How the 1% is privatizing (stealing) the $600bn public education budget

In our Deadlines post — “America faces more than a dozen deadlines, all caused by billionaires and wealth transfer“— we noted that public education was in a crisis of privatization from which it may never recover (some editing and added emphasis below):

Number 15 on the list is “Destruction of public education.” Does that really have an end-point? If so, what does it look like? Extrapolate the charter-school / “for-profit school funded with public money” process — which is, again, both uni-directional and accelerating — to its end-point and you get a two-tiered school system with a sloppy middle.

One tier is an aging, decrepit, under-funded, useless-for-education factory-school system for the middle and lower classes (most of the country). The other tier has bright shiny (private) charter schools for the billionaires and their millionaire administrators and friends.

A good example of this bifurcation is the charter school that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his children to, in which music and the arts are taught, which he supports at the same time he’s destroying public school funding for the poor and middle class of his own city.

The rich and the rest; one system for the wealthy and another for the rest of us. The wealthy private-school owners receive funding from the government — via vouchers and other payments — and book for themselves the profits of the successful schools they create. Because of the prices charged for these schools, the vouchers that parents receive won’t be enough, so better incomes are needed to afford the better schools.

At the same time, the lower income parents (most of the rest of the country) will either use their vouchers for the fly-by-night or less-good charter schools or they’ll have to send their children to increasingly useless public schools. Public schools will not disappear, except as a means of education. Only the poor will eventually use them, and they will become more like jails and youth rehab camps than actual schools. They will operate on a fraction of the money they have now. And the teaching profession, stripped of union rights and incomes, will be gutted of anyone but the desperate.

In between those two permanent systems, in what I called the “sloppy middle,” will be a changing list of middling private charter schools, some of which will be decent, many of which will be run as profit opportunities and abandoned, for that portion of the country with vouchers who live in okay neighborhoods and have just enough extra income to pay a little extra for education. …

In other words, unless billionaire profits are interrupted, this process will accelerate toward the end-point — public “schools” that aren’t schools for the masses; private schools that are schools for the few; and a floating, changing middle selection of variable quality for the rest.

Can the process be stopped? Of course. But billionaires are the sticking point.

I can’t remember who last week said “Love of money is a disease with these people” (meaning the 1% billionaire class), but it’s true. The great god Rand tells them that they’re the only true deserving — a comfortable religion for predators to have — and they walk the world like the princes and queens they imagine themselves to be.

Support the film “Going Public”

Making this very point is the new film Going Public. Watch the trailer — it’s brief and excellent:

As Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy says in the clip (my emphasis):

Public education is a $600 billion business. When you take those tax dollars and put it into private hands, you reduce the amount of services and put those tax dollars into a steady stream of revenue for for-profit corporations to make money for the rest of the lives of those CEOs.”

Six hundred billion dollars is a lot of dinero — they call it “ripe for harvesting” in predator circles. As the filmmakers say:

Maybe the problem with public education … isn’t public education.

Maybe it’s the predators. You think? If you’d like to help the filmmakers complete this important work, you can donate via this page.



To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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