Parent Trigger Laws Coming To Georgia This Year – The Privatization of Education Marches On

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

The forces of education privatization scored a major victory this November in Georgia, thru passage of a cleverly written constitutional amendment back by a multiimillion dollar deceptive ad campaign, and the active backing or complicit silence of much of the black political class.

Parent Trigger Laws Coming To Georgia This Year – The Privatization of Education Marches On

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Whenever top Republicans and top Democrats agree on something, it's bound to be bad news for the rest of us. One of the major non-issues in the election just past, as far as Obama and Romney were concerned, was their mutual endorsement of corporate-sponsored education reform, including the dismissal of thousands of highly qualified experienced teachers in favor of teacher-temp factories like Teach For America, tying teacher salaries and school funding to student performance on standardized tests, adoption of the so-called “common core curriculum,” which eliminates most poetry and literature and creeping privatization through the gradual replacement of public schools by charter schools.

But wherever voters have been given the clear chance to weigh in, they have rejected notions that public schools ought to be run like businesses by business people instead of for the public good by parents, teachers and communities. As Glen Ford pointed out in his masterful analysis of the origin of the charter school “movement” there has never any grassroots demands for vouchers, charters, school privatization or other hallmarks of corporate education reform. That whole scene is the creation of deep corporate bipartisan pockets like the Walton Family, Gates & Broad Foundations just to name a few.

In November, when Indiana voters had a clear chance to take out a vocal and nationally prominent political advocate of charters, educational privatization, standardized tests, core curriculum and the rest they voted overwhelmingly to end his career.

Georgia voters however, were not so lucky. In Georgia the bipartisan advocates of educational privatization put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to enable a commission appointed mostly by the governor to create charter schools without permission from any local authorities like pesky local elected school boards. They spread enough money around to black politicians so that significant numbers of Democrats in the state legislature cautiously backed it, or at least remained silent, and they rewrote the amendment in legally vague but nakedly promotional language about “opportunity” and “improving educational outcomes.”

While there was almost no news coverage, charter school advocates, including national charter school chains and contractors spent millions blanketing the radio and TV airwaves, and filling mailboxes in a deceptive campaign for the charter school amendment. State politicians from the governor on down publicly threatened teachers and school board members who spoke out against the referendum, and predictably, it passed.

State legislative leaders now declare their top priority is passage of parent trigger laws, which will require the creation of new charter schools anyplace advocates can get a threshold number of parent signatures on their petitions.

It's no surprise that the same black preachers who pulled out every stop to support the president's re-election either didn't take much notice of a constitutional amendment that can potentially dissolve public schools anyplace the advocates of privatization put money into a petition drive. Many of them are hoping for charter school crumbs themselves, and much of the black elite, from the black president with his Race To The Top program on down, are firmly committed to privatizing education, though they know better than to call it that.

It just goes to show you, that without journalism to inform the public, with lots of corporate money and the black political class on board, there's no telling how far we might go in some ugly directions.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)