Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Myth of Broken Schools

I am sick of hearing about “our broken public school system.” Our public school system is definitely not “broken” but the reformers and privatizers and our politicians in both parties are working very hard to make that a self-fulfilling prophecy. To see why I say that our public schools are not broken, read this excellent post by former State School Boards Association president, Noel Hammatt.

The forces of privatization and corporate reform, by convincing the media to parrot their characterization of public schools as “broken” serve their own interests in profiting from the discontent they are creating.

What is broken is the takeover of most mainstream media by large corporations that have tentacles in the privatization and testing services that are being forced upon our schools.  Consider the Blomberg and Rupert Murdock media systems. These media giants have a direct conflict of interest, and it serves their bottom line to continue to report public schools as broken and to systematically ignore the growing scandals of graft and corruption in the privatization movement.

What is broken is the legislative response that is serving major political contributors who are allowed to use our tax dollars dedicated to public education to bribe legislators to give them even more of our tax money to further grow their profit making scheme.

Privatization grows like a cancer. It uses our society’s resources earmarked for public education to pay legislators to add more cancer-like charter and private voucher schools. The growth, which is in reality destructive rather than healthy, accelerates even as it destroys the host. To better understand where we are headed, see this report on the Chilean system, which is now trying to reverse the damage of privatization of their schools.

To better understand the myth of failing schools consider this excellent analysis of comparative PISA scores by Carnoy and Rothstein . Their study shows that if we compare student populations by socio-economic factors we will find that our public schools are still producing some of the best-educated high school graduates in the world. Where our society, not our schools, fail is in proper support for our high poverty, at-risk students.

But to characterize all public schools as "broken" because we have a disproportionate number of high poverty students in some schools is misleading and it was intended to mislead. It is not our schools that are failing, but it is our system of government that now is failing to serve as a proper guardian of our tax dollars and what used to be a champion of the ordinary citizens and their children.

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