I hope you read my Education Week blog “Bridging Differences” today. It’s here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2012/05/privatizing_public_education_i.html.

The Philadelphia plan is the lastest manifestation of the idea that the best way to educate kids is to hand them over to private entrepreneurs. It is au courant and wrong. The drive for privatization is driven by multiple ideologies.

One is contempt for government, which is found among uber conservatives who believe that government can do nothing right.

Second is a belief in the magic of the marketplace; this translates into a blind faith in the “portfolio” model, wherein school boards are supposed to open and close schools as if each one was a stock, making money or losing money.

Third is an ideology that begins with the claim that American schools are a massive failure, so anything at all is better than public education. This belief in failure justifies the most wild-eyed and irresponsible experimentation.

Some who promote the destruction of public education think of themselves as “child-savers.” They flatter their vanity by seeing themselves as “leaders of the civil rights issue” of our day. As they blithely demand the end of unions and the removal of all job rights from teachers, they continue to tout their civil rights credentials. I don’t think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would recognize any of them as his allies. He fought for the right to organize in unions. He fought for workers’ rights.

And unfortunately there are a considerable number of people and corporations in the camp of privatization who are pursuing profits. They are promoting for-profit charter schools and for-profit online schools because they hope to make–ready for this–a profit. Money is a big motivator. They assume it is the same for everyone. They truly don’t understand people who choose to work in a profession because of idealism or a sense of purpose. That’s why they are so big on merit pay and carrots and sticks. That’s what they understand.

The death of public education in any city or district is a tragedy. Education is a public responsibility. If some choose to pay to go to non-public schools, they have the right to do so. But for the vast majority of our kids, public education is their right and our responsibility. Any who whittle away that sense of public responsibility are doing damage to our society and our kids and our future.