Friday, December 24, 2010

Getting to the Crux - or Crud - in Ed Deform

As Jonathan Kozol observed in an article in Harper's:
Some years ago, a friend who works on Wall Street handed me a stock-market prospectus in which a group of analysts at an investment-banking firm known as Montgomery Securities~described the financial benefits to be derived from privatizing our public schools. "The education industry", according to these analysts, "represents, in our opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control" that "have either voluntarily opened" or, they note in pointed terms, have "been forced" to open up to private enterprise. Indeed, they write, "the education industry represents the largest market opportunity" since health-care services were privatized during the 1970s. Referring to private education companies as "EMOs" ("Education Management Organizations"), they note that college education also offers some "attractive investment returns" for corporations, but then come back to what they see as the much greater profits to be gained by moving into public elementary and secondary schools. "The larger developing opportunity is in the K-12 EMO market, led by private elementary school providers", which, they emphasize, "are well positioned to exploit potential political reforms such as school vouchers". From the point of view of private profit, one of these analysts enthusiastically observes, "the K-12 market is the Big Enchilada".
And as a companion piece:

Five Educational Myths (used to fuel ed deform)
  1)  It all happens in the classroom.
      Learning requires reinforcement through homework and studying, otherwise, whatever is taught in the classroom will not be retained. This is one of the reasons for poor test results.
  2) The teacher is the most important factor in learning.
     Student attitudes, motivation and effort are the most important factors in learning. If these factors are lacking, no teacher will be successful. Test scores are primarily a reflection of these factors.
  3)  More money will improve education.
     Education budgets have been continually rising for many years will little results. NYC has an education budget of approximately 20 billion. Federal money has been increasing to schools. Student attitudes, motivation and effort are the factors which money can not buy.
  4) Smaller Learning Communities (including smaller schools) will improve education.
    Smaller Learning Communities have been around since the 1980's with little results. It is a cosmetic fix as class sizes are generally no different than other schools. Smaller Schools (last ten years) only get better results when student populations are changed. In ten years, smaller schools will combine and the large comprehensive high school will return due to poor results and cost effectiveness.
 5) All children must be prepared for college.
   Many students have no desire to go to college and due to their own choices, lack the skills necessary. We see evidence of this in the extremely low CUNY 2 year and 4 year graduation rates. High schools must focus on the needs of these students by primarily preparing them for the workforce.
James Calantjis

1 comment:

  1. Reading this Harpers piece was disgusting thinking that a childs education is a way to make money I am an educator of 20 years and I can't get over the destruction of the teaching profession and education. I teach spec ed self contained, students that come from disfuctional homes, they dont care about school, their parents milk the system. My partner and I work
    so hard to try to teach them the importance of education. You cant buy motivation and you cant teach it. Yes, these students need to be taught skills for the work force
    and how to survive in the world, not Teachers College Reading and Writing!!! Someone tell us how can this be fixed????????????


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