Peter Greene has taught for more than 30 years, mostly in Pennsylvania. His blog, Curmudgucation, gets a lot of attention because of his insight looking at today’s public education climate. Like most folks who have spent time in a classroom, he is not a fan of the push to privatize education, take control away from local communities and create profit centers–instead of learning centers–of our schools.
In this post (brought to my attention by retired teacher Carroll Hughes of Hamilton) Greene outlines the blueprint the “reformers” follow. Reflecting on how things have unfolded here over the past few years, our legislative leadership seems pretty good at following directions.
You can read his post here. Which ends with this:
Here’s the short form for why I think the privatization of education is a bad thing.
First, all the numbers show that charters are, as a group, no more “successful” than public schools. Furthermore, what success they have is often simply the result of being careful and selective about their student body. How they do this is a whole other discussion, but the short answer is 1) they mostly don’t do any better than public schools and 2) public schools could also “improve” if they were allowed to get rid of problem students. In other words, we’re not talking about a new way to do public school– we’re talking about a new definition of what a public school is supposed to be.
Second, the privatization machine involves the end of local control. It is the end of any democratic control and accountability in a fundamental community institution. This is doubly troubling because so far, the people who are having democracy stripped away are mostly black, brown, and poor.
Third, turning education into a business means that business concerns will take precedence over student concerns. The purpose of a public school is to educate students. The purpose of a business is to make money. That does not make a business evil, but look around the rest of the world and ask yourself if businesses make money primarily by devoting themselves to creating the most excellent products. Operators of a school-flavored business will always have interests that are in conflict with the interests of their students. That cannot be good for education.
We are looking at a movement to change schools from a public good, a service provided by communities for their members, into a profit-generating business.