All posts by Shawgi Tell

More than 765 Charter Schools Closed in Three Years

Currently, about 3.2 million students are enrolled in roughly 7,000 privately-operated charter schools across the country. This represents less than 7% of all students and 7% of all schools in the country.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 765 charter schools closed between 2014-15 and 2016-2017,1 leaving thousands of families stressed, abandoned, dislocated, and angry. This figure represents more than one out of ten charter schools in the country by today’s numbers. The real closure figure is likely higher. To be sure, more than 3,000 charter schools have closed in under three decades.

The top three reasons privately-operated charter schools close are financial malfeasance, poor academic performance, and low enrollment.

With regard to academic performance, for example, the Washington Post (November 1, 2019) reminds us that:

When you take all charters and all public schools into consideration, students at charters do worse than those at public schools. According to the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, public school students in fourth, eighth and 12th grades outperform charter school students in math, reading and science.

It is also worth recalling that the vast majority of high-performing nations do not have charter schools.

Today, nearly 60% of charter schools are in urban settings where schools tend to be under-funded, over-tested, constantly-shamed, and attended mostly by poor and low-income minority students. Charter school advocates prefer to target urban schools because this is where they can make the most profit given economies of scale and other factors.

While “choice” has worked out well for major owners of capital, what good is “choice” when it cannot deliver stable, reliable, high-quality education free of corruption, segregation, and overpaid administrators? How does funneling billions of dollars annually from public schools to unstable privately-operated charter schools that frequently perform poorly help the economy, education, or society? Do pay-the-rich schemes like charter schools advance the national interest?

There is no justification for the existence of privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools. They do not provide a net public benefit. Endless news reports show that charter schools are always mired in scandal and controversy. It is time to stop bashing public education, reject the hype surrounding charter schools, fully fund all public schools, and vest real decision-making power in the hands of the public. The rich must be deprived of their ability to privatize public education with impunity. The content, purpose, and direction of education must not be in the hands of privatizers, neoliberals, and corporate school reformers.

  1. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey,” 1995-96 through 2016-17. (This table was prepared April 2019.).

Charter School Advocates Demand That Everyone Fend for Themselves

Promoters of privately-operated charter schools that intensify segregation and siphon money from public schools idolize the law of the jungle where the “strongest survive.”

This backward view assumes that everyone is nothing more than a consumer and that education is mainly a commodity. Such a discredited outlook is a direct assault on the modern principle that education is a basic human right and that schools must be fully-funded, publicly controlled, high quality, integrated, and available to all for free in every community. No one should have to worry about which school to send their child to. Government must take up its social responsibility to provide the right to education with a guarantee in practice. There is no reason not to have a great school with many programs in every neighborhood in America.

The “free market” consumerist approach to education was recently on full display at the 2020 “School Choice Fair” in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina. Not surprisingly, the “Fair” overwhelmed and confused many parents trying to figure out how to “choose” the “best” school for their child.

Some direct quotes from a brief October 30, 2019 news report on the “School Choice Fair” reveal the absurdity of “school choice” consumerism:

“As options expand and competition intensifies, parents can find the scene a bit overwhelming.”

“It’s just confusing to navigate what happens with the lottery, trying to get them into a program … and if we don’t get them into a program where do we go from there?” said [parent] John Mielke of Huntersville.

“I think the hardest thing is making up your mind,” [parent] Niraj Bhatt said. “It’s like walking into a store and figuring out what you want to order.”

The “shopping mall” approach to education is inconsistent with the requirements of a complex society based on mass industrial production. The extended reproduction of society cannot be based on the chaos, anarchy, and violence of the “free market.” Telling parents that they need to go out there on their own, compete with others, and figure out how to get a “good” education for their kid is riddled with problems and not the way forward.

Unless parents have spent weeks investigating everything thoroughly, usually on their own, their children may end up in a “bad” school, which might then cause parents to feel anger or remorse.

