They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And they put up a parking lot
~Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi
If you’ve ever worried what the future will hold without public schools, watching legislators destroy those schools in Florida and Tennessee this past week was gloomy.
But there they were with smiles in Florida, and a little less jubilant in Tennessee.
These policymakers, who are supposed to represent everyone, seem to take no interest in the research surrounding the importance of democratic public schools and the lack of any evidence supporting vouchers or charter schools.
There’s not even proof that private and parochial schools are great.
But before those of you who care about kids and public schools get too gloomy, there’s always hope! One just needs to know where to look.
Wednesday, hope was found in South Carolina, another anti-union state, where 10,000 teachers marched for the second time to the state capital. One would think by listening to mainstream news that they were marching only for salary hikes. But according to The Post and Courier, South Carolina teachers had more on their minds.
The teachers, organized by the teacher advocacy group SC for Ed under the social media hashtag #AllOutMay1, have been asking the Republican-controlled state Legislature for higher wages, smaller classroom sizes, more mental health counselors in schools and full funding of the state’s promises to students.
The picture is from The Post and Courier.
Many teachers are also finding that parents support them. Their united voices are critical at this time.
In the meantime, those who wish to privatize public education continue to push for choice initiatives.
They seem to give little thought to their unproven, backward agenda, how such a plan will divide the nation, or how it will affect children and families.
For years, they’ve:
- ignored the majority since most people don’t want vouchers.
- failed to hold private, parochial, and charter schools accountable.
- ignored the fact that vouchers cost taxpayers more money.
- promoted “no excuses” for children living in poverty.
- failed to champion good health care for all children.
- tricked people into thinking vouchers will help poor children.
- deceived Americans into expecting school choice when private, parochial, and charters make the choice.
- defunded public education, unwilling to invest in all America’s children.
- removed developmentally appropriate activities like recess and play.
- willfully pushed unproven charter schools knowing they often fail without oversight.
- pushed harmful high-stakes testing on even our littlest learners.
- insisted that children read as early as possible without considering development.
- ignored real reforms like lowering class size, teacher training, and well-rounded curriculums.
- failed to come up with ways to truly make our public schools safer.
- opened the door to venture philanthropy, so the wealthy can create schools focused on profit-making.
- destroyed teaching as a profession, replacing it with Teach for America types with minimal training.
- focused on technology to disrupt classrooms and ultimately end public education.
- eliminated school libraries and librarians.
- continued to support substandard online programs like K12.
- refused to pay career teachers fair wages.
- sought to destroy teacher pensions.
- replaced principals with outside career changers through New Leaders.
- ignored Separation of Church and State.
- dismissed the public ownership of democratic schools.
- focused on unfair standardized testing.
- replaced those with minimal training about how children learn into education leadership positions.
- retained children in third grade a known variable in why students drop out later.
- humiliated career teachers with unfair evaluations.
- relied on the advice of those with little knowledge about children.
- permitted school buildings to crumble.
- ignored or destroyed learning opportunities for students with disabilities.
- forced changes to the curriculum with the unproven Common Core State Standards.
- made demands of children that are not commensurate with their development.
- pushed children into early career decisions for corporate benefit.
- destroyed public ownership of public schools.
These are sad days in Florida and Tennessee and for our country. It’s scary to watch our so-called leaders selling out on what has always been our greater good, and to watch them do it with smiles on their faces.
But sooner or later Americans will recognize what a terrible mistake corporate school reform is, and they will look down on those who stole what was precious to them. They will demand a return to public education and free and great schools of equality for all children.
They will call for an end to the dumbing down of America.
Rick B. says
I think you understated the impact of #25.
The COMMON CORE standards in ELA are BAD; they are narrow and constraining – empty skill sets that tend to be intuitive once brain development catches up. So we wasted a lot of time for very little reward.
When the holy grail of education became “improved test scores” the baby and the bathwater both went out the window.
We have seen an unprecedented and damaging expansion of the null curriculum at a range of ages that instead needed a healthy dose of interesting, meaningful, engaging, content knowledge. Science, history, geography and many other subjects and activities were willfully ignored in the quest for improved test scores. That’s how we have dumbed down the K to 8 experience.
Nancy Bailey says
Thanks, Rick. I am sure I understated many of them. They’re all bad. But I know some are drawn to particular areas.
The point is they are dumbing down schools. The vouchers in Florida don’t care who teaches!
Can you imagine the future?
I just don’t understand it. What is there to celebrate in the destruction of public education? How do we allow these people who are obviously wrapped up in their self interests to destroy such a vital public institution? The fight must continue to grow. I really fear for this country if it doesn’t. Now is the time for a lesson in what democracy means and how it is meant to operate.
