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Timothy D. Slekar Headshot

Dear Ed Schultz

Posted: Updated:

Dear Ed,

Thanks for exposing the problems being confronted by the Chester Upland School District in Pennsylvania. As you have pointed out, this is really an issue that goes much deeper than a school in financial trouble. This is a school that serves the "least among us." The schools in the district have inadequate resources and inadequate facilities. As Jonathan Kozol pointed out over 20 years ago this is a "savage inequality."

I also commend you for pointing out that the main reason for the financial troubles faced by Chester Upland SD -- the district is forced to divert from its budget $36.3 million dollars to local Charter schools.

But the biggest light you've brought to this story is the nasty little truth that our governor was financed by the owner of the charter schools. Gov. Corbett received $300,000 from Vahan Gureghian.

However, as important as this story is to the people of the Chester Upland community, you have only scraped the surface of a nasty campaign designed to dismantle the American public school system. Corbett is no different than Walker, Christie, Scott, and all the other Republican governors that were elected in 2010. Look deeper into each of these governors' campaign contributions. They all have money from private interests that want the public school system in this country dismantled. Why?

Look at the story of Chester Upland: $36.3 million dollars have been siphoned from the taxpayers and given to private interests. Ed, this is the real story, and it is happening all over the country.

Our public school system is by no means perfect but it rests on a perfect foundational ideal -- a free and equitable education for all! However, instead of being committed to making this ideal a reality, corporate education reform foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation and Walton Foundation and individuals like Vahan Gureghian and Betsy DeVos have decided that this little experiment in equality needs to be ended. No more! Instead, through the smokescreen of NCLB, these reformers have convinced many Americans that our public school system is failing.

According to the reformers, our public schools are run by lazy and overpaid teachers and administrators who squander away the future of their students. The corporate reformers also use pseudo science (standardized test scores and value added measures of effectiveness) as propaganda to make the so-called "objective" case that, despite the money invested, American students are falling behind according to international test score comparisons.

The problem with this narrative is that it is propaganda. It is being used to cover up the real problem faced by children in American public schools -- poverty. In fact, once you control (compare apples to apples) for poverty, American students score as well as or even better than their international peers.

This is just a quick glimpse of the most misrepresented national story. Please read anything from Diane Ravitch, Deborah Meier, Alfie Kohn, Anthony Cody, Marion Brady and others. They will lay out the real story -- public education is under attack by the 1 percent in this country. And they are winning.

We could really use your help, Ed. The battle between Chester Upland School District and Gov. Corbett is just a glimpse into the strategic dismantling taking place across the entirety of the American public school system.

Sincerely,

Tim