I keep writing about bad news on the public school privatization front, so I thought I’d give you some good news.
First, a genuinely funny story out of Michigan, where the public school system has (apparently!) been completely deregulated and is now without any meaningful oversight or adult supervision at all, from eclectablog:
Last year, I wrote about fake Democrat Cody Bailey who had his ass handed to him by now-State Representative David Knezek. Bailey barely beat a candidate in the Democratic primary who didn’t even run a campaign and got his clock cleaned by Knezek. As I outlined in my expose, Bailey was anything but a Democrat and ran one of the sleaziest, most fact-challenged campaigns in my experience.
Imagine my (non) surprise to discover this week that Bailey, at the tender age of 22, is now the president of the Taylor Preparatory High School in Grand Rapids Taylor, a for-profit charter high school that opens in the fall. What qualifies Bailey to be the president of an educational institution with a lofty mission of being “a bridge to a life well lived” for high schoolers? In a word (well, two words): not much. He owns rental properties and works at the family auto service and towing shop. Before that it was mostly fraternity stuff.
But now he’s the president of a high school. America is indeed a miraculous place. People will actually send their high school-aged kids to a for-profit school run by a 22-year old with no experience in much of anything, much less education. (At one point, their webpage mentioned all kids getting a free laptop. That enticement appears to be gone now.)
He’ll have help, of course. Taylor Preparatory High School’s treasurer is Audrey Spalding. She’s around 26 and is an education policy analyst for the anti-teacher/anti-union Mackinac Center. The vice president is James Dinnan, the Bible Department Chair and Professor of Bible at Manthano Christian College. Manthano Christian College says their learning outcomes are to “have biblical truth based on the inerrant, Word of God”. He’s also the pastor at the New Day Bible Church in Belleville. I suppose Dinnan will be responsible for Taylor Preparatory High Schools self-described “Moral Focus Program”.
A final important fact to know: Taylor Preparatory High School is one of four that a for-profit charter group called PrepNet runs. PrepNet is part of the National Heritage Academies, a national for-profit charter school corporation based in Grand Rapids.
Markets rule and merit matters! You keep striving for Educational Excellence, Michigan, or, full employment for politically connected Young Republicans, whichever comes first.
On the serious side, here is a person who actually supports public schools (incredible as that sounds!) who just won a school board race
On its face, the election this week of a Los Angeles fifth-grade teacher to the Board of Education was a stunner. Monica Ratliff’s low-budget effort included her boyfriend, a film school instructor, as her campaign manager. She had no paid staff and no meaningful help from her own politically active teachers union.
Her election night party? She jammed some 10 people into her one-bedroom apartment and then shooed them out at 11 p.m. — before the results were in — because she had to get up early to teach on Wednesday.
Her opponent, Antonio Sanchez, meanwhile, had more than $2.2 million spent on his behalf and an aggressive ground campaign of union volunteers and paid canvassers. He was endorsed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Coalition for School Reform, which received major donations from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and L.A. philanthropist Eli Broad, among others.
Political observers shook their heads Wednesday as they tried to make sense of it all.
“This is a huge upset,” said Charles Kerchner, a professor at Claremont Graduate University who studies labor and education politics. “Overcoming financial odds of this size … suggests a big difference in the allure of the candidates and the ability to make big money unattractive.”
Ratliff echoed that view.
“This is a testament to the voters,” she said just before the start of class Wednesday at San Pedro Elementary south of downtown. “Voters put their belief in skills and expertise…. It sends the clear message that school board seats are not for sale.”
The teachers union endorsed both candidates in the East Valley race, even though Ratliff is a highly regarded teacher and union leader at her school. The neutrality of United Teachers Los Angeles was a huge advantage to Sanchez because it cut off Ratliff from her best hope of major support.
On Wednesday, Ratliff returned to her classroom, where she continued to read “Holes” to her students and worked on algebraic formulas. She skipped lunch to meet two journalists, but insisted that no students be photographed — she hadn’t told them about her candidacy.
Um. Regarding that first piece, am I the only one who has The Police’s Don’t Stand So Close to Me stuck in their heads?
Maybe the “adults” will be too busy rolling in the cash to molest the students. Maybe.
That second story is pure unadulterated wonderful.
People will actually send their high school-aged kids to a for-profit school run by a 22-year old with no experience in much of anything, much less education.
I bet it will be as successful as the Iraq reconstruction team, which was run by a bunch of Heritage interns.
There’s more to that story than just “Two candidates enter, one candidate leaves.” I’d love to hear how Ratliff pulled that off. She must have had more pull in the community than the article gives her credit for.
Admittedly, getting people out the door for a school board race takes some serious GOTV muscle. So it’s possible that small turnout rendered the war chest moot.
