Sunday, October 7, 2007
Competition and Education
The idea that making the public schools more competitive will somehow improve education is as ridiculous as saying having public fire, police and sanitation departments compete with private competitors will lead to better service.
It's like saying that if we allocated public money to send a competing army over to Iraq, led by, say, Haliburton or Blackstone, the war would have run smoother. Oh, yea, been there, done that. See how well it worked out?
Yet that is exactly what has become the national mantra in what should loosely be termed "education reform" – very loosely. When the voucher idea didn't get enough traction, the charter school idea was seized upon. What is behind all of this is the opportunity for a lot of people to shake loose a lot of public ed money and divert it into the private sphere. And that means the undermining public schools.
Richard Kahlenberg makes the point many times in his book, Tough Liberal, how often Al Shanker spoke about the support of rigorous public schools as being essential to the maintenance of a democratic society, ironically, not to be applied to the idea of a democratic union. Doubly ironic, since Shanker was the father of the concept of Charter Schools. I'm not up to that chapter yet, but I will assume at this point that Shanker did not mean them in today's incarnation. What would he think of the 2 UFT charter schools draining public and private money (Broad foundation, etc.)
This post inpired by:
"We seem to live in an era of privatization. Here in NYC the mayor believes in privatizing and so does Joel Klein. There is this mantra that private is better. I think that the Iraq war is the first privatized war. I think that history will show that it was one of the most inefficient corrupt wars ever conducted..," says blogger Life After the Rubber Room.