Charter school infection

War criminal given immunity from prosecutionDo you wonder how this nation’s infection of immorality keeps spreading? For one, the Colorado Springs charter school Classical Academy is employing former Lt. Col. Nate Sassaman to coach its students. The Gazette front page today tells of Sassaman, the Army commander, disgraced but given immunity, who tried to cover up his men’s attempted and probable murder of two Iraqi captives on the banks of the Tigris River in 2004, is now shaping young minds and bodies of fragile charter school students. I say fragile because remember what kind of parents are sending their children to these “charter” schools.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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13 Responses to Charter school infection

  1. Avatar Marie says:

    Actually, I don’t remember what kind of parents are sending their children to charter schools. Maybe parents whose kids aren’t being served by the traditional public education monopoly? Parents whose kids need something a bit different for whatever reason? And who possibly can’t afford a private education?

    I’d say those kids are a lot less fragile than kids whose parents don’t care enough to challenge the status quo.

  2. Eric Eric says:

    North-East tract home, flag-waving, Bible-toting, hush-puppies.

  3. Avatar darksandal says:

    Our son goes to Buena Vista Montessori, which is, technically speaking, a charter. But it’s also an old Westside school that’s transitioning into being what used to be called a magnet school. Sassaman’s story is disturbing, and I’d be pretty fucking upset if he were my son’s coach.

  4. Avatar Marie says:

    I only take umbrage at the last sentence of Eric’s post. I would not want a war criminal teaching my children.

    Eric, if you had as much contact with the mommy crowd as I’ve had in the past 20 years, you wouldn’t hold such a sophomoric view of charter schools. Yes, there are some religious nuts who see these schools as a way to circumvent a secular education. But there are also schools for artistic and musical kids, brilliant kids, kids that don’t fit in at the local public school and are in danger of dropping out, poor kids in underperforming or dangerous schools whose parents want something better.

    That’s the whole point of a charter school. They can have a charter that allows them to cater to a certain segment of the population that is not being served well by the public education system, for whatever reason.

  5. Avatar Jonah says:

    Probably a reflection on the fact that the NeoCons have been steadily hacking away at the very concept of public education since the very beginning, before the Revolution. Public ignorance is far more expensive than public education, but the rich would rather our kids do factory work or field labor, and in the immortal words of Hitler, educated just enough to be efficient and profitable coolies.
    Not educated enough to question orders, govern themselves or even want to govern themselves.

  6. Avatar Swiss Miss says:

    Jonah is correct. If you want more information about how America’s public school system was adapted from the militaristic Prussian model, and then circumvented by corporate magnates such as J.P. Morgan and J.D. Rockefeller to churn out good little workers and consumers, read “The Underground History of American Education: A Schoolteacher’s Intimate Investigation into the Problem of Modern Schooling”, written by an award-winning New York Public School Teacher.

    Certainly, those who are sending their kids to the Classical Academy have shunned one type of brainwashing available in the public school system in exchange for another.

  7. Avatar Rebecca Fries says:

    So I am wondering how you base your version of Nate Sassaman? Do you know him or any of his soldiers personally, or do you, like so many of the masses, believe that if it is one the evening news, it must indeed be carved in stone? My husband served with 1-8 Infantry from 2003-2004 in Iraq under this man and my husband came home because of this man. My husband knew SSG Perkins, who had been convicted of the so-called drowning (the drowning where no body was ever recovered, by the way). I agree mistakes were made in that case but it does not make Nate Sassaman a “war criminal”. He is a great man who endured under a tremendous amount of pressure to the likes that none of us can even imagine. He was always out with his men when he could have been sitting safely in the distance. With his experience as a football player and his time well served in the Army, he would make a great coach and the parents of that school obviously agree. Thank goodness someone reads beyond the headlines.

  8. Eric Eric says:

    “So-called drowning?” How about the so-called pushed into an industrial torrent from which only one of the two young men survived? How about Sassaman’s so-called lying about it afterward? Hardly the actions of what you call a great man. If I can’t trust someone to tell the truth, I wonder what else will he lie about.

    No, I wouldn’t want that person influencing children.

    “Time well served” you say? Is that what your husband says he did in Iraq? Somebody’s pulling your leg.

