crystal ball to see how that would work out. Children in CSW, NCS, AP, IB, Cambridge will leave their charters/public schools and be welcomed into many private schools. Higher needs children will not be welcomed – they’ll end up at all the new Voucher Schools that will be springing up. So, academic results will be delivered at desirable private schools, since tax payer funded skimming will move from charters to private schools.

. No more limits on charter school enrollment — let schools which are in demand enroll everyone who wants to attend.

First, there is a physical space limitation, but we’ll address that later. Second… I keep writing my thoughts to this point, but then stop because I keep picturing charter advocates’ heads exploding. Take everyone who wants to attend? I’m all for this, but it isn’t reality. It also isn’t the “in demand” charter school model. Altho… having to take everyone would finally demonstrate if a charter school’s success was based on what they did inside a classroom or who they let in a classroom.

. Force districts to REALLY make unused space availabel for charter schools. In a district with two school buildingls operating at 70% capacity, move kids from one to the other to fill it and let the residual-building open space of 60% be made available for charter schools at a lease rate which recovers district cost pro rata. No gouging.

So, we would move public school kids out of their neighborhood schools to make room for a charter? I don’t think you meant to sound callous, but… wow. We aren’t talking about consolidating and downsizing a business here. We are talking about children.

No gouging? I could be wrong, but the only example we have of a charter school renting space from a district is CSW. Remind me, again, of how much they were gouged in rent for years? It would be helpful if you weren’t so ready to paint everyone who didn’t agree with everything about charters as the enemy, out to gouge charters.

. Don’t like that? Then make it a requirement that referendum capital money be spent in strict proportion to the number of students in public (i.e., TP and charter) schools. So if a charter school attracts alot of students, they get alot of the capital money (from referendum) for their building.

I actually miss the days when charter school advocates proclaimed, “We can do better with less money!” Their point was (and I heard this ad nauseum) that charters didn’t have all the “waste, fraud and abuse” that public schools had. Since we’re now throwing that out the window and money is obviously a big concern with charters, then you guys probably owe public schools an apology – either that or charters are full of waste, fraud and abuse, too. Can’t have it both ways.

I’m not in business, but I know many who are and not one of them would pay for building they didn’t own unless they were guaranteed a return on their investment. Do you plan on having a failed charter write every tax payer a check? Would tax payers get their money before unpaid vendors or the lease/mortgage holders?

Capital referendums are very specific. School districts have to convince tax payers to pay for very specific things, and many times tax payers say no. Should we tell tax payers, “We know you voted for a new science lab addition to your school, but since we lost students you won’t be getting what you voted for? Should we now simply put a big Question Mark on the ballot? This is already happening with operational referendums – tax payers are voting for programs/smaller class sizes and not getting them due to their tax dollars going to charters. (That needs to be fixed, btw. Tax payers are entitled to know exactly what they’re voting for.)

So much for accountability and transparency.

Steve Newton responded, as well:

Just reading this. At last we get the true Publius Manifesto.

First

The premise you have to accept is that maybe, just maybe, the TPSs will not attract enough students to be viable.and will have to close. A capitalist dream scenario. A Darwinian solution. A school of hard knocks answer to fixing schools.

Public education as a Darwinian exercise is not public education. Once again, as in virtually all of Publius’ writings there is a complete lack of any concern, compassion, or even mention of the children in the schools that won’t be “viable.” To Publius children in inner city schools, children who cannot afford the transportation costs, or do not have the parental support to go to charters or public schools are simply the necessary collateral damage in establishing his new, alternative school system around charters. “A school of hard knocks” means that Publius feels no public responsibility whatever for high-risk student populations today.

Then

In a district with two school buildingls operating at 70% capacity, move kids from one to the other to fill it and let the residual-building open space of 60% be made available for charter schools at a lease rate which recovers district cost pro rata. No gouging.

Here Publius admits the underlying truth of his philosophy: public schools are secondary in importance to charters. No matter that he would deprive a neighborhood of its school–if a charter school wants a free building, it should receive it. Those public school children don’t count as human beings to Publius–they are little moochers on the societal teat who can be warehoused anywhere.

I was supposedly odious for suggesting that Publius hearkens back to the days of Plessy, huh? Well, by using “Darwinian” in a social policy context, Publius has proved my point, and–more importantly–proven his incapacity to serve in any position of responsibility with ANY school.

As for his ridiculous no gouging comment, it is worse than you think, pandora. You are right that CSW is the only charter being charged for use of a school building, but they are not being charged rent. They are being charged their portion of the building’s debt structure–their portion of the loan maintenance. That’s the lower minimum of the real cost of keeping the building open. But to Publius, that’s gouging the only entities that matter.

In other words, Publius is the real deal: a charter school zealot who believes that public schools should be phased out, and that any intrusive small children who are inconveniently unable to participate in his charter school Darwinian experiment should be sent to public workhouses.

kilroy, by using his charters are an expression of choice meme, you further his legitimacy, and advance his cause of eliminating public education rather than fixing it. And be sure (as the Publius Manifesto makes clear)–to Publius education is about “survival of the fittest,” and only charter schools students are fit by definition.

Let’s change odious to loathsome.