In this context, parents naturally feel like there is no guarantee of getting their child into a high quality school. More importantly, parents and the public at large are being socialized to think that competition and consumerism in education are normal and healthy, and that a modern conception of education as a right guaranteed by government is somehow bizarre and something no one should expect or demand. In this way, people are being deprived of the outlook needed to advance their interests.

Charter School Advocates Are Hypocritical and Out-of-Touch

On Monday, October 21, 2019, democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren issued her plan for K-12 public education.

In it, she outlines her opposition to charter schools. A brief excerpt from a section of the plan titled, Combating the Privatization and Corruption of Our Public Schools, states:

To keep our traditional public school systems strong, we must resist efforts to divert public funds out of traditional public schools. Efforts to expand the footprint of charter schools, often without even ensuring that charters are subject to the same transparency requirements and safeguards as traditional public schools, strain the resources of school districts and leave students behind, primarily students of color. Further, inadequate funding and a growing education technology industry have opened the door to the privatization and corruption of our traditional public schools. More than half of the states allow public schools to be run by for-profit companies, and corporations are leveraging their market power and schools’ desire to keep pace with rapidly changing technology to extract profits at the expense of vulnerable students. 

Not surprisingly, this important statement generated great ire from supporters of privately-operated charter schools. For example, Amy Wilkins, senior vice president of advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, recently told The 74, a pro-charter school publication funded by neoliberals and privatizers, that Warren:

seems out of touch with just regular Americans who struggle to find good public schools for their kids. We need more good public school options for American families, not fewer. Only someone who is extremely out of touch … would call for limiting their public school choices.

Putting aside the fact that charter schools are not public schools, not transparent, often perform poorly, and routinely cherry-pick students, Wilkins, like so many other short-sighted supporters of privately-operated charter schools, fails to realize the hypocrisy of her own views and statements.

In cities across America, the expansion of charter schools has lowered the quality of education for all students and reduced choices for students, teachers, and parents. In New Orleans, Louisiana, for instance, all so-called “public” schools are now privately-operated charter schools, which means that a student that wants to attend a regular public school, a teacher who wants to teach in a regular public school, or a parent who wants to send their child to a regular public school cannot do so. They have no options. Choice is not real for them. Their only hope is to find a privately-operated charter school that chooses them and is less unstable than the one down the road.

Charter school promoters have seized billions of dollars in public funds while limiting choices for parents, teachers, and students in other cities as well. This is especially true in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Chicago. The situation has become so absurd that beleaguered parents increasingly find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Parents are increasingly confronted with two bad choices: either enroll in a privately-operated charter school that is segregated, deunionized, and riddled with other serious problems highlighted daily by many newspapers, or enroll in a public school that the neoliberal state that created privately-operated charter schools has spent years deliberately starving, demonizing, over-testing, punishing, and privatizing.

The test-starve-punish-privatize agenda of the rich has made things worse for education, society, the economy, and the national interest. It is a direct attack on the dignity and personality of society and its members.

As segregated and deunionized charter schools with high teacher turnover rates multiply, choices will diminish for parents, teachers, and students. Conditions will also worsen for charter schools as they too become victims of the  competition and “free market” that they blindly and recklessly promote.

Now is the time to speak out more broadly and vigorously against the privatization of education. Education cannot be treated as a commodity, choice, or consumer good. It cannot be left in the hands of privatizers, neoliberals, and billionaires. Many harmful ideas, policies, and arrangements are being vigorously promoted by the rich and their political and media representatives. Throughout society things are becoming worse, more divisive, and more intolerable for people.

The privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools is unacceptable. Speaking out and resisting the neoliberal antisocial offensive is key to the well-being of all. No one can afford to be passive or silent. The right to education cannot be affirmed without confronting this destructive agenda directly. Through collective struggle victories can be secured. Together we can defeat the privatization agenda of the rich and forge a bright future for all.

