I am a retiring teaching and I am worried. Why?
What I AM worried about is what will happen to our most needy of student populations. Will a public education be available to those kids? Is our education system morphing into a place where education will not be the great equalizer. A place of opportunity.
Recently, the New Orleans Public Schools shuttered the last five of its traditional public schools. That’s right, New Orleans schoolchildren will be attending privately run charter schools. Parents must apply to the schools, negotiate school lottery procedures, arrange transportation, and hope against hope that the entity overseeing their child’s education is not just in it for profit.
Originally conceived as places of educational innovation – education laboratories – 20 years ago when the first charter opened in Minnesota, corporate America has discovered a new profit center. Corporations running charters, such as SABIS, do a disservice not only to the independently-run charters who do encourage innovation, but to students and families.
The reasons for corporate American upping their involvement in education have nothing much to do with altruism. Read here about tax incentives and profit center opportunities that have made support of education a less-than-noble effort by corporations looking for a new way to make money.
Public education has been my passion for the last 20 years. From where I sit, public schools are the opportunity center for anyone who wants to take advantage of it. Call me naive.
Without an equalizing opportunity afforded to everyone, our society as a whole will suffer. Will the rest of education go the way of New Orleans? Time will tell, but the increased influence of corporations over education and education policy do not make me very hopeful. We test our (human) students over and over and look at the data as if they are widgets on an assembly line. Education power brokers expect results no matter whether the student is hungry, or has been witness to domestic violence that morning. Quality control, people.
My hope for the future? That our leaders grow a backbone and with some conviction, somewhere, somehow stop this nonsense before the disenfranchised of our society have less hope of achieving the American Dream.