workers.org May 24, 2012 Page 3
Attacks on teachers aim to weaken unions
By G. DunkelNew York
A wave of teacher layoffs, the rise of charter schools, and a claim that teachersand their unions are opposed to evalua-tions have turned into a U.S.-wide assaulton teacher unions.The two major educational unions, the American Federation of Teachers andthe National Education Association, areamong the largest unions in the UnitedStates. Even in states like North Dakota, where unions represent only 3.2 percentof workers, or South Carolina and Geor-gia, where it is illegal for public employersto bargain with teacher unions, they stillexist and function. A staggering 300,000 teachers losttheir jobs from August 2008 to August2011, a 7.1 percent decline. According tothe White House report “Teacher Jobsat Risk,” another 280,000 educational workers face layoffs in 2012.Rightists have targeted teacher unionsfor the educational system’s decienciesand failures, whatever the teacher’s role.Staff shortages, overcrowded classrooms,crumbling buildings, rooms too hot or toocold, rain entering classrooms through windows that don’t close, etc., are allignored. Plus teachers lose weeks of in-struction time grading tests that are oftenincompetently produced.Chicago and San Francisco teacherunions have announced they may strikenext fall. In San Francisco, the districtplans to cut wages and benets by $30million in the next two years.In Chicago, teachers are protestingchanges in the school day, in how teacherpay is determined and how performanceis evaluated. Chicago Teachers UnionPresident Karen Lewis said, “I have never,in my 22 years of teaching and being inthe classroom, seen this kind of hostility and this disrespect for teachers.” (Huff-ington Post, May 13)
NYC unions ght school closings
New York City has about 1.1 millionK-12 students in public schools. New York’s United Federation of Teachers, thelargest AFT local, has withheld its signa-ture on an agreement with the Board of Education regarding a scheme for AnnualProfessional Performance Reviews. In re-sponse, the administration of billionaireMayor Michael Bloomberg has closedschools arbitrarily dened as “failing.” After laying off half the staff, his admin-istration will re-open them in the fall withdifferent names.Generally, the BOE sweeps out the old-er, more experienced teachers, who alsoearn the highest pay. Their replacementsare younger, less experienced and — of course — paid less.This is the turnaround model estab-lished by the federal government forschools it deems are “failing.” A teacher in a specialized New York City high school, whose classes have been videotaped and posted on a national web-site, told Workers World, “I feel attackedas a woman, teacher and union member by [Bloomberg’s] administration.”Mayor Bloomberg has closed 117 schoolssince taking control of the school systemin 2002, while opening 396 new schoolsthat rarely serve the same high-needs stu-dents. Parents, students and teachers haveoften protested these closings; they say thereal solution is more resources.On April 26, the city’s Panel for Edu-cational Policy, appointed by Bloomberg, voted to shutter 24 additional “strug-gling” schools, using the federal turn-around model. Earlier that day, MichaelMulgrew, UFT president, led a protest of parents and teachers outside City Hall with signs that read “Support our kids”and “True reform requires investment.”On May 7, the UFT and the princi-pals’ union sued the city to prevent theclosings. Ernest Logan, of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators,called them “sham closings” and “an at-tempt to go around collective bargaining.”(Daily News, May 7) Bloomberg’s attack on the union over the suit got wide mediaplay. The UFT and the CSSA have suedthe city twice before without much effect.The UFT has made some efforts to build coalitions involving the parents andother unions. It has also organized teach-ers at non-union charter schools. But itsmain thrust has been to support the Dem-ocratic Party in elections.More than this will be required to savethe city’s schools for students and teach-ers.
Forces behind the privatization of education
By Betsey Piette
The basic formula behind thedrive for for-prot education varies little from state to state:Close public schools, open pri- vately managed schools, cut the budget. It is usually coupled withthe negation of union contractsand lower wages and benetsfor school workers. While char-ter schools are paid out of publictax funds, they are exempt frommany state and local regulations,especially those protecting work conditions and employee rights. According to a January report fromthe National Education Policy Center and Western Michigan University, 35 percentof all U.S. charter schools are operated by private education management organiza-tions (EMOs), accounting for about 42percent of all school enrollment. By 2010,there were around 5,000 charter schools inthe U.S., with around 1.5 million students.The name EMOs was coined by WallStreet after its name for Health Main-tenance Organizations. HMOs were thehealth insurance industry’s business mod-el for increasing prots by denying ser- vices. The rst EMO was legalized in Min-nesota in 1991, but nancial deregulationin the 1990s provided Wall Street with theincentive to get into the education busi-ness. Recently, the Obama administrationhas pumped hundreds of millions of dol-lars of federal “education” money to facili-tate the privatization drive.Charter schools drain money away from local public school districts. Unlikepublic schools, EMOs can dismiss stu-dents who have “disciplinary problems”or even refuse to admit them.Charter schools are not obliged to pro- vide instruction in English as a secondlanguage. National studies have shownthat EMOs are more likely to increaseschool segregation and isolate students by race and class than public schools. A 2010 Western Michigan University-sponsored study found charter schoolsspent proportionately more on admin-istrative costs than traditional publicschools and less on instruction. It foundthat student support services averaged$858 per year for public schools com-pared to $517 for charters.
