Education Opinion

Charter Schools on Corporate Campuses

By Walt Gardner — December 29, 2017 1 min read
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I guess it was inevitable, but the news that Design Tech High School, an existing charter school with 550 students, is moving to Oracle’s grounds is disturbing (“Now on Oracle’s Campus, a $43 Million Public High School,” The New York Times, Dec. 4). I understand the alleged benefits, but I wonder if this is the beginning of the corporatization of education in this country.

It’s one thing for public high schools, whether traditional or charter, to alter their curriculum to reflect the realities of the workplace. That’s what vocational education has long done. But it’s quite another for them to enter essentially into a partnership with companies. When Design Tech accepted Oracle’s offer to pay $1.00 a year in rent to move into a $43 million building that the company built specifically for the school, you can be sure that Oracle is going to call the shots about what is taught.

Anticipating such criticism, Oracle said the school will continue to operate independently, with the company playing no role in the curriculum or faculty hiring. I find that hard to believe. Is Design Tech going to refuse to do what Oracle wants and risk being evicted from its new building? Supporters of the deal will likely argue that students will be the ultimate beneficiaries because they will be exposed to the latest technology and find mentors. That’s probably true. But charter schools are public schools. They have a responsibility to taxpayers.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.