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I received an email from a daily reader of the blog who asked me how she could explain the downside of corporate reform to friends at a dinner party in the suburbs who know nothing at all about the issues. She said that her friends were liberal Democrats, but their own children are grown, and they don’t read the blogs. What could she say that was direct, accurate, and informative?
We exchanged emails and began creating a list of snappy explanatory comments. Our combined list is below. Would you be good enough to send me your suggestions?
Your friend says, “So what do you think of the education reform movement?” Or, “How could anyone be opposed to education reform?”
And you answer, “What you call education “reform” is not reform at all. It is a way of making public schools look bad so they can be turned over to private managers. That’s privatization of one of our fundamental democratic institutions.”
Well, they may look at you and wonder if you have gone off the deep end, so you have to give them examples of what “education reform” actually means.
Like “for profit charter schools that are supported with tax dollars”
Like “excessive testing that makes money for test companies but isn’t good for kids”
Like “giving standardized tests to children in kindergarten and the earliest grades”
Like “turning kindergarten into first or second grade, where children study academics instead of playing”
Like “Race to the Top that pays schools to use the Common Core”
Like “charter schools that are never held accountable because their owners make big contributions to politicians”
Like “charter schools that get high test scores because they exclude kids with disabilities, kids learning English and remove those with low test scores”
Like “corporate charter chains replacing neighborhood public schools”
Like “virtual charters where kids lose 180 days of math for every 100 days of school”
Like “vouchers that go to fundamentalist schools where kids learn creationist science and the evangelical version of history”
Like “teachers are evaluated as ineffective or effective by the test scores of their students, even though research demonstrates that this is a flawed method”
Like “uncertified, inexperienced teachers who are assigned to the kids with the greatest needs”
And for a fanfare: “Our nation has pursued failed market-based policies for 15 years. It is time to do what works, based on evidence and experience.”
The list could be longer. Send me your suggestions. We could put them on a palm card so that anyone is prepared to answer the questions at any time.