Monday, May 8, 2017

If You Call It “School Choice,” You’ll Go to Hell

Center for a Stateless Society » If You Call It “School Choice,” You’ll Go to Hell:

If You Call It “School Choice,” You’ll Go to Hell

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Right-libertarian shills for school charterization like to use the euphemism “school choice,” which is about as misleading as referring to proprietary walled garden platforms like Uber as the “sharing economy.” The charter school movement’s inroads occur, almost without exception, in places where choice has been suppressed by the state. The Charter Mafia hates choice. Charterization, where it occurs, is imposed by a process about as free and democratic as the National Party coup that established Apartheid in South Africa.

Charterization is just another example of the kind of corporate “privatization” that is advocated by right-libertarians, in which public assets created at taxpayer or ratepayer expense are enclosed by politically connected private actors. Such enclosure, of land and of everything else, has been with us since the beginning of ruling classes and states. Such enclosures, and the battles against them, were described in Livy’s history of the Roman Republic, where commonly owned public lands were enclosed by the patrician landed oligarchy.

We find the model of “privatizing” taxpayer-created assets and services — i.e. selling or contracting them out to corporations — almost exclusively in places characterized by what Naomi Klein calls “Disaster Capitalism,” where some extraordinary circumstance has given the capitalist state unaccountable authority to transfer public assets to its private sector cronies. Hence the mass “privatization” (a.k.a. looting) in Chile after the Pinochet coup, in Russia after Yeltsin’s seizure of power and forcible suppression of the Duma, in Iraq under the “Coalition Provisional Authority” puppet government installed by the United States, and in the Michigan municipalities placed under the dictatorial authority of state-appointed “Emergency Managers.”

In the United States, similarly, we see large-scale charterization in places like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where government seized emergency powers and a major part of the black population was in exile far from home. We see it in places like Detroit under the above-mentioned emergency managers, and Chicago under the corrupt and authoritarian administration of Rahm Emanuel. And we see it in my home state of Arkansas, where the largely black Little Rock school district was taken over two years ago by the state, which has taken advantage of the suspension of local control to push charterization in cahoots with private interests like the Walton Family Foundation.

To add insult to injury, the Charter Mafia are (having removed the school district from local control) attempting to bully the people of Little Rock into approving a property tax millage increase for the school district which is now completely unaccountable to them, so its charter-happy absentee management can promote their agenda.  A vote on the $600 million tax increase is scheduled for May 9. (“Stockholm syndrome, a tax dodge and empty promise in Little Rock school tax election,” Arkansas Times: Arkansas Blog, April 11).

Advocates for the tax increase are actually using the issue of local control to blackmail voters into approving it. Bobby Roberts, a leading spokesman for the tax campaign, warned: “If the citizens of Little Rock cannot pass this, if I were [Arkansas Education] Commissioner Johnny Key or I were the governor I would say, ‘I am in no hurry to turn this school district back over to an elected school board because there is no support in the Center for a Stateless Society » If You Call It “School Choice,” You’ll Go to Hell:

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