Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Republicans working to create Future Education Privatization Disaster, or, how to Gaining Power with their Free Market Failures?

With tax cuts for the wealthy underfunding the federal government and the private sector’s gamed system of deregulation, Republicans have ushered in a whole new set of problems we’ll be paying for and complaining about for years. It’s the taxpayer funded move to privatize education. It seems so simple; let the free market work out the kinks by letting parents decide. At this early stage in the changeover, the signs of chaos and profit taking do not bode well for what could be an untimely lowering of our national education system.

NY Times: With the Obama administration pouring billions into its nationwide campaign to overhaul failing schools, dozens of companies with little or no experience are portraying themselves as school-turnaround experts as they compete for the money.
The Times article will never be referenced in any debate over charter and school vouchers, two failing systems already showing signs of corruption and gambling with taxpayer dollars. Parents who find out their carefully chosen private or charter school was failing will never get back the 2 or 3 years their kid had just wasted. Just scratching the surface, here are just a few examples:

A husband-and-wife team that has specialized in teaching communication skills but never led a single school overhaul is seeking contracts in Ohio and Virginia. A corporation that has run into trouble with parents or the authorities in several states in its charter school management business has now opened a school-turnaround subsidiary. Other companies seeking federal money include offshoots of textbook conglomerates and classroom technology vendors.

Many of the new companies seem unprepared for the challenge of making over a public school, yet neither the federal government nor many state governments are organized to offer effective oversight, said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a nonprofit group in Washington. “Many of these companies clearly just smell the money,” Mr. Jennings said.

Boy, doesn’t that give you a warm feeling? Like all free market problems advocated by conservative ideologues, remedies are always AFTER the fact, leaving in its wake, the lost learning years of our kids:

Recognizing the risks facing school districts that sign contracts with untested groups, the American Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit conservative policy group, issued a report last month urging that districts require performance guarantees, under which contractors failing to meet achievement targets would forfeit payments.
A penalty well after the fact.

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