Impacts of Privatization

Analysis of the Impacts of School Privatization

Public education is an investment in our students, our communities, and our state. Proponents of privatizing public education make bold claims about the impacts of privatization on student achievement, public finances, and academic outcomes. Peer-reviewed research identifies very few positive effects for privatization schemes and often reveals impacts that damage the fabric of communities while moving students and public finances into opaque spaces lacking in accountability and oversight.

Key areas to investigate when evaluating the effects of school privatization programs include:

Impacts of Privatization

Analysis of the Impacts
of School Privatization

Public education is an investment in our students, our communities, and our state. Proponents of privatizing public education make bold claims about the impacts of privatization on student achievement, public finances, and academic outcomes. Peer-reviewed research identifies very few positive effects for privatization schemes and often reveals impacts that damage the fabric of communities while moving students and public finances into opaque spaces lacking in accountability and oversight.

Key areas to investigate when evaluating the effects of school privatization programs include:

· Academic Outcomes

· Fiscal Accountability

· Segregation & Integration

· Community & Social Equity

· Socio Economic Stratification

Academic Impacts of Privatization

Who Funds the
Privatization Agenda

Identifying and isolating the impacts of privatization programs on students is challenging, especially when it comes to examining academic outcomes. Two main challenges stand out as obstacles for researchers: Distinguishing between the academic performance of a privatized education program and the selective efforts of the program; and difficulty in getting comparable data from private education programs that are often shielded from oversight by intentional legal obfuscations.

Students from wealthier families are in a better position to take advantage of privatization programs, even when those programs are designed to aid low-income or low-achieving students. In practice, private education companies and private schools determine who can participate rather than the families seeking school choice. Data does not account for this selectivity, which leads to inflated performance of a privatization program.

Private School Data Folder - Confidential
Private School Data Folder - Confidential

Identifying and isolating the impacts of privatization programs on students is challenging, especially when it comes to examining academic outcomes. Two main challenges stand out as obstacles for researchers: Distinguishing between the academic performance of a privatized education program and the selective efforts of the program; and difficulty in getting comparable data from private education programs that are often shielded from oversight by intentional legal obfuscations.

Students from wealthier families are in a better position to take advantage of privatization programs, even when those programs are designed to aid low-income or low-achieving students. In practice, private education companies and private schools determine who can participate rather than the families seeking school choice. Data does not account for this selectivity, which leads to inflated performance of a privatization program.

As a result, policymakers are unable to properly evaluate the efficacy of a privatization program. Additionally, showing the positive effects of privatization on student achievement is nearly impossible. The one near universal finding in studies of school privatization programs is that they improve the academic performance of the public school students who don’t participate in the program. Some of this is credited to a competition effect, but the effect is almost always a short-run one where the gains dissipate over time. It is also important to remember that those gains are difficult to capitalize on when public schools are crippled by funding woes to the point where it is nearly impossible to implement any innovation in their programs.

As a result, policymakers are unable to properly evaluate the efficacy of a privatization program. Additionally, showing the positive effects of privatization on student achievement is nearly impossible. The one near universal finding in studies of school privatization programs is that they improve the academic performance of the public school students who don’t participate in the program. Some of this is credited to a competition effect, but the effect is almost always a short-run one where the gains dissipate over time. It is also important to remember that those gains are difficult to capitalize on when public schools are crippled by funding woes to the point where it is nearly impossible to implement any innovation in their programs.

Fiscal Accountability of School Privatization Programs

Fiscal Accountability of School Privatization Programs

Hide Results - Laws Blocking Accountability

Although public taxpayer dollars fund school privatization, taxpayers know very little about how tax dollars are spent. Often, this lack of transparency and accountability is by design.

Using the guise of private businesses, many privatization proponents fight efforts to mandate equal testing requirements to enable the public and policymakers to make informed decisions about the efficacy of privatization schemes.

Many laws for privatization programs make it purposefully difficult or impossible to identify and fight fraud on behalf of taxpayers. As a result numerous cases of fraud permeate privatization programs, and some of it is even legal.

Hide Results - Laws Blocking Accountability

Although public taxpayer dollars fund school privatization, taxpayers know very little about how tax dollars are spent. Often, this lack of transparency and accountability is by design.

Using the guise of private businesses, many privatization proponents fight efforts to mandate equal testing requirements to enable the public and policymakers to make informed decisions about the efficacy of privatization schemes.

Many laws for privatization programs make it purposefully difficult or impossible to identify and fight fraud on behalf of taxpayers. As a result numerous cases of fraud permeate privatization programs, and some of it is even legal.

School Privatization is Modern Segregation

School Privatization is
Modern Segregation

In the immediate aftermath of the historic US Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education followed by other desegregation rulings and orders, school privatization advocates began arguing for new programs such as special schools and vouchers so they could maintain segregation.

