Charter Schools: A Pig With Lipstick Is Still A Pig

Deregulated, deunionized, segregated, test-obsessed, privately-operated charter schools that lose employees regularly, manipulate student enrollment frequently, and funnel huge sums of public funds to the rich and their allies under the banner of high ideals cannot be prettified.

Engaging in all kinds of fraud and racketeering, including endless shady, if not illegal, real estate deals that greatly enrich charter school owners-operators at the expense of the public, and then turning around and saying we are “saving black kids,” offering “choices,” and “black families want charter schools” doesn’t wash.

Pay-the-rich schemes have no pro-social qualities.

Casually handing over billions in public dollars to the rich—for poor results and a whole new set of problems—is not the way forward. It is reckless and irresponsible. Pay-the-rich schemes prevent society from moving forward and exacerbate problems. Draining socially-produced wealth from the economy in order to line the pockets of wealthy private interests solves nothing.

As the long-standing and worsening problems in the unstable and unaccountable charter school sector are exposed with greater depth and regularity, and as more people stop tolerating charter schools and see them for what they really are, charter school advocates have grown more irresponsible, terrified, irrational, and belligerent.

A tragi-comedy is unfolding. Charter school promoters know the tide is slowly turning against them.

Watching charter school supporters defend the indefensible and sell a farce to the public, especially to poor, low-income, vulnerable minority families who have been actively disempowered by the rich and their outdated system for generations, is like watching a catastrophe unfold in slow motion. Charter school promoters have nothing but worn-out platitudes, grandstanding, Skinnerian ideology, subjective rubbish, and twisted logic.

Objectively speaking, the economic and political position of charter school promoters blinds them from seeing reality from the perspective of the public and the common good. The capital-centered brain is literally unable to see life in a broad, enlightened, pro-social way. Capital-centered consciousness is objectively fixated narrowly on the egocentric accumulation of wealth at the expense of the social and natural environment. The social being of charter school promoters blocks the development of human-centered consciousness and impedes the human factor. The refusal to consider any pro-public policies and arrangements reveals the brutal and retrogressive character of charter school promoters.

Clearly, repeating malicious fictions and objectionable ideas about charter schools will not rescue charter schools. The negative consequences and realities of charter schools speak for themselves. Charter schools have failed and closed for more than 25 years. So many poor and low-income minority families have been alienated by these privately-operated contract schools..

Fortunately, it is getting harder to normalize ignorance and disinformation about charter schools. The damn has been broken and there is no turning back. A trial of strength between charter school promoters on the one hand, and everyone else on the other hand, has broken out in earnest. The contest was always there, but it is intensifying with each passing month.

Fewer people are falling for the trap that “there are some ‘good’ charter schools out there,” ((“Good” charter schools is a reference to charter schools that, unlike public schools, carefully cherry-pick their students to ensure high scores on meaningless state tests that many reject.)) as if that is somehow a ringing endorsement of charter schools after nearly 30 years in existence. Fewer people are also saying incoherent and loaded things like “I’m a ‘semi-fan’ of charter schools.” Even fewer are falling for the con that it is really “for-profit” charter schools that are rotten, not the “nonprofit” ones.

Anticonsciousness surrounding charter schools is slowly melting and giving way to a powerful new quality: social consciousness. There is a reason that more people today instinctively question and criticize charter schools than they did just five years ago. Among other things, social consciousness considers education to be a basic human right, not a privilege, opportunity,  choice, or something one “deserves.”

This nascent social consciousness is also causing more people to gradually conclude that they cannot rely on the Democrats or Republicans to defend public education and eliminate destructive neoliberal education policies and arrangements. Both parties of the rich are deeply retrogressive and part of a discredited political system that keeps people out of power. People reject with contempt the retrogressive outlook of the rich, their political representatives, and their media. It is getting harder to avoid the conclusion that people must rely on themselves to open the path of progress to society. No one else is going to save the working class and people. A new outlook, politics, and leadership can emerge only from the working class and people, not those who drag society backward with every new policy and arrangement.

Shawgi Tell is author of the book Charter School Report Card. He can be reached at Read other articles by Shawgi.