Concerned about the threat of privatization in your school district or government agency? School boards, local and state governments are increasingly turning to privatization or contracting out as a simple solution to complex problems. Is privatization the magic bullet politicians and administrators think it is?
Privatization is "the act of reducing the role of government or increasing the role of the private sector in an activity or the ownership of assets." When people refer to privatization, they usually mean one of four types:
- Awarding franchises to private firms to operate government facilities; in some states charter schools operate like this, for example
- Vouchers distributed to citizens who then purchase services from a private provider
- Sale of public assets to the private sector
- Contracting with a private corporation to provide services, such as managing public schools, custodial, transportation or food services, managing social service programs, collecting child support payments, running correctional facilities or providing waste disposal.
AFT members in every division are increasingly threatened by privatization and contracting out. Teachers, paraprofessionals and support personnel in K-12 education face threats of private management of public schools and contracting out. Public employees represented by the AFT are often targeted by politicians and their jobs are threatened by privatization in areas from computer programming to foster care and road design. Nurses and healthcare workers in public hospitals and clinics are facing privatization as public support and resources dry up for their institutions. And higher education faculty and classified staff are facing contracting out as state funds diminish for higher education.