Sunday, October 02, 2005

Bill Bennett and public education

Bennett's recent comments reveal a horrifying glimpse of his world view but his views on education are pretty spectacular as well.

Over at TPM Cafe, this was relayed by a former commissioner of the FCC regarding Bill Bennett's ideas about public education:
At any rate, since Mr. Bennett had been Secretary of Education I asked him to support the bill in the crucial stage when we needed Republican allies. He told me he would not help, because he did not want public schools to obtain new funding, new capability, new tools for success. He wanted them, he said, to fail so that they could be replaced with vouchers,charter schools, religious schools, and other forms of private education. Well, I thought, at least he's candid about his true views.
Bennett, as a reminder, has been making money off public funding through his company, K-12, an internet for-profit home-schooling company. In a time of education cutbacks, he has positioned himself well as his company is considered part of the very profitable education growth industry.

By his actions, it's clear he's got a huge interest in public education, as long as the funding goes into his pockets. In Arkansas, note thiscontroversy over receiving federal funds to help fund his for-profit education company.

In Arizona, some comments on his publically funded school:
Penny Kotterman: I think the largest concerns I have about the Virtual Academy are twofold.

The first one is the academy itself offers no real direct access or instruction by teachers in the charter school itself. So there's vague references to a certified teacher somehow accessible, but that's unclear. And I think that to provide a quality public education to children you have to dedicate some resource time in terms of human resources and face-to-face contact so children are actually receiving the benefit of not only content and academic work but also the greater benefit of education.

The second is a larger policy issue. A charter school like this is certainly legal in the State of Arizona, but I think voters ought to really think hard about the policy implications of turning over an entire per-pupil expenditure of nearly $4500 or more to an entity that charges only for a curriculum and access to a certified teacher. That means somebody somewhere is making quite a profit off of Arizona taxpayer money, essentially supporting a home school effort.

Siphoning money from public funds is a 50 state strategy: see these articles, for example, in Texas, and in Florida.

Mediatransparency has more on his national role over the years.