From the link:
It’s a grift. A scam. Are there ANY students enrolled in this school? Any at all? How many? Where are they from? And how many students who attend will stay after the first semester?
I don’t think these people give a shit about educating kids. They just want to steal money from taxpayers.
Again, when dealing with conservatives, remember just one thing: it’s all about the grift.
@PeakVT: Looking forward to ten years from now when we get the Charter School Bailouts.
“Our for-profit education industry is too big to fail, people!”
How long before Michigan universities have only a handful of in-state students?
I keep meaning to ask you, Kay: why can’t people who actually care about students and education try to cash in (a little more modestly, perhaps) on this sort of bullshit? I mean, not that I’m all in favor of for-profit charter high schools as a path to big $$$, but what’s stopping non-dumbasses from trying to make it work? Because the infrastructure is dumbass-only?
I can give you a little insight. She may not have had the whole hearted support of UTLA, but she had an army of teachers out pounding the pavement in a GOTV effort. I have a close friend who spent every weekend for six weeks canvassing, No body pays a lot of attention to these school board races, so a knock on the door is far more effective than a dozen mailers or media buys.
@Zifnab: The LA Times had endorsed her both in the primary and in the general but even they were surprised by her win. I personally appreciated she had actual (and current) classroom experience and seemed independent of both the unions and the “reform” advocates. While I am generally supportive of unions, LAUSD has got some seriously entrenched structural issues that the union has tended to exacerbate.
@gussie: The game is rigged. You think it’s a coincidence that a 22-year-old State Congressman gets handed a charter school Presidency?
Where do you think the money comes from to establish the facilities? Why do you think these half-assed shit holes cruise under the bureaucratic red tape that nominally prevents any yutz from running a charter school out of the truck of his car? How is it that big firms like White Hat Management happen to have ex-employees working in various Governor’s mansions?
Like so much else wrong with our government, it’s pay-to-play. You need to buddy up to the local oligarchs before you can get your foot in the door. That requires a big bag of money and a ticket into the Good ‘ole Boys club before you can seriously get started.
I have no doubt that good-hearted egalitarian entrepreneurial school teachers could start their own school. But they wouldn’t be the ones with front row seats when the state turns on the money spigot. They won’t be exempt from the obnoxious side bureaucratic oversight. But they sure as hell will be on the short-list when shoes start dropping and some future state governor feels the need to “crack down” and “do something” about all the fraud and abuse in the charter programs.
All you need is some”concerned Christian” parent alleging that little Johnny was taught “homosexualist technique” during recess – and well, we know how the story ends.
That’s a fairly big part. There’s also the issue that teachers in general want to teach not be the administrators of charter schools. Many also recognize that knowing how to teach doesn’t necessarily confer the ability to run a school and that matters to them because they are not solely interested in grifting. Finally, a good chunk of teachers support the public school system. Even if they could and are interested in running a successful charter school, they would not because doing so ultimately undermines public schools, and hurts the teachers and children left in them.
The LA Times story about Ratliff’s win.
They should change the name of that school to Taylor Predator High School.
Not that it makes a difference; if Barack Obama, a scholar of constitutional law who graduated from Harvard law school summa cum laude, can’t figure out that it’s against the constitution for the president of the united states to order the murder of U.S. citizens without a trial and without charges, what difference does education really make?
Sociopaths like burnspbesq will merely use their education to twist and pervert the law, justifying unjustifable legal atrocities like the AUMF.
When U.S. citizens get blindfolded and forced to kneel down in front of slit trenches and DHS officers shoot them in the back of the head one by one, it will all be legally explained and codified and made to appear reasonable and legal by highly educated graduates of America’s very best schools.
The situation in Ohio is like this. It’s hard to run a school. It’s an actual job. So when charter schools started, they WERE run by well-intentioned local people, but they couldn’t both run the school and teach. So they hired EMO’s (for profit management companies) and it all became about the bottom line.
Ohio has had some amazing cases, where the parents had to join the state to sort of WREST the “school” back from the profiteers. They LOST, because the EMO’s are big companies, sophisticated actors.
It’s wild to watch this, because there is no national reporting on it. It’s all local.
What, no mention of the FEMA death camps?
I can’t remember who was telling me this or where the story was, but I remember hearing that at LAUSD, layoffs are done in order of seniority (least senior get laid off first). This sounds totally fair until you realize that the least senior teachers are the ones working in the struggling schools, so you had schools in South LA who were losing 1/3 of their teaching staff (or more) while the schools in more affluent areas weren’t affected because they had a lot of teachers with seniority.
It seems like the kind of thing that could be solved with a fairly simple change, like doing X number of layoffs per school and then taking seniority into account, but the union wouldn’t hear of it.
Bingo. Like I said, it’s all a big grift. Everything they do. They put the “con” in “conservative.”
