"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Biggest Story in the Last 100 Years: The Death of Public Education

This is a must read. Tim Slekar, an Associate Professor of Teacher Education at Penn State, writes for the Huffington Post. He also has his own blog, Teaching and Learning in Hostile Times.

Last week (April 16, 2012) he wrote a piece called Move Along! Nothing to See Here! in which he sounded the alarm!
I am close to the edge! And from here the picture is perfectly clear.

The American public system of education is being systematically, and purposely destroyed. This is not a statement from someone who routinely sees crop circles. I am a teacher and I see it clearly--just like Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling Hammond, Nancy Flanagan, Valerie Strauss, Anthony Cody, Stephen Krashen, Susan Ohanian, Mike Klonsky, Jesse Turner, Mark Naison, Alfie Kohn, Marion Brady, Parents Across America, United Opt Out National, Save Our Schools, Children are More than Test Scores, Fair Test and a host of other individuals and groups.
We all see it. Teachers in classrooms all over the country see it. They know that they're being forced to teach in ways which are counterproductive. They know that they're being forced to over test their students. They know that the insane reliance on testing and so-called accountability is causing more harm than good. Most of them are too busy trying to keep their heads above water to object while their profession is being bullied and beaten into submission.
However, I feel like we are in the middle of a crime scene surrounded by yellow tape and the "liberal media" is standing on the outside with a bull horn announcing, "Move along!" "Nothing to see here!"

This is the biggest story in the last 100 years (the death of public education) and the only media attention it gets is typically dismissive of the voices screaming for help. Or it receives media attention that continues to push the corporate reform narrative. For example, big mouth Chris Christie got his arrogant butt on MSNBC (Morning Joe) last week by "straight talking" about the need for education reform and how he will not back down even if it costs him his office. And what did he say? Of course he is "fighting for the kids of New Jersey." Really? Do the kids of New Jersey have a clue what will happen to them when Christie is done pushing his corporate reform agenda?

Every policy that he supports has been thoroughly dismissed by research. Choice does not work. Charters don't help. Competition creates harsh learning climates. Pay for performance doesn't work. Teach for America does nothing. Using test scores to promote or fire teachers is a deeply flawed statistical procedure. Destroying the working conditions of teachers actually creates environments that hinder learning. In other words, Chris Christie's support for the kids of New Jersey will actually harm them and he is perfectly willing to risk his office on this platform. How is this possible?
It's not just Christie...in states around the nation politicians are pushing hard to kill public education. For some, it's a life long dream. They believe that the private sector is, by definition, better and more efficient, so they believe they need to get rid of "government schools." For others, the public schools are a hot-bed of the liberal, secular humanism which, in their view, is a "religion" which threatens to destroy America. Still others are so anti-union that they are willing to sacrifice our children's future in order to break the back of the teachers unions. Finally there are those who are beholden to their supporters and got where they are by donations from test publishers and corporations invested in charters and private schools.
Is this all the "liberal media" is capable of doing? This guy and a bunch of others (Arne Duncan, Andrew Cuomo, Rahm Emanuel, Rick Scott, Scott Walker, Tom Corbett, Michelle Rhee and the rest of the clown car called corporate education reform) are actually advocating for the privatization of the American public school system. A system that is supposed to deliver a free and equitable education to all children regardless of background, socioeconomic status, or zip code. A system dedicated to promoting democracy and citizen participation in the government by educating the masses. Christie and all the other idiots are selling out America's public schools and all the "liberal media" can do is comment on how many people would like to have a beer with him?

Mainstream "liberal media" (Shultz, Maddow, O'Donnell, etc.) why are you letting this happen? The corporate reform agenda does not have a single, semi-solid leg to stand on when it claims to be able to help America's most vulnerable (children). The evidence is right in front of your eyes. How about changing your tune? As people walk past the yellow ribbon around the crime scene that is us, the screaming "status quo" advocates for public schools and the children that attend them. Use your bullhorn and try this...

DO NOT MOVE ALONG! THERE IS SOMETHING TO SEE HERE! These people are trying to save the American system of public education. You might want to listen to what they have to say.
The media is run by the same corporations who are pushing the reform. The money is intertwined...Check out the corporations who run the media and the standardized testing giants...these are huge companies which have a vested interest in publishing and media. Telling the truth about education issues is not in their corporate best interest.

In Winner Take All Politics Jacob Hacker reminds us that those who control the direction of American politics, which includes public education, don't keep their positions of wealth and power by advocating for children, but by controlling public policy in their favor.
~~~

2 comments:

Ricochet said...

OMG it is killing me this year!! I have so many people trying to keep their own jobs who have to give us stuff (AKA Crap) to do that I am not teaching well! But,it's ok. I will engage my students on Thursday by playing games with them to review for a standardized test. So I can be evaluated on the games I create (amidst the other things I have to do). I am overjoyed. No, make that overwhelmed.

Stu said...

So many teachers all over the country are overwhelmed. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy: Make the job impossible, then blame the teachers when they fail to do the impossible.