Friday, May 6, 2016

The Free Market Does Not Work for Education

The initial spark for this piece was going to be this story out of Philly, where parents are shocked, upset and frustrated to learn that the charter their children are attending is bailing on them at the end of this year. 

But at this stage of the game "Charter Closes Doors and Abandons Students" is completely unremarkable, like breathless coverage of the sun rising in the East. The Center for Media and Democracy has done huge work on this, producing a map of the 2,500 (that's two thousand, five hundred!) charter schools that closed by 2013. CMD has also ramped up pressure on the US Department of Education, which loves charters, pushes charters, throws money at charters-- but in its "transparent" reporting claims to have no idea how many charters have actually closed. (Meanwhile, CMD continues to dig out the truth about charter scamming like this amazing report about KIPP. Do you contribute to the CMD? Because you really ought to.)

Why do so many charters close? There's no mystery to it. Here's a quote from the Philly charter CEO:

Kenderton is facing significant financial challenges due to a number of factors, including the school's rising special education costs. As a result, Scholar Academies has concluded that, next school year, it is no longer able to manage the school in the best interest of kids.

Charters close because charter schools are businesses, and businesses close when it is not financially viable for them to stay open.












The free market will never work for a national education system. Never. Never ever.

A business operating in a free market will only stay in business as long as it is economically viable to do so. And it will never be economically viable to provide a service to every single customer in the country.


All business models, either explicitly or implicitly, include decisions about which customers will not be served, which customers will be rejected, because in that model, those customers will be detrimental to the economic viability of the business. McDonald's could decide to court people who like upscale filet mignons, but the kitchen equipment and training would cost a whole bunch of money that would not bring a corresponding increase in revenue, so they don't do it.

In a particularly apt example, FedEx and UPS do not deliver to the remoter rural areas. If you hire FedEx to deliver a package to your uncle at the end of Bogholler Road in Outer Ruralsville, what they will actually do is sub-contract the United States Post Office to finish the delivery for them.

Note what the CEO said above. Special ed students are too expensive for their business model. When we see across the nation that charters largely avoid students with severe special needs, or English language learners, this is not because the operators of those charters are evil racist SWSN haters. It's because it's harder to come up with a viable business model that includes those high-cost students. Likewise, you find fewer charters in rural and small town areas for the same reason you find fewer McDonald's in the desert-- the business model is commonly to set up shop where you have the largest customer pool to fish in.

Of course, you can game this system a little by creating government incentives. Uncle Sugar can say, "We'll give you a tax break or a subsidy if you will go serve this customer base that it ordinarily wouldn't make economic/business sense for you to serve." But now it's not a free market any more, is it?

Look. As always, I'm not arguing that business-people are inherently evil and dastardly and wrong. But the values and mission of a business in a free market are incompatible with the values and mission of public education.

The first question of the public education system has to be, "How can we get a great education for every single child in this country?" The first question for a business has to be, "What model can we use that will keep this business economically viable?' And the answer to that question will never, ever be, "By providing an education to every child in this country." There will always be students who live in the economic cracks, niche customers that no business wants because there will never be money in them. Some charter fans suggest, either explicitly or implicitly, that educating those students will be the job of public education. But that represents a dramatic and complete re-imagining of the purpose of public education, and to repurpose an entire public sector without a public discussion is irresponsible and undemocratic.

In the meantime, charter schools will continue to close when it makes business sense to do so, no matter what sorts of promises they made to the families of their students. Charter schools think like businesses, not like schools, because charter schools are businesses. We cannot be surprised when they act like businesses, and we cannot keep hiding from a discussion about the implications of turning that business mindset on a public good.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Water, Charters, and Obama

This is what President Obama said in Flint, Michigan.

It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how responsible you are, how you raise your kids. You can’t set up a whole water system for a city. That’s not something you do by yourself. You do it with other people. You can’t hire your own fire department or your own police force, or your own army. They’re things we have to do together. Basic things that we all benefit from.

It's a really good thought, a clear and direct statement about the value of community goods, the things that we create and maintain in the common space.

And yet somehow the administration does not see how this same reasoning applies to schools.

Of course you can't set up a whole water system for a city-- but, if you are rich enough and powerful enough, you can set up a system for yourself and let everyone else in the city go pound sand. Any public good can be purchased with private money, if your pile of money is large enough.

