Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fast Food Schooling: Worse Than You Think

It's fairly routine to draw parallels between what is happening in education and what has happened in the rise and growth of the fast food industry. But if you have not been paying attention to what's been happening in the fast food sector, let me show you how that's even worse news than you thought.

For a full rundown, check out this article in Washington Monthly by Josh Friedman. "Big Whopper Economics" is depressing reading, not just for people in the industry, but for those of us working in sectors that want to imitate the fast food biz.

Turning the screws.

1997 was marked by two pieces of case law that made life as a franchisee particularly miserable.  

Queen City Pizza vs. Domino's Pizza determined that reversed previous decisions on the issue of lock-in. Lock-in requires franchisees to abide by any and all requirements written into their franchise, including the requirement to buy supplies from the parent company at whatever price the parent company charges.

State Oil Company vs. Khan found that franchisors could put ceilings on what prices could be charged.

So if the McBig Burger main office declares that A) you must buy the fixings for the Greaseburger Max from them for $2.00 per unit and B) you must sell the Greaseburger Max at $1.00 per unit, you have no legal recourse. You must sit there and eat the loss.

But wait! Free market forces!!

Freedman hears you. But bad franchisors have not gone out of business, and they don't necessarily care if their franchisees fail. The default rate for the beloved Cold Stone Creamery was over 42%. Submaker Quiznos had 39% of its franchisees with small business loans were in default in 2012. Quiznos kept selling franchises even though they knew they had oversaturated the market had a 40% failure rate.

According to Freedman, analyst Richard Adams of Franchise Equity Group estimates that one in four McDonalds are not profitable. This is why it does you know good to picket your local McDonalds and demand the owner raise his workers' wages. Your local McDonalds owner probably can't afford to eat at his own restaurant, either. The probable profit margin of most fast food franchises is about four to six percent.

“The corporations set wages by setting everything but wages,” notes Jack Temple, a policy analyst with the National Employment Law Project. Individual franchisees cannot shift money from other costs to pay for higher wages because they do not control what is left.

So can we just go picket exclusively at the fast food places that are owned by the parent corporation instead of local franchisees? Well, about that...

How the industry has been restructured.

Remember how Freedman said that the parent corporation doesn't care if its franchisees fail? That's because they've found other ways to make money.

One of his examples is Burger King. Since 2009, the parent company has sold off over 1,000 of its restaurants. "This has reduced Burger King's revenues but raised its net earnings." The company behind Applebee's and IHOP now owns only about 1% of the restaurants in the chains.

The parent corporations have adopted a strategy of "de-risking"-- they no longer face any of the risks of running a restaurant, but are actually in the business of collecting licensing fees and selling supplies to franchisees (who, remember, have no say, no power to negotiate, what any of those charges might be.) The risk hasn't been eliminated-- it's simply all been placed on the local franchisee.

With the chains primarily focused on financial engineering and no longer in the business of running their own stores, the interests of the franchisor and franchisee quickly diverge in ways that hurt everyone in the industry except those at the very top. As a former Burger King supplier noted in an interview with the popular franchisee blog BlueMauMau, “The cost of goods … and what the specs are get to be less important if you don’t have a dog in the operational part."... In this model, the role of big business is not to create a symbiotic relationship with franchisees and their employees, but rather to extract as many economic rents, or unearned gains, as possible. 

And if they actually go under and shut down (or, as one devastated Quiznos franchisee did, commit suicide), well, for the time being, they aren't much harder to replace than a burger wrapper.

Who would approach an entire industry with such a destructive approach that shows regard for neither the actual purpose of the business or the live human beings who are being ground up and bled dry? You'll never guess.

Okay, you probably will guess.

Says Freedman, "More than seventy chain restaurant brands are now owned by private equity firms."

Burger King has been passed from firm to firm (including Bain Capital) and is now held by some special investment magic trick called a special purchase acquisition company. That parent group of Applebee's and IHOP is called DineEquity.

Yes, it's the hedge fund crowd, once again displaying their willingness to trash absolutely everything as long as they get a good ROI. And that's why reading this article made my blood run just a bit chill.

Because these guys learn, and they have far better learning transfer than many of my students. They learned from the fast food lessons of the seventies and eighties-- turn all of your high-skills jobs into low-skills jobs so that you can lower wage costs and churn and burn staff at will. Standardize your product so that any shmoe can produce it, and ramp up the marketing so that people will line up to receive a mediocre (but consistent) product.

Could these new lessons be coming to education, too?

How would it look? Push the charter operation biz down onto local operators. Lock them into contracts that required them to get all their supplies from the main office-- maybe even the very buildings they occupy. Control all of their financial inputs and outputs so that the school may or may not struggle, but the investors will always get their share. Do not worry about how successful the charter is-- just how well it's pumping money back to the main office.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Google Hearts TFA in Worst Way

People looking to get a job at Google might first want to spend a few years as a teacher.

That is the lede for what appears to be a serious imitation of the classic Onion send-up of Teach For America. Business Insider has written a glowing portrait of how TFA can be a great stepping-stone to a career at Google.

A company spokesperson tells BI writer Aaron Taube that the tech giant loves people from TFA because the program "requires new graduates to think on their feet and achieve success in a challenging new environment..." Google in fact has a partnership with TFA that allows Googlers to defer a job offer until they've served their two years with TFA. How liberating it must be to walk into that classroom knowing that your real job is already waiting for you.

Taube's interview was with Meghan Casserly, Google head of culture communications, and A. T. McWilliams, TFA alum and current Googler.

"TFA graduates have to coach their students in an environment where motivation isn't always a given ... and solve very complex problems that require patience, perseverance and commitment — things we really value at Google," said Casserly. "It's difficult to find talented professionals with this kind of intense experience at such an early stage in their career."

McWilliams offers his own experience as an example. He was placed in Brooklyn (in one of the "coveted" TFA openings).  

There, McWilliams learned a handful of skills that he says have helped make him more effective at his job at Google, where he became a full-time member of the company's New York corporate communications team this past summer.

Taube actually frames TFA's infamous five weeks of training (hey-- how much do you need to be a teacher, really) as a plus. It forced McWilliams to learn on the job and come up with creative solutions. See, if he had actually been trained to be a teacher, he would have wasted his time just implementing proven professional instructional techniques, and lord knows he wouldn't have gotten any business training out of that.

It's an astonishing article. There's this sentence--

Perhaps most importantly, TFA forced him to think long and hard about how people learn, and to use that knowledge to solve difficult problems. 

Followed, without a trace of irony by this phrase--

During his two years in the classroom

Yes, two whole years of long, hard thinking. Oh, the hard thinking. It must have been exhausting, but worthwhile because it built him some big, strong thinky parts. I know that in my decades of teaching, two years was about all I spent thinking about how students learn (of course, I had the disadvantage of taking courses about that in teacher school).

McWilliams says that all of this experience will help him with managing people, although he is not in charge of anyone yet, and I am wondering why the heck not?? He was a 2012 grad, which means he finished his two years about four months ago, or at least triple the time he needed to become an awesometastic teacher-ish guy. If it takes five weeks to make a teacher, surely Google can turn him into a Leader of Men in four months!

"At Teach for America, you're not only learning how to teach someone else, you're also learning what factors help someone learn the best," McWilliams says.

Oh, for the love of God!! You know what else you might just accidentally do occasionally at Teach for America-- you might take your head out of your own rectal cavity and TEACH SOME CHILDREN!! Or did you think that all those children in your classroom were just gathered together so that you could have an educational experience to better prepare you for your real career. Do you think those children got up every morning and thought, "Boy, I just hope that today I can help Mr. McWilliams become the best Googler in the whole world! I just want him to be really succesful!" Is that what you think was going on??

Sigh. It is McWilliams who has the last word in the article. "I think the Teach for America experience is really applicable in any place that requires you to be smart and creative," he says. Because, yes, that's what TFA is apparently supposed to do-- provide college grads with an experience that they can apply to their real jobs later. Those children are just your own personal ladder to success.

I often discuss TFA as if it is dismissive of teaching as a profession, that it belittles the whole idea of teaching. But this is actually worse, because teaching isn't even on the radar in this article. It's just one more life experience for a college grad who's just passing through, unable to see the children for all the visions of Googlebucks. Sorry, Onion. Real life has passed you up.

Charter Takeovers Tennessee Style

If you don't have the good fortune to have a hurricane clear the public school competition out of your path, what other techniques can be used to convert to an all-charter system? Kevin Huffman in Tennessee appears to have an answer.

Kevin Huffman, as theTennessee Grand High Commissioner of Education, represents a reformster milestone of his own. Huffman's career path took him to Swarthmore, which led to a TFA posting, which led to law school, which led to practicing education law in DC, which led back to TFA, first as general counsel and later as various VP executive titly things. Then, a few years later, Governor Bill Haslam tapped him for Tennessee Educational Poobahdom. Which made him the first TFA temp to get to run an entire state's education system. So congrats on that, Tennessee.

Since taking over that post, Huffman has taken some great reformy steps. For instance, he chimed in with Arne Duncan to claim that low-achieving students, including those with learning disabilities, just needed to be tested harder. And as a super buddy of charter schools, he took $3.4 million dollars away from Nashville city schools because their board didn't approve the charter that he had personally shepherded through the process.

That blew open the giant can of worms that is Nashville metro schools, an ugly mess that I'm still reading up on. But there's more reformster excitement to be found in Tennessee. Let's travel cross-state to Memphis and the Achievement School District.

The ASD is yet another lesson in the kind of money to be made in the business of privatizing schools. It's also a lesson in what can happen when the state stops even pretending to have a commitment to public education.

Most states way back under NCLB had some sort of mechanism for taking over local school districts that were "failing." Most of these were site-specific and theoretically impermanent responses to local issues (eg the SRC in Philadelphia)-- turnaround pro tem operators. But Tennessee has the ASD-- a state-run board that is essentially a state-wide school district composed of Whatever Schools We've Decided To Shut Down This Week. The ASD is part school district, part brokerage firm, deciding which batch of students and real estate will be served up to which charter school operators. If your goal were to simply destroy public education and replace it with a charter system, this would be a genius way to do it.

You can see their genius right there in the big fat mission statement on the ASD site:

The Achievement School District was created to catapult the bottom 5% of schools in Tennessee straight to the to 25% in the state. In doing so, we dramatically expand our students' life and career options, engage parents and community members in new and exciting ways, and ensure a bright future for the state of Tennessee.

This is just brilliant (from a ruthless privatizing takeover standpoint) because there will always be schools in the bottom 5%. Maybe somebody in the state capital is dumb enough to think that eventually ALL the schools in Tennessee will be in the top 25%. But for everyone who is vaguely math literate, the implication here is clear-- if the ASD can just show a little patience, they will eventually be the only school system in Tennessee.

That process is already well under way. The ASD started out with six schools in 2012 and is up to twenty-two this year-- all in Memphis. The state has drawn big red bulls-eyes on twelve more schools in the Memphis area (though the ASD site frames it as "eligible to join ASD, as if that's a nifty prize they've just won) with nine now emerging as likely targets beneficiaries. ASD has already begun the process of deciding which charter operator gets to pick these plums, and the candidates include many of the usual suspects such as KIPP and Green Dot.

ASD is also expanding in Nashville, and I can only imagine that charter operators bidding e-bay style for the chance to snatch these beauties. ASD of course hands the schools over stripped of many of those bothersome rules about teacher certification and job security.

So sit back and relax, schools of Tennessee. You will be assimilated soon enough. Soon every single one of you will be in the top 25%, and you'll be happily wedded to your new charter overlords. In the meantime, other reformsters can just watch and learn as Memphis schools are parceled out to charter privateers.

This new type of system-- the state as a broker between communities and charters-- seems open to all manner of abuse. It seems absolutely built for pay-to-play, and it also seems to have built-in instability, since the state can run a revolving door of charter operators depending on results, ROI, and whatever operator is the flavor of the month. Students, teachers, and community members are just fodder for this giant money-generating machine.

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Robes for The Testing Cult

Do you have the slightest shred of belief that the recent reformster declaration that we must get the whole testing mess under control actually meant anything good? Then right after I send you my sales pitch for buying a bridge over Florida swampland from a Nigerian prince, let me introduce you to .

There's nothing subtle here. The line on your tab will read "Let's test less but better #passthetestmn" and the first big headline says "Let's be clear: student testing matters."

Yes, the big testing cutback announcement was just snazzy new robes for the same old cult of testing. 

Without tests, we wouldn’t have the information we need to navigate our everyday lives. The same is true in our classrooms: without tests, how would parents, teachers and community members [my emphasis] know how our kids are doing, or how to help all students get on track? Just as we need trustworthy tests in our daily lives—from the doctor’s office to the mechanic—we need unbiased, quality assessments for our kids.

Got that? Human beings are incapable of navigating their daily lives without the benefit of some Wise Authority to test us and give us the results. Yes, without tests parents and teachers would not know how students were doing (because the parents and teachers who see the child every day are simply not as wise as the people who create The Test). Also, how would community members know how well the-- wait! what? When did we decide that students need to show their report cards to everybody else in town? I knew that FERPA had been weakened, but still, this seems a bit much.

So let’s test less, but better. Let’s use high-quality, relevant tests that strengthen teaching and learning, and give parents peace of mind about their children’s achievement.

See, this is what the new testing initiative means. "We have heard you," say the reformsters, "and we understand that you hate sprinkling arsenic over every part of every meal. So we have prepared these pills with the daily prescribed dose of arsenic in a capsule that you can quickly and easily give to your children." But under no circumstances are we going to discuss or even question the wisdom of giving children regular doses of arsenic.

Teachers Can Haz Robes, Too

There's also a cavalcade of educators offering their Stepfordian support. Well, some of them aren't technically offering support so much as protective cover that obscures the real issue.

Taylor Rub, a special ed teacher, says she uses standardized tests as "one data point." Says Matt Proulx, a kindergarten dual immersion teacher: "Testing and data collection, whether formal or informal, is my road map to knowing where my students are academically and what I need to do to help them succeed." Which I don't disagree with a bit-- it just doesn't in any way make a case for standardized testing as part of that picture.

Teacher of the Year Tom Rademacher uses the most words, and I believe they translate roughly as "I don't get a damn bit of use out of these tests in my classroom, but low scores on state exams are the only way to get politicians to acknowledge that there are some neighborhoods where students are being ignored." Which is an interesting point, though it would be more interesting if the typical political response to discovering these pockets of neglect were not to cry "Failing schools! Failing schools!!" in the same tones used in another era to cry "Witch!!" and then following up with "Golden charter opportunity right here!!"

But then there's Luke Winspur who says "As a teacher, I believe that eliminating criterion-referenced, standardized tests would ultimately hurt students. These tests give invaluable information that allow me to provide my students with targeted instruction on the exact skills they need to succeed." If by "succeed," Winspur means "Get good score on High Stakes Test," then yes-- standardized tests are a useful part of test prep for taking standardized tests. Otherwise, no-- this is baloney. Winspur's picture shows someone who appears young and intelligent; if he can't tell what instruction his students need then A) something is wrong with his teacher thinky parts and B) teh standardized test will not help him, anyway.

More Bad Analogies

Elsewhere on the site, the nameless authors offer this:

Kids don’t like tests, but they also don’t like visits to the doctor—yet both are important. Like annual check-ups, standardized tests tell you how your kid is doing, and how you can help them stay on track.

You know what happens when you go to the doctor? A trained professional human being uses his trained professional human judgment to determine how you're doing. When you go for your checkup, the doctor does not say, "I have some unproven, inaccurate tests here that sort of check for things loosely related to your health. Whatever they say I'm just going to go ahead and accept blindly, because I just don't know enough about this medical stuff."

In the medicine-education parallel, doctor does not equal standardized test. Doctor equals teacher.

Plus, tests aren’t going away. Whatever your child wants to be—a doctor, an accountant or a carpenter—they’ll have to pass tests along the way.

So relax and be assimilated. The sooner you and your child learn to be compliant and  unquestioning, the easier this will go for you. All that word salad we keep shoveling out about how important critical thinking is? We don't mean when we're talking. Definitely don't question the assertion that every single profession in the world requires a bad standardized test for admission.

Robes Are Also Good For Covering Gaping Holes in Your Reasoning

The facts are clear: students who do well on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments are more likely to succeed in college.

Correlation and causation, anyone? We have discovered that seventeen year olds who regularly help their parents get food off the top shelf in the kitchen go on to be successful basketball players, so let's train every kid to get stuff off the top shelf.

So let’s keep and improve the MCAs—one of the best indicators of whether or not kids are on track for success in college—and help all kids pass the test.

It's funny that the Cult of Testing never wants to discuss that these tests are also one of the best indicators of whether a student comes from a wealthy home or a poor one. You would think that all this interest in correlations would lead us back to one of the most regularly-documented correlations of all. And yet, somehow, it never comes up.

The Cult Is Still in Full Gear

My main point? If you seriously thought that last week's announcement from CCSSO and CGCS about testing actually signaled a change in the Cult of Testing, you were crazy. Almost as crazy as the cult members themselves, who continue to believe (or at least claim to believe) that these standardized tests measure anything other than the students' ability to do well on standardized tests.

Questioning the Test

Sarah Blaine blogs over at parentingthecore, and while she is not a very prolific, her posts are often thoughtful and thought-provoking (she is the same blogger who dissected the implications of the Pearson wrong answer).

Blaine has been getting ready for PARCC Family Presentation night at her daughter's school, and she has prepared a list that I think would be an entirely appropriate set of questions for anyone to ask a school board, elected official, or education department bureaucrat who started making noise about the awesomeness of the Testing Regime we now live under. You should just follow the link to read the full piece, but let me give you a taste.

Some of the questions address the nuts and bolts of testing, but hit right at the heart of testing issues. There are some obvious ones, like:

How many hours of testing for 3rd graders? 4th graders? 5th graders?

But this next one is one of my favorites, precisely because it isn't asked often enough:

What in-district adults are proctoring and reviewing the PARCC tests to ensure that the test questions are not poorly worded, ambiguous, and/or that correct answer choices are provided for multiple choice tasks? 

These are also winners:

What data do you expect to receive from PARCC that will be available to classroom teachers to guide instruction? When will PARCC scores and results be available? 

Who scores the subjective portions of the PARCC tests? What are those people’s qualifications?

What steps are you taking to ensure that our 8, 9, and 10 year old students have the typing skills necessary to compose essays with keyboards? How much time is being spent on preparing children to acquire the skills necessary to master the PARCC interface? Is the preparation process uniform throughout the district? If it is not, doesn’t this mean that we won’t be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons of student scores even across the district? 

Some of Blaine's questions are considerably more in-your-face, which is why I love them:

Will students lose points on math assessments if they do not use specific Common Core strategies to solve problems (e.g., performing multiplication the traditional way rather than drawing an array)? My child lost full credit on the following Envisions math test problem this year: “Write a multiplication sentence for 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 15″ because she wrote 3 x 5 = 15 instead of 5 x 3 = 15. Will children be losing points on PARCC for failure to make meaningless distinctions such as this one?

There are plenty more where these came from, including links to articles and information that help inform the area in question. And though she was aiming at the PARCC, her list works just fine for whatever big dumb high stakes test your part of the world is pushing.

The world needs more of these questions. Too many people responsible for providing some form of educational leadership keep just doing dumb things because nobody asks them any questions or challenges any of their dumb proposals. It would be fun to watch what happened if a whole group of parents attended a meeting with Blaine's questions in hand.

Weary in Wisconsin

I received the following message from one of my readers. I'm telling her story here with her permission:

I am writing to you because I don't know where else to turn. I am a veteran elementary teacher of 25 years. I am emotionally spent. Yes, it is the second month of a new school year, and I am completely burned out. To be fair, it hasn't all happened in the last month and a half. It all started about 5 years ago, and things have been rolling downhill since then. You see, because I am an elementary teacher, my life today is completely out of balance. My colleagues and I easily work 60 hours a week, and when we are not at work, are usually worrying about work--about how we are going to get everything done that needs to be done and and how we are going to get our students to the end goal that our administration expects of us, er, I mean, them.

Many of us arrive at school each day at or before 7 am, and and often do not make it home in time for supper with our families. Our lunch break is spent inhaling yogurt as we work with children, score papers, record grades or make copies. We come home exhausted to our own children who need our help with homework, piles of laundry that need to be washed or folded, and to lunches that need to be packed for the next day when this whole crazy cycle begins again. But by the time we get home, we have nothing left to give. And when the weekend finally does roll around, activities have to be scheduled around time we know that we have to spend doing yet more schoolwork. Elderly parents to visit? No time. Sick child? Hubby can you take this? This is just no way to live!

