Privatizers Chase Education’s Billions
Wonder what’s at stake in the charter school debate? How about a pot of money as big as the Pentagon budget?
That’s about $562 billion in the 2006-07 school year, according to the latest numbers on local, state, and federal education spending, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
A little over half that spending—about $291 billion—is for classroom instruction, mainly teacher salaries and benefits, so it’s no wonder teachers have been in the crosshairs during recent budget battles.
It’s also why for-profit charter school operators are salivating at the possibility of taking over a bigger chunk of education. Making a profit is easy if you can give charter school teachers cheap salaries and skimpy pension and health benefits.
But even if they can’t get the whole enchilada, the privatizers want to capture bigger and bigger pieces of our public schools. The chart above illustrates how much money corporations stand to make by privatizing various parts of the nation’s education system.
All numbers are from the 2009 Digest of Education Statistics.
Topping the list is $86 billion spent annually on operations, including $20 billion for transportation and $18 billion for food service.
Corporate honchos are also eyeing the $63 billion spent on student support services, from librarians and multimedia specialists to school nurses and speech pathologists, as well as the $44 billion outlay for administration and back-office functions.
Construction companies are already lined up for the $63 billion school districts are spending on construction projects nationwide. And Wall Streeters are looking for their cut, first and foremost the chance to “manage” $15 billion in debt school districts are shouldering—for hefty fees, of course.