Can we finally move beyond the illusion that the privatization of public schools is for the benefit of kids?
Much empirical evidence says we should.
Can we finally be honest about that fact that for profit charters simply move money from that which is set aside for the common good to corporate profits at the expense of children, particularly those in poverty and of color?
A new study, Do Poor Kids Deserve Lower-Quality Schools Than Rich Kids? Evaluating School Privatization Proposals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by Gordon Lafer, says yes.
Ruth Conniff, in her article, Scathing Report Finds Rocketship, School Privatization Hurt Poor Kids, shows how this study excavates the way in which the Milwaukee school system, “ground zero for school privatization,” uses children as fodder for corporate profits.
“Lafer’s research…is a sweeping indictment of the growing private charter school industry–and other schemes backed by rightwing groups and big business–that siphon public funds out of public schools and enrich corporate investors at the expense of quality education for poor children.”
Let’s be clear- despite what you hear from the right, from Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush, and Bill Gates, etc., despite their lofty rhetoric of offering choices for poor families, despite their stated intentions of helping lift families out of poverty, the fact of the matter is that the corporate education reform movement functions to insure that the educational quality experienced by poor children is harmed when school privatization occurs, and corporate profit is greatly increased.
From Conniff’s article:
“Because of its extraordinarily high teacher turnover (the chain relies heavily on Teach for America volunteers), its large classes, and reductive curriculum, Rocketship [one of the for profit charter chains used in Milwaukee] subjects kids most in need of consistent, nurturing, adult attention to low quality instruction and neglect.
That model, which is also on display in Milwaukee’s low-performing voucher schools, is demonstrably harmful to kids. But it has generated big profits for wealthy investors.
From 2010 to 2013, Rocketship increased its assets from $2.2 million to $15.8 million…” (emphasis added)
Students become objectified as workers for the purpose of increasing profit at the expense of the welfare of these children. Tax dollars, ostensibly spent for the public good, become corporate profit at the expense of our children.
We are sacrificing our children to the god of profit.
“It appears the question [Rocketship] aims to answer is not simply, ‘How can we do better by poor kids’? but rather, ‘How can we educate poor kids while generating a 15 percent rate of return for investors.?’ ”
But, as Conniff notes, it doesn’t stop there. The report goes on to connect how the illusion of failing schools is used to increase privatization, and thus corporate profits.
“Worse, in pushing these efforts, politicians, rightwing think tanks, chambers of commerce, and, most of all, the American Legislative Exchange Council are actually creating the very problem of failure in the school system they claim their privatization plans will help address.
A recent proposal in the Wisconsin legislature, expected to come up again next session, would mandate that 5 percent of all of the state’s public schools receive ‘failing’ grades, which lead to closure after the third ‘F.’ Schools deemed ‘failing ‘would be replaced by charter schools such as Rocketship.” (emphasis added)
By creating a system that has 5% of schools mandated as “failures” as determined by the abstraction of standardized test score results, a pool of schools that legally must be privatized, and thus ripened for profit, has been created.
This is already happening in Michigan, where over 80% of the charter schools are for profit, under our state’s Educational Achievement Authority. And despite a horrific track record, there is a daily push by Michigan’s GOP legislature to expand the EAA to a minimum of 50 schools.
Again, to be clear, the evidence shows that this push is not about children.
It is about profit.
“‘The idea that what chamber of commerce lobbyists lie awake at night thinking about is what will help poor kids…I mean, we’re adults, right?’ Lafer commented by phone.”
Let’s hope so.