Didn’t you use to provide specific dates for your predictions of dystopian doom? What happened, did you finally realize that this site will still be around and you’ll still be hanging out here in whatever distant year you predict the re-legalization of slavery and Monsanto being declared the fourth branch of government?
One word would have done the job: Nothing.
Speaking of Michigan charter schools and right-wing Sugar Daddies:
Uh-huh. Story is dated May 16. And wasn’t Bush’s crook brother Neil involved in education somehow? Some ed software company or something?
Michigan resident here. The point of all educational changes in Michigan is to destroy the teachers unions and damage the 3 flagship Universities, because they are centers of Democratic party / liberal power. Once you view it that way, it all makes sense.
The collateral damage doesn’t matter: Educating children, teenagers and young adults just isn’t on the menu any more. It doesn’t matter. At best what is wanted is some sort of career training to make them more useful serfs — the Universities are most definitely included in that agenda. Real education might lead the youngsters away from conservative religious beliefs.
@Mnemosyne: There are some great schools in LAUSD and certainly plenty of fantastic teachers. But it does seem like the Union is a bit ossified and lacking motivation for innovation. Not that I think tremendous amounts of innovation are required. I think the problem is that while the Union is very likely to be right that the system does need more funding, the taxpayers/parents don’t have confidence that such funds would be used efficiently. Maybe someone with a better sense of LAUSD’s history can chime in. I went to public schools in northern CA which, at the time, were some of the best or the best (my primary school district was the top ranked in the country when I was there) but sadly are no longer largely thanks to Prop 13.
We taxpayers should launch a class-action lawsuit against tax money being taken from public schools to fund charters. You actually get it in both ends: they cut public school budgets AND divide the remaining pie between public and “grifter” schools; they attack public school teacher tenure and force all kinds of testing requirements AND allow charter school teachers to “teach” without so much as a college degree.
Manthano Christian College says their learning outcomes are to “have biblical truth based on the inerrant, Word of God”.
Too bad they didn’t learn anything about the inerrant truth of punctuation. Did God, tell them it was, ok?
What was interesting about the Issue Two fight in Ohio was, the focus was on K-12 teachers. They’re easy to beat up on, right?
But I started hearing from public UNIVERSITY people, because they “got” that it was about privatization, and if K-12 goes, they’re next.
The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik
I love the work you do, Kay, I honestly do. But I just hate reading about issues like this, because it crosses into the same area that climate/environment issues fall of ‘irreparably fucked’, where it feels like nothing will get fixed because money has so outright won the fucking issue for all things considered.
The damage that the Mackinac/DeVos/MIGOP alliance is wreaking in Michigan will take years to undo, sadly.
It’s really a perfect storm: a bad economy combined with a GOP wave election in 2010 (which also allowed the GOP to control redistricting and give themselves a long-term political advantage) brought about the current situation. The neofeudalists in Michigan have been trying for years to reverse progressive achievements in Michigan and even basic, competent state government. Now they’re seeing their best chance to strip clean as many public assets as they can.
It seems like school privatization is the newest version of snake oil.
Somewhat related, because it’s Michigan: the “emergency manager” of Detroit is, according to reports, considering selling the DIA’s collection in order to pay off the city’s debt. Such sound long-term strategic planning for what is actually a relatively short-term problem: peddle priceless works of art (which, by the way, are held in the public trust and for the public’s edification) to a few acquisitive billionaires, pretty much guaranteeing that it will be decades, if not centuries, if ever, before these works return to public space.
Wow, Glen Beck’s here! Break out the good china!
If for profit management companies were the best way to run schools, then America’s best private schools would use them. Given that they don’t, I have to conclude that these for profit management companies are just a grift to siphon off public money for personal profit.
@The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik:
It’s funny, because I’m quite hopeful. When I started writing about voter ID laws, and poll watching, Democrats yawned. It seemed so obvious to me what was happening in Ohio.
Then it reached a sort of tipping point, where it broke out of “voting rights people” and got so big.
This feels like that :)
These state issues are sort of “silos” where say, voting rights ( or education) stay within a group of interested people. But then they reach a point where they’re national. I don’t know if that’s because election law and education are specifically STATE law. Not true of environmental law, where all the focus is on national.
Anyway, I’m hopeful.
To follow up a bit on my comment about stripping public assets, here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
The DIA, for those not familiar with it, is a magnificent art museum. It’s a truly irreplaceable cultural institution. It’s entirely possible that this is a bluff on Orr’s part to make his other plans more palatable, but even just a few years ago, this possibility wouldn’t have even been mentioned. The vultures, however, are circling Detroit now.
We’re on the same page, I see.
@mclaren: Why are you wasting all this material here? Go on. Give Stephen King a run for his money!
