EdNext and the “Promise” of “Charter Choice”–But Let’s Not Mention the FBI
I have written a couple of posts of late regarding the results of Education Next’s 2014 public opinion survey, especially as concerns EdNext’s and its editor-in-chief Paul Peterson’s attempts to sell the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to a public that is only half aware of CCSS– and with the half who are aware increasingly rejecting those “common standards in English and math.”
(The New York Times will be sponsoring a CCSS debate on September 9, 2014. It has entitled its debate, “Embrace the Common Core,” and yet its own polling result shows overwhelming rejection of CCSS. As of this writing, the survey has approximately 41,500 responses– 89 percent of which are cast against CCSS. Apparently America is not too keen on the NYT-encouraged CCSS “”embrace.”)
Given the length of the EdNext survey, I have chosen to examine it– and Peterson’s cultivation of the education-privatization message– in a number of separate posts.
In this post, I take on the EdNext fostering of one component of what is euphemistically known as “choice”– privately-managed, public-funding-garnering charter schools.
There’s a lot of unregulated money to be made in “school choice”– so much so that the FBI is conducting investigations nationwide on criminal behavior rampant in America’s charter schools.
That the gross negligence of states to regulate “choice” has yielded fertile ground for criminal activity appears to have escaped any survey question posed by EdNext.
The hidden component of “choice” is the systematic dissolution of the traditional, local-school-board-run public school system. Indeed, EdNext is a corporate-reform-promoting nest that is especially fond of defunding traditional public education via under-regulated charter schools.
It is not difficult to find evidence of charter fraud and failure. Follow this link to read about charter fraud and failure in numerous states, including Florida, Ohio, California, Michigan, Connecticut, Illinois, Arizona, North Carolina, and DC. In addition, have written about the “charter success game” in Louisiana here.
Charters have been sold to the American public as an established solution to replace the “failing” traditional public schools, the undeniable scapegoats for America’s fabricated losing of the Dodo race of international education competition upon which national security purportedly hinges.
EdNext has been polling America since 2007 on its views of charters. Given its undeniable preference for “choice,” EdNext survey results demonstrate an attempt to capture the words necessary in order to shape public opinion as being in favor of “choice”– especially charters.
From 2007 to 2014, EdNext has asked this question (or one similar) of its respondents regarding charters:
2007: Many states allow for the formation of charter schools, which are privately managed under a renewable performance contract that exempts them from many of the regulations of other public schools. Do you support or oppose the formation of charter schools?
In 2008, EdNext altered its wording of the question to establish in the respondent’s mind the idea that charters are trustworthy via “meeting promised objectives”:
2008-09: Many states permit the formation of charter schools, which are publicly funded but are not managed by the local school board. These schools are expected to meet promised objectives, but are exempt from many state regulations. Do you support or oppose the formation of charter schools? [Emphasis added.]
What EdNext does not state in the above question concerns exactly what “promises” these under-regulated charters are “meeting”– or for whom. Perhaps the very “promises” these charters are keeping have led to a nationwide FBI investigation.
In 2010, EdNext again modifies the question slightly, this time adding a nonsense filler intro, “as you may know.” This addition clouds the question, for it introduces the idea that respondents “should know” about charters. How such an unnecessary addition to the question wording influences respondents is not known. All that EdNext managed with adding such verbiage is to take an already-slanted question and make it worse:
2010-14: As you may know, many states permit the formation of charter schools, which are publicly funded but are not managed by the local school board. These schools are expected to meet promised objectives, but are exempt from many state regulations. Do you support or oppose the formation of charter schools? [Emphasis added.]
Basking in delusion, in an article on its 2010 results, Peterson et al. describe the above charter question as follows:
After describing a charter school in neutral language, the survey asked respondents if they favor or oppose “the formation of charter schools.” [Emphasis added.]
“Neutral language”? Not quite. The 2007 version of the question was “neutral.” From 2008 onward, not so.
The 2008-14 versions of the EdNext charter question above are loaded. The implication that charter schools are “exempt from state regulations” is muted by the blanket assurance that charters “are expected to meet promised objectives.” In other words, charters are “exempt from regulation” yet somehow “regulated” by an invisible entity referred to in the mysterious passive voice.
America’s charter schools are under a widespread FBI investigation for “meeting” the undeclared “objective” of self-serving corruption.
Bilking public education out of under-regulated millions just might be that “met promise.”
Let’s just set that little problem aside for a moment as we examine EdNext responses to the above similar question over the years. I realize that the question wording has issues, but it is the best that I have available in order to examine some hint of public perception of charters over the course of the EdNext survey. Here is the 2007-14 survey respondent trend for the above “support/oppose charters” question:
Completely support: 19% 16% 14% 12% 16% 17% 18% 21%
Somewhat support: 25% 26% 25% 32% 27% 26% 33% 34%
Neither support nor oppose: 42% 41% 44% 36% 39% 41% 24% 18%
Somewhat oppose: 8% 10% 10% 13% 11% 10% 18% 20%
Completely oppose: 6% 6% 7% 6% 7% 6% 8% 8%
Not much of an argument for the public approving of charter schools. The most notable change is in the neutral category; in 2013 and 2014, the general public has chiefly moved from neutrality to either somewhat supporting to somewhat opposing those “promised objective meeting” charters.
