DO WE REALLY WANT TO PRIVATIZE OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS?

When I think of Privatization, I just recall a Blog Post I wrote, from some months back, which described a lifeguard in Hallandale Beach who was fired for leaving his station to help rescue a visiting European visitor who was floundering in the surf.  The City had hired an outside company to provide lifesaving services.  The lifeguard had a colleague cover his station while he sprinted the 100 yards, or so, to assist in the rescue.  He was fired, however, since he went outside of the company’s area of responsibility.  The City apologized profusely to the young man and honored him with an award luncheon; but, there was nothing it could do–since he was a private sub-contractor for the outside company.

The Republicans seem to want to outsource just about every service in captivity.  In Iraq and Afghanistan, they even privatized the military mess halls.  Remember that sub-contractors in a War Zone generally are generally paid several times what a GI is paid. Kellogg, Brown and Root (then a part of Halliburton) reportedly served such delights as bologna sandwiches to our Men and Women in the Military.  What did they ever do with the mess sergeants and cooks that put-out hot, decent meals in years past, even under field conditions?

The Privatization Agendas for public schools consists of: “standardized” testing; teacher evaluations; school vouchers and charter schools.  In their way of thinking, this would all be handled by a private (for-profit) corporation.  So, a local Area generally has a fixed amount of money to dedicate to Education (as it does for public safety, health care, road maintenance, etc.).  Now, that portion of the Budget is taken away from the School District and given to an outside corporation.  So, besides facilities, books, teachers, etc., those same Dollars have to also support a corporate hierarchy, marketing, provide a return to shareholders and make a profit.  Also, just like the City of Hallandale Beach, the School District loses control, as well.  The Tax-payers do, as well.

You might recall that early this year, there were a number of teachers and administrators who were discovered to be changing test scores in the Atlanta School System.  The highly-touted Michelle Rhee, pushed the GOP Agenda, when she was Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. Schools.  Following her departure, there was a considerable amount manipulation of the standardized tests discovered.  The linked article indicating that that those inconsistencies went back to 2009 (during her tenure), from Esquire, is: http://www.esquire.com/print-this/michelle-rhee-cheating-scandal-041213?page=all.

Perhaps one of the highest profile examples of this failure to pass the smell test was the recent resignation of Tony Bennett, Chancellor of the Florida Public School System, http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/31/v-print/3534811/fred-grimm-education-chief-tony.html.  As it turns-out, when he previously headed the Indiana School System, he changed the overall standardized test score of a particular charter school from C to A.  This school was the namesake charter of an important Republican contributor and supporter of charter schools.  Isn’t it nice to have friends in high places?

Now, it’s important to remember that, as I have Posted before, the Bushes are the First Family of For-Profit Schools. George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into Law.  Neil had been involved with companies that provided standardized school testing, with George H.W. and Barbara as major shareholders.  And, then, there is Jeb.

Jeb Bush is the former Republican Governor of Florida and is thought to be a potential Presidential Hopeful in 2016.  He has continued his support of the Republican School Agenda, through the formation of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE).  Although it is a Non-Profit Institution, it takes in contributions–including from for-profit corporations that are involved in Education.

In essence, FEE is a lobby group that provides template legislation to State and Local Governments who wish to privatize (in part of in full) their public school systems, and then it lobbies for passage of the Legislation.  A spokeswoman for that Foundation claimed that an “independent” report exonerated Bennett of any wrongdoing.  Jeb has personally been a backer of Mr. Bennett for a long time.  Was that “independent research” provided by Abracadabra, Inc?

Lastly, how “standardized” can tests be, when you consider the backgrounds of various students.  Some come from high-income families, have books at home, benefitted from pre-school and had books read to them at an early age.  While others had none of those benefits, are lucky to have sufficient food and sleep, perhaps come from single-parent homes and, in some cases, English is a second (or even third) language.

How true can Teacher Evaluations be?  There are some truly dedicated Teachers and Administrators who prefer to work at low-income schools, because, they feel that they can really make a difference there.  But, if their compensation is somewhat subjective, everyone might be fighting to work in the high-income neighborhoods.  For instance, I know someone who worked for the Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale) School System for 29 years.  Her final Job Evaluation was given by an Assistant Principal that she had never even met.   We, along with her co-workers got a laugh out of her final “overall grade”–Adequate.   Since she was retiring, she didn’t worry about it.   But, what if her compensation came into play and she had another ten years to work?

And, who benefits from School Vouchers. Many private schools charge between $15,000 and $30,000 per year, and sometimes more.  Let’s say the Voucher from the local system represents $6,500.  What poor or middle-income family is going to be able to make-up the difference?  Several children in the Family?  Those who benefit are the high-income Families who are already sending their Children to private or religious schools anyway–but, it’s their own personal choice.

Lastly, the so-called standardized tests don’t reflect any better performance among charters.  In fact, when it looked like most parents in Broward County, Fla. didn’t want the “Parent-Trigger” (for charters), a TV ad was broadcast with many favorable endorsements from individual “parents”.  However, as it turned out, the film was supplied by a Group in California.  NOW, WHY ARE THEY FIGHTING FOR CHARTERS SO FIERCELY?

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