The Business of Charter Schools

Those people surprised at the ascendency of Donald Trump have missed the overall picture, one that began with the altering of our perception of public education. For in fact Donald Trump is the logical extension of our attitude toward American schools. It’s the business model, one that often runs headlong into the people’s model. Trump voters have chosen the former and it’s beginning to pay dividends—but not to us and not even to them: only to Trump and people similar to him,

The business model is best represented by those who wanted to make Social Security an elective—something we may contribute to if we’d like. Not only that but we would get to choose what companies in which to invest, thus being masters of our own future instead of “victims” of the steady but unspectacular investments of our government. The stupidity of that argument is apparent to anyone who witnessed 2007 and its aftermath:  accepting that argument, the U.S would have had to bail out more than simply Chrysler—it would have been dealing with tens of millions whose Social Security retirement speculations vanished overnight. Lesson learned? No. Instead we have begun to treat public education the same way. People don’t want to be “victims”of the school system, not when they can convince the government to fund private schools, call them charter schools, and send their children there. It’s win-win for them, but not so for the underfunded and virtually forgotten public schools in urban areas. These buildings become decrepit and their students make do with less, accelerating the cycle that erodes our cities and further increases income inequality. In the business model, self-interest rules the decision-making process. That’s why you have to pay for your i-Phone.

In the people’s model, shared responsibility predominates. There exists an understanding that public education is the cornerstone of any democracy and that the need exists to provide all young people with an equal opportunity to receive a quality education in a safe environment with up-to-date schools and well paid teachers. And before you claim that charter schools develop out of neighborhood need, go to the Kipp website and learn who’s really steering education in America. The people’s model stresses cooperation—parents and civic leaders working together to improve all schools. The business model emphasizes every man for himself.

Supporters of this business model claim that we must struggle against the intrusive government, but this is the same government that, through all the shenanigans of the past decade, has continued to provide Social Security, allowed us to cross state lines and use the same currency, funded national parks and monuments, and maintained the right to vote. Minorities have made strides and criminals have been arrested; inspectors have continued to check airline passengers and military veterans have begun to receive better treatment. Our ports and borders remain protected, our primary campaigns have provided citizens with the opportunity to choose their candidate. We have brokered deals with other countries and continued our battle against terrorism. Maybe Microsoft or Monsanto could have done the same, but only while it was profitable. As much as we may be fed up with politics—the sniping and gridlock of Congress—we must show the wisdom to divorce politics from government. Without government we have no country.

Make America great again is an asinine slogan—America was never not great. But unless we reestablish the goal of educating equally all American children, the red hat with the asinine slogan will make sense after all.



2 Replies to “The Business of Charter Schools”

  1. Public education should include at a minimum junior college. But beyond that, there is a lot lacking in our educational system. Scholastic excellence is not highly valued and there is often a culture of mocking the very idea of learning for learning’s sake. Other countries are way ahead of ours in terms of disciplined academics in the elementary and secondary schools…and have been for some time–thus the Donald phenomenon?

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