OPINION: Republicans are gutting our public schools to create a for-profit system to enrich their cronies
Good job, Tom Watkins, of evading the issue (guest column, June 12, “Michigan can't wait for Superman when it comes to educational reform”).
Those who can't teach, make policy about teaching. Funny how Rick Snyder's family does not use the public school system he wants to gut, but rather a private school (Greenhills), which has declared its costs to be $20,000 per pupil, more than double what is spent on public school students.
But let's be clear about something. There are three kinds of schools: public, private, and for-profit. When the Republicans privatize education, they will NOT be turning public schools into the kinds of fancy non-for-profit prep schools to which they send their children. They will turn them into for-profit charter schools, the K-12 equivalent of University of Phoenix, the kind of education they would never accept for their own children.
Putting the discussion in college-level terms more familiar to those of us who have been spared the misery of charter schools: the Greenhills school would be the equivalent of Swarthmore and public schools are sometimes as good as U-M. There is probably no college or university in the country that can match the for-profits in dropout rates, grade inflation, failure to provide remedial or advanced programs, alumni unemployment and general disregard for learning than for-profit colleges; why does anyone think that the situation would be different among for-profit K-12 schools?
This Superman business a bunch of corporate Newspeak to cover up the real statement that they are making: "Let's take taxpayer money and give it to our cronies to make a profit, rather than to poor kids who have no influence."
Kudos on your obfuscation of the real issues, Mr. Watkins! Let's ignore the fact that the highest-performing schools on the planet, such as those in Finland and South Korea, are not considering your advice to replace teachers with cheaper, non-union computers. High-performing schools have low-tech classrooms and rely on such inexpensive technologies as chalk and blackboards.
If any of these Superman folks really cared about the children of Michigan, they would not weave these webs of nonsense about new-fangled, high-tech methodology, but look at what is being done elsewhere that is cheaper and more effective.
But if they don't want to think about what is going on in other countries, it might still be worthwhile to look at what is going on in the private, nonprofit schools to which they send their own children. Greenhills boasts a student-teacher ratio of 7:1, prizing itself on "small class sizes, individual attention, and robust athletic and arts programs." These are great ideas, which, apparently, the rich do not want to share with the rest of us.