Monday, March 30, 2009

Charter schools as profit centers

Progressive States Network has posted a thought-provoking article about the charter school movement which questions the motives behind some charter school providers. The theme is similar to a previous EdLog post that characterized the modern charter school movement as a substitute for unpopular voucher schemes.

The Progressive States article frames its argument like this:

Even as the right wing has been losing in the polls on promoting school
vouchers, privatization has still been penetrating school systems through
charter programs and support services. However, both teachers and
governments have increasingly spotlighted problems and the failed promises of
many school privatization contractors.
The article mentions Louisiana as a state where public schools are being taken over almost wholesale and converted to charters.

Louisiana law specifically prohibits for-profit education companies from holding charters, but non-profits who apply for charters are free to subcontract their operations to one of those same companies.

It is worth repeating what writer Jonathan Kozol uncovered in his research on charter schools. He found a report by financial analysts who recommended investment in education companies as a new profit center:

“The education industry,” according to these analysts, “represents, in our
opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control”
that have either voluntarily opened or, they note in pointed terms, have “been
forced” to open up to private enterprise. Indeed, they write, “the education
industry represents the largest market opportunity” since health-care services
were privatized during the 1970’s.... From the point of view of private profit,
one of these analysts enthusiastically observes, “The K–12 market is the Big

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