Reader Michael Fiorello commented on an article about charter schools. It is no accident that the Walton family (the richest family in America, thanks to Walmart) is spending $200 million annually on charter schools. It is not about children; they could do a lot with $200 million to help children in their home state of Arkansas. They could build health clinics or provide nurses for every school in a poor community. They could pay their parents $15 an hour. But, no, they want charter schools, and they will give $200 million a year for five years (that is $1 billion) to create new charter schools. Why? They hate unions. As Michael notes below, more than 90% of charters are non-union.

He writes:

There are issues of control woven throughout the charter issue, separate from the looting they are prone to.

There is the desire to have iron control of the labor force, explaining why charters are over ninety percent non-union: the desire, as seen virtually everywhere else in the labor markets, to replace full-time employment with temporary/ contingent labor, the desire to pay teachers less, and the desire to have them under the thumb of management, which is much more difficult to maintain in a union, career-oriented environment where institutional memory has value. Thus, it’s no accident that charters have such extreme staff turnover, and often have teachers working from scripted lessons. As has occurred in so many other industries, the de-skilling of the workforce is a management axiom.

There is also a social engineering aspect of charter schools, especially prevalent among the “no excuses” chains (KIPP, Success Academies, Uncommon Schools, et. al.), which are obsessed with herding and controlling children in punitive, Skinner Box- type environments. It’s about training children, not educating them, to be docile and obedient, no matter the oppressiveness of the environment, prepping them for the lack of autonomy they’ll face in the adult workforce, and preventing them from having even an inkling that another world is possible.