It’s become clear that public opinion has finally shifted against charter schools, vouchers, and the privatization of public education by corporate education reformers. This shift is now creating a great deal of frustration and uneasiness within the corporate ed reform community, who are sensing that their efforts over the past couple of decades may not be successful after all–and that parents really do support their public schools.
So, isn’t it funny that the same folks who respond with righteous indignation at any criticism of charter schools…
- “The charter school I teach at doesn’t have a lottery!”
- or, “The charter school my kids go to is better than the crumbling public school in our neighborhood!”
- or, “My charter school is one of the good ones–we accept all students!!! Except for the ones with discipline problems, or IEPs, or…”
…as being “too broad” or “generic” or “unfair” are exactly the same folks who make wildly overstated claims such as…
- “All public schools are failing!”
- or, “Everyone knows that the entire public education system is broken!!!”
- or, “The problem is that the greedy teachers unions are liars and don’t care about the kids!!!”
The truth is that the schools that are struggling are doing so in large part due to the impact of unfair and predatory competition from charter schools and voucher advocates that siphon desperately-needed resources from the traditional public schools that need them the most.
And that around 80% of voters are either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the public schools that their children attend. It’s just those “other schools” they’ve heard about that are the problem.
And that the states with the strongest teachers unions tend to be the same states with the strongest public schools, and the best prepared students.
And that public school teachers are doing nothing less than heroic work, under very challenging conditions, and non-stop attacks from politicians, ed reformers, and those who stand to profit from vouchers, charters, and the privatization of public education.
So what can you do to support your public schools? Here are a few ideas…
- Support, and vote for, candidates for public office who are clear about their support for traditional public schools and teachers.
- Be on the lookout for public officials who talk about the “tyranny of zip codes”, and other euphemisms for “school choice”–because “school choice” is nothing more than code for vouchers and a massive redistribution of funds from public tax coffers to private bank accounts.
- Beware of school board candidates who are bankrolled by wealthy industrialists, hedge fund managers, and investment bankers
- Vote for public school budget proposals in your community, and be informed about the issues in your schools.
- Understand that “school choice” has nothing to do with expanding opportunities for children, and everything to do with the gradual erosion of public education, and the creation of a dual system of schools: one of elite private and religious schools, funded by public tax dollars via vouchers, for the children of the wealthy and privileged; the other of underfunded and poorly maintained public schools for the rest of us.