Sunday, July 29, 2012

The "Reformers" Run It Into the Ground Like a Business

It used to be when you told someone you were planning to be a teacher they looked at you with a mix of pity and resignation. The first thing anyone would say is You know you're not going to make much money right ? And my answer would always be I don't need a lot of money to make me happy or some variation on that theme. So many of the people I have worked with over the years fit the same profile, they chose a career that gave them an opportunity to make a difference in someone else's life and that was its own payday. Nobody goes into education to make a ton of money right ?  Well, not so fast there Piaget...
Lately we've seen a bit of a shift in this philosophy. The "Reform Movement" and its charter school acolytes have taken a page from the old Michelob ads of the 80's the ones that promised You Can Have Pinstripes and Rock n Roll - You Can Have It All! Enter non-teacher "edu-experts" who administer their way to the top of the payheap. Hilariously, they all seek to reform education from the outside in using that addled old notion of "let's run it like a business" to line their pockets with green while providing a lackluster product to the hapless souls who've been co-opted into their classrooms with promises of wild success, high test scores and shared decision making with parents. In some ways they resemble the used car salesman's schtick. Excite, Confuse, Manipulate. They lure students and parents in with wild promises, generally demonizing the available public schools and offering the keys to a bright future at Charter Heaven. Once the saps are on the hook they start to wonder just where exactly all of this input, decision making and excellent teaching are that were promised. Oh, that, says the Charterian Board, yeah well, Uhhh.... Anyway, it seems we're having some trouble delivering all of those services to your kid. Does he REALLY need all that OT, PT and Speech ? I mean we're really not set up for all of that, not like OTHER public schools anyway. We are all about Excellence and it's kinda hard being excellent with kids like yours slowing us down and screwing up our test curves. Maybe he'd be better off Oh I dunno in one of those OTHER public schools, you know because we're a public school too, we're just a different public school. And so it goes.
They "reformers" are heavily invested in turning a profit. I have offered a default motto for them to emblazon over all of their doorways "PROFIT OVER PROFICIENCY" but so far I haven't heard back from them.  Today I found this little bit of math of Diane Ravitch's blog :

The school that can lower its costs the most wins. How do you lower costs? You increase class size and/or hire the least experienced, low-cost teachers.
So, the “winner” is the school with the largest class sizes and the least experienced teachers.
But these are not the factors associated with quality education. This would not describe the education at our nation’s elite schools, like Sidwell Friends, where the Obama daughters are enrolled, or at Exeter or Groton or Deerfield Academy, where so many of the corporate reformers send their children.

Pretty simple formula to the outsider but it doesn't take an insider to realize the Deformers are more than willing to offer our kids a shite education for the sake of having two boats instead of just one.  Here are a few of the "reformers" Rock Stars and their salaries. Do these people strike you as the type who care about your kids' education or their own self promotion? Ravitch's blog again: 

Eva Moskowitz, the head of the Success Academy chain in New York City is paid about $400,000. Geoffrey Canada, who oversees the Harlem Children’s Zone, is paid between $400,000-500,000. Deborah Kenney of Harlem Village Academy is paid more than $400,000. This is considerably more than the chancellor of the New York City public schools, who is paid $250,000.
Public education has never attracted people by the compensation it offers. Neither should charter management. The lure should  be the mission, not the money.
Locally, after trading barbs with Mr. Martinez, "Superintendent" of the Charter for Applied Science and Technology in the comments section of the Buffalo News, nobody I know was able to locate a salary for him anywhere even though he claims as they all do to be part of a public school. On See Through NY all of his teacher's salaries were posted but his somehow escaped the rigorous transparencies the "reformers" demand of everyone else but are slow to employ in their own affairs. So few surprises when you deal with these people.


  1. Super!, Sean,
    Your introduction should be on Diane Ravitch's blog. How do you get it to her?

  2. Pineapple PrincessJuly 29, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Don't forget all of the charter school "Board" members! How much money do they make when they sit in Roycroft chairs at fine-wood conference tables while they "do it for the children" while helping pay the Nichols tuition for their own kids? And don't forget that all charter schools, their administrators and management groups can take as much money as they can get from foundations, Deform non-profits, Gates, Broad, etc. I hear that with the money from the Deform movement, Geoffrey Canada's salary is closer to a million. Now, how much do you think Rhee rakes in from her "non-profits"? Also, these large-mouth deformers all make a bundle on their speaking engagements. Those ed-deform pearls of wisdom do not come cheap!

  3. Who do I send a FOIL request to in order to find Mr. Martinez's salary?

  4. I am guessing Albany, Chris after all Martinez is just like Dr,. Brown a Superintendent of a Public School right?

  5. PP I will be so happy in 10 or fewer years when these snakeoil salesmen have all been exposed and their fraudulent methods debunked, their charters revoked and not a few of them are making little ones outta big ones and picking out curtains with Big Steve in Club Fed. For now all we can do is hold the line and point out their bullshit as it surfaces, like a great big unfunded game of Whack a mole !

  6. Chalk,that hadn't occurred to me really but I can just leave it a comment on her blog. She actually responds to people who leave comments unlike the DeformEd crew and the Rheefirsters whom I have colonoscopied on several occasions.

  7. It really is about the money. If we don't become more active we will have 20 new charters in the city with 7 or so "superintendents"' bringing home a pile
    O cash. I am sure Mr Radford will have a consulting job and Campos will take care Of her peeps at Blo ReEd too. They have paid their dues and worked hard to help, they deserve to have their pockets stuffed for addressing the Real problems.
    Ten years down the road the "flexibility"'they want will have failed because the Kid's needs were not really addressed just Covered up by temporary blanket called a
    Charter school.

  8. Unfortunately, I get the feeling you are just preaching to the choir here :( Those who care, already know charters are a recipe for disaster. Those who don't care, wont look at the facts you present.

  9. Why Lib - That could be said of a lot of things, Obama's ads, my blog, Rush Limbaugh's show for example. I don't aim to convert as much as I do to inform. A scary number of my colleagues feel no inclination to know any of this stuff. Oh I don't go in for the politics they say. But they will read this because they know me or get a kick out of my scribblings. As long as I am putting it out there I am glad to be of use. Thanks for stopping by all the same. Peace.

  10. Pat it's a twofold curse the oldest lusts we know - money and power.