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Confessions of a charter school teacher or, why Diane Ravitch’s book, exposing charter schools is a must read for all teachers, parents. By Mark Friedman, one of the lucky “highly rated” teachers at Green Dot Public Schools. I worked at Green Dot public schools, a for profit charter organization, for 13 years in the LA inner city of Lenox, California. The school was 97% Latino, 3% black. In the initial years of the school, before it was taken over by profiteers and business oriented non-educators, teachers made all decisions. Parents were involved. Students had input. This was one of the few unionized charters and I thought, having been a union activist for decades, it would be different since it was unionized; Reading Diane Ravitch’s new book, Slaying Goliath, The Passionate Resistance To Privatization And The Fight To Save America’s Public Schools, really convinced me of the dangers charter schools pose to public education. Now I would never recommend any teacher, student or parent to enroll in a charter school and will fight their expansion with all my energy Green Dot changed and by the 2012 contract, teachers were suckered by union mis-leadership into approving a contract that included Gates high-stakes testing, teacher evaluation based on test scores by anti-union administrators, in exchange for $24 million across Green Dot schools over the years, it was a different animal. Only 1% received bonuses we were all promised. That year Ánimo Leadership administrators fired a teacher during contract talks as an example, and violated immigrant students constitutional right to free-speech. The GD home office agreed. I was suspended for defending them, but ultimately, won my job back through demonstrations by parents, students, media articles and 100 letters of support from around the world. Instead of recognizing their error, Green Dot held fast, intimidated teachers and parents, hired private investigators ($50,000) to intimidate teachers, students and parents and even promoted those administrators responsible. And by the 2016 contract talks, we found out that CEO Marco Petruzzi was receiving $350,000 a year, yet was fighting a minimal teacher salary increase. Ravitch’s book is a detailed account of the nationwide efforts and ultimate failure (despite some successes) of whom she calls “Disruptors” to privatize public education, institute vouchers for private and religious schools, so-called peer evaluation of teachers linked to merit pay, and over testing of standardized tests. Despite billions spent by the Obama and Trump administrations (Obama’s education guru, Arne Duncan was a rabid charter supporter), Gates, Broad, Walton, Koch, Bloomberg and other multi billionaires, continuing today with education Sec. De Vros, hundreds of thousands of parents, coupled with the wave of teachers strikes in 2019, are realizing the lies and are resisting. The Los Angeles teachers strike was another victory over the privatizers. Here are facts from the book about efforts to privatize public education, bleeding money from 90% of students to support 10% *Charters operate by stealth giving billions to finance local school board pro charter candidates *Public schools are closed (50 in one day in Chicago by former Democratic Party mayor. R. Emanuel) and 50 charters opened *Charter schools assault democracy and democratic elections of school boards through massive funding. *The federal government gives one half billion a year to charters while public schools are underfunded. Similarly, local districts. *Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP and Parent Teachers Associations actively fight charters *Charters openly discriminate against certain classes of students; parents are often forced to volunteer hours or pay fees, which is illegal (done by Green Dot public schools for a decade) *Charters have re-segregated public schools and are all viciously antiunion. That is their origin and goal. *Teach for America is a pro-charter privately funded organization with a high turnover rate, inexperienced, short-term teachers. *In New Orleans, after hurricane Katrina, all the public schools were converted into charters, all teachers were fired and replaced with TFA youth. The mostly Black teacher’s union was replaced with mostly college graduate whites, with promises to pay off their student debt if they taught for a couple of years. 15 years later, students still score below the state average. *Gates spent $2 billion to implement Common Core, and to force schools compete for Obama’ s “Race to the top” billions. *The profits by private charters, millions in graft, theft of equipment and services, nepotism describes hundreds of charters. *After hundreds of millions have been sucked from the public schools to finance charters, a RAND report said there was “No improvement by students in achievement, graduation rates, or dropout rate. These efforts did not change the quality of the teachers, who are always the ones blamed” (as opposed to the large class sizes). Underfunding of public schools, especially in hard-hit Black, Latino and working-class communities and the nature of education under capitalism are the real problem.