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Re: Charter Schools

In a message dated 12/2/00 4:15:53 PM, GeoBear@GEOBOP.COM writes:

<< School choice is a very complex issue. Currently, I tentatively support
both charter schools and vouchers in theory, but I think it would be nearly
impossible to establish either without bringing the corrupt elements that
plague public schools along for the ride. However, I don't buy the argument
that charter schools or vouchers drain funds from public schools. >>

December 3, 2000

Hello Colleagues:

Virtually all of the charter schools in the Chicago area are in Chicago. The
charter school proponents in the Chicago area have been trying to peddle the
charter idea in Chicago's wealthiest suburbs (e.g., Western DuPage County, on
which you can check the demographics) without success.

The reason? People in towns like Glen Ellyn and Winnetka and Lake Forest are
generally satisfied with their public schools and have a great deal of
influence over those schools when they want to exert it.

Just before thanksgiving (this year), John Ayers, head of Leadership for
Quality Education in Chicago, spoke on behalf of Charter Schools at a League
of Women voters meeting in Glen Ellyn. He was roundly criticized for
promoting something that people didn't need. He also presented the people (in
DuPage County) with a state report on charter schools which people in Chicago
had never seen. It included statistics on Chicago charters schools showing
that they are overwhelmingly segregated and in most cases staffed by
"teachers" who have no professional certification. One of the things that was
mentioned about that was the danger of unleashing uncertified (and often
unscreened) adults into classrooms where they have absolute power over
children. In my experience, it takes three to five years for adults to learn
the basics of classroom teaching, and as long for the adults in charge to
look over the novices. Anyone who shortens that process, takes many serious
risks, not the least of which is putting children at the mercy of crazies and
pedophiles. Often, these adults are the most charming when they are being
interviewed and hired. Be careful.

The hypocrisy of the "choice" movement when viewed from the inner city of
Chicago with a perspective that sweeps forty miles to include our wealthiest
neighbors (and if you really want to see wealth, check out the current real
estate prices for those three suburbs I note above, one of which is the home
of the Ayers family, by the way) can be seen clearly.

John Ayers, by the way, is one of the current dictators of Illinois education
policy. Leadership for quality education sets policy (and controls public
opinion through briefings, exclusive seminars, and prolific white papering)
the way the Heritage Foundation and similar institutions do. Most people here
who know an Ayers know his brother Bill (William Ayers). Bill Ayers is the
University of Illinois professor (and writer) who promotes small schools and
similar things. Bill and John, both sons of retired Commonwealth Edison
president and CEO Thomas Ayers, grew up in suburban Glen Ellyn, where they
attended large public schools, including the famous Glenbard West High
School. They now follow in their father's footsteps, albeit in the public
sector and through what they call the "philanthropic community". Their
father, Thomas Ayers, was one of the most important dictators of urban
planning policy in Chicago from the 1960s through the early 1980s.

I challenge anyone to find an Ayers who did a systematic critique of
widespread racial segregation. John Ayers's charter school in Chicago are
segregated, and he doesn't see anything wrong with that. Bill Ayers's small
schools in Chicago are segregated, and he doesn't talk about that.

Joe Nathan stopped by here about a quarter century ago to try to recruit me
to his projects. I told him "No" for the same reasons outline here. I still
have an autographed copy of his first book ("Free to Teach", 1983).

George N. Schmidt
Editor, Substance
5132 W. Berteau
Chicago, IL 60641

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