There’s a Mr. Holland’s Opus type movie in here somewhere …
Thanks, btw, for writing about this, Kay. Very important, and I don’t see it mentioned (hardly) anywhere else.
@Mnemosyne: This was true when I was an LAUSD teacher back in the 80s. The new teachers generally get the worst assignments, and if they last, they get a chance to move to better ones, usually at the invitation of a principal who likes them who is also moving up. As it happened, I made a good impression subbing at a decent high school and so started young at a decent school, but the odds are against that happening. The union resists any change on this issue because a) it rightly doesn’t trust the higher-ups to play fair, and b) the parents with political power are OK with the system as it is, which rewards schools in their good neighborhoods and punishes schools in bad ones. In other words, the UTLA would have to go toe-to-toe with influential parents to introduce a more equitable system.
@Southern Beale: Former President George W. Bush spoke to a sold-out crowd of 900 at Dick DeVos’ charter school gala in Grand Rapids. “What matters is high standards and academic rigor in a way that encourages students,” said Bush.”It’s important because it hopefully provides kids with the skills necessary to compete in a global economy.”
That doesn’t sound like a complete scam at all. No siree. With names like Bush and DeVos, you know you’re getting a square deal. /sarcasm
Yeah, like tolerance to salmonella, low self-esteem, and not minding one’s soul being crushed to powder.
Villago Delenda Est
OK, this guy is a blasphemer. FSM is not “inerrant”, FSM is “al dente”
Villago Delenda Est
/Ed McMahon voice
“You are correct, sir!”
Villago Delenda Est
Of course, you were kind enough to specify which crook sibling you were writing of, for which I thank you.
Oh, and anything that pokes billionaire education ‘reformer’ Michael Bloomberg in the eye is good by me.
How long do you think it will take for the forces trying to destroy public education to utterly destroy Ms Ratliff?
I imagine she’s a courageous woman, and probably a very good teacher. I pity her for what’s coming her way from these monsters. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve seen what people like Chicago’s “Commercial Club” and Rahm Emanuel do to courageous women or men and very good teachers who try to stand in their way.
The vice president is James Dinnan, the Bible Department Chair and Professor of Bible at Manthano Christian College
I’m getting a vague sense that the Bible is somehow involved here.
I would have thought that the Coalition Provisional Authority would put off any sane person from letting magical-thinking Repuke ideologues manage anything other than a gas station ever again.
I feel sorry for these kids. The diploma should come with a McDonald’s application, because that’s all they’ll be doing unless they’re hooked into the right-wing grifter circuit like their school administrators.
One of the ways the cons keep the grift going is to fund rw think tanks that put out national reports which are handy and easy to spoon feed to journalists (some are lazy journos, others are – these days in particular – working in newsrooms 1/2 the size of a decade ago and expected to write double the copy of a few years ago, and basically edit themselves. Anyway….).
Are there any left of center think tanks that are working this issue? Any that we/I/friends should be supporting financially +/or giving a nudge to in the hopes of starting to get some press on the massive fail+rip off of the for-profit charter “movement”?
Oh, they’ll be on display at public museums. After the rich get groveling thank-yous from museum boards, lavish opening parties, and some tax-deduction grift for the trouble of lending to the public what was the public’s before.
Rentiers are always looking for the next teat to suckle (especially if its Rubenesque).
In moderation. The real shame is that those of us who have adult children that went through excellent public education have no idea what is happening. I am getting a weird shockwave has crashed. Do not even know what that is. Would like to add more, but I am having troubles.
God, Guns, and Grift! Plus racists, homophobes, and misogynists.
There’s the conservative “movement”, more like a bowel movement.
CTBA (here in Illinois) just had an education inequity conference in April. Disclaimer: I’ve worked for them: http://www.ctbaonline.org/
@fuckwit: It’s an “innovation” on Pakistani “madrassas”, but instead of merely teaching kids to be stupid, uncurious, and fearful, you turn a profit.
Bill in Section 147
@Kay: I am glad to hear that you are looking on the bright side because the amount of crap the dark side flings is sometimes overwhelming. I am reminded of the tale by Herodotus of Dienekes, and his famous retort concerning the quantity of Persian arrows, ‘”Good. Then we will fight in the shade.'” – Histories, 7.226
Also, I will add here, thanks for your continued efforts I really enjoy reading your observations.
@cthulhu: Were you in Castro Valley or Piedmont?
Child preaches the gospel against the controversial Chicago schools closure plan
Davis X. Machina
‘Turning a profit’ isn’t ‘a’ religion — it’s the state religion.
Baruch atah ha Shuk, dayan ha emet.
@opie jeanne: Moreland in west San Jose. But yeah, the east Bay was known for amazing public schools. Proximity to the terrible hippies of Berkeley was likely a big factor.