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Charter Schools: Dialogue Between Dumb, Greedy and Corrupt

How does a state-approved charter school get started? Here's one scenario that you should consider before deciding how to vote on Amendment 1162 Nov. 6. It would be funny if it were not so true.

Are there people out there just waiting to start charter schools but somehow cannot get them approved?  

Are there really charter schools that can operate on only the state's portion of the funding?  

Who are these people and what kind of schools are they wanting to open here?  

Changing the state constitution is a big request. Before we vote on Nov. 6, let's make sure we know exactly what is at stake.  

Here's one possible scenario:

"Gee, I wonder how we can start a charter school without a building or enough money to pay lots of teachers," says nonexistent person #1.

"Yeah, and the 13 other charter schools, dozen or so magnet and theme schools, IB program schools, technological schools and neighborhood schools are just not enough. By golly, I need another choice," says fictitious person #2.

"I have a solution," says slick dressed K-12 or "Connections Academy" or "Other New Online School" sales and marketing representative.  

"Wow, you look really smart," responds bozo actor #1.  

"That's because I am," says the K-12 associate with his General American dialect so as to not give any clue to the fact that he is from out of state, or even another country.

"Have you considered a virtual charter school? Here are some fancy pamphlets I just so happen to have on this high gloss, heavy weighted paper stock, so you know you can trust what is typeset onto its pages."

"Yeah, we thought about that," says well paid spokesmodel #2, "but our local board of education will never approve something like that. We tried and tried to get them to approve a school with a promise of less than 50% graduation rate and a high drop-out after less than a year attendance, but they didn't like that idea. And they have really low standards." 

"We can appeal to the state board of education, but they keep telling us we are broke and need to close schools, not start new ones. I'm guessing they wouldn't overturn the decision."

"Looks like we're stuck with the multiple options to choose from that we already have now. Plus, all the church-based schools and community schools. We are in the Bible Belt, after all."

"Don't forget about the private schools, honey. And the home school options," says the Man #1.

"Oh yeah, that's right. We have those options, too. Plus a state run online school and a local cyber-academy."    

"Awwwww.... that's too bad," says Mr. K-12 man. "I have an idea for a virtual charter school that I need to sell to someone stupid. I thought you might want to try convincing a bunch of parents who don't know any better and like the idea of free laptops to sign their kids up! Their moms or dads will likely be expected to stay home with them, of course."

"What makes your school better than others?"

"We were first."  

"Oh."

(awkward silence)

"And we have better graduation rates than other online schools, but not as good as brick-and-mortar schools."

"Uh-huh."

(Man #1 and Woman #2 start to walk away. But then..)


"Say, did I mention that we make millions and millions in profit? And we hardly cost the school district a thing?" says desperate salesman from K-12. "As long as I can keep signing the suckers, errr... I mean, kids....up, we can keep hiding the actual churn rate of our attendance and bragging about our annual enrollment increases. The more I sell, the more money for me and my bosses."

"Wow, you must be rich!"

"Yes, but don't worry about that. Besides, I have to watch out for some pesky lawsuits coming from New Mexico and Virginia. Oh, and Florida, too, I think."

"Awwww, you poor, misunderstood salesman. It's tough out there, isn't it? Here, let me count how much money you might have in that wallet for me and my friend here. We might be able to help you out," says greedy snake in the grass #1.

"What's your idea, Jim Bob?" says idiot actress #2.

"Well, the way I see it, we can help each other," says paid actor #1. "I have this friend who is in the state legislature. You know, the people who make the laws n' stuff. I will tell him the problems with the local school board and ask if he can help me start a virtual charter school."

"Once he hears about all the money, he'll surely say yes!" says doll face #2.

"Right!  And then he can pass a law that says that some kind of a fake, made-up, overpaid board of people can approve our virtual school. Then we can hire Mr. K-12 here to run it for us and we won't have to worry about things like walls, ceilings, or teachers. We won't need libraries, or a football team or even books.

Think of how cheap this could be!"

"Then how will the kids learn?" says suddenly concerned accomplice #2.

"Who cares? Didn't you hear the man say he make lots of money?" says childless man #1.

"Yeah, but... I don't...."

"If we get the state to appoint a board and let them approve schools, then we can probably get a bunch of money, too!! You know, just like they promised the PTAs that kept quiet about the cell towers. Come to think of it, what ever happened with all that ... "

"But the kids..."

"Ma'am, don't worry about the kids. They will be fine. If they do not keep up, we have friends in the private prison industry who will be happy to take them in. They also make lots of money. Not your kids, of course. Other kids. Ones you won't even see because the school is online, remember??" says drooling K-12 representative as he gets out the contracts.

"Oh, I see. But, won't this take money away from the other schools?" 

"Yes, some of it, but we will take a lot of the kids away, too. So, that local group of elected folks will actually have fewer kids to pretend to be educating, until ours start dropping out, of course, and returning to their local schools. But we will have the funds up front. That's all that really matters to us. See, It's a win, win!"

"Except for the kids...."

