Saturday, June 4, 2016

A Look At The Private Interests Funding California's Charter Schools

A Look At The Private Interests Funding California's Charter Schools:

A Look At The Private Interests Funding California’s Charter Schools

“They like charters in part because they decrease the publicness of public schools.”

Big Education Ape: Failing the Test: A New Series Examines Charter Schools- CAPITAL & MAIN -

Charter proponents, most notably the Walton Family Foundation, contribute large amounts of money to expand charter schools in select cities around the nation. The foundation says it has invested more than $385 million in new charter schools over the past two decades and, earlier this year, announced that it plans to give $1billion over five years to support charters and school-choice initiatives.
In announcing its $1 billion strategic plan to support new and existing charter schools, the foundation has said the money would go to four initiatives – investing in cities, supporting the school-choice movement, innovation and research. It identified 13 cities nationwide where it said it can have the biggest impact, including Los Angeles and Oakland. Los Angeles already has more charter schools than any other school district in the United States and Oakland has the highest percentage of charters for any district in California.

See More Stories in Capital & Main’s Charter School Series

“If funders like Eli Broad or the Walton Family Foundation were truly committed to education equality,” says John Rogers, an education professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, “they could have taken steps to simply support reducing class size or after-school [activities] or summer programs that would provide more educational opportunity, rather than try to invest in strategies to undermine the capacities of a school district. The primary aim is to dismantle the school district as a whole and replace it with a new way of doing public education.”
Gary Miron, a professor of education at Western Michigan University, agrees. “They believe in privatization,” he says. Miron co-authored a critical study, sponsored last year by the National Education Policy Center, that focused on the charter industry’s funding policies.
“They like charters in part because they decrease the publicness of public schools.”
But why do so many charter advocates embrace privatization?
“I don’t think it’s about the money,” says Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “They like charters in part because they decrease the publicness of public schools. They want a system much more based on market forces because they don’t trust democracy.”
Netflix founder and prominent charter advocate Reed Hastings seemed to confirm this view when, during a 2014 convention of the California Charter Schools Association, he decried publicly elected school boards for their alleged lack of stability in governance. He then praised the closed-governance charter model of private boards whose “board members pick new board members.”
But should the private sector be in charge of public education?
“No,” says Welner. “The public sector should be in charge of public education. Public education should be under democratic control.”
Welner is not alone in his view.
“The radical agenda of the Walton family,” says a damning report issued last year by the American Federation of Teachers and In the Public Interest, “has taken the U.S. charter school movement away from education quality in favor of a strategy focused only on growth. It’s been lucrative for some, but a disaster for many of the nation’s most vulnerable students and school districts.”
The direct funding of charter schools is only one of several strategies charter advocates are using to influence public opinion and school policies. They also fund academic studies and “grassroots” organizations such as Parent Revolution, along A Look At The Private Interests Funding California's Charter Schools:

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