Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Report way back in February of 2013 a must-read article about privatization under the current administration. Diane Ravitch quoted it earlier today, but I need to set it down, too, because this quote deserves to be handily located in everyone's mental file of Responses To The Same Old Reformster Arguments. So the next time somebody tries to tell you that the new wave of charter school chains are public schools, just tell them this:
On every level, the advocates of educational privatization strive to avoid using the p-word. They deliberately mislabel charter schools, just as unaccountable as every other private business in the land as “public charter schools,” because after all, they use public money. So do Boeing, Lockheed, General Dynamics, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, but nobody calls these “public aerospace companies,” “public military contractors,” or “public banks.”
You get to call yourself a public institution when you are answerable to the public (say, by having your governing board members stand for election). You get to call yourself a public institution when any taxpayer who's paying for your shop to stay open can have full and transparent access to your financial information.Some charters, particularly the traditional ones, do this, and they deserve the "public" label.
But if your attitude is "Once that money is in our hands, it's our money and we don't have to explain anything to anybody," you are not a public institution. When it comes to "public," charter chains keep using that word, but I do not think it means what they think it means.