Sunday, January 27, 2013

Keep the Public in Education

A recent public statement by eleven community leaders in Milwaukee, WI is an important step in defending public education and democracy in a city that has been the target of school privatization efforts for more than two decades. (I am proud to be one of the eleven signers.)

Issued a few days before a “whistle-stop event” in Milwaukee that is to “celebrate” National School Choice Week, the statement warns of the dangers of blurring the lines between public schools, private voucher schools and privately run charter schools by “repackag[ing] school privatization as a call for a ‘unified education agenda.’”

The statement suggests several principles that should guide public policy when using public funds for private voucher schools and privately run charter schools.  

It also calls for a moratorium in Milwaukee on new charter schools that are part of national franchises. “Our precious educational dollars should be kept in the community, not sent out of state,” reads the statement.

It calls for community-wide discussion and action and warns against top-down policies that are developed behind closed doors.

The statement summarizes, “For the last two decades, education reform in Milwaukee has been dominated by consumer-based, privatization initiatives. They have not worked.”

“We must improve our public schools. But we must also defend the constitutional right to a free, public education for all children. A truly public education means more than funneling tax dollars to private voucher schools and semi-private charter schools that operate outside of expected norms of public oversight and accountability — and that undermine the very survival of the Milwaukee Public Schools.”

To read the entire statement and list of signers, click here.

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