Sunday, January 27, 2013

A different take on charter schools

A Paul Brashon submitted this column offering a different um, perspective on charter schools. You can read his exchange with me in the "mailbag" post published yesterday.

Here is my take on charter schools,

To wit:

Although viewed by many as a panacea for all public education's problems, charter schools are nothing more than a ploy by Corporate America (CA) to take control of our schools. Under the guise of genuine concern for poor students, CA has convinced the populace that they, and they alone, can rectify public education's ills.

Here is an analogy:

During the Reagan Administration, the penalties for the possession or sale of illegal drugs were elevated to a draconian level. Sentences were doubled or tripled (on both a state and federal level). Sentences were made mandatory; judges could no longer use their own discretion to alter the "time" allocated to the offender.

And then, lo and behold, Corporate America built prisons all over our nation - and subsequently filled them up with drug offenders (most for possession). CA said they could run the prisons more efficiently than the public sector could - and save the country money (at least that was the argument presented).

Now, please bear in mind that I do not advocate, nor approve, the use of any illegal substance. But don't you think it is ironic that politicians have been made millionaires from their investments in the privately-run prisons. And don't you think it odd that we have a worse drug problem than we ever had. Nothing was solved. Drugs still flow freely and there are more addicts than ever. One thing is for certain though, our tax dollars were used to build the prisons and to pay for the inmates, food, housing, and medical care.

Another analogy: CA says that they can manage our interstate highway system much cheaper than the government can. So again, our tax dollars will be routed to Corporate America. A toll-system will be implemented. And once again, a lot of politicians will be enriched.

Where will the money come from to fund the charter schools? Again, from the taxpayers. As money is siphoned from the state's coffers, a hue and cry will erupt from our politicians, "We need more money for education!". In turn, property taxes, income taxes ... will have to be raised. The money will have to come from somewhere.

Of course, the charter schools will have an IRS designation of "Not For Profit". Any CPA will tell you that Not For Profit doesn't mean that the corporations will not make a profit - it just translates to "not solely put in place to make a profit."

Don't be naive. CA has poured millions into their campaign to run our schools - and they will demand a substantial return on their investment.

On a meaner note: the politicians that are expounding the virtues of charter schools are bought and paid for. Corporate America has populated their campaign war chests; payback is due.

Corporate America cares for our children? Don't make me laugh! CA is in the game for the bucks. They, and their minions, have the moral and ethical fiber of a pimp.

Do the math! How can CA run schools at a profit based on the pittance that the state provides per student. Where will the teachers come from to work in the charter schools. Corporate America certainly doen't plan to pay teachers a living wage (much less provide benefits). Instead, H1B Visa foreigners will be imported to the classrooms.

Do you really want people with limited English-language skills teaching your children?

Won't happen you say. I wager that it will.

Why has no one addressed the real issues with education? Why is there no push to get Uncle Sam's nose out of our educational system? Why is there no push to increase public funding for our schools? Why is more money spent on athletics than in the classroom?

It amazes me that the people that are proposing charter schools have never spent a day in a classroom; never worked as an administrator ... But yet, they KNOW how to run a school better than people who have spent years doing so.

(A very famous author once stated that the hardest thing he ever did was to teach a child how to read.)

I wonder how many charter school advocates have ever even read a book since they graduated college (I mean a real book; not some garbage about a sports figure). I also wonder if the these advocates have ever had an original thought (beyond, "Hey, my hair is on fire! Or, hey, I need to pee!").

Does any rational human being really think Corporate America can "wave a magic wand" and overcome the socioeconomic issues that many of our students face every day. How can you expect a child that lives in abject poverty to outperform upper-middle class students.

However, please note that It is not my intent to cast aspersions on poor children. Just the opposite. For whatever reasons, some of the latter will "beat the odds". Unfortunately, it is a sad reality that most will not. When children are reared in homes with books, computers and internet access, they tend to do better in school. Children whose parents help them with their homework, and are actively involved in their education, also tend to do better in school.

I don't have all the answers. But the charter school crowd doesn't either. I think the most amusing variable in the debacle is that many charter school drum-beaters were educated in very expensive private schools. Their mommies and daddies could afford a good education for their kids. Is there anything wrong with that, No. But the hypocrisy espoused is ludicrous.