Catherine King says
speduktr: Just one thing: While it is true that some claim to love democracy, but just don’t understand how public institutions like education are essential to its vibrancy, others just hate democracy itself, are dead-set on destroying its Constitutional framework, and on letting oligarchs and political puppets take over the farm, so to speak. Many are not merely dumb-block ignorant; rather they are just willfully and powerfully anti-democratic (and neo-liberal). In part, it’s why George Will left the Republican Party.
Wonderful, spot-on list, BTW. CBK
Jennifer DeMente says
Education without diversity of thought is useless. The problem with public education as a whole Is that it has become a vehicle for leftism. We don’t want our kids going to schools that don’t teach actual US history and push to divide people by color. We don’t want our kids being told you can choose your gender or that religious people are narrow minded and hateful. Teachers should not be pushed in their training to hold anti American views and be kept ignorant of our true place in the world as Americans. They should not be coming to our schools and supporting socialism. Education is key to the success of our nation but as long as the schools are being used to detach or kids from reality we are in trouble.
Nancy Bailey says
Diversity of thought is important in public schools. I don’t doubt that others think these negative things too. But it is conspiratorial. Teachers are not anti-American. Parents also have the right to get on school board committees to help select history curriculum. These are your schools. Nor do they teach that religious people are narrow. The teachers I know go to their own churches on Sunday. But teachers must welcome ALL children into public schools no matter religion, or gender.
You might try volunteering in a public school to help out and learn the real problems teachers face trying to help children adjust to the problems they experience in life. Schools are constantly affected by society and the changes found there.
I’m sorry to disagree with you.
SUSAN LEE SCHWARTZ says
I posted this at Oped News, where I write about education in my series. with comments that have links to The Ravitch site. The links at Oped are embedded, https://www.opednews.com/Quicklink/35-Ways-They-Dumb-Down-Ame-in-General_News-Dumbing-Down-Students_Evidence_Future_Legislators-190919-33.html#comment745307
Another way to dumb us down… replace experienced teacher-practitioner of pedagogy, with TFA trained novices. Faced with low test scores in Providence, Central Falls, and other districts, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo wants more teachers from Teach for America, who have only five weeks of training. She is a deep-dyed Corporate Reformer who believes in the magic of privatization by charter schools and inexperienced, ill-trained TFA. This will not end well for the students.
If the experienced professional doctors were removed from the hospitals and replaced with the trained medics who drive the ambulance, the pattens would die.
Knowing how learning takes place, when one faces children.. 30 or more at a time, for ten months, requires a professional who knows what learning LOOKS LIKE and who knows how the brain acquires crital thinking skills.
Over 2 decades– They removed over 300,000 authentic professional teacher-practitioners from the schools around America, in the most egregious way, even as the media they owned blamed teachers for the mess that resulted! The national conversation inthe media became one about ‘teaching,’ not LEARNING! It was their conversation.
They de-funded public schools, began a testing program that blamed teachers for not teaching, and because they knew public schools would fail. Then, the billionaire power-elite corporations, hoodwinked the people in the 15,800 separate school systems in 50 states, as the sold misinformation which they published and which their lobbyists sold. This was not reform.It was deform!
Look at how they are using public money in DC to train the lobbyists to end public schools. Laura Chapman: The New Line on Private Charters as Spelled Out by the D.C. Establishment”article is an example of the relatively new strategy for selling ideas, marketed by Frameworks Institute.org with a focus on inventing stories, and forwarding narratives calculated to distract attention and elicit favorable responses to hidden-from-view power players. Many of the same “philanthropies” who have promoted failed policies for schools in the last two decades are still at it with Dintersmith trying out a refreshed story line.”
I also posted this comment
The Perfect Storm [Disaster] of Education Reform”by dianeravitch. This is an excellent article about “The Perfect Storm of Education Reform” by three scholars: Sheryl J. Croft, Mari Ann Whitehouse, and Vera Stenhouse. It begins like this: No Child left behind (NCLB), Race to the Top (rt3), and now Common Core embody over a decade of federal and state education reform purport-edly designed to address inequities for global majority and low-income students.
However, these policies have in fact expanded inequities and exacerbated a discourse of failure regarding teachers, public schools, and teacher preparation programs. Consequently, public confidence in teachers, teacher preparation pro- grams, and student performance is at an all-time low.
We contend that current reform initiatives (i.e., high-stakes testing and teacher evaluation from K-12 through higher education) are not, in fact, discrete singular efforts. Instead, they represent a confluence of systematic and orchestrated education reform efforts that are akin to storm fronts. These fronts comprise a perfect storm that is eroding the bedrock of public education in the United States through neoliberal policies.