Twitter Truth (and The Onion Gets It Again)

As I have catalogued on this blog and elsewhere, when it comes to education policy, my home state of South Carolina is A Heaping Stumbling-Bumbling Mess of Ineptitude.

And while we have garnered a sort of unwanted but fully warranted 15 minutes of fame by being the repeated source of ridicule for The Daily Show, SC has now achieved what I am calling Twitter Truth through the actions of Governor Nikki Haley, as reported at The Huffington Post:

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) wanted to tout her state’s education reform plan Monday — but it all went horribly wrong.

Here’s what Haley tweeted about the plan:

nikki haley tweet

Haley, or whichever member of her staff posted the tweet, was the victim of Twitter’s 140 character limit. An Instagram photo caption longer than 140 characters in length is cut off mid-sentence, followed by a link to the original post. The full caption makes much more sense than the above tweet:

nikki haley instagram post

The tweet was deleted a few hours after it was posted.

If we put Tweet 1 (clipped by Twitter Truth) together with Tweet 2, we find that Tweet 1 actually makes an accurate commentary on how SC continues to plow the wrong road in our claimed quest for educating the children of SC, a large percentage of whom are living in poverty and suffering the burdens of their racial and language minority statuses.

For the record, “reading coaches” masks that SC has adopted 3rd-grade retention policy based on high-stakes testing, “technology investments” ignores SC’s high poverty rate and that the state needs to invest in hundreds of areas other than making technology vendors wealthy, and “charter schools” fails to note that SC charter schools, as is the case across the U.S., perform about the same and worse than public schools while contributing to the rise in re-segregation.

And with charter schools in mind, let’s be sure to give The Onion its due, once again; this time for New Charter School Lottery System Gives Each Applicant White Pill, Enrolls Whoever Left Standing:

NEW YORK—Introducing key changes to the lottery system that governs the admissions process, the New York City Charter School Center notified potential students this week that openings will now be filled by randomly distributing white pills to applicants and enrolling those left standing.

In place of the existing electronic lottery system conducted in the spring, education officials explained that applicants would receive identical white pills, among them a small number of innocuous placebos corresponding to the amount of open spots, and then wait approximately 30 minutes to determine the survivors and new charter school enrollees.

“With so many deserving students competing for so few spots in the city’s network of high-performing, tuition-free charter schools, our new lottery system ensures that each student is provided with an equal opportunity,” said Eva Moskowitz, the head of the Success Academy chain of 22 charter schools, while mixing up a tub of 118 sugar pills and 2,376 pentobarbital capsules to be blindly administered in an upcoming lottery. “Between small class sizes, longer school days, individualized instruction, and superior college admission rates, charters provide amazing opportunities for students who don’t enter a convulsive state, fall into a coma, stop breathing, and cease all bodily functions during the admissions process.” (emphasis added)

“Of course it’s heartbreaking for the families of children who aren’t accepted,” Moskowitz continued, “But seeing the look on parents’ faces when their child is still standing in a room littered with rejected applicants is priceless. They know their child is going to get the best possible education.” [1]

Administrators told reporters that the new quick and relatively painless lottery system is a welcome alternative to the notoriously long and emotional computerized drawings of past years, where all applicants received a random number and were subjected to waiting for many hours before learning whether they would attend a charter school or return to an inferior public school.

Officials confirmed that the innovative selection process has already proved a success, though not without its minor setbacks, in areas of the country where it has already been implemented.

“This year we’re making the pills a little stronger because not all the candidates were weeded out right away,” said Tim Bernard of Thrive Academy in Washington, D.C., a public charter that had 200 elementary school students apply for eight open spots last year. “Some kids would seem fine, we’d extend them an official offer of admission, and then a few days later they’d start hallucinating or slurring their speech. Meanwhile parents are scared sick we’re going to rescind their kids’ offers because too many applicants survived.”

“Luckily, we worked out all the kinks for this year,” Bernard added. “The body removal crews are already assembled outside the auditoriums and ready to go.”

Though charter school officials maintained that the new admissions process is designed fairly, critics claimed many affluent parents have already found ways to exploit the system. For example, after a lottery in Los Angeles ended with a high number of living students, officials discovered that parents had been building up their children’s immunity to the pills by giving them small doses of poison each day, or had hired tutors to help them train their bodies to overcome the effects of the pills. (emphasis added) [2]

Despite these flaws, many parents said they have no doubts about trying to get their child into a charter.

“I went through charter school admissions with my oldest son last year, but after he died I wondered whether it was even worth it to try again with my other kids,” Hoboken, NJ mother Jane Schaal told reporters. “But then my younger daughter got into Achievement First and I knew we made the right decision. There was no way she was going to succeed in public school.”

“Next year we’ll try to get my youngest son into a good elementary school,” Schaal added. “He’s not in kindergarten yet, but even if he’s not accepted to a top-notch charter, it’s a relief knowing that his future will be set.”

This should be really funny, but as with many of their other satires, this piece comes disturbingly close to everything that is wrong with charter schools driven by market forces—a commitment done to children and their families, a process that sacrifices children in very real ways.

[1] Why Sending Your Child to a Charter School Hurts Other Children

[2] Endgame: Disaster Capitalism, New Orleans, and the Charter Scam:

And even in Layton’s own article, we discover the dark truth beneath the polished sheen of charter school advocacy:

“White students disproportionately attend the best charter schools, while the worst are almost exclusively populated by African American students. Activists in New Orleans joined with others in Detroit and Newark last month to file a federal civil rights complaint, alleging that the city’s best-performing schools have admissions policies that exclude African American children. Those schools are overseen by the separate Orleans Parish School Board, and they don’t participate in OneApp, the city’s centralized school enrollment lottery.”

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