Teachers and parents on the frontlines of this pandemic should be given control of how their schools are reimagined in the future. When this crisis ends, they should be given the voice on how to bring back democratic public schools and make them their own. Any revolution surrounding schools is theirs.
Those who foisted unproven and draconian school reform on America’s public schools in the past, now attack those reforms like they’re the fault of teachers and school systems. If public schools are broken it’s largely due to what these so-called reformers did to schools. They’re criticizing the mess they created!
- insisted on high-stakes standardized tests?
- pushed a no-play, no-recess curriculum on our youngest learners?
- denied children with disabilities the services they need?
- wrote and insisted on Common Core State Standards?
- insisted on one-size-fits-all goals and instruction?
- drove parents to distrust teachers?
- ignored the mental health needs of children in our schools?
- destroyed student privacy, especially online privacy protections?
- reduced or removed the number of school nurses, counselors, and support staff in schools?
- fired the librarians and closed libraries?
- removed the arts from poor public schools?
- set up EMO charter schools that drain funds from true public schools?
- gave vouchers to schools unaccountable to the public?
- praised and funded alternate teachers with fast-track training?
- insisted on large class sizes?
- said teachers don’t need to improve their knowledge with advanced degrees?
- insisted teachers need to be evaluated by tests, using test scores of students they never taught!
- opened the door to administrators who never studied or worked with children?
Trying to justify replacing schools with charter schools and online instruction will make for a nice profit.
Since their reforms failed, they and their ideas should be put out to pasture.
Here’s two of many examples.
Joseph Wise, who leads Acceleration Academies, a controversial charter school network and the Educational Research and Development Institute (ERDI), an organization meant to promote the business of schools, said in the Orlando Sentinel, “Use COVID-19 Crisis to Revamp Public Education Commentary.”
Wise begins by telling how difficult it has been to conduct online instruction to students, but goes on to tell us that …after we’ve done the triage needed to finish this school year, educators, lawmakers and technology innovators must lay the groundwork for a makeover of public education that uses technology to shape learning for each student’s needs.
Before COVID-19 shut down schools, most students had to report to classrooms each day, log state-mandated “seat time,” and progress (or not) through a one-size-fits-all curriculum.
It’s a crisis, yes. But it’s also an opportunity for a revolution in public schools – one in which kids come out on top.
Wise comes from the Broad Center.
A 2012 Duval Case Study by the Chamber of Commerce, who aren’t fans of public education, tells about the firing of Wise after he had replaced John Fryer, a retired Air Force major general, the previous superintendent.
What’s interesting is how they frame it.
Despite the improvements that Fryer and Wise instituted, student performance in Duval County remains low. The graduation rate is about 70%, and the district ranked 50th of 67 Florida districts in 2011 state test results. Achievement gaps remain large. According to the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, low-income African American 9th graders in Jacksonville have only a 5% chance of earning a college degree.
How are they improvements if the results were not adequate? Can you imagine them saying, despite the improvements teachers made in the classroom the achievement gaps remain large?
The point is, Wise never improved schools. Why should anyone listen about what he says about public schools?
Arne Duncan, former education secretary under President Obama, and former CEO of Chicago schools, had years to improve public schools. But Race to the Top did a bad job. Now Duncan is using this time to reimagine education which means he wants online instruction.
Here’s Duncan showcased by the Gates backed The 74, “74 Interview: Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Urges ‘Empathetic Leadership’ Through ‘Brutal’ Coronavirus Crisis and Toward a New Normal,”
I don’t want us to go back to the old normal. And there’s a whole bunch of things that this time allows us to think and to challenge. Can we think about the fundamental school year and calendar year? Can we think seriously about not seat time, but about competency? Can we think about what should truly continue to be online and learn virtually, and what should be done in a physical building?
This is Arne Duncan on Twitter:
Now is the time to reimagine education.
Now is the time to end massive inequities.
Now is the time to close the digital divide.
Now is the time to give every child in America the chance to learn anything they want, anytime, anywhere.
Duncan doesn’t like the old normal for public schools, the normal he heavily influenced as education secretary. Duncan might criticize Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, but he also implies he wants to end brick-and-mortar schools!
Duncan had years to improve public schools. Instead, like DeVos, he’s ready to turn it all over to for-profit companies. He’s connected to technology through The Rise Fund and looks to make out well focused on online instruction. It’s difficult to find where he helps teachers.
Why should anyone listen to what he says about public schools?
Those who led schools with their visions, were about converting public schooling to all-technology. That’s always been the case. It’s more so now.
There are many more naysayers. When public schools return, teachers, parents, and their communities should oversee public schools, not outsiders with no education background, or those who don’t have their children in those schools.
The so-called old crisis, those broken schools, screamed about in the media are the obnoxious reforms these venture capitalists placed on public schools themselves! They did this to destroy schools. With the Covid-19 crisis they have the perfect opportunity to end brick-and-mortar schools for good. Quit listening to them.
Any school revolution needs to come from those closest to their schools and not those who pretend to care but have their own for-profit interests in mind.
Any schooling revolution must come from educators and parents with a vested interest in their children and promise of a public education that will survive this crisis if there’s anything left that is holy and good.