Rob Levine: The Walmart Plan to Kill Public Schools in Minneapolis

Rob Levine describes in this post the concentration of corporate reformers on Minneapolis, where millions of dollars are pouring in to the city to turn it into the New Orleans of the north, a mecca for charter operators without public schools.

He writes:

In Minneapolis there are now 34 operating charter schools that enroll almost 12,000 students. In St. Paul there are now 37 operating charter schools enrolling more than 13,000 students. By comparison both districts currently enroll about 36,000 students. While it’s obviously true that students who enroll in a charter school in one city don’t necessarily hail from there, the numbers are a good benchmark.

The Walton Family Foundation has started 46% of all open charter schools in Minneapolis

And charter advocates are hard at work enlarging that total, in Minneapolis, at least. The charter advocacy and startup organization Charter School Partners (CSP – now Minnesota Comeback), is in the middle of a five year plan to open 20 new charter schools in Minneapolis. Last year Comeback announced that it had secured $30 million in commitments from philanthropies, which it plans to use to create “… 30,000 new rigorous and relevant seats – particularly for students of color and low-income students” by 2025 in Minneapolis.

Though it has existed for barely a year Comeback has already collected $1.4 million in grants from the Minneapolis,Joyce and WEM (Whitney MacMillan) foundations.

Whatever “rigorous and relevant” means, 30,000 new “seats” in a district that has a student population of about 36,000 students is essentially a plan to kill that public school district. As Alejandra Matos wrote in the Star Tribune a year ago, some Minneapolis education officials “…suspect Minnesota Comeback is out to undermine the traditional public school system by replacing it with a vast network of charter schools, like in New Orleans or Washington, D.C.”

How might that happen? In 2013 Moody’s Investors Services issued a report warning that charter schools could drain enough money from regular school districts to in effect create a mini death spiral. It warned that in response to lost revenue districts might “…cut academic and other programs, reducing service levels and thereby driving students to seek educational alternatives, including charter schools…”

It’s worth remembering that in 2016 the Minneapolis school district experienced an unexpected $20 million shortfall.

So the corporate reformers plan to add “30,000 new rigorous and relevant seats.” Where is the store that sells those seats? Can anyone buy one? Or are those high-quality seats sold only to charter operators?

Funny that so many evaluations show traditional public schools outperforming charter schools, even though the charters say they have a monopoly on those special chairs. Maybe it is because the traditional public schools are staffed by real teachers, not TFA.

from novemoore


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