by David Safier
When Dr. David Alberts' employment with Great Hearts charter schools was terminated in 2009, he signed a non-disclosure agreement, then in spite of the agreement, he wrote a book about the charter school chain. I must say, I'm bothered by the idea that a public charter school funded by taxpayers would forbid an ex-employee from telling what he knows. I can understand non-disclosure agreements for current and former employees of the CIA and the FBI, but not for a public school.
It's especially ironic to see a school that is part of the "school choice" movement keeping information out of the hands of parents who could use the information to make an informed choice about whether to enroll their children in that school.
Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, an Asst. Prof of Educational Policy and Planning at the University of Texas, put Alberts' book, It’s All About the Information: What Great Hearts Academies Doesn’t Want You to Know, on his Cloaking Inequality blog. Shortly after, he received an email from Great Hearts requesting he remove the book because it "is itself a violation of law." That's true, or it was at one time. According to Vasquez Heilig,
It appears that Dr. Alberts took a cash payment and signed a confidentiality agreement when he left Great Hearts Academies (Does this sound strangely similar to how corporations function?). He was naughty and wrote a book about Great Hearts instead. Great Hearts took him to court.
But Dr. Vasquez Heilig contacted the Maricopa Superior Court and found out the case against Dr. Alberts was dismissed in 2010. And so he writes:
I am citing this book as an important part of my academic research on charter schools which is directly related to my scholarship and regular duties at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Alberts' document has some interesting things to say about Great Hearts. Much of it is about his problems with the way Great Hearts operates and the way it educates its students. None of it puts a dagger through the heart of the charter school chain. But for an outsider like me, it presents some interesting history about Great Hearts and about what it sees as its educational mission. Simply because it's critical of the charter school chain is no reason it should be banned from public view.
Great Hearts' desire for secrecy points to yet another of many problems with the privatization of education. Our schools should be as transparent as possible so the taxpayers who fund them know both the good and the bad of what's going on and can work to improve them.