Tuesday, December 24, 2013

View from Florida: Chicago charter scandals look familiar

Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott visits Florida charter school
Chicago's scandal-ridden charter schools look eerily familiar to educators down here in Florida where public schools have long been free give-aways to Govs. Bush and Scott's corporate and political cronies. It seems that almost anyone with blood or alcohol running through their veins can get a charter here in the Sunshine State --- students and teachers be damned.

A December 14th NPR report found that Florida charters openly and illegally violate the rights of disabled students.  In fact, a recent Miami Herald investigation found that few charter schools in Florida  even try to serve students with severe disabilities. Statewide, 86% of charter schools do not have any students classified as severely disabled. That's despite state and federal laws that require charter schools to give equal access to these students.

Kids from low-income families and children of color are also systematically excluded from the state's wildly-expanding, privately-run charters.

The difference between Florida and Illinois is that  in Illinois, the Democrats -- not Rick Scott's Tea Party Republicans -- run the schools. The latest Concept charter school give-away was done by one Dem machine warlord faction overruling the other to do the bidding of Turkish billionnaire Fethullah Gulen in exchange for some free junkets to Turkey.

Another difference is that, while Florida charters openly and willfully violate the law in their discriminatory practices, Illinois charter rip-offs of public dollars and trust are all legal.

Yesterday, DNAinfo reported that new Chicago charter schools could  cost  city and state taxpayers an additional $20 million this year and $255 million over the next decade. This in a district that the Mayor and his predecessor have already mortgaged to the teeth and where schools in black and Latino neighborhoods are being shuttered in record numbers.  Those millions will be taken directly from the swelling classrooms in oversized public schools and from children and families in the city's under-served communities.
Considering that comes after the Board of Education closed 50 schools earlier this year, citing a billion-dollar budget crunch, and imposed cuts on schools districtwide over the summer, Wendy Katten of Raise Your Hand called that "mind-boggling.  
"At this point it's crossed the line so that you're wondering if everyone's on the same planet with the same fiscal facts," Katten said Monday. "I'm not sure if these people have any clue how bad things are at any of the district schools with the funding. They can't take any more cuts."
Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti agrees with Katten:
 "This is really a continuation of the misplaced priorities by CPS. We need to focus on funding our neighborhood schools. We're seeing neighborhood schools suffering across this city. We're seeing closures by the mayor and CPS on these 50 schools. Yet they claim they can't deal with the overcrowding."
Fioretti renewed calls for an elected Board of Education, adding, "There's no accountability at CPS."


I've got news for charter-hungry IL pols like House Speaker Mike Madigan and Ald. Joe Moore, who were bought  off with free Turkey junkets. Groupon was recently offering round trip flights to Istanbul plus hotel for about $900. Makes me wonder if Fethullah found a Groupon for buying crooked politicians on the cheap?


Last week  FBI agents raided one of Gulen's charter schools in Louisiana. During the raid at the Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter school in Baton Rouge, federal agents seized several boxes from the campus but they refused to reveal the reasons behind the raid.

The Justice Dept. and AG Eric Holder has been at war with  La. Gov. Bobby Jindal and his use of "school choice" to impede court-ordered school desegregation in the state.  The Justice Department filed suitin New Orleans federal court to block 2014-15 vouchers for students in public school systems that are under federal desegregation orders.

There's no word yet as to whether or not the raids and the DoJ suits are connected.

1 comment:

  1. I just started reading MAYOR 1% about Rahm Emanuel and what keeps striking me is how similar Rahmbo is to Turd Blossom Rove. So much for the alleged differences between the parties.



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