I find it interesting the breadth of “reform” ideas put forth by the “school reform” hucksters. It has seemed to me, for some time now, that they are throwing everything they can against a wall just to see what will stick. Sometimes they simultaneously throw mutually exclusive ideas, but whatever…
Take technology, for instance. Most people get the impression that the hucksters want to throw massive amounts of money at schools in order in make technology purchases in order to improve teaching. At the same time, these same hucksters will, either silently or vocally, back billions in school budget reductions. These two ideas only appear to be mutually exclusive. The main function of additional technology in the classroom is to reduce the number of teachers, thereby saving money overall. It is, once again, the concept of profit and loss, where profit is defined as money cut from a budget, and loss is defined as money invested in the schools. This is short-sighted thinking at best, and destructive at worst. I happen to think that destruction is the plan of most of the hucksters.
If the American public understood that reformers want to privatize their public schools and divert their taxes to pay profits to investors, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If parents understood that the reformers want to close down their community schools and require them to go shopping for schools, some far from home, that may or may not accept their children, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public understood that the very concept of education was being disfigured into a mechanism to apply standardized testing and sort their children into data points on a normal curve, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. —Dianne Ravitch
Here’s a really good question that no one has been able to answer: Why, with all the ballyhoo about the supposed efficacy of high-stakes testing tied to student promotion and teacher merit pay do we not see its universal adoption in the most prestigious private schools? Anywhere.
How about this one: If you can’t cure education’s “problems” by “throwing money at them,” why is a high-quality private school education so ridiculously expensive? Couldn’t they do it on the cheap and show us the way?
And, lastly (for today, at least): How many high-performing private schools blame their teachers when a child fails? How many will hire teachers without the proper training and experience?
It amazes me the things people think are obvious truths that have no basis in reality. Your average parent has been told (and now firmly believes) that their kid is failing because the teacher is stupid, lazy, or both. Or worse, they think the teacher is only there for an easy paycheck and doesn’t care about the intellectual well-being of the child.
It would be funny if it weren’t so disgusting. I have taught for 25 years, in a number of districts and settings, and I can tell you that I have never met a teacher that didn’t care about their students. No one goes into this profession thinking “Hey, what can I do to hurt the kids today?” Yes, there are some teachers who are less than intellectual, and some who are genuinely lazy, but this is a far cry from the doltish caricature drawn by the hucksters. Every teacher I have ever met has invested themselves heavily into the success of their students, and it’s just wrong to believe otherwise. And, no, they don’t do it for the money, or the (imaginary) three months off, or even recognition of their peers. They do it because the work is important and must be done. They do it because they want to see their kids succeed, not only in their class, but in life.
Here’s a good idea: Why don’t we use the highest performing private schools as a model, then just do that? Of course, we would have to pump the kind of money into the public system that the private schools are used to squeezing out of their patrons, but that’s less than the cost of 1 year of our current war budget—not Defense… just the wars.
The good news is that parents seem to be waking from the spell the hucksters have over them. Only time will tell if the gander will get any of the sauce as well…
- Alfie Kohn: Recycled Assumptions: How Journalists Keep Education Tied to Damaging Ideas (huffingtonpost.com)
- Brains and Schools: A Mismatch (edweek.org)
- “We’re Number Umpteenth!”: The Myth of Lagging U.S. Schools
- Why I Teach, Where I Teach (ward8teacher.wordpress.com)
- Whatever Happened to Scientifically Based Research in Education Policy? (alternet.org)
- Attention Teachers! It is Time to Take Our Schools Back! (professorotter.wordpress.com)
- A Scandal That’s Exposing Ugly Truths About the School Privatization Agenda (alternet.org)
- Incredibly Good News: The Public Does Not Support High-Stakes Testing (dianeravitch.net)
- Poll Shows Highest Level of Public Disapproval for Vouchers Ever (news.firedoglake.com)
- Why Are Hedge Fund Managers So Interested in School Reform? (dianeravitch.net)