Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wisconsin's charter school hustle gets a hearing

Today featured a day-long public hearing in the Wisconsin Assembly's Committee on Urban Public Education, and it all had to do with Assembly Bill 549, a bill that would greatly expand the availability of charter schools, and allow many more groups to run these types of schools, which are frequently given the "freedom" to go around teacher's unions and install their own work conditions and credentials for teachers.

I'll let Andy at the Wisconsin Soapbox give you all of the gory details of this bill, but here's an example of just how this bill would subvert public schools in Wisconsin even more than they've already been messed with.
This bill effectively makes it so that a national operator can set up with any entity that will give them a charter. (I'm sure absolutely NOTHING political ever happens here...) It also means that, because the CESA's can authorize, every county in Wisconsin is eligible to be included. Even with the UW's and Technical Schools there would only be a handful of counties in the northern part of the state that would be excluded. Don't be fooled folks, this is to let people make a buck off of education. (Oh... hey voucher program. How are ya doing...)

... The bill creates a new process by which a person who has a proven track record of success for each charter school the person operates in this state may establish and operate additional independent charter schools. Under the bill, a person has a proven track record of success operating a charter school if during each of the two immediately preceding school years the total percentage of pupils attending the charter school who received a score of advanced or proficient on the state assessments for math and reading in all tested grades taught at the charter school is at least ten percentage points higher than the total percentage of pupils attending public schools in the school district where that charter school is located who received the same scores on the same assessments in the same grades. Under the bill, an independent authorizer who receives a letter of intent from a person with a proven track record of success with whom the independent authorizer has an existing contract must, at the person's request, contract with that person to operate up to two additional charter schools per school year. The bill specifies that a charter school established under this process is not a satellite or subsidiary campus of an existing charter school.

So in other words, if you are a big national group that comes in and can show that you do nothing more than improve scores in math and reading, you automatically can start opening additional schools with little to no questions asked. (Oh hey Rocketship...)
Andy also mentions the part that Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESAs) could also run charter schools, which is intriguing because guess what Senate Education Chair Luther Olsen's wife (ex-State Rep. Joan Wade) is an administrator of? A CESA! And it's not the first time this conflict of interest with Olsen and Wade has popped up, as I noted in July 2011 that Luther has tried to help out his old lady through this type of legislation before.

It's also worth noting that the Assembly sponsor speaking at length about the measure today was none other than State Rep. Dale (Koo-Koo) Kooyenga, who claimed that opening up more places to charter schools would "shake up the status quo." Obviously Koo-Koo doesn't care to speak to many teachers, as many of them would already say that education has been shaken up plenty the last few years in this state, and that his type isn't really helping the situation. But then you see that Koo-Koo was honored by the Koch's Tax Foundation as one of 6 who got their "Outstanding Achievement in State Tax Reform" and you can see who he's working for. It ain't the folks back in his Tosa/Brookfield district, that's for sure.

And in the testimony I saw, Koo-Koo was basically admitting that he wanted to remove the governance of charter schools from locally-elected school boards and put it in the hands of these other operators. It was these types of potential "other operators" and ALEC/Koch-type wingnut welfare folks that seemed to be the only people I saw in favor of this bill. Makes sense on it's face, as it'd give them a huge amount of taxpayer dollars that would allow them the chance to make money off of kids' schooling!

Fortunately, a lot of the education and reality-based community struck back. Some were nice about it, like John Forrester of the School Administrators Alliance, who pointed out that moving funding to charter schools takes it away from public ones, and would inevitably raise local property taxes along with lowering the quality of schooling for most in the state. Others were a bit more blunt, as reporters Erin Richards and Rebecca Kemble noted.

Why yes, this bill is a giant hustle with taxpayer dollars being the investment capital for these grifting corporations. Just like a lot of other things in Fitzwalkerstan these days, when you think about it. This bill is bad news and should be blasted out of the water as soon as possible, with a giant spotlight being shown on the puppetmasters behind the corrupt WisGOP politicians that stamp their name on this legislation.

We can run a school for less and score more.


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  2. HILARIOUS! I get spammed by one of these charter school business organizations in a post that shows what a fraud these guys are. And nice buzzwords on this as well.

    These guys have probably never spent a day in the classroom, but they sure know how to pinch pennies, as if teaching was an iPod. Yep, BAD NEWS.