Andy Spears: On the Harms of School Privatization
Tennessee blogger Andy Spears offers words of warning in the face of advancing charter and voucher initiatives in Tennessee.
In state after state that has expanded both charter schools and school vouchers, local and state taxpayers have been hit with a “privatization tax.”
Now, this might be a tax worth paying IF school privatization actually led to better overall educational outcomes.
, who focuses his attention on Denver, writes that there are certain challenges posed by charter schools that should be anticipated as local districts and state policymakers consider their expansion.
Specific to charter schools, DeGuire offers this:
In 2022, Helen Ladd, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at Duke University authored a report on four ways that charter schools “undermine good policy making.” She acknowledges that “some charter schools undoubtedly produce positive outcomes for many of their students.” At the same time, “charter schools typically do far more to interfere with, than to promote, the making of good education policy in the U.S. In particular, they make it difficult for publicly elected officials to develop coherent education systems, to adequately attend to the educational challenges of child poverty, to promote the racial integration of students, and to ensure strong public accountability and oversight for the use of public funds.”
These challenges are compounded by the “fixed costs” burdent. That is, charter schools do not necessarily reduce the overall district costs. Nor is the cost tradeoff even.
Now, taxpayers are stuck paying for two school districts — the traditional public school district and the network of charter schools that receive district and state funds.
Hillsdale College would like to open five charters in Tennessee. Spears reminds us to consider the impact.
It’s important to understand the impact these five would have on the communities in which they may open in order to understand the broader impact of school privatization by way of charter school.
The bottom line: If all five open and operate as planned, $35 million would be drained from local tax revenue.
Taxpayers, then, should be fully aware of the fiscal impact of school privatization — unless they are willing to pay more in taxes for private schools that are not accountable to local elected officials, they should simply reject efforts to privatize K-12 schools.