Charter schools usually run for profit.
We give them our tax dollars.
They spend it wherever they want.
And, well, that’s it.
They do not have to account for where the money goes
– no public accounts
– no Board of Trustees
– and they do not have to be answerable under the Official Information Act.
With that in mind, it doesn’t take a PhD to work out why they are so appealing to some sectors, but just in case this is all new to you, let me make it plain…
PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT
You might be thinking that charter schools do better for kids, and that the money is well spent and the secrecy and skimming off of money as profit is all worthwhile if it gets kids a better education.
Well that might be a good argument if it were true, but let’s just check the facts:
- Better results? A study released on August 22, 2006 by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that students in charter schools performed several points worse than students in traditional public schools in both reading and maths on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test.
- Better Results for Students? A Stanford University study found that a “quarter of New Jersey charter schools have below-average growth and below-average achievement in maths, and the same is true for 35 percent of the charter schools in reading. Students in these schools will not only have inadequate progress in their overall achievement but will fall further and further behind their peers in the state over time.”
- Eeek! Another USA-wide study found that only 17% of students in charter schools nationwide did better than the students in their districts, with 37% doing worse, and the rest about the same. Hardly a great leap forward, then, for our ‘long tail of under-achievment‘. Source
- Finding and Retaining Great Staff? In Michigan, the state government decided it was tired of all the fiscal woes of certain districts, so it handed them to emergency managers, who gave them to for-profit operators. Chaos. The charter operator fired all the teachers and hired new ones who cost less. Within the first month, 20 of the 80 teachers quit. Source
- More for the principal – less for the teachers In Indiana, the average public school administrator (principal) earns $45-59k more than a teacher at the same school. In the same district, charter school administrators earn $52-92k more than their teachers. So in the extreme cases they earn twice that of their public school counterparts. Want to know where that money comes from? Well the average teacher in an Indiana public school earns about $52k, whereas the teachers (trained and untrained) in charters earn $35-37k. So in charters, the teachers get about $15k less, but the administrators get heaps more. You can just imagine the high quality, well-motivated staff that must attract… Source
- Where Does The Money Go? Well why not go to this conference and find out… “Private Equity Investing in For-Profit Education Companies – How Breakdowns in Traditional Models &Applications of New Technologies Are Driving Change” The description: “Private equity investing in for-profit education is soaring, and for good reason — the public and non-profit models are profoundly broken. This is why for-profit education is one of the largest U.S. investment markets, currently topping $1.3 trillion in value.” The advert goes on to say “What are some of the main challenges that Private Equity investors are facing in the education sector?” And as one commentator pointed out, for businesses the answer seems to be that the problem is the teachers, who therefore need to be silenced. Source 1 Source 2. Well dear reader, do you still think it’s all about education?
- Oh wait, there’s more about $$$ … Check out this agenda for the 2013 Education Summit in Arizona. (edinnovation.asu.edu) The April 17th panel at 4:35 p.m. will include Ron Packard (of K12 Inc.) and other profiteers discussing, “A Class of Their Own: From Seed to Scale in a Decade: What Does it take for an Education Company to Reach $$$1Billion?” Remember, that’s YOUR tax money there. Nice eh?
- What Happens When The Investors Don’t See Enough Bang For Their Buck? Well they shut the schools and colleges down. Out go the kids. Because, lets face it, it’s about $$$$ and if it’s not bringing enough moolah in, then they close shop. Nice eh? Source
As Prof Peter O’Connor said “Charter schools are part of an international Right-wing attack on progressive and humanist traditions of education… The attack is not driven by a genuine desire to remedy the ills of the education system, but by the desire to create a cheaper teaching force, one that is shackled by narrow-minded, test-based accountability measures, and one that has less union power to fight back.” Source.
Oh I could go on all night (and in my head, I do), but you get the drift: Undervalued teachers, dollar signs flashing left, right and centre, and the kids caught in the middle.
Do you truly think handing schools over to money-makers and marginalising educators will help our students learn?
Does this really and truly sound like the answer to you?