Charter schools are part of the corporate hostile takeover of public education. The basic idea is that a school is given a charter to teach students without all of the usual checks and balances in the hope that they becoming foaming beds of innovation to “show the way” to the “hidebound and calcified public schools.” (Referring to public schools as “failing,” “underperforming,” “hidebound and calcified,” etc. is part of the propaganda effort. In reality, public schools are doing better than ever before in many ways.) It is assumed that when such schools are freed from all of the onerous regulations: accountability requirements, union contracts, state regulations, etc. that they will not only be “better” at educating our kids but they will be more cost-effective, too.
Over the history of charter schools, which is quite long, Charter Schools have been the darlings of liberals and conservatives, but currently they are being pushed along with other efforts by the corporate funded big foundations (Gates, Broad, etc.). Apparently they believe that the proven efficiency of corporations is a product of the corporate culture (pro-profit, anti-union, anti-worker, screw the competition, collaboration/cooperation/compromise is for the weak, etc.).
There are extravagant claims being made about the performance of Charter Schools, primarily that students attending them perform at a higher level than “ordinary” public school students. If this were true then why haven’t they asked to be put on a different pay scheme than the “ordinary” public schools. Currently public schools receive funding based on attendance. If students shows up, the school receives funds to teach them. But if Charter Schools are so much better, shouldn’t they be paid better? I mean you don’t see Harvard University bragging about how cheap it is compared to the local community colleges. They make their “customers” pay for the prestige of attendance. Isn’t that the way things work in a capitalist system?
Maybe Charter Schools don’t want “pay for performance” because:
· Many Charter Schools are run by profit-taking companies and no one (to date) has explained how extracting profits/money from what is paid to teach students makes the process better.
· Charter Schools often spend more money on administration than do “ordinary” public schools, thus reducing the amount of money used to educate our kids even more. Julian Vasquez Heilig has done a study on Texas charters showing that: in elementary schools, charters spend $147 more per pupil than traditional public schools; in middle schools, charters spend $495 more per pupil than traditional public schools, and in high schools, charters spend $230 more per pupil than traditional public schools. So much for being efficient. (By the way, a rule of corporate governance is one way to extract extra profits from an enterprise is for the owners to draw salaries.)
· In study after study Charter Schools are found to be not only “not better” than the “ordinary” public schools in their district, but worse. For example, in the Pennsylvania state school rankings, of the bottom 84 schools, 83 were charters.
So, while “pay for performance” is a hallmark of many of the corporate “reform” (sic) efforts, it apparently doesn’t apply here.