Current Environment Provides Opportunity to Intensify Resistance to Charter Schools

Funding Private Enterprises With Public Funds Must Be Outlawed. Defund Charter Schools.

Now is not the time to divert even more public funds to private businesses like charter schools. Disaster capitalism has harmed the public interest and public schools in many ways. The nation’s public schools have been suffering budget cuts for years and now with the “COVID Pandemic” they will experience deeper funding cuts. Yet the federal government and state governments continue to funnel huge sums of public funds to segregated non-profit and for-profit charter schools that operate without transparency and close regularly. ((See, for example, Jan Resseger (June 17, 2020), Federal CARES Act Public Education Relief Dollars Quietly Flow into the Coffers of Charter Schools and Private Schools.))

Society does not need more privatization and more pay-the-rich “school choice” schemes. Society needs a public authority that provides the human right to education with a guarantee in practice, which means fully-funding all public schools and making sure high-quality public schools are available to all for free in every neighborhood.

There is no shortage of money to make this happen. In the last few weeks alone the private Federal Reserve has printed several trillion dollars to save the ultra-rich again. And the real value produced by real workers in the real economy is more than enough to ensure a free world-class public education system controlled by a public authority worthy of the name.

Funding “free market” arrangements in education while letting the nation’s public schools go under-funded is especially absurd given the repeated failure of the “free market” to produce stability and success for all. The “free market” ensures only chaos, anarchy, and violence. With each and every economic recession, slump, crisis, and depression, “free market” ideology loses what little credibility, if any, it has left. For all intensive purposes, “free market” ideology is dead in the water; it stands completely discredited.

Treating education as a commodity or consumer good, or pretending that deregulated charter schools are chosen by parents and students instead of the other way around, are not the way forward. Commercializing and marketizing human responsibilities like education is irresponsible. Social responsibilities must not be outsourced to private interests and subjected to the inhumanity of the “free market.” No parent should have to fend-for-themselves in the quest for an education in the 21st century. Thousands of families have already been abandoned by thousands of charter schools that have closed over the years for financial malfeasance and poor academic performance. Clearly, segregated and unaccountable charter schools with high employee turnover rates are not a superior alternative to public schools that educate 90% of America’s youth. The law of the jungle has no place in a modern society based on mass industrial production.

It is no accident that the track record of crisis-prone cyber charter schools and brick-and-mortar charter schools is poor on all fronts. It is time for the public interest to trump the narrow self-serving interests of privatizers, neoliberals, billionaires, and other wreckers of society, education, the economy, and the nation.

The funding of private enterprises with public funds must be made illegal.

Defend public education and oppose all privatized education arrangements. Not a single public penny should flow to privately-operated charter schools. Defund charter schools. Fight for a public authority that uses public funds for public enterprises only. A pro-social alternative is possible and necessary.

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