Profit Motive

There’s a common thread developing in the right wing’s education policies. People like Betsy DeVos, on the national level. And Richard Corcoran, Speaker of the House here in Florida. They say we should:

  • Deal with struggling students by further crippling their public schools and then labeling them and their schools as “failures”;
  • Deal with educational “failures” by opening a proliferation of charter schools (that can pick and choose their students to make sure they meet test-score requirements) and private schools (that are exempt from test-score requirements);
  • Deal with growing teacher shortages not by improving autonomy, compensation and working conditions, but by opening more charter and private schools that don’t require certification or even training for their faculty … and by targeting de-certification of teacher unions;
  • Deal with constitutional barriers to public funding of religious schools by creating tax-dodge “scholarships” for students attending unregulated private schools;
  • And deal with school shootings not by restricting access to military weapons, but rather by arming teachers.

So what’s the common thread? An effort to convince us:

  • That our public schools are failing;
  • That our teachers are incompetent;
  • That what we need is “choice,” or at least the appearance of it, not improved resources for our existing public schools;
  • That charter and private schools are prima facie “better” than public schools;
  • And that everything they advocate is somehow aimed at supporting students, especially disadvantaged and minority students.

But what they’re really creating is a smokescreen, an ostensible justification for eliminating free, nonprofit public education and replacing it with ever-increasing profit opportunities for the education entrepreneurs. Ensuring that for-profit schools’ costs will be lower by exempting them from testing standards, curriculum regulations, and certification requirements. And guaranteeing a steady cash flow with direct and indirect government funding.

Why? Same motivation as always: to repay the people who donate to their campaigns and hang out at the same country clubs—by ensuring the sanctity of their profit margins.

And that’s the motivation behind their school safety proposal too. There are more than three million public school teachers in the United States. If they deal with the threat of more school shootings by arming teachers—even if they arm only 20 percent of them—they’ve just handed the arms manufacturers and their NRA lobbyists something like $300,000 in additional sales.

And they’ll likely get the added benefit of eliminating some of those pesky teachers, too—either because they’ll resign rather than carry, or because their handguns will be no match for the active shooters’ still-legal assault rifles.

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