You can't set up a school system for a whole city any more than you can hire your own police and fire fighters. Which is to say, you can do it if you have the money. But it won't be for everyone-- just for the chosen few.

So apparently the President opposes the notion of a charter water system, a charter fire department, or a charter police force as a way to serve a whole city. He did not stand in Flint and declare that when the water system was a mess, the solution would be to let a bunch of entrepreneurs set up various competing small scale water systems as laboratories of innovation. He did not suggest that the right visionary entrepreneur really could create a great water system for the whole city.

It would be ridiculous to suggest that a conglomeration of competing water companies, fire departments, or police stations-- all financed with the same total funding used to run just one of each-- would be a solution.

The President clearly accepted that it's clearly ridiculous to suggest that a messy mass of individually launched public services could ever properly protect and maintain the public good. He clearly understands that letting money-motivated individuals mess with a public good leads to disasters like a poisoned water supply. So the mystery remains-- why does he not see that it is patently ridiculous to let such cash-chasing individuals loose in the public good that is education? Is one of these things really not like the others?

College Debt and Race

I don't have an explanation for it, and neither does anyone else, yet, but the news is worth paying attention to.

A study published in the Children and Youth Services Review compares education debt between low-and-moderate-income families by race, and the findings are disturbing:

Significant variation in education debt was found, as LMI Black students accrued $7,721 more education debt than LMI Whites.

Significant Black-White disparities in education debt persisted after accounting for degree completion and socioeconomic factors.

I don't have access to the full article, but Brookings published a brief report about it. Brookings notes that another study shows that white students generally have more assistance through family connections than Black students. That matches the sort of "social capital" patterns noted by Robert Putnam in Our Kids.

But a more likely cause is the type of schools that students attend. Black and Hispanic students are more likely to attend for-profit colleges, getting less bang for their buck and more debt for their trouble.

Put this together with recent published findings about college affordability in general, and we can see a growing crisis in college education. If college is supposed to be a doorway to a better tomorrow, that doorway is increasingly locked to many Americans. The administration has made the occasional noise about clamping down on for-profit schools, but it has been mostly noise only. Some folks advocate for more ratings and rankings of colleges based on government-issued formulae, but it seems to me that we're long past due for some clamping down on advertising-- particularly cynical race-targeted advertising.

After all-- we stopped letting tobacco companies suggest that their cancer sticks were the pathway to sophistication and sexiness. Why can we not clamp down on predatory colleges that promise the future and deliver debt? Here's one more reason that getting LMI students to raise their Big Standardized Test scores is no secret to college access or success, less like helping them grow big and strong and more like fattening the sheep for the wolves ("Look! You got a high PARCC score! You should talk to my friends at Gotrox University!") If this is how we're supposed to be creating racial equity in this country, well-- it's not working. In fact, it may be doing the opposite of working. Damn, but surely we can do better than this.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Teachers I Appreciate

It's Teacher Appreciation Week, and like every single adult human in the country, my story includes teachers who made a huge difference in my life.



I don't even know the name of my kindergarten teacher at Maple Avenue School in Claremont, New Hampshire (yes, I think that's it in the picture. God bless the internet)-- but she was the person who pointed out to my parents that my not-so-great Letter Identification skills might be directly related to my not-so-great Seeing Things With My Eyeballs skills. So I owe her for that.

Miss Gause, my elementary music teacher, sternly hunted down the boys sitting in the back of the room not even trying and made us match pitch. That was a small thing, but it got me ready for the music aptitude test which in turn qualified me to take an instrument which has been hugely influential in my life. She made a small choice and it made a huge difference.

Mrs. Fulmer and Miss Eakin let me bring elementary education to grinding halt periodically as I read to my classmates my latest works of fiction. I still have most of them. I have read them, and I can assure you that they were completely void of any signs of Future Promise. But my peers liked them well enough, and my teachers' patience introduced me to the world of Making Things Can Be Cool.

In eighth grade, Mrs. O'Keefe showed me that not only could English class be cool and fun, but because the mission was to get better at reading, writing, listening and speaking, the possibilities for things you could study and projects you could do was virtually endless.

I found Mr. Bianchi's class painfully boring-- but at the same time, I was in awe of his supernatural levels of patience. If he had to go over something for an entire period in order for a student to get it, then he would go over it for an entire period, without ever making that student feel dumb. Years later, it was Tony's retirement that got me my first permanent gig in the high school. He also gave me my first copy of Confederacy of Dunces.

