For decades, conservatives and some liberals have been waging a campaign to dismantle public education and privatize it. From 2004 to 2014, charter schools added 1.8 million kids. And from 1996 to 2012, the percentage of students at for-profit universities grew from 1.3% to 16.6%.
Here’s the issue: when you privatize a public good, someone will make money off of it.
Proponents say this is okay because the profit motive leads to innovation and increased choice, while the lack of profit leads to laziness and sclerosis. The problem is that privatization also leads to eliminating democratic control. The institutions become unaccountable to the people they serve.
For instance, those charter schools need to maintain high standardized test score averages to maintain funding. One of the easiest ways to do that is to force out the kids who perform poorly, and they’ve found some pretty nasty ways of doing this. We know that the easiest way to predict a child’s SAT scores is to look at their parents’ income taxes, NOT teacher ability. As more and more poorer kids are pushed into the worse schools, they get less funding. Those kids don’t get the resources they need and inequality between different groups increases.
To fix this, public education has to be treated as a community good, that we are all in together, not an individual choice in a competitive market.
So let’s head to the first day of class, shall we?