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William Stroud is the principal of Long Beach High School in New York.
“Our lives have become increasingly commercialized in a modern, global society that everywhere promotes consumerism; surrounding us with images that link glamor and status with possessions. The desire to have more, new, “better” things infiltrates our sub-conscious, influences our daily behaviors, and compromises our value system in remarkable ways. What we have, becomes a substitute for who we are. Buy happiness.
“I often refer to the commercialization of public education, i.e. the contemporary takeover of schooling by a corporate elite that imposes its own paradigm rather than a vision of education as liberation; a system which would develop our full potentials as individuals, strengthen our sense of community with each other, define what it means to be a human being in the grandest sense – values, thoughts, and behaviors. Schools can provide a forum for us to explore how we can make the world a better place.
“Instead, the corporate leaders that guide educational policy, inspired by Milton Friedman’s ‘Freedom and Democracy’ and their own self-interest, have transformed public education into a marketplace. Education becomes synonymous with “achievement” results, and “choice” becomes the reform lever. Students and teachers are measured according to standardized test performance. Significance of data becomes more essential than quality of relationships. Public monies are “freed up” so private service providers can be contracted. And there’s the big money – sales in curriculum and assessment, and educational technology.”