Monday, August 13, 2012

The Reformers’ Game Plan (from Diane Ravitch’s Blog)

This reader offers a succinct summary of the reformers’ game plan. He might have added additional elements: a) budget cuts to disable public schools; and b) laws that remove accountability and transparency with privately managed charters; c) evaluating teachers on a bell curve, so that half will always be “below average,” thus creating a “crisis”; d) demanding 100% perfection, 100% proficiency and saying that anything less proves failure.

You can see it played out in state after state, especially in those with Republican governors, and in the pronouncements of the U.S. Department of Education, and it is fully developed in the Romney education agenda. They think that that private management of public education is the wave of the future, preferably it is generates profits for investors, and they are doing their best to make it happen:

First, the reformers have yet another scapegoat [to blame] for poverty. Now it’s the schools that are at fault, not the destruction of our social safety net, not the elimination of worker protections, not the imposition of fair taxation that enables the government to maintain our national infrastructure, and certainly not the actions of the 1% to extract all of the wealth of the U.S. economy for them alone. We don’t need to fix the failed and irrational policies of the past thirty years. No! We just have to reform the schools with for-profit charters, voucher plans and virtual “distance learning” that just happens to divert more tax money to … wait for it … the 1%!

And of course, never mind how all of these reforms are failures. By the time the public is fully aware of that fact, it will be too late to change and we’ll be on to the next scapegoat.

Second, this is just another impossible goal against which to conclude our schools are failures. The logic here is brilliant: Set the standard so impossibly high that the schools will be failures by default. Keep the focus on the unions and test scores, so the public won’t make the real connections between the economic policies of the past three decades but instead will follow the reformers in blind rage.

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