Wednesday, May 30, 2012
You might not be a public school if...
Education curmudgeon Diane Ravitch has a new post online in which she asks the question, "Are charter schools public schools?"
After an introduction in which she gives Albert Shanker, the late president of the American Federation of Teachers, credit as a founder of the charter school movement, Ravitch questions the direction that charter schools have taken.
Shanker, she says, thought "that charter schools should be created by teams of teachers who would explore new ways to reach unmotivated students. He envisioned charter schools as self-governing, as schools that encouraged faculty decision making and participatory governance...He never thought of charters as non-union schools where teachers would work 70-hour weeks and be subject to dismissal based on the scores of their students."
Ravitch says that the vision of Shanker and others has been corrupted by charter schools run by "for-profit corporations or by nonprofit corporations with private boards of directors...Most charters are non-union and rely on young teachers who work long hours and leave after a few years, thus keeping costs low."
While charter schools are ostensibly public, Ravitch wonders if the corporate model followed by so many schools is in keeping with the spirit of public education.
So with apologies to comedian Jeff Foxworthy, here are some indications that some charter schools might not really be public schools if...
Charter schools might not be public schools if...a non-profit charter holder subcontracts operation of the school to a for-profit corporation, it might not be a public school.
Charter schools might not be public schools if..."a charter sponsor is involved in complicated real-estate transactions that profit the sponsor," it might not be a public school.
Charter schools might not be public schools if...courts can rule that a charter school is not a public school when it comes to protecting the rights of teachers and other employees, it might not be a public school.
Charter schools might not be public schools if..."a privileged group of schools called charters...can select their students and exclude the ones that are hardest to educate; and the remaining schools are composed of students who couldn't get into the charters or got kicked out" they might not be public schools.