Education

Charter School Nonsense: No, Hedge Fund Billionaires Aren't Going to Save All the Children

A well-funded, professionally orchestrated demonstration of support for privatization.

Photo Credit: DianeRavitch.com

Yesterday was a school day in New York City. Across the city, over one million children were in class.

But not the children of Eva Moskowitz's Success Academies! They (and possibly some allied charters) held a mass rally at Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn. The park was lined with rented buses. As the children and their parents stepped off the buses, an adult handed them a hand-lettered sign to carry, demanding more support for charter schools.

There were multiple buses for the recording and video services. This was a well-funded, professionally orchestrated demonstration of support for privatization. If public schools closed for a political rally, their principals would be fired.

The children and parents all wore identical red tee-shirts, with the slogan “Dont Steal Possible.” This slogan works nicely in suggesting that someone is trying to close down charter schools, and this imminent threat to their survival must be stopped.

In fact, as is typical with reformer slogans, the opposite is true. Eva and her billionaire hedge fund backers get whatever they want from Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature. And they aim to “steal” space and resources from the beleaguered public schools. They merrily “steal possible” from children with disabilities, children who are English language learners, and children who are homeless, none of whom are wanted by Eva’s Success Academies because they might not get high scores.

The theme of the day was “equality for all children.” A large banner across the top of the speakers’ podium read, “We Fight for Equality.” This is ironic since the typical complaint about charter co-locations is that the charters have more resources, the charters get whatever they want, the charters create “separate but equal” schools within the same building.

It is also ironic that children and parents were rallying for “more charters,” because they are already enrolled in a charter. The children can attend only one charter, right? The beneficiaries of the rally are not the children but charter founders. The more charters they open, the more funding they receive.

It is true that Eva’s schools get very high test scores, much higher than other charter schools. If she has the secret sauce of success, why not include all children, not just the chosen ones? Maybe she should take charge of all the city’s 1.1 million students and show what she can do.

If she truly wants “equality for all,” let her bring the hedge fund billionaires and her secret sauce to save all the children. No cherry picking. No skimming. No exclusion of children who have cognitive or emotional disabilities. All means all. Why not find out if she means what she says?

Diane Ravitch is a co-founder of the Network for Public Education. She is a historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University. She is a graduate of the Houston public schools, Wellesley College (BA), Columbia University (Ph.D. in history of American education), and holds ten honorary doctorates. In 2011, she received the Daniel Patrick Moynihan award from the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences for her careful use of data and research to advance the common good. She blogs at dianeravitch.net.


 

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