Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Media Analysis

Top Education Writer Fails on Charter Waiting List Myth
By Jim Vail

Reader writer Ben Joravsky and who's the guy on the right?

Arguably the best public school education writer in the mainstream media would be the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky.

He has lambasted the mayor Rahm Emanuel, exposed the Tax Increment Financing Districts or TIF scam, and parking meters fiasco. 

He regularly covers the Chicago Public Schools beat for the alternative weekly and usually gets it right.

His latest analysis on Barbara Byrd Bennett was spot on - he wrote how she is probably the mayor's best friend since he had to paid her her kickbacks to do his dirty work, such as closing an unprecedented 50 schools in mostly black neighborhoods. 

But Joravsky's last article entitled "Mary Pattillo's charter school research shows south-side students don't really have a choice," was lacking to say the least, and a bit dishonest.

Joravsky has written well-informed articles about the charter school scam; he called out the UNO people before that Mexican patronage house of cards started to collapse.

He points out in this latest article that parents who have "school choice" and choose charter schools earn more money than parents who send their kids to the city's neighborhood schools based on a book written by this sociologist from NU.

Ok, but big deal. Like who didn't know this already.

And I am always wary when you focus an article on public education via the work of academics, this one a professor from Northwestern University. The universities are in on the charter scam big time by picking up contracts, and in some cases even run charter schools like the University of Chicago.

Joravsky quotes the NU sociologist who states true school choice would allow poor children to choose wealthy schools like the U of C's Lab School or Parker School.

Parents told her other charter schools were too far away, or they didn't want their off spring crossing gang lines, Joravsky writes.

Fair enough. However, you get the impression that charter schools actually provide a decent alternative to regular public schools because parents better off choose them.

However, research shows the charter schools test lower than the public schools.

But the shocker was the ending to Joravsky's column: "Even the Charter Parents told me that they were glad they won the lottery," Pattillo told Joravsky. "But they were beleaguered by the process. I don't take the waiting list at charters as evidence that they want more charters. What they want is more high-quality schools."

Wait a minute here, hold your horses. Ben - what waiting list. I fired him an email to ask if he read Raise Your Hand analysis that proved the charter schools so-called waiting list is a hoax. There is no waiting list in reality. 

While a couple of them may have some parents waiting for entry - as all selective public schools in the city turn away thousands of children who apply, the fact is most charter schools are like many neighborhood schools, they are under-enrolled. Raise Your Hand provided a list of many under-enrolled charter schools.

Ben, you are merely regurgitating a falsehood put out by the very billionaires you lambasted earlier in the article. Relying on an academic from Northwestern will do that.

I met a charter school teacher at CICS Basil on Garfield who told me when she taught there she remembered two things - they spent a total of 3 months just testing the kids, and spent even far more time trying to attract children to their very under-enrolled school.

And parents tell this academic they want more high-quality schools, and Joravsky says amen to that?

So that means we public school teachers really are lousy because of these low test scores? 

Ben, come on. I know you've been dynamite on this beat for a while. But you gotta admit, this one needs to be corrected for the record.

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