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

Friday, March 03, 2017

Dem Epiphany: Public Education Under Siege

In 2001, Democrats joined Republicans to create a massive school privatization corporate welfare plan known as No Child Left Behind.  With fanciful performance targets and unbending rules, which every education policy person knew would detonate thousands of the poorest public schools over the coming years, NCLB ushered in the charter school era in a way that allowed the gradual ramping up of the paternalistic "no excuses" corporate reform school industry.

It wasn't until 2008, however, that privatization via charter school really took off.  When Obama was first inaugurated, U. S. schools had about 1.4 million students in charters.  By the time Obama left office in 2017, the charter population had more than doubled to 3.1 million students, and the federal commitment, alone, to charters was over $250,000,000 per year.

During the steady build-up of the charter industry before and during the Obama Era, the corporate teachers' unions continued to lend support for segregated charter expansion and discredited value-added evaluation schemes.  

The strategy of gradual privatization was cemented by the bipartisan reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which replaced NCLB with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  ESSA serves as a multi-billion dollar charter stimulus, while magnifying the power of charter school support groups and the charter industry, by making sure that 5 percent of the lowest-scoring schools are turned over for charter conversion each year.

None of this was troubling to Democratic think tanks until Hillary Clinton lost the election.  Within a couple of weeks, however, the Dems had rallied the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) to begin publicizing research on the horribly-negative effects of the charters that had been ignored for the past decade and a half.  

In November, EPI published research that Bruce Baker had been doing for years on the damaging effects of charters, and most recently EPI has joined other corporate Democrats to publicize research on the failed voucher experiments.

If Dems could have continued to oversee, at their own pace, the privatization of schools to benefit their own band of underemployed Teach for America (TFA) Ivy Leaguers, we never would have come to share the corporate Democrats' blinding insight as to the moral repugnance and anti-democratic nature of school privatization.

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