(Mensaje se repite en Español)
(For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post)
What they don't want you to know is that charters started as a way to explore innovative teaching practices, that fewer than one in seven charters produce better results, and while they should be explored, charters should not be promoted as the "be all end all" to the problems facing our schools that the politicians - school board members and the Superintendent - have refused to address for years.
What they also don't want you to know is that there's an incestuous relationship between current and former board members, district employees, and many in the charter school industry. We need to follow the money trail.
Our incoming superintendent, John Deasy, negotiated an $80,000 salary bump despite recent layoffs, pay cuts, and firings - all done because the district supposedly doesn't have enough cash. The board didn't even bother to consider any other candidates. Deasy has worked for the Gates Foundation, embracing their push for value-added assessments, despite that, at best, value-added has a margin of error of plus or minus 45 points, and even worse, the foundation has been withholding data from researchers.
(Mensaje se repite en Español)
For a national view of public education reform see the end of this blog post
Although Professor Joel Shatzky's writing and videos are about New York City public schools, can you see your own purposefully failed public school in the following three videos he has written or in the many articles and Huffington Post blogs he has written?
Joel Shatzky:Brooklyn, New York
Professor of English Emeritus--SUNY, College at Cortland (1968-2005) Adjunct instructor-Kingsborough CC (CUNY) 2006-- )
Regular contributor to the Huffington Post:
Author of "The Thinking Crisis" with Ellen Hill (Authors Choice Press: New York, 2001) Numerous articles on education in Jewish Currents. Script-writer for three YouTube satires on educational "reform."
(en español después) Charters don't result in better conditions for students. Class size rose when PCHS became a charter, and crowded conditions are detrimental for everyone. But the math said more students = more money so the board brought on the crowds. At first LAUSD had a hand in some of the increase in student numbers, but not anymore. Students who did well on CST's managed the larger class sizes, but students who needed extra help and attention slipped even more. This didn't worry the Pali Family because "THOSE KIDS" were counseled to leave - not better conditions at all if you're a student who needs the alleged superior environment offered by a charter, rather than one who would have done well anyway. Last year's API scores tell this story very well.
Charters don't result in better conditions for teachers. Refer to competition destroying collaboration at Pali below. That was bad enough, but there has been higher teacher turnover at Pali since independent status than ever before. Teachers have bigger classes, and ROP teachers carry seven classes without extra pay. Teachers are routinely hassled if they're
not in cahoots with the board, and committees that were supposed to empower teachers have been relegated to toothless advisory groups whose recommendations are routinely ignored. The board still does exactly as it pleases.
(en español después) Charters don't serve students from all populations, or academic and socioeconomic levels. Best practices meant, and I often heard pro-charter employees say, "If THOSE KIDS can't hack it they can leave." "THOSE KIDS can go back to their home school." Excuse me? Those kids are the reason charters were invented. Those kids with less money, darker skin, fewer advantages, more behavior issues and problems, and yes, lower CST scores.
Pali historically had wealthier white students until busing added less advantaged students to the mix. Pacific Palisades has wanted its "neighborhood school" back ever since. In 2003 Pali was slightly more than 30% White, slightly less than 30% each Black and Hispanic, with the remaining 10% comprised of Asian, Native American and Pacific Islander. Accusations of racism and elitism forced the school to write this racial balance into its first charter petition, promising that demographics would reflect LAUSD's community at large. Now demographics are 47% white, 18% black, 24% Hispanic and the rest Asian/Native American/Pacific Islander. 21% are economically disadvantaged. Not a reflection of LAUSD's demographics. Not even close. The original demand for equity has been abandoned.
What I found myself wishing while she talked was that she and many of her colleagues who share unique knowledge and beliefs about what real public education reform should look like (Charles Kerchner, Lois Weiner, Pablo Noguera, Jonathan Kozol, and others) would escape the ivory tower long enough to use their combined and fleeting celebrity to help organize a national public education reform movement. Such a movement, driven by data and the real life daily experience of "4 million classroom teachers supported by their families" would no longer be a topic or constituency that the presently hijacked media in this country could continue to ignore.
The reconstitution of a school by making teachers reapply for their jobs or by replacing administrators is to education reform what blood letting is to good health. For the most part, it is not who is doing the teaching of administrating, but rather what they are administering. If I had a mechanically perfect car, but decided to put polluted old gasoline in it as its source of energy, I would have performance problems no matter how many parts on the car I decided to change.
Someone once said, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." That is true to the nth degree for teachers who have one of the most stressful jobs there is, but also must deal with a constant assault from LAUSD to try -- as I have said many times on this blog to scapegoat them -- for a system they have no control over. Well, while it is too early to tell, there might have been the first step toward turning this regrettable circumstances around in Chicago Public Schools, where its 30,000 teacher have just elected Karen Lewis to end the 40 year reign of business and politics as usual at their teachers' union.