Saturday, July 8, 2017

NEA Issues Confusing Statement on Charter Schools | Dissident Voice

NEA Issues Confusing Statement on Charter Schools | Dissident Voice:

NEA Issues Confusing Statement on Charter Schools

Image result for big education ape National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers’ union, issued a policy statement on charter schools.

On July 4, 2017 the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers’ union, issued a policy statement on charter schools.

The lengthy statement begins with the oft-repeated erroneous claim that charter schools “were initially promoted by educators who sought to innovate within the local public school system to better meet the needs of their students.” On the real origin of charter schools, see:
This point on the origin of charter schools is not a minor one because many sources uncritically repeat it and because it imbues the logic in the rest of the NEA’s statement.

While the NEA statement effectively highlights the many profound problems with charter schools which, properly speaking, are contract schools, it ultimately creates the impression that a charter school can be something other than a charter school, and that the real problem is unaccountable and/or privatized charter schools. In other words, charter schools can be tolerated as long as some changes are made.

Such a rendering, however, overlooks the real purpose and legal features of charter schools and why they were originally created and promoted by major owners of capital and their political representatives, not teachers and grass-roots forces. This is why, from the perspective of the rich, charter schools are not a “failed experiment.” The rich have seized tens of billions of dollars in public funds through the mechanism of charter schools.

Charter schools are contract schools, and contracting is the quintessential free market category and a main mechanism for privatization and commodification. Contract law is part of private law. This understanding is largely absent in charter school discourse. Contracting is designed specifically to remove operations, functions, funding, authority, transparency, and responsibilities from the public sphere and place them into the private sector where operational, financial, legal, and philosophical aims and standards are very different. It is worth noting that the dictionary defines “public” and “private” as the exact opposite of each other. They are distinct categories with dissimilar features and should not be confounded, as routinely happens. Properly speaking, there is really no such thing as a “public charter school.”

The NEA seems to believe that if only charter schools are authorized by locally elected members of public school boards, and if only they are held to “the same basic safeguards and standards that apply to all public schools,” then all will be well.

But charter school laws are established at the state level, and all 43 states with charter school laws explicitly and intentionally establish them as schools that can and do ignore—are meant to ignore—dozens, even hundreds, of local and state laws, rules, and regulations.

Charter school laws appeared in the neoliberal period that started aroundNEA Issues Confusing Statement on Charter Schools | Dissident Voice:

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