It is well known, although rarely acknowledged in the press, that the reform movement has been financed and led by the corporate class. For over twenty years, large business oriented foundations, such as Gates (Microsoft), Walton (Wal-Mart) and Broad (Sun Life) have poured billions into charter school start-ups, sympathetic academics and pundits, media campaigns (including Hollywood movies) and sophisticated nurturing of the careers of privatization promoters who now dominate the education policy debate from local school boards to the U.S. Department of Education. (para. 4)
Think about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools. . . . If they're as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad, their students testing way behind in reading and math. They'll want help, quick. And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software and student assessments will be right there to provide it. . . . You start to see entire ecosystems of investment opportunity lining up. It could get really, really big. (para. 2–3)
Thus while economists interpreted disappointing program outcomes as market failure and sought solutions in incentives, sociologists and organization theorists saw signs of inadequate organizational control, and counseled new penalties and increased oversight. (p. 171)
• Perverting incentives for teachers - encouraging them to avoid difficult students and difficult schools.
• Discouraging classroom innovation, risk-taking and invention.
• Allocating "failure" disproportionately to nontraditional or at-risk students.
• Forcing out of the curriculum the very kinds of learning - higher-order thinking and problem solving - that learning theorists and others say are most important to "increased national competitiveness" and success in the world marketplace (p. 250).
Although forgotten in rhetoric and in deed, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in a unanimous decision almost 60 years ago that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954). We must stop pretending they are not - or else risk a further erosion of the moral courage required to complete the forgotten goal and neglected task of building a quality system of public schools that serves the needs of all children.