Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Out of Our Minds: Putting the Public Back in Public Schooling | National Education Policy Center

Out of Our Minds: Putting the Public Back in Public Schooling | National Education Policy Center:

Out of Our Minds: Putting the Public Back in Public Schooling

Public schoolteachers (and even many administrators) are in defensive mode—now even more than ever. They are under attack.
Arguably, the public itself is what’s under attack. So for those who value the public—democracy as shared work for the common good—there’s an alternative, to be described shortly. But first, let’s say clearly what’s wrong with public education at present (after 30 years of neo-liberal reform). It seems that a narrow anti-intellectualism, fueled by and in service to the wealthy elite, has reinforced the sorting function of schooling while simultaneously converting public funding of schools into a source of corporate profit. As a consequence…
  • American schooling is inequitable from top to bottom. The most in need get the least and the most privileged get the most. The poor and darker-skinned get the worst buildings, the worst curricula, the worst teachers, the worst pedagogy, and the harshest discipline.  
  • American schooling is anti-intellectual for everyone. Getting ahead is what’s most important. But because of stringent inequity in the getting-ahead scheme of things, the devil will take the hindmost—that is, poor and darker-skinned children. 
  • Such a system is bad for the public interest and it will eventually victimize everyone. At base, everyone suffers because the current institutional arrangements fail to propagate and sustain the essential tools with which minds function: the capacity to doubt claims, to gather and examine evidence, to sequence thoughts logically, and to act ethically. 
In education (as in healthcare, the military, and the judicial system), the one-percenters are pushing privatization. What rightly belongs to all is being misappropriated. But the rest of us—the 99 percent—can do a lot better. The realm of our interests, after all, is where the common good can and must exist. It’s not private property.
Here’s the idea behind the alternative: Instead of working only to foil the latest predations of schooling enterprisers, progressives should fight to extend the public dominion of education—all of it from preschool through doctoral programs. All of it should be of the public, by the public, and for the public.
Make every school in the US a public school. Nationalize the Ivy League and all the rest.
Provide exactly the same levels of per-pupil support for all elementary schools and all post-elementary enterprises. In other words, disassociate funding level for schooling from the wealth or income of families or the property wealth in communities, and take tuition payments by families out of the equation altogether.
Make all elementary schools (PK-8) small, but staff them well—perhaps with 10 teachers for every 50 students; and create instructional teams by having professionals and community helpers join forces. Test widely to ensure the equity of the K-8 system.
Get rid of all high schools. Even the best are dysfunctional in our experience. After all, there’s a lot of complaint about high school grads not being able to do much. And the same is said more often now of college graduates. We tackle that problem next.
Establish many, many more apprenticeship programs.  They teach things that need doing and provide those who do them a good living.
Force fewer kids to go to college. The current push to require everyone to attend college is misguided. Not all meaningful contributions depend on an academic education that extends beyond early adolescence.
At the same time, however, let everyone go to college! Admit students on the basis of examination. Let Out of Our Minds: Putting the Public Back in Public Schooling | National Education Policy Center:

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