Privatization of Public Schools

For my ninth grade English class, we are working on a new project where we take an active interest in the world around us by picking a current issue that we are passionate about and blogging about it, as well as engaging in other activities about our topic. The issue that I have chosen is the privatization of public schools. The privatization of public schools is an important issue to my life because I am a Philadelphia public school student in a district that has been labeled as “failing” and is at risk of becoming completely privatized.

Screen Shot 2012-05-10 at 3.10.35 PM
Screen Shot 2012-05-10 at 3.10.35 PM

Chart depicting Philadelphia Public School District 4th grade national proficiency rating in reading, math, and science compared to other urban districts, and the national average. As you can see, every time, Philadelphia comes up short. Chart can be found here.

Many, many, schools and school districts have been labeled as “failing.” Because of this, districts have been privatizing schools, meaning that they place schools under the care or private corporations in the hopes that they will do a “better” job of producing higher test scores than the government can. The concept is extremely controversial because the companies that run the schools are for-profit, and not out to give students and excellent education, but to make money. When I first this, I was confused because prior to this information, I would have thought that the schools would act as a kind of black hole that sucks money and resources, not something that makes money. In actuality though, the corporations get money from the government for running the schools, and are allowed to do with it what they like.

            In Philadelphia, some schools have already been privatized and turned over to Edison Schools Inc (a private for-profit company) and we are at risk of the entire district becoming privatized. There are several factors that are contributing to this, lack of money (The Philadelphia School District has a funding gap of about $269 million according to the local paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer), low test scores, and poor management. The schools that have already become privatized though, have not shown any improvement. 

            Study author Vaughan Bymes says, “By 2006, the achievement gap between the privatized group and the rest of the district was greater than it was before the intervention.” 

Protester holds a sign against privatization at a demonstration. Picture can be found here

  So far, I have collected information about the topic, but I am left with a feeling of wanting more, and confusion. It’s a extremely complex issue, and I have a few questions. These questions include what people are doing about this, and why ar these kind of things happening. 

I'm wondering how anyone could let this happen.

I’m wondering how things could’ve gotten out of control and gotten in such a despairing situation. 

You can find the sources I used for this blog post here.

Comments (2)

Zoe Siswick (Administrator)
Zoe Siswick

Great work, Nomi. This is obviously an issue that is prevalent in Philadelphia and nationwide and I'm glad you are raising awareness. This is professionally researched and written. Thank you for sharing.

Emalyn Bartholomew (Student 2015)
Emalyn Bartholomew

I notice that you did a lot of research on this topic, which makes it very informative. I wonder if you are interested in looking into the privatization of schools in other parts of the country. What if you looked into how this can be stopped, or what we, as students of a public school, can do to advocate for the public schools around the city.