Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Pimping for Privatization
The Perimeter Primate posts a piece by Oakland teacher Stephen Miller, who lays bare just about all the fault lines of the ed deformers. Here are a few excerpts:
[Right wing economist Milton] Friedman demanded the total privatization of schools. He claimed that the so-called “free market” is the best guarantee of efficiency, quality education and equality (not to mention modernizing the system) because it introduces competition, which provides “choice” for parents.
This is in essence the corporate model for education. It is being sold across the country to parents, especially minority parents, who are quite clear that the public schools are more segregated than ever, and who are desperate for something different. Nationally, a gaggle of reactionary billionaires (the Walton family, of Wal-Mart, Eli Broad, of KB homes and AIG Retirement, and Donald Fisher of the Gap) have suddenly become champions of equality and are pushing charter schools as the solution.
The government is getting out of the business of governing. So it should be no surprise that privatization is being forced on school systems across the country. The United States really has two highly segregated school systems. Suburban schools are the best in the world; urban schools are among the worst. Privatization is being forced on urban school districts alone.
What happens, then, when the government no longer handles public education? It is then absolved of this essential responsibility.
The big ideological push for a decade now is to make everything personal responsibility. Then it’s your fault if something goes wrong. Government no longer is even expected to provide equal access.
When was it that the problem started being described, as in the article above, as “the achievement gap” rather than the refusal of government to fulfill the historical demand for real equality? Why do we now just assume that corporations are somehow going to do this better for us and let governments off the hook? Where were these discussions held?
The idea of school choice is another “get rich quick scheme” that sounds good until it is examined. What happened in America that should we even have to choose at all
Schools push out the students who take more time and resources to educate. Once privatized, schools compete for the “good” students. Middle-class parents, who have the time and know-how to work the system, get their kids into the “right” schools. Parents from poorer families generally lack these resources and usually wind up taking whatever they are given.
To paraphrase… the law, in all of its magnificence, allows poor parents, as well as rich, to drive their students across town twice a day in their Porsche SUVs to insure their kids are receiving a quality education. “Choice” benefits parents who have the resources to choose. It simply does not carry the same guarantees as a “right”.
Markets have never solved social problems. They create them.
All we have to do is look around to find the answers. The “free market” Bailouts are creating social problems in all directions, not eliminating them. This is the inevitable result of turning the responsibility for public problems over to private forces. The privatizers are all about deregulating public schools by eliminating public control.
Markets are designed for profit making. Remember when Bill Clinton told us that corporations were the best institutions to tackle the national health care disaster? HMOs have made things much worse, producing the worst health care for the highest price in the industrial world – and – completely outside public control. Sharpton and Klein support the domination of EMOs (Educational Maintenance Organizations) and the elimination of the responsibility of government to address the concerns of society.
In a ironic fashion, the “free market” imposes an equality of sorts on all the peoples of the US. This is the equality of poverty and its misery.
Read it in full: