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IDEA Charter founder, academic butt heads over public monies
IDEA Charter founder, academic butt heads over public monies

IDEA Charter founder, academic butt heads over public monies

As a follow-up to the two stories The Advance published about IDEA Public Schools Feb. 5 and 12 th , we’ve been keeping an eye out for any news about one of the nation’s biggest charter operators. Not until just recently has anything but glowing stories been written about IDEA, save in The Advance. Suddenly, several stories published about it have been anything but glowing, including plans, since scrapped, to lease a private jet so school officials could avoid commercial flight. While doing an online search this week for “IDEA Public Schools,” we stumbled across a story that, granted, dates back to last August, but is still of interest just the same. This story is actually taken from an education blog written by Diane Ravitch, a historian of education and a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education. She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University and is a product of the Houston public school system. To say that she is an opponent of large-scale charter-school growth would be an understatement. In her August 2019 blog, she was writing about IDEA Public Schools presence in San Antonio and how Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, is planning to plaster the city with two giant corporate chains: IDEA and KIPP. Her main gripe, instead of locating new campuses in the poorer sections of town, the big charters are building new schools in middle-class areas with good public schools. According to Ravitch, no fan of De- Vos, apparently the secretary of education wants to “torpedo public schools in a major Texas city (San Antonio). According to the blog, IDEA has plans to add 15 new schools in Bexar County by 2022, doubling its enrollment there to nearly 24,000 students. At one point in Ravitch’s blog, IDEA’s co-founder and CEO, Tom Torkelson, chimes in with a comment, which slowly ensues into a back and forth between him and Ravitch. The exchange is interesting to say the least. Before that exchange appears, one “retired teacher” writes: “IDEA’s expansion in San Antonio looks like a plan of “selective segregation,” aided by federal tax dollars. Why is the federal government using public money to promote more segregation is the question taxpayers should be asking themselves? The government should not be using federal money to build schools that will likely serve middle class white students. These students are not poor, and they are not trapped in “failing” schools. These middle class students are ...

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