Market-based education gambles with our children

Via Salon

In Ohio, at least 15 charter schools have abruptly closed this year – most don’t even bother to list a reason.

In Detroit, a city wracked by debt and bankruptcy, officials scrambled to close a failed charter school by Oct. 31 this year, due to the school’s debts, which exceeded $400,000.

According to The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., spent over $1 million on closing failed charter schools from 2008-2012.

More cities are following the lead of districts like Chicago, where the largest shutdown of public schools in the nation’s history occurred at the very same time that new private charter schools were being expanded by the district.

Abruptly opening and closing schools – leaving school children, parents and communities in the lurch and taxpayers holding the bag – is not a matter of happenstance. It’s by design.

The design in mind, of course, is being called a “market.” Parents and taxpayers who used to rely on having public schools as anchor institutions in their communities – much like they rely on fire and police stations, parks and rec centers, and the town hall – are being told that the education of children is now subject to the whims of “the market.”

The supposed benefit to all this is that parents get a “choice” about where they send their children to school. But while parents are pushed to pick their schools on the increasingly turbulent bazaar of “choice,” the game resembles much less a level playing field and much more a game of chance in which the house rules determine the odds. And too many of the nation’s families – and their communities – are getting caught up in a crapshoot with our children’s education at stake.

Whether from charters or voucher-funded private schools, the explosive growth of crapshoot schools is fast becoming the norm. And too few are asking, “At what risks?”

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