Mario Koran is a charter school shill and everyone needs to stop listening to him.

I’m not sure why anyone still reads Mario Koran’s Voice of San Diego articles as if they are anything more than a long-running astroturf campaign designed to gaslight educators and the public into believing that educator unions (in general) and seniority rights (in particular) are the bane of public education.  Newsflash:  They aren’t.  Are they perfect?  No.  But currently, unions are the only organization safeguarding free and public education for ALL of America’s children.

Mario Koran is a charter school shill and everyone needs to stop listening to him.  (In other news, the mean girls will never like you so stop wasting your time trying to be their friend.)  The first thing we teach the kids is to check the source and evaluate its credibility, right?  Well… check who pays for the “education” page for VOSD.  Charter schools.  Scroll down the list of articles Koran has written over the past few months and it’s basically a series of privatizer PR press releases.

Let’s run through some of the arguments that Koran and other charter school proponents like to recycle and repeat:

Claim: Teachers earn tenure.
Reality: Pre-K-12 educators NEVER earn tenure so we all need to stop saying that we do. Educators earn permanent status and are afforded the same due process rights as every other permanent employee in the state.  Only professors earn tenure.  It is *completely possible* to fire educators and I’ve seen it happen.  As a matter of fact, I’ve seen good teachers fired by vindictive principals that know how to do the paperwork.

Claim: Every year, teachers with more seniority seek assignments in more affluent schools.
Reality: Every year, teachers with more seniority seek assignments at schools with good leadership and good working conditions where they feel valued as professionals.  Even the article Koran cites as evidence to support his privatizing agenda proves this reality.  If a school is experiencing a high turnover rate then the district needs to stop hiring their friends who are crappy administrators and start providing adequate supports and supplies to the staff and children at that school.

Claim: Protecting high poverty schools from layoffs would protect the teaching staff at those schools.
Reality:  Nope.  No matter who gets laid off, ALL the schools shrink and then excessing starts eliminating jobs at the high poverty schools and those teachers get moved to fill vacancies north of 8.  So… teachers still disappear.  And besides, right now the district *is* laying off veteran teachers right alongside our newbies.  There are teachers with 8-15 years of seniority who have been issued layoff notices.  And while all of this is going on, the district is out trying to recruit and hire new teachers at local teacher job fairs for the teacher shortage we are projected to have.  Let that sink in.

Claim: A bizarre, logical fallacy about how the experienced, veteran teachers have seniority and bid out of low-income schools, taking their expertise with them which hurts low income kids. But also that teachers with less seniority shouldn’t be laid off at the low-income schools because they are also awesome and it disrupts the school.

Reality:  So which is it?  Are veteran teachers with more expertise better for our students?  Or is it the new teachers?  Or is it that privatizers are trying to divide and conquer unionized educators by pitting young teachers against veterans?

The bottom line is this:
People pursue a career in education for a wide variety of reasons.  When I was excessed in 2014, I had my choice of jobs at 14 schools throughout the district, many of which were north of 8.  My first choice?  Bell Middle School.  Why?  Because my kids went to Boone, one of the feeder elementary schools, I knew the principal and vice principal were people that I would love to work with, and the student population is the population that I wanted to teach when I entered the field of education.  There are MANY teachers who have no desire to teach north of 8, and we would appreciate it if the media stopped insulting our students and communities by portraying our career choice as an act of charity.

Shane Parmely, Teacher, Bell Middle School

2 thoughts on “Mario Koran is a charter school shill and everyone needs to stop listening to him.

  1. Thanks, Shane. I haven’t seen this much engagement on a story in long time. The fact that I’ve gotten a good number of emails from SDEA members along similar lines in recent days tells me your argument will probably find sympathetic readers on this blog.

    There’s a couple of problems with this post, though. First, I don’t actually make the claims you’re saying I did. “Protecting high poverty schools from layoffs would protect the teaching staff at those schools,” for example. I never wrote that.

    I did, however, write that teachers generally leave poor schools for more affluent ones with better test scores. But I think you’re misunderstanding the point. The point isn’t that teachers are *motivated* by affluence or high test scores, it’s that the schools that teachers move to actually have lower poverty rates and higher test scores.

    Years ago, under an administration that was more transparent with data, the superintendent shared data with us that allowed us to run an analysis of where teachers are going:

    “Between 2004 and 2008, 48 percent of teachers who transferred went to schools with higher scores, 21 percent went to schools with similar scores and 31 percent bucked the trend and went to schools with lower scores. The data reveal similar but weaker patterns for school poverty levels.

    Because of that flow of teachers, the poorest schools in San Diego Unified — those where 90 percent or more of students qualified for free lunches — were more than twice as likely to lose teachers to other schools, on average, as the wealthiest schools where 39 percent or fewer got free lunch.”

    In other words, I’m not saying teachers leave because they want to be in a school with higher test scores. I’m saying they leave and end up in schools with higher test scores. Test scores actually have a higher correlation to teacher movement than poverty level, based on the data.

    If you want to argue this pattern no longer holds up, put a little pressure on your leadership to disclose the data that would disprove this.

    Finally, you didn’t actually mention anything about the list of layoffs that was the focus of the actual story you’re responding to –> “At 16 of the 20 schools with the highest percentage of teacher layoffs, at least 75 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch – a rough measure of a school’s poverty level.”

    If you have reason to believe that list is wrong, or argue that poorer schools disproportionately shouldering the layoff burden has nothing to do with seniority, you should make that argument. It would be more effective than this ad hominem.



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