The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Using Hurricane Katrina as an excuse for yet another charter school “experiment”

Jun 26, 2006

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced the federal government would give 24 million dollars to develop charter schools in Louisiana in response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. The news media talk about it as a great “experiment,” a “pre-eminent laboratory,” and a “major testing ground” for the charter school approach.

It’s like proposing to do a study on the effect of lobotomy on school children. Everyone already knows the result, that it’s harmful to the human brain. And so are charter schools!

Charter schools have been tried elsewhere and failed. They drain money from public schools into the hands of private companies and, when looked at overall, their students fare worse on standardized tests than do those in public schools. A few individual charter schools may fare better, and they’re always the ones held up as the example. But most, at best, score the same. Even when they show similar test results, there is more to the picture, since they drain money from the public schools, and so worsen the results for other students.

They’re not even required to give standardized tests, and when they do, they don’t always agree to release their scores, so it’s hard for people to even make a real comparison.

They are usually allowed to operate without the same level of oversight as the public schools. Their goal is to make a profit, so naturally, they’re set up to spend as little as possible on actual education. Who would believe that this would result in a better education for the children?

Eighteen out of 25 schools currently operating in New Orleans are charter schools. There are at least 45 charter schools already in Louisiana. The government plans to use this latest funding to open up 30 more.

The federal government, the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans are taking advantage of a perfect opportunity to push their plans through. What opportunity? The devastation caused by Katrina, of course. Many people from the area, including teachers, are still scattered to the winds. Many of those who have gotten back to the area are busy just trying to make ends meet.

This is yet another example of the politicians giving money to capitalists who profit off the “rebuilding” of New Orleans and Louisiana.