Public education is a sacred trust of the citizenry, not an open market for capitalistic ventures. If one wants to make the argument that states like North Carolina are free to allow for competition within its public school system, then that person would need to explain how that complies with the state constitution which explicitly says that all students are entitled to a good quality education funded by the state.
An adequately, fully funded public school system actually is a foundational cornerstone for a democracy in which participants are represented by those elected to defend the very state constitution they are sworn to uphold. In many cases, those representatives were products of the very public schools that are part of the North Carolina public school system.
But many of our lawmakers have mistaken defending public schools with playing partisan politics.
- The outgoing governor, Pat McCrory, is a graduate of Ragsdale High School but has never challenged any privatization effort on behalf of traditional public schools.
- The Speaker of the House, Rep. Tim Moore, graduated from Kings Mountain High School and he helped expand the Opportunity Grant voucher system in North Carolina.
- Gov. Dan Forest attended East Mecklenburg High School and as a sitting member of the state school board has demanded that DPI redo a report because it did not make charter schools sound positive enough.
- Rob Bryan graduated from Sanderson High School in Raleigh and he literally strong armed a version system called the Achievement School District that has never succeeded anywhere else and Sen. Chad Barefoot, who graduated from East Davidson High School, let him do it as the head of a powerful committee.
- Jerry Tillman was a principal for Southwestern Randolph County High School and he might be the champion of charter school deregulation.
- Jason Saine graduated from Lincolnton High School and now literally champions charter schools in his home county and is helping not only the application process of one but gets campaign contributions from a national chain of charter schools.
It is to these lawmakers and other “re-form” minded individuals that the recent set of studies out of Stanford University should be directed.
The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) just released “Privatization or Public Investment in Education?” If you are nerdy enough, then you can go here – https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/publications/pubs/1456.
But here is part of the brief report from Dr. Frank Adamson, the Senior Policy and Research Analyst:
“The data suggest that the education sector is better served by a public investment approach that supports each and every child than by a market-based, competition approach that creates winners…and losers. While competition might work in sports leagues, countries should not create education systems in which children lose in the classroom. This report explains how and why some children can lose in a privatized system and makes recommendations to ensure that all children receive equitable, high-quality educational opportunities” (https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/scope-germ-brief-final.pdf)
And while many in the NC General Assembly have claimed that charter schools are “public schools” make sure to see how the funds are dispersed and make sure to see who is actually in control and make sure how admissions processes are administered. Then take a look at the academics and the impact the schools have on the traditional public schools, especially in rural areas like Lincoln County where Rep. Saine operates.
Further in Dr. Adamson’s brief, he makes sure to define what the “Key Features of Education Privatization” are.
“Privatization in education occurs when countries shift towards a “subsidiary state” model that primarily outsources social sector management to private firms. The government only provides services when no suitable private alternative exists. Because public education serves all children, complete privatization of education is difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, mechanisms such as vouchers, charters, and markets allow for private firms to compete in the education market, under the argument that increased competition will provide consumers (students and families) with a greater choice, thus increasing quality. However, in practice, public education contains different constraints than business markets, most notably the obligation of providing every child with a high-quality education. Therefore, as the results in this brief show, privatizing education has accompanied lower and/or more disparate student performance, likely because markets operate with different principles than the requirements of public sectors.”
It’s almost as if it was written in response to North Carolina.