Working America members are in the midst of a fight to protect public education in North Carolina.
Since 2011, the state’s public school budget has been cut by $450 million, leading to overcrowded classrooms and outdated textbooks. Now the state legislature wants to continue weakening our public schools through the expansion of charter schools and voucher programs.
Both charters and vouchers take public money to send children to private and sometimes for-profit corporate-run institutions. These corporate run schools have little accountability, and make large profits by underpaying teachers.
Do we really want corporations teaching our students – and using tax-payer money to do so?
Working America member Joyce Mers is taking a stand against privatizing education. Joyce organized a church forum to discuss issues surrounding public education and promoted the event though her church newsletter. She even enlisted the help of education policy expert Dot Kearns to answer questions.
When discussing the immediate threats to public schools, Joyce referenced a bill that would restructure the oversight of charter schools. Under the proposal, charter schools would no longer be held accountable to the State Board of Education, which oversees all K-12 public schools. Rather, charter schools would have a separate board, whose members would be appointed by Republican Governor Pat McCrory and the legislature. The bill also has provisions to eliminate certain charter school requirements.
“Right now only 50 percent of teachers in charter schools are required to have a teacher’s license and this bill would do away with that requirement completely,” said Joyce, “Also, the schools would not be required to perform a background check, which just doesn’t make sense to me – especially when there is a bill in the legislature trying to put armed guards in schools.”
Under this proposal, corporations have even more power to use taxpayer money to create and oversee charter schools.
When discussing public school funding, both Joyce and Dot noted that despite past cuts, student performance is high. “It’s a popular thing now to say everything is failing, but that just is not the case,” said Dot. She then cited the increase in North Carolina’s graduation rates. However, it will become difficult to maintain this success if more charters and vouchers drain public education resources and are held to different accountability standards.
The forum ended with Joyce collecting a dozen petition signatures from the group, which urge Governor McCrory to protect public school funding. But we need to continue this pressure. Our state needs to fully invest in public schools. If you’re in North Carolina, email me at email@example.com to find out how you can help.
Tags: budget cuts, cyber schools, Education, North Carolina, pat mrcrory, privatization, taxes
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and his allies in the state legislature are proposing a plan to privatize the state’s 600 Wine & Spirits stores.
The Governor claims this plan will generate funds that can be used toward education, which we take with a grain of salt since he has cut billions from education during his tenure.
The truth is, this is just the latest in Gov. Corbett’s longstanding pattern of cutting or privatizing anything in the Keystone State that isn’t nailed down.
Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits stores, run by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), generate nearly $500 million every year for the state treasury. These funds are used to pay for education and other public services. The stores also account for about 5,000 family-sustaining jobs, many of them union.
Gov. Corbett says “getting the state completely out of the liquor business” and instead auctioning off up to 1,200 liquor licenses to individual stores could generate $1 billion over the next four years, to be used toward “the education of our children.” We don’t believe that for a second, and here’s why:
In the past two years Gov. Corbett has shown apathy or downright hostility towards the education of Pennsylvania children: starting with his first budget that cut state education funding by $1.1 billion, so deep that teachers in the cash-strapped Chester Upland School District famously worked for no pay. On top of that, he has made giant cuts in funding for state colleges, reduced funding for early childhood education, abandoned “costing-out” studies that are used ensure poorer school districts get adequate funding, and trumpeted privately-run charter schools at every turn. One columnist called it “bombing public education back to the stone age.”
It’s also worth noting that Vahan Gureghian, owner of one of the state’s largest charter schools, is a huge Corbett campaign donor.
So no, we don’t believe Gov. Corbett when he says this privatization plan is about the education of our children.
More likely, he is interested in generating revenue for private liquor companies, shrinking the available funds the state treasury (to give him an excuse for the next round of cuts), dismantling the PLCB, and busting up the union that advocates for thousands of Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits employees.
That he is doing so while claiming to care about educating our children is nauseatingly cynical – preying on the insecurities of Pennsylvania parents and teachers to sneak through a plan that benefits private corporations.
Put another way, it’s classic Tom Corbett.
Take Action: Tell Gov. Corbett and the legislature to protect 5,000 jobs and badly needed revenue – stop the liquor privatization scheme.
Tags: budget, Education, Jobs, Pennsylvania, privatization, Tom Corbett
by Donald Cohen, founder and executive director of In the Public Interest, a national resource center on privatization and responsible contracting. Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled legislature are moving fast to privatize all 29 prison facilities in 18 counties in southern Florida.
Last year, the GOP prison privatization proposal was ruled unconstitutional because it was wrapped into a budget proposal, a violation of Florida laws that requires policy changes be in separate laws. Tallahassee Judge Jackie Fulford ruled that the lawmakers rushed the process.
The privatizers aren’t making the same mistake this time. Not only are they proposing to privatize the prisons but they are changing the law to be able to privatize any service as fast, as easily and as secretly as possible. Under the latest proposals, an agency would not have to report its privatization of a program or service until after the contract is signed. And they also would eliminate a current legal requirement to do a cost-benefit analysis before privatizing any government function.
In other words, don’t let the public know what you’re doing and don’t bother to find out the costs.
Scott, former CEO of hospital giant Columbia/HCA, came into office on a mission to privatize Florida government. Scott left HCA as the company was being investigated for the “biggest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history.” Columbia/HCA ultimately paid a record $1.7 billion in fines, penalties and damages.
Scott has already proposed privatizing the state’s Medicaid system, state parkcampgrounds, the state’s three remaining public mental hospitals, three centers for the developmentally disabled and six veterans’ homes.
The two largest prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut), are poised to strike, in what Judith Greene, director of Justice Strategies calls, “an unprecedented” expansion of the use of private prisons that no other state has undertaken.
GEO has been a consistent force within Florida politics. GEO Group alone gave more than $400,000 to the party in the past election cycle. Geo Group‘s lobbyist, Brian Ballard, hosted Scott at his Tallahassee home to watch the Super Bowl. GEO Group and CCA donated nearly $1 million toward the Scott’s inauguration celebrations.
Tags: Corporate Accountability, Florida, privatization, Rick Scott