Education is for the masses
By Phyllis Scherrer, SEP candidate for US vice president
As the Socialist Equality Party candidate for vice president of the United States, I denounce the recently announced plans to convert all the public schools in Muskegon Heights and Highland Park, Michigan into for profit charters. These actions represent a new and unprecedented attack on the right to public education. They are part of a nation-wide campaign by the ruling class to undermine public schools, spearheaded by the Obama administration.
In Muskegon Heights, a state appointed Emergency Manager has used the district’s ongoing budget crisis as a rationale for turning the public schools over to a for-profit charter operator. All teachers and staff have been fired and must reapply for their jobs.
In Highland Park, the Emergency Manager in charge of the public schools has also proposed turning the entire district over to a charter operator. All the district’s teachers will likewise have to reapply for their jobs with whatever company is finally selected.
Michigan is at the center of attacks carried out across the United States. The promotion of charter schools is aimed at both attacking the wages and benefits of teachers, and further reducing the quality of education available to the vast majority of working class youth.
In Detroit, scores of public schools have been closed and many turned into charters. The wages and benefits of teachers have been gutted. The state already has almost one-quarter of the charter schools operating in the country, with the vast majority being for-profit. A new law passed by the Michigan legislature exempts charter schools from collective bargaining agreements in their respective districts.
In Washington DC the chancellor of the public schools has announced that the district may close as many as three dozen public schools and replace them with charters.