Saturday, December 14, 2019

Charter Supporters Protest Us in Pittsburgh

I'm at the Westin, in Pittsburgh. To the left you can see a huge sinkhole that's right in front of the hotel. Up close, it looks as though the Avengers were here battling some comic-book monster set on ravaging the city. That's a pretty apt image for what's happening here. I just walked out in the rain and saw the charter supporters, in a circle, chanting about choice.

Before I even mention why we're the Avengers and they're the monster, let's reflect back on years of pro-charter propaganda. Do you remember, on Oprah's show, when people like Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, and every reformy star they could pluck from the universe appeared to hype the big-budget anti-public-school stinker Waiting for Superman, who the pro-public-school reps were? Me neither, because there weren't any.

Do you remember when candidate Cory Booker, also appearing on Oprah, with Chris Christie and Mark Zuckerberg, took 100 million dollars, ostensibly to fix the public schools he called "repugnant," gave equal time to public school supporters? Me neither. Do you remember Campbell Brown giving time to public school supporters when she did her presidential thing in 2016? Me neither. Did the reformies portray public school supporters fairly in Son of Waiting for Superman, or Won't Back Down (my sincere apologies to Tom Petty), or whatever they called Hollywood stinker number two? Of course not.

MSNBC is hosting our forum and livestreaming it. I vividly recall when they were behind something called Education Nation, a bonanza of publicity for reforminess that barely paid lip service to public education. I would not be remotely surprised if they turned around and did something similar this year to placate the protestors this year, surely a goal of theirs.

Bill Gates and DFER have big pockets, and big-pocketed friends. Let's take a look at charter schools. How many of them scream about the 100% of their grads go on to four-year colleges? Then you read Diane Ravitch, Carol Burris, or Gary Rubinstein, or any number of analysts point out that they've shed 60-80% of their students before arriving at that 100% figure. Oddly, schools like mine who take everyone and keep everyone who wants to stay do far better than that. Go figure. And it's us who take on the students who charters have let down, tossed out or given up on.

Then you look at charters right here in Pennsylvania that suck public school districts dry, leaving them to wither and die for all they care. And for what? For money, of course, Though politicians shed crocodile tears over "for profit" charters, in most of the country "for profit" charters are illegal. That doesn't stop parasites like Eva Moskowitz from pulling in almost a million bucks a year in New York City as she moves on like a cancer degrading and upending public schools. Then they have million dollar fund raisers attended by hedge funders who wouldn't send their kids to public schools on a bet.

As for those poor charter supporters , they can stand out there feeling sorry for themselves, but even at our forum, we have Cory Booker, who champions standardized testing, supports not only charters but also vouchers, and who was an early supporter of DFER, an organization that constitutes the reformiest of the reformies. He appeared before one of Betsy DeVos's from groups and called them his earliest supporters. He takes money from Gates, Broad and the Walmart family. They aren't paying him to support public education. Mayor Pete may have little to say about charters, but he's taking a crapload of money from them. I don't personally believe they're supporting him simply for his charming smile.

And Biden? I'm sorry, but he was Vice-President when we all lived through Race to the Top. Almost every state in the country was blackmailed into not only supporting charters, but also rating teachers by junk science. While Booker can jump up and down with glee over it, teachers nationwide suffered, and are still suffering by oporessive and idiotic systems. Great teachers, teachers of the year, brilliant young people lost their jobs over this. What did Biden have to say when Arne Duncan stood up in front of God and everybody and declared Hurricane Katrina was the best thing to happen to NOLA education?

Crickets. Meanwhile, the entire school district was charterized and union is pretty much nostalgia, a thing of the past. All the schools that no longer have to Wait for Superman are rated F, or D if they're lucky. After over a decade of charters and reforminess NAEP scores are flat. Here's a fact--unless we do something about poverty,  homelessness, and health care in this country, as opposed to giving spectacular tax breaks to those who least need them, charters are a band-aid. Actually, since they don't really work, since they are intended to destroy a public good, and since it's repugnant to make robots out of children, they aren't even that.

Charters are overwhelmingly non-union. Teachers are fired for having a bad haircut. It's particularly egregious when charters are set on profit over serving the children. I know charter teachers who've been fired for trying to help children, as opposed to test-prepping them to death. Charter school teachers haven't got a long shelf life. Those I know who continue do so by going from school to school. They tell me it's a way of life. They never really manage to make a living, and haven't got a significant voice in improving learning conditions, let alone working conditions. I don't want my kids and students, or yours to grow up to a world with jobs like that. 

Let the billionaire-sponsored supporters hold their signs and complain. Clearly, they represent the sinkhole. If you want it to spread, go out and march along with them.
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