Worldwide, Public Education Is Up for Sale
From the U.K. to Liberia, the school privatization movement gathers steam.
For the past three decades, critics of public education in the United States have assailed it and used its flaws to promote publicly funded privatization. Corporate and political interests have attacked the very concept of public education, claiming that the private sector is invariably superior to the public sector.
These developments are by no means limited to the U.S.; the same movement to privatize public schools is occurring in the United Kingdom, Africa and other regions – with troubling implications
In the U.K., the Conservative Party government wants to turn all public schools into private academies, funded by taxpayers. The British multinational corporation Pearson has ambitions to open for-profit schools using its products in many nations across the world. In Africa, a corporation called Bridge International Academies (BIA) is opening for-profit schools in poor countries that cost $1 a week. Liberia is considering outsourcing its entire elementary program to BIA, which is funded by American billionaires Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and others from Wall Street.
The Economist magazine wrote a glowing article about BIA's plan to make low-cost schooling available in Africa, because existing public schools are so poorly resourced. The potential market of hundreds of millions of children is alluring and sure to be profitable. Teachers in the Bridge schools are uncertified; They teach a scripted curriculum from a notebook computer. Many families cannot afford even $1 a week, especially if they have more than one child. Meanwhile, the state is relieved of responsibility to supply what is being outsourced to private enterprise.
Many of the plans to privatize education globally can trace their beginnings back to ideas and funding that started in the United States.
In the U.S., the attack on public education can be traced to a 1983 report by a commission appointed by the Reagan administration. Titled "A Nation at Risk," it warned that the public schools were so mediocre that the future prosperity of the nation was endangered by them. Advocates of privatization saw an opportunity to advance their cause and joined in the Worldwide, Public Education Is Up for Sale | Best Countries | US News: