Tag Archives: Charter school

Wall Street wants your schools. We’re fighting back

Campaign for a Fair Settlement
a project of Action for the Common Good

Join the Tele-Town Hall
On Wed Oct 16th at 8pm EDT/5pm PDT interact in a discussion about communities around the country undoing corporate public school “reform”

Dear Carmen —

Wall Street bankers are stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from our kids every year. [1]

That’s not a misprint. As part of all the financial shenanigans they engaged in that broke our economy, they managed to entrap school districts around the country in “interest rate swaps” that were sold as ways to guarantee steady income for the critical job of educating our kids. Instead they turned out to be massive drains on school budgets, for example, costing Philadelphia $331 million [2] and Chicago $150 million (and another $36 million every year). [3]

In turn, that financial pressure on school districts (exacerbated by the drop in tax revenues from the Great Recession) has opened up opportunities for Wall Street banker-funded corporate takeovers of our public schools. For-profit charter schools, often online-only, have cropped up nationally, siphoning off critical public school investments, short changing our children’s future to line the pockets of private, usually out-of-state, corporations dedicated primarily to the bottom line.

Parents and teachers around the country have been desperately fighting back against this tidal wave of Wall Street-backed education “reform”. They know we need investment in our public schools so that every child has a quality teacher and access to a well-rounded education that includes history, music, arts, PE and vocational training, NOT investment in Wall Street corporations whose motivations have little to do with kids and everything to do with manipulating state regulation to protect their interests.

A key figure in this fight is prominent public school advocate, Diane Ravitch, whose new book, Reign of Error: the Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, shows how people are fighting back and winning. YOU CAN HEAR AND INTERACT WITH HER LIVE in a forum sponsored by the Our Schools network on Wednesday Oct 16th at 8pm EDT/5pm PDT. RSVP here.

Actor Matt Damon, the son of a public school teacher, says,

“[Diane is] America’s foremost historian in the areas of education policy, she’s a champion of public education, she’s a courageous speaker and she’s a truth-teller.”

She’s keenly aware of the impact that Wall Street’s stolen money and increased investments in for-profit education are having on our schools.

We cannot have great, education by having one set of publicly funded schools (charters and vouchers) that pick and choose their students, kicking out the losers, excluding students with disabilities and English learners, and operating free of state laws, and a second publicly funded system, required to take all students, including those rejected or ejected by the other system. Great school systems aim for equity, as the Finnish scholar Pasi Sahlberg says, and get excellence.” [4]

Join a discussion with Diane Ravitch on Wednesday October 16th at 8pm EDT/5pm PDT and hear how communities around the country are undoing corporate “reform” and creating equity and justice in their public schools.

It’s time we started getting those hundreds of millions back.

In Solidarity,

Brian Kettenring, Executive Director, Action for the Common Good

[1] “Riding the Gravy Train: How Wall Street is Bankrupting Our Public Transit Agencies by Profiteering off of Toxic Swap Deals”, ReFund Transit Coalition, June 2012, page 4.
[2] “Too Big to Trust? Banks, Schools, and the Ongoing Problem of Interest Rate Swaps”, Sharon Ward, PA Budget and Policy Center, January 2012, page 1.
[3] http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/19251143-452/amisha-patel-banks-soak-cps-as-schools-close.html
[4] http://dianeravitch.net/2013/10/10/today-the-blog-has-had-7-million-page-views/


Policing School Districts: The New Separate but Equal

In our last correspondence we received an overwhelming response to the Op-Ed articles about the struggles between traditional public and charter schools being housed in the same facilities. Your responses show that you are fully aware that the issues surrounding barriers to quality education are multifaceted at best. Our current blog discusses problems faced by parents who have attempted to place their children in better neighboring school districts. Share your feedback and respond to other responses posted.

Policing School Districts: The New Separate but Equal

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Not waiting for Superman

The Whole Story:
Invaluable Influence

Watch and share this video about Chicago teacher Juan Romero, an everyday hero.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman’” by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim. It tells the very moving stories of five children and their families as they seek better schools. Their stories demonstrate in a real and emotional way that the opportunity for a great public education should come not by chance or by choice, but by right.

Unfortunately, the movie is not just moving, but very misleading. The central themes of the movie—that all charter schools are good and all other public schools are bad, and that teachers and their unions are to blame for failing schools—are incomplete and inaccurate.

Our kids, parents and communities deserve the whole story. And so do our teachers.

We’re not waiting for Superman and neither should anyone else. Visit the AFT’s Not Waiting for Superman webpage at aft.org/NotWaiting to join the conversation on how we can help all children—not just some—get a great public education.

It’s clear we can’t rely on Hollywood to tell the whole story. Get the facts and help fill in the blanks.

And while you’re at it, remember to tell your friends and family the real story about today’s unions—working people working together for a better future.


AFL-CIO Working Families e-Activist Network