There IS truth in humor. Read and enjoy Colin McEnroe’s wonderful op-ed piece, which was in The Hartford Courant on May 17, 2015. Then please participate in the poll that follows the article.
Stop Spending Money on Charter Schools
by Colin McEnroe
Every time you refuse to support charter school funding, God kills 1,000 kittens.
This point has been driven home repeatedly in Connecticut at rallies — one of which is taking place on your front lawn right this minute — and in advertising and by lobbying.
Once you’ve washed the kitten blood off your hands, I would urge you to join this movement. The first thing you must do is start a semi-mysterious advocacy group. By statute, the name of your group must contain the words “excellence,” “achievement” and “families.” Excellent Families for Achieving Excellence would be a good choice, but I believe it’s already taken.
Then you will need one or more jillionaire capitalist underwriters, such as Tony Stark, C. Montgomery Burns or Lex Luthor, although several of those are already taken too.
All set? Great. Time to work on your message. What are you going to say?
YOU: “Ummm, it’s time to stop flushing money down a non-functioning public school system. Why should they get all the money while we charter schools get the short end of the stick?”
Well done. It bears no resemblance to reality, but that may not be important. In fact, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget proposes new funding for charter schools while keeping public school funding essentially flat. So the charters, which currently educate only 1.5 percent of the school population, would get the prize while everybody else eats the Cracker Jacks.
Democrats in the legislature have pushed back against this plan, and the charter school advocacy community has responded by going nuts with advertisements, surface mail, rallies and email blitzes to legislators of such a staggering volume as to call into question whether they teach McMahon’s Law in the charter schools. McMahon’s Law, named after spending pioneer Linda McMahon, posits a definable tipping point at which money spent on your behalf will abruptly begin causing people to hate you.
How much money? Here I can rely on the excellent reporting of the Courant’s Kathleen Megan and Matt Kauffman and the Connecticut Mirror’s Jacqueline Rabe Thomas. All three are currently being held by Charter Moms for Family Excellence in Education Kidnapping Achievement, but I am confident of their future release, possibly in time for the Festival of the Beheading of Jonathan Pelto, the most sacred day on the charter school calendar.
Simple number: the charter advocacy groups have spent roughly $1 million during the current legislation session. It has been the kind of push legislators usually experience when private industry wants to store spent nuclear fuel rods in Gillette Castle or something. Weird number: they spent $14,000 at Subway recently to feed the people they bused to the state Capitol. What did we say about ordering those steak and bacon melts, people? You can scream just as loud on something from the $5 menu.
Disclaimer time! Many charter schools are full of hard-working people who get good results for their somewhat niche student bodies. Second disclaimer: anti-charter school paranoiacs can be as weird and obnoxious as their opponents.
But still, $1 million in influence peddling money does not come from people in mom jeans listening to Los Lonely Boys on their earbuds. It comes from Lord Business. What do the wealthy charter backers want? It seems like an odd stew of altruism and the never-ending goal of making education align more perfectly with the human resources department. Plus, it’s always fun to break one more union.
Here’s what I don’t get: why should the state spend any money — $32 million over two years as proposed by Malloy — to start new charter schools and expand old ones? Shouldn’t we be concentrating on our truly public schools, the ones that currently educate 98.5 percent of our students? You like charter schools? Fine. You start them.
Everybody knows Connecticut is facing an “education crisis” and that many of our schools are “broken” and “failing.” But the primary source for this kind of rhetoric is ConnCAN, one of the major charter advocacy groups.
There are probably a lot of nuances about the topic that have eluded me. Fortunately, some of the people for Achievement For Every Child Through Family Excellence are ringing my doorbell right now.
Colin McEnroe appears from 1 to 2 p.m. weekdays on WNPR-FM (90.5) and blogs at courantblogs.com/colin-mcenroe. He can be reached at Colin@wnpr.org.
Copyright © 2015, Hartford Courant
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