Education PAC Pours $400K into CA Charter School Executive's Campaign
Why has an education PAC poured $400,000 into a charter school executive's campaign in Southern California?
Michelle Rhee's newly formed "Parents and Teachers for Putting StudentsFirst" opened with $2 million in its accounts and made its first contribution to Democrat Brian Johnson (no relation to Rhee's husband Kevin Johnson) who is running for the California state assembly's 46th district in the June 5 primaries.
In the past, when asked about charters and whether they should replace traditional public schools, Rhee has said they are "part" of the answer to failing schools, but not the whole answer. Well, infusing close to a half million dollars into a local election campaign looks like Rhee thinks more of charter schools than she says.
Back in 2008, Obama gave a shout out to Rhee in his call for education reform in the debate against McCain at Hofstra University. The president parroted the former DC Chancellor's refrain about "bad teachers" being the biggest problem in the classroom. But teachers, good or bad, are a big part of unions.
Thus, changing the paradigm of traditional government schools requires shifting power away from unions and towards something else. Charter schools have become a tool of the education reform movement.
The 64 thousand dollar question remains: "After the power shift, who will oversee the charters and traditional schools?" According to far left policy think tank Center for American Progress, each state will need several "authorizers" to make sure charter schools meet the criteria set out in their charter bylaws.
Some states set up charter authorizing commissions under the state superintendent of schools. Other states have several governing bodies in local settings. In places like Wisconsin, Minnesota and California teachers unions have ruled the schools for decades, so who will be in charge when their power has been lessened?
If charters become the norm and traditional schools end up being marginalized and serving only special groups of children, how then will this help close the achievement gap between inner city students and their wealthier counterparts?
A study on charter schools' effectiveness compared to regular public schools has shown that 17% of charters are superior to traditional public schools, 50% are equal and 33% are below. So, the shift from all public to public/private in the case of charters is flat.
Since there are minimal differences between the two kinds of taxpayer-funded schools, then why push for charters? And why would a PAC like Rhee's pump so much money into a local charter executive's campaign?
Read more Ann Kane at Potter Williams Report