In a recent edition of his weekly newsletter, Esquire’s political columnist and long-time observer of the American scene, Charlie Pierce, wrote about education.

Specifically, “What Would Horace Mann Think Of Charter Schools?

In many ways, I am a child of Massachusetts public education. My father spent 35 years as a teacher and administrator in the public schools in Worcester… It paid all the bills in our house. Watching my father go off to work by day, and hearing his stories when he came home at night, instilled in me a great admiration for the idea of public education. It seemed an altogether noble kind of career.

Consequently, I am very wary of the modern educational “reform” movements, which often are championed, alas, by liberals as well as conservative theocrats. The introduction of privatized public money into public education seems to me to be as destructive to its function as the introduction of sectarian Protestantism. I think Horace Mann would agree with me.

The writings of Horace Mann were part of my graduate program, but I have no idea of how he would assess these issues. However, as someone with decades of experience in public schools, I am also very wary of most modern education reform movements.

Especially the many state and local plans designed to siphon money from public schools and pass it along to charter schools and voucher programs with little to no accountability.

In that regard, Charlie cites a recent high profile example of that problem involving the largest charter network in Texas, which is now under conservatorship for some very questionable use of taxpayer funds.

Texas, however, is hardly alone.

Charter schools operators have been caught at this kind of finagling all over the country, and the charter industry is the thin edge of the wedge wielded by the forces of privatization. The potential for profiteering on the public dime is just a bonus. In 2019, the Network for Public Education, the organization founded by renegade school reformer Diane Ravitch, issued a devastating report revealing massive waste and fraud within the charter movement.

In addition to these many examples from the world of charter schools, you can also expect to see similar and widespread reports of waste and fraud in the rapidly-expanding, and largely unaccountable, voucher programs.

Pushed by legislators who just cannot stand the idea of funding a high-quality public education for every child in this country, not just those from families they approve of.

The photo has nothing to do with the subject of this post. It’s from a recent trip to Portugal and shows a train station in Lisbon. More images to come.