Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why a Charter School Takeover Might Be Coming to Your Town | TakePart

Why a Charter School Takeover Might Be Coming to Your Town | TakePart:

Why a Charter School Takeover Might Be Coming to Your Town

Upheaval in the Detroit public schools could signal the fate of other cash-strapped districts.

Big Education Ape: Mindless Underfunding Of Schools Continues, Doing Irreparable Harm To Kids -

It seems like good news: Detroit public schools are set to receive more than $600 million in funds from the state legislature—badly needed cash to prop up a crumbling system deep in debt. A closer look reveals the catch: a sweeping plan to revamp the urban school system, undermine public schools, and create more charter schools. 
If you live in a red state, analysts say, that type of plan could be coming to an urban school district near you—if it hasn’t already. 
Detroit’s plan is the latest in twin national trends, experts say: red-state struggles to adequately fund public schools, particularly in urban areas, coupled with a growing appetite among education reformers (and like-minded conservative politicians) to replace them with charter schools with less accountability and a reputation of shortchanging minority students and poor communities. 
“It’s not totally clear that [Detroit public schools] are getting enough money” to make badly needed upgrades to neighborhood schools, said Jeffrey Bryant, an associate fellow at Campaign for America’s Future and the director of the Education Opportunity Network website. “It’s like treating a gunshot victim, and all you do is stop the bleeding.” 
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of charter schools nationwide has more than tripled since 2000 from 1.7 percent to 6.2 percent, with the total number of public charter schools increasing from 1,500 to 6,100. But they’ve also gotten bigger over the same time: The number of schools with between 500 and 1,000 students doubled from 11 percent to 22 percent. 
After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, revamped the city’s school system with an emphasis on charter schools,with mixed results. Ditto Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, who helped shift Indianapolis schools toward a charter model.
In Detroit, a population drain of more than 1.1 million people since the 1950s led to a collapse of school funding, and dozens of schools across the city shuttered. Deep in debt, administrators of the remaining schools sought help from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-dominated state legislature. 
Under the resulting plan, the 100 remaining schools will be split into two districts—one that will remain for tax-collection purposes to help settle the $617 million debt and a newer district that will get an infusion of money to help. 
Though lawmakers in Michigan have signaled charter schools will be a part of the new Detroit school landscape, Kimberly Quick, an education analyst at The Century Foundation, said officials should proceed with caution.
“Republicans supposedly removed language that made it easier for failing charters to remain open while traditional public schools had to automatically close,” Quick wrote in an email to TakePart. “I’m not comfortable saying whether or not the plan is designed to undermine traditional public schools (I would need to read the actual legislation), but I Why a Charter School Takeover Might Be Coming to Your Town | TakePart:

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