Miserable Bankruptcy of Charter School Cheerleaders

Charter school promoters embraced irrationalism long ago. Their reckless antisocial agenda requires them to do so because what they are promoting has no legitimate basis; it is not consistent with modern requirements.

“Leaders” in the charter school sector have long spoken and acted like free market demagogues, desperate to treat every human responsibility as a commodity, and to make it seem like this is normal, healthy, and desirable.

While privately-operated-owned non-profit and for-profit charter schools have solved no problems over the past 28 years, they have transferred tens of billions of public dollars from the public purse to narrow private interests, causing great harm to education, society, the economy, and the national interest. Privately-operated-owned charter schools have deprived the people, economy, and society of immense wealth produced by workers, while also lowering the level of education.

Charter school advocates know that evidence, logic, and facts are not on their side. They know that they are in an endless uphill battle against those who defend public education and the public interest. They know that they have to work day and night to impose the self-serving claims of owners of capital on society and its institutions. They know that charter schools are a scam and that hundreds of charter schools close regularly and thousands perform poorly. Charter school supporters have even admitted for years that charter schools are not a panacea. But they will not relinquish their “legal right” to use charter schools to enrich themselves at the expense of young people. The drive to maximize profits with impunity is too coercive in the context of a continually failing economy. Charter school advocates will say any incoherent thing to preserve their ability to loot the public purse.

Education is a social responsibility, not a business, commodity, choice, privilege, consumer good, or opportunity for some entrepreneur to make money. Education is not for sale.

Education in a society based on mass industrial production must be public, large-scale, and consciously organized for the use and benefit of all, not set up and run as some law-of-the-jungle swindle. Chaos and anarchy in the education sector is a recipe for disaster, not stable and sustainable development.

Privatized, marketized, deregulated, segregated, deunionized, unaccountable, non-transparent charter schools constantly plagued by waste, fraud, corruption, frequent closures, poor performance on a broad scale, selective enrollment practices, inflated administrator pay, and high student and teacher turnover rates are not the way forward. They are not a meaningful alternative to public schools mandated to fail by the same neoliberal state that created privately-operated charter schools.

Unlike privately-operated-owned non-profit and for-profit charter schools, public schools offer far more services and programs, and accept and serve all students all the time. Public schools are also more accountable, transparent, pay teachers better, provide more security for them, and have lower teacher turnover rates than charter schools. It is also important to recall that charter schools choose parents and students, not the other way around. This is why many different students are continually absent or under-represented in charter schools. In Philadelphia, for example, about 30% of charter schools have no English Language Learners.1 Charter schools are notorious for intensifying segregation, not reducing it.

Charter school advocates are cynical and irresponsible. They do not care about education, students, and parents. Their business-centric outlook gives rise to a debased and counterfeit consciousness that blocks the renewal of education, democracy, and society. Charter school advocates have no conception of what it means that education is a social human responsibility that cannot be left to the chaos, anarchy, and violence of the “free market.”

People from all walks of life should remain vigilant about the aims, motives, and activities of privatizers, “free market” demagogues, charter school promoters, and their cheerleaders. These retrogressive forces are actively promoting harmful ideas, policies, and arrangements. They do not care about the damage they cause to society, education, the economy, and the national interest. Their antisocial goal is to make as much money as possible at the expense of everyone. Neoliberal disinformation about “choice,” “kids,” “innovation,” “parent power,” and “freedom” should be rejected and replaced by modern definitions that affirm human rights as the starting point for discussion, policies, and arrangements.

  1. Education Law Center, Safeguarding educational equity: Protecting Philadelphia students’ civil rights through charter oversight, February 2019.

DeVos Plan For More Pay-The-Rich Charter Schools

On October 10, 2019, U.S. Secretary of Education, billionaire Betsy DeVos, unveiled an antisocial plan to further incentivize the rich to establish more charter schools to line their pockets at the expense of young people. DeVos has actively promoted school privatization schemes for decades; she does not support public education.

