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Florida State leaders give up on public schools or what lies does Gary Chartrand tell this time

I am going to add Superintendent Vitti to the list of leaders who seem to be giving up on public schools which considering his position is an interesting position to be in. The reason is he joined 4 other superintendents, Rick Scott and Gary Chartrand who went from top 50 in grocery store news to running our schools at a conference designed to attract “high impact” charter schools to Florida. I guess they at least recognize that a lot of Florida’s charter schools are low performing.

Gary Chartrand who doesn’t think teachers are professionals but thinks Teach for America recruits are the cat’s meow, told Jeb Bush’s propaganda rag Redefined Ed, “We need to do a better job, in my opinion as the state Board of Education chair, of serving our neediest children. We need charter school operators that are really serious, cause-minded folks ready to do the hard, hard work of working in the toughest neighborhoods.”

Not we need to help public schools do a better job mind you, no his disdain for the institution that arguably built this country approaches Jeb Bush levels. He thinks only charter schools have a chance to save our poor suffering children. This despite the fact the conference he was attending was set up to attract new charter schools to the state because so many of the ones we have now are doing so poorly. Over 200 or about 30 percent have failed over the last decade to give you some scale.

At the conference also attended by representatives of the Waltons and the Gates, leaders in the privatization because they hate unions so much or so they can profit education movement. No word on how many actual teachers were there. Chartrand also dropped some more knowledge, sorry make that misinformation.

He said, “since KIPP was founded in 1994, more than 90 percent of its students have graduated high school and more than 80 percent have attended college”, he left out the caveat, which was on the KIPP web-site that this only applies for the kids who finished 8th grade. By that time they have weeded out the poorer performers. He continued saying, “Of those, 40 percent have obtained college degrees.” Chartrand often plays fast and loose with the facts if it doesn’t back up what he is saying and that 40% stat is no exception.

This is also from the KIPP website. As of fall 2012, 40.2 percent of KIPP alumni who completed eighth grade at KIPP ten or more years ago have graduated from a four-year college. This number is drawn from two KIPP middle schools, the only schools with alumni old enough to have reached this threshold. http://www.kipp.org/about-kipp/faq/#results

So it’s not all KIPP schools mind you, it’s two and if he is going to leave that out, if he is going to attempt to deceive to make his point, then what won’t he lie about? What he also didn’t mention is that KIPP has a reputation for counseling out its poor performers; see the 8th grade caveat which greatly skews its results again and that KIPP spends about a third more than public schools do to educate their kids.

He then went on to say, KIPP offers a longer school day and year, after-school programs and highly-qualified instructors to teach an academic program that focuses on college prep and character development. Now It is true they do have a longer day but everything I have read indicates their curriculum is kill and drill. Have you noticed how KIPP isn’t replicated at the affluent private schools and how none of the education reformers send their children to KIPP schools? Furthermore many of its instructors are TFA recruits which takes non education majors and gives them five weeks of “training” and says good luck. I guess to Chartrand that is highly qualified because it is 5 more weeks of teacher training than he ever received.

Chartrand is different from a lot of the education reformers and that is I don’t think he is trying to make a buck off our kids and instead is a true believer. He actually believes the nonsense he spews because he thinks despite never having worked in a school or taught a class that he is the smartest guy in the room when it come to education reform.

The problem is he isn’t but that hasn’t stopped him from presenting his ideas, raced based goals and the class size amendment was a waste anyone, and using his money to bring them to fruition. His two biggest accomplishment bringing TFA and KIPP to town I believe do much more harm than good.

If the conference would have been about how we help our most struggling students, other than the fact many of the participants aren’t or never have been in the classroom then that would have been a noble endeavor. However since its goal was to expedite the privatization process and this with them acknowledging many charter schools are already substandard then it devolved into an affront of decency, one that I remind you again Duval’s own superintendent Vitti attended.

Then at the same time he is looking to expand charters here, Illinois, Maine and New Jersey in just the last few days have pushed back on certain types of charters calling for moratoriums on expansion. Even the most staunch public school defender isn’t against the concept of charter schools after all Albert Shanker a teacher and union activist came up with the concept, though his wife has said he would be rolling over in his grave if he could see what they have become. Charter schools as parent-teacher laboratories of innovation are great ideas, however what we have are publically funded private schools whose main goals is to line the pockets of hedge fund managers and investors or to give green cards to Chinese millionaires and billionaires, it’s true, Google it.

Some people will point to this study or that often created by charter school supporters that say charter schools are doing better than public schools though for the most part it is just a point here or there. Conveniently they usually omit selection bias, poverty, ESOL and disabled students but even if I grant you that as a group they are doing better (and I don’t) that should still alarm you. Charter schools should be killing public schools, after all they get to pick who they take and keep and can put requirements on parents and students that public schools can’t and despite these huge advantages most studies can only point to very limited improvements. Imagine how much better public schools would be doing if they could pick who they take and keep and put requirements on parents. Then again they wouldn’t be public schools would they?

To paraphrase Michael Douglass’s speech in the American President, We've got serious problems, and we need serious people, and if you want to talk about education, Chartrand, you'd better come at me with more than public schools bad charter schools good, and unions bad Teach for America good. If you want to talk about improving education, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I'll show up. This is a time for serious people, Chartrand, and your fifteen minutes of public school bashing are up.

Well hopefully it will be soon.

To read the Redefined Ed piece, click the link: http://www.redefinedonline.org/2013/06/wanted-in-florida-charter-schools-with-track-record-of-helping-neediest-students/

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