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John Thompson, teacher and historian in Oklahoma, describes the arrival of Parent Revolution operatives in Oklahoma City, come to sell the charter school snake oil. In the five years since PR managed to get legislation in California, only a handful of schools have been converted into charters, so apparently they started beating the bushes in other states.
Oklahoma has thus far escaped the promises and lures of chartering its cities to out of state entities.
I wish local charter leaders and philanthropists would disassociate themselves from the Parent Revolution and the agenda of competition-driven reformers. True believers that “the market” will magically solve education’s problems have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in failed experiments in Newark, New Orleans, Memphis and, now, Chicago and Boston. Last week, the secret $2.7 million corporate campaign for mass charterization of Los Angeles was revealed.
Those experiments mostly took bad inner city schools and made them worse. The one semi-success (New Orleans) spent incomprehensible sums of money, beyond anything we could conceive in Oklahoma, as it created a mostly all-charter system. It produced some gains through nonstop teach-to-the-test, but they came at the cost of pushing thousands of high-challenge students out of school and into the streets.
If we follow the Parent Revolution, we will be back to what we saw during the economic bust of the 1980s. OKCPS did its best, but our overwhelmed system had no chance of reaching the dozens of out-of-school kids who we used to see wandering through each of our high-poverty neighborhoods during the school days.