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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The charter con and who it's hurting

by digby

A frightening new report on school segregation was released this week:
This report shows that segregation has increased seriously across the country for Latino students, who are attending more intensely segregated and impoverished schools than they have for generations. The segregation increases have been the most dramatic in the West. The typical Latino student in the region attends a school where less than a quarter of their classmates are white; nearly two-thirds are other Latinos; and two-thirds are poor. California, New York and Texas, all states that have been profoundly altered by immigration trends over the last half-century, are among the most segregated states for Latino students along multiple dimensions.

In spite of declining residential segregation for black families and large-scale movement to the suburbs in most parts of the country, school segregation remains very high for black students. It is also double segregation by both race and poverty. Nationwide, the typical black student is now in a school where almost two out of every three classmates (64%) are low-income, nearly double the level in schools of the typical white or Asian student (37% and 39%, respectively). New York, Illinois, and Michigan consistently top the list of the most segregated states for black students. Among the states with significant black enrollments, blacks are least likely to attend intensely segregated schools in Washington, Nebraska, and Kansas.
This finding is significant, I think, considering the recent issues in Wisconsin and Chicago:
The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration, has taken no significant action to increase school integration or to help stabilize diverse schools as racial change occurs in urban and suburban housing markets and schools. Small positive steps in civil rights enforcement have been undermined by the Obama Administration’s strong pressure on states to expand charter schools - the most segregated sector of schools for black students. Though segregation is powerfully related to many dimensions of unequal education, neither candidate has discussed it in the current presidential race.
And people wondered why all those parents in Chicago supported the union. If anyone knows that separate but equal is bad for kids it's them.

Meanwhile, Rahm is busily hitting up his hedge fund and school voucher advocate pals to help him spin his humiliation. From Chicago education blogger Mike Klonsky:

I turned on the TV this morning to see the new ad with Rahm doing damage control. He's claiming he won the contract battle that led to the 7-day teachers strike by getting his longer school day in place along with evaluating teachers based on student standardized test scores. The ads are being paid for by DFER hedge-funders and school voucher advocates, Whitney Tilson and Ravenel Boykin Curry IV...

Newstips Curtis Black has a great column, "Strike Notes", in which he quotes veteran Chicago political analyst Don Rose:
“The bottom line,” he argues at the Chicago Daily Observer, “is that Emanuel is out of the running as a presidential or vice-presidential candidate in 2016.” Maybe you can run without labor support, but running against active labor opposition is something else.
Black writes:
Mayor Emanuel has his own public relations conundrum at this point, and it’s not just a matter of rhetoric: he (and the business leaders and newspapers) are claiming that in order to pay for the new contract, they’re going to have to close down schools. In the meantime they’re planning to open up 60 new charter schools. In fact, this year’s budget has an additional $76 million for charters, which cost the district well over $500 million a year.

“We’re kind of confused about that,” said Wendy Katten of the Raise Your Hand Coalition. “If they’re claiming they have 130,000 unfilled seats in the district, why are they opening 60 new schools? That’s crazy. That’s just absurd.”

How to make the case? Always ready to help, the Tribune offers this line of argument:: charter schools are the best tool for busting the teachers union. Bruce Rauner, private equity mogul and major charter sponsor, chimes in that the goal is “separating teachers from the union.”

When it looks like a union busting duck and talks like a union busting duck ... well, you know.

I bring you alleged Democrat Ed Rendell:

"It's an important issue because Rahm Emanuel is showing again, that Democrats can stand up to unions when their demands are unreasonable."

With friends like Ed, it's possible that Rahm may have reached the end of his political career. We live in hope.