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Fri Feb 26, 2016, 03:35 PM

A theory that may explain school privatization, charter schools, etc.

Basically, whenever i see stuff on charter schools, I think about a important two line test in an 90s era trade agreement and how its parsed by the WTO and similar trade bodies. Its a two line definition and test that become very important in global higher education and I think it also applies to K12 education.

the test is from the WTO general Agreement on Trade in Services Article I:3 (b) and (c) and it reads:

"For the purposes of this Agreementů

(b) 'services' includes any service in any sector except services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority;

(c) 'a service supplied in the exercise of governmental authority' means any service which is supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers." (emphases added)

Read some more about the two line test here

My theory is that by pushing a few charter schools we are setting our country up for an eventual privatization of public education in the same way global higher education is being privatized by trade deals such as the WTO GATS. (You can all read lots of media commentary - there is a huge debate going on about that in India, a debate we never had even a tiny bit here in 1995 when we signed on to it.)


Do you think this might be important in understanding why there is so much pressure to privatize and so much hostility towards long term investments in public education from neoliberals?

because it presents a roadblock to their vision for a future privatized world, perhaps?

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Response to Baobab (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 03:41 PM

1. Number (c) could also be used against the US Postal Service.

Nice post, and welcome to DU.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 04:40 PM

4. Actually, there is an essay at policyalternatives.ca about GATS and the Canadian Postal Service

Thank you!

I think it is by Scott Sinclair. It would definitely be worth reading. It has "postal" in its title.

They have a huge number of very well written publications as you will see, with a level of honesty that you rarely see in the US NGO written work. its like we have the Stockholm Syndrome here where we start sympathizing with the abusers, because we never read anything that challenges their framing here at all.

I would say that only the tiniest number of Americans even realize that this issue exists in the way it does.

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Response to Baobab (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 04:04 PM

2. The major Conservative complaint is teacher's unions. Unions take the brunt of the change.

And that is a direct attack on the Democratic Party. Charter schools can pay much less for teachers, so that covers a second complaint by conservatives, government spending. Hurting government spending and the Democratic Party is a "twofur."

A lot of conservatives and libertarians I have known hold it as gospel that private enterprise will always run with greater efficiency that any government. They believe that making schools run like a business that they will get better results and better students.

Two men, Albert Shanker and Ray Budde, conceived the idea in Minnesota back in 1974, long before the 90's era trade agreement and before any Neoliberal conspiracy would have conceived it.

Obama and McCain supported it in 2008.


Origins of Chartering Timeline

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 04:43 PM

5. I will check that out.

Thank you.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:10 PM

10. An analogy could be drawn between charter schools being given liberty to discriminate in

Last edited Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:12 PM - Edit history (1)

some ways and foreign winners of competitive bidding from least developed countries being given permission to discriminate in ways which in the pre-liberalisation environment may not have been permitted if they had been from a developed country.

For example, many firms from developing countries may employ men exclusively, because the custom there is men do that kind of work, or they may employ women exclusively, I don't know - But I get the very strong feeling that the kinds of discrimination which are going to be prevented wont be against people as much as they will be against corporations from other countries.

Also, (if there are requirements that they pay the higher of the two countries minimum wages, it wont work to accuse other countries of paying their workers wages we pay our own workers. We cant say that is slave labor even if they are a doctor or attorney or other professional. Even if they are very low. After all, we claim that wage is enough for we Americans.

So on that note, even though its horrid, there are what seem to me to be semi interesting aspects of all of this in that the entities that are promoting it likely are doing it quite hastily and although indeed they clearly have been planning it for a very long time, thats still not long enough for even them to have any real idea of what is likely to happen. I myself can see a lot of gotchas for them the biggest gotcha for all of us is the exponential growth in technology which makes any act that attempts to nail down anything or limits future options especially if it is based on any prediction more than a short distance into the future exceedingly risky.

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Response to Baobab (Reply #10)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:20 PM

11. Another facet of Charter Schools is their freedom to use religion.

They can require prayer, just as private schools. They are also

The ability to pay lower wages, fire teachers they don't like, manipulate the curriculum to appeal to more religious conservatives, and take federal money to enrich the investors in those Charter School businesses has an enormous appeal to libertarians and conservatives.

A Map Showing Which U.S. Public Schools Teach Creationism to Kids

http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--9ycMV3hK--/c_scale,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/19enp605k7x5mpng.png

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #11)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:39 PM

12. I have no idea how they would fare under progressive liberalisation

Its likely nobody knows!

Whenever you change SO many things so much at the same time, there are bound to be lots of unanticipated problems.

It might be interesting to look at the rapidly growing body of writing in the Indian press about progressive liberalisation, the GATS, WTO accession, the ending of the right to education, commercialization and privatization of education and so on.

