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Disconnect Between Policy and Reality

February 1, 2013

Today’s NYTimes Opinionator features an article by Sara Mosle titled “Teachers and Policy Makers: Troubling Disconnect”. After reading the article, I think that the term “policy makers” is a misnomer, for the “policy makers” in question seem to be the for-profit “reform” crowd, NOT elected school boards. This led to two comments. The first one follows:

This article fails to make an important distinction: there are FOR-PROFIT charter schools reporting to shareholders who want to maximize earnings… and charter schools operating under the aegis of school boards. Unfortunately for those of us who want to upgrade public education, the “for-profit” crowd has co-opted the term “reform” and defined the quality metric for school as standardized testing. As a regular reader of Ms. Ravitch’s blog I do not believe she is “anti-charter”… rather, she is anti-FOR-PROfIT charter …with good reason. She has uncovered evidence that those seeking profit from public education have teamed with the likes of ALEC to get legislation in place that will create a favorable business climate for them. The Times and other media outlets could help elevate— or at least clarify— the dialogue about public schools. If they made this distinction and followed the money that is underwriting the so-called “reform” agenda.

And then, after re-reading the article to add to this blog post I added a second comment:

One other key point: the last time I looked the local and state school boards were the policy makers, not the legislators or the governors… I know the “reform” groups tend to overlook this reality and go directly to governors or legislators to enact laws that local boards will need to fund or enforce. This approach leads to an erosion of the grassroots democracy that has characterized public education for decades, replacing it with a centralized command-and-control hierarchy that is familiar to businessmen and those seeking to wield power.

It seems that pundits have come to the conclusion that policy IS made by the “reformers” and school boards are superfluous. Keep beating that drum and it will become a “given” in the future, just as it is now a “given” that public schools are all failing.

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