“Somewhat support” is not wholehearted support. It is support with reservation— and some more reservation is evident with the increased “somewhat oppose” category.
The NAACP and its sister organizations are correct that charters are “overrepresented” in minority communities.
Peterson and West maintain that this “overrepresentation” is no problem because African-Americans want charters– that charter support is “on the rise.” In 2010, 47 percent of African-American survey respondents indicated “somewhat supporting” charters. Again, “somewhat support” is support with reservation. As is evident in subsequent years (2011-14), African-Americans’ “somewhat supporting” charters took a dive, and “completely supporting” charters has been erratic– and is at an all-time low of 12 percent for the life of the EdNext survey.
African American (2007-14):
Completely support: 25% 15% 14% 17% 11% 17% 19% 12%
Somewhat support: 22% 27% 35% 47% 27% 28% 34% 35%
Neither support nor oppose: 41% 48% 42% 23% 49% 42% 23% 24%
Somewhat oppose: 5% 9% 7% 9% 9% 9% 16% 20%
Completely oppose: 7% 1% 2% 5% 4% 4% 9% 9%
Hispanic respondents also indicate no established increase in either “complete supporting” or “somewhat supporting” charters over the course of the life of the EdNext survey. Both Hispanic and African-American respondents have shown a dip in neutrality in 2010 followed by increased neutrality in 2011-12 — and both groups evidenced notable increases in “somewhat opposing” charters in 2013-14.
What is clear is that neither Hispanics nor African Americans are “completely supporting” or “somewhat supporting” charters more than the general public has in several years.
Completely support: 19% 14% 17% 14% 18% 12% 19% 19%
Somewhat support: 25% 23% 23% 33% 20% 22% 34% 34%
Neither support nor oppose: 39% 46% 52% 33% 45% 53% 23% 19%
Somewhat oppose: 10% 11% 5% 16% 8% 9% 16% 22%
Completely oppose: 7% 6% 3% 5% 9% 4% 9% 6%
Regarding the results of the 2014 EdNext survey, Peterson tries to paint charters as being “chosen” by African Americans:
Charters attract a larger share of African Americans living with school-age children (15%).
Peterson also tries to paint stagnant support for charters as a positive “surviving of negative press.” He notes sunnily,
…Charter proponents continue to hold a near two-to-one advantage over opponents.
The only way for Peterson to paint that “two-to-one advantage” is to collapse the “completely support” and “somewhat support” categories to produce optimistic general charter “support.” He does not acknowledge the reservation behind selecting “somewhat support” as opposed to “completely support.” He also wholly disregards the burgeoning charter scandals as not only potentially stifling any growing charter support but also contributing to increases in the “somewhat oppose” and completely oppose” categories.
He never addresses charter scandals at all. Imagine if he had asked this version of his charter question:
As you may know, many states permit the formation of charter schools, which are publicly funded but are not managed by the local school board and are exempt from many state regulations. Charter schools are prone to scandal, as evidenced by a recent nationwide, FBI investigation. Do you support or oppose the formation of charter schools?
I’m thinking the “completely oppose” category would suddenly become rather popular.
In 201o and 2011, EdNext reported results for the subcategories of “charter sample” and “charter parents.” The “charter sample” appears to be comprised of individuals living in zip codes in which at least one charter school is located.
Charter Sample (2010 and 2011):
Completely support: 15% 18%
Somewhat support: 33% 31%
Neither support nor oppose: 32% 36%
Somewhat oppose: 14% 9%
Completely oppose: 6% 5%
The above charter sample results do not differ markedly from those of the general public in 2010 and 2011.
What is of greater interest is the subcategory, “charter parents.” In short, the charter parents were not sold on the very schools their children attended. In 2010, the largest category was “somewhat support,” and in 2011, the largest category was the neutral category.
If parents are choosing their children’s schools, wouldn’t one expect more support for those chosen schools?
Do charter parents feel “stuck” over time?
There is no way to know this based upon the EdNext survey. Peterson et al. do not ask. Furthermore, Peterson and his followers chose not to document any possible trend regarding charter parents’ views of the very schools they were supposed to have “chosen” for their children. (In reality, “choice” is actually “forced choice.” Consider the disillusioning Walton-funded OneApp process for “choosing” charter schools in New Orleans. In New Orleans, “choice” isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Those in charge even try to reshape this charter open enrollment fiasco as evidence of “demand” for schools in a nation in which education is compulsory.)
In 2011, both the African-American and Hispanic subsamples also evidenced a marked increase in neutrality regarding charter schools.
Charter Parents (2010 and 2011):
Completely support: 17% 18%
Somewhat support: 40% 26%
Neither support nor oppose: 27% 48%
Somewhat oppose: 12% 5%
Completely oppose: 4% 4%
If Peterson and his EdNext followers really wanted to know what charter school parents think of “choice”– and the degree to which “choice” is “forced choice”– they could ask in their survey. They could ask charter parents why they do not “completely support” their “chosen” schools.
They could also ask charter parents what exactly has them “somewhat supporting” or “neither supporting nor opposing” their “choice” schools.
The opinions of the general public on charter schools are not as telling as the opinions of those actually utilizing the charter schools.
But it appears that EdNext minds are already made up. Charter schools are good–and there will be no asking for potentially contradictory specifics from those who actually *choose* them.
And certainly no questions connecting charters and the FBI. I mean, that would be really bad for charter “choice.”
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