No wonder it’s so easy for people like Governor Christie to dangle the magic of charter schools in front of the state. Never mind the fact that overall, charter schools have been proven in study after study to achieve no better results than public schools. Let’s just never mind that for today. Instead, let’s focus on what’s really going on in the oh-so-trendy, brave new world of “education reform.”
I was referred to an interesting article, titled Waiting for SuperFraud, by Michael T. Martin. In it, Mr. Martin made some good points that I haven’t really been considering. He wrote,
Public schools have to fail. There is no alternative. So give up trying to argue otherwise with facts and logic.Mr. Martin goes on to tell about a 1999 Merrill Lynch in-depth report titled “The Book of Knowledge, Investing in the Growing Education and Training Industry.” The report notes: “The K-12 market is the largest segment of the education industry with approximately $360 billion spent annually or over $6,500 per year per child. Despite the size, the K-12 market is the most problematic to invest in today.”
The mockumentary Waiting For Superman made this clear. Funded by millionaires, the movie told the story of some privatized schools in Harlem portrayed as saviors of children otherwise condemned to public schools. Privatized schools mostly funded by hedge fund millionaires on Wall Street. They spent two million dollars to promote the film nationally. Another major film titled “The Lottery” told a similar tale: children in Harlem desperate to escape public schools. Funded by more millionaires.
In other words, there’s a $360 billion (today more like $700 billion) market – full of desperate taxpayers and scared parents – up for grabs, and private enterprise is being invited in to take over – as an investment strategy, not for educational outcomes.
Big business doesn’t make decisions out of the goodness of its heart, or for the betterment of society, but rather with an eye on huge profits and a captive audience. It’s just something to think about. “Follow the money” as they said in my favorite movie. And evaluate potential "supermen" accordingly.