Thursday, November 09, 2017

Charter Schools: Rules Are for the Little People

I'm not surprised to read about charters that don't do well. There are a whole lot of them. In many states, it doesn't matter how they do. In this state, they're supposed to be somewhat accountable. NYC has closed almost every large high school it had, and the one I work in stands as an aberration. How did we survive Bloomberg? No one knows. He overloaded us to 200% capacity, and while we came down, we're back up again.

In any case, here's a story about a charter that failed to achieve those all-important test scores. The charter, though, seems to think that's no reason to shut them down. Why, you ask? Let me quote from the piece:

School officials and parents filed a lawsuit, claiming the education department’s decision was too focused on test scores and didn’t take into account that more than half its students have disabilities.

That's a pretty shocking explanation. I'm not saying it isn't a valid explanation, just that it's shocking. It's shocking because we've always known that schools targeted for closure had high numbers of students with disabilities, ELLs, and children of poverty. Arne Duncan did a happy dance at the chance to close a school full of ELLs in Rhode Island.

What happens when they close schools? Lots of times charters come in. Their job is to work their magic on these kids. Public school teachers are all self-serving incompetents. They only care about themselves and aren't about the children. Therefore we should close them and replace them with privately run charters, because they're run by business people who know better. Except in this case, when they don't.

I've been watching school closures all over the city for years, and they were generally done for test scores. The closing of Jamaica High School is particularly clear in my memory, since it was done based on demonstrably false statistics. An entire community rose up, repeatedly, and spoke to the DOE, which turned a deaf ear. A historic institution, a pillar of the community went down.

The charter school, instead of rousing the community, hired a PR firm that used to work for Ivanka Trump. I'm not sure whether the one with the "K" is the daughter or the ex-wife, but I'm certain her PR firm doesn't come cheap. Here's the thing--school closures are for the little people. Destruction of communities are for the little people.

Private charters can take private money and hire private PR firms. The people who run charters aren't subject to things like regulation, because that's also for the little people. We're on a mission to do better than those awful public schools, and we're willing to be judged by test scores. However, if we don't pull it off, we're also willing to fight to stay open.

There's a double standard in these United States. People like Michael Bloomberg, Joel Klein and Betsy DeVos seem to hate public schools. They're a monopoly, they're terrible, we can do better, blah, blah, blah. So let's close them, let's break them up into little schools, let's rename them, and let's shuffle the kids around like so many playing cards. Let's make the teachers reapply for their jobs. Let's make them wander the school system forever as permanent subs, and if that doesn't sufficiently demoralize them, let's mobilize the media to demonize them so we can fire them.

Make no mistake, charters can do any damn thing they want. When they get caught on the disingenuous nature of their very premise, that they do better on test scores than public schools, they just reach into their unnaturally deep pockets and say, "We don't need no stinking standards." That's why Eva doesn't have to make the agreement that all the other schools did to establish city pre-K.

Rules are for the little people. And the public schools.

Thanks to Harris.
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