In early June, the California Assembly passed AB 406, which seeks to prohibit for-profit corporations from managing and operating charter schools in the state. The state Senate is now wrestling with this legislation.
Across the country, opponents see for-profit charter schools as a key component of corporate attempts to privatize public education, a vehicle to an untapped market rich with opportunities for them to increase their profits.
As reported by the California Newswire, there are currently 34 charter schools in the state run by for-profit corporations, with over 25,000 students. Advocates of the legislation believe these schools divert millions of dollars annually away from public schools and into the pockets of corporate investors.
When the legislation successfully passed the Assembly, the measure’s sponsor, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) said, “The privatization of public education must end,” and continued, “Passage of AB 406 puts student success ahead of corporate profits and affirms California’s belief that public tax dollars should be spent in the classroom, not in the corporate boardroom.”
California’s legislative focus on for-profit charter schools comes amid growing concerns that the nation’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has a bias toward for-profit charter schools, evidenced by the widespread implementation of such charter schools in Michigan where DeVos used her expansive wealth and religious advocacy to lobby for the privatization of education in the state.
Regarding AB 406, although results indicate that students who attend for-profit charter schools in California do not, on average, perform as well as students at non-profit charter schools, some who advocate against the legislation believe the bill is unnecessary as the “free market” will ultimately resolve this concern. Others point out that while students wait for the “free market” to drive up the quality of education that students deserve, millions of education dollars will continue to line the pockets of education profiteers.