Ladies and gentlemen, Publius laid out the Charter Manifesto for all to see. What brought about this discussion (altho Publius rarely responds to any counter arguments on blogs – which makes his comments very close to blog graffiti) was the possible closure of Pencader Charter School – which Publius believes deserves yet another chance to remain open.  Please notice his sympathy, and lenience, extends to charter schools only.

Read that one sentence of Publius’ again because it’s a doozy:

The premise you have to accept is that maybe, just maybe, the TPSs will not attract enough students to be viable.and will have to close. A capitalist dream scenario. A Darwinian solution. A school of hard knocks answer to fixing schools.

And there you have it.  Non-viable public schools will have to close.  Pencader? Not so much.

(Note: This post isn’t really about Pencader.  It’s about a mindset, and different set of rules, Charter advocates apply only to themselves.)

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A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

Comments (8)

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  1. Mike O. says:

    If this debate makes your eyes glaze over, I believe it is about to become very real and clear when, as I suspect, a bill to authorize state-provided capital funding for charter schools will be brought up this spring. The deal-makers are all in a room as we speak – when the bill is introduced it will be a fait accompli.

    Charter schools have been a feature of the Delaware landscape for years. They clearly draw resources away from our traditional public schools, but the effect has been bearable. But capital funding is the accelerant that will allow charters to greatly expand the number of seats they control, and will push us past a tipping point where traditional schools will have to close. The landscape of public education is about to change in ways that have not been debated or voted on publicly, or even revealed or explained properly by our school authorities.

    I don’t know what form the capital funding will take, but it is the biggest desire of charters. There is really nothing else on their wish list. I believe the deal will take the form of a deal that grants capital funding in return for some giveback on the part of charters, but I can’t imagine any giveback being sufficient for the consequences.

    I don’t see charters going to referendum – they would never submit to local control or conditions imposed by voters. Which voters would they ask for approval? How would they get a Certificate of Need? Most charters do not belong to a district. There will be some other special method of capital funding that does not require local approval. The whole point of state-sponsored charters is to make an end-run around the needs and desires of the community in which the school is located.

  2. pandora says:

    Exactly, Mike. Capital funding for charters is the next step.

    They already receive Operational Referendum funding – even though no voter approved that funding. When we vote for an Operational referendum (new programs, smaller class sizes, etc.) nowhere on that ballot does it state that what we’re voting for (and paying for) may not happen because funds will be diverted to charter schools.

  3. geezer says:

    “we would move public school kids out of their neighborhood schools”

    Please show me any public school feeder pattern that sends its residents to schools in their neighborhoods for 12 years.

    If you’re going to argue for neighborhood schools, please start by acknowledging that we don’t have them now and haven’t since the start of busing.

  4. cassandra_m says:

    Vouchers for all — $11,000+ per student — funded by the fed, state and local funds collected today through taxes. For use at any establihsed DE school. Provided that such school commits to delivering student reslts and if they fail will forfeit their right to receive vouchers for some period in the future.

    Frankly, this is AOK with me. With one provision — that people with school age children pay all of the taxes that fund education. I am heartily tired of being asked to pay for an education system that doesn’t work (at least for the kids where I live), and watch as people like Publius work at making sure it never does. If the system isn’t working, then it is time to stop pretending that we are paying for a public good here. Because we are paying for a public good that only certain people get anything from. So if we want parents to have choices, then it is well past time for parents to pay the freight.

  5. pandora says:

    Geezer, We have neighborhood schools for K-5. We have feeder patterns for the rest – these feeders and neighborhood schools come with guaranteed transportation.

    Moving kids out of their under capacity neighborhood school or feeder school to give publicly financed public schools to charters demonstrates where Publius’s priorities lie – and those priorities are definitely not with all the children.

  6. Geezer says:

    Pandora: All true, and yet my point stands. Whatever else it did, busing destroyed public support for public schools in Delaware.

    The problem with charters has been the state’s willingness to charter many dubious schools that have no legitimate reason to exist. The intent of the law was to spur alternative approaches, not to funnel money to people who see public education as a river of cash.

    Of course, the worst offenders in that category are the people who want to “reform” public education. I would sooner see it destroyed than “reformed” to Michelle Rhee’s specifications.

  7. heragain says:

    Oy.

    Well, first, have to agree with Geezer on the impact of busing on support for schools. It’s so “out of sight, out of mind” with the current feeder system that it makes it hard to get the parent/neighborhood involvement that would help schools.

    Pencader is breaking my heart. As a homeschooler, my general attitude is that the public schools (including charters) deserve our support but not our loyalty. They’re full of people with good intentions, handicapped by conditions outside their control. Especially, they’re full of amazing teachers. Charters get a break in being able to exclude kids who don’t fit their profile, but that was accomplished, albeit more informally, by segregation and stigmatizing kids with learning disabilities, as well as by a culture that didn’t assume everyone would go to a 4 year academic college. The population we, as a culture, are trying to educate has changed in ways we never bothered to get a handle on. That bill is coming due.

    But one of my kids started working with some of the Pencader kids. He came home, after the first day, and I knew he was stuck. He LOVES those kids. He’s seen them accomplish great things, in the small time he’s had with them, and against substantial challenge.

    So I’d have to say that if there was a way to preserve that school culture, somehow subtracting the craziness of the folks who are supposed to be running it, I’d be willing to sign on for that.

    “Heart’ isn’t on our tests. Probably should be.

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