The 1%’s War on Public Education
POVERTY AND TESTING
Is anyone surprised by this? We’ve known for decades that test scores mirror socio-economic level. The failure of policy makers to deal with the effects of poverty is the number one problem affecting education in America.
The 2013 grades, approved recently by the Indiana State Board of Education, track pretty closely with the percentage of children who qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches. The fewer poor kids, the higher the grades, and vice versa.
TEACHERS NEED TO BE HEARD
Teachers, let your voices be heard. Write letters to your legislators, to the governor and the president. Vote Education! Your students are counting on you.
Invisibility and hibernation represent well the education profession because educators are more and more rendered invisible and as a result have hibernated, literally in their rooms (shut the door and teach) and figuratively in their muted voices (teachers are to be objective, neutral, apolitical).While the main elements of the current education reform movement—expanding charter schools, implementing and testing Common Core (CC), Teach for America (TFA), value-added methods (VAM) of teacher evaluation, merit pay—have created a significant amount of political and public debate (debates that by their very nature lend credibility to all of these reform policies), absent from that debate has been an essential message about the field of education: All of these education reform policies suggest that no field of education even exists.
The profession of teaching has changed since I walked into my first classroom in 1976. Educators need to speak up to correct the misconceptions (see the comments after this article) and to speak truth about what’s really happening in America’s public schools.
But in the teaching profession, the pressure of No Child Left Behind has left its mark. The onus of student success has fallen on the teacher, and the student’s own motivation is our responsibility also. Cultural differences, economic differences and parental style differences are the teacher’s responsibility to fix. Too many low scores on the dreaded STAAR test can spell the end of your career — an end to your livelihood. An end to being able to support a family.
Instead of the usual chatter during teacher training, there is now only the silence of shell-shocked professionals. While the presenter reads us another PowerPoint, we stare vacantly at one another and wonder when we can actually get into our classroom to synthesize our learning into lesson plans and activities.
THE 1%’S WAR AGAINST PUBLIC EDUCATION
The Waltons are among the main supporters of vouchers which rob public schools of needed funds.
These are the same people who run the corporation at which workers need public assistance to survive. In other words, through our tax money we are subsidizing their payroll.
Together the members of the Walton family have more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans. “…it is now the case that the Walton family wealth is as large as the bottom 48.8 million families in the wealth distribution (constituting 41.5 percent of all American families) combined.”
So, shop at Wal-mart if you choose, but be aware that your money is going to subsidize people who are doing damage to America’s public schools.
Things haven’t worked out real well in Wisconsin, where studies showed students in Milwaukee and Racine (the only districts currently eligible for vouchers) scored lower than their public school peers in both reading and math in 2012.
Louisiana’s voucher program is a mess too. Some schools there aren’t properly tracking the state funds they receive, including a Christian school that used voucher money to pay its sponsoring church for bus and facilities use.
And in Washington, D.C., federal tax dollars are being used to support a school that uses the “Suggestopedia” method of teaching (the underlying theory is that students can learn by tapping into the power of suggestion).
No matter how much money the Waltons, the DeVoses or anyone else spends in support of vouchers, the educational outcomes from those programs aren’t going to change. Vouchers just don’t work.
The U.S is ratcheting up a societal-level war on public education. At issue is whether we are going to make it better — build it into something estimable, a social asset that undergirds a noble and prosperous society — or whether we’re going to tear it down so that private investors can get their hands on the almost $1 trillion we spend on it every year. The tear-it-down option is the civilian equivalent of Ben Tre, but on a vastly larger scale and with incomparably greater stakes: we must destroy public education in order to save it. It’s still early in the game, but right now the momentum is with the wreckers because that’s where the money is. Whether they succeed or not will be up to you.
Just what we need…another “reformer” in the Obama Department of Education.
In an important move for the higher education community, it looks like Ted Mitchell, the CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund, will become the under secretary nominee at the U.S. Department of Education, several sources told Politics K-12. He would replace Martha Kanter as the top higher education official at the department and likely become a member of Secretary Arne Duncan’s inner circle of advisers. The position requires Senate confirmation. UPDATE: The nomination was made official on Tuesday, Oct. 29.
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.