"Yeah, yeah, the kids," says the man #1 as he signs the contract. "There's always THAT, but ... think of all the money! As soon as the plan gets rolling, you will have enough to put your kids in any private school you want, so who cares what happens to the charter after that? We'll be long gone before anyone notices that the drop-out rates are alarming, some of the teachers aren't certified, some classes have as many as 400 students in them at once, the money goes out of state to help a business stay out of Chapter 11, the people can't threaten to vote for a new board since they were appointed, or that the kids are only using their computers to play games and cyber-bully their friends. And, if one gets lost, dropped or stolen, their parents have to reimburse us for 3X what it cost us. Remember, this is GEORGIA. We're #49th in the nation for education. There is no way the people here would ever think of all of the possible outcomes. They are all stupid."

"Wow, honey, you are a genius."

"Yeah, I went to community college for a year before I dropped out."

"Do you think the people in Georgia might vote NO to Amendment 1162 on Nov. 6?"

"Not a chance. Remember, Mr. K-12 is putting lots of money into the advertising. And people here  will believe ANYTHING with a fancy slogan. Remember 'Untie Atlanta'? Oh wait... well, that was different... this will be different. It's for the kids."

"Okay, if you say so. Thank you Mr. K-12!"

"Don't thank me. Thank your legislators for joining The American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, so they can further the profit-generating ideas of big businesses like mine instead of protecting the rights of the people like they were elected to do. You can read about them here."

"And, we can thank our uninformed, easily misled or generally apathetic voters for not showing up at the polls even for a Presidential election," says smug man #1 counting his money.

"Yes, and thank you to K-12 and Connections Academy, T-mobile, ATT and all those sneaky little people behind the scenes who have quietly been laying the infrastructure to make this all possible while they thought we were not paying attention," says woman #2 as she books her plane ticket to Hawaii.

"Thanks are in order all the way around," says man in new leadership position of heading up a charter school for the kids #1. I can now say that I helped bring two great ideas together - profiting off the low achievement and lack of parental involvement in my community and a way to use technology to give the appearance of real education to an entirely new generation of families."

"And, by piggybacking off the national obsession with charter schools, we can use the good reputation of that phrase to trick voters into approving HR 1162 on Nov. 6. Funny how a country can be at war protecting freedom while at home they are willing to just give their rights away."

"Funny?"

"Well, not funny ha-ha. More like funny / sad."

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cheryl Miller October 18, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Can a school actually fail? Are we saying it is the teachers that are failing at their jobs of teaching? Or that the children are failing in that they do not possess a desire to learn? If we would just look back at what has changed over the years then we might be able to see where the decisions of adults have directly impacted the outcome of the schools. Kids are kids. I doubt they care about where they go to school as much as they do about who else goes there and what they can get away with or what they can do for fun. The learning will only take place when that spark goes off and the child realizes that he/she can control his / her own destiny and that education is the key. How to light that spark is the tricky part and it takes getting to know each and every child on an individual level because the way to get through to one is not always going to be the way to get through to the next. It is so unfair to force children to take a bubble sheet test on regurgetated knowledge when we have done nothing to make them want to commit any of that information to their long term memory or find ways to apply what they have learned to their real lives. Charter schools and every other school in our state are judged by the CRCT or other standardized achievement tests. Funds are allocated or with held and doors are opened or closed as a result. Until we get away from trying to treat people like wigets and teachers like assembly line workers, we will contine to fail.
Cheryl Miller October 18, 2012 at 09:25 PM
In other words, class size is directly linked to success because you can't expect a teacher to get to know children on an individual basis when you pack them into a classroom like sardines and don't fix the air conditioner or punish the ones who disrupt class. You can't expect a teacher to be able to light that spark of inspiration when you aren't paying them enough to pay their own bills and you lie to them about the status of their retirement account and pressure them to cheat. And, one of the biggest factors known to lead to being bullied or becoming a bully is being the new kid. We have created a school system that encourages or forces transfers on a regular and frequent basis. We are actually creating bullies and setting children up to face emotional harm from all the upheaval. Our graduation rates are pathetic and our schools are falling apart, yet we keep giving more money to the same people without holding the accountable for what they have done. Did you vote YES on SPLOST? Are you aware they are using your technology dollars to buy new cars for themselves with your money? Are you aware they are sending their own buddies to get PHD's when your kid gets a 50% chance of gradating on time and will likely see half their friends drop out before graduation? We can't keep complaining and then keep voting to approve every stupid idea they put in front of us. VOTE NO! Put your foot down. Demand better education, not better distractions!
Bob Peppel October 18, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Cheryl, Smoke Rise Mom, thanks. You changed my vote
Cheryl Miller October 19, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Report: Florida Investigating K12 Inc. for Using Noncertified Teachers; http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/marketplacek12/2012/09/report_florida_investigating_k12_inc_for_using_non-certified_teachers.html State school board asks Wake judge to block for-profit virtual school; http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2012/05/24/state-edu-board-appeals-wants-to-block-opening-of-for-profit-virtual-school/ Shuman Law Firm investigates K12 (New York Times); http://markets.on.nytimes.com/research/stocks/news/press_release.asp?docTag=201210161850BIZWIRE_USPRX____BW7000&feedID=600&press_symbol=9634704
Cheryl Miller October 19, 2012 at 04:42 PM
The original New York Times investigation: http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/news/business/companies/k12-inc/index.html

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