Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines propaganda as “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.” And also, “ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also: a public action having such an effect.”
This is clearly the manipulative intent of many in the status quo education system, that is, to deliberately spread, with self-serving motives, a slew of rumors, allegations, misstatements, half-truths, and outright lies against the cause of parent and student public school choice, against the institution or movement of public charter schools, and against the sincere and hard-working people who are dedicated to doing what is best for students.
The proof is in the facts. And the facts speak for themselves. Here are the key propaganda talking points (excerpted directly from kidsnotprofits.com) being used by those in the status quo education establishment who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine, sabotage, and destroy parent and student public school choice and the public charter school movement.
“Charter schools are taxpayer-funded public schools that are frequently operated by for-profit corporations.”
Give credit where credit is due. The charter school haters groups actually made a statement that is partially true, that is, that “charter schools are taxpayer-funded public schools.” Given some of their other misleading statements, it is a minor miracle that they would concede this point. However, beyond that, these public charter school hater groups want you, the public, to believe that this issue of for-profit operation of public charter schools in California is rampant, out of control, and somehow unlawful or illegal. The use of the word “frequently” is downright false and misleading. In California, only 2% (about 25 of 1,200) of all public charter schools are operated or overseen by for-profit organizations. Currently, state law allows for-profit organizations to operate public charter schools in California. It is perfectly legal and lawful for for-profit organizations to operate public charter schools in California. Should it be changed? We think so, as long as it does not hurt parent and student choice, flexibility, and access to public school options that are in the best interests of students. Ultimately, such a change in education law is for the California State Legislature and our Governor to decide.
The Bottom Line: Would the charter school hater groups support a change in law to eliminate for-profit organizations from operating public charter schools? After all, keep in mind that, should California’s Legislature and Governor choose to eliminate for-profit organizations from operating public charter schools, these charter school hater organizations stand to lose their primary, negative, false, and misleading propaganda narrative altogether.
“These privately-managed schools receive billions in California taxpayer dollars every year.”
Billions? This statement too is downright false and misleading. Do the simple math. In California, only 2% (about 25 of 1,200) of all public charter schools are operated or overseen by for-profit organizations. So let’s attempt to do a simple, approximate math problem. There are approximately 600,000 California K-12 students enrolled in California public charter schools in 2016-2017. Of those 600,000 how many are enrolled in public charter schools run by for-profit organizations? Two percent of 600,000 is equal to 12,000 students. Assuming the state pays an average of approximately $10,000 in public funds per student per year, that translates to a total of $120,000,000 (one hundred twenty million dollars) total gross revenue received annually by this very small percentage of charter schools. That gross revenue amount is a miniscule total in comparison to “billions”, and does not count the countless expenditures for administrative, teacher, and staff salaries, facilities, equipment, supplies, curriculum, technology, and much more. Those in the status-quo education establishment purporting such nonsense want you, the public, to believe that these “billions” are all profit being pocketed by “greedy profiteers”, without questioning it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Bottom Line: What may be left over as a potential “profit” as such, if there even is one after all is said and done, is miniscule relative to what the charter school hater groups are trying to seduce you into believing that these schools are “receiving”.
“They are not required to follow the same laws and regulations that regular neighborhood public schools are required to follow.”
Exactly, and for compelling reasons that are foremost in the best interests of the public good. This greater flexibility granted to public charter schools by intentional design by the state of California itself, is to benefit parent and student public school choice. Why? So parents, students, teachers, administrators, and communities have a variety of different choices within our public school system. Parents and students need choices with greater flexibility that go beyond the very limited and rigid ways in which districts believe education should be delivered. Many districts tout that they already have all the choices that parents and students need. This is simply not true. If it were true, why are so many either students being chronically failed outright or are being underprepared for college and career pathways? What is in fact true, is that parents and students have the fundamental right to school and program choices that are created by a wide variety of educator and administrator innovations and imaginations, and not just the narrow choices overseen by one mindset that believes that education must be delivered one way.
