Baltimore City is on the nation’s radar right now. Yet beside the media such as CNN running 24-7 news casts, who you don’t see working behind the scenes are the charter school privatizers. They were here before Freddie Grey was a national headline for police brutality. With Governor Hogan taking the lead, charter school proponents (profiteers) have been wielding revised charter school laws. And now…as Baltimore struggles to seek justice and to empower their community Voice, new charter laws are “sweeping up” from behind ensuring that public education be demolished. The voices from the city’s youth cry for relevancy, equity, and opportunity and cities like Phillie, Detroit, NOLA, New York and Chicago reveal that advancing charters will FAIL these children. They will FAIL these communities.
The voices of the youth, seen and heard all over the world these many past few days illustrate the FAILURE of current education reform policies to meet the needs of Baltimore’s youth. Instead of after-school programs and fully funded rich curriculum and reasonable class size and human services, we feed them more tests and bogus “career and college ready” materials that serve no one but the testing and publishing companies. And the “solution” (according to private companies and politicians in the back pockets of said corporations) to their anger, needs, and desires is to dismantle their schools and communities, replaced with for-profit privately run charter schools.
Here’s a summary of this takeover (in the words of Helen Atkinson of the Teacher’s Democracy Project):
Vital battles going on around education–
1. The effort to keep Langston Hughes Elementary open rather than turn the building over to a charter school and send the current students to Pimlico.
2. The charter coalition board is arguing behind the scenes for an increase to their already large per pupil. They want $10,010 next school year which is an increase of about $600 per pupil over their current rate. If they are successful in persuading the board about this, it will impact the budgets for all the other schools and may even force further layoffs.
According to Steve Baker (thanks to Helen for these references!):
One of my big concerns is that, among other things, public assets including valuable land and school facilities are being “relinquished” as district school enrollments drop – often these days because district officials themselves are forcibly closing their schools and handing them over to charter operators – or, sending out pamphlets to parents telling them that the charter schools are better, so choose them, not us. In many cases, citywide enrollments are remaining relatively constant. That is, the number of children that need to be served isn’t changing. Children are being shifted from district schools to charter schools. District facilities (land and buildings representing the investment of taxpayers over decades) are being sold at bargain rates, and there’s no turning back. Many urban districts now lack the capital assets to serve the children they would be responsible for serving, were the charter sector to suddenly collapse.
For a full run down of how new charter laws will affect Baltimore City (and Maryland state) public school students read here: “Explanation Behind the Proposed Charter School Legislation“.
This document notes (and rightly so, for anyone who has followed the destructive path of charterizing through other major cities), “Existing charters get more money; new out-of-state charters see Baltimore as an expansion opportunity; traditional Baltimore schools get less. The financial impact would be felt immediately by the rest of the school system and would not be offset by significant savings as charters scramble to provide their own equivalent services such as transportation, food services and special education.”
NOW is the time expose this corruption and greed. Baltimore is on the national radar. With the media’s ear and with the world watching we can expose the charter “reform” (colonization) movement to the nation, or we can sit back and allow them to make Baltimore’s struggle one more “crisis” they “will not let go to waste” (paraphrasing Rahm)