  9. Avatar CJ says:

    The education system is a complicated topic. Our current system is pretty pathetic; I know, I went to public school, entered college deficient in many areas, took a lot of pre-req courses, and finally finished after 5.5 years. This is the state of your ed system. Many kids are simply left in the lurch because there are just too many of them for the school to adequately direct–especially given the lack of choices (with proper guidance) that a student is given. They cut out vo-tech so they could supposedly help those stuggling students to be able to read better and do math at the appropriate level. Well, the truth is, if you have a kid that had a reading problem in 4th grade, that same kid should not STILL have a reading problem by the time he or she gets all the way to high school. Then, let’s give him or her the double whammy, and put them into a World Language course where they can really sink! And additionally, let’s put about 35 of them into each class so they really won’t get any extra help!

    Our system is lost in the Stone Age! And in need of some serious rehabilitation. I think that magnet/charters are necessary because they cater to specific needs of individual students. The system is set up for standardized memorize, regurgitate, and forget; then it’s fill in the bubbles time! I think classroom numbers should be far smaller in the elementary level and the teachers there need to have much more training in subject specific areas (education degree–give me a break; that needs to be fixed at the university level). Kids who aren’t performing at their level then need to be put into immediate remedial courses and should not be “socially” promoted. Again, a kid who reads below level shouldn’t have that problem for years and years–it can be fixed in a 1-2 year period, if caught early, and intervention is put into action.

    Once you have students who have solid foundations at the elementary level, then you will see true progress at the secondary level.

    But then again, if parents don’t read, why would their children be avid readers? If parents don’t initiate learning and instill a good work ethic, why would their children be much different? It takes the effort of the entire community to educate a child. This problem is only promulgated by the fact that schools are too big, have too many students, and classrooms are overloaded.

    There’s a fantastic new report you can read called “Tough Choices or Tough Times”–just google it and you’ll find the page. You can read the abstract there. The book is excellent and everyone single person in America should read it. It explains how the system is failing, the best teachers typically leave the profession or leave city districts to teach in the rich white neighborhoods, and that America is headed for serious financial disaster because Americans are lacking in math skills and are mono-lingual. (Why hire a mono-lingual American who isn’t very good at math and problem solving for 50k a year when you can hire a Chinese or Indian who speaks 2-3 languages, has excellent math skills, and only asks for a 20k salary???) Think about it.

  10. Avatar Tony Logan says:

    I agree with you that the public schools are a mess, but fail to see how privatizing education will lead to better, CJ. I’m not so sure that publicly funded charter schools attend to individual student’s needs any more than public schools do as you seem to think?

    Most of the charter schools are religiously oriented and run by churches, and it is unclear how American church schools can be any step forward, rather than a step back? That is not to say that some church schools aren’t actually better than public ones, but still, most are not.

    Similarly with home schooling. Some parents can do much better than public schools given some public resources, while many will not.

    I guess what I am saying, is that I think the movement towards charter schools is in actuality a total betrayal of government backing of its public schools, and is a giant part of the problem that is currently unfolding in American education.

    There is no indicator that I have seen that shows that having more and more charter schools in operation in competition with the public ones is actually improving American education. In fact, it appears that this process is actually crumbling the foundations of all American education.

    Look at adult education some. IMO, overall the public universities do a far better job of providing real eduation than the American infrastructure of private ones do. Why should the story be any different for students in their earlier years?

    Imagine if this country were to try to switch public funding from its public universities into funding ‘charter universities”? What a disaster that would be! Why should it work differently with education in the earlier years?

    Charter schools are helping slowly erode all American education, and that’s their point. The backbone of the charter push are people that are quite anti-eduaction, not pro-education. They are opposed to public school education more because it does work in some ways, rather than opposing public education for all its current many defects.

    In the years ahead we can look for proponents of privatizing schools to continue to work to make public schools less functional. Then they will blame the increasing problems of public schools on the public schools themselves. And many will believe that. It’s all part of the religious American myth that only the private sector actually works well, while the public sector is all some sort of monstrous Orwellian bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the reverse is much truer to real life.

