These were the people who testified on behalf of charter schools:
- Our wealthy governor from the Northeast. He homeschools some kids, sends his other kids to private school, and is close friends with a megachurch pastor who has attacked our school system. He owns part of an educational company that could stand to benefit from the law. He openly attacked the system my daughter has been in for 10 years as a disaster. He refuses to meet with public school parents in our local school system, but took time out of one of his workdays to meet with an anti-abortion group that blocked two of our public schools and harassed and intimidated its students.
- His wealthy education secretary, who was on the board of Christian Academy of Louisville and for years has created shadowy groups dedicated to charters. Also friends with same pastor.
- An Indiana pastor who is openly homophobic, has attacked our school system for supporting LGBT rights. He is part of a group, BAEO, a Betsy DeVos supported group that supports vouchers to pay for private schools. Ultimately I think this is where charters will lead. He surely has $$$$ in his eyes.
- A woman and her son from Ohio. The son said his public school was boring and his charter wasn't. Because everyone knows public schools are always boring and charter schools will be a party.
A law was rushed through in a single day that gave charters advantages that existing public schools don't have, and allows for profit companies to run them. It provides no guarantees that at risk kids who supposedly will benefit from charters will have a slot in the schools. Republican senators who were cagey about how they would be funded magically produced a bill in the afternoon that took funding away from public schools to pay for charters. And two state senators who told a large crowd of us they had big problems with the original legislation voted for this revised garbage that came out at the last minute.
I should know better, but because education is near and dear to my heart, I'm crushed to see it turned into yet another partisan political issue where people who stand to profit win, and public institutions lose. There was no educated debate here. No defender of charter schools could point to how a charter was actually better and fixed what was broken. If you pressed them in open forums, they lied, deflected, or deleted and blocked your comments. With this new law, clearly it doesn't actually matter to them that charters are measured on equal ground with public schools so we can have an accurate measure of their success. Their position is not a position of reasoned and educated people trying to improve education. It's a position of the greedy, the dishonest, and those too poorly educated to ask the right questions and understand what they're doing.
And maybe that's what bothers me most. Greed has replaced the common good, even when it comes to our kids.
We live in a country where the party in power openly attacks educated experts as "elites". It criticizes our public school teachers and educators for failing our kids while not recognizing the societal and economic failures that make it tougher for these teachers to educate these same children.
Meanwhile the party in power is shoving through the educational policies of billionaire heirs and heiresses who benefit from an undereducated and underpaid workforce and from tax breaks and public money channeled to their pockets and their companies. It's disheartening that we look at education not as a way to better the person and society, but as a path toward millions and billions.
I felt a little crushed yesterday, because I dared believe a few local senators who fed me a line, and because our state full of undereducated people passed a law that does nothing to improve that statistic.
Live and learn. And now on to holding these people accountable.