Privatization is undoing Brown v. Board of Education
Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast called the public school system a “socialist regime.” Michelle Rhee cautions us against commending students for their ‘participation’ in sports and other activities. Privatizers believe that any form of working together as a community is anti-American. To them, individual achievement is all that matters. They’re now applying their winner-take-all profit motive to our children. In 1954, the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education seemed to place our country on the right track. Chief Justice Earl Warren said that education “is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” Thurgood Marshall insisted on “the right of every American to an equal start in life.” But then we got derailed. We’ve become a nation of inequality, worse than ever before, worse than during the racist “separate but equal” policy of Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896. The Civil Rights Project at UCLA shows that “segregated schools are systematically linked to unequal educational opportunities.” The Economic Policy Institute tells us that “African American students are more isolated than they were 40 years ago.” The privatizers clamor for vouchers and charters to improve education, but such methods generally don’t serve those who need it most. According to a Center on Education Policy report, private schools serve 12 percent of the nation’s elementary and secondary students, but only 1 percent of disabled students. Forty-three percent of public school students are from minority families, compared to 24 percent of private school students. Meanwhile, as teachers continue to get blamed, the Census Bureau tells us that an incredible 38 percent of black children live in poverty. A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report revealed that total K-12 education cuts for fiscal 2012 were about $12.7 billion. Almost 90 percent of K-12 funding comes from state and local taxes. But in 2011 and 2012, 155 of the largest U.S. corporations paid only about half of their required state taxes. That comes to $14 billion per year in unpaid taxes, more than the K-12 cuts. The “starve the beast” mentality allows the privatizers to claim that our “Soviet-style” <> schools don’t work, and that a business approach must be used instead. Philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad and Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family, who have little educational experience among them, and who have little accountability to the public, are promoting “education reform” with lots of standardized testing. But according to the National Research Council, “The tests that are typically used to measure performance in education fall short of providing a complete measure of desired educational outcomes in many ways.” Diane Ravitch notes that the test-based Common Core standards were developed by a Gates-funded organization with almost no public input. Desperate states had to adopt the standards to get funding. Bill Gates may be well-intentioned, but he’s a tech guy, and his programming of children into educational objects is disturbing. One of his ideas is to videotape teachers and then analyze their performances. The means of choosing “analysts” is unclear. Another Gates idea is the Galvanic Skin Response bracelet, which would be attached to a child to measure classroom engagement, and ultimately gauge teacher performance. It all sounds like a drug company’s test lab. As noted by Ravitch and others, philanthropic organizations tend to contribute to “like-minded entities,” <> which are likely to exclude representatives of the neediest community organizations. They are also tax-exempt. And when educational experiments go wrong, they can just leave their mess behind and move on to their next project.
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