The education reform industry is hungry for a bite of "the Big Enchilada," the trillion dollars in public money spent in this country each year on public education. The charter, voucher and online schools reformers promote have been plagued by financial scandals and a checkered achievement record. Lack of academic and state oversight, coupled with reduced teacher standards have shown that leaving our children's education to the Wild West of corporate capitalism is no way to guarantee our children's or our country's future.
David Sheriff and his daughter found out just how wild school choice has become when she tried to use her diploma from Wisconsin Career Academy, a Milwaukee Public Schools charter school, to get into college.
David’s daughter Amanda enrolled and attended all four years of high school. She graduated, and got her diploma in 2009. After working for a few years she decided this summer she’d like to apply to college, so she says she looked into the medical assistant program at the Milwaukee Career College.
The Admissions Director said she’d have to get her GED because the charter school she attended wasn’t accredited. Amanda says she was shocked.
“I’m like, so basically you telling me that I have a 8th grade education, right now?”
Luckily for Amanda, there was a mix up on dates. She'd graduated before the school lost its accreditation. But David is not exactly sanguine about the outcome and took her cautionary tale of school choice to the local news. It's buyer beware. Voters, too.
Under the rubric of freedom, choice, competition and reform -- even after disastrous the Crash of 2008 -- voters are being offered more chances to be played by sharks in the Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate industries by public officials elected to protect the interests and futures of people like Amanda. But even record corporate profits are not enough. Parents with children in primary and secondary education are now targets as well. And why? What is the largest portion of the annual budget in all 50 states?