Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Promise of Public Schools: We Are in Danger of Losing It | Diane Ravitch's blog

The Promise of Public Schools: We Are in Danger of Losing It | Diane Ravitch's blog:

The Promise of Public Schools: We Are in Danger of Losing It


Nicole Hannah-Jones, a staff writer for the New York Times magazine, aptly describes the perilous condition of public education, as the privatization movement moves in to kill public education. The very idea that schools should operate like businesses and that families are “consumers,” eats away at the promise of public education.
In the days leading up to and after Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as secretary of education, a hashtag spread across Twitter: #publicschoolproud. Parents and teachers tweeted photos of their kids studying, performing, eating lunch together. People of all races tweeted about how public schools changed them, saved them, helped them succeed. The hashtag and storytelling was a rebuttal to DeVos, who called traditional public schools a “dead end” and who bankrolled efforts to pass reforms in Michigan, her home state, that would funnel public funds in the form of vouchers into religious and privately operated schools and encouraged the proliferation of for-profit charter schools. The tweets railed against DeVos’s labeling of public schools as an industry that needed to adopt the free-market principles of competition and choice. #Publicschoolproud was seen as an effort to show that public schools still mattered.
But the enthusiastic defense obscured a larger truth: We began moving away from the “public” in public education a long time ago. In fact, treating public schools like a business these days is largely a matter of fact in many places. Parents have pushed for school-choice policies that encourage shopping for public schools that they hope will give their children an advantage and for the expansion of charter schools that are run by private organizations with public funds. Large numbers of public schools have selective admissions policies that keep most kids out. And parents pay top dollar to buy into neighborhoods zoned to “good” public schools that can be as exclusive as private ones. The glaring reality is, whether we are talking about schools or other institutions, it seems as if we have forgotten what “public” really means.
Public schools were supported by all, because they were for the benefit of all, whether or not they used the schools themselves, whether or not they had children.
Early on, it was this investment in public institutions that set America apart from other countries. Public hospitals ensured that even the indigent received good medical care — health problems for some could turn into epidemics for us all. Public parks gave access to the great outdoors not just to the wealthy who could retreat to their country estates but to the masses in the nation’s cities. Every state invested in public universities. Public schools became widespread in the 1800s, not to provide an advantage for particular individuals but with the understanding that shuffling the wealthy and working class together (though not black Americans and other racial minorities) would create a common sense of citizenship and national identity, that it would tie together the fates of the haves and the have-nots and that doing so benefited the nation. A sense of the public good was a unifying force because it meant that the rich and the poor, the powerful and the meek, shared the spoils — as well as the burdens — of this messy democracy.
The New Deal fostered a strong public sector, but it also was ridiculed and condemned by a small minority who resented the effort to include everyone in good works. This minority sowed the seeds of the libertarian, free-market, anti-government movement that is now controlling the federal government and many states.
She reminds us that the movement away from public schools began with segregationists who wanted to keep their all-white schools. Betsy DeVos speaks for them when she lauds school choice.
Even when they fail, the guiding values of public institutions, of the public good, are equality and justice. The guiding value of the free market is profit. The for-profit charters DeVos helped expand have not provided an appreciably better education for Detroit’s children, yet they’ve continued to expand because they are profitable — or as Tom Watkins, Michigan’s former education superintendent, said, “In a number of cases, people are making a boatload of money, and the kids aren’t getting educated.”
Democracy works only if those who have the money or the power to opt out of public things choose instead to opt in for the common good. It’s called a social contract, and we’ve seen what happens in cities where the social contract is broken: White residents vote against tax hikes to fund schools where they don’t send their children, parks go untended and libraries shutter because affluent people feel no obligation to help pay for things they don’t need. “The existence of public things — to meet each other, to fight about, to pay for together, to enjoy, to complain about — this is absolutely indispensable to democratic life,” Honig says.
If there is hope for a renewal of our belief in public institutions and a common good, it may reside in the public schools. Nine of 10 children attend one, a rate of participation that few, if any, other public bodies can claim, and schools, as segregated as many are, remain one of the few institutions where Americans of different classes and races mix. The vast multiracial, socioeconomically diverse defense of public schools that DeVos set off may show that we have not yet given up on the ideals of the public — and on ourselves.


