I’m doing some telephone canvassing (not enough) for the No On Two campaign in Ohio and I’m finding out something that is extraordinary to me.
None of the people I’m talking to know that many, many charter schools in Ohio are run by for-profit operators. They don’t know this because I live in a low-income rural area, where we still have traditional public schools, where the schools are run by elected (not appointed) boards and are “operated” by public employees who live, pay taxes and spend their money here. “School reform” in terms of privatization hasn’t reached us yet. Don’t come, corporate reformers. This is not an invitation or a plea for help. It’s simply an observation. We’ll manage.
By Ohio law, charter schools are nonprofits. But about half the charter schools are managed by for-profit companies which pay the bills and pocket any profits. For-profit charter school managers took in $291 million in state funds last year, according to an Ohio Education Association study. The biggest charter manager in Ohio, [David Brennan’s] White Hat Management Co. of Akron, received $84 million for its Ohio schools, which include its Life Skills Centers and Riverside Academy in the Cincinnati region.
This to me seems like an outrageous omission by school reform proponents, and of course, there are plenty of liberal school reform proponents.
Should taxpayers really not know that they’re transferring public funds to private for-profit operators? I don’t remember deciding that “public” schools should be for-profit. I remember a lot of touchy-feely talk about neighborhood schools, and parental control, and “freedom” from those lazy, thuggish greedy teachers and their incessant demands for a seat at the table when their salary is determined. When did we decide schools were an “industry”?
When we talk about charter schools, and teachers unions, isn’t it only fair to inform taxpayers that there are non-profit charter schools and for-profit charter schools, and Ohio conservatives have gone for-profit charter schools in a big way? About half for-profit operators, in 2009, in Ohio. 80% for-profit operators, today, in Michigan. Isn’t it only fair to inform taxpayers that with the teachers unions out of the way, upon passage of Issue 2 in Ohio, we’re deregulating public schools even further than they already are in Ohio?
This is Diane Ravitch, who is, of course, the former charter school and deregulation advocate who is (now) appalled at what’s happened, and screaming “STOP!”:
There is a clash of ideas occurring in education right now between those who believe that public education is not only a fundamental right but a vital public service, akin to the public provision of police, fire protection, parks, and public libraries, and those who believe that the private sector is always superior to the public sector. Waiting for “Superman” is a powerful weapon on behalf of those championing the “free market” and privatization. It raises important questions, but all of the answers it offers require a transfer of public funds to the private sector. The stock market crash of 2008 should suffice to remind us that the managers of the private sector do not have a monopoly on success.
Well, yeah. I think that’s an understatement, but agreed. But let’s talk about the money. Does a school reformer/union buster want to tell my why I want my tax dollars flowing out of my district and into shareholder pockets? What happens to the “savings” when we take from teachers and other public school employees? Because if my Fabulous Projected Savings are slated to go to outfits like this, I think we need to talk about that. With teachers unions out of the way, who, pray tell, is going to lobby for public education? Where’s my organized, effective defense from the for-profit operators? Are we really going to kid ourselves and say that this “fundamental right and vital public service” argument is going to carry the day in my state legislature when up against for-profit operators and their lobbying dollars, once teachers unions are gone?
between those who believe that public education is not only a fundamental right but a vital public service
Please. We know better. We won’t stand a chance.