Most people would agree that every child should have the opportunity at a high quality education. Unfortunately Republicans have become obsessed with making changes that don’t actually improve educational outcomes.
The most recent examples of this obsession are a few bills (HB 6004, HB 5923, and SB 1358) being offered by Michigan Republicans. These bills would establish a statewide school district that would be accountable to a board composed of members appointed by the governor, not elected by the people. For a group that is so opposed to government control and regulations this seems like an odd step to take. Decision making regarding local schools would be taken away from communities and passed along to bureaucrats.
These bills would also allow nearly any for-profit entity to establish a charter school. These charter schools could then siphon off money and good students from public schools, leaving the neediest children for the public schools. The bill only requires these corporate sponsored schools to accept 25% of their students from families outside of the corporate envelope, making this law more of a corporate giveaway than a way for less-privileged students to get ahead.
Of course the real issue here is that charter schools don’t outperform public schools. Regardless of the anecdotal evidence that is often misrepresented as proof, studies show charter schools are just as likely to fare worse than public schools as they are to outperform them.
The reality is that charter schools are not the magic bullet that Republicans make them out to be. Instead a report by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, an organization funded by both the Walton Family Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that 1 in 5 charter schools should be closed for poor performance but haven’t been. Why? Because while Republican legislators are quick to try to replace public schools with corporate charter schools they have done very little in implementing laws requiring that these school meet the same standards as their public school counterparts.
Republicans have a history of pushing for privatization of public services under the auspices of lower costs and improved services, yet time after time their “solutions” become a greater problem. One has to look to no further than private prisons to see how Republican rhetoric has dire consequences for the American public, since not only do private prisons cherry-pick the least needy prisoners, they also cost more and provide a lower level of security than government-run prisons.
In the end these bills look more like corporate giveaways and a government power grab than solutions to increase educational outcomes and provide every child an opportunity at a high quality education.