I fear that Neal Boortz’s comments are part of an active campaign to discredit public schools and public school teachers, so that a small group of businessmen have an excuse to privatize our public schools, turn them into charter schools, and profit off them.
I became increasingly concerned about this after my trip to New Orleans last summer.
In “Privatizing New Orleans’ Schools: Coming to a City Near You,” Leigh Davis writes:
Within days of Katrina, Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) convened a special meeting of the state legislature to talk about a takeover of the Orleans Parish Public School District, a district with a half-billion dollar budget serving New Orleans,…(according to), Nat LaCour, secretary treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers….
A few months later, the state legislature passed legislation giving the state control of 107 of New Orleans' 128 public schools, by placing them under the authority of the Recovery School District (RSD).
Orleans Parish's public schools have now been divided into three categories: public, charter, and the Recovery School District. A school receives the RSD designation if it is categorized as "failing," in some cases receiving the label only after a change in criteria since the hurricane. RSD schools are then managed by the state, not the local school board, and may be turned over to private foundations or other groups to be run as charter schools. Of the 57 public schools set to operate in New Orleans this school year, more than 30 are charter schools
In the Texas Legislature, a bill, H.R. 2, is still in the Senate Finance Committee, but passed overwhelmingly last month in the Texas House of Representatives. This bill “includes a provision that would allow the state education commissioner to turn over to private education companies schools that have performed in the bottom 5 percent of all Texas public schools for two years in a row – even if those lowest performing schools actually were rated by the state as academically acceptable.” (Texas Freedom Network website).
Perhaps it is not surprising that Neal Boortz and his circle would put profits before students.
According to mediamatters.org:
On the October 14 broadcast of his daily radio show, Neal Boortz stated that if the country is faced with an impending national disaster, it should make it a higher priority to save rich Americans rather than poor Americans. "We should save the rich people first," Boortz declared. "You know, they're the ones that are responsible for this prosperity."
Boortz certainly doesn’t seem to care about working folk.
On his August 3rd radio show Boortz described adult minimum-wage earners as "incompetent," "ignorant," "stupid," "worthless," and "pathetic," Neal Boortz again smeared them, calling adult minimum-wage earners "100 percent pure unadulterated loser[s]." (mediamatters.org).
He had no sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
On his radio show, Neal Boortz stated that "[s]o many" of the victims of Hurricane Katrina "have turned out to be complete bums, just debris," and called "thousands" "deadbeat[s]." (mediamatters.org)
He would have denied help to the survivors of the Columbine shooting.
From the August 4 edition of Cox Radio Syndication's The Neal Boortz Show:
Nationally syndicated radio host Neal Boortz said schools should never provide psychological counseling for students, even after a traumatic incident such as the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, because providing counseling "is just all part of an effort to ... engrain in the American people this idea that the government is responsible for everything." (mediamatters.org).
And while it may be completely unreliable, a wikipedia entry about Boortz claims that
Boortz believes that ADD and ADHD are "medical frauds" and a scam that teachers, parents, and drug companies use. …Boortz controversially refers to public education as "tax payer funded child abuse" and accuses parents of child abuse for sending their children off to government schools.[19” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Boortz)
If you are not convinced that charter schools are more about profits than education just check out the press releases announcing the recent hires at Edison Schools, the leading Charter School Company.
Terry Stecz, President, CEO, Edison Schools
From Edison Schools Press Release:
“Before joining Edison, Stecz served as President Consumer Healthcare,Americas, for Pharmacia, a $14B healthcare company with products that included Celebrex and Nicorette. During his tenure at Pharmacia, Terry played a key role in establishing the division as one of the fastest growing in operating profits and revenue in its industry. Prior to Pharmacia, Stecz spent more than 19 years at American Home Products, a $16B pharmaceutical enterprise where he rose rapidly through the ranks. By 1990, Stecz was President of A.H.Robins and by 1994, President of Whitehall Robins, a $1.4B division of AHP that produces market leaders Advil and Centrum. Stecz also served as President of Alberto Culver USA, Inc. (consumer products).
Edison Founder and CEO Chris Whittle commented on Stecz's appointment, "We are extremely pleased to have someone with Terry's strong, proven business background join Edison's senior management team. As we continue to grow, his operational expertise and business building experiences will further strengthen Edison's ability to deliver high quality schools, services and products to schools and districts across the country."
Edison Schools President Chris Cerf added, "Terry is a superb addition to Edison. His track record as an accomplished business executive is extraordinary, and I am equally impressed by his passion for and commitment to our educational mission."
Stecz is no doubt an “accomplished business executive,” but has he ever even taken an education course? He might even have “passion” about good education, but he clearly has no experience in the field. It seems obvious that Edison’s priority is profits, not learning.
J. Roberto Gutierrez, Senior Vice President For Public Affairs and Communication
NEW YORK, Feb 13, 2007 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- New York-based Edison Schools, the largest private manager of U.S. and U.K. public schools, today announced the appointment of J. Roberto Gutierrez, 49, as Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Communication, effective February 12, 2007.
In this newly created post, Mr. Gutierrez will direct all of Edison Schools' corporate communications and public affairs, encompassing media relations, marketing communications, community development and policy strategy. …
Gutierrez joins Edison Schools from The Dilenschneider Group, where he was a Principal of the firm, counseling several global corporations and organizations on issues of policy, corporate branding, community outreach and Hispanic marketing. Prior to that, from 2002 to 2005, he was Vice President for Public Affairs and Communication for the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, where he directed the university's communications and public affairs initiatives.
Before joining Notre Dame, Gutierrez co-founded, in 1982, and served as CEO and President of HTN, Inc., Hispanic Telecommunications Network, located in San Antonio, Texas, a national media and production agency that broadcast weekly public interest television programs. In 1999, Gutierrez was awarded a prestigious honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Notre Dame for his body of work in broadcast media. (prnewswire).
Gutierrez appears to be an accomplished businessman with a talent for creating good PR. It would appear that Edison’s goal is to brand and sell “its product” to the Latino community.
Unfortunately, Boortz is just one of a strongly organized and well-funded group looking to bash public education for the financial gain of a few. Teachers unions are one of the few groups willing and able to speak out against this and to put up a credible fight against the privatization of our public school system. This is exactly why our teachers unions are being demonized by the likes of Mr. Boortz.