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June 26, 2013

After this latest round of inexplicable charter wins for cash and deregulation, districts will hopefully now be galvanized into action. But even as we try to rally our forces (85% of student population!) around badly needed local actions, we must also prepare for 2016.

It used to be a no-brainer to support Matt Denn for governor in 2016, assuming he runs. But after this round of baffling legislation, no matter who runs he or she will have to be carefully vetted on charters. Not only will the candidate have to demonstrate he will not assist the charter lobby in running roughshod over public schools, he will have to explain how he will reverse or mitigate the damage done by HB 165 and the other bills. It is not at all a sure thing that either the Republican or the Democrat will pass this kind of vetting.

I hope Republicans will put up a credible candidate who will force the Democrat into the PTA meetings and boards to explain his position on charters. Candidates, keep in mind that charters still represent 15% of the school population while public schools represent 85%.

Candidates should remember though that HB 165 was passed over the objections of the elected boards of our most populous districts.

Teachers will get a warmup run in 2014 when they choose new DSEA leadership. I think “Time for a change” might be a winning campaign slogan, with a goal of “no endorsement” in 2016 unless specific commitments are made in support of public schools.

The list of dirty deeds and mass betrayals is long, but none is darker than DSEA support for HB 165. The motives for this endorsement are pretty clearly understood, but only time can give us confirmation. And not that much time either.

It’s in your hands, teachers. At least change your bylaws to require a vote of the rank and file for major legislative endorsements. Please take away the governor’s power to buy and misuse your good name in some back room deal without your vote.

After your pathetic organizational response to HB 165, you collectively need to win back our trust. It is going to be a long time before parents are again willing to charge into the breach for public schools if teachers don’t have our backs. Hold your leadership and your politicians accountable so we don’t have to go through this again.

  1. Citizen
    June 26, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I don’t think we can assume that district teachers are anti-charter. Many teachers are parents, and many send their own children to charter schls. So their loyalties are divided, and when push comes to shove, they probably opt for their children’s opportunities rather than their students’. I think this accounts for some of the teacher apathy on HB 165, though I don’t know how much.

    At the senate Ed. hearing, there was a Cesar Rodney district teacher who spoke in favor of 165 as a “compromise” that will move us all forward–it’s impt to know whether people like her have kids in charters and are swayed to support such bills by that (in her case I don’t know, but it was hard to see how her district got anything out of the bill).

  2. June 26, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    “a Cesar Rodney district teacher who spoke in favor of 165 as a “compromise” that will move us all forward”

    That was literally the DSEA line.

  3. June 26, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    oh yeah, I was there and she was on the talking points. disgusting.

  4. June 27, 2013 at 3:45 am

    Well. We are not done yet… It would be wise to remember that the real problem and the only problem with charters, is that they take money from public schools as students leave…

    If there was away around that,… the charter problem would be non-existent… If we fund a profiteering school, that has to compete against well-funded public schools, then I think all win. But it would be wise to remember that was the promise made back in the nineties. It didn’t work where tried, like Chicago, Philly, DC, and New York. What happened as we all know, is that the charters didn’t live up to their promise because of their inadequate funding, and public schools didn’t either because of loss of funding, and the whole district’s or city’s students got thrown under the school bus..

    Education is about funding. We saw it on the spreadsheet. Where funding is good, achievement is better. Where funding is bad, achievement is worse. And Funding isn’t the only variable. Giving more money to lazy people does not improve productivity. Having competing charters doing innovative and interesting things, can kick the seat of a public school’s pants a time or two…

    I think what we need to do is play a little, to tweak the funding formula… For example I can see a child who leaves the district and goes to a charter school, having the state portion of money alloted to him following him from one to the other, because after all the state is responsible for every child in this state, but the district’s portion, which derives its revenue from property taxes for use on its local public schools, stays inside the district. The private or non profit revenue sources supporting the charter schools would be providing the balance to those children moving from a district’s public schools into its charter…

    What that paragraph just said, was no money-transfer payments from districts to charters would occur.

    This could be the win-win that gives us the best of both worlds

  5. June 27, 2013 at 5:15 am

    It’s time for districts to look inward now. The charter lobby’s strongest point has always been the negative – that public schools aren’t good enough, and if they want to prevail they need to be better than charters. And they will have to do it with the kids the charters didn’t want. Well, get started.

    If DSEA members think they can go back to business as usual and get back on their glide path to retirement, the public schools will collapse sooner than we think.

    Everybody wants charters to “innovate,” but packing your school with middle-class white kids is hardly innovation. Public schools have been there and done that. If innovation doesn’t work for everybody is it really a step forward?

    I’d start with what Dickinson did. Not that everybody has to arrive at the same solution, but the point is the teachers were freed to innovate from the grassroots, and they seized the opportunity. Hint: the 3 RTTT turnaround models are NOT compatible with innovation.

    The Red Clay Grade Reporting committee is stumbling in the right direction on grading policy (post on that coming soon).

    More please teachers, before you find yourself working at the charter pay scale!

  6. June 27, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    That said, I was intrigued by your forward look towards 2016, (and begging everyone’s indulgence, I’ll riff here instead of a regular post). As one can see from the lopsidedness of the House/Senate vote, the pulling of a champion out of the heroes against these bills, would carry little weight with the general public. They would probably be viewed as single issue candidates, and be dismissed presumptively.

    Again because of the overwhelming lopsidedness the vote illustrated in the General Assembly, it would be hard to dismiss all candidates who were not there for us on this issue. Instead, the level of intense reporting on these issues must continue. The data must be mined. The problems must not be swept over..

    One of the biggest misconceptions is that politicians lead… They don’t. They follow the wills of their constituency. For if they didn’t, they wouldn’t get elected. If one’s voting bloc leans one way, and you take the other, don’t be surprised when one jumps in to capture that opportunity you left open…

    So being distraught that so many sat on the fence is wasted effort. Better to rejoice that some leaders did emerge from the fray, finally seeing for the first time, that not-good things were happening inside our current educational-overseeing bureaucracy. These proponents were not there before this fight.

    One of the biggest surprises in my dealing with people who otherwise were considered enlightened about everything else, was the look on their faces as I made the case against HB 165 and SB 51. It was the look of dis-belief. As in: “my, that certainly can’t be true..” and a resulting distrust in all the evidence purporting it to be so.

    Their facial expressions reminded me of many debates of the past. Global warming. Plate tectonics, Quantum mechanics. Unintended Consequences of Tax Cuts. High oil prices not caused by supply and demand but by hedging. All of which met the same stoned glass stare one gets when one challenges platitudes that have been upheld for centuries. I feel for poor Copernicus.

    In all those cases it was overwhelming evidence that turned the tide. A rational, factual explanation that explained hitherto, what had been always upheld as magic, or creationism.

    That is the only effective way to achieve our ends. Use facts to change the electorate, so those elected have to change as well…

    It is nothing less than American democracy in action…

  7. John Young
    July 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Reblogged this on Transparent Christina.

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