In addition to many well-established ways that the rich already use charter schools to enrich themselves, millionaires and billionaires will now also be able to use privately-operated charter schools to receive large tax cuts. And over time these tax cuts get bigger.

Under the latest DeVos school privatization scheme, “investors” will be able to maximize their profits by using the “Qualified Opportunity Fund” (part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) to “invest” in charter schools in “economically distressed areas” known as “opportunity zones.” Specifically, this new “financing opportunity” can be used by the rich to avoid taxes on charter school facilities and real estate acquired through the “opportunity fund” and sold later. The government has already hired a private business, Leed Management Consulting, Inc., of Silver Spring, Maryland, to help owners of capital exploit this privatization scheme.

While such government-backed gold rushes are ostensibly designed to help poor and low-income families, especially minorities, they have a track record of doing the opposite.

One of the main tasks confronting the polity at this time is how to deprive the rich of their ability to repeatedly violate the public interest with impunity. Extensive research and experience confirm that there is no justification for the existence of charter schools, yet more charter schools keep popping up. How to stop this rapid privatization of public education is an urgent task that concerns everyone.

Privately-operated charter schools are wrecking public schools and harming the economy and the national interest. Recently, another report (School Choice in the United States: 2019) was issued, this time from the U.S. Department of Education, showing that privately-operated-owned charter schools, which have been around for more than 25 years, perform no better than public schools.

In addition, charter schools have long been plagued by endless scandal and corruption, high student and teacher turnover rates, inflated administrator pay, poor transparency, unelected school boards, and a reputation for rejecting many students—all while continually siphoning enormous sums of public money and public property from public schools.

The World Can End But Charter Schools Are Here To Stay Forever

This is another version of: it is easier for capitalists to imagine the end of the world than it is for them to imagine the end of capitalism.

Charter schools are pay-the-rich schemes that emerged in the midst of the neoliberal period that was launched at home and abroad in the late 1970s.

Charter schools are one of many mechanisms the rich have concocted since the 1980s and 1990s to counter the unavoidable law of the falling rate of profit under capitalism.

Mainstream economists often refer to this inescapable law as the law of diminishing returns. This is when the “return on investment” (ROI) is lower than the investment itself, especially over time. Diminishing returns are a built-in tendency of capitalism that affect the capitalist economy as a whole.

To avert the inevitable fall in the amount and rate of profit over time, capitalists necessarily concoct antisocial ways to increase their profits in the course of competing with other owners of capital. This can take the form of more aggressive advertising, changing expiration dates on products, charging people more fees and taxes for commodities and services, planned product obsolescence, going to war, lowering workers’ wages and benefits, cutting social programs, printing money, transferring public money to owners of capital, eliminating regulations and taxes for big corporations, and more.

Owners of capital are obsessed with maximizing profit as fast as possible, no matter the cost to society and the environment. Their drive is egocentric, narrow, and antisocial in character. Major owners of capital are not concerned about and cannot objectively see phenomena from a human-centered perspective. They are not interested in nation-building or a diversified self-reliant economy. They do not care about what happens to anyone or anything else as long as their self-serving interests are satisfied. Anything that obstructs their narrow interests is seen as a big problem, especially the striving of the people for their rights. The world we live in must privilege the narrow interests of owners of capital above all else.

This is why when California passed a “landmark law” (AB 1505) on October 3, 2019 changing charter school laws in the state, the president of the California Charter Schools Association, Myrna Castrejon, said: “The thing I love the most about the bill is that it affirms that charter schools are here to stay.” Castrejon also said that, while the new law in California “modifies the rules of the road for renewals and approvals of charter schools, we do believe this agreement does put to rest the idea of whether charter schools have a place in the landscape.” The website of the California Charter Schools Association had this to say about the first major overhaul of California’s charter school law in 27 years: “The announcement of a compromise deal on charter public school-focused legislation, AB 1505, affirms that charter schools are here to stay as a permanent and valued fixture of California’s education system” (emphasis added). Castrejon is pleased that there is no scenario that excludes pay-the-rich schemes like privately-operated charter schools.

