March 17, 2014

Reed Hastings, the guy who dropped a bunch of money into the LAUSD school board race last year to elect charter school-friendly board members and who also promotes charters through original Netflix shows like House of Cards has a new Big Idea: Dump local school boards.

Because it's so much more stable to get people in who aren't concerned about kids as much as profits, right?

Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post:

Hastings suggests that the “stable governance” of charter schools leads to stable schools, but, alas, big changes occur in charter schools. Let’s look at Rocketship, on whose unofficial board of advisers Hastings sits. Rocketship became known — and won $2 million from the Obama administration to help it grow — with a “blended learning” model that is designed to incorporate traditional classroom settings with a computer “Learning Lab” for students. The idea behind the lab was that students could learn basic lessons in math and reading while teachers could work with students on more complicated material. Part of the attraction, too, was that the computers would cost less than hiring more teachers. But get this: Last year Rocketship realized it had to revamp its fabulous “Learning Lab” because it wasn’t working very well. The charter network’s Web site says it is still piloting ”flexible learning spaces at some of our schools — spaces that will allow our teachers be even more effective and students to learn even more.”

Rocketship is also intimately involved in the Los Angeles Vergara v. California lawsuit pitting students against teachers in order to destroy due process rights for teachers.

Hastings is wrong about the stability of charter school boards, too. Here's one story right out of my local paper about how a charter school was placed on probation because -- wait for it -- the board couldn't agree on anything. That particular school was a standout public school once, before charters wormed their way in.

Hastings at least sets forth his motives for pushing charters and getting rid of local school boards, which is more than most of them do:

So what we have to do is continue to grow and grow… It’s going to take 20-30 years to get to 90% of charter kids….And if we succeed over the next 20 or 30 years, that will be one of the fastest rates of change ever seen around the world for a large system, it’s hard.

There ya go. Privatize public education with a goal of 90 percent of kids attending charters. Because stability. And profits. has the full transcript.

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