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Privatization Movement’s Roots

July 1, 2014

Paul Buchheit’s latest Common Dreams post, “Five Facts for the Dangerously Deluded Education Reformers” misses one pivotal fact: the entire privatization movement is built on the false and outdated pretense that children learn in the same way and at the same rate of speed. The five facts Buchheit outlines will be familiar to readers of this or any progressive education blog:

  1. Privatized education steals from the poor and gives to the rich
  2. Testing doesn’t work
  3. The arts make better scientists
  4. Privatization means Unequal opportunity for all
  5. Reformers are primarily business people, not educators

I offered a sixth fact in the comment section:

The entire privatization movement is built on the delusional 1920 premise that schools are factories designed to provide schooling to children batched by age and zip code.  All of the tests used to “measure” the effectiveness of schooling are norm-referenced based on the age of the students taking them, and age grouping was part of the efficiency movement of the 1920s. None of the voucher advocates or privatizers spouting civil rights platitudes suggest that the boundaries of affluent schools be opened to students raised in poverty or that schools serving children raised in poverty have access to the same kinds of programs and services offered to children in affluent school districts. If “reformers” wanted to “defend children’s fundamental right to have an equal opportunity to access quality public education” they would not set time constraints on that opportunity or base that opportunity on geographical boundaries.  

With the technology available today there is no reason to organize schools the way we have done for decades… yet we persist in believing schools need to retain the factory model whereby students are batched by ages and sorted geographically.

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