#3 Charter School Kid Prisons
3.1 Ten Reasons Charter Schools Harm Children
3.2 The Crooks Behind Charter Schools
3.3 Charter Schools are Fraud Factories
3.4 The Kids in Prison Program
We will begin by reviewing how charter schools harm children. We will then describe a charter school chain called KIPP. This is Bill Gates favorite charter school chain. Of course, Bill would never send his own kids there. His kids attend a private school called Lakeside in Seattle – a school with experienced teachers, small class sizes and no Common Core standards. Students who attend KIPP fake schools call it the “Kids in Prison Program.” We will then review the history of charter schools beginning with Arne Duncan in Chicago - and explain how the whole scam is funded by billionaires as an excuse to close and privatize our public schools. Finally, we will summarize the crimes committed by charter schools and how nearly all of them have been turned into fraud factories.
This is a quote from a First Grade teacher who transferred from a Charter School to a Public School after just one year of teaching:
“The kids in my Charter School First Grade class were never allowed to be children. Instead they were stuffed into little invisible straight-jackets all day long, from which outbursts and tantrums were frequent.... I am now teaching at a public school where my First Graders have play center time and lots of choice; our curriculum isn’t scripted, the children are allowed to talk, sing, breathe, and be themselves. It’s truly a different world, one my former students will most likely never know.”
Two decades ago, not a single penny of taxpayer money was spent on charter schools. This year, public funding for charters will run into the billions of dollars. This massive waste of tax payer funds is despite the fact that dozens of studies have concluded that charter schools do no better than traditional public schools – and often do worse. The few studies falsely claiming that charter schools do better than public schools use statistical manipulations such as ignoring the massive student attrition and drop out problem at charter schools. Charter schools suspend, weed out and expel struggling students rather than helping them. Many charter schools expel over half of their students. The suspension rate for normal public schools is under 5%. Dumping their most struggling students back into the public schools is what allows some charter schools to make exaggerated claims about the select students that remain in their program. Charter schools also use discredited “drill and kill” military boot camp teaching methods that destroy a child's desire to learn – shortening the school to prison pipeline into a “school is prison” pipeline.
Obviously, dumping the kids that need the most help does not result in the education of ALL children. But the purpose of charter schools has never been about helping children. The real purpose of the charter school weapon of mass deception is the same as the purpose of high stakes fake tests and Common Core fake standards – to privatize public schools and transfer billions of dollars from the tax payers into the pockets of greedy billionaires.
Three Weapons of Mass Deception are Designed to Work Together to Privatize Schools
As we described in earlier chapters, first billionaires impose are inappropriate Common Core standards and confusing Common Core curriculum. Then they force kids to take high stakes high failure rate tests – unfair tests that two out of three kids are certain to fail. Then when the kids fail the fake tests, the billionaires move in to close the “failing” public schools and replace them with privately run but publicly funded for-profit charter schools – schools controlled by the billionaires. This clever deception is designed to gradually phase out public schools like a block of ice that slowly melts away.
Charter schools then create huge profits for the billionaires by firing experienced and certified teachers and replacing them with untrained and uncertified and poorly paid “staff.” Second, charters weed out any struggling and special needs students to allow them to dramatically increase class sizes. The profits then go to out of State “administrators” who are accountable to stock holders rather than to the parents of students. Some of the profit is diverted into huge bribes for the re-election campaigns of corrupt politicians who promote charter schools. This is the corporate model of education reform.
This is why billionaires have spent billions of dollars trying to convert every public school in America into private for profit charter schools. This is ironic because the main reason our children are forced to attend some of the lowest funded most overcrowded schools in the nation is that billionaires are not paying their fair share of State taxes.
Diverting public dollars to charter schools managed by private corporations will make our public schools even more overcrowded as more money is diverted away from classrooms and into huge profits for Wall Street corporations. In short, charter schools are just like Common Core... They are a marketing scheme whose real goal is to privatize our public schools
Below are ten reasons charter schools harm children.
The Chicago Mob and their Hit Man... Arne Duncan
In a 2013 article, New Teachers, New Unions, New Alliances, New Politics, Michael Yates wrote:
“Chicago’s financial and political leaders have been trying to destroy the city’s public schools and the teachers’ union since 1995, when the Illinois State Legislature gave Mayor Daley the power to appoint the Board of Education and choose a CEO to run the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The appointed board and a succession of CEOs pushed an unprecedented level of high-stakes testing and top-down corporate management. Mayoral control was the lynchpin of this process. By 2012, Chicago Public Schools had closed over one hundred schools and simultaneously opened almost one hundred privately run charter schools. In 2012, Mayor Emanuel proposed closing up to 120 more schools by fall 2013.”
