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What are Cleve Warren's real reasons for opening up a charter school? (rough draft)

From the Times Unions editorial board

What a mess.

And the shame is that the students of the four intervene schools will be caught in it.

These are probably the nicest words the Times Union wrote back in June of 2011 when Mr. Warren was the chairman of Duval Partners a group picked to run our struggling schools but was quickly and unceremoniously dumped when they chose to farm out their responsibilities to an Education Management Company instead. The district ended up replacing them with a company that had close ties to a friend of Ed Pratt-Dannals Steve Hite called Education Direction.

Fast-forward a few years and that hasn’t stopped Mr. Warren from being bound and determined to get kids out of public schools.  He is part of a group that plans to buy Gateway Mall to start a charter school.

Following Mr. Warren in the paper over the years its not hard to see he has never been a fan of public schools and I think as somebody who grew up in the 70s some of that is deserved. For a long time the African American community was an after thought only addressed either kicking and screaming or with a court order. I do think things have improved and resources are becoming more equitable but a pretty deep hole was built. Though to be honest I think some of the problems have to be blamed on the poor leadership the African American community has provided to itself.

However what Mr. Warren is proposing is throwing out the baby with the bath water. His cure to create a charter school rather than to work with the district to improve the schools is worse than the problem.

Charter schools fracture neighborhoods, they dilute resources and quite often they fail or do worse than the public schools they seek to replace. Just look at KIPP Jacksonville, which was sold as a savior and has had a dismal record to see proof of that.

250 charter schools have closed in Florida and despite having advantages the Stanford Credo study, the gold standard of charter school studies says Florida’s perform worse than their public school counterparts.

With Duval Partners on his résumé what’s to make is think Mr. Warren hasn’t bitten more than he can chew and if that foray into public education is any indicator how can we be optimistic.

So if I am right this means Mr. Warren is either obsessed with getting kids out of public schools for past sins or ignorant about the damage he might create but here is another theory, he is greedy.

Charter schools are big and lucrative business, a lot of people are getting rich off of them and their bank accounts not children are their main concerns. Looking at a history of education leadership in the African American community over the last few years, Betty Burney I am primarily looking at you, the education trough has been financially beneficial to a few but not nearly as beneficial to kids as it should have been. My concern is Warren's charter school will be more of the same.

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