I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, November 30, 2012

An Admission of Failure

This is nothing more than an admission of failure by our education overlords:
Charter schools are about to get a reality check.
As someone who has observed the breakneck pace of the growing charter school movement up close, Greg Richmond, who leads the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), is taking a step back.
"We didn't start this movement in order to create more failing schools, but that's what we have," Richmond told The Huffington Post. "Hundreds of them."
On Wednesday morning, Richmond will join New Jersey Schools Commissioner Chris Cerf and California charter schools advocate Jed Wallace at Washington D.C.'s National Press Club to announce a new campaign, "One Million Lives," that aims to crack the whip on the duds.
The campaign will focus on getting states to adopt rules that make failing charter schools close automatically, hold charter authorizers accountable for their schools' performance, and revamp their authorizing bodies so they become more professional. Initial allies include organizations and philanthropies that have, until now, focused on growth -- rather than quality -- in the charter sector. [emphasis mine]
Suppose I brought my minivan into the Cerf Auto Repair Shop because it wouldn't shift gears. After tinkering around for a bit, suppose Cerf came up to me and told me he just couldn't fix the problem, and  my best option would be to junk the car and buy a new one.

That would be a failure on his part. That would be an admission that he can't do his job, and my only option would be to start over. He may hem and haw, but his inability to even diagnose the problem, let alone solve it, would tell me that he can't do the job he advertised he could do.

What Richmond and Cerf are admitting is that they cannot improve the quality of a "failing" charter school. They don't know how to fix a school that is not "succeeding," so they want to close it down and move on.

It's certainly understandable that these two wonks wouldn't even try to fix a failing charter: they don't know how schools work. Richmond was part of the failed Arne Duncan regime in Chicago; fitting, as Duncan was as unqualified as Richmond to run anything having to do with education. Cerf taught a few years in a tony private school before going on to become one of America's greatest failures in the field of public school privatization.

Now they have a plan: put people who may be as unqualified as they are in charge of a bunch of privately-run, publicly funded charters, whether local communities want them or not. If a charter works out - great! If they fail - well, just close 'em. We may end up with thousands of children whose lives are in chaos, and the taxpayers may be out boatloads of money, and we may have decimated the local public schools that are required to serve all children...

But you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, am I right?

NACSA - Working For Better Charter Schools Through Trial & Error!


Unknown said...

"What Richmond and Cerf are admitting is that they cannot improve the quality of a "failing" charter school. They don't know how to fix a school that is not "succeeding," so they want to close it down and move on."

Nothing but a blank sheet of ideas. The people making edu-policies know nothing. Watch Karen Lewis explain this at min 8:36

Commuting Teacher said...

In their arrogance and greed, they refuse to use what REAL educators know works.

Someone said to me the other day that doctors are just not doing their jobs anymore. I suggested that teachers begin writing their new evaluations and reforming the field of medicine. I mean, that kind of reform is working so well in education, right?

NYC Educator said...

On the other hand, if it were the goal over at Cerf's friendly service to junk as many cars as possible, and generally reduce drivers' lives to chaos, he might consider the venture a total success.

ad77 said...

This is one of your best articles because it really hits the nail on the head. The "Cerf car repair failure" is brilliant!

But, Jazzman, you've got to stop bullying Cerf! The man is too challenged as it is with all his expanding of the bureaucracy of the DOE with unqualified personnel, with his indecision as to where he lives, with his national profile....it's all too much.

Duke said...

I love that clip of Karen, jcg.

I promise to stop bullying Cerf as soon as Christie stops bullying me.

Marie said...

File this one under "closing the barn door after the horse has left." Let's get tough on all those bad charter schools we let open, close 'em down and open new ones. Lather, rinse, repeat.