Last month, CREEED held a Choose to Excel summit with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with the goal of discussing the state of education in El Paso and to find ways to “move the education needle forward” by, among other things, recruiting charter schools to the area.
Charter schools aren’t good competition. They steal from public schools and make substandard programs all around.
Also, Bill Gates and Betsy DeVos are on the same team. Look only at El Paso to see how democratic public schools are done in by them and local business leaders who can’t wait to get the charitable funding to privatize education.
Last week the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development (CREEED), run by the city’s prominent businessmen, raised $20 million. They claim they like all schools, but they are giving their charitable funding to a charter school chain. Ten million will also go towards training teachers to teach dual enrollment classes–a practice that serves the interest of business.
They received a pledge from the Hunt Family Foundation for $12 million committed to IDEA Charter Schools. Woody Hunt, president of the foundation, says We need to have a work force that has educational levels that are competitive as well. We’re behind, and this is just one effort to try and eliminate that gap. Ultimately it translates to higher income and higher quality of life.
Bill Gates apparently doesn’t want funding to go towards real public schools staffed by professional career teachers either, since the foundation met with CREEED as noted at the top of this post.
This is strange since a year ago, Mr. Gates, according to former superintendent Don Shalvey, who now works for the Gates Foundation, praised the El Paso school district for their dual language immersion program. Gates also liked all the laptops put in schools, even though we know that laptops are overrated.
The Gates Foundation also awarded, in 2016, Millennium Scholarships for seven students in El Paso public schools. If the foundation believes in these students enough to financially support them in college, why don’t they believe in their schools and the real teachers who helped prepare these students? Why doesn’t Mr. Hunt see the progress being made in El Paso’s public schools?
The donation to charters will hurt public schools according to Arlinda Valencia, president of the Ysleta Teachers Association in El Paso. Public schools are in dire need of money. Our state is not helping our districts right now. When you see multimillions given to an association or a group tied to charters, you become very disappointed.
Norma De La Rosa, president of the El Paso Teachers Association, claims the donation is a slap in the face to public schools and teachers. “It’s very disheartening that we have a group of prominent businessmen in El Paso who feel it’s more important to provide that amount of money to bring in charter schools rather than providing it to the public schools to help better improve the resources and what we provide to all of our children in El Paso,” De La Rosa said.
IDEA is a Rio Grande Valley-based charter school chain that will open 20 campuses in El Paso by 2023. The schools are run by two former Teach for America corps members. The K-5 model is hybrid, meaning students use a lot of tech.
Do not confuse IDEA with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The IDEA in IDEA Charter Schools stands for “Individuals Dedicated to Excellence and Achievement,” and their motto is “No excuses.”
We know students with disabilities and ELL students are usually not placed in charter schools. It’s not clear how IDEA charters will accommodate students with disabilities or ELL students.
Also, IDEA boldly calls itself a “public school” dropping the word “charter.” Calling charters public schools is confusing. But look for this more as charters eat up traditional public schools.
Here’s where Betsy DeVos comes in. We know DeVos likes choice, and only wealthy parents will be able to benefit from a voucher, a nice tax break to a decent private school.
No government voucher will be enough for poor or middle class children to be able to afford high tuition to those schools. Even most reputable parochial schools require tuition.
The rest of America’s students will go to substandard charters like IDEA in El Paso. All these schools will be run by Teach for America types (not real teachers with real backgrounds in teaching).
Bill Gates and business leaders help supply the charter schools.
So teachers and parents who care about their public schools in El Paso are out of luck. They will have to scrimp and save for funding—have lots of bake sales.
This is privatization, but it is also poor planning and bad business. It will inevitably lead to shutting down real public schools. The schools that will be left are non-inclusive and lack diversity. Without well-prepared teachers committed to teaching, students lose.
Worst of all, enabling a takeover of the community public schools owned by all of us, will weaken our democracy.
In the long run, it will create a shoddy workforce of those who never got the best America could have offered. I think all of these folks will someday regret what they are passing on to the next generation.