Ed Eiler was superintendents of the Lafayette, Indiana, schools. In this article, he explains how corporatist Republicans have tried to turn education into a commodity instead of a common good that belongs to all.


He writes:


“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”


– Elie Wiesel


Three recent newsworthy items deserve our attention. The first is a study in the American Educational Research Journal, which concluded rising income inequality in the U.S. is a primary cause of the growing economic segregation of schools. As the gap grows, affluent families are more likely to segregate themselves into enclaves where there are few poor children in the public schools.


The second is a report issued by the Indiana Department of Education that calculated the net increased cost for the state’s education voucher program to be $53.2 million. Some 52 percent of voucher students now have no record of attending a public school.


The final report is one completed by the National Conference of State Legislatures addressing educational reform. The report acknowledges there are no silver bullets and the present efforts at reform have failed. The report recognizes the importance of having all stakeholders be a part of the process of improving our schools.


Why does any of this matter? All of these reports can be tied to the effort to privatize education.


So, vouchers are not being used to help “poor students escape from failing public schools,” since most kids who use vouchers never attended a public school. They are simply an effort to privatize what belongs to the public.


Eiler writes:


The American public school system has been where students of different economic classes, religious backgrounds and ethnic communities come together to develop a sense of community and a commitment to the common good.


Because of income inequality, we are increasingly leading separate lives. Sandell asserts, “Democracy doesn’t demand absolute equality, but does require people to share a common life.”


[Michael] Sandell concludes that ultimately this is “… not an economic question. The question is how do we want to live together? Do we want a society where everything is up for sale or are there certain moral and civic goods that markets do not honor and money cannot buy?”


That is why all of this matters, why we should oppose privatizing our schools and why we should elect people who support our public schools. I may be powerless to prevent it, but the privatization of education is an injustice, and I must protest.