How To Stop the War on Public Eduation
Put three rockstars of the education world in a room together and you get this fantastic panel from last week's Netroots Nation on the future of public education, the importance of community organizing and the path towards systemic education reform to provide every child with a fair and substantive opportunity to learn.
The panelists were education historian Diane Ravicth, John H. Jackson, President & CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, and Ken Bernstein, a long-time teacher and education advocate. All three had harsh words for policymakers pedaling ineffective or untested policies as viable reform strategies. "We don't have an innovation challenge, we have an implementation challenge," Jackson said. We know what policies work. Countless studies have shown the importance of early childhood education, access to healthcare and guidance counselors, and support for teachers. But the practical, systemic solutions that come out of that body of research are ignored in favor of a political agenda that seeks to privatize and dismantle a public institution that is vital to our nation's economy and democratic well-being.
To that end, the panelists were quick to emphasize that organizing can and does work. Ravitch praised the work of Florida parents who soundly defeated "parent trigger" legislation earlier this year. And as Jackson pointed out, even if small community groups feel out-resourced by larger corporate-backed organization, they still play a vital role in "disrupting systems" and creating an authentic parent and student voice in the education reform debate.
Ravitch and Jackson both called out organizations like 50Can and Stand for Children as "wolves in sheep's clothing" that pretend to or no longer represent community voices or interests and instead push an agenda dictated by corporate sponsors.
This top-down agenda of privatization is attempting to make schools into mere commodities and to change the way we view our public institutions. "It's no longer about 'we,' it's about 'me,'" Ravitch said. And as a result, we lose our sense of community. "What we're talking about is not just the future of public education, it's the future of our democratic society."
Click below to watch the whole video!