Charter School Promoters’ War on Consciousness

Charter school promoters have always relied on disinformation and irrationalism to justify the existence of charter schools, but in recent weeks and months it appears that a new, more pernicious, form of self-serving disinformation and irrationalism has reared its head.

This new disinformation and irrationalism seeks to further debase social consciousness and takes the form of casually and repeatedly declaring the exact and complete opposite of what research and experience confirm. The hope is that just by asserting and declaring something repeatedly, people will spontaneously believe it and abandon any conscious act of investigation.

Charter school promoters are increasingly desperate to make their pay-the-rich schemes look and sound like they are harmless and exist for the good of humanity. They have to do this because consciousness of the retrogressive character of privately-operated charter schools keeps steadily growing.

Several forms of this newly concerted strategy of disinformation and irrationalism have emerged.

The main one, however, has to do with school funding. Common sense, experience, and years of systematic research have shown that non-profit and for-profit charter schools have many deleterious effects on public school finances. When a student leaves a public school and enrolls in a segregated charter school, the public school loses money and often has to cut valuable programs and services. And this usually takes place without a commensurate cut in other expenses due to economies of scale issues. Charter school promoters are now publicly and fraudulently claiming that charter schools actually improve the finances of public schools and that public schools are financially better off when charter schools pop up in their neighborhood.1

Such twisted logic serves to divert attention away from the obvious fact that public schools always lose money when privately-operated charter schools pop up in their neighborhood. It also conceals the fact that charter schools actually receive billions of public dollars from all levels of government, as well as large donations from private sources, including venture philanthropists. In addition, it obscures the fact that non-profit and for-profit charter schools engage in endless forms of unethical and illegal profiteering while lowering the overall level of education in society. Embezzlement, racketeering, and arrests are commonplace in the crisis-prone charter school sector. Charter school promoters have continually innovated ways to engage in more parasitic private expropriation of social wealth while distorting consciousness about their self-serving actions.

It is not possible for two education “systems” to compete for the same students and same public funds without winners and losers. This is not a win-win game. There is no non-adversarial scenario here. Competition makes everyone a loser and blocks consciousness of the fact that many programs and needs are basic social responsibilities and human rights that can’t be reduced to an outdated survival-of-the-fittest outlook.

The “free market” ideology espoused by charter school promoters values individualism, consumerism, and competition, not human rights, stability, and security. Charter school promoters do not believe that public money belongs to the public. Through legislation, they have restructured parts of the state to ensure that public wealth produced by workers leaves public schools and accumulates rapidly in the hands of narrow private interests that run deregulated charter schools that close regularly. The widespread poor academic and financial track record of charter schools, especially virtual charter schools, seems to be an afterthought in this antisocial setup.

The aim of saying something is the opposite of something is to assault cognition, consciousness, and dignity and, in doing so, undermine opposition to school privatization. Such desperate irrationalism and disinformation seeks to sabotage the social consciousness that is emerging about privately-operated charter schools in particular and the harms of privatization in general.

Criticism of charter schools is now out in the open and mainstream. People are less fearful about speaking out against charter schools.

A precious new consciousness is emerging to combat the anticonsciousness promoted by charter school advocates. And in the current context there is reason to believe that this valuable social consciousness will keep growing. The immediate need is to stop charter school expansion and the flow of public funds and resources to privately-operated charter schools.

  1. A quick GoogleNews search produces several recent articles on this theme. []
Shawgi Tell is author of the book Charter School Report Card. He can be reached at stell5@naz.edu.. Read other articles by Shawgi.