Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chester Pa. School District is Bankrupt; Teachers Are Willing to Work for No Pay; Charter School Run By Profit Making Not for Profit Doing Fine

Well, Some of the Kids Are Okay

The Chester, Pennsylvania School District is one of the most troubled in the nation.  It is in a very poor area, and the district either through mismanagement or the lack of economic resources, or lack of state aid is in dire straights.  Only emergency cash ordered by a judge is allowing some bills to be paid. 

The District made headline news earlier when teachers said they would work without pay if there were no funds to meet payroll. 

The district’s teachers tried to ease the pressure by voting to work without pay as long as they were able, a gesture that drew considerable attention. One of the district’s teachers, Sara Ferguson, was invited by Michelle Obama to attend the State of the Union addresslast month, and she appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Thursday.

And it is not as if the district hasn’t been cutting spending, you know, the Conservatives approach to every government problem.

On a recent Monday, students ran and shouted on the Columbus playground. In the latest round of budget cuts, the school lost its art teacher, its music teacher, its technology teacher, its staff person for the library and even the money for its fledgling band. “The children have gym, gym and gym,” Ms. Ferguson said.

When Ms. Ferguson began teaching here in 1991, she was one of 11 fifth-grade teachers, she said. Now there are only two.

So we have a very poor school district that is in severe crisis.  But only part of the district is having problems, it seems there is a charter school that is doing very well.

The charter school initially had less than 100 students in 1998, but it has grown to more than 2,600 on two campuses. At its West Campus, a gate with lions on the front and the school’s initials, CCCS, on the painted black iron bars give the impression of a private school. Its wooden lockers are open shelves, and its offices have security cameras that watch every classroom. Each student in third to eighth grades was given an XO laptop, a computer designed to be used by students in developing countries.

But how is the Charter school operated?  Well it is operated by a non-profit institution

Its problems are compounded by the Chester Community Charter School, a nonprofit institution 

So that seems okay.  Uh oh, wait a minute, read the rest of the sentence

that is managed by a for-profit company and that now educates nearly half of the district’s students.

Gee, a for-profit company is involved in public education.  We wonder what they are getting out of it.

The district argues that the charter is receiving millions of dollars in extra special education funds. And money to the charter also goes toward fees to the private management company of $5,000 per student. 

Okay, now everyone understands what is going on here.  The “non-profit” charter school is paying $5,000 per student to a private, profit making firm.  Let’s see, for 2,600 students that comes out to a management fee of $13 million in total for the for profit part of the operation. 

So what you have here is that a profit making firm is draining $13 million out of public school education, leaving half the students with schools where there isn’t enough money to pay the teachers. 

So why doesn’t the district just turn all of the schools over to the Charter group.  Probably  because they don’t have another $13 million plus continuing to pay all of the costs.

What a sorry and sordid story of American education.  And in Pennsylvania it is just going to get worse.

Chester may be a harbinger of fiscal decline. At least six other Pennsylvania school districts are bordering on insolvency, according to State Representative Joseph F. Markosek, the Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

And the final word belongs to the Federal judge who ruled against the Charter school group when it tried to sue to gets its bills paid by the District.

Judge Colins wrote that there was no evidence that the charter had been obliged to make any cuts or had tried to renegotiate its contract with the for-profit management company “to reduce its unusually large management fee.”

1 comment:

  1. With the help of the Charter school hundreds of students that would have otherwise been trapped in the never ending cycle of poverty and drugs and the slavery of the welfare state are having the opportunity to make something of their lives. Unfortunately Profit has become a dirty word to the Welfare state. This country and the thousands of Foundations established over the last 200 + years would not be here without Capitalism.