The charter school hater groups want you to believe that being freed from many of the over-burdensome laws and regulations that govern district-operated public schools is somehow wrong. However, what these charter school hater groups fail to mention (by design) is that public charter schools are freed from many of these over-burdensome laws and regulations in exchange for a higher level of accountability, and to be able to both develop and share, with district-operated public schools, a variety of new and innovative models, programs, and best practices that will better meet the needs of 21st century learners, particularly those who tend to struggle in district-operated programs. Public charter schools, unlike district-operated public schools, must continually justify their ongoing existence every five years by renewing their charter petitions (the document that establishes their right to exist: detailing their education model, their mission, their vision, and their goals to achieve student success), through either a district, county, or State Board of Education charter authorizer. Every public charter school’s renewal petition process every five years must demonstrate that the school has operated in a fiscally prudent and responsible manner and that its academic achievement has been better than that of district-operated schools serving similarly situated student groups. Imagine if district-operated schools were compelled to justify their existence every five years by demonstrating high fiscal and academic accountability results similar to those of public charter schools? If the very existence of district-operated public schools were held to the same high fiscal and academic accountability standards as those of public charter schools, how many more district-operated schools would close than do charter schools every year? Beyond the renewal requirements, what also holds public charter schools more accountable than district-operated schools is that charter schools are public schools of choice. Parents and students choose them, of their own free will. In district-operated public schools, students are “assigned” to attend their local neighborhood school. District-operated schools don’t have to prove any quality or accountability in order to enroll students, which is why they have no incentive to improve their programs. Unless parents and students are aware of their public school choices, these district-operated public schools are guaranteed the enrollment of the students residing within their district boundaries, with zero accountability. Public charter schools, on the other hand, would have to close down their schools without the students who choose to enroll with them. Charter schools, therefore, must demonstrate to parents, students, and their communities that they are providing a higher quality educational program in order to survive. So who is more accountable to the public interests and the greater public good? By a landslide, it is public charter schools!
Additionally, what these false and misleading arguments by these charter school hater groups fail to mention is that California law already provides an opportunity for any district-operated public school or for the entire district itself to convert to public charter school status and thereby be also freed from over-burdensome rules and regulations, in exchange for the same greater accountability as charter schools. So why don’t these districts take advantage of that opportunity? The answer is simple yet tragic. Their actions speak louder than words that they don’t want to be more accountable to improve their schools and programs to benefit students!
The Bottom Line: Greater accountability is not attained by mandating burdensome piles of rules and regulations. Too many rules only serve to kill creativity, innovation, and imagination. Greater accountability is achieved by ensuring that all students have equal opportunity to succeed, and are effectively prepared for 21st century college or career pathways.
“They ignore requirements to enroll all students from the community – weeding out and turning down students with special needs.”
The negative and false propaganda narrative here is that public charter schools are somehow rampantly and intentionally engaged in illegal or unlawful practices. Once again, this narrative is false and misleading. California charter school law requires that “A charter school shall admit all pupils who wish to attend the school.” Public charter schools are schools of CHOICE. Unlike district-operated public schools, by law, students cannot be forced to attend any public charter school. Parents and students choose public charter schools, of their own free will, because they believe that a public charter school is a better option for their educational needs, interests, and goals.
While a very skewed and one-sided ACLU report recently found that about 20% of charter schools had language on their websites or in their materials that may be construed as possibly either exclusionary or exclusive pertaining to their enrollment practices or documentation requirements, the report, however, did not follow up to confirm that this language in most of the charter schools cited was unintentional. Nor did the ACLU report cite the numerous ways in which district-operated programs and policies may be construed as exclusionary as well. In fact, most of the charter schools cited in the ACLU report immediately responded to correct either policies or language that were specifically cited as being questionable. Immediately following this report, the California charter school movement also responded by calling upon all California charter schools to correct any and all language pertaining to enrollment or documentation requirements that may be construed as either exclusionary or discriminatory. Of course, the charter school hater groups never acknowledged this collective effort in the charter school movement to come into compliance with what was questioned in the ACLU report.
