Monday, September 10, 2012

Wealthy Businessmen Decide to Give Up on Creating Great Schools for Low Income and Middle Income Students – Now Creating Private Schools for the Very Wealthy

But Not to Worry – A Few Scholarships Will be Issued so the Wealthy will Know Some Poor Folk

Once upon a time the drive to create better schools was so that low income and middle income families could provide their children with the same opportunity as those children who had the good sense to choose wealthy parents.

THE first time he tried to create the “next generation of schools”, back in the early 1990s, Chris Whittle’s focus was on improving the education of the poorest pupils in America’s worst-performing public schools.

What happened?  Well the project failed, in large part because of mis-management and in large part because guess what, poor people cannot afford good schools.  That’s why they are poor.

So now the so-called supporters of better education have discovered something new, or at least new to them.  Rich people will pay huge dollars to send their children to private schools.  So profit making private schools, here we come.

Now, with Benno Schmidt and Alan Greenberg, he is trying to reinvent education for bright, rich kids. On September 10th “Avenues: The World School”, the first of a planned global network, will welcome 700 pupils into a lavishly converted warehouse next to Manhattan’s popular High Line park. Their parents will typically pay just under $40,000 a year (in line with New York’s established top-tier private schools), having been promised cutting-edge technology and everything else to match.

Yep that ought to do a lot better.  And as for those parents who cannot afford $40 k a year, well there is this.  Mr. Whittle is not completely without compassion.

He admits to some regret at the lack of an overt social mission to help those who are failed most by America’s education system. On the other hand, he points out, Avenues has set aside $4m a year to fund full scholarships for 100 (or partial scholarships for more than that) of the school’s eventual 1,600-strong student body.

Yes, 100 poor people and 1,500 wealthy people.  He calls it scholarships, the rest of us call it abysmal.  But maybe the poor students will catch a break, like a work study programs where they learn janitorial services by cleaning up after the rich students.

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