Friday, February 10, 2017

The Path to Privatization

Imagine if in 2001, police were given a mandate that by 2014, every neighborhood would be crime free. If they were not crime free, police officers would be fired and police stations would be shut down and privatized.

Which neighborhoods do you think would be furthest from this goal, rich or poor neighborhoods?

Which police stations, given the goal of 100% crime free would reach that goal?

Which police departments would be considered failures?

If given a completely unattainable goal, would we all just say "I guess public police departments no longer work. We need to defund them by siphoning money to private security firms."

Siphoning funding from a public institution for a problem that is overstated and misdirected is not wise. No more can police fix all of society's ills than can public schools. Defunding through splitting of money to more entities is less efficient and effective. Holding public schools accountable while deregulating the private sector and holding no accountability measures seems illogical.

Many factors came together in 2001 when this very thing happened to public schools. One factor was that some wanted the privatization of schools and they saw these unreasonable goals as a way to get there.  The punitive nature of the legislation led to blaming rather than fixing, which for some proponents of NCLB, this is exactly what they wanted. This blame put teacher's unions in the position of  being seen as self serving and people in favor of privatization began a campaign to blame things like tenure (poor teachers can be removed, regardless of years of service) and pensions as the reason for the failure of our schools.

Simply calling schools failures doesn't make it true. An apples to apples comparison with other countiries does not exist. The first major report on education "A Nation at Risk" was published in 1983. The fear that our system was a failure has been around for 34 years. If our education system was as bad as the 1983 report indicated, shouldn't we have seen the results. Students who graduated in 1983 are closer to retirement than they are to their 20th reunion.

We can't allow false narratives to drive us to unsustainable answers that will not work for all children. Democracy requires an educated citizenry.  Private industry succeed where there is a profit motive. Public systems fill the needs that don't provide a profit motive but are essential to our democracy,  economy, and general welfare.

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