As a firm believer in the value of a strong system of public education staffed by well-prepared and supported career teachers, I think it is essential that school leaders be able to clearly articulate a rationale for public education, particularly during a time when it is under serious threat from powerful and well-financed interests.
Diane Ravitch has done a superb job of describing why public education is important and the threat posed to it by privatization. She writes:
“There are many reasons to object to privatization.
“One is that there is no evidence that privately managed firms that operate public services provide more efficient or less costly service. Another is that privately managed firms, when operating for profit, extract public dollars for investors that taxpayers intended for children, for educational programs that directly benefit children, for reduced class sizes, —and not to enrich shareholders. Privately managed nonprofits often pay salaries that would be unacceptable in the public sector. Privately managed firms tend to exclude the costliest clients to minimize their own costs, thus leaving the hardest cases for the less well funded public sector agency. And last, to destroy public education, which is so inextricably linked to our notions of democracy and citizenship would be an assault on the commonweal. Let us not forget that public education has been the instrument of the great social movements for more than the past half century–desegregation, gender equality, disability rights, and the assimilation of immigrants. Once it is gone, it is gone, and that would be a crime against ourselves.”