I never thought I would find a use for Nancy Reagan’s famous anti-drug slogan of the ’80’s, but I think it might be the appropriate response to some of the education reforms being pushed by Race to the Top and its corporate underwriters, which include (most famously) Bill Gates, among other less famous billionaires. There is an important reason why we as parents and responsible community members need to think carefully about whether these reforms will truly improve education. David Sirota deftly outlines why we can’t trust corporations to give us real education reform:
What’s fascinating about the whole education debate is that the corporate “reformers” she [Diane Ravitch] talks about are, for the most part, the same people who don’t want to have an honest discussion about taxes and budget resources. In general, they ask us to believe that we can test our way out of our education problems, without better funding our school system.
While it’s certainly true that resources aren’t the only problem, it’s also true that they are a huge problem. You get what you pay for, as any undergraduate business major would tell you, and you’d think these corporatists would know that, considering their much-touted business experience. But they don’t. What they want us to believe is that education is not a problem of resources – it’s a problem of greedy unions, lazy teachers and poor standards.
That argument, of course, is self-serving. If you are a rich guy like Bill Gates, it’s in your self interest to blame teachers and unions for education problems rather than talk about how you and your fellow billionaires should be paying more taxes to help build a better education system.
I was relieved to see that Commissioner Gist postponed the plan for NECAP scores to be the new standard for high school graduation. As a parent and school certified social worker, I would like to see more investment within our public schools rather than in schools that function outside of the public education system. I realize we have some very interesting charter schools in the state, but I am concerned about drawing more resources away from our public schools to fund schools that will likely end up being shut down in a few years because they don’t consistently outperform public schools.