There is nothing even remotely like it here in the US.

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Response to Baobab (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 04:09 PM

3. Implementation of GATS is hindered largely by Non Tariff Barriers such as immigration restrictions

Welcome to DU

I don't think the expansion of charter schools in the US is really connected to the WTO Trade in Services agreement. The vast majority of charter schools in the States are run by small local firms, not large Multinational Corporations. Transnational education providers run into high cross-border costs, such as legal and application fees associated with transfer of personnel, and attendant delays.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 04:53 PM

6. Temporary tactic used to establish the service sector as covered by GATS, TISA, TPP rules

Last edited Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:21 PM - Edit history (1)

leveymg, I have read something about exactly that issue recently, I will try to find it.

basically, I think that the issues that will apply will be much less onerous - as they already likely are for some treaty based visas.

What i would do is use the phrase "no more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service" thats a phrase that may lead you - with the other domain specific phrases yu mentioned, to more information. I think that they likely will have to expedite them by some time limit, and that fees would likely be minimal compared to the huge amounts of money saved, so they are unlikely to be more than a tiny speed bump on the road to progressive liberalisation, - they wouldn't work so very very hard- forming multiple international organizions, bringing thousands of loyyists and government officials from all around the world together in expensive hotels in different cities, etc, they wouldt spend 20 years (in the case of WTO) or 10 years in the case of TiSA on something and let some little thing like that impede it.

Also, I wouldnt look to the small business aspect of charter schools now to be proof of anything about TISA or GATS or their long term intentions with progressive liberalisation.. I think its mostly about the economics - and their claims that its more efficient..

Also, for it to be a friendly neighborhood thing at the beginning (and especially the selling it as a way to improve education for minorities- the exact opposite of its likely long term effects) If you were them, wouldn't you do that too, since the ONLY condition that needs to be satisfied to effectuate the breakup of public education at the beginning is simply that a significant number of schools be private? (In theory it says just one but in a practical sense, it likely would have to be far more - at least one or two percent- to prevent a defense of public K12 education as "service which is supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers" saying that the few number of private K12 schools was an anomaly of some kind.) See the discussions in the EU about this (finally)

I think that the huge number of positions in K12 education makes it one of the main jewels in the crown of potentially privatized and globalized service sectors that would likely be almost an essential target for them. Nursing too.

And of course for neoliberals, preventing any entertainment of the idea of public heatlh care, god forbid, replacing tiered health insurance is job #1.

There is a very large body of writing at WTO on the subject of disciplines on domestic regulation which I could point you to. I know that a number of issues have been debated extensively.. Wages seem to have been discussed a lot and be controversial. the accountancy sector seems to have been a sort of test case for the skiled professions which other professions have been instructed to examine for ways to apply the same principles to their own profession's domestic regulation. Including law, which I find kind of interesting. Also a bit bizarre. because the wage picture is so unpredictable as we move into an increasingly work scarce future dominated by AI in many areas.

It seems as if some of the service supplying countries largely don't want wage parity requirements, I think they see them as a way the developing countries hope to weasel out of their promises. And its understandable and in fact may be true.

Thats why I get the feeling that the sudden discussion about minimum wages now, after decades of ignoring the issue is risky on the part of the US because it could result in the WTO or a similar body (RGFS or the proposed WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement on Services) claiming that we were raising it in anticipation of the agreement - to frustrate the goals of the agreement which as one discovers no domestic regulation is permitted unless it is compatible with the goals of the agreements. It seems that they are deliberately waving a red flag in front a a bull, as it is likely to be seen as an attempt to create a trade barrier and they could force us to drop it. (our minimum wage laws)

Nothing would be a shot in the arm for education quite like that, eh?

They will of course point out that many European countries that have no minimum wages- Denmark, for example has no minimum wage. Of course, Danes are hardly poor and they have cradle to grave free education and health care. The US military budget - both current and past wars is around 45% of US spending, though, would have to be sacrificed if we did not liberalise services, we could easily afford public health care and education if we reduced that without opening the country to $5 a day high skill laborers. (its not clear if US wage laws apply to L1 visa holders at all, having never heard that they did apply to L1, I have to assume they don't, at least now) .

