This is the last I am going to write about charter schools for the time being. Earlier this month I wrote that “Charter schools are destroying democracy“; in 2009, I suggested that schools be “Public or nothing at all“; and in 2007, I compared charters to the nefarious Blackwater Corporation. With this post, I think I’ve said all I need to until someone asks me more.
Introducing the pedagogy of privatism
Charter schools across the United States today demonstrate the wholesale abandonment of public schools, both in their publicly and privately funded forms. This presents a unique conundrum to radical educators and advocates, who want nothing more than to radically reinvent public schools, but do not want to privatize learning. Unfortunately, this challenged minority is learning that privatized education through charters is the grandest hope. But research and experience has shown us that charters do not succeed in reinventing schools. They do succeed in segregating students-of-opportunity from those without opportunity. They do succeed in formalizing second-class status for students who are not selectively chosen to attend them. They do succeed in further eroding Public confidence in the public school system. For these reasons alone I stand against their siphoning dollars from the public schools where they do take students.
I do not have a blind allegiance to public schools. I do believe democracy is the only governance structure that works in our world today, and I am absolutely committed to ensuring that all people everywhere have every single mechanism available to ensure their complete integration into democratic life. I do know public schools are routinely failing low income people and people of color, too. I absolutely refuse to believe that the commodification of learning vis-à-vis charter schools is anyway to rectify the injustices routinely thrust upon them.
As critical agents within this democratic society we must radically, fully, and completely engage throughout every mechanism for social change that furthers democracy- not for the sake of social change, but for the sake of democracy. Destroying public schools by forwarding privitization through charters doesn’t forward democracy.
My personal investment
As many of you know, I professionally and personally commit my resources and action to challenge the oppression within public schools today. For me right now that means volunteering in public schools, organizing students, teaching teachers anti-oppression, and challenging administrative malaise at every corner. It means that I write emails and letters to elected officials, and challenge every school administrator I know (and I know more than a few). It means that I routinely lose business because I upset educators and administrators with the charge of taking action rather than assuage their guilty consciouses. I am actively engaged in the struggle to create a more effective public school system for every student every day, and I will not give up on democracy, on public schools, or on reinventing public schools through democratic action.
(Note that I’m not dogging private schooling here, or homeschooling, or unschooling. Anyone can do that, always. Every student should have the right to drop out at any point they want to, as well, and the government should have options for their learning and living, as well. There is further work that extends beyond public schools, and I’m the first to admit that.)
Everyone should engage to their full extent, no matter what that is. We must hold public schools accountable for the erroneous, hurtful, and misguided actions many take in the name of our democracy. We must keep elected officials accountable through democratic action. We must not give up on democracy, or public schools, or public funding for public education.
This country’s market economy insists in individual economic mobility. We currently have a common mechanism to ensure the ability of all residents to excel, and that mechanism is public schools. It has failed, surely, to achieve the goal of mobilizing economic growth. Worst still, it actually and actively disenfranchises the mobility of low income people and people of color. However, support for our publicly-paid for, publicly-relied upon public education system needs to exist in order to ensure we can rally support for radically transforming the system so that succeeding generations can experience economic mobility in the future.
Since the establishment of the US there has been a constant battle of privatists versus The People. They learned to use corporatism to forward their agenda; we use popular insurrection to secure our positions. Unfortunately, privatists have learned to manipulate popular insurrection to their advantage. Giving up on public schools reinforces privatists’ positions, showing them their agenda to manipulate popular insurrection works. This gives them blatant control over our governance and society, and carte blanche over so-called “democracy.” We aren’t there yet, but will be soon. It’s too bad so many people are inadvertently contributing to that agenda.