The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

Handing Students to Charters

Jun 14, 2010

The Detroit Public Schools announced its official closings list: 32 schools are slated to close by January 2011. This is on top of 29 closed last fall, and 35 three years ago.

Why so many now? Because officials estimate that enrollment in the district, at 87,700 now, will drop to 56,500 in the 2014-15 school year.

That’s right–they’re closing schools now because they project enrollment drops later.

This is just a way to make that projection come true! Closing more schools now, especially neighborhood elementary schools, will drive more parents to take their children to charter schools. Some of those charter schools might even be in the same buildings their public schools were in.

Despite all his protests to the contrary, Robert Bobb, the “emergency financial manager” of the schools, has long revealed himself to be a tool of charter school interests. He received training from a large private think-tank that pushes charter schools. And several months ago, he defended his decision to sell closed public school buildings to charter school companies. One school building was sold to a charter company for $440,000, after receiving more than one million dollars worth of taxpayer-funded renovations. That’s a gift to the charter schools!

That can only hurt Detroit children. Study after study has shown that charter school students do no better than public school students, and often do worse, in academic performance. Charter schools are not held to account like public schools are. They do not have to report their test scores, and do not have to meet “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” standards.

Charters do not even save districts money, like they’ve always claimed. How can they, when so many are set up as profit-making entities? And charter schools often face no financial audits. When a student goes to a charter school, the money that would normally go to the public school is instead poured down a deep, dark hole, never to be seen or accounted for again. Great news for charter businesses–and rotten news for public school districts and children.

Everything Bobb is doing amounts to closing Detroit public schools, and driving Detroit children into the hands of private businesses.

And Detroit is not the only place this is happening. There is a widespread move in this country to turn public schools into a source of profit for private entrepreneurs.