Yes, I’ve written about this before, but in case you’ve forgotten, Ed Reformers have changed their motto from Charter Schools offer a superior education (compared to public schools) at less cost to Parent Choice! Which is really convenient since it allows them to ignore failing schools by claiming these schools are what parents want. Oh, ed reformers are quick to point out failing public schools in the name of supporting charters, but are mum on schools like Moyer Academy and Pencader.
Which brings me to an interesting article in the News Journal on Sunday…
While many consider Jack Markell an “ reform” governor, a recent national report gives Delaware a squarely average ranking on reform efforts – and Markell’s office is backing away from embracing the label.
But according to a report from the Center for Education Reform, “the first state is in the middle of the pack when it comes to parent power. There’s hope though that we’ll see some movement with a more reform-minded executive in the Governor’s mansion.”
Parent power? Oh, if only that were true. It’s not, but parent’s like to kid themselves when it comes to education; they like to pretend the educational “choice” they made for their child is the best… better than yours, at least. Ya gotta hand it to Ed Reformers though. They are very good at propaganda. Selling snake oil to uninformed parents and making these parents believe they’re empowered and that all they have to do to guarantee their child’s academic success is to choice them out of a public school is quite an accomplishment. How’d that work for Pencader? How’s that working for Moyer Academy? For Prestige Academy?
And there’s the rub. Since Ed Reformer’s new motto is Parent Choice/Parent Power then the parent finds themselves on their own if they make the wrong choice. And let’s not forget that choice isn’t a yearly option for most students. There are designated entry points. Make the “wrong” choice in 1st, 6th or 9th grade and you’re pretty much stuck with it. There really isn’t room for a do-over with choice.
Back to the article…
“The Governor isn’t interested in labels or rankings,” spokesman Cathy Rossi said in an email. “He is focused on strengthening Delaware schools and recognizes that different schools are best for different students.”
Really? Not interested in labels or rankings? So explain why we label our schools superior, commendable, and Academic Watch? Those are labels and rankings. As far as recognizing “that different schools are best for different students” I’ll turn to Kilroy…
But he has no problem labeling teacher’s performance using f*cked-up means that excludes student attendance and parental involvement! Beat the teacher for failure in external factor. But God for bid Markell getting a bad grade from an study group!
Colorful language aside, Kilroy has a point. If the Governor recognizes and supports different schools for different students then why would he, and other ed reformers, support a one size fits all test?
In order to “improve” Delaware’s Parent Power ranking, the Center for Education Reform (Go read their website. I’ve never seen so much fluff) offers Delaware a to-do list:
• Create a voucher system that gives public money to parents who want to send their kids to private schools.
• Create an independent charter school authorizer outside of the Department of Education.
• Place more emphasis on students’ test scores in decisions on teacher pay and layoffs.
Not much about improving education on that list, is there? But there is a ton about privatizing education (not good education, just education), using public money for private schools (vouchers), allowing tax payer funds to pay for capital expenses (construction/renovations) of charter schools – keep in mind, that unlike public schools, tax payers would not own these buildings – creating a private charter school authorizer (that I guess could tap into that capital money and could approve charters anywhere they saw fit, whether the community wanted one, or not) and, finally, linking test scores to teacher pay and layoffs.
I keep reading that list and all I get out of it is that ed reformers want public money. This is about power, but not parent power.
Before moving on to Steve Newton’s post, I’d like to say a few things about the standardized tests. WE ARE USING THEM ALL WRONG! When my children were preparing for the SAT they took the practice test on College Board. When the results came in we focused on their weakest areas. This allowed them to brush up on certain areas and raise their scores. Makes sense, no? So why do we keep using these standardized tests as bludgeons rather than tools for identifying where help is needed? If a school passes the test… Congratulations. However, if a school does not pass then why aren’t we targeting that school with all the resources we can throw at it? Are we serious about improving education, or just looking for a way to justify charter schools and tapping into all that public money? Well, looking at the to-do list above I gotta go with money being the prime motivator.
Steve Newton takes a look at the to-do list and notices something missing…
Please note what’s NOT in any of the goals for school reform:
There’s no acknowledgement of the fact that the overwhelming impact of this sort of reform is to transfer state money away from certain populations and toward others. The winners happen to be those who have more money, and who vote.
This CER agenda is nothing more and nothing less than another despicable piece of political pandering to pay off middle-class white suburban voters and continue the disenfranchisement of the people who aren’t in order to maintain political power.
Carried to its ultimate end, it will result in a public school system that would make the proponents of Plessy v. Ferguson proud.
Ouch! He’s right, of course. This to-do list isn’t about educating all children… only some children. And even among charters all choices aren’t equal. There are charter schools for mostly white, affluent kids and charters for poor minority children. And what I always come back to is this… where are all those supposedly superior high needs/mostly minority charter school graduates? Not at the Charter School of Wilmington. Why not? Probably because, just like public schools, all charter schools are not created equal, no matter how often Ed Reformers pretend they are (at least in public, in private they know the score. Unless you believe that an ed reformer whose child didn’t get into the Charter School of Wilmington would then consider Moyer Academy. Thought not.)
Steve’s on a roll:
What the education reform agenda amounts to is using your tax dollars to pick winners and losers among our children (this sounding familiar now?) and to create a massive new middle-class entitlement program (charter and/or “private” school education). The price tag on this program will only go up, and you will be eventually told that only a Federal takeover of education and education funding (with attendant higher taxes) can sustain it.
If you don’t believe me, ask yourself what the endgame is. Ask yourself what constitutes “victory” for the reformers.
They will be honest enough to tell you that they are committed to redefining the purpose of public education away from “educating all children” to “making sure all parents have choices.”
Yep, follow the money. This isn’t about education. If it were, they’d be concerned with all children, but they’re not. They hide behind the phrase “parent choice” because it gives them a pass when a parent makes a bad choice. This isn’t even about destroying all public schools. They can’t do that. They need public schools (a few, at least) to take the children charters won’t. Charter schools can’t exist without public “dumping ground” schools. Right off the bat, charters admit that they can’t/won’t educate all children.
Steve also points out who’s missing in the ed reformers message:
Oh, and a note for other “special needs” parents like myself, John Young, Dana Garrett and thousands of Delawareans: You and your children are not part of the reformers’ vision AT ALL. Educating special needs children is expensive, and playing on the fear of middle-class parents that their own healthy kids will be harmed by mainstreaming is a card that has been played already.
Sad, but true. Ed Reformers target their message and their educational offerings to middle class, non-special needs children who would do fine in any school. They have nothing to say about “special needs” children. It’s like they simply don’t exist.
Basically, I find ed reformers to be lazy. Their vision seems to be to cherry pick certain students for certain schools and then claim to be innovative – all the while ignoring the children who need them the most, leaving those children in our public schools (who are losing resources and programs) and then pointing a finger at these public schools (who are trying to educate the children charters refuse to take) and saying, “You suck.”
So… if you want a to-do list, I have one for you – one that involves far more than cherry-picking your population and then giving yourself a gold star for passing a standardized test.
- Start caring about all children.
- Use testing as a tool to help struggling schools, not punish them… or worse, using them as propaganda to pump up charter schools.
- Fund high needs schools with resources and programs. And I mean really fund them, not a teaching unit here and there. Fund them like you actually want them to succeed.
Let’s just start with those three for now.
You know, there was a time that we celebrated educational individualism and diversity, where it was a given that we’d be all over the Nobel Prize list forever, where we knew basing our education system on standardized tests was the road to mediocrity. But there’s a lot of money in standardized tests, charters, vouchers, online schools, etc. Not a lot of educating, but a damn lot of tax payer money.