Following the Dollars

Who benefits financially from the pro-market charter school movement?

The charter school reform emerged in part out of a progressive effort to promote innovation that could be used to improve all public schools, and to open up discus­sion on the relationship between school and community, particularly in urban areas. It was a movement initiated by Ray Budde, a professor at the University of Massachusetts and envisioned as a school that would gain freedom to try different methods of teaching that could be transferred to all public schools.

However, a funny thing happened along the way. Free-market zealots (with riches) realized that over $600 billion is spent in the U.S. on public schools. A whole new frontier leading to stable profits was recognized. Everyone knows "it takes money to make money,” and the faces behind the voucher/charter "reform” movement are not bashful in stepping up to the bar.

The economic and political consequences of abandoning public education in the US are grave. Education has always been the gateway of opportunity for working people in America, and that gate is slamming shut. With market-based schools, children from wealthy families are being educated, while those from poorer families are being denied the opportunity. While affluent customers may be satisfied with the outcome for their children, rebuilding the economy in post-imperial America will depend on a large, well-educated labor force that can only be supplied by a free and universal public education system.

But in basing schooling on consumerism the free-market zealots overlook the cultural role of schools in communities. Essential services such as the military, police protection, and schooling have been accepted for many generations of Americans as too essential to be subject to the whims of corporate interests distant from the community.

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“I Couldn’t Believe It Happened to Me”

Most teachers are likely to go through their entire career without being unfairly targeted for dismissal by administrators. But that shouldn’t be left to chance.

For example, what if this happened to you?

You’re a high school teacher. You work out with your students a rubric for grading a small-group project. One group, unfortunately, really blows this project off. According to the rubric, they deserve a D, which you deliver. Parents complain to the principal. He tells you to raise the grade. You say, no, and you point out that the students took part in designing the rubric that guided you in giving them the D.

Do you lose your job?

That can depend on whether you have a strong and enforceable due-process system for dismissal, generally called “tenure” but often misinterpreted as a guaranteed job.

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Why We Care

  • S.B. 5 is a jobs killer. It will only weaken the Middle Class by destroying good, working-class jobs that families and communities depend on.
  • S.B. 5 will hurt businesses. Stores, gas stations, restaurants and other merchants in communities across the state will be forced to lay off workers. Or worse, they’ll have to close their doors, because Middle Class Ohioans will no longer be able to afford to patronize those establishments.
  • Public Employees are our neighbors. They are firefighters, cops, teachers, prison guards, snowplow drivers, and social workers, to name a few. But they are also coaches, athletic and band boosters, church members, volunteer firefighters and charitable givers.
  • Public employees are taxpayers. Public employees pay their taxes just like everyone else. Every payday, they pay the same percentage of income tax as every working Ohioan.
  • S.B. 5 won’t balance the budget. Even if EVERY state employee was fired, it would barely save the state one-fourth of its gaping $8 billion budget deficit.
  • S.B. 5 is part of a larger agenda and public workers are scapegoats. It’s a fact! S.B. 5 won’t balance the budget. It’s clear that anti-worker forces are using this to harm the Middle Class and kill jobs and the union rights they depend on.