December 6 and 7 in Madison there is an education summit at Monona Terrace:
Educate to Elevate is an education series that brings together local and national leaders to talk about their efforts, share lessons-learned and join us in rallying the Greater Madison community to support the education of our children and our schools.
The stars of the Union bashing, charter school promoting movie “Waiting for Superman” will be here to share their why unions are bad and Charter Schools are the answer to our education problems.
What will you get at this summit, beyond an unbelievably high priced fund raiser( For a measly $1000 you can have lunch with John Legend), is a full two days of teacher bashing, public school pounding and privatization pushing. There is a solid bet that you will NOT get the actual facts of what is happening in education, especially the charter school movement!
Here’s what you don’t see: the four out of five charters that are no better, on average, than traditional neighborhood public schools (and are sometimes much worse); charter school teachers, like those at the Green Dot schools in Los Angeles, who are unionized and like it that way; and noncharter neighborhood public schools, like PS 83 in East Harlem and the George Hall Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama, that are nationally recognized for successfully educating poor children.
You don’t see teen moms, households without an adult English speaker or headed by a drug addict, or any of the millions of children who never have a chance to enter a charter school lottery (or get help with their homework or a nice breakfast) because adults simply aren’t engaged in their education. These children, of course, are often the ones who are most difficult to educate, and the ones neighborhood public schools can’t turn away.
You also don’t learn that in the Finnish education system, much cited in the film as the best in the world, teachers are—gasp!—unionized and granted tenure, and families benefit from a cradle-to-grave social welfare system that includes universal daycare, preschool and healthcare, all of which are proven to help children achieve better results at school.
Geoffrey Canada, who is the keynote speaker of not only this summit, but also the film “Waiting for Superman”, is also not exactly what he is cracked up to be.
Geoffrey Canada is the creator of the Harlem Children’s Zone. The two Charter Schools included in this zone are called “Promise Academy I” and “Promise Academy II.” Students win a spot in the schools based on a lottery. Canada believes that money is the answer for these children. The Harlem Children’s Zone invests $16,000 per student per year for expenses in the classroom, and thousands more per student for expenses outside the classroom. These expenses include student incentives, such as a trip to Disney World or the Galapagos Islands.
The Harlem Children’s Zone has an operating budget of $84 million, two-thirds of which comes from private donations from businesses such as Goldman Sachs. Two billionaires are counted among the members of the board. This gives the group easier access to funding. In 2009, the Children’s Zone had assets that equaled almost $200 million dollars.
If money, invested business people, and Charters are the answer, then many wonder why Canada’s plans have not proven to be successful. In 2004, the Children’s Zone dismissed their first class, because their performance wasn’t high enough to guarantee the results of the proposed high school. In spite of class sizes of less than 15, an extended school day, and an 11 month year, all students are not making substantial gains. In 2010, only 15% of the Children’s Zone 7th grade students passed their English test. In true Charter fashion, this resulted in the firing of teachers without delving too far into the true causes of the inadequate results.
What Canada has shown is that even with a budget that exceeds other schools, his Charters still struggle with the same issues. Is this what we want for the future of Madison schools? The upcoming event is cause for alarm.
It appears that this “summit” is being brought about in advance so the Madison Prep people can make another run at opening the Madison Prep charter school in Madison, that we narrowly avoided last spring. Charter schools are NOT the answer and let’s hope that the organizers for this event are doing this as a pure at heart process and willing to discuss all sides of every issue.
We can not solve the achievement gap by misleading and promoting personal agendas, we all need to work together or the best interests of children will never be met!
Categories: | Defend the Wisconsin Idea | Education | elections | Media | Vouchers