That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.
“Imploding” the Healthcare System is Frightening and Unnecessary
When it comes to healthcare, many breathed a sigh of relief. Because of Democrats and three courageous Republicans, it looks like there will be no new or “skinny” changes to the Affordable Health Care Act.
However, President Donald Trump tweeted, “let ObamaCare implode.”
This is an irresponsible and frightening statement for Americans who rely on the Affordable Care Act for their and their kids’ and parents’ healthcare.
How Education was Left to Implode
Donald Trump’s terrible proclamation is scary, because we have seen what implosion has done to public education. Corporate reformers and the politicians who bought into economist Milton Friedman’s school privatization did a similar thing to public schooling.
Friedman is called the “grandfather of vouchers.” But there has been no evidence that school vouchers work. Vouchers destroy the democratic principles that make our public schools.
That has not stopped free market believers from methodically under funding and signing off on draconian rules that hurt public schools. They have intentionally done this in order to convert public schools into a business model to make money.
Lately, we have also seen a methodical diversion of school funding into the tech industry. No matter how poor a school district might appear, no matter the desperate needs of poor children, there is always money for technology.
Freidman’s ideas gained momentum during the Reagan administration. But no President, Democrat or Republican, since that time, has walked Friedman’s ideas back.
Democrats are not keen on vouchers, but unregulated charter schools are just as bad when it comes to the destruction of public schools.
President Reagan and the Imploding of Dixon High School
Most who study school reform recognize that the 1983 report A Nation at Risk, commissioned during the Reagan administration, was the start of the school reform movement.
By 1985, The New York Times reported that President Reagan wished to privatize many programs, including housing and Medicare.
The voucher proposals reflect the President’s belief that private enterprise should be encouraged to help provide services now delivered by Government agencies.
In Losing America’s Schools: The Fight to Reclaim Public Schools, I write about a passage I found in William Kleinknecht’s book, The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America.
President Reagan attended Dixon High School—a public school in Dixon, Illinois. Dixon had been a thriving success story. The President had played on the football team.
In 1985, a friend contacted President Reagan and requested help. She informed him that his old alma mater was losing long-standing programs, due to budget cuts. Even the band which had performed at the President’s inauguration was in trouble, along with the football team he had played on.
Dixon High School wasn’t alone. Severe budget cuts to schools became the norm around the country.
President Reagan refused to consider this a problem. Later, he expressed delight that the Dixon Kiwanis Club had donated some money to save the school newspaper. We can see partnerships come into play!
Dixon High School eventually increased property taxes for their school, but this high school, like many schools across the country, would never fully recover.
How People Came to Believe that Public Schools Failed
With more budget cuts and draconian reforms like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, parents and citizens have increasingly lost faith in their public schools. They also blame teachers.
Public schools certainly needed modifications to meet the societal improvements that come with change, and poor public schools in areas that could never generate a high enough tax base to support their schools had difficulties. But this was due to poverty.
Most public schools were never failing. In fact, there was evidence in the 1980s that public schools were moving forward.
For years, parents still supported their own public schools!
The Phi Delta Kappan Gallup Poll indicated this. Parents would always say they liked their child’s school, but they did not think other public schools did well. This was due to the constant negative reporting in the media.
An Example of Loss that Drives Parents Out of Public Schools
School privatization shows up with the little things.
A few years ago, due to heavy testing and end-of-the-year “must do” activities, a class picnic to a local park for 8th graders was cancelled by the principal.
You wouldn’t think a picnic would be that exciting to middle school students, but it turned out the students looked forward to it. It was a fun time to chill and think about high school.
It was also a picnic that many of the parents remembered from when they attended the school.
A parent said to me, “This is why parents take their children out of public school. They have removed what’s interesting. They have stolen time honored traditions. This is why parents will put their children in private schools. They still get the picnics.”
She was a mom who worked hard at the school. But her voice and the voice of many other parents on this issue had been ignored.
Our schools have been pushed to implode, just like I am afraid healthcare will implode. Yet, it goes without saying, that in a rich country such as ours, Americans deserve better in both regards.
Bailey, Nancy E. Losing America’s Schools: The Fight to Reclaim Public Education. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016, 2.
Kleinknecht, William. The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America. New York: Nation Books, 2009, 6.
Lynne Staley says
Whenever money has been the “driver” instead of mission ~ medicine, education, insurance, etc. ~ we have lost our way. If we were driven by questions such as “what’s best for kids?” OR “what’s best for my patient” (NOT what’s cost effective!), there’s no way we could have gotten so far off the path.
Nancy Bailey says
Well said, Lynne! Thank you.
Roger Titcombe says
This is from the UK Guardian newspaper of 2 August.
Bernie Sanders has spent the first months of the new Congress defending Barack Obama’s health reforms as Republicans vowed to repeal them. But after the GOP’s seven-year drive to eliminate the Affordable Care Act collapsed on the Senate floor last week, Sanders is ready to introduce his own solution – government-run universal healthcare for all Americans.
The Vermont senator will spend the next several weeks leading a campaign to build support for his plan before unveiling the bill next month. On Wednesday, he launched a six-figure digital advertising campaign on Facebook and Google that encourages supporters to become “citizen co-sponsors” of his plan, which he calls “Medicare for All”, according to Sanders spokesman Josh Miller-Lewis, a reference to the public healthcare program for older Americans.
“Bottom line is: if other countries around the world are providing quality care to all their people, we can do the same,” Sanders told NPR in an interview on Tuesday.
“This is not complicated,” the Vermont senator, who lost to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary last year, said. “The American people are familiar with Medicare. By and large it’s quite a popular program. But it starts now when you are 65 years of age. God didn’t create 65 years of age for being the eligibility rate. It should be available for every single person in this country.”
What Bernie is proposing is modelled on the UK NHS, which is free, comprehensive cradle to grave healthcare funded out of progressive taxation. Nothing could be liberating in terms of person freedom than this. It has been judged the best national healthcare system in the world and is far more cost effective than your private insurance model.
Better still the opposition Labour Party, at present leading in the opinion polls as the UK government self destructs over Brexit, has proposed a National Education Service on the same model. Read about it here.
I bet your Bernie Sanders likes that idea too.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you for sharing, Roger! I like Bernie Sanders and I hope he can do something about health care. Unfortunately, he has always been fairly quiet about K-12 education. I will need to go back and read your post more thoroughly. I like the information about cognitive development and Piaget. Early childhood educators get it here. Reformers don’t. It’s as simple as that unfortunately. Good to hear from my friend across the pond.