Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Privatization Prophets

The Privatization Prophets:

The Privatization Prophets

JENNIFER BERKSHIRE

For years, millionaires and religious zealots have teamed up to preach "school choice" in an effort to dismantle public education.

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During a recent talk to tech investors and “edupreneurs,” Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, the least regarded of all of the rogues and billionaires who compose the Trump cabinet, returned to a favorite theme of hers.
Apple, Uber, and Airbnb have worked their disruptive magic on one industry after another. Why aren’t our public schools being similarly disrupted? “Who here can pull out their Blockbuster card?” she asked the crowd.
But if the nation’s schools are the equivalent of a kitchen-wall rotary phone or the cab that never comes, DeVos was eager to let the audience know that a quick fix is at hand: school choice. The way to disrupt our educational malaise once and for all is to shift the way we think about education to focus “on students, not buildings. If a child is learning, it shouldn’t matter where they learn.” Even the best schools won’t be the right “fit” for all kids, DeVos noted. “The simple fact is that if a school is not meeting a child’s unique needs, then that school is failing that child.”
Beneath the folksy tech talk, though, lurks a radical vision, one that is taking root in state after state. The ultimate aim of the project of which DeVos is now the most visible face is to remove education from the public system. Those “buildings” of which she speaks so disdainfully, the disparaging “status quo” never far behind, represent the entire architecture of public education, and more importantly, its democratic control.
Diminishing this is key to reaching the promised land of privatization. Stodgy school boards are standing in the way of getting there; so are superintendents and parent teacher associations and teachers unions — above all, the teachers unions.
Unfettering the markets is only part of the vision. Control over the process of socializing children, the near-monopoly domain of a system that is both secular and, as the libertarian right deridingly characterizes it, collectivist, is another prize. And if there is some money to be made along the way, well, there’s nothing wrong with that.
DeVos’s efforts to take public education private are uniting seekers of profits and prophets. Let’s take a look at some of the key battles overThe Privatization Prophets:
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