However, beyond the fact that public charter schools do strive to enroll all students who wish to attend, the charter school hater groups are talking out of both sides of their mouths. On the one side of their mouth, they complain and falsely accuse charter schools of “stealing their students”, as if your children were their own personal property. Then on the side of their mouth, they complain that charter schools don’t enroll all students. So which is it, charter school haters? Of course, the truth is that the narrative out of both sides of their mouth is false and misleading.
The Bottom Line It is up to ALL parents and students to choose which public school best serves their needs! Let parents and students decide which public schools best meet their needs and may the best quality public schools in all communities be the ones who thrive.
“Public education should be about kids, not profits. Instead of subsidizing corporate charter schools run by for-profit companies with taxpayer dollars, we should be using the money to strengthen our local neighborhood public schools for all California children.”
Such hypocrisy. These charter school hater groups pay lip service to the fact that “public education should be about kids, not profits”. Yet, for decades their track record of chronically failing way too many of your kids reveals their true motives. Through their actions, their primary motivation appears to be not about the best interests of kids at all, but rather to rig the public school system, using your taxpayer dollars, for their own self-serving interests rooted in power, money, and control. Why are these charter school hater groups demonizing and villainizing public charter schools in the first place? Because they cannot exert exclusive control over public charter schools using the same playbook rigging methods they have used for decades. They cannot rig charter school board elections to do their own bidding, or force collective bargaining contracts. And they certainly have demonstrated that they will not do the right thing and improve their schools and programs to better compete with charter schools through higher quality, innovation, and service. So what is left? Negative and false propaganda intended to demonize and kill the competition. Killing the “competition”, however, in truth and in reality, is about killing parent and student public school choice! Furthermore, there are no such entities as “corporate charter schools” as they claim in the above narrative. All charter schools are public schools, whether run by non-profit or for-profit organizations. As previously mentioned, in California, only 2% (about 25 of 1,200) of all public charter schools are operated or overseen by for-profit organizations. We agree on one point: that taxpayer dollars should be used to improve ALL public schools, both district-operated and charter, for the benefit of all students in all communities.
The Bottom Line: Look at their actions, not their words. Public charter schools are demonstrating tremendous success, through their actions, to be innovative, adaptive, and responsive to the needs of all 21st century students. The proof? More than 600,000 California public school students have chosen public charter schools, and another 175,000 students are on public charter school waiting lists. The status quo public education system is not attracting more students who are choosing them because, as clearly demonstrated by their actions or lack thereof, they are not willing to be responsive to the needs of 21st century students. Students who are, in fact, the customers of public education. The status quo system, fully vested in keeping the system as is, instead must, by their actions, resort to using millions of your taxpayer dollars to engage in deceptive and misleading propaganda tactics rather than dedicating those same taxpayer dollars to improving its schools to benefit students. What does that tell you, the public, by their actions, about what is really going on here?
“(Billionaires) Divert money out of California’s neighborhood public schools to fund privately-managed charter schools, without accountability or transparency to parents and taxpayers.”
The negative and false propaganda narrative that somehow billionaires are to blame for “neighborhood public schools” losing money may sound good to those who don’t like billionaires but in fact could not be further from the truth. Billionaires have nothing to do with nor have any control over public school funds. All public schools are paid from state allocated education funds on a per student basis. State allocation of these funds for schools follows each student. The public school in which a student enrolls is where the state sends the state funds allocated for each student. Parents and students have the fundamental, constitutional right to choose which public school best meets their needs. Therefore, if a parent and student choose, of their own free will, to leave a district-operated public school and enroll in a public charter school that they believe will better meet their educational needs, the state funds allocated to that student are transferred by the state from the previous district-operated public school to the current public charter school. That transfer is a direct result of parents and students exercising their fundamental right to freedom of public school choice, as it should be.
The Bottom Line: There is no billionaire middle man inserted in the process of parents and students choosing, of their own free will, which public school will best meet their needs and interests. Let parents and students determine, through exercising their own freedom to choose, which public schools receive state funds, and not those in the self-serving, status quo education establishment who seek to undermine that freedom of choice.
“(Billionaires) Cherry-pick the students who get to attend these charter schools – weeding out and turning down students with special needs.”
