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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/28/16

National Charter School Fascism: The Corporate P-20 Merger of Education, Criminal Justice, and Health and Human Services

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When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, the eminent "free market" economist, Milton Friedman , referred to the tragedy as "an opportunity to radically reform the educational system" into a privatized system of "school choice" competition. Heeding Friedman's call, education reformers have converted approximately 90% of the New Orleans school system into a network of for-profit and nonprofit charter school corporations that are integrated through Louisiana's two P(K)-16/20 workforce development councils: the College and Career Readiness Commission and the Blue Ribbon Commission for Educational Excellence [1]. Now, nearly ten years later, this 90% privatization overhaul is being touted as a model for a total charter privatization takeover of the United States national education system through P(K)-16/20 workforce development councils.

This fascistic merger of America's national school system and the corporate economy for public-private workforce planning is bad enough. But there is a more pernicious endgame to the "cradle-to-career" charter school movement: corporate governance over all public/civic spheres of the United States political-economy.

Incentivized by the current era of contrived economic depression, the unelected councils of corporate charter school governance are integrating "cost-effective" public-private partnerships with other fiscally starved public institutions, including health and human services and criminal justice departments. The corporate interlocking of these three public/civic spheres under regional and state P(K)-16/20 council governance is setting the precedent for the erosion of civil process until democratic governance and Constitutional protections are ostensibly usurped by corporate charter bylaws enforced through unelected public-private councils.

Taxation without Representation:

This is the Trojan Horse behind the charter school reform movement: to subordinate American educational policy solely to the "jurisdiction" of publicly unaccountable private corporations that syphon tax dollars to subsidize the executive decisions of their unelected councils--in other words, "taxation without representation."

In "The True Goal of School Choice," former Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement for the US Department of Education, Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, exposes the threat of tax-funded charter schools that are governed by unelected councils, rather than elected schoolboards: "unlike in the past, when we had locally elected school boards to which we could register our complaints, there will be nowhere to go to complain since charter schools are run by unelected councils." Because charter councils do not have to worry about getting re-elected, appointed councilmembers are not beholden to redress the grievances of parents and other local taxpayers who subsidize their corporate salaries. Rather, council officials can secure their corporate tenure by simply appeasing the executive decisions of school CEOs.

This use of public tax revenues to allocate corporate welfare to unelected charter council committees qualifies as "taxation without representation." In "Heritage Foundation, NAFTA, School Choice, and the Destruction of Traditional Education," Iserbyt warns that "[t]he most lethal form of education choice is tax-supported public schools (charter schools) which have no elected school boards resulting in 'taxation without representation.' This is an oppressive system which caused our nation to revolt and declare war against the British (the American Revolution, 1776)."

Iserbyt's analysis of charter council tax codes has been corroborated by "Washington state's Supreme Court [which] has become the first in the nation [in 2015] to decide that taxpayer-funded charter schools are unconstitutional, reasoning that charters are not truly public schools because they aren't governed by elected boards and therefore not accountable to voters," according to the Washington Post . In a similar 2011 court decision, the Georgia Charter School Commission, which authorized statewide public financing of corporate charter schools, was ruled unlawful by the State Supreme Court of Georgia. According to the New York Times , "[i]n a 24-page ruling, Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein said that only local boards of education were empowered by Georgia's Constitution to open and finance public schools."

From Regional to National P-20 Council Fascism:

Governance agencies like the unconstitutional Georgia Charter School Commission manage statewide charter school planning that is facilitated through regional P-16/20 council networks such as the Georgia Regional P-20 Partnerships Collaboratives. These regional P-16/20 councils provide the institutional infrastructure for the state-level establishment of nationwide chains of corporate charter schools such as the National Academy Foundation (NAF) and the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), which are overseen by corporate councils such as the NAF Central Florida Advisory Council and the KIPP Associate Council .

The regional P-20 councils of California and Illinois provide two illustrative case study examples of statewide regional council governance that facilitates nationwide territorial expansion of corporate charter school chains, such as the NAF and KIPP, for the purposes of fascistic public-private workforce planning:

California University's SAPEP P(K)-20 Regional Intersegmental Alliances:
In 2013, California State Assembly Bill (AB) 646 was introduced under the subtitle "Public Education Governance: Regional P-20 Councils: Advisory Committee." This bill was authored to "express the intent of the Legislature to affirm the employer-education partnership model of a regional P-20 council . . .to advance strategic educational and economic outcomes."

The fundamental objective of AB 646 is to legalize corporate-fascist workforce planning statewide through regional public-private partnerships that are governed by P-20 council networks, which are coordinated between the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, the State Department of Education, the Department of Industrial Relations, the California Community Colleges, and "representatives of private sector employers."

According to the 2013-2014 "End of Session Report Including a Summary of Legislation" by the California Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy, AB 646 was "[h]eld on the Suspense File in Assembly Committee on Appropriations." Nevertheless, regional P-20 council governance in California has advanced through California University's Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships (SAPEP) P(K)-20 Regional Intersegmental Alliances, which is tied to partnerships with the NAF.

A 2014-2015 Annual Report of SAPEP Program Outcomes records that the P(K)-20 Regional Intersegmental Alliances incorporate "ten regional alliances . . . aiming to create ties between campuses, schools, local communities and business organizations." The University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) branch of these ten regional P(K)-20 alliances is "comprised of local and regional educational partnerships serving students in selected schools and districts in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Kern Counties," according to another SAPEP Annual Performance Report. In the Ventura region of the UCSB alliances, the Ventura County (VC) P-20 Council was awarded grants from the Alliance for Regional Collaboration to Heighten Educational Success (ARCHES). The VC P-20 Council used the ARCHES grant moneys to establish the Engineering Design Career Pathways (EDCP) Linked-Learning California Partnership Academy (CPA) learning community programs at Hueneme High School that have evolved into NAF learning community programs throughout Oxnard Union High School District.

The nonprofit NAF Corporation, which specializes in technical and vocational "career pathways" curriculums as alternatives to traditional scholarly academics, operates 716 corporate learning community academies and 487 corporate high schools throughout 34 of the United States. As such, the links between NAF charter school corporations and California's regional P-20 council governance agencies demonstrate the national implications of P-20 regional council planning for public-private workforce development.

- Northern Illinois University's Regional P-20 Network: Under the auspices of Illinois State Statute 105 ILCS 5/22-45, the Illinois P-20 Council has been instituted to legalize public-private workforce planning statewide through a bureaucracy of council governance agencies. For a detailed analysis of the corporate-fascist administration of P-20 council workforce planning policies that are stipulated in 105 ILCS 5/22-45, see my article titled "Corporate-Fascist Workforce Training for the Hegelian State."

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John Klyczek has an MA in English and has taught college rhetoric and research argumentation for over eight years. His literary scholarship concentrates on the history of global eugenics and Aldous Huxley's dystopic novel, Brave New World. He (more...)

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