School Privitization


Why Charter Schools Are Tearing Public Campuses Apart

Gary CohnBy Gary Cohn

For more than 30 years each, Cheryl Smith-Vincent and Cheryl Ortega have shared a passion for teaching public school in Southern California. Smith-Vincent teaches third grade at Miles Avenue Elementary School in Huntington Park; before retiring, Ortega taught kindergarten at Logan Street Elementary School in Echo Park. Both women have been jolted by experiences with a little-known statewide policy that requires traditional public schools to share their facilities with charter schools. Ortega says she has seen charter-school children warned against greeting non-charter students who attend the same campus. Smith-Vincent reports that she and her students were pushed out of their classroom prior to a round of important student tests – just to accommodate a charter school that needed the space.

"Other People's Children": The Corollary of Bad Policy

By Mark Naison

For some time, I have argued that School Reform is the most destructive bi-partisan initiative we have suffered in the United States since the Vietnam War, a policy which has, and will continue to inspire mass movements to limit the damage it inflicts through universal testing of the nation's children, and the humiliation and micro-management of the nation's teachers.

Some have argued, correctly, that people have not lost their lives as a result of School Reform even when schools are closed, teachers are fired, communities destabilized, instruction has been reduced to test prep, and young people's minds have been reduced to mush by relentless testing. That is certainly true. But one thing does seem similar. Both produced PTSD.

Michelle Rhee, Once More, Fast and Loose with the Truth

By Joshua Pechthalt

"When will the Teflon wear off?" is a question many have asked about Michelle Rhee, self-proclaimed public school advocate, but in practice, tip of the spear for the school privatization industry.

According to the L.A. Times last month, Rhee's claim that her children attend public school proved "misleading" at best. This is consistent with her challenged relationship with telling the truth in general. Overseeing a staff of 120 on a lavish budget funded by anti-public education billionaires and their foundations, Rhee talks like a progressive but walks like a disciple of Ayn Rand and free market competition.

Reshaping Education: New Opportunities for Teachers Unions

By Lisa Schiff

In the midst of a protracted assault on public education, teachers unions have in front of them a tremendous opportunity. The need for strong leadership asserting child-centric approaches to education has never been greater - teachers and their unions can seize this moment to break the mold of the traditional union and expand that organization's legitimate sphere of action to formally include the very structure and quality of students' learning experiences.

The historic purpose of a union to protect and advocate for its members is no less relevant today than it was in years past, but within the world of public education that mission alone is insufficiently ambitious, both for teachers and their students. The conditions of work are critical, but the nature of that work is equally so.

The Crumbling of Corporate School "Reform"

By Randy Shaw

In the past month, 1. Los Angeles voters overwhelmingly rejected a billionaire-backed school board candidate seeking to shift control of the district to anti-union forces; 2. Thirty-five Atlanta educators, including a close ally of prominent "reformer" Michelle Rhee, were indicted for altering students' test scores; 3. Rhee, head of "Students First," was herself caught lying about being a "public school parent" after it was reported that one of her daughters attends an exclusive private school in Tennessee; and 4. Chicago parents came out in force against Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan for massive school closures.

How Trying to Get Rid of Bad Teachers Has Demoralized Our Best

By Mark Naison

Every time I have a discussion with someone who claims to be passionately committed to improving schools, they bring up the subject of the "bad teacher." They see public schools as zones of cultural and economic stagnation in an otherwise dynamic society, saddled with a smug and incompetent teaching force that prevents schools from playing their assigned roles of creating a competitive global workforce and elevating people out of poverty.

Defending Teachers and Teaching: Standardized Testing Cons

By Mark Naison

This is a daunting time to be a teacher in the United States of America. At work, almost every day brings word of a new test, a new assessment, a new rubric for accountability that makes teachers and students jump through another hoop.

Media and elected officials add to the stress and anxiety. It is rare that there isn't another public declaration of devotion to the cause of "Education Reform," which teachers have learned to interpret to mean another attack on their professional integrity and another chance to blame teachers for the nation's failure to be competitive on international tests, or reduce poverty and inequality.

An Education: How Prop 32's Backers Have Tried to Ditch Public Schools

By Matthew Fleischer

The billionaire backers of Proposition 32 are an eclectic bunch–from bow-tied Tory parodies like Charles Munger Jr., to Bible-thumping fire-breathers like Larry T. Smith, to old-fashioned oil tycoons like the Koch brothers. Over the years members of this crew have combined to push a number of conservative pet projects through the halls of Sacramento's Capitol - on every issue from stripping gay rights to dismantling environmental protections.