Thursday, July 21, 2016

Corporate School Reform for Rich Kids: A Modest Proposal

By:  Steven Singer, Director BATs Blogging/Research



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America’s wealthy children are in a crisis.
They’re better in math. They’re better in reading. They’re better in science. Heck! American students just won the International Math Olympiad for the second year in a row! They beat heavy hitters like Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, North Korea, Russia, the UK, Hong Kong, Japan and 90 other countries!
Yet our media still refuses to acknowledge their accomplishments by lumping our wealthiest students in with the middle class and poor. They say American students are failing when it’s just the poor kids. And even when you add them all together,we’re in the middle, and we’ve always been in the middle since these international tests began.
It’s just not fair that our wealthy students don’t get recognized for their accomplishments. The media takes their exceptional scores and mixes them in with those of children living in broken homes going to under-funded schools in high crime neighborhoods. Obviously those kids are struggling. It’s not fair to make the wealthy look bad by mixing their scores in with these “ghetto” kids.
But that’s not the worst part. All this negative publicity is actually starting to force lawmakers to do something about it. There is a policy movement in our country that’s been around for nearly 20 years made to combat this exact problem. It’s calledcorporate education reform, and the rich kids are being left out!
Just look at all the programs being aimed at improving education for poor kids. I mean, sure, more than half of public school children live in poverty these days. But why should they get all these innovations?
If things keep up this way, the rich kids will get totally left behind. In the interests of fairness, we must make some of these same reforms available for the wealthy.
For instance, why is it only the poor kids who get the benefit of being taught byTeach for America recruits? These are idealistic youngsters who have a college degree – but not a degree in teaching – who get to come into an underprivileged environment and educate the masses. What about those from privileged upbringings? Shouldn’t they get the benefit of this program, too?
Think about it! These are young adults with lots of knowledge about the world and a real desire to help kids learn! Sure they don’t have enough desire to go out there and learn how to actually teach, but that’s just liberal indoctrination. You don’t need a degree to do that. A six weeks training program is fine!
Their enthusiasm makes up for any shortcomings in pedagogy. It’s like someone who loves medical dramas volunteering to do your surgery. Or maybe someone who watched every season of Law and Order volunteering to defend you in court. The attention to detail of a Trekkie at a Star Trek convention tops the knowledge of an astrophysicist any day!
Why is it only the poor kids that get that!? Rich children are being robbed of this opportunity. It’s time we furlough all their fancy teachers with their PhDs and Masters degrees and replace them with Teach for America.
But of course that won’t be enough.
The poor kids also have a huge leg up when it comes to academic standards.
Many wealthy families send their children to private schools with the best of everything. They have a wide curriculum, extracurricular activities, arts and music – everything impoverished public schools lack. But what they don’t have are universal standards.
That’s right. In most states, only our public schools have been forced to enactCommon Core State Standards. These are a set of academic standards for all school children to ensure every student will be ready for college and/or a career by graduation.
Where are these standards for our rich kids? They’re being left behind! We let their private school teachers make up their own standards! How can we trust them with that? Despite their manners and good breeding, these are just teachers we’re talking about! What do they know about education?
Common Core standards were created with hardly any input from classroom teachers or child psychologists. Instead we relied upon self-appointed experts from the standardized testing industry. They decided what should be taught so it will line up exactly with their state-mandated tests.
Just imagine! Rich kids don’t get that benefit! No one teaches them to the test! Their teachers just guess and – still they get good grades – but imagine how well they’d do if they had the same benefits of the poor kids! If impoverished children fail, these same test corporations provide the remedial material! What better way to improve?
And that’s another thing! Why are the wealthiest kids who go to exclusive private schools exempt from taking state-mandated tests? How do we know they’re getting the best education possible if they haven’t demonstrated it on a multiple choice exam? These private schools could be totally faking it! We don’t know they’re providing a world class education without the proof standardized testing affords. Rich parents need to demand their kids be tested just like the poor kids.
One way they could do that while still reaping all the benefits of private schools is by enrolling in charter schools.
Rich parents rarely take advantage of that if they can afford the prestigious preparatory academies. But why? Choice is great and even more choice is greater!
Charter schools are really just private schools paid for with taxpayer money. They’re often run by private companies or unelected boards and in many cases expected to turn a profit. This also means they don’t have to do the same things as traditional public schools though for the most part they are subject to giving state-mandated tests.
In fact, they have very loose transparency requirements. We don’t really know much of what they do. But everywhere they’re touted as a massive improvement to the public school system.
They’re so good we don’t even demand that they prove how good they are. It’s just that obvious! (Pay no attention to peer reviewed studies that show them to be no better and often much worse than traditional pubic schools. That’s just scientific method mysticism.)
So why can’t there be more charter schools just for rich kids? Administrators get to pick which kids attend these schools anyway. Why not select just the upper crust, thecrème de la crème, a better class of students? In fact, in many cases they already do. They select the students who already do the best academically and boot those with sub par skills or who are in need of special education. That’s how they inflate their test scores. But they also could select for economic factors instead of just academic ones.
Now you have to be careful. There have been a couple charter schools (actually quite a lot of them) that have been found to be scamming the public. Think Trump University for K-12. These schools steal taxpayer money, cut services, increase profits, disband and sneak away in the night. But there are many… well… a few high quality ones out there. And since choice is always good, shouldn’t rich families roll the dice on these institutions just like poor families?
Yes, there’s a chance rich kids educations will be ruined at charters – a big chance – but shouldn’t the wealthy have the same opportunity to gamble on their children’s futures that the poor do?
The point is this: there are plenty of shiny corporate education reforms out thereaimed almost exclusively at the poor. If these reforms are so great, shouldn’t the rich get them, too?
Otherwise, these reforms are just opportunities for private industry to get rich quickoff the backs of impoverished children! That can’t be right, can it?
The fact that the rich almost never take advantage of these reforms has to be a coincidence, right? Maybe they just don’t know how great these corporate school reforms are. I just can’t understand why no one is telling them, selling it to them.
After all, many of the people who create and propose these reforms have children who go to educational institutions that don’t use them. Arne Duncan was U.S. Secretary of Education, and his kids don’t experience the very policies he imposed on impoverished youngsters. Neither do Bill Gates’ and President Barack Obama’s kids. It’s just so unfair to them.
So I’m asking, please, let the children of the rich and powerful experience these same corporate educate reforms. Every child deserves the right to be taught by an untrained instructor. Every child should have an education devised by non-experts making huge profits off the results. Every child’s success should be determined through mass marketed, standardized, A,B,C exams. Every child should get to go to a school where the administration can reduce services and maximize profit.
Only then can we finally compare test scores between rich and poor. Only then will be one America!
Only then will no rich child be left behind.
(Or we could just give the poor kids all the benefits of the rich ones and throw away this corporate education crap, but no. That’s too radical. This is only a modest proposal.)

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