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

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Mutual Parasitism: Coronavirus and Charter Virus

When Kevin Huffman left Tennessee after four years of running down the State's public schools the way his ex-wife, Michelle Rhee, did prior to being run out of Washington, DC, Tennessee's teachers and superintendents were overjoyed.  Under Huffman's toxic reign as Commissioner of Education,
[m]ore than 50 superintendents . . . publicly questioned his leadership, several teachers unions expressed "no confidence" . . .; and . . . a group of 15 Republicans . . . called for his resignation.
Many believed that Huffman's poisonous reputation among schoolmen and schoolwomen in Tennessee would guarantee him a leading role in the ongoing efforts by billionaires to monetize and privatize public education.  And sure enough, just like the vastly unpopular Chris Barbic, who mismanaged Tennessee's charter school hothouse, the Achievement School District, before he left under a cloud, Huffman landed a leading role as Partner with City Fund.  

City Fund is generously supported by the same group of oligarchic high rollers who have been working to destroy public schools for the past twenty years:
. . . the [Reed] Hastings Fund, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Dell Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were funding the effort. The Walton Family Foundation and the Ballmer Group are also funders . . .
No doubt Huffman is now hoping for a big shipment of federal coronavirus relief dollars to his portfolio of corporate charter schools.  He hints as much in a recent Washington Post op-ed, where he touts Achievement First charter resources as a partial solution to state takeover of Providence, RI schools, just as he celebrates the good work by the Chiefs for Change, who are offering advice to school districts on how to "collaborate" with charter schools during the crisis. Um.

But the real focus of Huffman's op-ed is to remind readers that homeschooling or virtual schooling are dangerously deficient and could do lasting damage.  Underneath this veneer of concern for children is the real fear of damage to the real estate empires and corporate welfare agencies that charter schools represent and enable. 

In fact, Huffman has some advice for what Congress should do in the next round of relief legislation: 
For the next round of stimulus, appropriators could send significant funding to districts and schools with the most low-income students to make up lost instructional time. 
You know, those communities where City Fund is most intent to spread the charter virus, where resistance is minimal and the opportunity is maximal for running roughshod over parents, children, and teachers.

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