Actually, public health care and education are cheaper than the alternatives unless efforts are made to do them badly - which in both cases arguably makes them more expensive, in the case of healthcare, obviously delaying or postponing health care makes it ultimately less successful and more expensive and in the case of education, inferior education is a waste of money, as the skills bar to employment is rising very rapidly.

coming with the knowledge that whatever the minimum wage is now could be carved in stone by trade deals and remain the same until mid century which is when we're expected to have self aware machines and that will likely mean that work that remains will be extremely scarce and pay very little if anything at all, in fact I think that whatever work that remains will be reclassified as education and the worker wil have to pay for it (I dont know if non-governmental provision of free education will run into problems with the trade deals, as far as I know that specific kind of restrictions currently mostly apply to entities that receive some public money only. But I am hardly an expert, so really I dont know. the rationale is that giving a potential customer something is an act that devalues the market so its being framed as something a government should not do to businesses. instead, they should do something that respects the value of money. For example, instead of providing health care to everybody, means testing it and providing it only to those who have become destitute so there is no chance that they would be stealing a potential customer)

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Response to leveymg (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:14 PM

7. L1 visas are explicitly non immigration visas. So when they say it doesnt involve immigration

that is what they mean.

They are just intra company workers, moving from one place to another, no intent to stay forever.. just do a job and then go somewhere else to do another job.

I think perhaps the highest of the two countries minimum wages was at some point a US proposal. "highest common denominator" .

I think I saw that on either the cuts-geneva or global south web site? maybe search on "highest common denominator"

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Response to Baobab (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:25 PM

8. Immigration is a generic term that includes immigrant and nonimmigrant visas

Most foreign teachers come in on H-1B not L-1. H-1B has to pay local prevailing wage for the occupation not the minimum wage, as you suggest.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:57 PM

9. TiSA has a negative list which (see post below)

basically includes all service sectors and modes of supply by default, which is a very large departure from GATS and may come as a very big shock for people because the carve outs have to go in at the beginning and i would not be surprised if most parties who should be there now, arent- .

the following text is from the EU VERSION OF the *declassified 10 March 15* EU TiSA so called "mandate" document. "6891/13 -
ADD 1 DCL 1
WTO 53
SERVICES 11
FDI 4
OC 96"

Note: Experts I have read seem of the opinion that these deals will adversely impact Americans more than Europeans because Europeans have already been dealing with much of this for some time, but its new in the US, they caution that the EU position even if the US position was identical likely would lead to very different outcomes because of EU unions offering legal protections to their memberships that may not exist in the US at all. Even so the Eu unions are fighting it tooth and nail. Not a peep from the US media, though. Strange isnt it?

So again, this is the EU version of this document, whatever similar document exists for the US, its unknown, it may be similar but maybe not.

That said if you want to know more, Geneva is where these discussions are going on. And they are for governments and lobbyists only, closed to the public.

----CUT HERE-------

A.
NATURE AND SCOPE OF THE AGREEMENT
On substance, the agreement should achieve essentially the same objectives as set out in the Council
Conclusions of October 1999 (12092/99 WTO 131), i.e. the agreement should be comprehensive,
ambitious, should aim at reducing existing imbalances and be fully consistent with World Trade
Organisation (WTO) rights and obligations, notably with regard to the WTO General Agreement on
Trade in Services (GATS). The negotiations should be conducted and concluded with due regard to
rights and obligations under the WTO, taking into account the elements for political guidance of the
8 th WTO Ministerial Conference by respecting the principles of transparency and inclusiveness.
In detail, the agreement should seek to bind, in general, the autonomous level of liberalisation of the
parties and provide for opportunities through negotiations for improved market access. The
agreement should also be comprehensive and comply with the requirements of GATS Article V in
terms of sectoral and mode of supply coverage. New and enhanced regulatory disciplines based on
proposals by the parties should be developed during the negotiations.

The agreement should take account of the fact that not all WTO-members are participating in the
negotiations. To prevent an automatic and unconditional multilateralisation of the agreement based
on the effect of the most-favoured-nation principle laid down in GATS Article II:1, the plurilateral
services agreement needs to fulfil the conditions of an Economic Integration Agreement pursuant to
GATS Article V, i.e. have a substantial sectoral coverage and provide for the elimination of existing
discriminatory measures and/or the prohibition of new or more discriminatory measures. The
agreement shall be built on the GATS to ensure a smooth future incorporation of the plurilateral
services agreement into the GATS and it shall incorporate GATS core articles. The agreement shall
provide for market access (GATS Article XVI) for services sectors in the same way as
commitments are undertaken, under GATS. It could go beyond GATS by providing for a horizontal
discipline for national treatment (GATS Article XVII) that would be applied in principle to all
sectors and modes of supply, subject to exemptions. In line with the Council Conclusions of 1999,
by applying this horizontal formula subject to exemptions, the negotiations would be more efficient
and would maximise the results. The agreement should have an overall architecture conducive to its
future multilateralisation and set out the mechanisms and conditions of accession and future
multilateralisation. To ensure that the parties observe mutually agreed rules and commitments, the
agreement shall include an effective dispute settlement mechanism. Due regard shall be given to the
dispute settlement mechanism provided for in the WTO Agreement. The European Union will
ensure that the Union and its Member States maintain the possibility to preserve and develop their
capacity to define and implement cultural and audiovisual policies for the purposes of preserving
their cultural diversity. The high quality of the EU's public utilities should be preserved in
accordance with the TFEU and in particular Protocol N░ 26 on Services of General Interest, and
taking into account the EU's commitments in this area, including the GATS.
B. PROPOSED CONTENT OF THE AGREEMENT
1. The agreement should confirm the common objective of progressively liberalising trade in
services as a means of promoting economic growth and increasing participation of
developing and least developed countries in world trade.
2.
In line with GATS Article V, the agreement should cover substantially all sectors and
modes of supply and provide for the absence or elimination of existing discriminatory
measures and/or the prohibition of new or more discriminatory measures. This should be
without prejudice to the possible exclusion of a limited number of services sectors from the
liberalisation commitments. As in the GATS, the EU shall not take commitments on
audiovisual. The Agreement shall not cover services supplied in the exercise of
governmental authority.
3.
The agreement shall confirm the right of the EU and its Member States to regulate and to
introduce new regulations on the supply of services within their territories in order to meet
public policy objectives.

