Here lies public education

Hogan recently stated, “We’re going to do everything we can to expand the use of charter schools. It’s a great idea.”  Currently, local school systems bear the cost of charter schools, so approving them means increasing spending or cutting funds for existing schools.

“I don’t see new schools being able to open,” said Kara Kerwin, president of the Center for Education Reform, a national charter school advocacy group that is pushing for Hogan’s bill to remain intact.  Let’s take a look at Center for Education Reform. It’s funded by notable corporations and billionaires including the deadly reform triad: Gates, Broad and Walton.

Hogan is creating a financial incentive: tax benefits of up to $200,000 for businesses that donate to private and public schools.

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked Maryland last among states with alternative school programs. Of course they did. ALEC cannot get his claws into MD unless they alter existing laws protecting public education from privatizers.

Don’t look to Maryland Public Policy Institute for help. They tack on heavy layers of pro charter studies and reports to promote an ideology of privatization. Despite their desire to identify as “non partisan” we must note they received the 2006 Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation Innovation in Promoting School Choice Award. Their academic advisory board includes individuals who worked as senior research manager of the President’s Commission on Privatization, and two worked for the far right CATO institute. Where’s the non partisan piece of this?

Jason Botel, founder of KIPP Baltimore and founding member of MDCAN also has a stake in colonization.

MDCAN is also funded by Gates, Broad and Walton.

Botel has been busy. He was part of a meeting in March 2015 hosted by The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers which “featured a rich discussion about ways that members of the philanthropic community might advocate for restoring funding for public schools.” A RICH discussion indeed. This should work swimmingly for corporation taking advantage of Hogan’s new tax incentive for private donations to fund charters.

Also worth examining the list of 2012 Maryland Charter School Task Force members.

Their “recommendations” rely heavily on research from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. So it’s not surprising how much their recommendation “mirror” ALEC model legislation.  They are members of the ALEC education task force.

NACSA receives funding from the Walton Family Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Robertson Foundation

Finally, it is critical that Marylanders and Baltimore City parents in particular understand the real reasons for the push behind the pro charter narrative. Read the “make money now!” description of a recent conference hosted by Baltimore based Camden Partners.

Here are some of the headlines in the promotional flyer they used to promote interest:

Here are 7 important reasons you should register to attend this encore conference, “Private Equity Investing in For-Profit Education Companies” —

Learn how to benefit from today’s huge industry shift, with so many education companies revising their business models.
Understand why much of the industry is pursuing certification training for its huge cost benefit over degree programs.
Discover which skill-based training programs are becoming commodities and which have pent-up demand.
Recognize the ramifications of commercial textbook publishers and educational software vendors being eclipsed by new online players.
Hear why companies providing resources and technical support for MOOCs are flourishing, and why the MOOC trend shows no sign of abating.
Realize how game-based learning is finding its way into more and more K-12 classrooms, and why game designers are becoming part of the educational team.

So major corporations and policy makers driven by an ideology of privatization are shaping the public narrative for education in Maryland. The connections between Hogan, the agenda to privatize public education and corporate interests run far deeper than what I have posted here. But unless the general voters, educators, and parents of Maryland are aware of how the narrative of public education, equity, and choice have been hijacked we will be stunned to awake one morning to find the fundamental core of our democracy: public education, has been sold out from under our feet. At some point, the blame must rest not with privatizers, but with ourselves for not doing anything to stop it.

This has been brewing for years. Also Read:





A young girl was trudging along a mountain path, trying to reach her grandmother’s house.
It was bitter cold, and the wind cut like a knife.
When she was within sight of her destination, she heard a rustle at her feet.

Looking down, she saw a snake.
Before she could move, the snake spoke to her.
He said, “I am about to die.
It is too cold for me up here, and I am freezing.
There is no food in these mountains, and I am starving.
Please put me under your coat and take me with you.”

“No,” replied the girl. “I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake.
If I pick you up, you will bite me, and your bite is poisonous.”

“No, no,” said the snake. “If you help me, you will be my best friend.
I will treat you differently.”

The little girl sat down on a rock for a moment to rest and think things over.
She looked at the beautiful markings on the snake and had to admit that it was the most beautiful snake she had ever seen.

Suddenly, she said, “I believe you. I will save you.
All living things deserve to be treated with kindness.”

The little girl reached over, put the snake gently under her coat and proceeded toward her grandmother’s house.

Within a moment, she felt a sharp pain in her side.
The snake had bitten her.

“How could you do this to me?” she cried.
“You promised that you would not bite me, and I trusted you!”

“You knew what I was when you picked me up,” hissed the snake as he slithered away.

Published by educationalchemy

Morna McDermott has been an educator for over twenty years in both k-12 and post secondary classrooms. She received her doctorate in education, with a dissertation focus on arts-based educational research, from The University of Virginia in 2001. Morna's teaching, scholarship, and activism center around the ways in which creativity, art, social justice, and democracy can transform education and empower communities. She is currently a Professor of Education at Towson University.


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