The Real War Behind Common Core Part 4: Charter Schools vs. Private Schools

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In Part 1, I established a backdrop for how the people have lost local control and have confused the public with the private, and indeed have formed mergers called, “public private partnerships” or “P3s.”

I urge you to review each Part in sequence so that you can follow the logic and avoid confusion or misinterpretation of this argument.

Part 2, describes the history behind the P3 and began to discuss what this sacred cow is and how it has killed “choice” in the trade market.

Part 3 explains more about what this sacred cow is, how it has damaged free enterprise and competition in the health care industry, and how it is applied to education policy.

Part 4 dissects the anatomy of the Charter school movement vs. the private school and show what has gone wrong – very wrong – enough to kill reduce parental choices and to destroy the private schools and force them into the public system.

Choice/Charters vs. Private Schools

school choice-chartersJust as we established in the last segment (Part 3), education choice is following a parallel path as health care by establishing public-private partnerships, called P3’s.  Many of the same funders of Common Core are the same people that have set up the charter school as the “competition” in education as the “school choice” model.

Myths About Charter Schools
Here are some myths surrounding choice/charter schools.

  • Choice/charter schools are separate from the state and federal regulations of other public schools.
  • The school choice movement is the salvation of the public school system.
  • Charter schools are better than public schools, are as good as private schools, and families that cannot afford a private school will get a better education for free.
  • A charter school provides more local control, gives control back to the parents, and is not connected to Common Core or the nationalization of education.

These assumptions are all false.

Now, perhaps you’re invested in a charter, or you may be a teacher or principal at a charter school.  Or you are a parent or grandparent of a child that attends one, and you are very proud of your freedom of choice as a parent.  You love the beautiful building, and you are personal friends with the teachers, and you like the smaller class sizes.

I have just personally insulted you and I’m slaughtering your sacred cow. I know. I’m sorry. I have to do it.  However, I hope that one day you will thank me.

If it makes you feel any better, I once taught in a charter school myself. I loved it. That’s not the point. That story did not have a good outcome, and I’m about to illustrate it.

How A Charter School Works:  Is This “Local” Control?

In Utah, according to state statute, a charter school must apply for a charter either through the district or state under an appointed state charter school board. Where is the accountability to the taxpayers? Is it at the local neighborhood or town level? No. It is to the unelected paid bureaucrats that have the power of appointment.

A charter school’s funds typically come from private investment to put up the initial capital for building, furniture, materials, hiring, etc, mixed with public funding, equivalent to the per pupil allotment. It receives temporary federal start-up funds and can get ongoing Title I funds as well.

That’s where the government’s carrot-and-stick trick comes in. Charter schools are really no different from any other public school in terms of state/federal regulations. As soon as the charter is approved and it receives public funds, it must comply with all the state and federal regulations, including standards and assessments.

So much for being exempt from “Common Core,” national behavioral assessments, database tracking and mining and loss of privacy.

And what’s worse, if a charter school fails, it will be taken over by the district or state.

As of this report, in Utah, over 100 charter schools are being funded, and all must align by law to state and federal (common core) standards, assessments and data tracking.

But because parents are unaware, when they learn about Common Core, they run to the charter schools for relief.  Charter schools love the increased enrollment they are getting.

As much as I admire them and I have worked with and will continue to work with them, I blame the Common Core activists that have chosen to be silent on the real war behind common core.  This is it, my friends.  

They have been warned, and many get it.  But they are afraid this will derail their momentum and that they will lose support.

It gets worse.  Wait until you see who’s funding the campaign to get rid of Common Core.  Perhaps you can guess already.  Keep reading.

Where Is the Free Enterprise in Competing with FREE?

There is nothing free enterprise or competitive about school choice, charters and vouchers. Follow the money. Just ask the latest parochial or private school whether they think this is fair competition or free enterprise. They’re closing their doors because of school choice and charters. “We have to do something else,” they say.

What might that “something else” be?

[Hint: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. In order to compete, many are becoming charters and adopting Common Core Standards. End of parochial/religious ed. This happened in France. Researchers who’ve been following these trends have been warning conservatives everywhere for years. See: “The French Experience with Public Aid to Private Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 68, No. 5, Jan. 1987, pp 356-359, Frances C. Fowler]

NCLBThe goal is literally no child left behind – regular public school, public charter school, private/parochial school, home school. They mean it. That’s why the Left, the union and the Obama administration all endorse charter schools along with the conservative Right.

In 2006, Utah’s legislature passed a voucher law, heavily promoted and lobbied by the presumptive conservative Sutherland Institute. I met with that organization and warned them about their naiveté, but they were absolutely certain the provision that the state could not ever regulate a school receiving public funds would protect those private schools ad infinitum. I asked, “What would happen if the private schools began taking vouchers under that provision, and then a new group of legislators decided that law needed to be amended, after those schools were wholly dependent upon them for survival?”

Fortunately, that law was challenged by the teachers union, [I can’t believe I’m saying this] and around $4 million was funneled into the state from out of state for a referendum that successfully repealed that law.

I confess I supported that voucher measure in that referendum. Why? Because I knew it was going down to an ignominious defeat, and I could not stand allowing the union to have such a HUGE win. But in principle, Utah was saved. Unfortunately, as I feared, it also gave the union a big boost.

Paradoxically, the pro-voucher side was primarily funded by libertarian Patrick Byrne, owner of Overstock.  I was mistaken that libertarians want as little government regulation as possible and that they do not believe in consolidation and loss of local control. So his advocacy as the founder of Parents for Choice in Education and PCE’s establishment of an online charter school, which has no accountability to local taxpayers, defies all logic.

In Wisconsin, where choice, charters and vouchers are prevalent and well-established, a new proposal has been introduced to require all private voucher-receiving schools to comply with state and federal regulations, just as charter and public schools must comply.

We could have told them so. Have I made the point? Or are you still clinging on to your sacred cow?  Or are you HAVING one as you come to the sudden and awful realization that something is smelling rotten on the dairy farm? If you are still scratching your head, continue to Part 5 where I analyze the specifics of how the school choice/charters/voucher movement is responsible for loss of local control through open enrollment and how that forces equalization of tax funding (redistribution of the wealth), hardly banners of the libertarians and conservatives that have rallied around “school choice.”  Oh, and who are all the people funding this school choice movement nationally?

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