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Helena, MT: The Progressive Legislative Action Network today released a new summary of rightwing efforts on education in the states. As it makes clear, there exists a concerted effort on the right to privatize public schools. These efforts are intellectually dishonest and orchestrated by political hacks While conservatives push their Trojan Horse agenda with bad research, progressives are responding with real policies to equalize education funding and make strong pre-K education available to all children.
While these facts are unlikely to change the minds of rightwing
legislators looking to hand out slices of the education spending pie to
their corporate sponsors, progressive legislators can use them to stand
up against the privatization agenda and push for the education reforms
that really help children learn:
Better early education, including guaranteeing free pre-K for all
More equitable funding for poorer districts in states
Smaller class sizes for all students
Professional development and better retention of teachers, especially in poorer districts
Accountability that is more than a mandate to "teach to the test"
While Ohio and a few other states have established statewide
voucher systems, the voucher movement has generally been moving forward
more incrementally through privately-managed charter schools and what
are known as "virtual charter schools", online teaching programs
combining aspects of home schooling with corporate privatization.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recently issued its 2006 version of its "Report Card on American Education",
the organization's annual propaganda that public schools are failing
and that more resources for poorer schools won't make a difference.
It's no secret that one of the top priorities for the rightwing
movement has been privatization of public education through vouchers
and tax credits. But the raw fact is that the public has consistently
rejected their initiatives when they've come to a vote-- every time the
voters have faced ballot initiatives on the issue, they have
overwhelmingly rejected them by a cumulative 68% to 32% margin in the 12 ballot initiatives from 1970 to 2000.
Indiana legislators are proposing to privatize a major highway and give a Spanish-Australian partnership a seventy-five year monopoly on collecting tolls on the road.
On one level, the deal just sounds plain financially irresponsible. The state gets $3.85 billion up front, but the partnership is projected to recoup that price in 17 years, then make an additional $21 billion in profits off tolls over the rest of the contract.