Diane Ravitch’s Insider View of a Corporate Reform Lie
I recommend everyone go to this linked PDF and read Diane’s entire speech from which I have quoted below.
If you ever want to know how charter schools got started, and how they were marketed to the public and to democratic liberals, Diane Ravitch has your answer (bold below).
When I was active a decade ago with the Manhattan Institute, which is led by conservative business leaders, it was decided that the best way to market charter schools was to present them as a way to save minority children. This strategy, it was believed, would win liberal support for a very conservative idea. They were right. Liberals could not resist this narrative.
How very true, and maddening. As I have been saying on these pages for quite some time now, charter schools are a Trojan horse for the business community to gain a foothold into public education which it views as a major source of money.
So today we see Wall Street hedge funders and billionaires saying that they are leading the civil rights movement of our time. I have trouble imagining Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., walking arm in arm with billionaires in a crusade to privatize control of public education. Dr. King understood that social movements need a mass base, and that they are not based in Wall Street.
Wall Street is all encompassing today. We know this by the marked LACK of criminal prosecutions with regard to fraud and financial malfeasance tied to the mortgage lending collapse.
He knew that the civil rights movement depended on its moral authority as well as its ability to mobilize poor and working people in coalition with labor unions. He had no desire to privatize. He wanted to make private interests bow to the demands of the public interest. As I watch rightwing politicians doing their best to destroy the public sector unions, I recall that Dr. King was assassinated at the very time that he was fighting to organize the sanitation workers of Memphis. How dare they invoke his legacy to attack public education and public sector workers!
They dare to invoke his legacy because: (a). They have no shame, and (b.) They are interested in one thing and one thing only, and that is to make as much money as possible. It is capitalism run amok.
We know—or we should know—that poor and minority children should not have to depend on the good will and beneficence of the private sector to get a good education. The free market works very well in producing goods and services, but it works through competition. In competition, the weakest fall behind. The market does not produce equity. In the free market, there are a few winners and a lot of losers. Some corporate reformers today advocate that schools should be run like a stock portfolio: Keep the winners and sell the losers. Close schools where the students have low scores and open new ones. But this doesn’t help the students who are struggling.
Diane is, of course, correct in this last bold section. But, these people don’t care, they really don’t about kids whose schools get closed. The entire model is a business model and public schools wind up getting the students who the charters don’t want. Obviously, over the long term, this will have a disastrous affect on public schools.