Welcome to class, kids. We’re going to learn you about education. | Happy Ending with Nando Vila


Ah, thank God summer’s finally over. I’m ready to go back to school for my senior year. You know, the future is bright for fresh-faced teens like us. Man, I don’t know. A lot’s changed over the summer. Didn’t you hear? We’re now a charter school, they’re making cuts, and something about a tune–or zune. (lightning cracking) Anyway, I doubt if any of these changes will affect football players like us. Besides, what’s the difference between a regular public school and a charter school anyway? Well, a charter school is a school that is publicly funded, but privately run. So they get taxpayer money, but not much taxpayer oversight. That doesn’t sound so bad. What? That’s like a recipe for grift and greed. Plus, I bet they’re going to take away the football team. Take away the football team– Good morning, Zune High! Out with the old, and in with the innovation! Here at Zune Education Future Incorporated, we believe in bringing the best of Silicon Valley into the classroom. We’re ready to disrupt and change the way education is done forever. We want you to have more control over your own education and to do that, we need to make some changes around here. OK? Yeah. Arts and crafts? Bob Ross is on Netflix now. Music? Listen to your Zune. I recommend the latest U2 album. It’s super cool. We’re thrilled to have you at the Zune Systematic Instructional Childhood Development Dividend Program. We’re here to maximize efficiency. Anything that takes time away from learning how to take the latest standardized test- it’s gotta be cut. Get it out! Beginning with the football program, which is canceled, effective immediately. No! (school bell ringing) Man, this sucks. See? I told you they were gonna get rid of the football team. Yeah, you weren’t kidding. What are you gonna do now? I don’t know. I feel like I should talk to a teacher or something and figure all this out. Oh, well you should talk to Nikhil Goyal. He wrote ‘Schools On Trial.’ He teaches here. Huh, OK, I’ll do that. Hey, kids. Can you believe all these changes? I know, it’s strange. You Americans do things different than what I’m used to. Different? Worse. Mr. Goyal, you’re an education expert. You’ve written books about it. What the hell is happening to this school? What happened to the football team? This is what happens in many charter schools. They’re only allowed to keep their charter if they maintain certain test scores. So they cancel anything that doesn’t help those numbers. But what’s wrong with getting the numbers up? Charter schools are the victim of Campbell’s Law. If a school’s funding is judged by test scores alone, the people running that school will be highly incentivized to juice the scores. But this is America. Education here is worse than Finland? Way, way worse. What’s so much better about your education system? Finland has best schools in the world. It starts at home, with low inequality and low poverty rates. The state supports you with generous benefits. That way, if you fall on hard times, you won’t fall too low. If there are inequalities in the society as a whole, there will be inequalities in the educational outcome. The easiest way to predict a child’s SAT scores is to look at their parents’ income tax returns. Poverty is the biggest barrier to educational achievement, not teacher quality. Often what you see as problems with education are actually a problem with poverty. But you Americans are so obsessed with fixing education rather than just– fixing poverty. Exactly. I know how to save the school! Excuse me, uh, miss prinicipal lady? What do you want? I just wanted to come and talk about all the changes that’s going on in school. What’s your name? Kevin, Kevin Reilly. Kevin Reilly, Reilly, what McReilly, what are you Irish? Don’t answer that. OK, well, ooh yikes. You’re a high risk, low-income customer, Kevin. Your family’s under the poverty line, which means unfortunately, we’re gonna have to let you go. What? No– you’re expelling me? Listen, I’m sure you’re a really smart kid, but statistically speaking, kids that grow up in low-income situations, well, they do poorly on tests. And I can’t have you lowering the average test scores of my school. Yeah. Oh, well, we’ll find some creative way to transfer your enrollment elsewhere. Alright? You can do that? Yeah, sure. I can. I can do whatever I want. You know what else I’m going to do? As the villain, I’m going to tell you every detail of my nefarious plan because I underestimate the person I’m speaking to. OK. Go on. My plan is to take the tax dollars that go into this school and funnel them to an education management company a nice chunk of that for myself. This actually happens. You see, Kyle, Kevin. Whatever, Kenneth, the 2001 Consolidated Appropriations Act [Voiceover] provided tax incentives for seven years to businesses that locate and hire residents in economically depressed areas. Because of this change to the tax code, banks and equity funds that invest in charter schools can take advantage of very generous tax credits, sometimes doubling their money in only seven years. Why do you think Wall Street firms and billionaires push so hard for charter schools? Spoiler alert– it’s not because they care about poor black kids! That’s why? I mean, the beauty of it is you as a student have no recourse. I mean, who’s gonna believe someone that doesn’t even go to school here anymore? I guess you’re right. You got a point. But hey, one more thing, I got ya! No, come back here, no! My plan is to take the tax dollars that go into the school and funnel them to an education management company We really have no choice but to fight for a truly universal public education. We see a school with struggling children and we assume it’s because the teachers are bad, but more often than not, it’s because those kids live in broken homes and crushing poverty. 1 in 7 public school kids in New York City are homeless. How’s a teacher supposed to teach when the student doesn’t even have a roof? Charter schools and private education undermine the system of public education precisely because they create inequality. Some kids will have a better shot just because they were born in a certain neighborhood or to a certain family. We need to change the way we think about this. We need to commit to equality. Only then will we give all kids the life they deserve. No! Get it away from me!

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