Privatizing Public Schools Isn’t How To Solve Education Problem

screencap from Reimagine Columbus Education TV ad

Here in Columbus, there is a major push to pass a new school levy. That isn’t unusual especially in Ohio where the Republicans have taken million of dollars away from education, over the past few years, in order to give tax breaks to their rich friends. What is different this time is the effort is really to privatize the Columbus School District so the corporate interests can get millions of dollars the schools still get. Privatizing public schools doesn’t make it better. Instead we give up control and our tax dollars for the equivalent of a WalMart for education.

There is a TV ad running with Columbus Mayor Coleman touting the levy. Here are the bullet points given in the ad:

  • Hire and retain the best teachers
  • Prepare all students for future careers
  • High performing schools in all neighborhoods
  • Prepare all children for kindergarten
  • Independent auditor to end fraud and abuse
  • Schools as great as our city

    There is a lot of filler in that list. What kind of schools wouldn’t want to “hire and retain the best teachers” or “prepare all children for kindergarten”. The fact is the one point on the list that is the real focus of the levy support group is to hire an independent auditor. This auditor wouldn’t answer to the school board and thereby not to voters. The person could make any changes in how the school operates and make it tangentially connected to ending “fraud and abuse”.

    The group behind the effort, Reimagine Columbus Education (REC), also notes that there will be $200 million in “savings” over five years. Guess who will get to decide the cuts? It will be the auditor and then rubber stamped by the school board.

    The other main focus of RCE is the “need” for better access to technology and creating more charter schools:

    A new public-private partnership would make sure Columbus has the best schools possible, by replicating successful local schools and attracting proven charter schools to the city.

    The mayor would appoint a director of educational improvement to ramp up the city’s efforts on education, including working with the Columbus school board and the new public-private partnership.

    ‘All in’ on education

    So guess where tax dollars will be going under this plan – companies that provide the technology and companies that run charter schools. In fact, a recent state law was passed that would require any Columbus school levy to share money with charter schools above the usual funding.

    The state just released school performance report cards and Columbus got four ‘F’s, three ‘D’s and two ‘C’s. Guess what schools had worse scores? Charters.

    Despite each e-school receiving only 8 grades (none reported a value-added grade for Gifted students), they ALL had more F grades than Columbus. And the worst overall grades belonged to the infamous ECOT – 7 out of 8 F’s – the largest e-school in Ohio, “serving” more total students than the Dayton, Canton, Youngstown, Westerville, or Worthington City School districts.

    Last year, worse-than-Columbus ECOT enrolled over 1,400 students who would have otherwise attended school in Columbus City. Shouldn’t Mayor Coleman be outraged by that failure to the “children of this district”?

    Newspaper calls Columbus report card “abysmal”, remains silent on Ohio e-schools’ WORSE grades

    Taking money and the best students away from the public schools won’t make the public schools better – which is the point of groups like RCE. Their real goal is to have tax payers give their corporate “partners” free cash and a ready workforce they don’t have to train for their low paying jobs. Exactly like how WalMart has huge profits.

    Not to mention that the same kind of “public-private partnership” failed in Cleveland.

    For the first time in history, I plan on voting against a school levy. Not because I can’t afford it, but because I don’t want my district owned by corporate interests trying to blow smoke up my ass and telling me it’s for the kids.

    Schools as great as our city