  11. Avatar Diann says:

    Almost having become a teacher back in the 70’s, I can tell you exactly why the public education system was and is now failing many students. That time period was the beginning of the end in so many ways. My student teaching consisted of disciplining, coordinating visual materials for all the kids that could not read at the 7th grade level after having been passed on in the system, giving the kids the same test 2 and 3 times so that at least some of the information might sink in, calling parents who never came in to meet with me about their child, spending long hours after school grading and preparing lesson plans…….. and all for a starting salary of around $13,000 a year.
    The “brain drain” started then. And it’s no wonder that those qualified, potential teachers who could have been so influential in the direction of public education went directly into jobs in the private sector, me included.
    That trend has continued and will continue until our government decides to spend the kind of money needed on public education as they do on WAR!
    There would be no need for Charter Schools (and I agree with Tony, that they are contributing to the erosion of our public education system) as many of the programs that once existed for special needs kids, smaller classes, better teachers, more support staff, counselors and infrastructure could be reinstated. It’s a crime how fickle the American public is. They wouldn’t bat an eye at buying a new SUV or funding billions of dollars for an unjustified war, but when it comes to educating the children of the future…the cry is “accountability”, when they were the ones who caused the problem to begin with. The goals of education are being undermined by this change in the public’s view. Accountability testing and the “no child left behind” failing program are the direct result of politics interfering with the real education of our children and the failed policies of underfunding our future.

  12. Avatar CJ says:

    I agree that if we only had Charter schools that it would erode the right to a free and equal public education, but the thing is, we aren’t providing an “equal” education. It’s a major quagmire, this subject. But you’re right Tony, we shouldn’t fund ANYTHING religious with tax dollars–I completely agree. But I do believe that the system is failing about half of all students. The statistics are, as of right now, that for every 100 students who enter college, only 18 actually ever graduate; and they don’t typically all graduate in four years.

    I do believe, however, that we need to follow the “model” charter schools–the ones that are in poor urban and rural areas that are doing amazing things; and obviously not too many actually fit into that category. I do think it’d be a great idea to have magnet schools, if they followed a real curriculum that is well rounded. But imagine if you could go to school and be taught Art in the German language. That would be pretty dang cool! There are a lot of teachers, like myself, with several degrees, travel experience, and “real” knowledge of how to cross curricula; unfortunately, our hopes and dreams of team teaching and providing an environment where students are shown how to connect the dots between subjects (which doesn’t seem to happen usually until college!), and additionally teach real-life skills (how to write a resume and the importance of having good credit) are squashed by bureaucratic red tape because you have to teach things the way a district tells you to, even if it is completely illogical.

    I have to say, Colorado is pretty progressive compared to schools out east. I’m hoping that we will start requiring a second language in elementary school, and also start using more practical forms of “reality” based lessons. For example, why don’t schools have “language labs” anymore? (none in D-11 have them that I know of). Why isn’t Vo-tech offered for the kids who have no intention of going to college? The whole idea of edcuation is to produce a well-rounded individual who is capable of being a productive capable individual who has self-worth and can contribute positively to society. If you’re not interested in learning about Biology, but you want to be a welder, no one should stop that student from becoming a welder. (Heck, they probably earn far more than teachers or nurses!)

    Diann, you are absolutely right about NCLB being a failing program. It’s fabulous to have standards for teachers, but the problem is, in rural areas and urban centers, you can’t always find a highly qualified teacher who is willing to work in those areas. It’s also pretty silly to decide that children should be in the “least restrictive environment” because that isn’t really always feasible for children with certain kinds of disorders. For example, a student who has extreme ADHD, should be allowed to be in a classroom with the general population if he can handle it and is not distracting to the rest of the class, but if he is indeed distracting, it doesn’t make any sense to allow the other 30 kids in the class to miss out on instruction because the teacher always has to deal with that one student. It’s complicated! Again, you’re right that many don’t stick around in the ed biz because of the red tape and problems. Heck, if I get a job in Denver, I’d earn anywhere from 6-12k more than here in COS. What’s up with that? COS will continue to lose the highly educated teachers because they can earn far more salary in Denver, and some of the Denver districts actually pay for you to continue your education. You don’t get that kind of compensation here.

  13. Avatar MS says:

    “If I can’t trust someone to tell the truth, I wonder what else will he lie about”

    Good Point. I know him and I also know he’s a liar, a very good one at that.

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