The first crook behind the Charter School scam is a con artist named Arne Duncan – the current head of the US Department of Education and a close friend of Barack Obama. Arne Duncan has no training or background in education. Instead, Arne played basketball for Harvard in the 1980s. He then began his career as a professional basketball player in Australia from 1987 to 1991.
Despite having no background in education, Arne Duncan moved back to the US in 1992 and was immediately appointed Director of Ariel Education Initiative, a very strange Chicago School that taught kids a stock market based view of the world. Imagine a private religious-based school. Only in this case, the religion being preached to the children was greed and profit.
Each of 40 selected inner city First Graders at the Ariel School was given a $20,000 grant to invest in the stock market through the 8th Grade. The profit from the child's investment fund was evenly divided between the school and a college fund for the child. The plan was that after 8 years, the money would double – returning the original $20,000 to the school and creating a college fund of $20,000 for the child. Back in 1990, thanks to State support for higher education, $20,000 would actually pay for a higher education. It may seem odd giving $20,000 to a First Grader and having them invest it in the stock market. But this is actually what happened. Arne Duncan went from being a professional basketball player to a Wall Street Guru and investment advisor for First Graders. Welcome to the crazy world of charter schools!
This crazy elementary school program continued in 1995 when the mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, got rid of the locally elected school board and replaced it with dictatorial “mayoral” control. In 1996, Mayor Daley used his new power over kids to close a public school called William Shakespeare Elementary School and give it to Ariel Investments to use as Ariel Community Academy. This was also strange because Chicago supposedly did not get any charter schools (private schools using public money) until 1997. This new school pretended to be a normal public school. But it was clearly a charter school in that it received public school funding, and private funding, but was not under the control of a local school board and had no public accountability. For example, it is unclear what Arne Duncan actually did at this charter/elementary school since there are almost no public records of this supposedly public elementary school (charter schools seem to be exempt from the record keeping rules and accountability standards of public schools). Arne never took a single course in Education and never taught in a classroom. Arne seems to have been more of a politically connected fund raiser and snake oil salesman than a school teacher or school administrator.
Also in 1996,Richard Daley, appointed a corrupt accountant Paul Vallas - who had no background in education - to run Chicago's public schools. After a corruption and kickback scandal, Paul Vallas resigned in disgrace in 2001.
On the other hand, Arne did such a great job at Ariel Community Academy (as a charter school promoter and snake oil salesman) that on June 26, 2001, Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley, one of the most corrupt mayors in American history, appointed Arne to run the Chicago Public Schools, America's third largest school district with over 400,000 students. Arne's idea of school reform was to fire teachers, close public schools and turn some of them into private charter schools with inexperienced and poorly trained and poorly paid charter school “staff” (since charter schools do not have or believe in professionally trained and paid real teachers). By the time Duncan left Chicago to help guide the national program in school destruction, Arne had closed more than 80 public schools and converted them into private charter schools.
Top down punishment driven pressure cooker schools versus bottom up local control nurturing schools
85% of the Chicago School Districts 400,000 students are from low-income families - many are living below the poverty line. Closing schools is almost as traumatic and harmful an experience for children as losing their homes. With a minimum of 500 students per school, Duncan's school closure and conversion program severely harmed at least 40,000 mostly low income students during his 8 year reign of terror in Chicago.
During his first year as CEO of Chicago schools, Duncan hired more than 30 managers at salaries of between $90,000 and $115,000 per year. Duncan refused repeatedly to provide the public with the details of the cost, qualifications, or even job descriptions of the members of his widely touted “management team.
Many of the members of the Duncan “management team” were reported to be friends and neighbors of Duncan.
What were the results of the Duncan assault on Chicago public schools? The following is a quote from a 2013 Washington Post article:
“The Consortium on Chicago School Research, a nonpartisan group of researchers at the University of Chicago, released a report in 2009 saying that the school closings during Duncan’s tenure as head of the Chicago schools did very little, if anything, to improve the achievement of students who were sent to other schools.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/30/the-biggest-irony-in-chicagos-mass-closing-of-schools/
Four Steps in the Cycle of Ed Reform Corruption
No publicly elected school board means no public accountability
One of the most important purposes of a publicly elected school board is to oversee the spending of tax payer funds to prevent fraud and corruption. This is why one of the most important goals of charter schools is to get rid of publicly elected school boards. Unlike public schools, private profit charter schools are not subject to a public audit of their books. This allows charter school operators to get away with all kinds of fraud and corruption. Charter schools have already robbed American tax payers of billions of dollars – in addition to robbing American children of their right to a good education. The charter school fraud problem is getting worse every year. In this section, we will provide just a few examples. But with charter schools, fraud is not the exception. It is the rule. If tax payers understood the degree of fraud, waste and abuse going on at charter schools, every charter school in the nation would be shut down within a year.
