In an attempt to put a positive face on the recent firing of 40 employees, privatizing the custodial services and killing the custodial union at Howell Public Schools, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus took an uncritical look at privatization.
The story uses a report called "Survey 2007: More Growth in School Support Service Privatization” from the rightwing think tank Mackinac Center for Public Policy as the entire basis for the story. It takes six paragraphs before the author of the report is even revealed, and nowhere does it even talk about the rightwing ties of the source.
The Mackinac Center has been a major proponent of privatization, right to work for less laws and doing away with the prevailing wage in Michigan, and all of their reports seems to reach those same conclusions time after time. The largest conservative think tank in Michigan, and one of the largest in the nation, is financed by such rightwing sources as the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, the Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation and the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation.
This slanted article does make a slight concession to the other side and says there are some critics of privatizations saying; Opponents of privatization — such as the Michigan Education Association school employees union and its constituents, “ but there are many more critics than that. The revealing thing is the reporter could not find one opponent or counter to quote in the story. After the packed school board meeting just last month where the 40 employees were fired it seems funny there is not one quote from an opponent of privatization. Believe me, they are not hard to find.
The only people quoted in the story are two people from the Mackinac Center, and the superintendent at Hartland Consolidated Schools who says what a great job the private company there is doing. Considering the Superintendent recommended the move, do we expect her to admit anything other than they are doing a great job?
The numbers quoted in the story are also interesting. “Of the 222 districts that contract for support services, nearly 78 percent report saving money.” First, how near to 78 percent is it? That number seems a little odd. The main reason, hell the entire reason, to privatize is to save money, and if those more than 22 percent of the districts are not saving money they why did they privatize and why are they staying that way? Nowhere is service, reliability or safety of privatization ever mentioned.
The only negative note sounded at all against privatization in the story is a brief mention that some districts found privatization wasn’t the rosy picture the Mackinac Center painted and went back to previous way.
“According to the survey, districts such as Madison in Oakland County, Napoleon in Jackson County, Owosso in Shiawassee County and Tawas in Iosco County all brought food services back in-house because officials believed it would be less expensive.”