Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Privatized Schools Don't Make the Grade

Don't let the fact that this is from a Marxist publication get in your way. This is a good review of attempt to privatize education in this country, and more specifically about Chris Whittle and Edison schools.

Reach Lawrence Albright at pa-letters@politicalaffairs.net

...In a study that followed North Carolina students for several years, professors Robert Bifulco and Helen Ladd found that students in charter schools actually made considerably smaller achievement gains in charter schools than they would have in traditional public schools, according to the National Education Association.

In the last analysis, whether Chris Whittle succeeds or fails with the Edison Schools initiatives is of little consequence, since the ultra-right sees him and his efforts as simply one wedge to break apart public education. There are other private contractors waiting in the wings. And the battle that must be waged to protect public education is not against Chris Whittle personally, but against the ultra-right.

At the height of the Free Speech Movement at the University of California at Berkeley in 1964, student leader Mario Savio spoke of the university as representing autocracy and viewing students as raw material to be used by corporations, which he opposed.

Today, the ultra-right seeks to privatize education and return education to the days when inequality was the norm. This is very much a political issue that reflects both their class interests and class stand. And if we're going to point the fickle finger of blame for any deficits in public education, then let's point it at a socioeconomic system that forces parents to make choices to spend more time with their children or have money to pay the bills. Let's blame a system that makes it possible for an employer not to provide health care insurance or in which the costs of living are increasing while real income is decreasing, and where a family sometimes chooses between poor nutrition or no nutrition at all. Let's point to the system where we put both our youth and our seniors at risk.

The ultra-right will continue to hammer against public education in the absence of a concerted struggle against them. Private education is to them the ultimate provider of knowledge. After all, our current president benefited from private schools. It was the best C average money could buy.

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