Last week PBS broadcast an Education TED Talk during Teacher Appreciation Week. While I was glad that the talk focused on teachers, I was surprised that Bill Gates, American business man, was one of the presenters and that Dianne Ravitch, historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University, was not a featured speaker. Aside from promoting vaccines in 3rd world countries, the Bill Gates Foundation has been a big proponent of education reform in the form of charter schools. With so much positive mainstream news coverage, social media shareable pretty graphics and a movie on the benefits of charter schools, I have to say that I also drank the Kool-Aid on charter schools. Who wouldn’t? The press that public schools have been receiving hasn’t been the greatest over the past few years. Pedophiles, low test scores, failed school discipline policies and bullying horror stories – Who is hearing anything good about public schools?
Parents are desperate to get their children the best education and it’s no surprise that parents with limited funds are opting for charter schools that promise a somewhat private education without the price tag. What the general public doesn’t know is that many charter schools aren’t fairing any better than their public school counterparts. Another detail that most parents aren’t aware of is that charter schools are largely funded by private corporations whose intentions are not really in the best interest of the children. One school in particular has a budget of over $350,000 to spend on marketing alone, while the neighboring public school has a budget of $50 to spend on marketing. Guess which school gets great press?
My message? Ask questions: Is privatization of our education system a good idea? Who is benefitting from charter schools? Do they really provide a better education than the public schools? Do people become teachers because they want job security and to join a union? Ask Matt Damon, Jon Stewart or Ed Schultz how their mother’s made out like bandits as public school teachers and sat on their laurels with job security. What is the motivation of teachers? What is the motivation of private corporations? Ask a teacher what they think can be done to improve our education system. I think they care about what matters most here, the children.
AlterNet: Who Is Profiting From Charters? The Big Bucks Behind Charter School Secrecy, Financial Scandal and Corruption
Policy Mic: Education Reform: Are Charter Schools Or Public Schools the Best Choice?
Washington Post: Charters vs. public schools: Behind the numbers
NY Times: More Lessons About Charter Schools
AlterNet: Corporations Advise School Closings, While Private Charters Suck Public Schools Away
AlterNet: Why Sending Your Child to a Charter School Hurts Other Children
Democracy Now: Striking Teachers, Parents Join Forces to Oppose “Corporate” Education Model in Chicago
Education CEO Blog: Dear Celebrities: Public education needs your ‘celebrity’
Labor Video Project: Who Is Behind The Privatization Of Education
R. Gary Valiant: School Reform is School Privatization
Diane Ravitch’s Blog: How Charters Compete
NBC News: Why there’s no simple solution to charter schools