Charter school promoters cannot imagine a world with no privately-operated nonprofit and for-profit charter schools. They can picture public schools collapsing and disappearing, but they cannot conceive of a world free of privately-operated charter schools that increase their private wealth at the expense of kids.

Charter school advocates are not about to abdicate antisocial efforts to fleece as much funds and property as possible from public schools. The intense downward pressure on the rate of profit is too great for owners of capital to relinquish charter schools as pay-the-rich schemes. The rich desperately need charter schools as a mechanism to avert diminishing returns in a continually failing economy. It does not matter if charter schools are segregated, deregulated, unaccountable, deunionized, scandalous, rife with corruption, perform poorly, are run by unelected individuals, reject many students, have many uncertified teachers, overpay administrators, and undermine public schools. Last year, wealthy charter school promoters spent $23 million backing Antonio Villaraigosa (against Gavin Newsom) for Governor of California because of his strong support for crisis-prone charter schools.

There is a lot at stake for neoliberals, privatizers, and corporate school “reformers.”

Charter school promoters are very pleased that charter schools were not wiped out in California, but they are still nervous to see such organized opposition to privatized education arrangements. They did not count on it.

The worn-out charter school narrative that relentlessly demonizes, humiliates, and scapegoats public schools is not gripping as many people as charter school supporters would like. Most people still love and value their public schools, even the so-called “failing” ones. This means the fight between human-centered forces and capital-centered forces is far from over. In all likelihood it will grow more intense and more people will see non-profit and for-profit charter schools for what they really are.

California passed its charter school law in 1992. With more than 1,300 charter schools, California has the most charter schools in the country. Most of the state’s charter schools are in Los Angeles County, San Diego County, and the nine counties in the Bay Area near San Francisco.

False and Diversionary Charter School Dichotomies

There is no shortage of articles, books, reports, blogs, and websites that continually detail the perpetually scandalous and troubled nature of charter schools. Not a day goes by without a report on some sort of infamy, fraud, mismanagement, corruption, or failure in the unaccountable charter school sector.

But even articles and reports that are critical of charter schools often lapse into confused logic and arguments, revealing that the thinking around charter schools remains muddled.

This endless confusion and incoherence repeatedly conceals and renders forgettable the profound significance of the core feature of all charter schools: their inherently privatized nature.

As many have shown, charter schools are not public schools. Among other things, charter schools are not governed by elected officials, cannot levy taxes, reject many students, and have been deemed to be private entities by more than a few courts—all while receiving enormous sums of public money. In addition, thousands of charter schools perform poorly and many close every year, leaving thousands of families feeling abandoned, violated, and angry.

To some extent this damaging incoherence and confusion about charter schools is understandable because wealthy charter school advocates and their conscious and anti-conscious cheerleaders incessantly promote many myths, lies, and disinformation about charter schools in order to distort consciousness and disorient people. This makes it challenging to sort out important issues and figure out what is really going on. Myths, lies, and disinformation leave many people vulnerable to bogus ideas, arguments, views, and assertions.

Some of the most common false and diversionary dichotomies deployed by charter school supporters to perpetuate maximum confusion about charter schools include the following:

  1. regulated versus unregulated charter schools
  2. for-profit versus nonprofit charter schools
  3. good versus bad charter schools
  4. high-performing versus low-performing charter schools
  5. mom-and-pop versus corporate charter schools
  6. school district-approved versus “totally autonomous” charter schools
  7. well-funded versus poorly-funded charter schools
  8. no-excuses versus regular charter schools
  9. urban versus suburban charter schools
  10. small versus large charter schools
  11. online versus brick-and-mortar charter schools
  12. mission-driven versus “free market” oriented charter schools

Other harmful dichotomies designed to misdirect people down dangerous rabbit holes could be listed, but at the end of the day what matters most when discussing charter schools is not whether they are regulated or not, online or brick-and-mortar, for-profit or non-profit, arts-focused or science-themed. All charter schools, regardless of the many ways they differ in secondary characteristics, are essentially the same: they are all privatized, marketized, corporatized arrangements, and this key feature has always set charter schools apart from public schools.

