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A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: If It’s Publicly Funded, We Want to Kill It.

March 20, 2021

I have been reading in Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire’s excellent book, A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door, the chapters, “Teaching Gigs” and “Education à la Carte,” which only solidify in my mind the end game of organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the likes of ALEC associates, billionaire Koch brothers, former US ed sec Betsy DeVos, and former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal:

Privatize all public entities, including schools. To the greatest degree possible, abolish professions by replacing said professionals with minimally-trained, temp workers who move from gig to gig and have no leverage in their own right (no unions, no expectation of benefits like health insurance or retirement plans).

Send the money to the top, and provide CEOs with bloated salaries and abundant perks at the expense of workers.

Package it all as favoring consumer individualism and worker freedom–

–all while encouraging those scraping-by workers to file for public assistance and telling the “empowered” public in the fine print that beyond what turns out to be a token of public money, the brunt of funding their empowerment rests with them.

Of course, the irony of this privatization push is that in destroying professions and minimally paying workers in the name of cost cutting, ultra-billionaires like the Waltons are able to cash in handsomely on public assistance like food stamps.

So, what is really happening is that the ultra-conservative, public-entity busters do not want public services that serve the public; they want public money to subsidize their corporate exploitation of starvation-wage workers.

Regarding efforts to dismantle public school systems in favor of scores of disjointed, unregulated education products and businesses, Schneider and Berkshire point out that school systems serving families of means are not likely to be chopped up into ed-business scraps. Better-funded school systems serve constituents who want continuity, and stability, and in-person learning, and extracurricular activities, and in-the-moment, teacher-student, student-student, human-relationship educational experiences for their children– and who have the means to adequately fund such schools.

Certainly parents of lesser economic means want the same for their children. However, school systems that already suffer from inadequate funding because of a sparse tax base become sitting ducks for edu-product, gig-teacher, burn-and-churn destruction.

Inequitable funding is a tremendous problem in American public education.

Inequitable funding. Not test scores.

As for busting school systems into fragments of edu-business and declaring war on the idea of the career teacher:

If the fiscally-situated are not clamoring for this à la carte mirage for their own children, then don’t buy into the idea that this is good for anyone’s children.


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One Comment
  1. Lauren Miller permalink

    What do you make of the case of wealthy districts that are in communities that are undertaxed? In the case of NJ with the S2 funding formula, which took away state funding from some schools because the townships, in a sense, will not pay their share of taxes?

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