Monday, July 23, 2012

What is privatization and why is Occupy Education opposed to it? (by Peter Brown)

“Privatization” isn’t about our old images of private schools: Catholic or church-based schools; small, elite institutions such as Head-Royce in Oakland; or private colleges such as Mills or even Harvard.  It describes something new going on in the US and around the world.

Everything public is under attack, and education is a major battle in that war right now.  Corporations are searching out every public service they can convert into an opportunity for investment at taxpayer expense.  One of the main methods is to first run that service into the ground through budget cuts and other means until it can no longer function.  Then the PR machine goes into action with the press, through films like “Waiting For Superman,” and other attacks to make sure the public can’t defend itself against the takeover.

Privatization today is actually Corporatization.
·       In pre-K – 12 schools, corporatization has taken the form of de-funding local public schools, breaking up teaching staffs, student bodies, even schools themselves, then enabling charter school corporations to take them over. 
·       In higher ed:
o   The UC system has been taken over through reduction of government funds and massive increases student fees and corporate funding for research and educational programs desired by giant banks and the companies they own.
o   The CSU system has been hit hard by funding cuts and is turning students away, sending many into already crowded Community Colleges.
o   The California Community College system, the largest and most democratic education institution in the US if not the world, is now being targeted by legislation designed to make it more difficult for many students to attend, as well as massive funding cuts at both federal & state levels. This system is also turning students away.
o   Students from UCs, CSUs, & CCCs are being pushed toward rapidly growing, for-profit, corporate-owned colleges like Kaplan, Univ. of Phoenix, etc. that provide lower quality education not even respected by other companies. All higher ed institutions are raising fees for diminishing services, plunging students into debt for the rest of their lives.

These are the true meanings of privatization.

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