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Laura H. Chapman: Why Ruinous Policies Won’t Go Away

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Laura H. Chapman, in a comment on the blog, writes that overly prescriptive standards and overused standardized tests will be locked into place by bipartisan support (I add that what she describes is the Democratic embrace of the traditional Republican agenda of testing, competition, and choice.

In my view, these policies will not be rethought until politicians see a genuine uprising by students, parents, and educators. They listen to their constituents if the constituents make enough noise. We are not prisoners, we are citizens. We should make our voices heard.

Laura H. Chapmam writes:

In the near term, I think it unlikely that policies from this administration will go away soon, primarily because so many policies overlap those favored by Republicans who control Congress and state houses and state legislatures. Many who have political power endorse the “kill-public-education” policies of the current administration.

Reversals will require federal and state legislative action. My guess is that Republicans will favor the continued use of VAM and SLOs to rate teachers, and funding for charter expansion. Many state legislatures are in the midst of re-branding the common core or reverting to prior state standards, but standards and testing for hard-nosed “accountability” are not likely to vanish soon.

Many Republicans rely on ALEC-designed free-market legislation. Many foundations active in education support those views and have created a huge network of subsidized communications. In these networks, experts refine the arguments for private and for-profit education and hammer on the major themes of “getting the most bang for the taxpayer’s buck” and “parent choice.”

An example of this effort to control policy (in addition to ALEC) can be seen at the National Council of State Legislatures website where the agenda for policy on “education” includes a discussion of funding options for charter school facilities. The Walton Foundation paid for the report, which takes a swipe at public school districts for not “sharing” facilities, especially with out-of-district charters.

The Walton Foundation is among many others paying the cost for professionals in the media to deliver the “surround sound” for the public and policy-makers–with the failures of public schools providing the justification for alternatives. EdWeek journalism has been co-opted by 17 foundations who pay for coverage of topics they wish to forward as legitimate and newsworthy.

Republicans do not all think alike, including the common core and associated tests, but so far, the indications are that many current policies will just be rebranded and tweaked, with more block grants to states, and more tricks of the trade to cut spending for education.

An example of using the ruse of cutting costs is the promotion of “social impact bonds” (also known as “pay-for-success bonds”). These “innovative finance tools” for privatizing education have been given credibility by a $100 million kitty from the Obama administration. If you liked the “innovative financing tools” that tanked the economy, you will love these bonds–high profits if you invest in techniques of reducing the cost of public services, including education.

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