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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Feb 27th 2010, 08:42 PM
They do belong in the same post. The Department of Education and its head, Arne Duncan, are not paying attention to the voices that are getting louder about the privatization of public education.

The home turf of Arne and his boss, Barack Obama, has learned nothing at all from the voices speaking out. Chicago is closing 8 more schools, "turnarounds" they call them.

Turnaround is a very deceptive term meaning that a school is being closed and turned into a charter, that its faculty is being fired and a private company is coming in to run the schools, or a combination thereof.

First, here are the words of a former "reformer" of schools, Diane Ravitch. She is very clear on why she became an opponent of the very "reforms" she once supported.

From the Education Week blog:

The Problem With Charters

This is one of the clearest explanations I have seen.

I was originally a supporter of charter schools because I had the same vision for them as the one enunciated in the late 1980s by Ray Budde and Albert Shanker. They saw charters as laboratories for public education, places where teachers could try to discover ways to reach unmotivated students. What was learned in charters, they believed, would then be transferred back to the regular public schools, to help them do a better job with the students who were hardest to educate.

Good ideas, as we know, go oft awry. As soon as the charter concept got well established, it became the leading edge of the privatization movement, and its goal was not to help public schools, but to supplant them.

For-profit firms saw them as a great business opportunity. Right-wing ideologues saw them as a chance to bust teachers' unions. Voucher supporters saw them as a replacement strategy that had fewer political problems than vouchers. So, the mantra arose that charter schools are really "public" schools, when in fact they are private schools that receive public funding. If the receipt of public funding means that an institution is no longer private, then there are no private colleges or universities in the U.S., except for the few that refuse federal aid of any kind (like Grove City College and Hillsdale College). Harvard, Princeton, and Yale are still private universities even though many of their students are funded by the government. The charter school movement, in its current incarnation, is intended to privatize a large chunk of American public education.

I think that is a very bad idea. It will harm American education and our nation. We need a strong and successful public education system. Charters should collaborate with public schools, rather than seek to replace them. It should be their unique mission to help the students who need help the most. Dog-eat-dog competition makes no sense in the educational sphere.

Chicago public school teachers and parents are fighting back, but their battle appears to be a losing one. The policies of their former boss, now DOE head, are spreading throughout the nation.

The story told by their fighting is posted at Substance News. It can be told in pictures, pictures of people who know that soon it will be too late to stop the privatization.

Chicago Board or Education votes to destroy eight more public schools... 'Turnaround' approved for five schools at the end of five tumultuous weeks of protest

The pictures are courtesy of Substance News, one of the few sources for information on the fight to save public education.

The Chicago Board of Education members voted to destroy eight more Chicago public schools at its regular monthly meeting of February 24, 2010. The late afternoon vote came after massive community outrage forced schools chief Ron Huberman to take six schools off the list to be closed, consolidated, phased out or to face turnaround. The original list of 14 schools was made public by Huberman on January 19.

Following 18 public hearings between January 28 and February 10, the list was reduced to ten. Following a City Council hearing on February 22, the list was reduced to eight. The vote on the remaining eight schools was unanimous and took place at the end of a lengthy meeting held on February 24, 2010 at CPS headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. in Chicago. As usual, the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education did not even vote individually on each school they were destroying.

Martha Idewu of Phillips High School spoke against the plan to subject Phillips to "turnaround." Observers noted that a major community meeting opposing the Phillips proposal had taken place on February 18 in the community, but both CPS and the city's corporate media had ignored the community's feelings. Among other things that came out at the Phillips community meeting was that the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) has only one Black person on its Board of Directors and has been replacing largely African American teaching staffs with faculties consisting mainly of young white women, as happened at Fenger High School a few weeks before the fatal beating of Fenger junior Derrion Albert on September 24, 2009. The AUSL record, critics have said, is simply one of getting rid of black teachers and replacing them with white teachers, while also getting rid of the worst students and making sure the numbers go "up" for at least a year or two following "turnaround." Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.

Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart joined the chorus of teachers, political and community leaders calling for a moratorium on all closings, phase outs, consolidations, and "turnarounds." Stewart had spent the previous week speaking out against the turnarounds and other radical changes, holding press conference and picket lines at several of the schools still on the Hit List. She began February 24, the day of the Board meeting, on a picket line at Phillips High School, then led a picket line outside CPS headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. Despite the protests of almost all of the union and political leaders in Chicago's African American community, the seven members of the Board of Education voted unanimously and without debate to do "turnaround" to Curtis, Bradwell, and Deneen elementary schools and to Phillips and Marshall high schools. The Board also voted to consolidate McCorkle Elementary School, phase out Schneider Elementary School, and close Las Casas Occupational High School (privatizing all the services that had been done there). Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.

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