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Privatization of America’s Public Institutions

The Story of the American Sellout

Lawrence Baines

Privatization of America’s Public Institutions describes the transformation of the military, K–12 public schools, public universities and colleges, and prisons into enterprises focused on generating profits for a select few. In many cases, privatization has limited accessibility, promoted segregation, fueled declining standards, increased costs, and reduced quality.

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Chapter 3. Privatizing K–12 Public Education: How the Profit Motive Is Changing Schools


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How the Profit Motive Is Changing Schools

If you were a parent living in the Detroit area, would you rather send your children to King High School, part of the Detroit Public School System, or Stoney Creek High School, part of the Rochester Hills School System? King students score an average of 15 on the ACT; Students at Stoney Creek score an average of 24. The crime rate in the neighborhood around King is about ten times higher than the crime rate in the neighborhood around Stoney Creek.1 Finally, property tax rates in struggling Detroit are almost double property tax rates in the posh suburb of Rochester Hills. This is the triple whammy faced by many poor families living in big cities in America—poor schools, high crime, and high property taxes (see Table 3.1 below).

Table 3.1:  Property Taxes, Crime Rate, Income, and Average ACT in Two Cities in Michigan.2

If you cannot afford to move to Rochester Hills and you cannot afford private school tuition ($62,185 plus $5000 in additional fees at Interlochen Arts Academy in Detroit,4), how would you choose a school for your children?

Because of Michigan’s extremely loose accountability laws, charter schools abound in the state and particularly in Detroit. In fact, charter schools have boomed to such an extent that charters now enroll more students than do Detroit Public Schools,...

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