One of the darkest realities of the school privatization and school choice movements is their work to enable and increase segregation in schools while using public funds to pay for it. Again, they use the guise of privacy rights for private school businesses and owners to ensure the public has almost no recourse to identify, investigate, and address instances of discrimination.

Their efforts intentionally create plenty of room for private schools to engage in discriminatory behavior, often justifying their cause with claims that it’s important that both the schools and the students fit each other’s needs. This is one of the many reasons there are so few students with disabilities in private schools, as they are more expensive to educate and demand more resources than a student without disabilities.

School Privatization leads to Segregation

In the immediate aftermath of the historic US Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education followed by other desegregation rulings and orders, school privatization advocates began arguing for new programs such as special schools and vouchers so they could maintain segregation.

One of the darkest realities of the school privatization and school choice movements is their work to enable and increase segregation in schools while using public funds to pay for it. Again, they use the guise of privacy rights for private school businesses and owners to ensure the public has almost no recourse to identify, investigate, and address instances of discrimination.

Their efforts intentionally create plenty of room for private schools to engage in discriminatory behavior, often justifying their cause with claims that it’s important that both the schools and the students fit each other’s needs. This is one of the many reasons there are so few students with disabilities in private schools, as they are more expensive to educate and demand more resources than a student without disabilities.

School Privatization leads to Segregation

Inequity in Private Schools

Inequity in Private Schools

Inequity in School Privatization

Privatization programs often increase the divide between rich and poor, transferring public tax dollars away from inclusive community schools to exclusive private schools to the benefit of wealthier families.

It’s not difficult to understand why, as low income families have fewer resources and less time to explore, understand, and utilize privatization programs, and in many ways this is part of the design of privatization.

 

Inequity in School Privatization

Privatization programs often increase the divide between rich and poor, transferring public tax dollars away from inclusive community schools to exclusive private schools to the benefit of wealthier families.

It’s not difficult to understand why, as low income families have fewer resources and less time to explore, understand, and utilize privatization programs, and in many ways this is part of the design of privatization.

Vouchers often do not cover the entire cost of tuition and other expenses, meaning families without additional finances to add can’t participate. Privatization programs rarely include funding for transportation, making it harder for families with working parents to arrange for their children to attend schools that aren’t nearby or with public transportation.

Wealthier families also have more time to explore their educational options as many working families are constrained by the demands of multiple jobs, limiting their opportunities to gather and understand information about privatization programs.

Even if a family can overcome these challenges, many private institutions require more expensive uniforms, utilize technology that lower-income families won’t have access to, and are less likely to have programs targeted to addressing inequity among their student populations making it difficult for some students to even participate.

Vouchers often do not cover the entire cost of tuition and other expenses, meaning families without additional finances to add can’t participate. Privatization programs rarely include funding for transportation, making it harder for families with working parents to arrange for their children to attend schools that aren’t nearby or with public transportation.

Wealthier families also have more time to explore their educational options as many working families are constrained by the demands of multiple jobs, limiting their opportunities to gather and understand information about privatization programs.

Even if a family can overcome these challenges, many private institutions require more expensive uniforms, utilize technology that lower-income families won’t have access to, and are less likely to have programs targeted to addressing inequity among their student populations making it difficult for some students to even participate.

School Privatization & Socio-Economic Stratification

School Privatization
& Socio-Economic Stratification

Because wealthier families utilize privatization programs at higher rates, these programs drive deeper divides within communities along socio-economic lines.

This dissolution of community social networks can have lasting negative impacts on opportunities for students from lower-income backgrounds as many career prospects come from personal networks. By increasing segregation along financial lines we insulate children by economic class and limit the understanding between different segments of our neighborhoods of each other’s life experiences.

Children at every level miss out on valuable growth experiences and both individuals and communities suffer as a result.

Stratification
Stratification

Because wealthier families utilize privatization programs at higher rates, these programs drive deeper divides within communities along socio-economic lines.

This dissolution of community social networks can have lasting negative impacts on opportunities for students from lower-income backgrounds as many career prospects come from personal networks. By increasing segregation along financial lines we insulate children by economic class and limit the understanding between different segments of our neighborhoods of each other’s life experiences.

Children at every level miss out on valuable growth experiences and both individuals and communities suffer as a result.

Research on School Privatization

While there are many challenges to accurately studying the impact of different privatization programs, as noted above, there is still a wealth of research being done. In order to provide a picture of the effects school privatization programs have on students and communities here are some studies from a range of sources from academics to pro-privatization organizations.

Research on School Privatization

While there are many challenges to accurately studying the impact of different privatization programs, as noted above, there is still a wealth of research being done. In order to provide a picture of the effects school privatization programs have on students and communities here are some studies from a range of sources from academics to pro-privatization organizations.

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