Mr. Lore taught biology, a class I was sure would never be of any use to me (I had already discerned that science was not my gift), but the class was rigorous and challenging and introduced me to a whole new level of intellectual exactitude. I never took a single college course in biology, and this high school class was still some of the best college preparation I ever had.

Mr. Eichholtz showed me how electrifying it could be to have a teacher whose whole passion and excitement was invested in what he taught. Everything in his class was interesting because he thought it was interesting-- in fact, while he was teaching it, at that moment, it was the most interesting thing on earth.

When I headed off to college, I met more teachers who helped chart my course. Dr. Zolbrod gave the best meetings ever-- the man could go over my less-than-stellar paper with me and leave me feeling like a writing champion. He was also a master of seeing what a student needed, and steering them toward that very thing; he showed me how to let students find their own way in their own time to their own place-- even guys like me who were far from star pupils.

Probably no teacher influenced me as much as Mr. Frye. He started me out on trombone lessons when I was in fifth grade, and he was my band director for the next eight years. I did not appreciate at the time how gifted he was in his ability to just step back and let students step up, rather than insist on Harry Dinkle levels of total control. In his band (which was never his band-- it was always our band) we learned about leadership and ownership and working with other people as a team. Plenty of people came out of his program to become professional musicians and music teachers, but he also produced an amazing number of people who did something else entirely-- but always kept music somewhere in their lives. I went to college and met people who had played in high school and never wanted to touch an instrument again, and I was flabbergasted. Music has been at the core of who I am my whole life; if I had had a different band director, I would literally have grown up to be somebody else, somebody completely different from the person I am today.

I never felt that any of the teachers who really affected me were trying to mold me or shape me or turn me into something in particular. I expect that like any other small human I would have actively resisted any such attempts. In fact, on reflection, I suppose that I encountered teachers who did try to mold me, and I did resist, and as I sit here today, I don't even remember them.

No, the most influential teachers I had inspired me, and the very most influential ones saw me, and in seeing me and who I was and who I could become, helped me see that myself. I've never seen teaching as metalwork, where you take a slab of iron and use heat and hammer and brute power to force it into the shape you choose for it. It's gardening. You can't ignore or neglect what's growing there, but you can't force it into a certain shape at a certain time.



Those are the teachers I appreciate. Those are just some of the teachers who were an influence on me, and help me remember what teaching is supposed to look like. This, I think, is how I'll try to spend Teacher Appreciation week from now on-- not wondering if I'll be appreciated, but reflect on which people this teacher appreciates. Exercising gratitude is always a good exercise, as is renewing focus the mission. Have a good rest of the week.

Better Schools Dialogue: Part I

Last fall a little three way conversation on twitter led to this series of posts between Jersey Jazzman and Dmitri Melhorn on the subject of charter schools. Today another dialogue is opening here with the Melhorn. Recently Robert Pondiscio visited my comments section, I've had some good post-NPE conversations with Peter Cunningham, and Diane Ravitch actually chatted with DFER honcho Whitney Tilson

I know not everybody is excited about these sorts of things. "Why give these guys a platform?" Well, first of all, these guys already have access to huger (and friendlier) platforms than this blog. Second, I'm a big believer that pretty much anything can be discussed-- after all, listening to words does not oblige one to either agree with or act in harmony with those words. But as long as someone is willing to have a conversation in good faith, I'm willing to have that conversation (I define good faith as saying what you actually mean, hearing what the other person is actually trying to say, and trying to understand rather than score points). At a minimum, you can gain a better understanding of what it is the other person sees (I take it as axiomic that people mostly don't do things, even terrible things, because they are stupid and evil. Mostly.) and at a maximum you may find some points of agreement. 

I'll follow the standard back and forth approach here, letting each of us take our turn. Beyond that, there isn't much of a plan. We've agreed to start out with the general question of what a good/better/best school would look like. If you're unfamiliar with Melhorn, he's as reformy as they come on the nominally-left-leaning side of things (and he's got a book to plug). And if you're only familiar with him from twitter-- well, that medium does not exactly bring out his charming and diplomatic side. You're welcome to get your two cents in in the comments section; I will get mine in in the next post, and we will see if there are any points on which a hard-driving reformster and a c-list public ed supporting blogger can agree.


