Excellent piece on the privatization of education.

The Contrary Perspective

By Don Rose.  Introduction by William Astore.

Charter schools, in theory, offer advantages to public schools.  They’re advertised as offering “choice” to concerned parents, who shop for the “best” schools as measured by test scores and related data.  They promise to hold teachers accountable.  They say they offer novelty in pedagogy.  

But in practice charter schools are often inferior to public schools. They’re also often efforts at politicizing and commercializing education for the advantage of various stakeholders. They convert (and at times corrupt) a public good into a private gain.

As Don Rose shows in the article below on Chicago’s schools, the creation and funding of charter schools creates fresh opportunities for profit-taking and influence-peddling among the well-connected.  And private gain for a few, in the name of public good for the many, may be more than a feature of capitalism.  It may be a contradiction, especially where our…

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7 thoughts on “Patronage, Politics and Charter Schools

  1. My daughter will graduate from a charter school next year. She loves the place, I think it is a total joke of a school. There are so many problems with it that it makes my head spin. They get around all kinds of things – from operating in an old school building that was condemned years ago to allowing kids to get around the district absentee policy. Any public school that operated at this same level would have already been reviewed/held accountable by the state but officials seem to not even see the charter school issues. Lobbying influence is the only thing that makes any sense.

    – Oh, it’s only due to a custody arrangement that I didn’t yank her out of the school within the first semester of her freshman year. Luckily she’s smart enough that she’ll still come out okay but that isn’t the case for all kids. And if this school is any example of a ‘standard’ charter school, we’re in serious trouble if they keep spreading.


    • MB, thanks so much for that personal story. The push for charter schools is and always was a Trojan Horse. Publicly, the reasoning has been based on “reform,” “choice,” and “children.” Privately, it was designed to dismantle the public education system to enrich commercial interests and to systematically de-secularize American society. The teaching of creationism in Texas is living proof.


      • Unfortunately, I started off believing the charter schools would actually be a good thing – especially in areas like ours where public schools are failing. It wasn’t until I was working with the Gary Johnson presidential campaign that I ever really looked into the
        whole issue more deeply. The first time he (GJ) said something along the lines of “turning the schools into a 50 state experiment” my stomach sank. How grand, how noble…what freedom for everyone! But uh…what about the kids who are in states or schools that have a failed experiment? Never did get that question answered…


        • A lot of people were duped. They bought the sales pitch, which is understandable I suppose. We all want to believe what our political leaders tell us.

          Back in the 1960’s, I attended both public and private schools. I was a good student in most subjects with a variety of interests and an ability to focus. With respect to the nuts-and-bolts of learning, I saw no difference between the public and private schools I attended. However, the public schools were vastly superior in allowing me to experience a wider array of cultures, perspectives, and philosophies. I matured as an individual in public school. Private school did not prepare me for the real world at all.

          I believe the biggest mistake America made was to blame the public education system for the poverty and inner-city problems which plagued it. That’s analogous to a hospital blaming its patient for getting pneumonia.


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