Some will label me a "subversive, a "conspiracy theorist". Maybe I am. Or, could it be something a lot simpler than that? God gave me a brain so I could use it. I don't think it was God's intent that I should refrain from thinking for myself.

I propose a radical proposal. Teach children how to do word problems - not just learn how to manipulate equations. Solving word problems are the fruit of mathematics. the real world is nothing but word problems. Moreover, don't focus on memorization (aside from the multiplication tables and maybe the alphabet. And allow me to blaspheme a tad more: get rid of standardized tests. The countries that are beating the pants off of us in the educational arena subscribe to the items I proposals I promulgate in this paragraph.

To close, I offer an amusing anecdote:

A reporter for Life magazine once asked Albert Einstein how many feet were in a mile. Einstein responded that he did not know. The reporter then stated, "You mean you, the Father of nuclear physics doesn't know how many feet are in a mile?" Einstein hesitated for a second and then said, "I use my mind to think, not just as a warehouse for insignificant facts that I can glean from a reference book in a matter of minutes!"



Mid-Life Lawyer said...

Thanks for posting, JJ. This is an excellent example of anti-charter school logic. I believe this gentleman could be elected to office with 51% of the vote.

Anonymous said...


Mr. Brashon would like to join Claiborne Barksdale and Nancy Loome in "supporting" the House charter school bill.

Anonymous said...

Follow the M O N E Y!! Lot's of politics in the public ed. system, but we should clean up the ways and means, in lieu of spinning to the Charter means. Mr. Barksdale makes valid points, and there are other objectionable areas to consider.

Shadowfax said...

I stopped reading when he implied the government builds highways. Any fool who doesn't know private contractors and the private sector (CA I believe he calls it) build roads, bridges and highways doesn't deserve another moment of my time. Conspiracy theorists are literally a dime a dozen. He probably flunked out of Delta State, sold a little weed rather than go to work, got his ass caught and went to Parchman for a year. And his theory is that's where Eastland got his money.

Anonymous said...

"Some will label me a 'subversive, a 'conspiracy theorist'. Maybe I am." [sic]

Yes. Yes, you are. Now step away from the computer and go add another layer of tin foil to your hat.

Anonymous said...

I think he makes some very valid points. I read this the other day and found it quite interesting.

KaptKangaroo said...


Dude has spent too much time on a college campus. I got through the first paragraph and thought....

Maybe "Douchebag" was a bit timid a comment.

Shadowfax said...

2:09; His entire commentary is based on the unfounded notion that Charter Schools equals For-Profit enterprise and misdirects state funds to wicked money-grubbers.

If you 'think he makes some very valid points', in that regard, since the subject here is schools, not prisons and highways, please state one or two of his points you found valid and what, exactly, got you to buy into his conspiracy theory.

I suspect that by introducing several red herrings, he was able to divert your attention from the topic and capture your imagination. That's what conspiracy theorists do.

Anonymous said...

Shadow and Kapt sound like they're to the rightwing on this subject. Where is the due diligence. Tater and a couple lawmakers take a day trip to Ark. and think they have enough info/BS to railroad charter schools into law. There are a lot of unanswered potentials for disaster, and unless they are able to clarify some aspects, they need to move on to something they can solve.

Team Jackson Vaseline Ass said...

Conspiracy theorists are literally a dime a dozen.

Considering the ample supply versus the meager -- bordering on non-existent -- demand they [conspiracy and contagion theorists] go for a penny a bushel in downtown JACKUSTAN.

Anonymous said...

How can chartewr nschools do worse than what is now found in many moneypits that benefit"educators".

Anonymous said...

5:25 you're point is valid, however, creating another money pit, i.e., charter schools without proper due diligence would create another disaster. All the press has stated is that revenue per student would be trasferred from govt. public schools to charter public schools. Sooo, if 10 students in a district abandon the govt school to tfr to charter, how is that going to effect each segment. e.g., a reduction of $80K would effect adequate revenue in the govt school, but not enough to support a charter school. Many other questions remain; transportation, bldgs, personnel, etc. Then of course there are federal guidelines to be determined. I'm just not all emotional over this.

Anonymous said...

5:25 you're point is valid, however, creating another money pit, i.e., charter schools without proper due diligence would create another disaster.

Proper due diligence ... proper due diligence ... proper due diligence.

Screw you.

Anonymous said...

one of the bills passed prohibits "for profit" charter schools? does that satisfy any issues the author has with charter schools? "CA" is out of the picture, what is the next objection

Shadowfax said...

6:56 ~ Here's what you just posted. If the dealership over on Market Street has sold poor quality autos for thirty years and you decide to head over to the dealership on the Freeway Loop, all you're really doing is transferring your money from one dealership to another. Besides, it's further to the Freeway Loop dealership and you need to consider the additional cost in gasoline required to get there. And this is all so complicated that you should just keep pissing away your money at the Market Street business and move on.

Anonymous said...

You boys tell me how a "non-profit" functions please. I surmise, instead of the profit going to the bottom line, it is paid out in wages and benefits to the top administrators or executives. S C R E W Y O U 7:42

Anonymous said...

At least I have the balls to use my real name on my email address.

It was totally my intent to ignite a firestorm among the "artsy fartsy" Fondren crowd.

It is hilarious to read comments by people that have never been out of Jackson; never worked overseas; never worked for a major corporation ...

But one of the comments are absolutely apropos: I should not have rambled on about anything other than charter schools. My final revision lists objections from bush appointees and others.

Oh, incidentally, read the Wall Street Journal. Several articles have appeared on the subject of outsourcing our internet highway system to Wall Street.

Anonymous said...

It is all elementary my dead Shadowfax.

You haven't done your proper due diligence.

You see, everybody is a dumb shit and doesn't know how to conduct proper due diligence except for the brainiac @ 6:56 PM.

Anonymous said...

My final "Take"

Yes, I voted for Obama. I can't stomach the man; but I would rather french-kiss Mrs. Stokes than vote for Mitt Romney.

I would have voted for Ron Paul. but, he was too old wasn't he. Ben Franklin crossed the Atlantic in a great big sail boat to become ambassador to England - he was in his 80s' when he did so.

I question where most of the "Tater-worshiping puppets work? Probably not for a major corporation. Most, I assume work for either the State of MS or sell insurance.

I work for a major corporation. In fact, I have worked for four major corporations.

But, I can't make a living in Jackson, so I opt to travel all over the United States. Plus, I spend at least six weeks a year overseas.

Little wonder that Mississippi is the laughing stock of the nation. Thank God I was not born and reared in Mississippi. (Even worse, I grew up in Louisiana.)

I bet one thing though. I bet the Schedule 1040 I submit each year, far exceeds yours'.

Some of you will respond, "Why don't you just move out of state since you think we are all
Sarah-Palin-loving puppets."

Why don't you assholes move out of state. It might make a substantial difference in your perspective.

From a delusional conspiracy theorist. (An Wall Street epithet for anyone who thinks for himself.)

Incidentally, Tate's handling of PERS is a matter of public record.

ARtsy Fartsy said...

It is hilarious to read comments by people that have never been out of Jackson; never worked overseas; never worked for a major corporation ...

You don't know jack shit about anybody here.

Col. Reb Sez said...

I much prefer the notion of vouchers to charter schools. They are quick and easy. But Brashon's claim that charter schools will "siphon" money away from the regular public schools is one that annoys me.

Why not claim that charter schools will siphon EXPENSES away from the regular public schools. When a child leave the public school, yes the school loses that amount of income. But it also loses all the expenses associated with that child. Now sometimes the public school may come out the net "loser" of such a situation, but in many cases the public school actually benefits from losing a few students.

Anonymous said...

What an odd post. Very little about charter school issue. Most of it is about how he percieves businesses to be evil. Just kind of scrambles all over the place.

Wonder what he thinks about unions.

"I suspect that by introducing several red herrings, he was able to divert your attention from the topic" good comment, SF.

@12:23 PM, very well said.

Anonymous said...

It facinates me that anyone could consider over 60% of our state budget as a "mere pitance". I would like to point out that Catholic schools successfully educate children from every socio-economic strata for less per pupil than public schools. (They no longer accomplish this with nuns teaching for free.) They accomplish with accountability and dicipline what public schools cannot do because public school's excuse is always "we need more money". Reading is truly the basis of the foundation for education and concentration on this subject from age 3 forward is mandatory. No social promotions is one rule needed. The Federal Department of Education is a failure and is way too expensive for the havoc it has created. Test scores and graduation rates have continued to drop since its inception.

