School Choice Is a Harmful Fraud

by on September 16, 2020 · 5 comments

in Civil Rights, Education

By Thomas Ultican / Tultican

Birthed in the bowels of the 1950’s segregationist south, school choice has never been about improving education. It is about white supremacy, profiting off taxpayers, cutting taxes, selling market based solutions and financing religion. School choice ideology has a long dark history of dealing significant harm to public education.

Market Based Ideology

Milton Friedman first recommended school vouchers in a 1955 essay. In 2006, he was asked by a conservative group of legislators what he envisioned back then. PRWatch reports that he said, “It had nothing whatsoever to do with helping ‘indigent’ children; no, he explained to thunderous applause, vouchers were all about ‘abolishing the public school system.”’ [Emphasis added]

Market based ideologues are convinced that business is the superior model for school management. Starting with the infamous Reagan era polemic, “A Nation at Risk,” the claim that “private business management is superior” has been a consistent theory of education reform promoted by corporate leaders like IBM’s Louis Gerstner, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Wal-Mart’s Walton family, Bloomberg LP’s founder, Michael Bloomberg and SunAmerica’s Eli Broad. It is a central tenet of both neoliberal and libertarian philosophy.

Charles Koch and his late brother David have spent lavishly promoting their libertarian beliefs. Inspired by Friedman’s doyen, Austrian Economist Friedrich Hayek, the brothers agreed that public education must be abolished.

To this and other ends like defeating climate change legislation, the Kochs created the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This lobbying organization has contributing members from throughout corporate America. ALEC writes model legislation and financially supports state politicians who promote their libertarian principles.

Like the Walton family and Betsy DeVos, Charles Koch promotes private school vouchers.

What is the main motive behind the mega-rich spending to undermine public education? Professor Maurice Cunningham of the University of Massachusetts claims what they really want are “lower state and local taxes.”

John Arnold is the billionaire Enron trader who did not go to prison when that company collapsed. He has joined forces with the billionaire CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, to sell the nation on the portfolio model of school management.  To achieve their goal, they created The City Fund. After its founding in 2018, Bill Gates, Michael Dell and Steve Ballmer all made significant contributions.

In brief, the portfolio model directs closing schools that score in the bottom 5% on standardized testing and reopening them as charter schools or Innovation schools. In either case, they will no longer come under the purview of an elected school board.

Because standardized testing only reliably correlates with family wealth, this system guarantees that schools in poor communities will all eventually be privatized.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Sam September 16, 2020 at 4:38 pm

To me, this seems like a no brainer. If a school, that is being governed by a bunch of politicians/parents, is lagging so far behind the norms that they can only achieve test scores in the 5th percentile, then what do they have to lose by going with the charter or innovation model? Staying the course will certainly fail these kids. I think the real problem is the teachers unions. The notion that you can’t be fired for poor performance, unless there is some serious wrongdoing, is absolutely ludicrous. I know many teachers who simply don’t care about the kids, they are just there to collect a paycheck and sail into retirement. Change needs to start somewhere.

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Peter Peter from South O September 16, 2020 at 5:57 pm

Sam, I flat out do not believe you when you claim to know “many teachers” that do not care about the kids and are in it for the money. Anyone who thinks that anyone is in the education game for the money is delusional.
Putting aside the fact that charter schools are designed to be exclusionary by their very nature. You have an ally in Betsy DeVoss and her cronies, but THEY are in it for the money.

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Avatar Jacob September 17, 2020 at 6:23 am

Charter schools are public schools. How can they exclude people? It is a lottery system; anyone can apply.

Charter schools have been shown to outperform their government run equivalent. Read Charter Schools and Their Enemies. It’s right there in the first chapter.

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Peter Peter from South O September 17, 2020 at 9:43 am

Financially, that’s how. Have enough income so that you can devote some to the tuition and extras? Others don’t. It is very, very simple.

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Avatar Lyle September 16, 2020 at 8:56 pm

Huh ? This appears to be an unsubsantiated rant by someone with unidentified credentials. It tells me NOTHING about why school choice is a fraud or harmful. Some of its referenced backers are scumbags, but others not so much.

And .. does this rant have any connection with what’s happening in Ocean Beach ? Is someone trying to convert one of the OB/PL schools into a charter ? (excepting Liberty Station, of course.)

And on that subject, I have read about several local environmental research projects done by High-Tech students, but nothing about any local projects by students at PLHS. I have, however, seen plenty of articles about the PLHS football team, and of course a few PLHS grads who have started and maintained the greatest local news source ever !

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