Monday, November 9, 2009

Obama Supports Demise of Public Option in Education

One of the fascinating aspects of the health care debate has been over the offering of a public option to reduce costs while at the same time the Obama administration has been promoting policies (charters, etc) that will ultimately lead to the destruction of the public option in education. Here, in a series of posts over the last few days at the Schools Matter blog, we see the plan to undermine public education (and of course to destroy teacher unions) laid out by a former Bushie in early 2008. Now ask yourself: exactly what is the AFT/UFT doing in response? Think: who needs public education, let's get our share. Thanks to Michael Fiorillo for finding this gem (and don't forget, GEM in NYC right now is the only organized opposition to THE PLAN.)

Kenneth Libby in Friday's post laid out the plan to eliminate the public option in education in this post:

From the Vault

This is part of an essay written in early 2008 by AEI/Fordham's Andy Smarick, a former Bush II Domestic Policy Council member tasked with K-12 and higher education issues:

Here, in short, is one roadmap for chartering's way forward: First, commit to drastically increasing the charter market share in a few select communities until it is the dominant system and the district is reduced to a secondary provider. The target should be 75 percent. Second, choose the target communities wisely. Each should begin with a solid charter base (at least 5 percent market share), a policy environment that will enable growth (fair funding, nondistrict authorizers, and no legislated caps), and a favorable political environment (friendly elected officials and editorial boards, a positive experience with charters to date, and unorganized opposition). For example, in New York a concerted effort could be made to site in Albany or Buffalo a large percentage of the 100 new charters allowed under the raised cap. Other potentially fertile districts include Denver,Detroit,Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Oakland, and Washington, D.C.

Third, secure proven operators to open new schools. To the greatest extent possible, growth should be driven by replicating successful local charters and recruiting high-performing operators from other areas. Fourth, engage key allies like Teach For America, New Leaders for New Schools, and national and local foundations to ensure the effort has the human and financial capital needed. Last, commit to rigorously assessing charter performance in each community and working with authorizers to close the charters that fail to significantly improve student achievement.

In total, these strategies should lead to rapid, high-quality charter growth and the development of a public school marketplace marked by parental choice, the regular startup of new schools, the improvement of middling schools, the replication of high-performing schools, and the shuttering of low-performing schools.

As chartering increases its market share in a city, the district will come under growing financial pressure. The district, despite educating fewer and fewer students, will still require a large administrative staff to process payroll and benefits, administer federal programs, and oversee special education. With a lopsided adult-to-student ratio, the district's per-pupil costs will skyrocket.

At some point along the district's path from monopoly provider to financially unsustainable marginal player, the city's investors and stakeholders--taxpayers, foundations, business leaders, elected officials, and editorial boards--are likely to demand fundamental change. That is, eventually the financial crisis will become a political crisis. If the district has progressive leadership, one of two best-case scenarios may result. The district could voluntarily begin the shift to an authorizer, developing a new relationship with its schools and reworking its administrative structure to meet the new conditions. Or, believing the organization is unable to make this change, the district could gradually transfer its schools to an established authorizer.

You can practically check off each of Smarick's suggestions for a pro-charter policy environment, particularly in places like Los Angeles. The general silence of Right-wing education "reformers" (hell-bent, in reality, on destroying and privatizing public education) is not a coincidence - they're largely happy with Obama/Duncan's education agenda.
Welcome to "third way" centrism.

More Schools Matter articles on charters:

After Years of "Innovation," NJ Charters Perform No Better Than Poorest Public Schools

The Real Effects of Corporate Charter Schools on Public Schools

CEO Pay in Charter School Chains

Gloucester Parents Stage Protest Against Crooked Charter School Approval


  1. __________________________________



    Entire forests are continuously being decimated and converted to paper pulp to produce sufficient paper to print all the millions of words, opinions and theories regarding the Charterization of America's Public School systems.

    Yet has anyone paused to see how this is an exact replay of the historical events that led to the disaster in our Medical care system as so powerfully depicted in Michael Moore's blockbuster film 'SICKO".

    There is that memorable moment in the film where the idea of "Managed Care" is being pitched to President Nixon in the Oval Office. Nixon is hesitant at first but when the "ball pitcher" explains that the main, driving concept of "Managed Care" is that it will be a "For Profit" system, Nixon's attention suddenly perks up.

    We hear a tape of Nixon uttering those famous and fateful three words: "I like that."

    No need for me to educate anyone on how the main idea of "Managed Care" was that the more you withhold that Medical care- the bigger your profit margins.

    The more Americans who died because care was withheld the more yachts and private personal jets, the big investors in Managed Care could buy.

    Now, the same types of fiendish minds that concocted the idea of "Managed Care" are looking for new fields from which to harvest equally abundant crops of "Green".

    But at some point, and it will be earlier, rather than later, just as in "Managed Care" in the so called "Health" industry, a time will come when to increase the profit margins it will become necessary to "deliver" LESS Education- not more.

    Just as withholding Medical services is the name of the game to increase the balooning profit margins in the "Health" Industry, so too will it be seen as a no brainer that less services to school children will translate into a rosier- or rather Greener- "bottom line" for the investors.

    How ironic that exactly at a moment in American history when it appears that people are just awakening to the fact that we cannot continue to allow average Americans to die for lack of affordable Medical care, to ensure higher profits to "Managed Care" investors, we are now going to visit that same nightmare upon our most vulnerable and most defenseless citizens- America's children.

  2. The capitalist economy of the United States no longer has the capacity to maintain a public school system. For that matter, public health care (Medicare/Medicaid) and a public program of old-age and survivors insurance (Social Security) will be sacrificed in the coming year for the sake of the US military's war making capacity and to provide welfare to Wall Street.

    One overriding question looms ahead. Will we have public schools, national health care, Social Security or will we have capitalism?

  3. I must disagree with the premise, comparing Charter schools to Public Option in healthcare debate. Charter schools would actually be on equal footing with public schools in that the money to fund them would come from taxpayer income, whereas individuals and employers fund their own healthcare options.

    Furthermore, Charter schools serve as a truly competitive option for public education. The Public Option Obama has inspired will be funded by taxpayers, enabling it to be less expensive (at least at first), which will cause most employers to funnel employees into it. The effect is a "soft" elimination of competition in favor of public option only system...void of competition. We vote for competition on both fronts.

  4. Norm,

    How do I get you stuff about are fight against the Duncan reforms in the current Detroit AFT contract negotiations. Steve Conn

  5. High-quality charter schools and public schools both should be supported by the govt. Parents should be free to judge and select the best school for their kids according to their pocket size, distances, desired courses etc.

  6. Obama is doing great job to support education.

    Thanks for sharing this info.


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