This false propaganda narrative is laughable. It weakly attempts to depict billionaires dictating which students are enrolled in public charter schools…. as if to evoke an image like in the classic Holiday movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, where the town villain, wealthy Henry F. Potter, played by the brilliant Lionel Barrymore, is depicted in the film selecting who is drafted for the war: “1A, 1A, 1A”. This negative and false propaganda narrative that somehow billionaires are to responsible for individually selecting which students enroll in public charter schools may sound good to those who don’t like billionaires but in fact could not be further from the truth. Billionaires have nothing to do with public charter school enrollment. As stated previously but bears repeating, California charter school law requires that “A charter school shall admit all pupils who wish to attend the school.” Public charter schools are schools of CHOICE. Parents and students choose public charter schools, of their own free will, as a better option for their educational needs, interests, and goals. Public charter schools, by law, shall admit all students who wish to attend, period! That includes students from all walks of life and with needs and interests across the spectrum.
The Bottom Line: There is no billionaire middle man to cherry-pick which students attend public charter schools. Parents and students make the choice, of their own free will. Let parents and students determine, through exercising their own freedom to choose, which public schools receive state funds. Let those in the self-serving, status quo education establishment who seek to undermine that freedom of choice improve the quality and responsiveness of their schools and programs to meet the needs and interests of 21st century students and may the best public schools prevail for the sake of all of our kids.
“(Billionaires) Spend millions trying to influence your local legislative and school board elections across California.”
The extreme hypocrisy of this narrative is beyond mind-boggling. Here you have the status quo education establishment spending hundreds of millions of dollars over several decades to attempt to influence and rig virtually every possible elected position, complaining about a handful of billionaires trying to counter the status quo’s long-standing rigging of the system by supporting a more balanced pro-parent and student public school choice group of candidates. Why is the status quo complaining now? Because this more balancing influence in the election process is finally resulting in more pro-parent and student public school choice candidates being elected to these offices. Who benefits from this investment in these pro-choice candidates? The public at large, namely parents, students and communities, that’s who! The public is finally waking up to the fact that parent and student public school choice is the great equalizer for all students in all communities to have more fair and equal opportunities and access to higher quality public schools, including many public charter school choices. Choice and competition drives higher quality across the entire public education system. So take a moment and ask, why should these billionaires care? What could their primary motivation possibly be? The charter school hater groups want you, the public, to believe that billionaires are profiting directly from public education funds. It is simply not true. Take a moment to ask: is not the purpose of the public education system, and the billions of our tax dollars spent annually supporting it, to effectively prepare young adults for college and career pathways in our society? Yet, tragically, the status quo public education system has chronically failed way too many of our youth. And isn’t it also true that those in higher education who educate millions of people and those in the private sector who employ millions of people have complained for years about new students and prospective employees lacking in the basic skills necessary to enter college and the work force successfully? Ample research verifies this fact.
Who ends up bearing the remedial costs resulting from the chronic failures of the K-12 public education system? It is the colleges, universities, and companies, that’s who. It costs them millions of dollars annually to subsidize the failures of the K-12 public education system. And isn’t it also true that billionaires tend to oversee and operate big companies that employ millions of people and therefore must compete with other companies globally? Consequently, don’t these companies require a well-educated work force in order to succeed and in order to keep these millions of people employed? Don’t many billionaires also donate generously to colleges and universities and have a vested interest in them using their dollars wisely? The answer is yes, across the board. So yes, billionaires do benefit from a well-educated work force. By ensuring a strong and healthy, well-educated work force, they can save millions of dollars in remedial cost burdens both to higher education and to the private sector so that their companies are better able to compete globally, and yes, sustain their companies with healthy profits as a result.
The Bottom Line: Ultimately, it is the greater public that benefits from a well-educated public that results from equal access and opportunity to quality public schools choices in all communities. Fewer people in prison (at a cost of $60,000 per year per incarcerated person), less violence and crime, fewer people on welfare and other government programs, and more people positively contributing to our economy and tax system. That, in turn, collectively reduces the financial burden on our society and elevates our existence as a whole. We, the people, benefit from a public education system that is rooted in a variety of choices, options, and opportunities for parents and students!