Monday, November 3, 2014

The Second Wave of School Closings is Coming to a School Near You- In the Suburbs

   A Guest Post by Alec Shantzis
The second wave of School Closings is coming to a town near you, are you ready?

Those of us that are watching see that there is a well organized, well planned and well funded, attack on public schools nationwide.  Financially starving a district into failing, then -using laws and policies recently put in place- taking over school districts, closing public schools, and opening charter schools.  Under the false face of “choice”, this strategy has been extremely successful in minority areas nationwide.  Glaring examples can be found in Chicago, Camden, Newark and New Orleans (where there is now a district with not one public school left).  School reformers are foaming at the mouth at the rate of investment return provided by charter schools  (thanks to a change in tax laws they double their investment in 10 years). 

 That was the first wave.  The second wave is coming, and this one hits home to me 

I teach in a focus school.  In New Jersey, a “focus school” is a school that is under state scrutiny. Our Asian students test well and our immigrant, Spanish speaking students test poorly.  This has brought us under official state scrutiny.

The RAC committee from the state comes and does walk throughs, makes demands, and sits with administration and a group of teachers to discuss improvements.  Administrators are under immense pressure to raise those low scores.  That, in turn translates into pressure and demands on teachers.  I am of the belief that our personal answer would be to fund one on one (or very small groups) instruction to help those English language learners, but that is not the focus of this writing.

 It is my strong belief that middle class schools nationwide are being set up for the second wave” of take overs.  The profit motive is too strong and the reformers too greedy and way too well organized for them to pass up this multi billion dollar investment opportunity.  Do you know of a school under state scrutiny where unreasonable demands are being made?  Are there comittees of state people coming to your school?  Do these comittees truly have the interests of the students in mind or are they handmaidens of a Governor/State DOE looking to assuage the financial appetite of their campaign donors? 

 We must not ignore the possibility that the forces allied against public education have much more in store than what has happened thus far.

 I would like to know if any of your have seen any of this activity and/or your thoughts about this.