Karl Marx advanced the idea of “false consciousness” to explain why people may hold beliefs and behave in ways actually harmful to them. This general principle can be simplified by Upton Sinclair’s observation that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”
Are charter schools really the best way to educate all children, as the recent movie Waiting for Superman would have us believe? Or is that movie false-consciousness propaganda paid for by Wall Street to advance the belief that public schools are so bad that only private investments can save them, advancing the narrative that government cannot do anything well? Michael T. Martin in his blog To Starve the Beast We Must Drown the Children advances the argument that Wall Street financiers willingly invest to spread the belief that public schools are failures and must be privatized. Whose job does that understanding depends on? Making the $700 billion annual US expenditures for K-12 education available for private management and profit.
Diane Ravich, in her summary of Charter School literature in the New York Review of Books on The Myth of Charter Schools also calls the film propaganda. The most telling statistic she cites – while a major study finds 17% of the US Charter Schools are outstanding, it also finds that 37% of the same type of schools are very poor. Did the documentary discuss the failing charter schools? Or would that defeat the purpose of advancing the narrative that schooling is something that must be privatized in order to be good?