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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Teacher Pay: U.S. Ranks 22nd Out Of 27 Countries

A few months ago, the widely respected Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development released Building a High Quality Teaching Profession: Lessons from Around the World, which analyzes how high-performing countries have created highly professional and effective teaching forces. Included in this report is a telling chart which shows that American teachers are paid less than teachers in many other countries.

For each participating nation, OECD calculated the ratio of the average salaries of teachers with 15 years' experience to the average earnings of full-time workers with a college degree. The U.S. ranked 22nd out of 27 countries on this measure. In the U.S., teachers earned less than 60% of the average pay for full-time college-educated workers. In many other countries, teachers earn between 80% and 100% of the college-educated average.

Building a High-Quality Teaching Profession

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20 years after DeRolph case school funding in Ohio isn't fixed

Nate DeRolph knows a lot about how Ohio finances public education. Twenty years ago, a lawsuit bearing his name was filed in Perry County challenging the state's school funding system.

The case was filed by the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding on behalf of children who were being educated in schools similar to DeRolph's.

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Why Business Cares

If you own, operate, or work in a local business, public education is vital to your current and future success. Over 90% of Ohioans are educated in public schools.

Teachers and education support professionals (bus drivers, cafeteria workers, lab technicians etc.) provide the foundational education and learning environment for your current and future employees. Without a talent pool of educated employees, businesses would struggle to operate, innovate and adapt to an increasingly complex and competitive market place. By supporting public education you support the continued creation of this vital resource.

Teachers and education support professionals within public education also provide the majority of your customers’ foundational education. A quality education is undoubtedly the means to long-term prosperity and quality job creation. The greater that prosperity, the greater the business opportunities it creates for people like you.

  • There is a clear consensus among researchers that education enhances productivity.
  • Research indicates that quality public schools can help make states and localities more economically competitive.
  • Public schools indisputably influence residential property values.

Just as importantly is the here and now. Those who work in the public education system are also your customers. They shop, order and consume services and generate word of mouth business, every day. Without these hundreds of thousands of professionals and their families contributing to their local economies, many businesses would suffer. It’s critical that local businesses continue to support public education and the jobs that help build future foundations for our prosperity. All our futures depend upon it.

Please support public education and those who work in it.

You can read the scientific research from Knowledgeworks on how public education positively impacts economic development

Public Schools and Economic Development