Charter School Debate: Choice or Corporate Coercion?

Charter School Protest
Protest outside the Texas Charter Schools Association’s annual conference in Austin.

Bruce A. Dixon| December 05, 2012

Whenever top Republicans and top Democrats agree on something, it’s bound to be bad news for the rest of us. One of the major non-issues in the election just past, as far as Obama and Romney were concerned, was their mutual endorsement of corporate-sponsored education reform, including the dismissal of thousands of highly qualified experienced teachers in favor of teacher-temp factories like Teach For America, tying teacher salaries and school funding to student performance on standardized tests, adoption of the so-called “common core curriculum,” which eliminates most poetry and literature and creeping privatization through the gradual replacement of public schools by charter schools.

New Orleans Protest Against Charter Schools
New Orleans Protest Against Charter Schools

But wherever voters have been given the clear chance to weigh in, they have rejected notions that public schools ought to be run like businesses by business people instead of for the public good by parents, teachers and communities. As Glen Ford pointed out in his masterful analysis of the origin of the charter school “movement” there has never any grassroots demands for vouchers, charters, school privatization or other hallmarks of corporate education reform. That whole scene is the creation of deep corporate bipartisan pockets like the Walton Family, Gates & Broad Foundations just to name a few.

In November, when Indiana voters had a clear chance to take out a vocal and nationally prominent political advocate of charters, educational privatization, standardized tests, core curriculum and the rest they voted overwhelmingly to end his career.

Georgia voters however, were not so lucky. In Georgia the bipartisan advocates of educational privatization put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to enable a commission appointed mostly by the governor to create charter schools without permission from any local authorities like pesky local elected school boards. They spread enough money around to black politicians so that significant numbers of Democrats in the state legislature cautiously backed it, or at least remained silent, and they rewrote the amendment in legally vague but nakedly promotional language about “opportunity” and “improving educational outcomes.”

While there was almost no news coverage, charter school advocates, including national charter school chains and contractors spent millions blanketing the radio and TV airwaves, and filling mailboxes in a deceptive campaign for the charter school amendment. State politicians from the governor on down publicly threatened teachers and school board members who spoke out against the referendum, and predictably, it passed…[Continue Reading]

The LinkTV program Koch Brothers Exposed digs deep into the plan to end public education in America.

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