Today’s news:

For-profit schools do disservice to city’s schoolchildren

The United States’ policy of providing citizens the traditional, long-cherished freedom of receiving a free, public school education is being threatened. The power brokers of our New York political structure have decided, arbitrarily, that our public schools, which have faithfully served their citizens, have become a relic of antiquity and serve little or no purpose in our contemporary, profit-making social order.

Gov. David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and various local and state politicians have decided to restructure our long-serving educational system.

Their concept of changing the way our public schools function is to dismantle the “free public schools” aspect and propose “free enterprise schools” by placing them into the private domain of profit-making enterprises. These new concept schools will offer their investors financial remuneration to administer and staff their possessions.

These freewheeling speculators will now claim they have the wisdom, philosophical bent and expertise to understand and implement those educational principles that will offer children those profound educational necessities that will advance their lives and prepare them for the role they have to fulfill as contributing members in our democratic society.

It is folly to believe a corporate structure, whose ultimate goal is to provide a profit for its principal investors and stockholders, will place a child’s need to acquire an excellent education against its own avarice and greed to make a profit. We have sufficient evidence that this capitalistic venture will not operate to the benefit of its clients.

The recent HMO debacle demonstrates how the health insurance providers, whose profit motives surpassed the needs of the insured, denied their clients the health care needed to sustain their lives and well-being — and are still doing so is in spite of governmental intervention.

These money-aggrandizing entrepreneurs will assure the public, which will finance their enterprise with public taxpayer funds, that they have suddenly acquired a selfless sense of civic morality and love for children. They will claim the profit motive of their money-making venture is not the reason for their investment. Parents, who are ultimately concerned that their children receive proper educational opportunities, can be hoodwinked by sophisticated marketing strategies as so many parents who have enrolled their children in for-profit schools have discovered.

A more serious danger threatens the fundamentals of our democratic way of life. Elimination of the free public school philosophy from our present system of educating children will further stratify our society by disrupting the way we function and live. Private schools have developed as institutions which, by their nature, isolate our children from their peers by placing them into societal enclaves by separating them by religion, color, ethnicity, income, etc.

Many students in these private, for-profit, elitist institutions have missed the opportunity children should receive from a free, open, public school program. The public school student population reflects the multicultural nature of our society and induces the child to acquire those experiences and learnings that will enable them to better cope with the challenges life offers.

Our nation should concern itself with promoting a free, public school educational system that will provide our children with excellent educational opportunities they need and cannot receive from profit-making ventures. We also need to protect and further expand our democratic way of life through education — to do otherwise will prove to be a detriment to our country and a failing of our leadership.

Chet Szarejko

Little Neck

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