THE POLITICS OF EDUCATION
There’s only one political party in the US when it comes to public education…and that’s the Democrapublican Privatization Party. It’s controlled by billionaires, hedge fund managers, “free”-market fanatics, and religious exclusionists. They’re not interested in the public good of “public education.” They’re not interested in what is best for the nation’s children (only their own). They’re not concerned with anything other than their own economic or idealogical interest.
In terms of policy, the biggest difference between the parties may be that Democrats still occasionally feel the need to hide their druthers behind language designed to keep teachers and other public school advocates from deserting them, whereas Republicans don’t try to pretend that teachers, their work, and their union matter factor in GOP political calculations.
Somehow US public education in just one short decade has transformed from the baby that every politician was ready to kiss into the ugly kid that nobody wants to go to Prom with. In this environment, I’m honestly not sure who there is to speak up for public education in the political world, but I hope we can figure it out soon, because the hearings last week were one more reminder that there is no cavalry coming any time soon.
…at least not yet. The lack of a strong public school system in the U.S. is becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. Starve schools for money…push out career teachers…create mistrust of schools and teachers among the general public…and deny the influence of poverty.
The problem is our nation’s failure to address the real issues facing our children and our future.
If policy makers were to listen to educators – and to students and parents – they would hear that the real crisis in public education is the loss of our collective commitment to the common good. If we continue to make the kinds of choices that steer resources away from our neediest students, the false narrative of failing public schools will become a sad reality.
Trash teachers, steal public funds, destroy public education.
For the last ten years now, a steady drumbeat of trash talk about teachers has made its way into the public comments about education. Experienced teachers are portrayed as lazy and incompetent, incapable of teaching students in any kind of adequate way.
…those who call themselves “education reformers” usually are not [true reformers]. Instead they are those who want only to raid public funds taken by force as taxes and then converted to the wealth of investors who do not care about your children, only their own.
We ask a lot of our teachers. Too much. The least we can do is make sure they have what they know they need to teach and inspire the students who fill their classrooms every day.
Democrats need to learn this, too. For too long Democrats have assumed that teachers and their unions will give them unconditional support. It’s up to us to make sure they know that’s not true — at least not for education issues.
“Maybe it’s not the parents, the teachers, or the unions. Maybe we’re not doing the right things.”
THE SCHOOLS OUR CHILDREN DESERVE
Here’s an excellent list of characteristics for schools all children deserve.
- Classrooms where children’s potential and aptitudes guide instruction, not the profits of test makers or the needs of future employers
- Schools where recess and physical education periods are sacred, times when young people get needed exercise and a release for tension, not another period of test prep.
- Classes which, at all levels, leave room for play and imagination, where children are allowed to be children, and all young people are allowed to dream
- Schools where the arts, and science and school trips are never sacrificed to prepare for tests, and where joy has equal weight as academic achievement
- Schools where testing, when it occurs, is used to help students improve their skills, not sort them out or rate their teachers. No test should ever be given which is not returned to students, teachers and families to assess individual students progress
- Schools where no child, because of their race, or class economic background, is viewed as a potential criminal, and is subject to “zero tolerance” disciplinary policies designed to whip them into line
- Schools where teachers are treated with respect, and encouraged to stay in schools for a long time and develop long term relationships with students and families
- School communities where parent,student and teachers voices are welcomed and shape development of curriculum and school policies, and where the local community is welcome to come in after normal school hours end
- School Governing bodies at the city, state, and national dominated by professional educators, not business leaders, who respect local control of schools and solicit teacher parent and student input.
- A National Education Policy which stops using threats of school closings and privatization to improve student performance and uses cooperative, and not coercive measures to help schools improve
- A Commitment, from all levels of government, to make public schools places where children are nurtured, and loved and inspired in all their diversity and individuality. Where profit isn’t in the equation and where critical thinking is prized and enlightened citizenship is the goal;
LEGISLATIVE MOVE TO PUNISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR BEING PUBLIC
More benefits for parochial and private schools instead of public schools.
If the state test isn’t important enough for every child who goes to school using public money needs to take it, then perhaps it’s not a good test…or it’s not needed…
This is just one more way to punish public schools for not supporting privatization.
If anyone doubts that Governor Pence and the leaders of the General Assembly and State Board are favoring private schools over public schools in Indiana’s intense competitive marketplace of school choice, [Senate Bill 470] should remove all doubts. The voucher program was sold in 2011 by promising that private schools would take ISTEP and would be measured like all public schools using the A-F system. Now just four years later the voucher schools want to change the rules but keep the money.
The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.