A summit is defined as the highest peak of a mountain. It’s also a meeting of high-level officials. In education, corporate politicians and reformers promote themselves as child experts. Yet they are far removed from the classrooms where teachers climb mountains every day to help students learn.
Chicago teachers recently fought for paraprofessionals to have decent wages, for more counselors, nurses, and social workers. As the Chicago Sun Times headline states “Teachers Went On Strike to Do the Right Thing, But They’re Not Done Fighting Yet” by Jesse Sharkey. They also want an elected school board.
Meanwhile, today’s National Summit On Education Reform meeting is a nightmare for teachers and parents. It involves those who want to replace democratic public schools with technology, ending schools and teaching as we know it. They will have children sitting in front of screens for instruction in warehouse charters, or at home all day.
Most of these self-acclaimed experts have not struggled to teach in gritty, overcrowded classes. They have not wiped runny noses or dealt with the trauma that some children bring to school. They never had to work towards unproven curriculum standards through Common Core. Nor have they had to face the reforms that, ironically, they and their ilk created.
They blame teachers for what goes wrong in schools due to their own back ass policies, but they’ll step up and take credit for anything that goes right!
You won’t find them on the streets of their cities fighting for the needs of children and a profession that nurtures those children. These individuals are above all that.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush leads the summit. As an American citizen Bush has every right to speak out about schools, but he doesn’t have the right to own them. Bush, whose educational background is in real estate and Latin studies, has leveled accusations against schools without doing due diligence to help students. His 3rd grade retention plan is a failed idea, but no one seems to have the power to end it, so children still are hurt by it.
Bush has been against schools and teachers every step of the way. When he had the chance to improve class sizes in the 90s, he hated the idea so much he was caught saying he had a “devious plan to end it.” Think what it would have meant if he’d studied the issue and been supportive of teachers, even negotiated.
What if he’d said, we can’t afford to lower all classes, so let’s lower class size in K-3rd grade when children are learning to read. But Bush didn’t want that. Look at life in Florida and the country now, a mix of underfunded public schools and unproven charters, and vouchers to questionable schools.
There’s Tennessee Governor Bill Lee who will discuss the future of schools. Is there any doubt amongst Tennesseans what his ideas of the future of schools involves? And there’s Teach for America rookie Penny Schwinn who leads education reform in Tennessee. Tennessee has lost many of its public schools to charters like the Achievement School District, a failed experiment.
While Lee talks and Schwinn gins up fervor over the corporate devised Reading Wars, teachers in their hometown of Nashville teach in schools which can’t afford the barest necessities to teach! They’re encouraged to sign up for an Adopt-a Teacher program to request pencils and paper from good-hearted parents trying to close the resource and supply gap in schools.
Tony Bennett and Kevin Chavous are there to promote K12 Inc. even though everyone knows what poor results that program has turned out.
There’s more. Much more.
Back in Chicago, teachers fought for students, more than they fought for their own salaries. Red for Ed demonstrations will likely occur across the country. Teachers are climbing the summit to get what matters for students. They’re the heroes and leaders who fight for the conditions and reforms that matter for children in their schools.
Even if the corporate education reformers look to be winning, they will in the long run lose. Democratic public schools are owned by the people. And while technology can be a useful tool, it’s no replacement for real career teachers and brick-and-mortar schools, and parents are tired of and distrust data collection involving their children.
Some of the Corporate Reform Groups Represented at the Education Summit.
- United States Program (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)
- 50 Can
- America Achieves
- Education Post
- Walton Family Foundation
- Fortune School of Education
- Empower Schools
- The Education Trust
- Wyoming DOE
- Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
- Indiana Chamber of Commerce
- Douglas County Schools
- New Schools Venture Fund
- Florida DOE
- Education Reform Now
- Louisiana DOE
- South Carolina DOE
- XQ Institute
- Thomas B. Fordham
- Lamar County School District MS
- McGraw Hill
- Charter Schools USA
- Noble Education Initiative
- Relay Graduate School of Education
- Learning Heros
- iTeach U.S.
- Democrats for Education Reform
- The Collaboratory Preparatory Academy
- Seminole Co. Public Schools (FL)
- Stanford University
- Indiana Commission for Higher Education
- Bloom Board
- The College Board
- VP, Research & Technology
- Tallahassee Community College
- Chiefs for Change
- State of Georgia
- Education Strategy Group
- Empower Illinois
- The Reading League
- Lean Six Sigma for Government
- Pivot Learning
- Equable Institute
- Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital
- Massachusetts Parents United
- Arizona DOE
- Bellwether Education Partners
- Edunomics Lab, Georgetown University
- Tennessee DOE
- University of Missouri-St. Louis
- Arkansas DOE
- State of Florida
- Houston ISD
- K12 Inc.
- Democracy Prep Public Schools
- Match Education
- National Council on Teacher Quality
- Generation Citizen
- Aspen Institute, Education and Society
- The Commit Partnership
- High Tech High Graduate School of Education
- Bob Wise LLC
- University of Arkansas
- Results in Education Foundation
- Caesars Entertainment
- Zinth Consulting, LLC