False and diversionary dichotomies, and the distorted consciousness they produce, provide cover for the transfer of colossal sums of public money and public property from public school systems to wealthy private interests that own-operate-manage charter schools. It is not surprising that fraud and corruption saturate the non-transparent and segregated charter school sector.

Fortunately, even in this violent and chaotic context, there is broad and growing opposition to privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools. In the coming months and years the quality of this opposition will become even better as the descriptions, exposures, and analyses of charter schools get better and stronger, leaving many charter school supporters more isolated and discredited. The privatization of K-12 schools has not solved a single problem confronting society and its members; it has just made some rich people and their entourage richer at the expense of kids.

Florida: Terminate Public Funds for Charter Schools

Nearly 10 county school boards in Florida recently took collective action to pursue a case against privately-operated-owned charter schools in the Florida Supreme Court.

These public school systems that serve tens of thousands of students oppose the dreaded HB 7069 legislation, which the neoliberal governor of Florida, Rick Scott, signed into law in 2017.

The law does many things, including allowing the transfer of enormous sums of public money from public schools to privately-operated-owned charter schools, thereby leaving public schools in a worse position. Understandably, public school systems want to stop the flow of tens of millions of public dollars to privately-operated-owned charter schools.

As in other states with privately-operated-owned charter schools, Florida’s charter schools are notorious for being non-transparent and rife with corruption. Many also regularly perform poorly. And like many other non-profit and for-profit charter schools across the country, Florida’s charter schools under-enroll different types of students and intensify segregation. Public schools in Florida serve considerably more poor students, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities than privately-operated-owned charter schools.

Florida passed its charter school law in 1996. Currently, about 290,000 students are enrolled in more than 650 privately-operated-owned charter schools.

No Justification For The Existence Of Charter Schools

One of the main claims to fame of privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools is that they will deliver bigger and better results than public schools in exchange for greater flexibility and autonomy to operate than public schools.

Two recent reports, however, build on extensive previous research which shows that academic performance in privately operated charter schools, which have been around nearly 30 years, is weak or no better than academic performance in public schools.

Charter schools, which annually siphon billions of dollars from public schools and are often rife with corruption, have not delivered on the big promises they have made for decades.

First Report

New Mexico passed legislation enabling the creation of privately-operated charter schools more than 20 years ago. Currently, the state has about 25,000 students enrolled in approximately 100 charter schools.

In September 2019, the neoliberal pro-charter school Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University published a detailed report showing that academic performance in privately-operated charter schools in New Mexico is similar to academic performance in public schools.

Putting aside the punitive and unsound character of high-stakes standardized tests used in the U.S., CREDO states that:
The findings from our analyses show that in a year’s  time, the typical charter school  student  in New Mexico makes similar progress in both reading and math compared to the educational gains that the student would have made in a traditional public school. This result represents an improvement in the charter sector compared to earlier periods in which the performance of charter school students lagged behind that of their TPS  peers. Further probing reveals that the aggregate  results  are  strongly influenced by the performance of online charter school students. Enrollment in online charter schools is associated with substantially weaker learning gains in both reading and math and that the inferior performance of online charter schools offsets the positive impact of brick-and-mortar charter schools on student growth in reading. The learning   gains of charter school students in various subgroups are comparable to the gains of their TPS peers in the same subgroup. (p. 2, emphasis added)

In other words, charter schools in New Mexico have been performing worse than public schools for many years, and they are only now beginning to perform similarly. Further, cyber charter school performance remains abysmal.

