PBS and school privatization
Via Naked Capitalism comes Brett Robertson’s Why Is PBS Airing Right-Wing-Sponsored School Privatization Propaganda? (Media Matters). I like Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and sometimes Car Talk while driving to places, if they happen to be on. Otherwise I tend to avoid listening to Marketplace and the news segments. This has been true for me for a decade anyway. MA rejected increasing the cap on charter schools. I found many unaware of the lack of oversight and accountability. There are charter schools directly supervised by public officials, but I could not find many publicly discussed.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her department have pushed for an expansion of privatized school choice programs in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, particularly in the form of private school vouchers. Now a propagandistic three-part documentary series called School Inc. will help DeVos in her efforts to gain public support for expanded private school choice options. The series has already aired on PBS stations in some markets and will be shown on more this month.
A majority of people across the partisan spectrum oppose private school vouchers, programs that redirect public education money to pay for private school tuition. Vouchers are problematic for many reasons, including their history of allowing for discrimination against LGBTQ, disabled, and special education students, their impact on reducing public education funding, and their ineffectiveness in boosting academic achievement.
Despite these problems, private school vouchers are a long-standing priority of the corporations and right-wing funders backing the education privatization movement. The late Andrew Coulson, long-time head of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, was the driving force behind School Inc. The Cato Institute is a right-wing, libertarian think-tank that calls for the elimination of public schools in support of greater “educational freedom” to choose from a free market of privately run schools.
In addition to School Inc.’s roots in the radical, libertarian Cato Institute, education historian and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch found that the film was funded by a number of arch-conservative foundations with ties to the “dark money ATM” DonorsTrust and the Ayn Rand Institute. Ravitch has prescreened School Inc. and provided this scathing review to The Washington Post:
This program is paid propaganda. It does not search for the truth. It does not present opposing points of view. It is an advertisement for the demolition of public education and for an unregulated free market in education. PBS might have aired a program that debates these issues, but “School Inc.” does not.
DeVos’s program is essentially the wet dream the conservatives have been having ever since school desegregation started being enforced back at the end of the 1960s. It’s nothing more nor less than subsidies for so-called “Christian” academies. What’s so funny is that conservative “Christian” sects had been so ardent once upon a time in denying any sort of help to Catholic school kids to facilitate their education. Funny how that changed with the civil rights movement of the 1960s. I wonder why?
Limousine Liberals are quite happy being able to exclude poor children of color from their own children’s school via real estate prices.
Who paid PBS to run this? How much?
Berkeley sociology professor Martin Sanchez-Jankowski discovered while spending nine years at street level in five New York and Los Angeles poverty stricken neighborhoods that ghetto schools fail because so many students — and faculty! — see nothing sufficiently remunerative waiting for them in the US labor market when they graduate to make it worth making any serious effort now.
Well paid Chicago Teachers Union teachers as we well know do not fit that description. You get why you pay for.
I fail to see how students in poor, crime ridden neighborhoods are going to be elevated by an influx of lower paid, higher turnover teachers whose charter management is motivated by profit. They won’t get what we don’t pay for.
I think a big reason for that, Denis, is the unwarranted focus on college prep over vocational skills — plumbing, electrician, HVAC repair, etc. If they could actually get jobs as licenced plumbers, electricians, HVAC repairmen, etc., they might see a reason to study.