The Public School Every Parent Should Know About 


“Your son will have to repeat this grade"

For my mom, as for any parent, those words were scary. My kindergarten teacher explained further that I needed to repeat the grade because I had failed the subject of “chair sitting.”

Although my mom was a public school teacher herself, she decided I needed something different than the neighborhood elementary school. My parents scraped together the money for three years of tuition at a private Montessori school. Montessori was better suited to my needs at the time: upon my return to public schools, I was a full grade ahead of my chronological peers rather than a full grade behind. In other words, the three years I spent at Montessori made a difference of two full grade levels upon my return to public school.

My school days were not so unusual   

           My experience would not surprise education scholars. Sir Ken Robinson has shown how bad traditional K-12 schools are for many students, especially young boys. Even within traditional schools, Stanford University’s Eric Hanushek has explained that the difference between top and bottom teachers can be as much as a full year of learning per year of school (because, compared with an average teacher, a top teacher provides 150% of the learning per year, while a bottom teacher provides only 50% of the learning per year)

This scholarship helps explain parental behavior. Parents want children to have amazing opportunities, which is why taxpayers spend roughly $600 billion per year on K-12 public schools. Those who can afford to, however, also spend billions out of their own pockets for tutors, afterschool activities, summer camps, and sometimes even private schools. For parents who live near high-performing public schools, sending their child to private school means walking away from tens of thousands of dollars per year that they have already paid in taxes – yet it happens frequently.  Even in prosperous suburbs with high-performing traditional public schools, parents worry about rote learning, inapt content, unhealthy food, and uneven teacher quality. In less prosperous areas, for families with fewer financial resources, or for parents whose children have special needs, the system can feel like a brutal and hostile bureaucracy.  

The new public schools: tailored to the needs of all children   

That is why all parents should know about a new kind of public schoolAt these public schools, the technology, curriculum, and pedagogy differ from what we saw when we were students. Even the cafeteria is different: students eat whole foods instead of mass-produced tater tots stuffed with sugars and trans fats.  Tablet computers deliver customized content, such as books and multi-player games, automatically adapted to each child’s level and their style of learning. These tablets automatically measure student progress. With this ongoing monitoring, the kids never have to stop to take standardized tests; instead, the kids’ growth is constantly measured and communicated with both teachers and parents. These measurements serve as mere inputs to sophisticated assessment systems that adapt to each student and classroom and provide actionable feedback for both students and teachers. Computers also handle paperwork for the class, freeing teachers to focus on synthesis, mentoring, and individual engagement. Kids of vastly different backgrounds and abilities work together developing their full potential. The most effective teachers engage across many classrooms, communicating via technology to thousands of children.   

Just as fascinating as the classroom innovations are the economics. The school costs the same as any other public school (nationally, the average cost per pupil was $12,401 for the 2011-2012 school year). Their purchasing agents resist the lobbying of textbook, computer, and agribusiness lobbyists. They obtain nearly free content from the public domain.  They use bulk purchasing and their public mission to obtain steep discounts for hardware and supplies. The find that they can purchase healthy food, often locally grown, within existing budgets.  Additionally, mobile computing allows classrooms to go outside. Students spend so much time outdoors that they use real estate only occasionally – for athletics, performances, and certain kinds of hands-on learning. Overhead costs have plummeted, much as middle management costs were cut in the private sector decades ago.  All of these cost savings are re-invested in recruiting, training, and compensating teachers, helping attract and retain amazing talent.  

Where you can find these new public schools  

The biggest reason parents should know about these new public schools is that they don’t exist yet—at least, not entirely. In a chapter of the book Educational Entrepreneurship Today, released this month by Harvard Education Press, I describe how innovation has been blocked in traditional public schools, but how that is starting to change.  Along with several other authors, the book goes into considerable detail about how venture capitalists, venture philanthropists, teacher leaders, and public officials can achieve amazing public schools of the type I just described.     

