Friday, May 8, 2015

The Problem of Privatization


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

May 8, 2015e


                The final 20-minute segment of today’s broadcast features Lisa Graves presenting the Center for Media and Democracy’s ( report on charter schools.  Graves points to lack of access to charter school records as the primary obstacle to monitoring the performance of for-profit enterprises.  Privatization of education entails lack of accountability for use of taxpayer funds.  Most glaring to this viewer of the Democracy Now! Is graves example of how high “administrative expenses,” including subcontracting student services can be, to say nothing of lobbying  expenses.

                Graves traces the root of the growth of privatized k-12 education to the American Legislative Exchange Council (see the Center’s report at, and to a couple of ALEC’s founding members, the Koch brothers (, and theorist Milton Friedman.  ALEC pays legislators across the country to gather with business leaders to draft model legislation.  ALEC’s first major project, under leadership of the Corrections Corporation of America, was to write laws to privatize prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers, which have thrived and become notorious for underpaying and staffing, and for barring even legislators from trespassing on their properties, let alone seeing their financial records.

                In prisons as in education and indeed in performance of any public service, privatization prevents oversight of service providers whose primary corporate duty is to maximize profit.  Denial of public accountability is the primary cost of privatizing government services.

                During my tenure at Indiana University, I became able (with help from a state representative and the state attorney general) to view the IU financial record of my choice, in this case the president’s office account) on request.  The university subsequently opened promotion and tenure files to candidates’ inspection.  IU staff and students were all entitled to due process in decisions made about them, and in consideration of their grievances.  The difference being a public institution and working or living in a private institution when I tried helping faculty in promotion and tenure cases and grievances at private institutions.

                Margaret Thatcher started the global movement to privatize government services when she became British Prime Minister in 1979.  The problems today’s interview with Lisa Graves raises about privatizing public education apply to privatizing all public services.  In principle, public services ought to be performed and managed publicly.  That’s the problem of putting government enterprises up for sale.  Love and peace, hal

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