Categories: Featured News

The Koch Efforts To Privatize Schools Dealt a Blow By Record High School Graduation Rate

It is likely true that everyone has, at one time or another, met someone who gets great satisfaction over another person’s failure at a task so they can gloat and boast that their approach would have been a raging success. Republicans typically seek out less than optimum outcomes of Democratic policies to tell the voters that the GOP could have achieved success if their proposals were implemented. If there is only one thing Republicans hate more than minorities, women, universal healthcare, and living wages it is government programs the people love because they work. Yesterday Republicans, the Koch brothers, privatization advocates, religious fanatics, and the American Legislative Exchange Council received some news that a government institution they attack mercilessly as a failure requiring corporate privatization and biblical intervention as necessary solutions hit a milestone that likely caused conservative consternation nationwide.

According to a new report, for the first time in American history the national high school graduation rate surpassed 80% in 2012 and is projected to reach 90% by 2020. For the record, it is statistically impossible for a 100% rate due to a wealth of factors far out of the control of schools, teachers, students, and even parents. Republicans, privatization advocates, religious extremists, ALEC, and anti-union fascists contend that America’s public schools are failures on the decline and regularly propose “school choice” legislation, voucher scams, unregulated and failing charter schools, and private religious are necessary to stop the nation’s education system from continuing its downhill trajectory. The news that universal, and free, public education is not failing, and in fact improving, is certain to ire conservatives who will likely portray the news as proof that giving for-profit substandard corporate and religious education crusaders taxpayer dollars will guarantee a 100% graduation rate.

The conservative’s privatization goal is funneling taxpayer dollars slated for public schools to for-profit corporations to destroy teacher unions to punish women, and allow biblical instruction to combat science and indoctrinate the nation’s children into the Christian religion. One of the Koch brothers’ legislative arms, ALEC, has put school privatization at the top on their corporate wish list and have devised several scams to achieve their privatization goal such as school vouchers, charter schools, education tax credits for the rich, unregulated corporate cyber schools, and corporate-backed “parent triggers” to shutter public schools.

Republicans and ALEC will never admit it, but the track record for all of ALEC’s proposed and implemented education policies are shameful for their failure rate because none of their reforms are research-proven and have negatively impacted students across the board. ALEC knows its failed policies will not catch on with the public overnight, so they are laying the groundwork for the long haul to implement more public school privatization with little to no oversight by limiting the power of real educators to bargain collectively to maintain their voice in promoting optimal learning conditions and outcomes for their students. Optimal learning outcomes for students are not part of any of ALEC’s model legislation.

To date, ALEC’s corporate and religious sponsors have written 139 templates for Republican legislators to introduce to chip away at public education, but three that represent the corporate organization’s means to privatize the public school system are; offering generous tax credits to wealthy parents who send their children to private schools, religious schools included, and to corporations (that likely authored the template) that donate scholarships for private schools; religious or otherwise.

Another ALEC template Republicans in state legislatures love is one creating a scheme that automatically deems public schools “educationally bankrupt” to rationalize giving taxpayer dollars to unregulated private schools, while rejecting attempts to address any educational problems that likely do not exist. One ALEC template is a back door privatization scam to create voucher programs to subsidize unregulated, for-profit schools, charter and private religious schools for specific subsets of students, such as foster children and children of military families.

A Republican favorite ALEC is heavily promoting is eliminating tenure for teachers in favor of “performance” as a ploy for school districts to summarily fire experienced teachers and hire inexperienced reduced-salary teachers. Performance is an unfair measure for teacher pay because teachers are tasked with teaching all comers and they have no control over a student’s performance that is impacted by economic conditions, language barriers, and less-than-ideal parenting at home. For the record, tenure means a teacher’s contractual right protects them from having their position terminated without cause.

For example, without tenure an administrator can terminate a female teacher who rejected an unwanted sexual advance, or they can summarily fire an untenured teacher on parental recommendation alone without giving the teacher a reason for dismissal. A tenured teacher must be given a reason for dismissal and the persistent harping by anti-public education advocates that they can molest children, sell them heroine, or beat them within an inch of their lives and keep their job because they have tenure is a bald-faced lie.

One of the privatization advocates favorite scams is funneling public school money into charter schools that are renowned for underperforming public schools as a matter of course. Charter schools sign contracts that empower them to choose their own curriculum, including the bible as science, enforce disciplinary rules bordering on abuse, and teaching styles to meet the “individual needs” of their students that may include hourly prayers and preacher-led history instruction. Conservatives love charter schools because they are completely exempt from following state regulations including hiring staff without teacher training, state certification, or credentials.

Republicans hate any public institution that serves the masses with any measure of success, and it explains their 15 year drive to privatize America’s public school system. However, to be fair, there is a self-aggrandizing conservative Senator from New Jersey posing as a Democrat who is comfortably ensconced in school privatization advocate Michelle Rhee’s hip pocket, and as a former board member and regular speaker for Alliance for School Choice (see donor list), heavily promotes vouchers, private religious instruction with taxpayer money, and for-profit corporate-run schools so closely aligned with ALEC’s education policies he could be Charles or David Koch.

ALEC and Republicans have no intention of backing away from their public school privatization crusade regardless the historical milestone the nation achieved in 2012 because there are too many taxpayer dollars for public schools they intend on giving to for-profit corporate and religious private schools. If Republicans had a legitimate concern for improving the public school system they would adequately fund the nation’s schools and stop opposing measures to standardize curriculum to ensure that every student in every state received the same level of instruction and achieved the same outcomes.

ALEC is certainly not backing away from the school privatization campaign and as if to counter the news the nation’s public schools are improving faster than expected, a new Koch brother ALEC group, Aegis, is actively recruiting anti-public education candidates to do the Koch’s and ALEC’s bidding. Public schools, and teachers, have a monumental task to educate the nation’s children to compete in an ever-changing technological world, and they are successful in spite of Republican attempts to privatize public schools and derail a very popular and successful government institution.

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