Surge in for-prot EMOs
While nonprot EMO corporationshave grown from 46 in 1999 to 197 in2011, with total enrollment growing from20,133 to 384,067, for-prot EMO corpo-rations increased from 33 in 1999 to 99 in2011, with total student enrollment grow-ing from 70,743 to 394,096.Enrollment in EMO-operated onlinecharters has grown from 11,500 in 2003-04 to around 115,000 in 2010-11. These virtual schools account for 10 percent of all for-prot EMOs. A considerable por-tion of public funding for online schoolsends up paying for advertising. (nepc.colorado.edu, Jan. 12)Charter schools are heavily concen-trated in urban areas in lower-income, working-class and poor communities.U.S.-based online schools have expandedto Britain, Chile and Mexico.Historically, the largest for-prot EMO was EdisonLearning (formerly EdisonSchools), whose revenues grew from $12million in 1995 to $217 million in 2000.Edison was the rst for-prot EMO tomove into the Philadelphia school dis-trict, despite massive opposition fromstudents, parents and teachers.
Behind privatization: ALEC
In 2012, the major EMOs nationally include The Apollo Group, K12 and theNational Heritage Academies,
which allshare a common connection — mem- bership in the American Legislative Ex-change Council. With the drive to privatizepublic schools picking upsteam over the last decade,education management cor-porations are raking in lucra-tive prots. Several of thesecompanies are members of ALEC, whose Next Genera-tion Charter Schools Act has been used as a model forcharter school legislation in42 states and the District of Columbia. ALEC is the right-wing power behindFlorida’s racist “Stand Your Ground” law, which George Zimmerman will use in hisdefense for killing unarmed Black teenagerTrayvon Martin on Feb. 26. It’s also behindother reactionary legislation targeting un-documented workers and women and sup-porting the prison-industrial complex.On the website alecexposed.org, theCenter for Media and Democracy givesa summary of the provisions of the NextGeneration Charter Schools Act. CMDdescribes this “model” legislation as an“attempt to have state taxpayers subsidizecharter schools … to compete with publicschools, while exempting charter schoolsfrom complying with any of the legal re-quirements that govern public schools.”Under the model legislation, charterschools don’t have to adhere to qualica-tion standards when hiring teachers orprincipals, nor do they have to stick toprevailing wage and hourly requirements,giving them a competitive edge over pub-lic schools.The act gives state governors “unilat-eral power to appoint separate, un-demo-cratic charter school boards, whose mem- bers would not be compensated by thestate,” with “no rules against conict of interest by whomever actually employs”them. The act also removes limits on thenumber of charter schools in a given state.
Top three for-prot EMOs
Among the for-prot education corpo-rations with membership in ALEC is theleading online EMO, The Apollo Group,a Phoenix-based company known for itschain of for-prot career colleges andother for-prot educational institutions.The corporation’s FY2010 earnings were$4.93 billion. Apollo’s Connections Academy andConnections Education had total rev-enues of $2.1 billion in 2010. Connections Academy is also a member of ALEC. As of 2011, Mickey Revenaugh, the company’sco-founder and a vice president, was co-chair of ALEC’s Education Task Forces. Apollo initially ran the online InsightSchool in Washington state. Most of In-sight’s teachers were non-union and part-time. Staff ratio was one teacher for every 53 online students. State records foundmany Insight students were struggling.In school year 2009-10, only 50 percent were passing their classes, 45 percent haddropped out, and only 7.2 percent wereexpected to graduate on time. (KING 5News, Oct. 31)In school year 2010-11, a new for-protcharter corporation, K12, took over theInsight schools. Also an ALEC member,K12 was established as a publicly tradedentity in 2007, with $90 million from Mi-chael R. Milken, the junk-bond dealer andsecurities-fraud felon.K12 now has 81,000 students in 27states. While K12′s schools are designated“nonprot,” states hire them as a for-prof-it management company. This arrange-ment allowed K12 to corner the Penn-sylvania online charter market whereit received 80 percent of the funding of traditional schools — $8,000 per student— while providing no buildings, books orteachers. Its students are home-schooled. According to a 2011 study by West-ern Michigan University, three-quartersof K12’s students failed to achieve An-nual Yearly Progress goals. In June 2011,Pennsylvania led a complaint againstK12 for its students’ failures in readingand math prociency. (Bloomberg Busi-nessweek, June 2) K12 generated $500million in revenue in 2011.One of the largest for-prot EMOs isNational Heritage Academies, another ALEC supporter, which has led the way in proting off public education. Basedin Grand Rapids, Mich., the company operates 71 schools across the country,
Philadelphia students protestschool closings and cuts in sta.
WW PHOTO: JOE PIETTE
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