Home > Uncategorized > The Free Market in Public Schools is Creating— or Reinforcing the Existence of “School Deserts”

The Free Market in Public Schools is Creating— or Reinforcing the Existence of “School Deserts”

October 14, 2018

Andrea Gabor, the Bloomberg chair of business journalism at Baruch College of the City University of New York, recently wrote an op ed article for Bloomberg.com that concisely describes the way privatizers undermined the original intent of charter schools and expropriated the laws passed to enhance them to their own ends. Diane Ravitch quoted from the article extensively in a post yesterday, which included these two paragraphs:

“Now the charter industry is reaching an inflection point. Business backers are pushing to expand charter schools at an unprecedented rate, doubling down on the idea that free markets are the best approach to improving K-12 education. At the same time, critics — some from within the charter movement — are shining a spotlight on the industry’s failures and distortions…

That faith in markets isn’t supported by the evidence, however. Studies show that, on average, charter schools and traditional public schools produce similar results. But freedom from regulation is associated not with success but with especially high failure rates; charter-school performance tends to be weakest in states with the laxest rules for ensuring education quality.

From the efficiency minded business perspective, the charters ARE succeeding by the only metric that counts in the corporate world: they are making money AND they are operating efficiently in the sense that they are delivering the the same results for a lower cost. Given that reality, why would a taxpayer protest against privatization? After all, if their taxes remain stable and the results stay the same why would they complain? . Haven’t they been paying more for the same results for decades?

Moreover, why would any free marketeer be concerned if the parents of children raised in impoverished neighborhoods don’t have the same choice of schools as the parents of children raised in affluence? The answer is they aren’t concerned at all! The privatizers realize that too many parents in affluent communities believe that parents in impoverished communities have the same opportunities as they do. But that is clearly NOT the case. Do the parents of children raised in impoverished neighborhoods have the same choice of supermarkets as the parents of children raised in affluence? Do they have the same choice of gas stations? Of department stores? Of stores that sell clothing? And… is the unregulated “market” responding to this inequality?

The market IS working in the privatization of public schools… and the ultimate result will be the creation— or more accurately— the reinforcement of “schooling deserts” that mirror the “food deserts” that currently exist in impoverished neighborhoods. In the meantime, the privateers will not have to worry about an uprising from the upper middle class parents who are safely ensconced in their well-heeled public schools governed by elected school boards… nor will they have to worry about an uprising from politicians as long as they get the same results without increasing taxes.

As long as the argument is about getting the most possible from as little taxation as possible, the privatizers will prevail. Instead of supporting candidates who want to reinvent government to resemble business we should look to candidates who want to restore the equal opportunities for all, even if it means spending more money and having more government regulation.

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