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July 11, 2006

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A VERY revealing comment:

"Teachers ARE the schools."

No, they aren't. STUDENTS are the schools, and what is good for the students should prevail.

I'm fully aware that your attitude is prevalent among the unionized public school system - that the whole thing was created to cater to the needs of the teachers. In fact, in many ways you have been successful at using the unions' political power to make it just so.

But it doesn't make you right. It is not about the teachers; it's about the kids.

And if the kids are best served by having a private company operate some schools, great. Even if that private company makes a - gasp - profit!

Tell me, Terry: do textbook companies make a profit? How about construction companies that build the schools? How about the companies that sell desks and A/V equipment and computers and all the other stuff that schools use to operate? Do you object to this as well?

Or is you objection to people making a profit reserved only for those areas of school operations that might tend to compete with the services that your unionized profession supply?

If you had the kids interests as your primary concern, you would care not a whit who profited financially from providing our kids with an education. You would care a great deal, however, who profited academically.

Your true allegiance is showing here, Terry.

I thought this quote related to your arguments.
"In this interview, educator and public school advocate Craig Gordon offers insights into the privatization of public schools.

From the interview:

(Privatization is) not only about profiteering through charters and contracting out services, though that's part of it. It's not about eradicating every vestige of public schooling, though it may reduce the public system to a shell of what it's been. But I think it has a lot to do with eliminating the expectation of quality public education as a civil right."

And this by Susan Ohanian:
"School reform becomes part of ....the “ownership society,” which cannibalizes everything from education to health care to retirement benefits, criminal justice, waste management, elections, public safety, and water rights. Any area that has traditionally been part of the common good and publicly administered is now up for grabs, and public schools are no exception. Public space is being divided into sectors to be sold off or privately managed."
Public Schools are supposed to be "Public", not private. That's why they are called public schools.

By your logic, Sasha, schools would function quite nicely without teachers, which is of course silly. Perhaps I should have defined schools as communities of educators --primarily teachers-- and students.

There's a big difference from profiting and "profiteering", which I define as taking advantage of easy opportunities to line one's own pocket without regard for the quality of the service rendered. It's my belief that public entities, like school districts, should not be in the business of making money (profits) nor should they be placed in a fiscal position that forces them to outsource services to "profiteers".

I don't know how I've been pigeonholed as a shill for teacher's unions. Yes, I've been a union rep and I fully back the right of teachers to bargain collectively, but I've also been at odds with the union over its lack of support for school reform. But this isn't about greedy unions. It's about advocating for common schools which I believe are in the best interest of both students and the society they live in.

Read the quotes sent along by Marcia. They represent pretty accurately my position on the growing privatization of public sector services, including education.

You are not making any sense, Terry. How does it follow from my logic that schools would do fine without teachers?

That doesn't follow at all from my assertion that what is best for students should prevail in deciding how the schools operate.

So you say there is a difference between "profit" and "profiteering?"

OK, so presumably it would follow, then, that a high quality charter school delivering a high quality education which happens to be managed by a for profit corporation..... that is OK with you?

I don't know, Sasha, but what I've written seems to make at least as much sense as your assertion that the public school system was created for the benefit of teachers (although I do realize your statement was intentionally hyperbolic.)

If you could demonstrate to me that for-profit schools --charters or otherwise-- are capable of delivering a high quality education for ALL --and I emphasize ALL-- students for less money, then we would have no disagreement. But there is NO evidence whatsoever that privatized education has delivered such benefits. In fact, the opposite seems to be true.

Of course, your defintion of quality education is narrowly defined. Common schools --public schools-- have the added benefit of democratization. That said, charter and privatized schools fail your test-based standard of excellence according to all the research I've read.

Be honest, Terry. There is no evidence that public schools are "delivering a high quality education for ALL --and I emphasize ALL-- students."

The US has a 3-tiered system of excellent, good-enough and bad public schools. It does not have "common" public schools.

And you want to require private schools to deliver way more for less money?

I don't want privatized or partially privatized public schools to deliver anything, Gus. The best educational opportunities for all students, rich or poor, advantaged or disadvantaged, are provided by publicly (and adequately) funded "common schools". Chipping away at the foundation of public education through charter and magnet options cannot possibly help those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap.

I don't claim that public schools, especially here in Portland, are providing a quality education to all students. But the remedies proposed by the district's current leadership are making matters worse, not better. I think you know what I'm talking about.

Terry, here is the challenge you issued to sasha:
"If you could demonstrate to me that for-profit schools --charters or otherwise-- are capable of delivering a high quality education for ALL --and I emphasize ALL-- students for less money, then we would have no disagreement. But there is NO evidence whatsoever that privatized education has delivered such benefits. In fact, the opposite seems to be true."

To which I responded: "Be honest, Terry. There is no evidence that public schools are "delivering a high quality education for ALL --and I emphasize ALL-- students."

My point is that it is chauvanistic for you to demand that "privatized education" meet those standards for less money.

I see that as a double standard. Until we can honestly assess the strengths and weaknesses of public education in Oregon, we are not going to understand each other or find consensus on matters involving public education.

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