What are Cleve Warren’s real reasons for opening up a charter school? (rough draft)

From the Times Unions editorial board


What a mess.

And the shame is that the students of the four
intervene schools will be caught in it.

These are probably the nicest words the Times
Union wrote back in June of 2011 when Mr. Warren was the chairman of Duval
Partners a group picked to run our struggling schools but was quickly and
unceremoniously dumped when they chose to farm out their responsibilities to an
Education Management Company instead. The district ended up replacing them with
a company that had close ties to a friend of Ed Pratt-Dannals Steve Hite called
Education Direction.
Fast-forward a few years and that hasn’t
stopped Mr. Warren from being bound and determined to get kids out of public
schools.  He is part of a group that
plans to buy Gateway Mall to start a charter school.
Following Mr. Warren in the paper over the
years its not hard to see he has never been a fan of public schools and I think
as somebody who grew up in the 70s some of that is deserved. For a long time
the African American community was an after thought only addressed either
kicking and screaming or with a court order. I do think things have improved
and resources are becoming more equitable but a pretty deep hole was built.
Though to be honest I think some of the problems have to be blamed on the poor
leadership the African American community has provided to itself.
However what Mr. Warren is proposing is
throwing out the baby with the bath water. His cure to create a charter school
rather than to work with the district to improve the schools is worse than the
problem.
Charter schools fracture neighborhoods, they
dilute resources and quite often they fail or do worse than the public schools
they seek to replace. Just look at KIPP Jacksonville, which was sold as a
savior and has had a dismal record to see proof of that.
250 charter schools have closed in Florida and despite
having advantages the Stanford Credo study, the gold standard of charter school
studies says Florida’s perform worse than their public school counterparts.
With Duval Partners on his résumé what’s to make is think
Mr. Warren hasn’t bitten more than he can chew and if that foray into public
education is any indicator how can we be optimistic.
So if I am right this means Mr. Warren is either obsessed
with getting kids out of public schools for past sins or ignorant about the
damage he might create but here is another theory, he is greedy.

Charter schools are big and lucrative business, a lot
of people are getting rich off of them and their bank accounts not children are
their main concerns. Looking at a history of education leadership in the
African American community over the last few years, Betty Burney I am primarily
looking at you, the education trough has been financially beneficial to a few
but not nearly as beneficial to kids as it should have been. My concern is Warren’s charter school will be more of the same.

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