Mike Klonsky : Forbes Calls Charter Schools ‘Part of a Corrupt System’

Demonstration in New York against school privatization.

‘Part of a corrupt system’:
Forbes piece pounds charters

About the only thing charters do well is limit the influence of teachers’ unions. And fatten their investors’ portfolios.

By Mike Klonsky | The Rag Blog | September 18, 2013

An article appearing in the September 10 issue of Forbes gives a swift kick in the rear end to charter schools. According to Forbes contributor Addison Wiggin, charter schools have selective enrollments, don’t perform any better than regular public schools, and are part of a corrupt system that funnels public funds into the pockets of privatizers and corporate cronies through real estate deals and tax credits.

He writes:

Charter schools are frequently a way for politicians to reward their cronies. In Ohio, two firms operate 9% of the state’s charter schools and are collecting 38% of the state’s charter school funding increase this year. The operators of both firms donate generously to elected Republicans.

In Florida, the for-profit school industry flooded legislative candidates with $1.8 million in donations last year. “Most of the money,” reports The Miami Herald, “went to Republicans, whose support of charter schools, vouchers, online education and private colleges has put public education dollars in private-sector pockets.”

But it’s not just about Republicans. Wiggin saves his best shots for Democrats like the ones in Philadelphia who closed 23 public schools — about 10% of the total — to be replaced by charters. Not to mention Arne Duncan who “rolled out the Obama administration’s ‘Race to the Top’ initiative, doling out $4.4 billion in federal money to the states — but only to those states that lifted their caps on the number of charter schools.”

Something I wasn’t aware of was a program called EB-5 that encourages foreign investors who pony up $1 million in a wide variety of development projects — or as little as $500,000 in “targeted employment areas” — to buy immigration visas for themselves and family members.

“There’s a risk to taking education to Wall Street,” says Education Week — “one that helps explain why so few publicly traded companies cater to the educational needs of students in elementary, middle and high school.”

But EdWeek charter school blogger Katie Ash attacks Wiggin’s piece for being “inflammatory.” Wiggin doesn’t mince words, says Ash, “and I’m sure many will take offense at his staunch views.”

Not me. He’s shooting straight.

This article was also posted by the author to Schooling in the Ownership Society.

[Mike Klonsky is a long-time education activist who teaches in the College of Education at DePaul University and is director of the Small Schools Workshop. He has spoken and written extensively on education issues and is active in the struggles in Chicago to save and transform public schools. A veteran of the civil rights and anti-war movements, Klonsky is a former National Secretary of SDS. He blogs at his SmallTalk Blog and you can follow him on twitter here.]

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