From the perspective of a parent concerned about academic performance, it appears that charter schools may not be a better option than public schools, especially when considering that charter schools also have higher teacher turnover rates than public schools and tend to be more segregated and less accountable than public schools.

Second Report

A major 100-page report released this month by the National Center for Education Statistics, School Choice in the United States: 2019, found no measurable differences between the performance of charter schools and public schools on national reading and math assessments from 2017. This finding persists even when parents’ educational attainment were factored into the results. The report states:

Academic Performance: In 2017, at grades 4 and 8, no measurable differences in average reading and mathematics scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were observed between students in traditional public and public charter schools (Indicator 6). (p. ix)

It is worth recalling that back in 2009, 10 years earlier, CREDO found that most charter schools in the U.S. perform the same or worse than public schools. Today, across America, thousands of privately-operated nonprofit and for-profit charter schools perform poorly. They have never been the silver bullet charter school advocates have claimed they are.

While there is no justification for the existence of charter schools in New Mexico, there is really no justification for the existence, let alone expansion, of charter schools in the country as a whole. Why create and multiply charter schools when they perform about the same or, as is often the case, worse than public schools? This question is even more pertinent when considering that charter schools are more segregated, more corrupt, more deunionized, and less transparent than public schools.

Privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools have been great for owners of capital and their retinue, but bad for so many parents, students, teachers, and principals.

The challenge confronting the society as a whole is how to ensure that the country has fully-funded, publicly-governed, world-class, integrated public schools in every neighborhood. Treating education as a commodity and parents and students as consumers is not the way forward. A modern society based on mass industrial production cannot operate and develop well on such a basis. Closing all charter schools will help improve education, society, the economy, and the national interest in many ways.

Charter School Advocates Grow More Belligerent

Steadily mounting opposition to privately-operated nonprofit and for-profit charter schools is inevitable and becoming a bigger thorn in the side of nervous neoliberals, privatizers, and corporate school reformers.

Terrified of discussion, investigation, and analysis, and hell-bent on privatizing schools, no matter the cost to society, on September 11, 2019, “Chiefs for Change” issued a letter righteously and arrogantly demanding that everyone blindly submit to the destructive neoliberal agenda of privatizing schools to further enrich major owners of capital.

“Chiefs for Change” has been around since January 2015 and is comprised of dozens of aggressive privatizers and corporate school reformers (“educators”) masquerading as “bold nonpartisan innovators.”

While “Chiefs for Change” casually admits that there are many “school choice systems that have been largely unmonitored and often unaccountable, or that have increased the racial and economic isolation of students,” the organization desperately wants the public to suspend all critical thinking, blindly support school privatization, and automatically believe that “Chiefs for Change” simply wants what is best for students and is not concerned with financially enriching themselves and their allies. “Chiefs for Change”  is vehemently opposed to any critique, rejection, and roll-back of pay-the-rich schemes like charter schools.

Not surprisingly, in their self-serving September 11, 2019 call, “Chiefs for Change” makes no mention of the need to fund public schools properly, to stop scapegoating and humiliating public schools, to eliminate punitive high-stakes testing, or deal seriously with inequality, poverty, and segregation. Everything is approached from the antisocial perspective of parents and students fending for themselves like individuals and consumers. In this outmoded view, the best parents and students can do is shop for a school that “works for them” and hope that  it does not close a few months later for corruption, mismanagement, or poor academic performance.

The public should not forget that charter schools are private schools that annually siphon billions of dollars from public schools and that thousands of charter schools across the country perform poorly. In addition, about 200 charter schools close each year and student, teacher, and principal turnover rates in charter schools remains very high. Moreover, the charter school sector is segregated, crisis-prone, and rife with fraud and corruption. Accountability and transparency are very low in the charter school sector. No amount of arrogant demands by the rich and their allies can hide these harmful realities.

The public can and must reject the toxic rhetoric, demagoguery, and agenda of the rich and their entourage. Privatization does not serve the public interest.