The Louisiana Senate recently voted 22-16 to allow corporations to sponsor charter schools in exchange for half of the enrollment slots and half the governing board seats, according to the Times Picayune. The House is expected to approve the bill and Governor Bobby Jindal is expected to sign it.
As is typical, business lobbies pitched the bill as an incentive to attract business to Louisiana (which it is), as if more business is equated with a better life for the masses. As we have seen repeatedly, subsidies, bailouts and tax cuts do not lead businesses to hire more people and they certainly do not lead to better pay and benefits for employees. However, in this case, it is not just teachers who will get screwed by having to work at union-free shops for lower pay and longer hours. With up to half the enrollment slots in the hands of corporate funders, the new schools could easily wind up as elite schools for the children of the rich, worsening the already extreme segregation of students based on their socioeconomic status. Furthermore, the schools’ boards could wind up under the control of single corporations, thus weakening parental and teacher influence over the operations and objectives of the schools, and increasing the chances that curriculum is biased in favor of that corporation’s interests.