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Paul Karrer Tries to Explain Education “Reform” to David Brooks

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Paul Karrer, a veteran elementary teacher in California, likes to read David Brooks, even when he disagrees with him. But he was taken aback recently when Brooks said that the teachers’ unions are the biggest impediment to education “reform.”


Karrer knows that education reform is not what it appears.


He explains to Brooks, as if Brooks might read his column:


So far Ed Reform has been a nightmare, a massacre, a coup de grace on democratic public education institutions. Ed Reform has plundered the public sector, crushed teachers’ souls, and offered virtually no positive improvement even when measured by the right’s own yardstick. The right benefits on many levels in its relentless assault on public schools.


First, privatization feeds the Republican DNA of the government’s role as an agent of profit for business. Public education viewed through Republican eyes is viewed as a feeding trough opportunity of financial benefit. Hence, the many hedge funds lauding, testing and assessment companies, charter corporations and publishing empires whose spread will fattened wallets.


Virtually every mantra about Ed Reform is false or basely wrong. Charter schools do not perform better when equal measure are used. Rather, often worse. End of story. They skim the best, the brightest the motivated. And they boot out those who don’t behave.


Those attending charter schools have parents who have guided them to charters. Many of my students have guardians. There is a difference.


Because he respects Brooks, he invites him to his classroom to learn about what really matters:


So friend David Brooks, I invite you to spend a few hours with me at my poorest of the poor schools. Run a lap with my fifth-graders and me in the morning, see what it’s like in the mucky trenches of gang-infested poverty. Then just sit and watch, no principal, no superintendent present, observe 30 fifth-graders and their old teacher. We’ll talk, later, about the subtractive brutality and injustices of ed reform.


Your words carry great weight. Please be careful how you [use] them.


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