Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tutoring Bonanza: No Child Left Behind Act Highly Profitable, Except for Children

from New York Daily News
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
by Juan Gonzalez

Department of Education Paid Private Tutor Firm 21M in 2 Years, Most of It In Overhead

In its drive to improve school reading and math test scores, the city's Department of Education paid a private company more than $21 million in two years to tutor thousands of public school pupils at home.

But most of that money - more than twice the amount the DOE originally budgeted - went for overhead, management and profit for the company, Champion Learning Center.

Champion got $79 an hour to tutor each pupil for up to four hours per week, according to a copy of the contract obtained by the Daily News.

That adds up to almost $320 a week in tutoring costs per child.

Champion paid its part-time tutors, mostly college students with no teaching experience, an average of $17 an hour.

That's right. The company received an astounding $62 in overhead for every hour its employees spent tutoring a child.

Champion is one of dozens of private companies with state approval to provide tutoring services under the No Child Left Behind Act.

"We received very little training in our orientation," said one college student hired by Champion. "They just told us to follow the instructions in the test prep workbooks they gave us."

Read the rest of the article here.

This is sad and it is obscene. Wild profiteering while subjecting children to such a narrow and impoverished view of education....tutoring to artificially pump up test scores. The obsession with standardized testing and data-driven instruction is resulting in the dumbing down and numbing down of our children. I think it serves the interests of the oligarchs controlling ed reform to keep it that way.

That the plight of poor children is being exploited in this way is the true nature of the No Child Left Behind abomination. The unrelenting failing public schools propaganda that ultimately led to this law, and the increasing imposition of business models in our schools, have succeeded in lining the pockets of business interests while simultaneously undermining support for public education.

More devastating, however, failing public schools propaganda has served brilliantly as a convenient scapegoat to divert national attention away from the condition of childhood in this nation, a way to avoid the difficult but necessary task of confronting this crisis directly. Far easier to blame the schools and teachers and charge them with fixing it. See the State of America's Children 2008 Report.

It is unjust and beyond irresponsible to charge that public schools and teachers are to blame because achievement gaps exist and that they alone can close them. Evidence is mounting on the impact of poverty and societal ills on the developing brain. School reform, decidely not the harsh kind of "reform" disadvantaged children are now being subjected to, must be combined with social and economic reforms.

I think the more we learn, the more the shamefulness of this Dark Age of Oligarchical Ed Reform will be laid bare. Mark it down for the historical record, the war on public education.

Check out what NCLB and high-stakes testing have accomplished for disadvantaged children.

Meanwhile, as vast inequities continue to expand in our society, increasing waves of difficult to educate children pour into our schools from circumstances they have no control over. For more related commentary, see the Perimeter Primate's post, "Where Sociology, Criminology, and Charter Schools Converge".

No comments: