Video from a gathering of charter school administrators shows Netflix CEO Reed Hastings telling charter school administrators they should be working toward eventually replacing public school district boards.
“If we go to the general public and we say, ‘Here’s an argument why you should get rid of school boards,’ of course no one’s going to go for that,” Hastings said in his speech, captured at the annual California Charter School Association conference by the advocacy group Stop Rocketship. “So what we have to do is to work with school districts to grow steadily, and the work ahead is really hard because we’re at eight percent of students in California, whereas in New Orleans they’re at 90 percent, so we have a lot of catchup to do.”
The video also shows Hastings vastly overrating the performance of charter schools in New Orleans.
“The overall results in New Orleans, across the whole city, are amazing,” Hastings said. “They’re rapidly rising, much faster growth than anywhere in Louisiana.”
However, Newsweek reported in September 2013 that the performance of the Recovery School District, which is dominated by charter schools and took in 75 percent of the city’s schoolchildren in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, has been sub-standard at best:
Seventy-nine percent of RSD charters are still rated D or F by the Louisiana Department of Education. (To be sure, some charter operators argue that the grading system in Louisiana, which keeps moving the bar upward, doesn’t sufficiently capture the improvements schools have achieved.) Sci is one of two RSD high schools to earn a B; there are no A-rated open-admission schools. In a school system with about 42,000 mostly poor African-American kids, every year thousands are out of school at any given time—because they are on suspension, have dropped out, or are incarcerated. Even at successful schools, such as the highly regarded Sci Academy, large numbers of students never make it to graduation, and others are unlikely to make it through college.
In his speech, Hastings, himself a former board member with the Los Angeles Unified School District, said the biggest problem facing traditional school districts is relying on elections to fill their boards, which curtails long-term planning.
“Every year, they’re getting better, because they have stable government,” Hastings said of charter schools. “They don’t have an elected school [board], and that’s the real top issue here.”
However, Education Week reported in January that an analysis by the California Department of Education found that schools in the Rocketship charter school system have also reported sizable declines; the amount of students showing proficiency in English and language arts has dropped by 30 percent over the past five years, while math proficiency has fallen by 14 percent over the same time span.
Hastings is listed as a member of Rocketships “national strategy advisory board,” and has reportedly invested millions into the company.
Watch video of Hastings’ comments, as posted online on Monday, below.
[h/t Crooks & Liars]
[Image via Reed Hastings Facebook page]