Don’t think for a moment that Republicans are harassing and demonizing teachers for fun. Notice in their little resolutions that they often get to replace public sector employees in public education with private employees in private and charter schools. They see the $600 billion or so allotments for public education in the United States as fair game for the next wave of privatization. Charter schools in Ohio can set up shop (and these are not schools set up by worried parents; these are moneymakers for companies like K12 and White Hat), enroll students, and receive tax revenues to purchase materials and geography. They also pay teachers less to handle more students, and they have worse test scores and graduation rates than the majority of public schools in Ohio. Don’t kid yourself, though: this isn’t about educating children. It’s about making money. And if they have to close a school because parents catch on to the scheme or something disgraceful happens…by Ohio law, they are able to close down one school and set up a school across the street by a different name.
But maybe this isn’t so bad…. Maybe I’m just getting all het up for nothing. Let’s see…what might happen if K-12 follows the lead of for-profit colleges?
The worry that I have is that most of these schools have an incredibly large online component, and when they continue to fail, many people will blame online learning rather than really think about why education is now seen as a potential profit-making enterprise rather than a core function of democracy. These schools bilk people who can least afford it out of money that they will be paying back for the rest of their lives. They profit from people’s dreams of a better life, but they do nothing to deliver.
Is that really what we want for third graders, too?
Postscript: I had a job interview at a for-profit college here in Columbus: the faculty office (shared) was one room with a bunch of tables. “You can bring in your laptop if you want,” said the recruiter. The classrooms were sterile, small, and somewhat dingy. The marketing and recruitment office, on the other hand, spared no expense with private cubicles and realms of technology. I saw a similar set up with the “Financial Aid” workers. It’s clear what’s valued here: raking in dough. As I looked around at the students milling about, I wondered at the “85% placement rate” the college boasted.