We have a manufactured crisis in education being pushed on the American people. Everyone from Arne Duncan to Jeb Bush is pushing the “public education crisis” narrative. The “public education crisis” narrative, while being dishonest, is absolutely brilliant.
Just think of the work and the time the reformers were willing to put in. They designed a system that appeared to be all about high standards (NCLB and now NCLB waivers) . They mandated tests(PARCC or SBAC tests) to measure the so-called high standards (Common Core). Then they made the collection and public reporting of test scores mandatory. The reformers forced teachers to stop “educating” children and obsess about “student achievement.” And then they set a standard that in the end, all schools would never meet –100 percent proficiency. Brilliant! It’s a black and white system manufactured to appear to be based on data and evidence. It’s simple. It’s designed to make cause and effect claims about the dismal state of public education that are easy for the American people to understand. It perpetuates the “public education crisis” narrative.
In case you’ve forgotten the “education crisis narrative,” let me try to summarize. According to the reformers, American public schools are failing. Reformers know public schools are failing because according to a bevy of standardized tests, students in American public schools are not proficient, below basic, and failing. Not only are students failing, they also drop out of school in mass numbers. However, if American public school students do graduate, most of them are not even capable of signing their own name. To address this mass failure, a ton of taxpayers’ money has been dumped into public schools over the past 15 years and nothing has changed. The public schools are still failing, the economy is in distress, and it’s all because of the “crappy” teachers and a misguided public school system. Done!
But why go to such lengths? Why the effort? The reality is that if the reformers were honest they would just admit that they abhor a “public” anything. It’s hard to find any honest reformers, but I actually know one. This person at least has the decency to admit that according to him, “government” schools (most of us call them public schools) are federally unconstitutional and at the state level public schools should be eliminated and replaced by a “thriving” private school system. Also, this person believes the government should not “steal” his money and redistribute it to bureaucrats and create a government institution (public schools) designed to indoctrinate children with socialist ideologies. It is an individual’s responsibility to pay for and obtain an education. For some readers, this may sound a little scary but at least it’s honest. What it also reveals is that many reformers are not really interested in making public schools better. Their main goal is to thrust their market based ideology on society and dismantle the American public education system — scary, but honest.
This makes me wish that the reformers would just admit their position and honestly try to convince the American public that their ideas for the privatization of the American public school system would better serve our nation’s children. Let’s stop all the No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core Standards dishonest reforms that are damaging children and educators and truly debate the wisdom of a totally private American school system.
Reformers, please stop selling the “failing public school” narrative. Try selling your market based ideology and the privatization of the American public school system to the people. If it’s such a great idea, then it should stand on its own.
This piece was revised from its original that appeared in Huffington Post in 2011.