Why are Private, For-Profit Companies Being Considered to Run Public SchoolsSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


 

Why are Private, For-Profit Companies Being Considered to Run Public Schools
 


16 April 2005 at 11:17:14 AM
salon

We don't like the trend towards our tax dollars going towards war and other non-priorities instead of for teaching, health, jobs. One example of this is the No Child Left Behind Act, which, if a school is failing, holds that private for-profit companies can bid at the local school district to run it. And taxpayers pay for it. Astonishing-a law written for public schools, paid for by school district taxpayers that benefits private corporations.

The Bush administration's new education plan requires schools to prove that their children are learning math and reading, and are closing the achievement gap between white and minority children. Already, states are reporting that thousands of schools aren't meeting minimum learning goals and now face an array of sanctions.

Companies that sell to the schools -- from test publishers to tutoring services to teacher-training outfits -- say business is booming as troubled districts turn to them for help.

There's a burgeoning "sense of consumerism in public education" as parents learn about the law and begin demanding services, says Jeffrey Cohen, president of Sylvan Education Solutions, a unit of closely held Educate Inc. His company says it expects to tutor 20,000 youngsters in struggling schools this year, with No Child Left Behind requiring the schools to pick up the $40- to $80-an-hour tab.

The Houston Chronicle has an article today about 3 private for-profit corporate groups that are bidding to manage 3 Houston Independent School Districts

The list of 10 groups that have submitted bids to manage three troubled Houston high schools includes private education companies, nonprofit organizations and current Houston Independent School District employees.

Why, in a public school system, are for-profit corporations being considered at all? If a parent wants a different education than the one being provided by by tax money, he or she has the option to send children to a private school or a for-profit learning corporation like Sylvan.. knowing that a percentage of that money is gravy for the corporation. This shouldn't happen with public money.

If the school systems are failling that badly, then get new people on the school board, elected by the people of that community. And the state of Texas needs to stop showing that education of its populace is one of the least important priorities and put children (and their teachers) first..

Here's what the Federation of Teachers says both about Texas HB 3 and how Texas is short-shrifting education.

WHAT'S IN THE EDUCATION PACKAGE PASSED BY THE TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES?

-- Woefully inadequate funding. Forget about the $5 billion in new money that schools need to meet higher state standards. HB 2 would not provide enough money to replace money cut from education last session.

-- Merit pay and empty promises instead of a real pay raise. HB 2 requires each school district to spend at least 1 percent its budget on "incentive" pay, based on criteria that includes objective measures of student performance (e.g., TAKS), and payments must be based on high student achievement, growth in student achievement or both.

-- Pay cut for support personnel. HB 2 repeals the legislature's promise to restore the full $1,000 benefit stipend. Though teachers would keep receiving $500, support personnel would lose the whole stipend.

-- Calls for a new round of tests (norm-referenced this time) for grades 8, 10, and 12.

-- Repeals the state law establishing a counselor/pupil staffing ratio.

-- Removes the formulas that guarantee extra funding for schools with LEP kids, special education students, and students in reduced or free lunch programs.

-- Hands public schools over to private contractors. Schools that finish in the bottom 5 percent in the state's accountability rankings and fall short of the federal "adequate yearly progress" mandate on any one of 29 measures would be put up for bids by private contractors. Since the bottom 5 percent would be offered up to private operators annually, this could turn about 40 percent of public schools over to private operators (financed with public education money) during the next 10 years.

-- Punishes teachers and students in schools ranked "Exemplary" by taking away the state limit on class size, the requirement that teachers have a duty-free lunch, and the rule guaranteeing a planning period for teachers in such schools.

-- Attempts to deceive the public with a phony pay raise provision. To allow politicos to claim they voted for a teacher pay increase, HB 2 calls for a $3,000 pay raise for teachers, librarians, school nurses, and counselors, but with loopholes a truck could drive through. (For example, a school district that increased teacher pay during the past two years to make up for the $500 that was cut from benefit stipends could count that as part of the pay increase.) Most importantly the money to pay from the increase is supposed to come from "savings" yet to be found in the state's budget. School employees remember that Texas "saved" more than $1 billion by cutting the benefit stipends and raising out-of-pocket costs for health care last session. The pay raise could be financed by first taking money from school employees' health insurance or retirement benefits, then using the money saved to give teachers a pay raise.


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