Mar 6, 2017
If anyone wants to know what the Trump administration has planned for the country’s school systems, they only have to take a look at what has been done in Michigan over the past twenty years.
Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, and her millionaire buddies, pushed through the most permissive charter school set-up in the country, allowing just about anyone to set up a charter, with virtually no regulation or oversight. Michigan has among the highest number of charter schools in the country; and eighty percent of Michigan’s charters are run by for-profit companies! That means a billion dollars of public school money going to for-profit charters every single year.
Second, Michigan set up a “School Reform Office,” which requires public schools – not charters – to meet an arbitrary test of “success,” or risk closure by the state.
Earlier this year, the School Reform Office announced a list of 38 schools that could face closing because of “poor performance.” All of these schools are in poor and working class districts. Twenty-four of them are in the city of Detroit, and have been controlled by state-appointed managers for years! If these schools close, the entire eastern half of Detroit will be without any public high school.
What we have seen in Michigan – and especially in Detroit, in Pontiac, in Highland Park, Benton Harbor, Muskegon Heights, Saginaw and other mostly majority-black, working class districts – has been a systematic dismantling of the public school system and a replacement by a for-profit system.
Performance has not gotten better – in fact, it has gotten worse or at best has stayed the same. But Betsy DeVos’ friends have sucked billions from the school systems into their own private accounts.
This is the reality behind what Trump offers to the rest of the country’s schools as “choice.”
This was, in fact, happening before Trump. Both George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” and Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” were attacks on working-class public schools and established charters across the country. And it is not a new thing for the capitalist class to want to make money off of public schools. As early as 1997 a Wall Street banker said public schools “are ripe for takeover by private management companies.” Adding, “Wall Street is interested in any big-spending industry.”
With every successful attack, the ruling class has been emboldened to take more. Now it looks like they’re eyeing public school systems across the country.