In Los Angeles, corporate reformers are doing just that, beginning with the public schools. And they are getting it done with the viral spread of intensely segregated charter boot camps whose per-pupil public expenditure now goes to the corporate charter schools.
As this strategy gains steam, the old canards that were used to justify more charter schools are, each day, becoming more transparently false in their claims. Almost quaint, you could say:
- Charter schools will be free to experiment with innovative curricula whose successes will spread into the public schools, thus improving instruction for all. The most prominent innovation that is spreading among and beyond the urban charters is the bare-knuckled "no excuses" total compliance model of schooling that has raised test scores at the KIPP sects and the KIPP knock-offs, where 40-50 percent of 5th graders never make it to 8th grade. The constant weeding out of the weak and recalcitrant is a closely managed not-so-secret fact that the media ignore, and the inflated test scores among the KIPP survivors becomes the only part of the story worth telling. If this "choice" chain gang model, however, were used in public schools which cannot weed the weak as KIPP does, the dropout rate could soar to 60 or 70 percent, easily, by high school. And never mind for now the massive teacher turnover (18 to 49 percent per year) at the KIPPs, thus requiring a constant infusion by white Teach for America missionaries.
- Charter schools will force public schools to become better in order to attract more "market share." Sound good, but this is another market myth that is even more mythical in the context of schools. When public schools in LA or anywhere else lose students, they lose the thousands of dollars that go with each of those children to educate them. The result is a drop of public school enrollment that will mean increased financial pressures on the LAUSD, which will mean fewer teachers, larger classes, scarcer resources, reduced support services, and the further weakening of public support as the system is less able to respond to the needs of students.
First, commit to drastically increasing the charter market share in a few select communities until it is the dominant system and the district is reduced to a secondary provider . . . . As chartering increases its market share in a city, the district will come under growing financial pressure. The district, despite educating fewer and fewer students, will still require a large administrative staff to process payroll and benefits, administer federal programs, and oversee special education. With a lopsided adult-to-student ratio, the district's per-pupil costs will skyrocket.As if to emphasize the fact that this emerging reality is something the media does not care to think too much about, the LA Times had this short short the other day on what is truly happening to LA schools and other urban systems that have been targeted by the Oligarchs and their henchmen who run the U. S. Department of Education:
At some point along the district's path from monopoly provider to financially unsustainable marginal player, the city's investors and stakeholders--taxpayers, foundations, business leaders, elected officials, and editorial boards--are likely to demand fundamental change. That is, eventually the financial crisis will become a political crisis. If the district has progressive leadership, one of two best-case scenarios may result. The district could voluntarily begin the shift to an authorizer, developing a new relationship with its schools and reworking its administrative structure to meet the new conditions. Or, believing the organization is unable to make this change, the district could gradually transfer its schools to an established authorizer.
November 4, 2009 | 6:00 am
Enrollment in traditional Los Angeles-area public schools has declined this fall, even as the number of students enrolled in charter schools has exploded, according to just-released data.
The drop at traditional schools is slightly more than 3%, with enrollment falling to 617,798 students. The number of students at independent charters is up nearly 19%, to 60,643 students. More students attend charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District than in any other district in the country.
Charter schools operate like their own school districts, with control over most of the funding generated by their students. With the opening of new charters in the Los Angeles area, the enrollment shift was not entirely unexpected, but it nonetheless has broad implications for the nation's second-largest school system. When the district sheds students, it also loses the funds that accompany them, which puts pressure on a district budget with built-in costs for services and facilities.
Fewer students ultimately result in staff reductions --- over and above those already caused by the state budget crisis.
Even if the charter students are added in, district enrollment is down 1.4% from last year, continuing a recent trend. The latest numbers are culled from an annual survey called “norm day,” which is important for setting staffing levels at schools as well as determining future funding.
-- Howard Blume