"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tennessee Democrats: Tell Arne Duncan to Take His $100 Million and Go to Hell With It

The squeeze is on. Duncan has begun using the $5 billion federal slush fund to bribe his way to the successful corporate takeover of urban schooling in America. With the Feds now acting as front men for the Oligarchs (Gates, Broad, Waltons, etc.), the decision to be faced by state and local governments alone is simply this: to reenergize the public responsibility to offer humane public schools to all children or to turn the education of poor children over to corporate welfare schools that offer two tracks: test prep chain gangs or prison prep chain gangs.

There is no evidence to demonstrate that the corporate solution being proposed offers any pedagogical or social advantage over a renewed commitment to public schools. The KIPP cult-for-culture model being held up as the exemplar for can never work on a large scale, and Duncan knows it.

The short-term advantage of accepting the Duncan bribes signals a capitulation of public responsibility in a democratic state to provide for the equal education of its citizens. To accept the Duncan bribes is to invite the advancement of publicly-sanctioned, corporate-controlled apartheid schools for America. Don't do it.

From the Tennessean:
. . . .Democrats blocked a bill last week that would have made thousands of impoverished students in the state's 11 largest school districts eligible to enroll in charter schools. Lawmakers said they felt the expansion was too much too soon.

But the Obama administration disagrees. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that Tennessee's stance could jeopardize the state's shot at millions of dollars set aside to encourage school innovation.

"We want to reward those states that are willing to lead the country where we need to go and are willing to push this reform agenda very, very hard," Duncan told The Associated Press. "And the states that don't have the stomach or the political will, unfortunately, they're going to lose out."

Charter schools are publicly funded but operate independently of local school boards, giving them more flexibility with staffing rules and school curriculum.

Under state law, charters can accept only low-performing students, students from low-performing schools and, in some cases, low-income students in early grades.

A bill introduced this year would have opened charter schools to any students receiving free and reduced-price lunch in the state's 11 largest districts, making about 73 percent of Metro Nashville's 75,000 students eligible. Currently about 20,000 Nashville students, or 27 percent, are eligible to attend charters, though less than 1 percent are enrolled, according to the Tennessee Charter Schools Association.

President Barack Obama has specifically called for changes to enrollment rules and said he believes restrictions hamper innovation. Opponents say charter schools cherry-pick the best students and siphon resources from regular schools because taxpayer dollars follow the student. . . .

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