4.
The Commission should also ensure that nothing in the agreement prevents the parties
from applying their national laws, regulations and requirements regarding entry and stay,
provided that, in doing so, they do not nullify or impair the benefits accruing from the
agreement. EU and Member States' laws, regulations and requirements regarding work and
labour conditions shall continue to apply.
5.
As regards the architecture of the future agreement, the agreement shall be built on GATS
to ensure a smooth future incorporation of the plurilateral services agreement into the
GATS. It shall incorporate at minimum GATS core articles, i.e. Article I (scope and
definition), Article XIV and Article XIV bis (general and security exceptions), Article XVI
(market access), Article XVII (national treatment) and Article XXVIII (definitions).
6.
Furthermore, the agreement shall provide for market access (GATS Article XVI) for
services sectors in the same way as commitments are undertaken, under the GATS. It could
go beyond GATS by providing for a horizontal discipline for national treatment (as defined
in GATS Article XVII) that could be applied in principle to all sectors and modes of
supply, subject to exemptions identified by the parties. Exempted discriminatory measures
should be subject to a standstill 1 and/or a ratchet clause 2 .(see immediately below fn1 and fn2) Exemptions to the standstill
and/or ratchet clause would have to be identified by the parties.
7.
The agreement shall contain new or enhanced regulatory disciplines as compared to GATS
based on proposals by the parties. To that end, the negotiations should aim at including
inter alia regulatory disciplines concerning transparency, domestic regulation, state-owned
enterprises, telecommunication services, computer related services, e-commerce, cross-
border data transfers, financial services, postal and courier services, international maritime
transport services, government procurement for services and subsidies.

FN1 This means that exempted measures should in principle reflect the autonomous level of
liberalisation.

FN2 This means that any future removal of a discriminatory measure would be captured.


8.
The agreement shall include an effective dispute settlement mechanism to ensure that the
parties observe mutually agreed rules. Due regard shall be given to the dispute settlement
mechanism provided for in the WTO Agreement.
9.
The agreement should have an overall architecture conducive to its future
multilateralisation and the mechanism and conditions for this multilateralisation should be
defined. In the same vein, the agreement should contain an accession clause to ensure that
more WTO members sharing the objectives of the agreement could become a party.
10.
The negotiation position of the EU should take due account of any new elements pertaining
to these negotiating directives resulting from the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA).

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Response to leveymg (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:05 PM

13. Its different - a different set of conditions completely, I think. Some ideas on finding more info

Assume they are contractors or subcontractors..that is what they would be, They are not seen as individuals so much as part of their company. Their presence is due to their being there temporarily to perform the contract which their employer has won.

So its connected to the competitive bidding process. So I would start maybe at the web site for the WTO Government Procurement Agreement? Also, keep an eye on India and the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement for Services that they want.

More search terms "necessity tests" "economic means tests" also "no more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service", "disciplines on domestic regulation", licensing, words like that.. Even if we are meaning to talk about TiSA, since TiSA is just a means to eventually expanding the changes to merge with WTO, they use the same terms.

The cross border movement of natural persons to provide services is called "Mode Four" or "the fourth mode of supply"

I don't know. There is another one of those declassified "mandate" documents for TTIP and its much longer, also check wikileaks - their collection on TiSA.

Also, Jane Kelsey, she is a law professor from new Zealand, she wrote a book several years ago, "Serving whose interests" you can find it on Google Scholar or Google Books- read most of it on the web- Its about WTO and GATS and explains its history

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