The privatization of education systems of America depends upon demonstrating that the current system is failing. That is why, as I have pointed out ad nauseum, that an impossible performance goal of 100% proficiency by 2014 was written into the NCLB Act. This goal assures failure for the great majority of American schoools. Faced with this assured destruction of public schools, the American people remain complacent, however. No doubt they are accustomed to education goals that are never met--over-promising has been a favored educational strategy of building political support since Horace Mann. Perhaps that is why there is such complacency now as the public education system is being dismantled before our eyes. Somehow we think this is just another gimmick reform that will pass away.
What we are witnessing now are the early death throes of the public schools and the beginning of the disintegration of locally-controlled public education that has been the primary civic venture aimed at preserving and expanding democratic living in America. The first to fall by the way are the urban schools, where failing remedies are administered with growing desperation. These are the most vulnerable prey, products of decades of poverty and neglect that have changed little even since Brown v Board of Education. These schools, now in their fourth or fifth years of NCLB sanctions, are next in line to be turned into publicly-funded corporate welfare charter camps with the same stunted Soviet-style scripted instruction and their behavioral chain gang methods that many of them are already using to no avail. Jonathon Kozol has described these schools most recently in his book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. (Click here for some video clips of "direct instruction" if you think your stomach can take it.)
Complicit in this homegrown intellectual and emotional genocide are the media, our leaders, the crass political and corporate profiteers, and the blind or cowardly appeasers who believe in the best intentions of those leaders with no intentions at all beyond the profit of those who got them their jobs. And yes, we, the people, have our own complicity to deal with. For just as we flip the channel or the page when we see the continuing suffering of New Orleanians living in refugee conditions in their own city, we are, together, turning away from the cancer of corporate fascism that is now swallowing up the public schools in the urban centers and moving toward a suburbs as more and more schools are labeled as failures.
Will this strategy continue to erode public support of schools as parents and teachers blame one another, or as administrators and school boards blame one another, for the failure that NCLB has mandated? Will the media take a role in making the facts known, as they did during last year's attempt to privatize Social Security? The larger question, then: Will we relinquish our civic and moral responsibility to our children, our future? Will we allow corporate fascism to replace the democratic republic that we have thus far been able pass on?