Our friend and contributor Doug Martin updates us daily, bright and early, at his Facebook page, Indiana Government Exposed, as to the extent in which our public schools are being degraded, down-graded, and defunded by political operatives (no district representatives these) in the service of Big Money and Religion (odd how these two often seem to show up to the dance together). Further we are shown how these crony capitalists have no intention of actually serving communities or schools, least of all children as the flock to an “opened” market.
Visit his site and Like it–it’s not just Indiana Government that’s exposed here–you will see the network of pirates up-close and personal; and then come back to the Errant and read Doug’s reports of these ties-that-bind by rapine.
What caught my eye today, because something in it seemed familiar, was a story about a Charter School competition.
From Florida, land of the most criminal of these purveyors of fraud and harbinger of what is to come for the rest of the nation, we discover that the state itself is PUSHING (push, as in force, as in push on you, as in addict you if it can) for GROWTH in Charter Schools (ah capitalism, if there’s a resource, eat it till you pop!). Here are the basics from a useless piece in the Miami Herald:
The state Department of Education and a national nonprofit are rolling out a $30 million fund to help grow high-performing charter schools in Florida.
In other words, to not allow these schools to grow on the “free” market of “choice,” but instead to use federal and state public money to fund what amounts to “for profit” education. How has the “for profit” world been looking to you lately? But the real news here, or rather, the true nature of this coercion comes in this tidbit.
The competition, to be announced Tuesday at a state charter school conference in Orlando, is a joint effort between the Florida Department of Education and the Charter School Growth Fund, a Colorado-based nonprofit that supports high-quality charter schools.
The Charter School Growth Fund, a “non-profit” (always a phrase to laugh at as this is simply a tax designation and we all know how well our tax system works to regulate things like growth funds), based in Colorado. That name sounds familiar to me, where could I have seen it before…hmmm…Oh, yeah, here, in Doug’s piece about Project Lead the Way and Right-wing Funders:
The Kern Family Foundation invests a lot of money in the Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF). In 2008 alone, the CSGF received $30 million from Kern, Gates, and Dell , and Walton and Broad have also donated to the CSGF program which offers seed money to Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) expanding their networks. The CSGF stresses “blended learning” environments where online programs reduce the amount of hours students spend with real classroom teachers. In 2010, the CSGF, along with Netflix’s Reed Hastings, acquired DreamBox Learning. Specializing in K-3 online math games, DreamBox is sure to profit from the U.S. Department of Education’s new “Digital Promise Initiative,” a plan to grant millions of dollars to online learning outfits.  With over $85 million raised for their charter school incubator practices, the CSGF expects another $160 million in donations within the next few years.  The Democrats for Education Reform-supported Success Charter Network in New York City, as well as KIPP, Uncommon Schools, and Rocketship Education, are all part of the CSGF portfolio.
So the tendrils are more than apparent.
Another story regarding the expansion of charter schools in Florida does offer something more to think about: how the state is clearing the way for these expansions by relaxing certain rules about how these schools are classified and assessed. In, “School officials wary for-profit charter schools may target Alachua” in the Gainesville Sun we learn that
Three Alachua County charter schools were labeled high-performing under changes to state education statutes, making it easier for those schools to expand with less school district oversight.
But Alachua County Public Schools leaders are wary that for-profit charter schools with the same designation and relaxed supervision may seek to enter the county.
It takes the “high performing label” to really open the coffers to state funds.
To be so designated, the charter school must have earned at least two A school grades and nothing lower than a B during the previous three school years and receive clean annual financial audits without emergency fiscal problems in the three most recent years.
With the label, those charter schools are granted extra flexibility. Those schools are allowed to add enrollment and expand grade levels without district approval as well as automatically earn 15-year contracts.
This flexibility is promoted and funded by both the state and the privateers running these businesses. But this same flexibility is not afforded the actual public schools. And in fact the state is playing favorites in Florida (and Indiana): “The state earmarked all construction money to charter schools and allows them more flexibility for class-size requirements.”
Equality; Opportunity; Choice. These are shibboleths that mask the reality of private sector favoritism at the expense of the public trust.
*Spend some time in the Archives with Doug Martin’s work–he exposes the corruption endemic in the “for-profit” education industry.