Education Reform

Shawgi Tell: Time to Defund Charter Schools, They are Not Public

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Shawgi Tell, a professor of education at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, says that charter schools areprivate schools and should not receive any public funding.

Efforts to make them accountable and transparent are a waste of time, he argues.

if the billions wasted on charter schools had been spent on public schools, they would be well funded, and society would be far better off.

He writes:

“The notion that thousands of charter schools engaged in all sorts of fraud, corruption, waste, and other serious problems can be fixed by implementing “smarter” policies, laws, or regulations that somehow “rein them in” ignores the fact that charter schools are deregulated and have loopholes by conscious design. The “Wild West” feature of charter schools is deliberate, inherent, and directly related to their “free market” underpinnings. This is not some aberration, oversight, or the result of poor thinking and planning. Far more importantly though, such a notion ignores the fact that charter schools have no legitimate claim to public funds or assets because they are not public entities in any way, shape, or form. Charter schools are not public schools; they never have been. Public funds belong only to public schools, no one else. To funnel public wealth to private competing interests under the banner of high ideals is irrational, destructive, and unethical.

“A school cannot be public in the proper sense of the word if its structures, functions, aims, practices, policies, owners, and results differ significantly from public schools that have been around for generations. Furthermore, something does not become public just because it is blindly called public over and over again, or because it is supposedly “tuition-free,” or because it receives public funds.

“Charter schools fail and close for a variety of reasons all the time, namely financial malfeasance and poor academic performance. Thousands of charter schools have closed in under 25 years, leaving many families abandoned and betrayed. “Here-one-day-gone-the-next” is not unusual or shocking in the unstable charter school sector, which is heavily dominated by wealthy private interests. Of course, churn, volatility, instability, and upheaval are the opposite of what a modern education system in a society based on industrial mass production needs. Modern society does not need any more chaos, anarchy, and violence….

”Government is not serving the best interest of the people when, with or without oversight, it annually funnels billions of public dollars to privatized, marketized, corporatized charter schools. Public funds belong to the public, not private competing owners of capital. Charter schools, whether they are transparent or not, have no valid claim to public funds, wealth, and property.”

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