Charter schools, to be clear, represent the commodification of education, the privatization, and the marketization of a modern human responsibility in order to enrich a handful of private interests under the banner of high ideals. For decades, neoliberals and privatizers have painstakingly starved public schools of funds so as to set them up to fail. Then they have mass-tested them with discredited corporate tests to “show” that they are “failing.” This is then followed by a sustained media and political campaign to vilify and demonize public schools so as to create antisocial public opinion against them, which then eventually “justifies” privatizing public education because “privatization will improve education.” Suddenly “innovative” charter schools appear everywhere, especially in large urban settings inhabited by thousands of marginalized low-income minorities.
The issue of whether a charter school is public or not is often confusing to many because there is relentless disinformation from charter school promoters that charter schools are public schools when in reality they are privatized independent entities. Charter schools remain private, independent, deregulated, segregated entities even though they receive public money, are often called public, and ostensibly provide a service to the public.
The typical consequences of privatization in every sector include higher costs, less transparency, reduced quality of service, greater instability, more inefficiency, and loss of public voice. Privatization essentially undermines social progress while further enriching a handful of people driven by profit maximization. To date, whether it is vouchers, so-called “Education Savings Accounts,” or privately-operated charter schools, education privatization (“school choice”) has not solved any problems, it has only multiplied them.
Charter schools are labeled “public” mainly for self-serving reasons, specifically to lay claim to public funds that legitimately belong to public schools alone. If charter schools were openly and honestly acknowledged as being private entities they would not be able to place any valid claim to public funds and they would not be able to exist for one day. This presents a contradiction for defenders of charter schools who want to “have it both ways,” that is, be public when it suits them and act private when it serves them.