May 20, 2015


Margaret Lavin: Privatizing the Public School System — Lessons From the French . . . After more than a half-century of privatizing public schools, France’s school system has not become the great societal leveler, but tragically, a place where children from poor backgrounds do far worse than kids from better-off backgrounds. It turns out that race and class are the major determining factor in student scores. Sound familiar? So what lessons should take from France’s long-standing educational experiment? Privatization of public schools is not the systemic reform that will ensure equitable and efficient public schools. Since the late 1980s we have implemented similar tactics in the form of charter schools and have had the same results as France, often exacerbating existing inequalities in our schools.   San Jose Mercury News

The Extinction of Fruits and Vegetables in 80 Years. . . Once considered to be the property of all, like water or even air, seeds have become largely privatized, such that only a handful of companies now control the global food supply. Agriculture has been around for 10,000 years, but the privatization of seeds has only occurred very recently. In that short time, seed diversity has been decimated, farmers have been put out of business due to rising seed costs… and the pesticide companies that control most seeds today have flourished. The Epoch Times

MT: A Privatized River Runs Through It. Missoula, Montana, the scenic mountain town that inspired A River Runs Through It, is fighting for control of the aquifer beneath it. Citing eminent domain, Missoula sued last year to take over the local water utility, Mountain Water Company, from its corporate owner, the Carlyle Group, a global investment firm with $194 billion in assets. In These Times

MN: State Auditor Otto calls privatization measure a ‘backstabbing’ behind closed doors. A measure passed by the Legislature Monday that would allow counties to hire private firms to perform audits drew the ire of Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto, who said the move is could result in layoffs for her office. . .Otto said Gov. Mark Dayton told her Saturday that he would veto a bill that carried such a provision. . . . Otto, a DFLer who is serving her third term, said the overnight deal was lawmakers “pulling a fast one on the taxpayers of Minnesota behind closed doors.” “We don’t have a profit motive, they do. There’s a difference,” Otto said Monday. “We are truly an independent audit shop and we are always there for the taxpayers’ best interest.”   Minneapolis Star Tribune

NY: Editorial: Private schools, public tab. THE ISSUE: The governor and Senate majority leader push a tax credit for donors to private and parochial schools. THE STAKES: How about fixing public schools first?   Albany Times Union

WI: Wisconsin budget committee to reject creating charter school approval board. The Legislature’s budget-writing budget committee plans to reject Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to create a new approval board to allow for more independent charter schools that operate outside the control of local public school boards. Minneapolis Star Tribune

IL: Editorial: Massive cuts to higher education a loser for Illinois. . .Without public universities, there wouldn’t be much of a middle class. Eighty percent of Americans who get undergraduate diplomas earn them at public institutions of higher education. But as states have cut support, tuition has soared. In Illinois, tuition is half again as high as just a decade ago, threatening to put college out of reach for many deserving students. To aid students, Killeen vows to keep a tuition freeze in place for this coming academic year and to avoid “backdoor privatizing,” in which public universities make up for funding cuts by admitting more full-pay out-of-state students and fewer who qualify for in-state discounts. Chicago Sun-Times

FL: Opinion: Prisons for profit. For the Republican Party of Florida, there is a new way to game the system. It is the private prison industry that has become one of the major financial contributors to the Republican Party’s ample coffers. Apparently, the incarceration and oppression of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens plays second fiddle to the party’s need for corporate sponsors. The News-Press

OH: Letter to the Editor: Stop starving public schools. . .Several charter schools have closed in recent years due to poor performance, but Ohio keeps throwing more tax money down that toilet. . . . Now a group of Cincinnati businessmen, with high-sounding declarations, and without the assistance of educators, wants to create more charter schools for more profit (“$25 million pledged for poorest schools” May 6). Many of these same businessmen got their educations at public or parochial schools and at public universities, but now they want to continue starving our public schools of needed funds instead of telling legislators to fully fund them. They have joined the hunt for another ten 10 percent of our nation’s wealth.