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Reauthorization’s Winners and Losers

February 1, 2015

As a series of Diane Ravitch’s posts yesterday illustrate, the reauthorization of ESEA (aka NCLB) is a win-win proposition for deregulated for-profit schools and a lose-lose proposition for elected school boards and children. My subscription to Ms. Ravitch’s blog is delivered daily, usually when I am asleep. In this way I can scroll through the articles and glean stories that she uses as the basis for her blog– in some cases reading her take after I’ve posted, in some cases of late re-blogging with a short comment, and in some cases reading the story and writing a post that reflects my own thinking. Yesterday’s posts included three on disturbing events taking place at the state level:

  • The Arkansas State Board’s decision to takeover the Little Rock Schools and inviting the Walton Foundation the responsibility of developing the district’s future plan
  • The refusal of the Ohio sponsor to withdraw their support for for the Gulen school charter chain  in response to an appeal by a “coalition of liberal groups” who cited Gulen’s alleged “…racism, sexism, and test cheating, as well as FBI raids on some of them”.  
  • The Florida State Superintendent’s insistence that it is illegal for parents to allow their children to opt out of the mandated state tests.

After reading the third description of state level shenanigans involving for profit charters and high stakes testing I left the following comment on the post regarding the Florida State Superintendent’s high-handedness:

This— and the recent developments in AK and OH– are examples of what could happen if states are given more leeway in determining testing policies. I fear that the Republican’s proposal to “return control over education” to States in response to the RTTT over-reach will give some states more of an opportunity to close schools and turn them over to deregulated for profit schools. The only winners with Obama/Duncan’s RTTT and Alexander’s “States Rights” models are deregulated for profit schools. The losers are democratically elected local school boards and the students they serve.

As indicated in previous posts, I think those of us who decry RTTT’s use of high stakes standardized tests to close schools so that they can be replaced by State level assessments and policies should be careful what we wish for. In addition to the three states mentioned above, there are at least a dozen more who have notions about testing and privatization that are abominable. It looks more and more like the reauthorization is a win-win for the likes of the Walton family and lose-lose for those children who are born in the wrong zip codes.

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