Education ‘reformers,’ whether the business model of higher education is failing or not, have their eyes turned toward American colleges and universities. There’s money to be made there, too, an attraction that the ‘reformers’ and their corporate backers cannot resist. That the profits come at the expense of education itself hasn’t bothered them in their attacks on public schools–and won’t bother them in their new endeavors either.
That’s why it is important that all of us who actually teach in higher-education environments, who do the real work of educating (rather than just talking about education or saying what it ‘should’ be), should be supporting the Chicago teachers’ strike.
Finally, people are taking a stand and not just complaining. The rest of us need to applaud them and support them–for the ‘reformers’ will be coming after us next.
Stephanie Simon and James Kelleher, writing for Reuters, lay out the divide:
The new vision, championed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who used to run Chicago’s schools, calls for a laser focus on standardized tests meant to gauge student skills in reading, writing and math. Teachers who fail to raise student scores may be fired. Schools that fail to boost scores may be shut down.
And the monopoly that the public sector once held on public schools will be broken with a proliferation of charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run – and typically non-union.
To reformers, both Democrats and Republicans, these changes offer the best hope for improving dismal urban schools. Many teachers, however, see the new policies as a brazen attempt to shift public resources into private hands, to break the power of teachers unions, and to reduce the teaching profession to test preparation.
Mark Naison writes:
The Chicago Teachers Union has flipped the script on Michelle Rhee, Democrats for Education reform and other backers of school privatization and showed how a teachers union can be a militant advocate for the right of students to have a school experience which includes music, art, sports and class sizes small enough to receive individual attention.
The CTU wants what all of us educators want, to provide an education that takes in the whole of the needs of the student and not simply the measurable. Even were there adequate means of quantitative assessment (there are not), education requires much more than simple acquisition of knowledge.
The profiteers, the backers of ‘reform,’ make money by stripping from education all but testing. They give nothing back in return, simply taking more for themselves. Their ‘value added’ is money for themselves, leaving education but a shadow of itself.
If this doesn’t stop in Chicago, it may never stop.