MikeByrd.net | local knowledge without a net.

Toward indigenous reform of public schools as an alternative to privatized charter schools

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike Byrd on April 28, 2010

I won’t lie. In the last couple of years I’ve gone from not really understanding charter schools to being alarmed that they may, in the name of children, be just another gateway for public cronies to allow private companies to raid our tax revenues.

Privatization seems to be the absolute state toward which Metro Nashville Public Schools are headed in order to compete via market principles with the private schools.

MNPS Director Jesse Register recommends it privatize.

Karl Dean intends to privatize.

The Obama Administration is mandating charter schools in Nashville.

As a newly minted public school parent I’m concerned that we’re going to lose the public option. So, I’m looking for alternatives for reform of our insular school system without giving it and revenues to private investors who have no public mandate to act in our interest other than what they can acquire from it.

Here’s one idea from Austin, Texas (via Elaine Simon and Eva Gold in The People Shall Rule: ACORN, Community Organizing, and the Struggle for Economic Justice, ed. Robert Fisher, Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2009):

The Texas [Industrial Areas Foundation] persuaded the state education agency to establish a $20 million Investment Capital Fund, which provides grants for school restructuring that incorporates community involvement …. the funding stream provides an incentive for schools to work with Texas IAF [Alliance Schools Initiative] ….

In order to become an Alliance School, teachers must vote to join. Each Alliance School forms a “core team” of parents, community members, and school staff that identifies and addresses important issues. Through this process of collaboration and relationship building, IAF groups seek to establish a “relational culture,” where teachers and parents see and act on mutual interests.

Why not create an indigenous, community-based, self-reliant, grassroots public model to empower kids to higher performance instead of depending on wealthy, largely white corporations that flock to public money and flee from public mandates?

If various federal, state, and local government entities are bent on disassembling the public education system and selling schools off to the highest bidders and indigence raiders, perhaps those of us invested in the public option should consider building alliances that leverage resources to protect smaller portions of the larger system.

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2 Responses

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  1. Elaine Simon said, on May 6, 2010 at 3:28 am

    I found this while looking for my own blog site (which I haven’t used in so long I can’t recall it’s name) — and am gratified to see how you used our work. You get it. Go for it.

  2. […] whip for privatization). Democrats on education seem to prefer more social Darwinism, less participatory democracy. I have less confidence in them than in Metro […]


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