Restricting Privatization

3/20/06 The Rightwing Targets States on Education

The Rightwing Targets Education in the States
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.

The Progressive Response

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"

Vouchers and Virtual Schools

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.

Fake "Report Cards" Downplay Funding Needs

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.

The Rightwing War on Public Schools

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.

IN: How Privatization Undermines Democracy

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.