Kingfish said...

My main premise about education is without standards, discipline, and accountability, there can be no education. Doesn't matter if public, private, charter, home-school, whatever. I think right now, however, most people agree there is one particular type of school that is lacking those things.

meople said...

As a former Jackson resident and as a presiding Madison resident I would take the voucher system any day. For the counties whose public school system has failed you have an option and for the parents who prefer private teachings in an above average county you get piece of mind (your money back).

bill said...

The problem with some public schools today is not lack of money. It's not lousy teachers or too many administrators. It's not even unmotivated and uncaring students. It's parents, or sadly in many cases, parent. That's the one problem that can't be solved by throwing more money at it, but it can be solved with certain parents whose children are stuck in a lousy school by allowing them to move their kids - and the public money that's supposed to be spent on their education - to a charter school. We might look up five years from now and realize we didn't know everything going in, but charter schools need to be given a chance.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I rambled way too much. I finally revised my rough draft; removed all the non-pertinent bullshit, grammar mistakes, punctuation errors, and added excerpts from the anti-crowd (all former Bush appointees... The final revision has been submitted to both the Clarion Ledger and Jackson Free Press - both have agreed to print it.

I even had my attorney review the final to make sure nothing was libelous. My lawyer told me to be careful. "You're dealing with the products of six generations of incest son." "Watch your ass!"

No, I don't like unions. they sold out to management before most of you were hatched. But, unions raised the wages of the working class (after WWII) to a level unseen before the 50's and 60's and were largely responsible for the rise of the middle class).. (You remember, the fruits your Fathers and Grandfathers benefited from.)

How many of you plan to enroll your children in charter schools in Jackson, Canton and Flora? If you really ascribe to the concept, put your money where your mouth is.

Or just keep on working for the State (I wonder how long it will be before state jobs are filled with H1Bs).

I guess this means I will be forever denied membership in all Ole Miss fraternities (like Phi Kappa Cow where buggery is the norm - not the exception.)

I am having more fun with this then I did when Dick Cheney had his last heart attack.

Shadowfax said...

Bill: Where WERE you? Twenty years ago the government became the parent. The government represents the village, and, as we know, it takes one. We can legislate Charter Schools into existence as a social experiment but we cannot legislate the existence or involvement of parents. And we're farting in a whirlwind when we keep returning to that topic.

bill said...

That's my point, SFX. The only way to help the parents who want help is to open up charter schools. There are parents whose kids are in failing public schools who would like to have another option. The ones who don't will leave their kids where they are, which will be no worse than it already is.

Shadowfax said...

Bill: In my view, you seem to have a habit of speaking for others. Where are these mystery parents who 'would like to have another option'? None of them post here. None of them write letters to the editor or comment on letters that are written. None are interviewed on television. None address the legislature. None carry a placard in front of a JPS school. where is your evidence that any exist? (Operative word 'evidence').

KaptKangaroo said...

SFX, should I be calling you "HillaryFax?"

KaptKangaroo said...

As a parent of grade school children, I'm a bit puzzled by the "wise" crowd. The opinions vary a great deal.

My only concern is that my children are challenged every day to be a better person and learn fundamental principles in English, math, science, and social studies. I am frustrated by the behavioral issues that continue to disrupt their education.

I consider myself very lucky in my own education; I'm fortunate to have done it on my own. I am dissatisfied compared to other public school districts I attended.

Mississippi has an opportunity to grow its future.

Today, in MS, the sad reality is that the education system has become another welfare program within the state. Read into it what you may.

I challenge the wisest among us to go sit in the "best" school district with a middle school teacher and talk to them. You will be disappointed and understand why the status quo is fighting so hard to avoid a disruption to the current system - regardless if it is charter schools or boot camps.

Shadowfax said...

I don't understand your 'hillaryfax' retort, Kangaroot; but, it makes as much sense as any of your other posts.

KaptKangaroo said...

Duh, your "government represents a village" comment - a village idiot in this case.

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