Charters Have Nothing to do With Community Control of Schools

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Charter school advocates are among the biggest scam artists in politics. They use the language of community control to transfer public assets into private hands. “Promoters of 'trigger laws' have only one use for parents: to pull the trigger on a school so that it can be converted to, or make room for, a charter school operated by the private sector.” Have mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rahm Emanuel, both bullies for charter schools, ever supported community control?

Charters Have Nothing to do With Community Control of Schools

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Anyone who believes that the Lords of Capital would finance anything that puts real power in the hands of poor parents, is in serious need of remedial education.”

The so-called “parent trigger” law is the newest weapon in the arsenal of the school privatizers and their billionaire backers. The law was passed in California in 2010, and versions of it have been enacted in several other states. The California law allows a majority of parents to pull the “trigger” on their local school and take it out of control of the school district. It’s only been used against two elementary schools: first in Compton, then in the town of Adelanto. In both cases, the process dissolved in acrimony and bitterness, with many parents claiming they had been bulldozed into signing petitions.

The trigger law is a scam, a bait-and-switch scheme designed to make it appear that a charter school “movement” is sweeping parents in poor communities. In fact, promoters of trigger laws have only one use for parents: to pull the trigger on a school so that it can be converted to, or make room for, a charter school operated by the private sector. The last thing these people advocate is community control of schools – a concept that is antithetical to corporate-run education.

In both Compton and Adelanto, it became clear that the privatizers who pushed the petition knew exactly which charter outfits would take over the schools once the trigger was pulled. Groups like Parent Revolution are paid to drum up business for the charter school industry. They are funded by the same rich billionaires – Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the Waltons – that bankrolled the charter school business, and who have been joined by the most cut-throat hedge fund managers on Wall Street. Anyone who believes that the Lords of Capital would finance anything that puts real power in the hands of poor parents, is in serious need of remedial education. The job of front organizations like Parent Revolution, is to put a democratic façade on a corporate takeover of the public schools.

Charters are the ideal deal, where the public takes all the risk and the corporations can’t lose.”

Even the billionaire Eli Broad claims to want to preserve the public schools – and, in a sense, he does. The fat cats behind charter schools want to keep them technically part of the public sphere, but only so that the public will continue to pay the costs. That’s why billionaires love charters! The public pays the bill, while private companies reap the profits. Public education represents an almost trillion dollar a year pool of money. That’s what’s got the billionaires so hot: charters are the ideal deal, where the public takes all the risk and the corporations can’t lose. Only the kids, and the society they inherit, lose.

Black parents are especially susceptible to the privatizers’ propaganda, which uses the language of community control. But that’s the most cynical ploy of all. Corporate education is responsible to shareholders, not parents or students. The politicians most closely associated with charter schools are mayors like Michael Bloomberg of New York and Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, both of whom grew rich on Wall Street and, more importantly, both of whom advocate that mayors wield near-dictatorial powers over the public schools. Community control is the last thing that Bloomberg and Emanuel want to see. A genuine parent’s revolution is anathema to the rich, because empowered parents would make the rich pay for quality public education. How about a law that would trigger that.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].
 
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