We are already seeing the early stages of this kind of change. My Progressive Policy Institute colleague David Osborne has recently described how teacher-led schools have innovated to better meet student needs. In San Jose, California, the teachers union worked with the local district leadership to combine rigorous standards with student-specific safety nets; the result raised college attendance rates despite demographic challenges. More broadly, the teachers’ unions have started to invest in seed ideas that might lead to big changes. These efforts are not limited to cities and suburbs; for instance, a rural high school in Indiana has started to embrace “blended learning” that combines great teaching and digital empowerment. The private sector is also playing a key role.  Businesses are sprouting up to empower teachers: a former New York City public school teacher built a marketplace for lesson plans called TeachersPayTeachers, which has paid millions of dollars to teachers who have come up with outstanding ideas. More broadly, “teacherpreneurs” are finding ways to lead broad changes in the profession without leaving the classroom 

As with all public sector services, however, change requires public demand.  Parents who want these innovative new schools must be full partners in supporting teachers and political leaders in innovation.  They can do this by accepting risks, paying taxes, engaging thoughtfully, and setting high expectations. More and more, Americans are realizing that we have the tools, the resources, and the teachers to give our children the best school system in the world.   



Dmitri Mehlhorn is one of the authors in Educational Entrepreneurship Today  (Harvard Education Press, 2016). He is a Senior Fellow with the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy; a Senior Fellow with the Progressive Policy Institute; and a founding member of Hope Street Group. He writes frequently on public policy topics, including with platforms such as The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, Education Post, The 74 Million, and Dropout Nation. He is a husband and father, and a seed-stage investor with the venture group Vidinovo (which has no current or historic investments in K-12 education or technology).  
 

Better Schools Dialogue: Part II

Continuing a dialogue between me and Dmitri Melhorn on the subject of what a better school would look like. Part I was his opening statement; this will be my response.


As I mentioned in our correspondence, I think your piece actually lumps together a board assortment of issues. I'm going to follow the general flow of your essay rather that trying to create some coherent whole here.

I'm hugely sympathetic to this story of the child who flunked sitting still, because, as I've told elsewhere, my own son went through a bad experience in kindergarten because of a teacher with unrealistic expectations about how a five-year-old boy should behave. In the case of my district, there was a program for post-k, pre-first grade who had come out of kindergarten not quite ready for first grade. It restored his relationship with learning and school. 
That said, I find the idea of calling students "ahead" or "behind" not very useful, and the idea of measuring learning in "years" just absurd (how far can we break that down exactly—are there months of learning? Days? Hours?) What is 0.5 years of learning? 90 days' worth? Would that be the half from Sept-Jan, or is it the second half of the year? 
I also have to ask, "ahead" or "behind" what? Education measurement always runs into the same problem-- until we have a parallel universe-hopping time machine, we'll never know how you would have fared in a different educational setting (though I don't think that much of anybody thrives in a kindergarten classroom in which one can flunk sitting). 

I always happy to see what Sir Ken Robinson has to say about pretty much anything, but it is impossible for me to take Eric Hanushek seriously. I find his "research" asserting that six-year-olds with good teachers will grow up to be richer than their alternate-universe counterparts flimsy and unconvincing. But let's stipulate that we disagree on Hanushek but agree that in a good school, students would have good teachers. 

When you say that "this scholarship helps explain parental behavior," your implication seems to be that all this spending on private schools and lessons and tutors etc is because parents don't think their kids' schools are up to snuff, but I don't think it's that simple. First, I suspect some of these parents aren't looking for adequacy, but for an edge; in other words, my child may be getting enough algebra at school, but I want my child positioned to beat the other students, so a better school program will never make me happy, because I want my child to more better algebra than her peers. 
The other question, which might make a good one for us to discuss back and forth, is what level of service do we think schools should demand for all students. IOW, all students should get a good algebra program, but should the taxpayers be funding a big jazz and tap dance program? We've been having this argument about schools forever—what qualifies as a "frill" or an "extra"? And I suspect you and I would agree that in many cities, we've got folks deciding that X is not a frill for my students, but is absolutely unnecessary for Those Students.  
I do absolutely agree that to parents with few resources or students with special needs "the system can feel like a brutal and hostile bureaucracy. " And I don't think the bureaucracy that has sprung up around managing charter-choice systems has changed that. But I agree that it would be great if something did. 


