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Allison Collins lives in the Bay Area and blogs about education. She has written an insightful post about the winners of the phony claim that American education is “broken” and “failing.”
Sure, there are problems, but American public education has been at the center of our national success, and we are now witnessing a determined effort to tear it down.
Why? Who benefits?
There are some strong public schools and some that struggle. But talking about our entire public school system like it’s Armageddon is overblown, and does a great disservice to the many dedicated students, families and teachers that pour their time, money and love into our schools. More than anything, this harmful narrative seems to target urban public schools serving low-income, Black and Brown youth. There are hundreds of tiny miracles happening in our urban public schools each day that never get media attention. It’s time we analyzed why the “failing public schools” narrative is so pervasive nowadays. Who benefits when public schools fail?….
The multi-million dollar charter industry relies on the perception that charters are private school “lite” with a public school price. The best way for charters to differentiate themselves from traditional public schools is by selling themselves as the free-market (read: better) alternative to public schools which proponents paint as “bureaucratic” and “inefficient”. Most often, charters sell the idea that they offer specialized curriculum or enhanced instruction that can’t be provided in “failing” schools by veteran teachers. Teachers in charters are painted as spunky, innovative, dedicated in contrast to the old, burnt-out, “impossible to fire” teachers they say are the problem with public schools. (Stay tuned for more on this topic. As you can see, I’m just getting started!)…
Private and charter schools aren’t the only ones who thrive on trashing public schools. Profitable non-profits include: education think-tanks, curriculum developers, test creators and educational software developers who are always ready to jump in and provide a “quick fix”…..
“What’s wrong with urban public schools? We’ll tell you for just three easy payments of $19.95 … MILLION!” “Want to learn how to turn around your achievement gap? Hire our team of curriculum consultants and TFA wunderkind and we’ll save the day!” Talking about failing public schools is a real bummer, but MAN it really moves product!
Hysteria over our “broken system” has gotten so crazy that non-profits often serve as brokers and middlemen for billionaire funders like Bill Gates who favor investing in outsiders over districts who they fear will mismanage implementation. Yet, when dollars flow to non-profits to supplant the leadership in a district, it undermines rather than supports. The overall message to educators is, “We don’t think you can do it yourself… so we’ll do it for you.”.
If you want to help a district function effectively, you work with leaders to fix underlying problems, you don’t create workarounds or do the work. In this way, non-profits enable failure. They become complicit in creating and maintaining problems they then profit by fixing.
And then there are what she calls the “Chardonnay Liberals.”
But read it to learn why they benefit.