Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Education Reformers Real Mission Is To Make Money And Make Teachers An Expendable Commodity - Not To Help Children Succeed Academically.

Over the last few years the buzz words for the anti-education crowd has been "education reform". Before "education reform" became the the cause celeb for the anti-education crowd the two political parties had different visions to change public education. For the Republicans (especially the right wing of the party) it was school vouchers to private or religious schools and home schooling with little or no union interference. While for the Democrats it was forced integration, school choice, everybody should be given a chance for college, and adding support for struggling schools in poverty areas. Both political parties wanted to find a way to reduce education spending and get more "bang for the buck" but had completely different ideas of how to do it. This difference in the philosophy of the two parties made it difficult to come to a consensus on what is best for the public schools. The result was an education budget that was subject to the whims of the political party in power. However, with this schism, it was easier for smart education leaders and unions to "play the system" by pitting the political parties against each other to support education in the country and educators (many of them former classroom teachers) were able to guide education policy and the funding that went along with these programs.

This all changed in the last decade as the anti-education crowd started to attract supporters from both political parties. More importantly, the for-profit organizations, many of them supported by Hedge Fund Managers smelled a chance to make loads of money by investing in them, started to lobby for "Charter Schools". Increasingly these non-educators started to take control of various school districts, especially inner-city urban areas (New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., etc.). Many of these "education reformers" had these issues in common.

  • School choice.
  • Privatization of schools.
  • Joint private/public funding of new schools that are not subject to union rules.
  • Weakening of teacher "due process" rights.
  • More efficient use of money for schools.
These "education reformers"came together in their advocacy of "Charter Schools". For the Republican members it incorporated their agenda of funding of a semi-private school with little or no union presence and the privatization of school finances for for-profit organizations. For the Democrats, it was the school choice issue and the "Charter Schools" offered the poor minority students a different path for success. Finally, for both it was supposed to be more efficient in allocating funds to the schools. Therefore, the "Charter School movement" became the program for the "Education Reformers". Who could disagree with the formation of "Charter Schools" that help the poverty level minority student? As we shall see, these "Education Reformers" had a different agenda then helping the children. For these for-profit groups their main goal was to make a profit for their "Hedge Fund Managers" which included destroying the teacher unions, eliminate educator " due process rights", and make the teaching profession a temporary job where teachers would be gone from the system before they qualified for a pension or retiree health benefits. By not paying out employee benefits, especially pensions, these for-profit organizations can maximize profits.

The problem with "Charter Schools " are many. First, they require significant public funds, even the ones that claim they are privately owned. These public funds usually come out of the neighborhood school in a "rob Peter to pay Paul" scenario. Second, many of the "Charter Schools" fail to take ELL or Special Education students and try to council out children with behavioral problems claiming they do not have the "resources" for the child. These children end up in the local public school in increasing percentages making a comparison between the two schools meaningless. Third, there is a rapid turnover in school staff, especially teachers, as the workload makes the Charter School a hostile and stressful environment for them. Many Charter Schools now rely on the "two year TFA wonders" for their staffing needs in their high turnover environment. Finally, they are "at will" employers and teacher have limited or no"due process" making it difficult for teacher long-term employment. Therefore, despite trying to get the best students, the Charter School grades are no better than the Public School because of the high teacher turnover and the lack of both classroom management skills and curriculum knowledge of the "newbie teachers" that work there. I can add more but you get the message.

The main goal be "Education Reformers" is to take control of the Public School system and that means destroying the power of the educators, especially the teachers' union. Hence, the attack on teacher tenure, seniority-based layoffs known as " last in, first out" (LIFO), teacher evaluations, and collective bargaining rights. For them the teacher is simply a "tool" to use and abuse and eventually leave the system before they pay out a pension or retiree health benefits. That is why the "Education Reformers" support "merit pay". They can simply say a three year teachers should be retained over a fifteen year teacher by subjectively claiming that the three year teacher is more effective. When you challenge them about how you define merit, they sheepishly claim "test scores" and Administrator observations, knowing full well that such simple and questionable standards are prone to errors, manipulation, and abuse.

Finally, the main goal for "Education Reformers" is not what is best for the children, it is how cheaply to run an education system and make a profit for their hedge Find Managers or as I say "education on the cheap".


Anonymous said...

Now that you have nothing to do for the next two months are you going to be complaing (I mean posting) all day?

Chaz said...

Anon 4:44

Good idea. Besides getting my paychecks, I might blog every day just to annoy you.

Ms. Tsouris said...

Blog away, Chaz. Maybe the troll will take its summer vacation under a bridge in another dimension, which is where that troll should be. This troll obviously has no life or substance, and has spent too much time under its own bridge.

Anonymous said...

Excellent profile on the true nature of "ed. reform."

zulma said...

I will read your blog every single day just to annoy anon 4:44. Keep up the great work; speak the truth. Don't let others discourage you from keeping us informed. I look at this way; anon 4:44 does not have to read your blog. So his/her comments ended up using precious cyberspace.

Have a great summer blogging!

Anonymous said...

You teachers need to get a full time job!

Anonymous said...

You might just want to look at ed reform from a different perspective, the fact that the field of education is being attached and cut into is largely due to the inefficiency in and by the system itself, which invites profiteers. It is way too expensive and has little to show for it. Something got to change and the changes are usually brought upon by people with strong incentives for themselvies.

Anonymous said...

I mean no disrespect here. Just asking. Why aren't the kids learning? Any thoughts?

Another Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:36,
It is the fault of the parents and school administration. Teachers get no support from either group. We all work very hard but no one seems to care. It is easier to bash teachers than the parents and principals.

Anonymous said...

TO Anonymous
It's complaining and you're an idiot without any real knowledge.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 8:02:

What do the ed reformers have to show? They are not getting any REAL results, even with mayoral control here. Why do they have to resort to lies, tricks, and chicanery to attempt to sell the public on their program? If they had a superior strategy they would simply let the results prove it. They don't, and they can't . . . BUT that isn't preventing them from this brazen attempt at making millions for themselves and their cronies.

Traveling ATR said...

For all you non-educators who think Joel Klein,the education reformer's point man, was so great for the NYC public schools. You need to read this.

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