Inspired by Anthony Cody’s recent posts that were written about in the New York Times, I wrote the following. An open letter to journalists who cover education is towards the end. Feel free to take from it to send to your local education reporter. We need to expose the fallacies of the ed reform crowd instead of having them continue to frame the debate in favor of their pockets. Follow the money to find the truth…
It would be great to see journalists across our country taking an interest in the ulterior motives of the ed reformers who claim to care for students, yet on closer inspection it seems to be only so the reformers can line their pockets with public funds. If they truly cared, they would involve current day teachers from the most challenged schools in developing interventions, practices, policies, and new paradigms for improving student learning and achievement. However, that would expose the soft underbelly of our economic system: the extent of ones accumulated wealth, and its direct impact on educational attainment.
Ours is an inequitable system where those who have insufficient capital to fend for themselves are left to the whims of those who have more than enough money, and greedily want even more, in spite of near record concentrations of wealth in our nation’s history. If anything, this behavior is testament to why religions and philosophers teach against living just for oneself, and for caring for your neighbor as you would yourself. If only more of us who escaped the burdens of poverty lowered our pride enough to see that our success was not just of our own making, but from the countless contributions of teachers, public servants, and others focused on fulfilling their wish to serve others as their vocation. America was not founded solely on improving our own lot in life, but of those around us in our community. I hope we regain that outlook sometime soon, for at this rate, the fabric of society is wearing thin so quickly in so many places it soon will not be strong enough to hold us together.
Given the above, I just sent the following to a reporter for a nationally prominent newspaper. Feel free to lift from it to do the same.
I was hoping you would be interested in digging a little deeper into the ongoing debacle in education policy. Current federal policy simply fuels the feeding frenzy of corporate reformers that seek to privatize public education. Reformers such as Bill Gates, Joel Klein, and Michelle Rhee advocate free-market-based models as more efficient and effective even though they have weak, or non-existent, facts to support their beliefs. While our educational system must change, doing so requires input and commitment by those closest to students in the classroom, not those who believe they are entitled to making sweeping generalizations simply because they have the time, money, and a hunch.
Originally titled No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and serving as the reauthorization of the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), this federal policy raised the standardized tests you and I took to unimaginable heights, with deleterious consequences. The well-intentioned wish to leave no child behind resulted in the unintended labeling of children, schools, teachers, principals, and superintendents as failures, fueling the fire that our educational system fails to educate students. It injected into our nation’s primary and secondary schools the misguided belief that measuring student learning alone will change the behavior of students, parents, teachers, etcetera and simultaneously punished all who failed to measure up to its unrealistic requirements. With nearly 80% of schools falling under the NCLB axe shortly, it is about time citizens see the disingenuous nature of NCLB, Arne Duncan’s NCLB revision – “The Blueprint,” and ed reformers advocating for change in public education. Reformers’ primary, unspoken, goal is to bring significant amounts of new capital into a new “market” for educational services, software, technology, and more. This conflict of interest is readily apparent if one takes the time to look into the motives, finances, and plans of the entities advocating privatization, and demonizing teachers today.
I hope the drama playing out across our nation at the local, state, and federal levels of government, as well as in the boardrooms of companies seeking to increase their revenues, profits, and cash flow by unleashing billions of dollars of public funds to private companies, piques your journalistic interest . All the while, many students with low socioeconomic status lack the resources, skills, and support to succeed in school, regardless of whether it is public or private. Most everyone in this debate, except for teachers, especially those teachers at schools struggling with disadvantaged students, seems to ignore the day to day reality of our education dilemma, and instead continues to advocate for positions that will benefit them or their companies more than it will benefit students in our nation. Much of the ed reform advocacy is a sham, reminiscent of many times in our history where the huddled masses yearning to be free are only of interest to the nation’s élite as a source of funds from which to increase their financial holdings.