Thursday, January 30, 2014

National School Choice Week -- what does it really mean?

So, a local news station is going gaga over National School Choice week. Stories that would normally be about "schools" have become about "choice in education."

I've stayed away from that bruhaha because there's no story. The National School Choice Week is a publicity campaign designed to promote legislation intended to privatize public education. Such as charter school and vouchers.

Don't get me wrong, some charters are great. At the local level, we have some in the hands of community members who are really doing a good job. I give them plenty of ink when they have real news.

But the movement is general is aimed at sucking public dollars from public schools. Privatizers will tell you "public schools are failing," then will give little money to schools to accomplish their tasks, and when the goals set by these reformers are not met, they will deplore with a grin in their faces 'I told you the schools are failing. We should have choices, like vouchers and charters."

It doesn't help that there's districts in severe need of help, but that's another story.

California's spending per pupil just dropped to 49th in the country. It's now 28 percent below the national average. And I don't care what people say about "throwing money at a problem." I've never seen a problem that was not fixed -- or at least comforted -- by money.

Public education is not a problem in affluent districts. When was the last time you heard anybody complain about the public education in Pacific Grover or Carmel? 

Many of the "reformers" who want to see vouchers start pointing fingers to unions and say "they're the problem. They're getting a raise. Education should be about the kids, not the adults."  When the money goes to private institutions, there's no unions to give anybody trouble. Read this piece by Joseph Di Salvo of the Santa Clara County Board of Education and see what I mean. 

So what the choice movement is really about is privatizing public education. You get a charter, a private-like school where you can only get in by lottery, or a voucher  for a private school, what you're doing basically is taking money from the public system (from the unions) and take it into the private realm. It's that simple.

That's why there's so much private industry vested in this movement. That's why the Walton Family Foundation -- Walmart anybody? -- is such a huge supporter.

If you want to get a real education on whose behind the National School Choice Week is really about, I recommend this piece.

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