When I was in college, I studied hard and planned for my future in which I expected to one day be a successful, experienced, respected professional. Over the years as a teacher, I have continued to push myself toward greater understanding of child development, academic achievement and my role in helping children reach their potential. Yet where I am today could hardly be farther from the vision I once had for myself. Instead, I find myself in a workplace where I have had instilled in me the notion that I am not doing enough, don't know enough and am not making progress fast enough. I often look back on my college days with regret and even resentment.. I could have done anything. I could have been anything. Why did I make this stupid choice to be a teacher?

My husband tells me that my colleagues and I just need to band together to talk with our administrators, sharing our struggles with them. Surely, he says, our collective voices would be enough to make a case that the administration can't ignore. After all, any good employer cares about the physical and emotional well-being of its employees, right? And surely they would be interested in the morale in the building, right? Well, we have tried. They aren't

If I found a job in a field outside of education this afternoon that fit me, I would take it by tonight. I want out. And I want the world to know it. (Well, kind of. Not my immediate world, perhaps--after all, I do have to keep my job until I can find something else!) But until then, I want some relief. And I simply don't know where to find it. 

This teacher works in Wisconsin, and feels that following the "walk out the door at 5:00" approach would result in her being out of a job in a few months.

I don't know how people who create this kind of work environment live with themselves. I don't know what story they tell themselves at the end of the day that makes them feel as if they have done heroic, important things.

And I know that some of you will think, "Well, they just need to stand tall, stand together, and fight back hard." I don't know enough of the specifics of her situation to know if that's a real option or not. But I have to wonder what has happened-- how did we get to the place where it's usual to expect that a teacher needs to be a hard-as-nails street fighter. 

How many great people are we losing because all they have to offer is that they are gentle and kind, love children, and want to help students learn and understand--- and they know (or they learn) that that is not enough.

Do feel free to offer support to this reader in the comments. I expect she'll see your comments. As will the other readers who are in a similar place.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Forever Schools

You may well have seen some variation on this poster:

I've seen plenty of them (and we have a forever dog of our own).

This morning I cam across this piece on Buzzfeed, of all places, talking about the beginning of the end for charter profiteers in general, and K12 in particular. And it reminded me of one more quality that distinguishes between modern profiteering charter schools and true public schools.

Public schools are forever schools, not until schools.

Public schools do not serve students until the financial returns get too low.

Public schools do not serve students until those students turn out to be too challenging.

Public schools do not serve students until they can't get away with lying about staff qualifications.

Public schools do not serve students until the students reveal learning disabilities.

Public schools do not serve students until the market presents a better investment opportunity.

Public schools do not serve students until the sponsoring corporation dissolves itself and disappears.

Public schools do not serve students until they can't get sweetheart deals from politicians any more.

Public schools do not serve students until they decide to just close up overnight with no notice.

Public schools do not serve students until the people running them feel like doing something else instead.

Public schools do not serve students until those students have to be pushed out for scoring too low on The Test.

A public school is a commitment. It's a community promising, "We will build this place to help our children learn and grow, and we will never, ever, close it for capricious or self-serving reasons. Families may come and go. Businesses may rise and fall. But when you come back here in a generation or two or three, you will find this school still standing."

It is true that forever schools don't really last forever (and our dog is not immortal, either). But the commitment is a forever commitment, a commitment that goes beyond individual staff, leaders, community members. The commitment is the community, past, present and future saying to their children and their children's children, "We will be right here, just as long as children need a safe place to learn and grow."

The modern profiteering charters make no such commitment. "We'll be right here," they say, "just as long as it serves our purposes."

There are cities, increasing in number, where leaders have trampled on the promise of public schools. Shame on those leaders, and shame on our national leaders who have encouraged the destruction of the public school promise. Wouldn't it be interesting if charter school companies had to sign contracts that, say, bound them to keeping a school open for ten, fifteen, twenty years whether they were making money or not. Wouldn't it be interesting if, in places like New Orleans, politicians had said, "You can open a charter school to replace the public school that used to be here, but you can't ever close it until we say you can. You must guarantee to provide educational services to the children of New Orleans as long as there are children in New Orleans." Public schools should be as permanent as any public institution can be. It is a huge ripoff to replace them with temporary schools having no more aspiration to permanence than the pop-up tent store selling Fourth of July fireworks.

In the meantime, the modern profiteering charters are just the educational version of the people who bring home puppies and a year later have taken them to the pound or abandoned them in the country or simply neglected them to death.

All pets should be forever pets. And all schools should be forever schools.