Parent speaks truth to Texas legislature

TX Senate Education Committee Hearing

Public Testimony of Lorie Barzano, March 26, 2013

Good afternoon, Committee members, guests. My name is Lorie Barzano, a public school parent, taxpayer and Chair of the Coalition to Strengthen Austin Urban Schools, a local affiliate of Parents Across America.  We are a parent led group committed to quality, accessible Public Education for all children.

I come here today as a parent to speak on behalf of countless parents who cannot miss work, find childcare or afford to travel to be here today. I come as a parent to speak truth to power.

With only a few minutes, rather than debate points of individual bills under consideration, I will proactively state, documented by countless research studies and surveys, what parents really want.

Parents want elected officials and school district administrators to put the kind of time, energy and effort they put into promoting the expansion of charter schools and the increase of high stakes corporate testing into supporting and improving our public schools. We know the programs and policies that work and they do not necessitate outside business interests, charter schools, vouchers, trigger laws or special taxes. They involve practices easily implemented right on our public school campuses such as small class size, highly trained and certified teachers, adequate funding, a safe environment and wrap-around services that address the skyrocketing income gap among families and poverty rate among students. (1)

Parents want elected officials and school district administrators to provide maximum education funding to our public schools. We want an end to the lobbyist-supported hemorrhage of public monies to private entities, testing corporations, virtual and charter schools, not accountable to taxpayers through publicly elected school boards. These entities have their own privately appointed boards and remain accountable, first and foremost, to shareholders and investors, not parents or students. (2)

Parents want elected officials and school administrators to admit the so-called “turn-around” strategies they have promoted for decades do not work. We want to hear the truth that charter schools DO NOT perform better than public schools. (3) We want an honest discussion about comparing charter schools to public schools, when public schools must meet a higher standard than charter schools, which cherry-pick their students, spend more per pupil, employ less qualified teachers and serve to re-segregate schools. (4)

Parents want elected officials and school district administrators to treat us as legitimate partners in the education policy debate, not like a marketing challenge or public relations manipulation. (5) Parents want outcomes-based policies, not rhetoric and politics.

Parents want elected officials and school district administrators to really put our children first and embrace education policies that promote their well-being, not that of corporate interests, private profits and efforts to divert public education funding.

Thank you.

1.) See William Mathis’s brief on “Research-based Options for Education Policy Making” on the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) website at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/options

2.) See Lee Fang’s “Selling Schools Out” in The Nation on July 17, 2012 at: http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/corporateaccountability/1580/?page=entire      And Valerie Strauss’ “Emails link Bush foundation, corporations and education officials” in The Washington Post on January 30, 2013 : http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/30/e-mails-link-bush-foundation-corporations-and-education-officials/

3.) See Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education and Outcomes (CREDO) extensive, longitudinal study of charter schools at: http://credo.stanford.edu/pdfs/CGAR%20Growth%20Volume%20I.pdf       and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/marketplacek12/CREDO.pdf      .

4.) See Reuter’s “Special Report: Class Struggle-How charter schools get students they want” on February 15, 2013 at http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE91E0HF20130215?irpc=932       and Domanic’s and Smith’s “Charter Schools Housed in the City’s School Building Get More Public Funding per Student than Traditional Public Schools” on February 15, 2011 at: http://ibo.nyc.ny.us/cgi-park/?p=272       and Hechinger’s “Segregated Charter Schools Evoke Separate But Equal Ere in U.S. Education” in Bloomberg on December 22, 2011 at: http://topics.bloomberg.com/charter-schools/

5,) See William Mathis’s review Of “What’s Trust Got to Do With it?” on the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) website at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-whats-trust      Find What’s Trust Got to Do With It? A Communications and Engagement Guide for School Leaders Tackling the Problem of Persistently Failing Schools by Jean Johnson, John Rochkind, Michael Remaley and Jeremiah Hess and published by Public Agenda on the web at: http://www.publicagenda.org/files/pdf/whats_trust_got_to_do_with_it.pdf

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