By Edith Morgan
Many years ago, I participated in a grant from the U.S. government, under a new program called “Title IVC” – which granted applying school districts funds for three years to develop innovative public school programs and pilot them in school districts. Many schools applied and many great programs were developed. Since they had been paid for with public funds, they remained in the public domain, and the schools that wanted to do so, could implement them.
This was before we passed our Education Reform Act. At that time we were promised that, since innovation was so difficult under the current restraints that public schools face, we would try some innovative “charter schools” that would be freed from the bureaucratic restraints faced by public schools. We could try new ideas, and if they proved successful, they could be implemented in our public schools.
Under no circumstances would I EVER have approved of for-profit-schools run with public funds! Nor did it make any sense to me that if the State already knew what prevented real creativity and innovation in our schools’ classrooms, they would create a system of schools to compete with our schools – siphon away funds where they were most needed and trick parents and the public into believing that “choice” was what they were getting.
So what did we get?
Schools which functione pretty much independently of the community, representing a tiny fraction of the community, hiring untrained and uncertified teachers, paid below certified ones, with great turnover, and in several cases, using the innovative programs we had developed years earlier.
With little oversight, little control, little requirement that they serve those most in need, but a great PR machine, they are now pushing to get many more of the same.
So once more it becomes necessary for us to defend our public schools from the continuing battle to privatize them – turn them into “cash cows” for those who see our public school system as the last great publicly owned and run system to undermine. And take over for profit. This has been going on for decades but must not succeed.
A good public education is the foundation of our democracy!