An extensive report from AP
on the Walton Family Foundation'
s plan to put another $1 billion in charter schools over the next five years.
The Waltons continue to insist that choice alone must be better, no matter the decidedly mixed results of reviews of charter school efforts and the demonstrated concentration of the most deprived students in conventional public school districts that their efforts have often produced.
Which reminds me of another reason to like Bernie Sanders
, who said this week:
“I’m not in favor of privately run charter schools. If we are going to have a strong democracy and be competitive globally, we need the best educated people in the world. I believe in public education; I went to public schools my whole life, so I think rather than give tax breaks to billionaires, I think we invest in teachers and we invest in public education. I really do.” – Bernie Sanders (Quote begins at 1:48:32)
Diane Ravitch is always worthwhile on the subject, too. For example:
She writes of a study that showed that Los Angeles charter students improved faster, though they also began with higher scores to start with than peers in regular schools:
The implications, I believe, are that those who enroll in charters start off ahead academically, and their academic gains are increased by peer effects. If a student is enrolled in a school with other higher-performing students–and if the students with behavioral problems and the unmotivated students are not present–the students learn faster.
What are the lessons for public schools? Remove the students with behavioral problems; remove the students who are unmotivated; remove the students with severe disabilities; remove the students with low test scores; limit the number of English language learners to those who are nearly fluent. That’s a formula for success. In a school where everyone is motivated, well-behaved, and ready to learn, students get higher test scores.
But what should we do with all those kids who were removed and excluded?
This is the model the Waltons are funding, particularly in Little Rock. Encourage with unlimited financial support any and all who have the motivation and means to leave the Little Rock school district, leaving an increasing percentage of hard cases behind, with less and less exposure to the middle class kids that research shows are vital to lift ALL students. Then claim the success of charters and the failure of the unionized school district. It's a beautiful thing for those who profit from it, like their paid lobbyists who work full-time to bust up the Little Rock public school system (except for carving out havens for the better-off in better neighborhoods.)