Super wish that he wasn’t. But he is. And while there’s a slim chance that he doesn’t realize it, it doesn’t matter because the damage he inflicts to the institution of public education is the same.
I find it very telling that Mario Koran actually responded to our post, Mario Koran is a charter school shill and everyone needs to stop listening to him. It made me smile to see that he focused in on one small part of the post, set up a straw man argument, and ended by claiming the post was an ad hominem attack. I actually had more I had wanted to add to that first post, but was tired. It was my last weekend of Spring Break and I wanted to veg out a little in our few remaining hours off. His reply was the exact motivation I needed to keep writing, so thanks!
To clarify, the audience for our blog is rank and file educators. Our purpose is to speak out about issues facing rank and file members and to help increase member engagement. We want to help inoculate our membership from the arguments and narratives that serve to destroy and privatize public education which means identifying people, organizations, and institutions that perpetuate them. Unfortunately, Mario Koran and the VOSD absolutely fall into this category (along with the UT). And it’s not just with one article, it’s with the body of articles both have published for years
Scroll through Koran’s list of articles to get a general feel for the topics he chooses to write about. Click and read through a couple of the articles he’s written that include the topic of charter schools. See anything even remotely negative or critical in the articles? Nope. Mostly praise and debunking criticisms of charters. (Two of his four proposed “solutions” for Lincoln involve charter conversion.) Which is super odd because there are so many stories that those of us who teach near charter schools have heard from the children who have been kicked out or prevented from enrolling.
I teach at Bell Middle School and every year we get about 40 students transferred to us mid-year (always before testing) from Keiller, O’Farrell, and other charter schools. Last year, I had students tell me that they had tried to enroll at Keiller or O’Farrell (because they live by those schools) but that after their parent met with someone at the school, it was decided that Bell would be a better fit for the student. These kids are English Learners and have IEPs. I hear Bell is getting 2 or 3 students from Keiller this week, alone, and we started NGSS testing today. There are 4 middle schools in the Morse Cluster, but only Bell educates our kids with moderate to severe special needs- charter schools are allowed to discriminate against these children and refuse to enroll them.
Students at Gompers have been physically walked over to the front office at Millennial Tech during the school day by a Gomper’s employee who then informed the MTM office staff that they would need to enroll the child at their school because the kid couldn’t handle the academics at Gompers. I’ve spoken with teachers at a variety of charter schools over the years that would LOVE to form a union but are too scared of getting fired to do it, and who say that shady financial stuff is happening at their school and/or the academics at their school is a joke.
A journalist, like Koran, does not have to openly proclaim he supports charter schools in order to be a shill. His articles just need to promote the charter school agenda, and they do. If I ever see an article reporting on any of the problems mentioned in this post, I will gladly revisit my position on this issue. Until then, every time you read the suggestion that closing schools will save money, remember that this creates an empty campus for a charter school to take over and permanently ends public education for that community. Every time you hear someone lamenting that layoffs hurt poor children the most, see it for the attack on seniority rights that it is. And every time someone touts the successful scores of students at charter schools, remember all the students they refused to enroll or kicked out.