This is the 3rd entry in a multi-part series on Save Our Schools Arizona’s visit to the Network for Public Education’s 4th annual conference in Oakland, CA. Read Part 1 and Part 2.
3. Privatization is not just an American problem.
Americans have a strong predilection towards making money off of just about anything, but we don’t own copyrights to avarice.
Our new colleague from the Global Initiative explained that, over the past decade in Kenya, they have seen an influx of private, fee-charging schools that provide a substandard education while heightening inequalities. Chile has had a privatized system for over 30 years; in the 1980s, under the US-backed Pinochet military regime Chile saw a dramatic policy shift that prioritized private education, instituted a voucher system, and deregulated curriculum in the name of “school choice.” Now, fewer than 40% of students attend public institutions, and Chile’s education system is the most segregated of all PISA countries.
There’s also the completely unsavory story of Bridge International Academies, funded by Pearson, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, to name a few, which operates over 400 schools. It’s the world’s largest chain of commercial private schools, and last year in Uganda the courts ruled it must close up shop in its jurisdiction due to poor conditions that “put the life and safety of the school children in danger.”
While this is depressing, take heart. Our friend working in Kenya urged us to keep up the good fight: “When you’re fighting against privatization in your local schools, you’re also fighting for Kenyan children.”
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