How Much Democracy Is Too Much?
The march of market-based education reform has come in lockstep with an assault on democracy. From Philly to Detroit to Chicago, the repeated policy message has been that Some Folks really shouldn't have democracy, that Some Folks need to have things decided for them. Of course, Some Folks invariably turn out to be non-wealthy, non-white folks. If you are poor and black, democracy is apparently a luxury that you do not need.
Reformsters have made the case for this silencing of black and brown voices in a variety of ways.
Democracy, they may argue, is not really democracy because school board elections are dominated by teachers unions. Here'sTerry Moe, at the time a Stanford professor and fellow at Stanford's conservative Hoover Institute, "explaining" the issue way back in 2006:
School-board elections are supposed to be the democratic means by which ordinary citizens govern their own schools. The board is supposed to represent “the people.” But in many districts it really doesn’t. For with unions so powerful, employee interests are given far more weight in personnel and policy decisions than warranted, and school boards are partially captured by their own employees. Democracy threatens to be little more than a charade, serving less as a mechanism of popular control than as a means by which employees promote their own special interests.
This refrain has been echoed down through reformster annals-- school boards are the puppets of the CURMUDGUCATION: How Much Democracy Is Too Much?: