Monday, January 08, 2007

Danger: School Privatization - the Right-Wing Fordham Foundation's role

It's a 'chilly' but sunny 60 degrees here in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area, but I wish I were in Miami this week with Mike Klonsky, Pedro Noguera, Debbie Meier and many others for the 6th Annual Small Schools Workshop gathering. Klonsky's latest blog points out the conflicts of interests with the conservative Thomas Fordham Foundation's role as both an authorizer and operator of charter schools. Foundation head Checker Finn is a former Reagan administration assistant secretary for education.
... I still can't help wondering how the Fordham Foundation, with close ties to the Bush Dept. of Education, can be both a charter school authorizer and operator of a chain of charter schools. I guess I've already answered my own question.
As privately-managed charter schools increasingly become the answer to the question "where does school reform go now that school reform is dead?" the conservative think tank led by Checker Finn has obviously been doing some thinking. Why sit around and complain, as Finn often does, about the failure of charter school accountability under NCLB? Why not get into the business ourselves?
So, as Edweek's Eric Robelen , who makes private management seem almost heroic, puts it, Fordham has "taken the plunge" and will operate nine charter schools in southwest Ohio, which has become charter school's version of Mecca.
According to Robelen's account, the nine schools serve some 2,700 students, mostly from low-income and minority families. They run the gamut from two charters operated by the for-profit Edison Schools Inc. to a school started by a Baptist minister.

1 comment:

Dons Blog said...

Whenever I hear about a fight to privatize I'm reminded of that forward thinking writer Sam J. Lundwall and his book "2018 or the King Kong Blues" published in 1975.

In it he predicts the privatization of schools much as our government has already privatized much of the military.

Then the private companies seek to keep profits up when the government requires testing before they will pay. They end up dropping any students who don't perform to standards, which of course results in a huge number of people never getting an education.

Like the military, when you privatize government jobs the companies end up dropping the ball on all but the cream of the crop.

That of course is why our Army didn't have air conditioned barracks the first year because the civilians required to construct them refused to go to Iraq.