The US Geological Survey recorded a minor earthquake this morning with its epicenter near Wasilla, Alaska, the probable result of Sarah Palin opening her mail box to find the latest issue of CounterPunch magazine we sent her. A few moments later she Instagrammed this startling comment…
The lunatic Right certainly has plenty of problems. We’ve made it our business to not only expose these absurdities, but to challenge them directly. With another election cycle gaining steam, more rhetoric and vitriol will be directed at progressive issues. More hatred will be spewed at minorities, women, gays and the poor. There will be calls for more fracking and war. We won’t back down like the Democrats. We’ll continue to publish fact-based critiques and investigative reports on the shenanigans and evil of the Radical Right. Our future is in your hands. Please donate.
Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
Rethinking Charter Schools
Keeping the Promise? The Debate Over Charter Schools (Rethinking Schools, March 2008) details a growing trend in U.S. public education. That is the chartering of public schools to non-profit and for-profit operators.
To this end, six essays and one interview flesh out the relevance and significance of the charter school movement. Charter schools, begun two decades ago to spur innovation in learning and teaching, have been a force to push out labor unions. It is common for teachers at charter schools to be at-will employees, with no job protections. However, not all charter schools are union-free. It is worth noting that there are teacher’s unions in charter schools. A case in point is Boston’s Pilot Schools, begun 13 years ago, according to Dan French, an author, educator and contributor to Keeping the Promise?
Crucially, contributors to the book—educators, parents and researchers—localize the factors and forces involved in the rise of charter schools from the East Coast to the Midwest, South and West Coast. This is a strength. It can help readers to get a better sense of the over-all national trajectory of public school policy.
In Ohio, David Brennan’s White Hat Management, a for-profit charter school firm, drew on his political ties to the state’s former GOP Governor George Voinovich and the Republican Party. This visible hand helped Brennan to shape state education policies which facilitated his educational entrepreneurship. In New Orleans, public officials and charter school operators exploited the awful devastation from Hurricane Katrina and shameful reaction of FEMA to turn the city’s schools upside down. Consider this. “In one short year, New Orleans had become home to the highest concentration of charter schools in the nation,” writes Leigh Dingerson, a community organizer, educator and co-editor of the collection, along with Barbara Miner, Bob Peterson and Stephanie Walters.
American citizens with scant economic and political power, non-whites last hired and first fired in the labor market, are often easy pickings for charter school operators. These entrepreneurs do not proceed alone as they compete in the mythical marketplace of free competition between buyers and sellers of goods and services. To the contrary, charter school operators across the U.S. can and do turn to well-heeled donors. One of note is Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates. In 2003, his largess helped propel former NBA-All Star Kevin Johnson to charter Sacramento High School, located in a low-income, multi-racial neighborhood. The school is operated by Johnson’s non-profit St. HOPE Academy, under a continuing federal probe for how it spent $800,000 in federal funds from 2004 to 2007.
The contributors to Keeping the Promise raise crucial questions of equity and fairness in education policy. This arena of struggle reflects the national class divide, the widest among developed countries worldwide.
SETH SANDRONSKY lives and writes in Sacramento. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.