Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's Recession-Proof? Charter Schools Spending!

Whoo boy, times are rough. Lots of cutting these days over on Beacon Hill, and education certainly isn't immune as far as next year's budget goes. One of the most promising ideas is extended learning time, which opens up enrichment possibilities and offers support to at-risk students. That's been cut, as has been afterschool programs in general. The understaffed bureaucracy will have fewer people answering the calls of people flummoxed by its byzantine ways, and Chapter 70 Payments are held level despite the growing student body, and growing demands on education systems.

I will give the Governor credit for requesting raised spending (or at least breaking out of the line item) some priorities that mean a lot to me, starting with gifted programs and dropout prevention. However, if there's one thing that jumps out at it me, not too far from the headline reading "Patrick proposes taxes, cuts":

Governor Deval Patrick, who has consistently opposed raising the cap on the number of charter schools, will dramatically change course in the budget he releases today, allowing for more charters in low-performing districts as long as these new schools try to help the most vulnerable students.

So the hits keep on coming! While slashing school budgets on one hand, Deval is opening the field further into the "Make Your Own Skool" Industry. If you want to make a pretend school by, say, renting space from the Y, go ahead. That'll teach those horribly underfunded schools to be legally bound by special-education laws!

In case you're wondering where you last heard about charter schools, it was here:

The board voted, 6-2, to revoke the charter on June 30. The vote followed a recommendation last month by Mitchell Chester, state commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, who said he was deeply disturbed by the lack of academic progress at the middle school. It was the second time in two years that a commissioner had recommended closing the school.

I like the last sentence in that paragraph. I guess in DevalWorld, your charter school has to really, really suck before it is closed. Because who in their right mind would want to send their kid into the Massachusetts public schools, that are pretty much equal to any system in the world according to international tests that skew against American schools?

See, in DevalWorld, it's always the time to push charter schools.

PS: If you're looking for "radically raise the number of charter schools in Massachusetts" in Deval's hyped "Readiness Report", you won't find it. Apparently the specialists who wrote this report failed to come up with the right answer, or like most people in the Commonwealth, Deval hasn't bothered to read it either.

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