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

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tory Policy Turns Upside Down on Charters, er, Academies

In the U. S., we have two kinds of charter schools, even though both are segregated.  In the urban centers of the North, we have the "no excuses" behavioral chain gangs that contain the children of the black and brown poor in order to perform that special KIPP style brand of cognitive sterilization.  In the South and Southwest, we have the exclusive high-performing white charters located in white neighborhoods, with curriculums fit for the Seths and Caitlins and with no transportation provided for the black or the brown who live in the slums.

Back in 2007 when David Cameron's chances of becoming PM were slim to none, he was preaching the virtues of the former charter variety, all under the banner of justice for the poor.  From the Telegraph, May 23, 2007:
In a newspaper article yesterday, he said: "In Wisconsin, for example, a new generation of charter schools is bringing the highest standards of schooling to the poorest kids in the poorest neighbourhoods. I believe we can do it here too."
Well, being PM is different than talking about becoming PM.  Already Cameron has rolled out a plan to create a whole bunch of publicly-financed private academies that look almost exactly like the U. S. Southern charter gated model that favors walling off the white middle class children to prepare them with everything they need to know to take over the reins when their white parents retire on their BP-funded pensions.  The word "charter" has become so toxic and synonymous with corruption that Cameron's Tories have opted for the Southern term, too--academies.  The unwashed will remain in the publics, at least for now.  From the Observer:
. . . .The government's education plans have been criticised after it emerged that hundreds of schools being offered a fast-track to academy status are the most socially exclusive.

An analysis by the Observer found that secondary schools judged as "outstanding" by Ofsted are taking 40% fewer poor pupils than the national average. Michael Gove, the secretary of state for education, has written to all schools inviting them to apply to become academies, a move that will free them from local authority control.

However, he is particularly urging "outstanding" schools to join the scheme and has approved them all in advance. "We specifically want to provide opportunities for outstanding schools to open as academies as early as September 2010," he wrote to headteachers.

Campaigners are warning that the policy risks creating a two-tier system in which resources and attention are focused on the most middle-class schools.

"The figures do suggest that the new cadre of academies will be more socially exclusive than schools as a whole," said Dr Lee Elliot Major, director of research and policy at the Sutton Trust, a group that works to improve the educational opportunities for young people from non-privileged backgrounds.

Major argued that the "admissions code", which is supposed to stop schools from selecting middle-class children in an attempt to improve behaviour and results, needs to be strengthened.

"The freeing-up of state schools makes it even more important that strong checks and balances and incentives are in place so that school intakes reflect the social mix of the communities they serve – and that any education reforms benefit all children, not just the most privileged," he said. . . .

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