The inefficiency of government is a convenient lie to push when it means private-sector inefficiency can evade scrutiny.
Fortunately, the Newark schools project is getting some scrutiny — but I think even the fantastic pieces by Bob Braun and Joan Whitlow are only the tip of the iceberg.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall when it comes to the “efficiency” of spending the first million dollars of the FaceBooker deal in Newark. We’re getting private foundations to improve the public schools by polling the public about data the public won’t be able to see until the results of the private experiment have been put into place.
If gathering information for PENewark is all about getting input from the public, will information about the collection of that data also be on view for the public?
Especially when their deep investigation only entails a 0-3 scale of the following elementary concepts:
-Local public schools encourage parents to participate and contribute ideas on what it takes to improve education.
-How much influence do parents, volunteers, caregivers, and community members have over public education?
-I know how well schools in my neighborhood are performing.
-How well do you think the schools are performing in your neighborhood? (*Shouldn’t this be conditional based on the question before it…?)
-From which of the following sources are you able to learn information about public education issues? tv, print, radio, community organizations, internet, elected officials, family and friends
-Tell us your ideas!
I have more questions than I do ideas. For starters, do any of these questions matter? There’s no value judgment on community input, incidentally, meaning they’re asking questions with no actual direction.
Upon poking around a little further, I also found the sole blog entry, by a parent — although you always have to wonder whether it’s a parent or a PR agency (based on the contact found here)
As a parent, I jumped at the opportunity to share my thoughts. My hope is that every other resident throughout our city will do the same. As parents and community members, we know best what our schools offer and what needs to be fixed.
I think a followup blog post written by “this parent” about her specific ideas as “someone who knows best” would be a lot more interesting than one just about the fact that she does have the winning ideas. (And please be more interesting than referring me to Waiting for Superman.)
Obviously there will be scrutiny, but will there be enough? Will there be enough access to even ask the right questions? When you click on the links at the bottom of the press release announcing the “Newark Education Opportunity” it takes you to sites that don’t exist (the 2009-2013 strategic plan), back to the originating page, or to a website that’s a storefront to give money to PENewark
It gives a clear answer, all right: you will not find any answers — only ways to give money.
Of course, the best thing I’ve ever read about the issue (Diane Ravitch’s brilliant NY Review of Books piece) doesn’t claim to have the answers, but it has a lot more answers than people who do claim to have one. It’s about poverty, not about teachers.
However, everyone involved in the charter-schools-as-panacea charade is fantastic at teaching one subject: misinformation.