by Max Brantley
How best to improve schools? The Billionaire Boys Club way, by tearing down real public schools and creating dozens or even hundreds of individual school districts in the form of charter schools, virtual schools and private schools powered by public vouchers? Or the way proposed by the Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign, with key ideas shown in the flyer below. See the whole mailing here.
RELATED SCHOOL REFORM NOTES:
* OUR WAY OR THE HIGHWAY: A story in Tennessee outlines how charter school backers are trying to gut the regulatory law there, as the Waltons and other billionaires are attempting to do in Arkansas. It's about control above all, with quality a secondary issue. From an Education Law Center memo:
The Republican super-majority in the Tennessee legislature introduced legislation to strip away the the power of the school boards in Memphis (Shelby County) and Nashville to authorize charter schools. The power would be moved to a state authority.
This move is retaliation against the Metro Nashville school board, which rejected an application from the Great Hearts charter school academy of Arizona. The school board rejected Great Hearts four times! The problem was that Great Hearts wanted to open in a mostly white, affluent neighborhood and had inadequate plans for student diversity.
In an exposé in the Arizona Republic a few months ago, Great Hearts was singled out for dubious financial self-dealing. ...
Nashville’s insistence on turning down this particular application infuriated State Commissioner Kevin Huffman (whose prior experience is limited solely to TFA). Huffman withheld $3.4 million that the state owed to Nashville. The governor and legislators were angry too that Nashville acted to exercise local control. They are now talking about vouchers.
... Question: why are the Republicans in Tennessee so determined to destroy public education in their state? Has anyone in the state read the research on charters and vouchers? Or are they taking marching orders from ALEC?
Those last questions may be posed in Arkansas, too.
* CHEATING: More from Tennessee to illustrate how power and structure are more important to the billionaires and Republicans than results:
A for-profit school that was hyped by Republican lawmakers as a solution to Tennessee’s education problems recently admitted deleting bad grades to “more accurately recognize students’ current progress.”
...A December email obtained by WTVF showed that Tennessee Virtual Academy’s vice principal instructed middle school teachers to delete “failing grades” from October and September.