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The Fight For Your First Born

Zein El-Amin
Date Published: 
October 01, 2006

Americans resisted the privatization of social security despite the hard sell pushed by the Bush Administration. They rejected entrusting their futures to private interests. Yet they are about to entrust these same private interests with the future of their first-born. In the midst of this climate of “starving the beast” policies—the privatization of all things public—corporate interests are making a grab for our public education system. This is seen as the new frontier for privatization. This grab is most evident in urban areas with significant populations of poor people of color.

The Administration is establishing facts on the ground for the under-funding and closure of public schools using the “No Child Left Behind” act. That combined with deliberate under funding and neglect of public schools by local politicians is laying waste to schools by the handful. Charter schools are being presented as a solution to this problem. Well-funded private foundations tied with the most unsavory corporate characters such as Wal-Mart are stepping in to implement this “solution.” The charter schools are the perfect Trojan horses for privatization as they are disguised as a public entity and subsidized by public money and yet they are private, unaccountable institutions. The sweetest part of the deal is that local mayors and governors, mostly democrats and mostly people of color, are the ones that are fulfilling their dreams by implementing these schemes in urban areas across the US. To top it, the workforce for these schools is being recruited from the ranks of progressives—including leftists and anarchists—who think they are heeding the call of poor communities of color.

The charter schools are totally unaccountable to the public and continue to lobby for less transparency. This is convenient as their performance nationwide has not kept up with that of traditional public schools. Furthermore, the cost savings that these schools claim are not materializing. Perhaps the worst aspect of these schools is their “White Man’s Burden” approach to teaching children of color which is designed to subdue critical thinking and nurture blind obedience, creating the perfect automatons to supply the ranks of the ever growing low-wage market or become perfect candidates for one-track-minded, profit-pursuing CEOs.

The following section, the first in a series of articles to be published in Left Turn, will deal with several aspects of the new charter school movement. The articles that follow are written by parents, public school teachers, community, and anti-globalization activists who came together in the nation’s capitol in a coalition to pioneer the fight against the privatization of our public school system in all its manifestations and to provide a model for others nationally.

Washington DC has become the ideal laboratory for experimentation in the arena of public education because of the colonial status of the city. The privatizers in DC do not have to seek the consent of the public and are able to go straight to senators and congressmen and have them impose policies that favor them. The DC activists’ hopes are to expose this model that is being exported to other states and spark national coordination to confront and expose this well-funded foe of public interest.


Zein El-Amine is a parent and member of the Save Our Schools Coalition in Washington, DC, which can be reached via: [email protected]; 202/521/0377; and