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In a column in the Daily Beast, ex-TV journalist Campbell Brown praised David Cameron of the United Kingdom for his proposal to eliminate all traditional public schools and replace them with private academies. The column was reprinted on her website “The 74.”‘
The vision and courage needed to take on the crisis of failing schools has surfaced during our presidential campaign—just not in this country.
Last week, addressing his party for the first time since re-election in May, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called for an end to the country’s traditional public school system, endorsing instead a nationwide conversion to academies, which are essentially the British equivalent of charter schools—publicly funded, but with greater freedom over what they teach and how they are run.
He also urged current and would-be educators across the U.K.—parents, community groups, social service organizations—to create small new academies known as free schools.
“So my next ambition is this,” Cameron told a nationally televised audience, “five hundred new free schools. Every school an academy…and yes—local authorities running schools a thing of the past.”
She complains that the Presidential candidates in the U.S. have failed to be equally bold in calling for the privatization of all schools.
Americans are being disserved when the campaigns ignore a school system that leaves three-quarters of students unprepared for college in writing, reading, math, and science. The United States soared for most of a century because its schools produced the world’s best labor force, ensuring the dominance of American industry in everything from soap to missiles. In the past few decades, lagging school achievement—especially among our most disadvantaged young people—has led to economic slowdown. By failing to educate these children we threaten our collective livelihood.
Campbell Brown knows nothing about public education. She attended the elite Madeira School. Yet she despises public education and considers herself an expert.
I previously wrote a post with some advice for her, but she ignored it.
She needs to understand that the schools with the highest test scores are the ones that select their students, like the private school her own children attend (which does not administer standardized tests or use the Common Core).
Scores on standardized tests are a reflection of family income and education, as well as the schools’ resources and opportunities.
The lowest test scores are found where there is high poverty and racial segregation.
What she should know, but doesn’t, is that on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the scores of white students, black students, Hispanic students, and Asian students are at their highest point in history.
What she should know, but doesn’t, is that none of the world’s top-performing nations on international tests have privatized their schools. They have instead strived to make them equitable for all children.
What she should know, but doesn’t, is that privatization does not decrease inequality, it increases inequality and segregation.
Note to Campbell Brown: Our public schools are not failing.
Our society is failing to address the root causes of school performance, which are the conditions in which children and families are living, such as their access to good jobs, medical care, food security, and decent housing.