Forget China’s Tiger Mom, Import Swedish Pay-to-Plays Instead??

8 02 2011

I was pondering the hot new documentary blaming teachers for charter school lotteries with a fellow Thinking Parent (Lynne) the other day. Not necessarily for-profits, just all charters and the desperate lifeline they represent in a rigged system and why that should be so, and who the real villains are, what the real solutions might be.

Then today I’ve been talking with another fellow Thinking Parent (Daryl) about the odd results of GOP mayors and governors seeming to be against the public in fact but all in the name of public service! See Chris Christie, Rick Scott, Rudy Giuliani, for example. See also how universities and even community colleges are being forced into more private funding as for-profits get more and more from the “public.”

Then along comes a story that both fits right in and warps the narrative further out of whack:
From Education Week:Swedish For-Profit Chain to Run NYC Charter School

“We’re making this as close to what’s happening in Sweden as is possible,” Ms. Hoey said.

The collaboration highlights the challenges in bringing such an education model to the United States. For example, while federal education law requires schools to report academic-achievement data based on a student’s poverty, race, and ethnicity, Sweden does not allow schools to disaggregate data for ethnicity or race. Instead, Swedish schools report achievement based on whether the student is a first- or second-generation immigrant and by the education level of his or her parents.

Importing education models is not unusual. Several popular curricular approaches, such as Singapore Math and the International Baccalaureate program, are imports, but whole schools built on other countries’ models traditionally have been associated with an embassy or a large immigrant or expatriate community.

That’s changing, according to Sir Michael Barber, the head of McKinsey & Co.’s global education practice and the founder of the Education Delivery Institute in Washington, which advises governments on education reform implementation.

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15 responses

8 02 2011
Crimson Wife

Sweden’s demographics are such that it doesn’t make sense to track different racial/ethnic groups. Swedes make up 85%, and Finns 5% (primarily along the border). The other ethnic groups each make up 0.5% of the population or less (and most of them are from elsewhere in Europe).

That’s very different than the situation here in the U.S. where the demographics are 65% white, 16% Latino, 13% African-American, 4% Asian, and 2% multi-racial. The pool of students in the government-run schools are even more diverse. Here in CA, white students are in the minority.

8 02 2011
Nance Confer

And any tracking will break down by zip code/income level. As usual.

8 02 2011
JJ

CW, if your point is that Sweden is very different than the USA, I agree! Which begs the question of why this model is a good idea for American schoolkids, even without the for-profit issue which is my REAL beef today. . .

OTOH, come to think of it China and Sweden have homogeneity very much in common with each other (just not with us!)

9 02 2011
Crimson Wife

I don’t know enough about this particular proposal to have an opinion on it. I like the multi-age grouping but that’s not exclusive to this chain (Montessori schools have been doing it for years).

9 02 2011
JJ

What review of the proposal’s class groupings is needed to acknowledge that for-profit international corporations aren’t the answer to what’s wrong in American public schooling — not even those based in America if there’s any such creature left in existence, never mind Sweden or China.

9 02 2011
JJ

I heard Ed Rendell interviewed yesterday about the anti-public extremism Americans have been willing to let try to make things better, particularly in public education, saying it would be Florida with Rick Scott where we’re likely to find out just how far is too far for us to take.

9 02 2011
COD

I was in a multi-age group (3rd – 5th) graders in a DoD school in 1975. It’s not exactly a cutting edge educational philosophy.

9 02 2011
Crimson Wife

So long as the school offers a quality education, I don’t care whether it is run by a for-profit or non-profit group. The track record for for-profit education ventures in this country, however, has not been a particularly good one (Edison, all the “diploma mill” colleges like University of Phoenix, etc). That would be my biggest concern with this particular proposal.

9 02 2011
JJ

Re: for-profits running public education for children, I keep thinking of Scarlett O’Hara’s lumber mills and how immoral was the treatment of the forced-labor convicts provided cheaply at public expense to be exploited for her maximum profit.

10 02 2011
Nance Confer

And now? With textbook and testing companies making huge profits off of the ps system? With all of corporate America dependent on the babysitting provided by the ps system? Seems like an arbitrary place to draw the line.

Not applauding any of it but, like the old tasteless joke, now we’re just haggling over the price.

10 02 2011
JJ

Definitely, no line-drawing on my part. More like straw-breaking.

10 02 2011
JJ

Warning if GWTW makes your eyes glaze over. 😉

There are two different arguments against Scarlett’s sawmills exploiting convict labor, as honest, productive enterprise. One is ethical but the other is practical — starved, beaten captive labor is ultimately less productive. In a healthy society’s culture, the norms and laws and power of story will all work to assure that these two arguments support each other in leading to the same decisions and defining them as “good” business, rather than cutting against each other as they did in Atlanta then (and in America now.)

It used to be that we talked about “enlightened self-interest” and understood that bad karma comes back to bite you. What I see is that our society cannot make education or politics or religion, guns or gods or governments, Wall Street or Main Street or health insurance, public pensions or private parenting, taxes or foreign policy, healthy again until we get these two back in alignment.

10 02 2011
JJ

And that will take (ta-da!) real education of the real people (never mind the corporate shills who just play real people on TV.)

For example, healthy cock of the snook to COD for real-life learning news from Crooks & Liars: GOP Freshmen Discover Health Care Hell

. . . we have this whacked up system where health providers are for-profit, health risk pool providers (insurers) are for-profit, and they rely upon innovation to drive profit margins up, rather than health risks down.

Nevertheless, Republicans are discovering the truth: The status quo is unsustainable, unaffordable, and discriminatory. Now what will they do about that?

10 02 2011
JJ

(cross-posted from “Do It For The Story”)

Nance, remember how we’ve compared homeschooling to a hammer?

A hammer is a tool without goodness or badness. It can be used to build or break, to help or hurt. It’s the same hammer however humans choose to use it. Thus it is the human and not the hammer who generates ethical power of story.

Charter schools are hammers and the corporate darlings who milk them for profits at the expense of the public (both coming and going) are humans using them to hurt more humans than they’re helping, by far. Did you see the latest Rick Scott-Michelle Rhee story btw?

Welcomed as a “movie star” to the state Senate’s top public schools committee, Rhee encouraged lawmakers to abolish teacher tenure, fire the worst 8 percent of teachers and then watch student achievement soar.

“As long as we have practices in place that protect ineffective teachers, we are not going to be able to move student achievement,” Rhee said.

The truth is if that Rhee-ly is all we care about, we could accomplish it more directly by simply firing the bottom eight percent of STUDENTS.

13 09 2011
“Partisan Polarization” Just Another Pathology of Hypercompetition? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] cocked a snook several times at competition versus collaboration in different spheres, wondering whether it’s gotten all out of whack and what those […]

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