Accountability for charter schools? Billionaires say no | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Accountability for charter schools? Billionaires say no

Posted By on Sat, Apr 16, 2016 at 3:21 PM

Diane Ravitch shares a report from Louisiana on the failure of attempts to enforce some accountability on the failing charter schools in Louisiana.

It's reminiscent of Arkansas, where school officials beholden to the charter school lobby are a lot tougher on conventional public school districts than on charter schools.

Retired educator Mike Deshotels testified before the legislature, saying in part:

All of my research shows that the schools operated by BESE approved charters generally do a poorer job. All but one of the takeover schools in the Baton Rouge area, have been total failures. They have done so poorly that parents pulled their children out and some schools had to be shut down for lack of support. My research shows that the takeover schools in New Orleans still do not do as good a job of educating low-income students as do our local school boards across the state.

This experiment with our children has failed! It would be mistake therefore to allow new groups that are independent of the taxpayers to approve more charters.

It is a well-known fact that big contributors from outside Louisiana are the ones pushing for these new charters. Those contributors are the Waltons, the Broads from California (not spelled with an x), the Gates foundation from Washington state and Mike Bloomberg from New York. These big donors are the primary financiers of our present BESE [Board of Education] elections and they are the primary financiers for New Schools for Baton Rouge, one of the groups that wants to be a charter authorizer. But to add insult to injury, these donors are not contributing money to help our public schools. They are donating millions to get politicians elected to privatize our schools and to use our tax money to do it with.
There are parallels in Arkansas. We don't have an elected Board of Education. But the Waltons get all the influence they need through the governor. Asa Hutchinson's appointments have included a former Walton employee and a couple of others solidly on the school "choice" side of the playing field. And they have voted that way.

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