I’ve been trying to keep up with the education reform battle in Connecticut, since it’s my home state. The people pushing for reform (along with such “luminaries” as Michelle Rhee and The Walton Foundation, who incidentally would privatize everything up to and including the ocean) are pushing for publicly subsidized yet privatized “charter schools” and the breaking of teachers’ union protections.
One of the first things you read in the wikipedia article about charter schools is that:
Charter schools are primary or secondary schools that receive public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school’s charter.
Now, why would such notorious religious privatization and religiously discriminatory asshats such as the Walton family be interested in charter schools? I think the key words are “but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools“. I would venture a guess that religious charter schools, funded on the public dime, are next up in the “public education debate” — not to mention the ability to perform just about any form of political or ideological indoctrination which they would see fit to offer. Don’t forget, we already have a fair amount of dogma injected into our children, for the sake of maintaining a steady stream of money and human bodies to feed into the grist mill of our sprawling Military-Industrial Complex.
Let’s break it down: some of the major factors involved in the quality of a child’s education are — you guessed it — money (some have systemically more than others) and not simply teaching for targeted tests. NCLB had some serious issues, notably with ESL students, and tended to have incentives which hurt rather than helped students. Sweeping educational reform has been shown, through that particular piece of legislation, to have the capability to hurt our most disadvantaged students, even under the guise of helping them. Unfortunately, in the race to keep school funding, many schools have turned to teaching *for* the NCLB testing guidelines, rather than teaching a well-rounded educational curriculum.
Our education system isn’t very good, but dismantling the “great social equalizer” of public education in favor of selling off yet another piece of the country to privatization interests isn’t going to solve anything, at least not for the least fortunate among us. It only drives the wealth divide deeper, as those in poverty are less likely to follow the Horatio Algers myth out of the prison of their socioeconomic class. Besides, charter schools seem to resemble the logical extension of the “school voucher” programs, designed to funnel public education funds into narrow-minded religious education. (I mean narrow-minded in that religious education is tainted with non-scientific dogma and institutionalized indoctrination in a way that makes the raising of free-thinking adults more and more difficult. “Intelligent design” is a farce, not a valid scientific theory.)