There's a lot packed in your thoughts about your better school. First, the assumption that schools today are the same as the schools "we saw when we were students." I read many people who rail against public schools who seem to believe that schools are locked in amber and that their old school is still clanging along exactly as it did decades ago. I'm in a unique position myself-- I teach at my old high school, and as I tell my old classmates, things have changed a great deal. Point being that schools which differ from the schools "we saw when we were students" already exist-- and they exist on the exact same spot of ground where the schools you attended students once stood.
 Second, tablet-based personalized education—I've spent many blogs explaining what I think the issues are there (and I teach at a one-to-one school and would never turn the clock back, so I'm not a knee jerk luddite on this). I see many huge huge problems with the rosy description you offer (e.g. what if a student's style of learning is to not use a tablet?) A good adaptive, AI-driven engaging personalized education system doesn't exist-- and I don't believe it ever will. Certainly not in an economically viable form.
What you're describing is competency based education, and I don't think that dog will hunt. Nor should we want it to. I think a great school is human centered, built around human relationships and human community. That is not what computer-based CBE promises.
The food thing is-- well, at the very least it's an issue I don't recall reading about in much ed reform writing. But I have my doubts about feasibility. I teach in a rural area, with lots of local farming—and I don't think it would ever be economically sustainable here. 

You suggest controlling costs by using free content from the internet; I cannot imagine how you can have a robust, fluid and responsive adaptive tablet-based system that is based on free content from the internet. Your adaptive CBE system will be based on the content and software sold to you by the vendor. The part about lowering building costs by always being outside actually made me laugh—here in NW PA we have all four seasons and rank second only to the Pacific Northwest in fewest days of sunlight a year. I promised my students we would go sit outside for class the first day it was warm and not raining. I made that promise about two weeks ago—still hasn't happened.  
On the other hand, I believe that learning to deal more effectively with vendors is dead on.  My wife's school district tends to fall for whatever sales pitch they hear. Meanwhile, I work with a woman whose pre-teaching job was in the advertising department for a major newspaper chain. When sales reps start in with "We can only offer this much support for your level of purchase" or "I'll only be able to hold this price for a few more days..." She just levels her gaze and tells them what they are going to offer us and how long they are going to wait for our call.  Educators are way too polite and friendly with sales reps. 
But your overall notion that there are places where we could cut fat out of the costs of school are precious. There isn't a district in the country that hasn't cut costs in every way they can think of. That, actually, is part of the problem (along with policy mavens who insist that we shouldn't throw any more money at education).

I'd ask you how you think innovation is blocked in public schools, because I think this is an underexamined sticking point in the education debates. There seem to be many conversations in which reformsters think that teachers and other educators are just being stubborn, while teachers and educators think that reformsters are suggesting ridiculous things. Ed reform advocates seem to consistently underestimate the value of teacher experience and expertise. Ed reformers and, I think, teachers themselves tend to underestimate the effects of Reform Fatigue. I've been teaching for almost forty years, and there has never been a year when someone (with no actual classroom experience) hasn't been telling me about a Revolutionary Idea that was going to Change Everything. 

You suggest that venture capitalists and venture philanthropists can help, but I do not see how. Venture folks expect returns on their investment, either in terms of money or a system that conforms to their notions of How Things Should Work. Achievement is swell. I'm much more interested in sustainability. What happens to Edpreneur High School when the Gotrox Venture Capital Group decides it's no longer in their interest to keep propping up the EHS budget? And how does the community voice factor in when the pursestrings are held by unelected guys in some boardroom?

As you might expect, I'm interested in teacher-led initiatives (though I'll cop to a bias that a venture started by someone who put in two years with TFA is not my idea of a teacher-led anything). I think that teachers could get themselves up and leading a little more often, though some districts are infinitely more hostile to teacher initiatives than others.


And in your last paragraph, when you call for support and commitment from many parties, I think we agree. I'm not, for instance, dead set against charter schools, but I am dead set against the charter laws that pretend that we can run multiple schools for the cost of one. Whatever program you want, get the real funding for it, and be honest with the taxpayers about it.  

So that's kind of all over the place. Let me close with a counter-proposal for some characteristics of a better school system.

Locally controlled-- the school must be accountable to its local community. A local school must be done with the community, not done to the community. As soon as you have folks coming in from outside telling the community what they need, so just hush up, we have a problem. That said, local control has to be balanced with some checks and balances. When local control says "Let's get those black kids out of our school" or "Let's stop spending money on anything that's not football," we have a different sort of problem.

Fully, equitably, and sustainably funded-- a quality education for all students, without any corporate strings attached.

A full and varied education under one roof-- deciding you would rather pursue science instead of the arts shouldn't require a complete change of schools. I'm a liberal arts education guy-- everybody under one roof should be exposed to a full range of human study with plenty choices for specific focus.

I could go, but this already rambly. I will run the response when it arrives.