Make no mistake: Betsy DeVos is a dedicated enemy of public schools. She threatens to destroy the educational system that produced the most powerful economy on earth. She must be resisted at every turn.The Promise of Public Schools: We Are in Danger of Losing It | Diane Ravitch's blog:


NEPC Bunkum Award for Shoddiest Think Tank Report of 2016: And the Winner is…..
Every year the National Education Policy Center announces the winner of its not-at-all coveted Bunkum Award for the shoddiest think tank report of the previous year. This year’s winner is the Center for American Progress, for its report purporting to show that the Common Core standards raise the achievement of poor students. Winner of NEPC’s 2016 Bunkum Award\ BOULDER, CO (PRWEB) FEBRUARY 23, 201
Lily Eskelsen Garcia Writes a Letter to Betsy DeVos
Betsy DeVos called Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association. She said, let’s talk. Lily wrote her a letter laying out some conditions before talking or meeting. Read Lily’s letter here. http://lilysblackboard.org/2017/02/betsy-devos-called-sent-letter/ Here are her conditions: “It’s important for educators, parents, and communities to know where you stand on some
Combat Hero Blasts Trump’s Attacks on Free Press
The commander of the Navy Seal raid that killed Bin Laden denounced Trump’s absurd claim that the press is “the enemy of the American people.” Retired Admiral William H. McRaven said that Trump’s charge that the free press “the enemy of the American people” was “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime . “William H. McRaven, a retired four-star admiral and former Navy SEAL, slammed Preside
The Promise of Public Schools: We Are in Danger of Losing It
Nicole Hannah-Jones, a staff writer for the New York Times magazine, aptly describes the perilous condition of public education, as the privatization movement moves in to kill public education. The very idea that schools should operate like businesses and that families are “consumers,” eats away at the promise of public education. In the days leading up to and after Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as

YESTERDAY

Trump Bars CNN, New York Times, and Politico from Press Briefing!
Trump continued his unprecedented, full-force assault on freedom of the press by barring CNN, Politico, and the New York Times from Sean Spicer’s press briefing. This is the behavior of a fascist. The media should respond by boycotting his briefings until all credentialed media are welcome. They should stop covering the clown until he respects the Constitution.
ALERT from North Carolina!
A notice in my email: Progress NC Action Diane – We’re days away from losing 6 years of NCAA tournaments and the $250 million in economic activity they’ll bring to our cities, counties and state. It’s as if the state legislature, led by House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Phil Berger could not care less. And now conservative politicians in Raleigh have rolled out a so-called “compromise”
BREAKING NEWS: NAACP Calls for International Boycott of North Carolina
NAACP NATIONAL PRESIDENT CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS AND NC STATE PRESIDENT AND NATIONAL BOARD MEMBER REV. DR. WILLIAM BARBER TO ANNOUNCE BOYCOTT AT FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE AT NC STATEHOUSE The NAACP Board of Directors announced a resolution calling for an international economic boycott of the state of North Carolina in response to actions of an all-white legislative caucus, which unconstitutionally d
Bannon Promises “the Deconstruction of the Administrative State”
Trump’s brain, who is known as Steve Bannon, said many ominous things yesterday when he spoke at CPAC. He promised a daily fight in the Trump battle to remake America into something different. Most ominous, he said the goal was “the deconstruction of the administrative state.” What does this mean? No more environmental regulation? No more gun control? No more regulation at all? The rollback of th
Please Help Educate Betsy DeVos!
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos repeats the hackneyed and erroneous claims that American public schools are failing. She says the Obama ideas (testing, charters, and accountability) have failed, so she wants to impose her own ideas, which sound no diffferent from the failed ideas of the status quo. American schools could use some support, not another four years of carping and disruption. I exp
Kevin Carey: Researchers “Surprised” by “Dismal Results” from Vouchers
Kevin Carey is the director of education research at the New America Foundation in D.C., a think tank funded by tech magnates. He writes in the New York Times that researchers are reacting with surprise at the “dismal results” from vouchers. I am not sure why this is news, because vouchers have been tried out since 1990 in Milwaukee and elsewhere and have been subject to numerous evaluations, alm
Tennessee: Legislators Propose Vouchers for Shelby County, One of Nation’s Most Fiscally Distressed Districts
A bill was filed in the Tennessee legislature to establish vouchers for students in Shelby County. It would divert $18 million from the district, which is already one of the most fiscally disadvantaged districts in the nation. The voucher program would deepen the fiscal distress of the district. With the amount of the vouchers, students would not be accepted at first-rate private schools but at l


Education Law Center: America’s Most Fiscally Disadvantaged School Districts
The Education Law Center lists the most fiscally distressed districts in the nation. You will note that one of them is Shelby County, Tennessee, where the Gates Foundation and Stand for Children expended a great deal of effort to 
 The Promise of Public Schools: We Are in Danger of Losing It | Diane Ravitch's blog:


Latest News and Comment from Education

LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION

LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION
EduBloggers