Larry Miller 1/26/14
The historic goal of the right-wing in America, as expressed by Milton Friedman, is vouchers for all. But because the voucher movement has suffered so many defeats, the right-wing has now advanced the independent charter movement as its main strategy to privatize and destroy public education.
I have sat on the New Charter Review Committee of MPS for years. We have rejected most proposals while advancing some. The original intention of charters, to infuse innovation and creativity into education, has been lost. Charters have become the main tactic of the so-called education “reform” movement, along with their Tea Party allies in government, to destroy public education.
The goal of the independent charter movement is to create and establish a dual school system, which will be separate and unequal: charter schools for the most motivated and able students and public schools as a repository for those unable to get into the charter system (special-ed, ELL, behavior problem students, low performing students—the list goes on).
The right wing’s goal is to create a new and separate school system — clearly stated by the CEOs of Rocketship and Kipp — through the use of nonprofit CMOs, charter management organizations.
This is privatization. A private organization/company running an independent school without public sector workers and few regulations is pretty much as private as you can get.
Some say these entities are nonprofit, therefore it’s not privatization. Would anyone say that Froedert Hospital or Aurora or the Catholic Church are public institutions? Hardly! They are all nonprofit organizations.
By the way, these nonprofit CMOs are not unprofitable for their CEOs and upper level management. Eva Moskawitz of Success Academy Charter Schools in Harlem earns $500,000/yr. Geoffrey Canada of Harlem Children’s Zone and the CEOs of KIPP and Rocketship earn similar salaries.
When these CMOs are successful, that is because they receive certain clear advantages. These advantages are:
1. They receive huge private funding from elements that want to destroy public schools.
2. They serve consistently lower numbers of special education students compared to public schools in their communities. and
3. They hide their exclusionary policies of selection and de-selection of students, especially special education students, ELL students, and students with “behavioral problems.”(There is a term among CMOs—“counseling out.” Parents are told “we can’t serve your child’s needs at our school”.)
My approach toward these independent charters has been to support a few (and reject most) in order to keep the charlatans in the legislature in Madison out of our business. But it has now become clear that the legislature is moving ahead with the intention of turning 20-30 schools over to independent charter organizations in the next 2 years, making meaningless any attempts at concessions or compromises.
As I spoke this past week with lobbyists and school board members from around the State, people in the know and versed in the present legislative politics in Madison, it became clear that the Republican leadership is intent on forcing large numbers of independent charters on MPS.
Even though I am very much opposed to independent charters, I was of the belief that if the MPS school board kept open the option to charter, we could possibly convince the legislature to support our overall “Plan for Supporting Low-Performing Schools.” By Thursday’s SASI meeting the writing was on the wall: nothing the Board does will influence the Republican leadership’s actions toward us.
This was confirmed by Alan Borsuk in his Sunday article where he said, “Sarah Archibald, an aide to state Sen. Luther Olsen, chair of the Senate Education Committee, said Friday that a proposal is expected to be released early this week that would make it likely the low-performing schools would be turned over to charter organizations in the next several years, whether or not the Milwaukee School Board agreed. The proposal would call for MPS schools that place in the lowest category of the state’s school report card for three years in a row to become independent charter schools.
Archibald said this could involve 20 to 30 schools by 2016-’17, if the plan is approved this spring. There also may be proposals for new measures for dealing with low performing charter schools and voucher schools.”
At the same time as we fight privatization, the parents, teachers, all MPS staff, the Board and community supporters of public education must also work tirelessly to improve our schools so that every child receives an excellent education.
Commit to every child.