A blog from Education Blogger Brett Dickerson
When it comes to public schools in Oklahoma, the effort to move parents from the status of citizen to consumer has started in earnest, and there is big, big money behind it.
Once upon a time in Oklahoma it was widely and clearly understood that when it came to public education, parents were stakeholders among all citizens.
But not any more, especially in the red states like ours.
Fears about “takers” who aren’t
There are the poor – them – and their children, that some of us resent because we have been told that they are the “takers” when the reality is that the wealthiest Oklahomans are the real takers when it comes to the percentage of taxes paid and benefit derived from the spending of tax money.
Some of us think that public schools are dangerous mostly because it’s where children of different races mix together and wear the same uniforms on the sports field. Can’t have that.
Fears about liberalism in the reddest of states
We think that public schools are too liberal because teachers teach students how to think instead of what to think. Can’t have that, definitely.
When voices on the far right in Oklahoma say the word “freedom” they mean freedom to force you to act and think according to theirideology.
So think tanks like the hard right wing Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) are tuning up for another Spring offensive in the Oklahoma Legislature.
Vouchers, charters, and private schools
My sources say that the OCPA are in discussions with a loose-nit group who were against the Common Core, R.O.P.E. (Restore Our Public Education). The discussion is to get R.O.P.E. on board to support a broad vouchers initiative.
If that happens, R.O.P.E. will bring passion and a grass-rootsy feel to efforts by OCPA, widely known as a dorky, and humorously-obvious reactionary outfit.
Vouchers will do what they have done in other states – open the door for tax money to go to private religious schools and corporate charters that will not be accountable for how our tax money is spent.
Last year the model legislation that is recommended by ALEC funded National Alliance for Public Charter Schools went down in flames after more and more concerned citizens got wind of what it would mean – to have a wide open charter development situation, especially in small rural public school districts.
That organization’s chart on how Oklahoma is doing compared, point-by-point, to their model legislation can be found on their website. It is eye-opening to see what they want.
Buying whoever is for sale
Big money will spend big money to make big money off of everyone who pays taxes. They have in other states and they will here, too.
So here they come, buying up anyone who is for sale, even elected officials who give up their positions just to make the big money that is being offered.
Oklahoma State Senator Jabar Shumate, a Democrat and native of Tulsa is the latest to take the bait.
A trained and long-time practiced PR guy, Shumate left a position of leadership in the Senate open right at the beginning of a session to become the newest Oklahoma PR flack and lobbyist for the “school choice” and charter school advocating American Federation of Children.
Charters do NOT deliver on promises
As I pointed out in earlier posts, we can expect the big funding of investor-owned charter school corporations to be spending big money to open new “markets” in Oklahoma.
And, as I have pointed out, they can’t do it better or cheaper. They will try to get us to believe that, and many other high-sounding claims like giving an opportunity to the poor. But, what we can see in other states that it doesn’t happen the way it is promised.
In fact, opening states to wide-spread charter development has resulted in one scandal after another.
And while charter expansion either directly or through vouchers is promised as helping poor, black inner-city minorities, what has really happened is more segregation between black and white and rich and poor than ever before.
One particular study has shown that in states where “choice” has been sold as a way to get kids out of “failing” public schools and into “good” charter schools, segregation has increased dramatically.
Let’s be clear – it’s about the money
Charter schools are considered by investors to have a huge, multi-million dollar market potential if only the public can be persuaded to believe that parents are consumers instead of citizens who are responsible to the whole of their communities, states, and nation.
As I pointed out in an earlier post, this planned liquidation of public schools to clear the way for investor corporate schools is under way in states that have already bought the “choice” argument and in those still scheduled for a propaganda offensive, like Oklahoma.
For the sake of those very poor children and all children in our society, we cannot allow ourselves as a whole society and as a state to move backward into segregation of the haves and the have-nots for the sake of some investor’s portfolio.
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Brett Dickerson is an education blogger, and teacher committed to full and free participation of all people in life, politics, faith, education, and voting.