Home > Uncategorized > Takeovers Destroy Democracy… But Persist as Cheap, Easy, Fast “Solution” of Reformers, Politicians

Takeovers Destroy Democracy… But Persist as Cheap, Easy, Fast “Solution” of Reformers, Politicians

Diane Ravitch wrote a post yesterday that included a link to a comprehensive TV report on voting rights by News21, a national initiative to train a new generation of journalists capable of reshaping the news industry.” Based on their reporting on the impact of school takeovers they are doing an excellent job of achieving their mission, for the overview of takeovers and the reports on four communities affected by takeovers are comprehensive and compelling.

The data on school districts that do get taken over is unsurprising: they are mostly poor and mostly black and brown children:

More than 5.6 million people live in places where state officials took over entire districts or individual schools in the past six years, according to News21 data collected from state government agencies. About 43 percent are African-American and around 20 percent are Hispanic. On average 29.2 percent of people in those areas are living below the poverty level. The U.S. average is 15.5 percent.

The profiles on Highland Park MI, Drew MS, Little Rock AR, and New Orleans LA describe the frustrations of parents and citizens who no longer have a voice in how their schools are operated because the districts their children attend are now operated by the State and, in most cases, a private for profit educational management company. The reasons for the takeovers are varied, but the results are always the same: the community has no voice in how its schools function and no ability whatsoever to gain back control of the schools they pay taxes for. The News21 team doesn’t look at these takeovers from an educational perspective but having read articles about three of the four I know that the schools are no better off under the takeovers and it’s clear the voters in the towns where schools are taken over are far worse off. So who DOES win?

The politicians win because they can declare victory by virtue of containing costs and thereby saving the taxpayers money. They can also claim that their actions “rescued” children from substandard schools— even though their poor conditions were invariably cause by the underfunding of public schools by the legislators and governors themselves. In the case of New Orleans, the politicians can point at the district as a model of “choice” since parents can choose to send their child to any school in the district— even though all the schools are no better than the ones they replaced when Hurricane Katrina decimated the city.

The education management industry and their shareholders are also big winners. They can operate schools with low overhead and pocket the “savings”.

The affluent taxpayers, who don’t have to dig deep in their pockets to provide the necessary funds for children raised in poverty and can rest assured that the public schools are now under the competent leadership of the private sector.

The big losers, as the article shows, are parents, voters…. and children.

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