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

Monday, August 31, 2009

NCLB as Well-Planned Explosive Device in Detroit

The time bombs that NCLB planted in every poor rural or urban school in America have been going off with increasing frequency as we move closer the impossible testing targets of 2014. Now with the economic depression providing a kind of financial hurricane in Michigan, Detroit is on the brink of following the pattern of New Orleans after Katrina. Meanwhile, the poor children we knew were failing before NCLB are poorer and falling further and further behind in a demoralized morass, created for the benefit of those ideologues intent upon dismantling the public education system. From The Detroit News:
Marisa Schultz / The Detroit News

Detroit -- Two of the most influential charter school backers in the city are teaming up to bring 25,000 new charter school seats to Detroit within a decade.

Founders of University Preparatory Academy and Henry Ford Academy have formed a nonprofit to recruit some of the country's best urban charter operators to Detroit, nearly doubling the number of charter seats in the city.

"The idea is to go from a city that is widely considered the most dysfunctional urban area in the country, in terms of educational opportunities, and to turn it into a test bed of dozens of different kinds of high-performing schools," said Steve Hamp, founder of Henry Ford Academy.

The effort could be a blow to Detroit Public Schools, which has lost almost half its students since 2000 -- many of them to charters. Each student who leaves takes along about $7,500 in state funding.

The additional charters could provide a financial opportunity for the district, however, because the operators are interested in operating in closed city school buildings.

Robert Bobb, the district's state-appointed emergency financial manager, said he's willing to sell shuttered district schools to charters as long as the price is fair and the buildings are maintained.

The district, Bobb said, will continue to improve with hard work and determination by staff and students.

"(The district) should not spend one second of its energy worrying about the charter school movement," he said.

Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, strongly disagrees with the notion that "charter schools are the answer, when nothing could be further from the truth."

He and other vocal DPS critics believe charters "are capitalizing on some of the dysfunctions of Detroit Public Schools to promote their own agenda," Johnson said. "They are using our children in DPS like they are commodities." . . . .

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