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Joanne Barkan has been writing brilliant articles about the billionaire assault on public education for several years. Her first was “Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools.”
Her latest is this article, which appeared on Valerie Strauss’s “The Answer Sheet.” She calls it “Death by a Thousand Cuts.” It will ring true for everyone who is fighting the massive money and power of the privatizers.
Barkan supplies a brief history of neoliberalism, as well as the federal efforts to introduce competition and privatization into the schools.
When champions of market-based reform in the United States look at public education, they see two separate activities — government funding education and government running schools. The first is okay with them; the second is not. Reformers want to replace their bête noire — what they call the “monopoly of government-run schools” — with freedom of choice in a competitive market dominated by privately run schools that get government subsidies.
Public funding, private management — these four words sum up American-style privatization whether applied to airports, prisons, or elementary and secondary schools. In the last 20 years, the “ed-reform” movement has assembled a mixed bag of players and policies, complicated by alliances of convenience and half-hidden agendas. Donald Trump’s election and his choice of zealot privatizer Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education bolstered reformers but has also made more Americans wary.
What follows is a survey of the controversial movement — where it came from, how it grew, and what it has delivered so far to a nation deeply divided by race and class.
Print it out and take the time to read it. An informed citizenry can stop this behemoth. All that money and power and the privatizers have achieved exactly nothing other than destruction.