March 3, 2018 | Edge Canopy
Kucinich’s plan would essentially force charter schools under the control of the local school boards and local governments and restrict government money paid to charter schools. Reactions to his plan have ranged from jubilant to hostile, with the latter generally perceiving that his plan is effectively eliminating school choice and private schools as an option to parents seeking to protect their children from the horror show of the American public school system. No doubt, some supporters of the plan probably believe the same thing.
However, this is where confusion is coming into play in regards to the charter school issue. First, it is important to point out that Charter schools and Private schools are two different things. Private schools are what most people think about whenever they hear the term “school choice.” These schools are sometimes religious in orientation, sometimes based on science, specific studies, or any number of other elements of focus. But they are all run privately by organizations, churches, businesses, or simply by parents. Some are for-profit and some are non-profit but they all fund themselves through tuition, donations, or charity. In other words, private schools fund themselves via the private sector. Clearly, it is important to keep the private school alive in order to provide another option in addition to homeschooling for parents who want to avoid the nightmare of American public schools that exists in every state across the nation. But there is a distinct difference between the private school system and the charter school system.
Charter schools are schools essentially created and developed by corporations for the benefit of corporations and thus function outside of the “public” realm. Most of them have a narrow focus that has come to be known as the “school to work” pipeline, training children for specific jobs as opposed to a general understanding of basic skills such as math, reading, science, and social studies etc. that they will need throughout their lives. However, despite these schools being the product of private industry and functioning outside of the public sphere, they still receive massive amounts of taxpayer money.
Under normal circumstances, receiving public money would cause the school to fall under the “public” purview, but the charter system sees the corporate school receiving massive taxpayer contributions with no accountability to those very taxpayers. This is essentially taxation without representation. It is also corporate welfare.
How The Charter School System Works
It is rare to find a campaign website that accurately describes any contentious issue but Dennis Kucnich’s campaign website does provide an excellent summary of how Charter Schools work. The example provided below comes from Ohio but the charter school system operates in the same general way across the country. The website states:
A for-profit management company sets up a charter school or schools, appoints the board, and secures a sponsor. Then the for-profit management company executes a contract with the charter school board (that it appointed) which generally lets the for-profit management company retain the physical assets of the school and control up to 97% of the money the board receives for the education of the children. Under this situation the charter board has no control of the school.
When a public school student enrolls in the charter school, the charter school receives a guaranteed amount of money- approximately $6,000 per student. This results in a corresponding deduction from the educational budget of the local public school district. Once the state-ordered, for-profit charter school deduction is made, public school districts lose thousands of dollars in funding for each student who enrolls in the for-profit charter.
All funds can be used by the charter school to purchase slick advertisements, enticing parents to enroll their children in the charter school.All the while, the proprietors of for-profit charter schools contribute tens of thousands of dollars to the political campaigns of state politicians who created this system, maintain it, and promote it.
Each year about a billion dollars intended to fund neighborhood public schools goes instead to charter operations, many of which are under for-profit management.
. . . . .
How have public schools been forced to make up the difference? (1) Asking taxpayers of the local school district for an additional levy, increasing local property taxes or (2) reducing educational programs, staffing, and other resources or (3) a combination of both.
The beneficiaries of this system are (1) the operators of for-profit charters and (2) state public officials who receive a continuous flow of campaign funds whose source is, inevitably, public funds intended for public education. This is a monstrously corrupt system because it takes money from public school children and gives it to for-profit charter management companies who then contribute money to politicians to keep public tax dollars flowing their way.
For example, since the year 2000, the owner of ECOT (Educational Classroom of Tomorrow) donated at least $1.4 million dollars to Ohio public officials. ECOT has had the highest dropout rate of any school in Ohio. Prior to its recent implosion, ECOT, which at one point enrolled nearly 12,000 students, was scheduled to receive about $87.7 million this year from the state funding program. Last year ECOT obtained $104.3 million from the state.
This year, Fiscal 2018, Columbus Public Schools will lose almost $l50 million dollars (that’s million) to the Charter School industry. In neighboring Madison County, in just one year, ECOT plus two other online schools took more than $725,000 from four Madison County schools.
Elsewhere, according to data from the Ohio Department of Education, Cleveland public schools will lose more than $129 million this year to charter schools. Cincinnati, more than $51 million. Toledo, more than $71 million. Dayton, more than $54 million. Youngstown, almost $19 million. Akron, more than $27 million.
So essentially, taxpayers are forced to subsidize a private industry’s “school to work” program while public schools are forced to watch the money that would otherwise have been going to them be siphoned off to charter operations. All this while the public school systems operates with crumbling infrastructure and shortages of necessary educational tools and equipment.
But left-leaning Kucinich is not the only person opposed to Charter Schools. There are those who are typically considered right-leaning who oppose the idea as well. Charlotte Iserbyt, who once served in the Reagan Administration and who authored the now famous “The Deliberate Dumbing Down Of America,” book, has staunchly opposed Charter schools.
“With our schools and our children successfully dumbed-down, “they” . . . . can count on public outcry for “change” in how schools are operated, as well as parental acceptance of charter schools,” she writes. “Parents will accept any solution to the tragic situation facing their children today — including charter schools with unelected representation. But how many realize that the purpose of charter schools is not academic, but to establish a replacement structure that will focus on training for the workforce (or more simply put: limited learning for lifelong labor)?”
All government (taxpayer-supported) entities including those at local, county, state, and federal levels are managed by elected, repeat elected, not appointed boards, officials. If enough voters are unhappy with elected officials’ decisions, they can vote them out of office to be replaced by citizens who hopefully will represent their wishes.
(On the other hand, the regional appointive system of governance is being used with charter schools. The appointive system does not allow voters — who pay the taxes that support public-funded charter schools — to remove persons whose decisions do not represent the majority of voters. Charter schools are “taxation without representation” and the concept should undergo a constitutional challenge in the courts.)
Iserbyt correctly argues that the charter school system is a move toward the old Soviet idea of “rule by council” as opposed to rule by democratically elected citizens, directly responsible to the electorate.
One should now ask, why would two individuals who are very different – one from the left and one from the right – agree on an issue such as this? Corporate schooling exists solely for the benefit of the corporations that back it. Corporate schooling is not beneficial to the child or his/her community and it only works to the benefit of the corporations who want workers smart enough to do their jobs but not smart enough to question why those jobs are being done. The same goes for those in power on the governmental level who have long benefited from a population becoming increasingly less intelligent, discerning, and able to understand what is going on in the world around them.
Corporate America would like to keep the confusion between a charter school and a private school so as to muddy the waters whenever the issue is raised. What is clear, however, is that the charter schools system is a trojan horse to destroy not only public education but eventually all other forms of education as well.
(Image credit: Fusion)
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