Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

December 10, 2012

With each new expansion of charters, the public is assured that “charters are public schools,” and “competition will be good for everyone,” and “everyone should have choice.”

But as this article explains, there is another agenda at work.

The author, a former executive director of the Georgia Republican Party, explains the agenda. The current public school system will turn into the equivalent of “public welfare” schools, akin to public housing or public transit, the schools of last resort for those who are can’t find an alternative. The new schools–the charters, for example–are what he calls “neo-radical” schools, the schools that welcome the strong and willing.

The author makes clear that “reform” movement is not for “reform” of existing schools but for privatization to the maximum extent possible with government money.

The new schools will be privately managed and publicly funded with minimal government oversight.

The schools that are left behind as “public schools” will be dumping ground for the children who are most difficult or most expensive to educate.

With this transformation, the privatizers will recreate a dual school system, based not on lines of race, as in the past, but on lines of class.

This is the goal–intended in some cases, unintended in others–of the current privatization movement: A dual school system: one system for the good kids, the other for those who were rejected or unwanted by the other system. The latter system, now known as “public schools,” will house disproportionate numbers of students who are learning English, students with disabilities, students with behavior problems, and students who can’t get higher scores every year.

And thus dies the common school idea.

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Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. She serves on the board of the Core Knowledge Foundation, Common Core, the Albert Shanker Institute of the American Federation of Teachers, and Common Good. She is an honorary life trustee of the...