MUNCIE, INDIANA – Education reform has been covered often on Muncie Voice. It’s not a topic exclusive to Muncie, or Indiana, so there are lessons which can be learned from other communities
NPR’s Claudio Sanchez wrote an article about the difficulties in Philadelphia’s school system. If you live in Muncie, Indiana, you should read it. You will definitely be able to catch the similarities. Do the parents or teachers blame the economy or property tax caps? Do they blame mismanagement by the local school board?
No, to all the above.
They know exactly who to blame – the republican governor of PA – “Protesters have targeted Corbett because Philadelphia’s public schools have been under the state’s control since 2001 — after years of dysfunction under an elected school board and chronically low test scores and graduation rates.”
In Indiana, local residents gave up control of their local schools to “save money” with property tax caps. The state said, “Sure, we’ll make sure local taxing authorities don’t tax your house anymore, but in exchange, we want to control your schools.”
In effect, we said, “Sure, thanks for your help, what could go wrong.”
Well, for one thing, it gave Mitch Daniels and other politicians an excuse to raise sales taxes from 6% to 7%. The extra revenue was supposed to raise money for the school systems. Wrong.
Mitch cut school funding by $330 million. Mike Pence will do the same thing.
Forced consolidation and free market ideology combine to create our new dual education system. They are literally starving out the local schools to create charter schools who will then accept some students who “qualify”. The charter schools will be supported by the Foundation which has a vested interest in your community. As Diane Ravitch says,
What’s happening in Philadelphia is alarming, says education historian Diane Ravitch, a leading critic of what she calls the privatization of the school reform movement. She says school districts that are having to cut to the bone, like Philadelphia, are creating dual school systems — one made up of charters backed by private funder’s and the other, says Ravitch, “will be the dumping grounds for kids who couldn’t get into charters.”
“People continue to push this model,” she says, “whether it’s the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation, the Dell Foundation — I could go on and on with all the foundations pumping millions and millions of dollars into charters.”
Who will be the Foundation pumping money into Muncie’s charters?
Anyway, school reformers in Indianapolis who are undermining State School Superintendent, Glenda Ritz, claim charter schools offer better learning opportunities. Their assumption is a school system built on choice, competition, and low overhead (non-union teachers) will equate to better opportunities for the kids.
According to Claudio Sanchez’s report, “Foundations say that money is giving struggling kids a shot at a better education. In Philadelphia, though, most charters are actually performing the same — and in some cases, worse — than traditional public schools, and yet charter school enrollment has skyrocketed.”
If student performance isn’t improving, why would all these free market proponents be pushing this new education reform system?