School Reform in the US and Italy: A Critical Analysis
It is very disturbing to learn that the same attack on teachers, public schools, and public education that has taken place in the US in the last 20 years is also taking place in Italy. In the US, this attack has been bi-partisan, endorsed by Democrats as much as Republicans, and implemented as aggressively by Barack Obama as it was by George W. Bush. It has been enthusiastically promoted by foundations and non profit organizations financed by some of the wealthiest people in the country such as Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family, Michael Bloomberg, along with new billionaires in the hedge fund sector. Initially, teachers and advocates for public education were caught by surprise by the sheer force of this attack. In the last 8 years, they have started to fight back, with resistance taking the form of the Save Our Schools Coalition, the Badass Teachers Association, United Opt Out and Network for Public Education, along with a wide array of local resistance groups. But the amount of money and political muscle the self styled “School Reformers” have at their disposal makes resistance difficult, especially since the Reformers have co-opted the language of Social Justice and Civil Rights to argue for policies which increase testing and reduce teacher power and autonomy. They have argued that it is “bad” or selfish teachers who are responsible for the persistence of racial and economic inequality in school performance, if not in the whole society.
Why has this top down, data driven approach to education policy, which devalues teachers and teaching gained so much currency? One part of it is sheer economic interest. The education market in the US is enormous, with total expenditures exceeding 600 billion dollars. Capturing this market for private investment is an irresistible temptation for economic elites who have seen opportunities in the housing market dry up with the onset of the global financial crisis. Opportunities to invest in With A Brooklyn Accent: School Reform in the US and Italy: A Critical Analysis: