"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The 65% Distraction

The latest scheme to dismantle public education is playing out across the country in state legislatures and on ballot initiatives but voters aren't buying it. They aren't distracted and they are finally starting to pay attention and wake up to the dense web of fabrication and lies being spun by the right wing think tanks that masquerade as education reformers.

Nathan Newman, policy director at the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN), gives the 65% Solution a good airing. THANKS NEWMAN.

Of course, none of this is surprising, because the 65% Distraction was not crafted to meet the needs of students, parents, or teachers, but of rightwing ideologues who are seeking to dismantle public education.

Consider this: Not only does the 65% Distraction include football uniforms, it also considers all vouchers to be spent “in the classroom,” nevermind the profits sure to be taken by the companies lining up to benefit from corporate-conservative privatization efforts. Those profits? Classroom spending.

And the backers of the 65% Distraction have even be admirably honest with their true goals. As laid out in a leaked memo, Tim Mooney and Patrick Byrne, the leading advocates of the bill, make it clear that they see this move as a political one, to create division among teachers and administrators and begin laying the groundwork for vouchers, all while providing an opportunity to funnel soft money into ballot issue campaigns.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: People who write memos about how to take political advantage of children should not be responsible for writing education policy.

Of course, the fact that the 65% Distraction was crafted by political hacks and not by serious policy experts is unsurprising. Despite a massive rightwing network of think tanks, you would be hard-pressed to find serious education work being produced....

Maybe if the policy debate wasn't being dominated by such corporate-backed policy outfits, we could actually have a debate on the reforms that would help our children: expanding early childhood education, more equitable funding for poorer districts, better retention of good teachers, and accountability that amounts to more than a mandate to "teach to the test."

Slapping down the 65% Distraction in the states where it is being proposed is the first step in getting back to a discussion of real reforms for our schools.

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