I have no problem with businesses making a profit when they offer value for goods and services. But there is something about this for-profit education industry that feels unseemly.
But, under current circumstances, the evidence suggests that local control, weighted in favor of those who actually have a personal stake in the enterprise (students, parents, teachers) is the best we can do.
Most of the new charters are not accountable to any public but their own privately chosen board (and a very distant appointed oversight committee). None of its constituents—parents, students, or staff—are by law part of that board nor have any choice but speaking with their feet. Not their voices.
Today, the question of democracy looms large as we see increasing efforts to privatize the control of public schools. There is an even more worrisome and allied trend, and that is the growing influence of money in education politics at the state and local levels.
It's not enough to be willing to die for democracy, one needs to live for it. But that takes a reorganizing of our ideas about what it means to be well-educated.