Leaders in the corporate, hedge fund controlled, charter outfits love to use the phrase “disruptive change” as code for “we are taking over from those slow, stupid public school administrators and teachers because we can do it better.” But judging from their last few years’ track records, it’s looking like they are past due for some “disruptive change” within their own operations to root out the theft of tax dollars and short-changing of students in dire need of a true education.
In just the last 10 days, there have been several reports of exposures of unethical behavior that showed a callous disregard for the welfare of students and the public that expects their tax dollars to actually, you know, provide a consistent education for the children of their communities.
Here is a brief rundown, which is not at all comprehensive:
On September 11th two stories came out about problems with an investor owned edu-corporation called Rocketship that operates for-profit charters in several states using tax money, but not accounting for how it is spent once paid to the corporation. It seems that Rocketship is causing a parent and teacher uprising in Tennessee that they didn’t expect.
One web site created as a direct response to charter misbehavior is a blog called Tennesse Parents. The latest case involves all parents who showed up for an information sharing session about Rocketship. There was not an explicit process of those parents making any kind of commitment to send their children to a Rocketship charter. Yet, when many of them went to their neighborhood school to enroll this Fall, what they found out was that Rocketship had pulled their children’s records and enrolled them in one of their charters without the knowledge of the parents. Then, according to this story:
So they went to Rocketship to get their children switched back to their zoned school, and it was like walking into a high-pressure timeshare sales job. Rocketship pressured them to stick around and try it. It was a nightmare to get Rocketship to release their child’s records to re-enroll in their zoned school. This happened to over 100 families.
From this kind of mistreatment parents have set up another website specifically to expose Rocketship’s mis-handling of the educations of their children. It’s called www.stoprocketship.com.
On that site a well-researched report using public records entitled “Rocketship’s VP of Policy convicted of felony embezzlement at prior nonprofit“ shows that a vice president in the Milwaukee-based corporation who lobbies for the expansion of charters in Wisconsin at taxpayer expense is actually a convicted felon.
Also within the last 10 days, on September 16th, another Rocketship fiasco has been brewing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from plans there to radically expand those charters throughout the city. But the Milwaukee Teachers Association along with many concerned parents have managed to stall those efforts by revealing that Rocketship has a host of problems when it comes to providing a quality education for Milwaukee’s children.
Rocketship employs non-certified teachers and doesn’t offer music or art classes or bilingual options for the city’s diverse student population. The school has been criticized for utilizing computer “learning labs” that place students in front of computers for long periods of time with little supervision. Community members also complain the school lacks community control or oversight from the city’s democratically elected School Board.
In Ohio, on September 12th, the education blog 10th Period published a recap of Ohio’s school report cards showing that the many charters allowed by Ohio laws have not performed any better than the public schools, and in some cases have even performed worse.
Then, on September 16th, The Associated Press reported that 2 more charter schools had been added to a growing investigation of several charter school companies operating in Ohio. The report goes on to say that the FBI is investigating charter school corporations in several states, including Ohio where they are investigating the Concept Schools organization associated with several of the now infamous Gulen charter school organizations operating throughout the U.S.
A New Kind of “Disruptive Change”
Clearly, it’s time for some “disruptive change” to occur within highly unethical and perhaps willfully illegal charter school corporations that only have the interests of private hedge fund investors in mind as they misuse public tax money extracted by state legislatures bought and paid for by charter profiteers.