Vast public resources have been transferred from public control to private hands without an increase in public oversight. This process is known as privatization. This lack of democratic control makes it harder to hold private companies accountable and transparent. A mainstay in our politics since post war II and now embedded in our highest political offices, this increase in unchecked corporate power in our public institutions directly impacts the most pressing issues facing our generation – from the rise of for-profit colleges to the increase in private prisons. To combat this trend and promote the public good, we’ve launched the Re: Public Project. Learn more about the project here.
This summer, through our Summer Webinar series, Roosevelt will be bringing together a host of students, academics, organizations, campaigns and filmmakers to discuss the issue of privatization and the means for providing for the public good in Education, Economy, and Human Rights. Check out the list below to find RSVP links, dates, and more details on the conversations.
Privatization: The Untold Story of Declining Worker Power
Pro privatizers like to pretend that consumers are the only constituency with a stake in public goods, ignoring the workers that help to produce our public goods. They view consumer choice as the single most important factor in making allocation decisions around public goods. Yet, the key public goods that we have come to depend on from educational institutions to transportation systems to water departments are built and maintained by people and employees within these systems. Displacing workers from these narratives helps create the idea that any cuts or changes made to our public systems are positive so long as they reduce costs and expand the scope of consumer options. No wonder then, that the privatization of public goods has typically resulted in vast declines in wages and benefits for employees.
In contrast, this generation believes in an economy that invests in collective prosperity balancing any purported goals of consumer choice with protection and stability for our workers. Any challenge to privatization then must place workers, and their stories, and it’s front and center. Join Marshall Steinbaum of the Roosevelt Institute, David Dayen of New Republic, Sam Nelson of Jobs with Justice, and Hayley Brundige of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville to discuss the impact of privatization on workers.
The Privatization of Education
America’s public education system has long touted the promise of civic and economic opportunity. It is an institution that is meant to provide every individual — no matter their background or means — the knowledge and skills they need to make their way in the world. Yet, today our public education system is under attack as the means by which we provide for the public good of education has drastically shifted. Charter schools, a brand new concept in 1988, account today for, 2.5 million children. And, while state support for public higher education is reaching historic lows, the for-profit higher education industry today accounts for 2.4 million college students. How did these drastic shifts take place? What is the for-profit model for education? And, how can we continue to ensure that we provide for an accessible and equitable education for all Americans harnessing the power of this generation? Frank Adamson of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, Vice President Joseline Garcia of the United State Student Association, Director of ‘Backpack full of Cash’ Sarah Mondale, and Education Policy Coordinator Nicole Felmus of the Roosevelt Network discuss these issues in the video above.