Understanding Charter School Corruption Requires atour of the US
In order to bring some sense of order to the charter school corruption scams, we have divided them up by States, starting in California and working our way east along the southern United States through Arizona, Texas and Florida and then up the East Coast to Pennsylvania and New York and ending in Ohio. Here is a picture index of how this section is organized:
ANational Charter School Corporate Crime Wave
In May 2014, the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education issued a report called Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse. This report concluded that fraudulent charter operators in 15 states were responsible for losing, misusing or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money per year. https://integrityineducation.org/charter-fraud/
Since there are actually charter schools in 45 States, it is likely that the total fraud and abuse of tax payers funds by charter schools exceeds $300 million per year. The report contains news stories, criminal records, and other documents to detail abuses such as charter school operators embezzling funds, using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses, taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide, inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues, and putting children in potential danger by foregoing safety regulations or withholding services. These are only a few specific examples of the thousands of cases of fraud involving charter schools nationwide.
Here is a quote from the report: “Our examination, which focused on 15 large charter markets, found fraud, waste, and abuse cases totaling over $100 million in losses to taxpayers. Despite rapid growth in the charter school industry, no agency, federal or state, has been given the resources to properly oversee it. Given this inadequate oversight, we worry that the fraud and mismanagement that has been uncovered thus far might be just the tip of the iceberg.”
In December, 2014, another report was published called When Charter Schools are Nonprofit in Name Only. This report described the common practice of charter schools pretending to be “non-profits” only to sweep all of the money out of the fake non-profit front group and into the pockets of private for profit “management” corporations. These “sweep” contracts divert nearly all of the charter school's public dollars to for profit corporations – with very little left to actually run the charter schools. Once the public money goes into the black hole of a private corporation, there is no way to keep track of how it is actually spent.
The Start of KIPP Charter Schools
KIPP charter schools started in Houston in 1994 by a couple of “Teach for America” graduates – Mike Feinbery and David Levin - two people with no degree in education or child development with only a 6 week “TFA” course under their belt – and a desire to make a profit off of children.
Due to massive funding from Bill Gates and his billionaire buddies, KIPP has grown to be among the largest and richest charter school chain in America. For example, in 2009, the Gates Foundation guaranteed $30 million in KIPP bonds so that KIPP could expand its operations. The KIPP network now includes 130 charter schools in 20 states with more than 50,000 students. Bill Gates has given KIPP more than $27 million dollars including $10 million just in 2006!
In addition, KIPP has received $50 million from the US Department of Education.
KIPP- The Kids in Prison Program
KIPP stands for “Knowledge is Power Program.” But as the kids themselves have concluded, it really stands for “Kids in Prison Program.”
KIPP students attend school 9 hours a day and every other Saturday... and also a big part of the summer. Compare this to public schools where kids only attend school 7 hours a day and not at all on weekends. Goodbye weekends and goodbye summer vacation. So much for a happy carefree childhood. It's sad for children to get so little free time. You are only young once. And shockingly, at some KIPP schools, students even have to earn the right to sit at a desk! Here is a quote from a former KIPP teacher: "...during the first week of school 100 fifth-graders were packed into a single classroom without desks, where they sat the entire class time Monday through Thursday learning to earn the right to sit in a desk...It was treating them like animals. Only they weren’t animals. They were children.“ https://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=4679
Speaking of treating children like animals, consider classroom management. At one KIPP school in California, a KIPP principal told a student to get on his hands and knees and bark like a dog. The same principal put a garbage can on another student's head implying that the student was no better than a sack of garbage. Using shame to control children seems to be the norm at KIPP. A teacher described what happened during high stakes testing time. Many students were not allowed to use the bathroom. This resulted in some students wetting their pants. Also to raise high stakes test scores, students' test answers were reviewed by teachers, and then students were given their tests back and told which answers to correct. (That is one way to increase test scores.) https://www.markgarrison.net/archives/62
At another KIPP school, small children would be deprived of recess for infractions as small as turning their head around and failing to look at the teacher. Eventually, trouble making children who failed to keep silent and keep their eyes on the teacher either dropped out or were expelled. No individuality is permitted at Kipp and anyone who does not toe the line is ridiculed, punished and/or expelled. This is why an independent three year study of KIPP schools found they have an extremely high attrition rate. Out of every 100 students, more than 60 either drop out or are expelled within three years.
An attrition rate of 60% is 10 times more than the attrition rate at a normal public school!