Home Virginia Politics A Virginia Front Opens in the War on Public Education

A Virginia Front Opens in the War on Public Education


The fellas who brought you war without end and the collapse of the financial sector have turned their attention to another low hanging fruit in our common yard: education. You’ll recognize some of the names. You’d best understand the financial gains that drive their proposals for “innovation.”

They’re focusing on another public function from which they can leech vitality and life and a lot of public dollars. Make no mistake, these “reformists” see a fattened cash cow. And Virginia’s agents for change, state Senator Bill Stanley (R-20th) and Delegate Tag Greason (R-32nd), have spent exactly zero days as school district employees. Their common experience surrounds real or imagined sex offenses. Quite the dynamic duo; pimping for privatization and the rape of the commons.

The template for this offensive is thoroughly dissected by Bruce Baker in his Dismantling Public Accountability & Transparency in the Name of Accountability & Transparency? In part:

  • Expansion of charter schools, coupled with multiple charter authorizers (including private entities) and minimized charter regulation
  • Adoption of tuition tax credit programs providing individuals and corporations the option to forgo paying a portion of taxes by contributing that amount to … privately governed/managed schools.
  • Parent trigger policies that permit a simple majority of parents … to mandate that the local board of education displace the entire staff of the school … turning over governance and management of school’s operations (and physical/capital assets?) to a private management company …

The bills patroned by Stanley (SB 1207) and Greason (HB 1999) facilitate the means to the death penalty envisioned by the third strategy, providing the cover to shutter public schools. It is a “grading system” for school performance. It is right out of the playbook of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and a group Jeb Bush set up called Chiefs for Change working with public officials in states to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders. …working with public officials in states: Stanley and Greason are evidently dancing to the tune of interests outside Virginia. Neither of them invented this on his own.

This is all in the trend of carrion “entrepreneurship” for dull normals and entitled heirs. For twenty years the uninventive have blamed regulation for their inability to succeed. Their only hope is to steal the public trust. The campaign has centered on demonizing government and regulations. All on the principle of the “free market” sorting out any issues extant.

Except, that supporting two school districts within a jurisdiction is like running a public water and sewer system while subsidizing another because some residents don’t like fluoride.

  • Those who can, innovate
  • Those who can’t, imitate
  • Those who can do neither, covet the public dime

There is no magic bullet for the challenges affecting America’s education system. Its woes, as anyone who has ever actually taught knows, aren’t from the lack of standards or because the teachers or administrators aren’t capable. And if these reprobates who want to dismantle public education in order that they may profit would be honest, they’ll tell you they really don’t want the failing schools and will preserve the option to jettison troubled students.

So here’s a proposal: If a school fails under the Stanley/Greason grading system, level the playing field. Offer the failed school up lock stock and barrel to these private sector geniuses and let’s see how they perform under the same conditions as their public counterparts. That’s just it; they don’t want the job the public schools are required to do. They want a publicly funded niche. Absolutely contemptible as are their surrogates.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    In the 1990’s Baltimore tried privatizing the management of “failing” schools. The city was promised that educational costs would go down and results would go up. (How a profit can be built into the provision of public services and result in lower costs is ridiculous on its face.)

    The Baltimore experiment was a failure. The city spent 11% more on the schools under private management. The extra costs might have been worth it if student achievement had gone up. It did not, and Baltimore ended its contract with EAI in 1995.

    If politicians wish to look at ways to improve education, they need to learn at least a little bit about the expense picture of public education. Funding is always given on a per-pupil basis, with each child carrying the same amount of public funding. Educators know that elementary school costs are far less than high school and special education costs, yet the make-up of funding never reflects the true nature of the school population. Also, schools that serve areas with high poverty deal with students who often come to school with built-in obstacles to their success. Yet, those schools invariably are located in areas with depressed property values (lower property tax revenue). The state funding formula does not accurately work to lessen those disparities.

    Additionally, in Virginia localities in recent years have had to shoulder an ever greater share of the educational budget, this in a time when property values declined. Property tax revenues are down, state aid is down, yet all some legislators want to do is to “privatize” for the greed and profit of those who give them big campaign contributions.