These are some facts about Mr. Geoffrey Canada:
- Salary: at least $400,000 per year, plus bonuses
- Kicks students out of his charter schools to make his schools look better: Twice, he kicked out entire grade levels of students for poor performance and low test scores.
- Lies: He claims to have 100% graduation rates at his charter school, but this is completely untrue. He kicks students out of his school if they aren’t going to graduate so he can boast 100%. He also makes the same claims about college acceptance being 90% for his schools, but when you factor in all the students he kicked out, the rate is nowhere close.
- His "miracle" schools aren't miraculous at all. The test results of his school are unimpressive and comparable to nearby public schools. Some scores are higher, some are worse. Clearly, his charters are not a miracle cure.
- He starred in a documentary called "Waiting for Superman" that was created to convince people that public schools are failing, that teachers are to blame for its failure, and that charter schools are the solution to fix the crisis. The lies and claims in the documentary are numerous and false. The documentary was financed by hedge fund investors who stand to profit from charter school income through the public's consistent tax dollars and children.
To be fair, his charter schools do provide a lot for students including a higher student to teacher ratio and free healthcare for children. But also to be fair, more money is spent on the students in his charter schools than the children in public schools. If public schools had that sort of money to spend, they, too, could provide the same perks as Mr. Canada’s charter schools. Instead, his charter schools leech money, students, and involved parents from the remaining public schools. This leaves underfunded, underutilized public schools struggling to stay afloat and educate the remaining students who have disabilities, students who don't speak English, and students who were kicked out of charter schools.
Public schools educate EVERY child, charters do not. Public schools are accountable to the public, charter schools are not (hence the exorbitant salaries of those at the top of the charter chains like Geoffrey Canada).
Geoffrey Canada says, “Enough is enough about our failing schools!” He evokes emotion from the audience and pulls at their heartstrings with stories of poor students he claims to save through his charter schools. He compares himself to Superman. He bashes public schools and calls them “lousy”. While public schools may not be perfect, and there is always room for improvement, totally destroying the public school system in favor of a privately owned and operated education system with the public's tax dollars is not the answer. We should strengthen public schools, adequately fund them, and provide rich educational opportunities for every student in every neighborhood including Art, Music, Sports, languages, etc. School should not exist to produce test scores and data. And, by no means, should school exist to make entrepreneurs even richer.
Diane Ravitch, author of Reign of Error and prolific blogger, writes, "I just wish that Canada would use his celebrity and media access to advocate that all public schools should have the resources he has, instead of castigating them for not being as good as the school he runs, with such munificent provisions." Wouldn't that be nice? This Momma Bear doesn't think he's coming to Tennessee to do that at all. He is here to bash public schools. With Memphis schools ripe for the pickin and profiting, Geoffrey Canada hears opportunity knocking.
Mercedes Schneider, who is author of A Chronicle of Echoes: Who's Who in the Implosion of American Public Education, a high school teacher, and a respected blogger, hits the nail on the head with her comment that, "Even with those “munificent provisions,” Canada cannot “make” students score high on standardized tests. So, he sends “his failing kids” back to the public schools, then insults the public schools for accepting them. And all to please those with money. By Canada’s “firing” an entire class, as far as his schools go, it is not his schools that are failing the students – it’s the students failing “his” schools – and “his” investors. Kinda blows a hole through the reformy logic of “no failing kids, just failing schools,” eh?"
Momma Bear's motto: “Follow the money and the motives”