Corporate Consortium Primes for Takeover of City Schools
A surprisingly balanced editorial from the York Dispatch recently stated a systemic change is in order for York City schools. YorkCounts, York County’s foremost promoters of regionalism and government consolidation, has issued a recommendation that all city schools be ‘reformed’ into charters.
At this point, whether or not charter schools perform better or worse is a red herring.
First of all, it’s important to point out that the YorkCounts report and recommendations are not based on a local focus or even particularly tailored to local issues. The YorkCounts report is nothing more than a national template that is currently sweeping the nation. What’s driving this growing movement? You’ve probably already guessed it; money, opportunism, and government. That train’s never late.
Federalization of Local Schools
Among the leading factors behind this recent trend towards conversion of school districts to an all charter model is the Obama administration’s Race to the Top funding program. Over $4.3-billion in grants is available and catered to districts that follow the all charter, corporate reform model.
As I wrote in an earlier post discussing COPS funding, we need less federal meddling and top-down templates. If we are to advance as a community, we need to form local solutions to what are inherently unique, local problems. If we continue to allow federal funding and mandates to determine the status and condition of our school systems, then we’ll continue to see an erosion of local control along with poor results.
It is hardly lack of due process for the government to regulate that which it subsidizes. — United States Supreme Court
Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111, p. 131, October 1942
New Schools and the Corporate Takeover
Much to my surprise, the YorkCounts Education Report touts the New Schools project in New Orleans as a model of what we should have in York.
What they fail to mention is that the New Orleans system was ushered in on the heels of the misery, depravity and outright criminality that plagued Louisiana during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
After Katrina inundated more than 80 percent of New Orleans in floodwaters, Louisiana officials wrested control of most of the city’s public schools from the local school board, leading to a sweeping reform effort, under the state Recovery School District, that turned most of the schools into independently run charters. Teacher unions were rendered largely irrelevant, and teachers were no longer protected by collective bargaining agreements.
- The Times-Picayune
York may not have been inundated by a hurricane (Irene doesn’t count), but we’ve certainly been swamped by a wave of stagnation, mismanagement, and incompetence that’s now the basis for the disaster capitalism priming to overtake city schools.
Profits Over Progress
With so much money hanging in the balance, does anyone really believe that the introduction of corporate management structures and entities will bring schools closer to the community? Private profiteers are quick to laud the YorkCounts corporate reform scheme; and why wouldn’t they? Conversion of school districts to all charter systems allows for extensive investment opportunities.
Take York-based 3Cord Inc, for instance. The upstart education management company takes full advantage of the current fail-safe charter school investment environment.
3Cord gets a 50 percent split of any excess revenue New Hope has at the end of a budget year.
And if the school closes — for instance, because its charter isn’t renewed — 3Cord is owed $300 per pupil each year for 10 years, amounting to about $2.2 million, according to its management agreement and public testimony. – York Dispatch
Isiah Anderson, manager and founder of 3Cord Inc, admits his company modeled its contracts after ‘industry standards’ following other educational management organizations. Educational management organizations like Edison Learning Group, which manages Lincoln-Edison Charter School in York, and is part of the NewSchools consortium that plundered the New Orleans school system after Hurricane Katrina.
Billionaire Boys Club
Education scholar Diane Ravitch popularized the term billionaire boys club to describe the main proponents of charter school reform on a national scale.
This is where the cognitive dissonance, or hypocrisy, you pick – inherent within the YorkCounts report comes to play. YorkCounts and all of its groomed political attaches are almost exclusively far left leaning with regards to public policy. How ironic is it that the main financiers and backers of corporate charter school reform are the much maligned, tea party associated ALEC group; Center for Education Reform, Bain Capital, The Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation (remember Wal-Mart is evil) and on and on. The moral of the story is principles don’t matter if there’s money and influence to be gained. The GSV Asset Management and Investment Group even issued a report marketing corporate school reform to poverty pimps and disaster capitalists across the world. That’s right. American schools are quickly becoming investment portfolios, with tax payers footing the bill. The government handover of our schools to the corporate sector will open up an international investment market; and our children are the commodity.
The report states: In a similar way that NYSE allows stock to be a currency given the deep liquidity of the exchange, we see the knowledge and labor market becoming a similar place where people with the appropriate skill-set and knowledge base can succeed regardless of their official degrees. Go read it for yourselves.
Do Not Abdicate Local Control
As a community, the responsibility for our schools falls on us. We must resist any attempts to consolidate or impede local decision making. The insertion of corporate managers and bureaucratic middlemen into the educational process will only serve to further dilute the already diminished voice and influence of the parents, elected officials, teachers and students; the ones who really matter.
The York LP believes each individual family should have the right to determine what model would best fit its educational needs. Charter schools should be an option, but blanket corporatization of our entire school district is ill-advised.
YorkCounts is scheming for a back door method to impose a top-down consolidation model of corporate profiteering and bureaucracy to supplant local control. They’ve long been a proponent of regionalism and consolidation of school districts. This is just the first step of many towards realizing that goal.
We can no longer sit on the sidelines and observe as the same politicians who helped to decimate our community institutions now step in to act as our saviors. Get involved, get educated and run for office. It’s going to take nothing less than meaningful action to stem and reverse this trend of parasitic feasting.