The Projo’s Unintentionally Informative Juxtaposition of the Day

The online headline of Linda Borg’s article in today’s Projo announces one community’s goal for education…

In Central Falls, the goal is getting pupils to read better.
…which, despite its seeming obviousness, is a bit different from the goal being emphasized by the National Education Association, according to a companion article written by Jennifer D. Jordan
Charter schools are taxpayer-financed public schools that operate free of many of the restrictions of regular public schools. Charters often offer smaller class sizes, require students to wear uniforms, encourage parent involvement and provide a longer school day. State education officials say charters provide choice to low-income students, and can produce innovative approaches that school districts can replicate.
But the National Education Association of Rhode Island disagrees, saying charter schools siphon away badly needed resources from the public school system.
Got that? According to the NEA, providing money to “taxpayer-financed public schools” is taking money away from the “public school system”. Not all students in public schools are entitled to public funding according to the union’s logic, because only students in schools managed by a particular form of bureaucracy should be entitled to public money. This rationale unequivocally elevates the imposition of a particular bureaucratic form on Rhode Island students above more fundamental educational goals of the kind mentioned in Linda Borg’s story, e.g. teaching students to read.
Fortunately, in a ray of hope for Rhode Island, State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist offers a clear statement on the absurdity of an educational philosophy that emphasizes funding bureaucracies instead of funding public-school students…
“Ideally, as a state, we will be working to implement a funding formula, so that taxpayer investment in a child’s education is based on the student, whatever public school that child attends — regular or charter,” Gist said.
One final note: Compared to prior Projo offerings on the same subject, Jennifer Jordan makes a little progress on properly explaining to the public the relationship between the “funding formula” and charter schools. Instead of the voice of the omniscient journalistic narrator telling us that Rhode Island’s lack of a “funding formula” implies that taxpayers are paying “extra” for public charter schools, as occurred this past June, today’s article attributes this connection only to the “critics of charters”. And the “critics of charters”, of course, continue to be as wrong on this issue as they always have been, because…
You can direct money just as easily — maybe more easily — to charter schools through use a “funding formula” than you can without one. Or you could decide not to fund charters, without implementing a “funding formula”. Either way, the decision by a state to fund or not fund charter schools precedes the creation of a “funding formula”; the formula only implements a policy decision that’s already been made.

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13 years ago

For years, Jennifer Jordan has effectively been a flack for the teachers unions. When was the last time anyone can recall her writing an article that was (a) insightful; (b) evenhanded; or (c) even just plain informative?

Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
13 years ago

Saying that the NEARI “disagrees” was editorial, not reporting. This is exactly what I sent to Ms. Jordan:
“The problem with proposing additional funding for charter schools during the current budget crisis is that it further diverts those dollars from state aid to education and the approximately 150,000 students in traditional public schools, and the further diversion of these funds hurts the existing schools and directly impacts property taxes.
Further funding for charters at this time also goes against two public policy imperatives. First, since charter schools are stand-alone entities, often with a higher percentage of costs allocated to administration, more charters mitigate against the policy interest of regionalization and consolidation of services. Second, despite an impetus towards performance measurements, the record of the existing charter schools is decidedly mixed. Perhaps existing charters that are not making the grade should be defunded and those resources should be allocated to new charters with a better chance of success. Another alternative is to follow the original idea behind charter schools – identify successful educational ideas and move those into the public schools so that all children can benefit from them. The idea that some children need additional time on task or more personal attention is not a new concept, and the funds should be made available to the traditional public schools so that all students can benefit from them.”

George Elbow
George Elbow
13 years ago

Bob Walsh says “identify successful educational ideas and move those into the public schools so that all children can benefit from them”.
Great. Let’s do it.
One of the key “successful educational ideas” that the Charter Schools have employed is the absence of the anti-children Union and all the roadblocks to a good education that go along with the Union (e.g. tenure, lack of merit increases, inability to replace non- performing employees, etc.).
Bob, try as you might, you can NOT fool people into believing that you and your flock give a rat’s ass about a quality education for “the children” over the special interests of your dues paying flock.
If you really cared about “the children” and the taxpayers, you’d demand educational choice and let parents vote with their feet.
Of course, that would mean that people would run as fast as they can from your underperforming flock. So, we don’t expect you to support such a simple & fair approach anytime soon.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
13 years ago

The good news is that in increasing numbers people across the country are recognizing that the teachers unions are a major, if not the major, part of the problem — and will never be part of the solution.
Even some Democrats, who have traditionally been in the pocket of the teachers unions are starting to balk at the union label of expensive mediocrity that is public education in the United States.

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