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Beating down the education deformers, Part 5

by Dan Burns on March 7, 2016 · 3 comments

teachers(This is the last part. Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 here, here, here, and here.)
I’ve been meaning for a while to do a series of blog posts like this, in order to try to really nail down where we’re at vs. the deformer-privatization/profiteering movement.
The result is, I don’t know who’s winning in the battle vs. the deformers, or whether it even makes sense to call it a “battle.” I don’t know whether the Every Student Succeeds Act will in fact help, hurt, or make little difference. (Here’s more on that.) I don’t know of a quick, easy way to clean up the charter movement and cut it (way) down to size. I don’t know how to readily fix the funding gap. And so forth.
Or, rather, I do know how to fix those things, and so do you: get better people into power, and keep them there. I just don’t know how, in practical reality, to consistently make that happen. Which isn’t surprising, given that it’s been one of the key problems of all of human history, everywhere.
I also know that a lot of people are fed up with deform. For example:

“Billionaire-Funded Charter School Juggernaut Hits Roadblock in Los Angeles”

“Milwaukee election shines national spotlight on state school takeovers”

“Philadelphia Public School Parents Wage Fight Against Privatization”

“Chicago Hunger Strikers Challenge Rahm Emanuel’s Push to Privatize Schools”

“National Poll Finds Overwhelming Bipartisan Support to Reign in Charter School Lapses”

However, I also know that, thanks to modern education and communications, and social advances in general, the average high school student now is more knowledgeable, and more able and willing to reason from fact, than when I was one back in the late 1970s. I know that from watching, and listening, and interacting. Among many other things, they’re considerably less conservative than their parents and, especially, grandparents. So all is by no means lost. In fact, there are substantial grounds for optimism. The deformers have certainly not “won,” and I wouldn’t even say that they’re “winning.” They’re not definitely “losing,” though, either. Not yet.
And I know that the plutocrat deformers aren’t going to give up because of public opinion, least of all mine. What most deform “leaders” are really fighting for are not their own “visions” for American education, but rather the biggest cuts that they can get of the profiteering, what with being the selfish, greedy f*cks that they are. They’re not used to hearing “no” or facing that they’re wrong. Or, given their own bloated views of themselves, how it is that people like us (I figure that just about everyone who’s read this far is pro-public schools) consider that we have good reasons to consider them despicable.
It may seem hard to believe that deformers will ever get too far in suburbs, small towns, and rural areas with a strong tradition of identification with public schools. But I wouldn’t have believed, twenty years ago, that they’d get as far as they have, anywhere.
If you happen to be at work, or out and about of an evening, or whatever, and the conversation turns to schools, here are points I think particularly worth making.
1. The deformer movement is a tool of the plutocrats. They know nothing about education. They just want to make money and stay in power off of your taxes and your kids. Bear in mind that public opinion has turned against the rich man. The days in which the likes of Lee Iacocca and Jack Welch were deified are long gone. The Kochs, Waltons, and their repugnant ilk are general pariahs, now.
2. School privatization promotes segregation. This is one where you have to pick your spots. I’ve occasionally taken temp jobs in sheet-metal shops, warehouses, and the like, and I unfortunately have to report that not all of my co-workers have necessarily been particularly opposed to segregation, if you know what I mean. (As a matter of fact, that was the case during the years I spent in corporate office life, as well.) But it’s generally straightforward to identify the rednecks in a hurry, and not waste time on them.

3. Deformers don’t want your kids to get too smart. They want rote-drilled automatons who will make the best corporate employees – that’s their take, anyway – and won’t question the plutocratic, warmongering socio-political status quo. You kind of have to be careful here, too. People want their kids to do well in school. But many don’t want them coming home and announcing, for example, that they’re atheists now, as a result of that day’s classroom perusal of David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. But, again, it’s generally pretty clear, how to pick your spots.
I’m closing with this.

With the passage of ESSA, many see an opportunity to have the raw deal of reform renegotiated.
At the BBA re-launch meeting, each participant spoke with some degree of optimism about what may be possible under the new law. One promising direction that became a focal point during the disgussion was the expansion of more community schools. These schools provide wraparound supports – like healthcare, mentoring, and job training – for all students, as well as instructional approaches and curriculum that are more culturally responsive and respective of student needs…
Surely, real leadership on education policy is not confined to being fiscal watchdogs. Because the original bargain of education reform was broken at the outset, let’s free the conversation of the constraints of that deal and instead consider what we can do to support equity.
That’s what a real conversation about education policy would be all about.
(Education Opportunity Network)


From Eric Ferguson: I have to agree school seems harder than when we went. Maybe adults so often assume schools are failing because the kids know so much less than the adults, but we didn’t have to take these high stakes tests let alone so many standardized tests, and the assignments sure seem harder than what I did — and I got a decent education.

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