A Voice Of Clarity On Education Reform

In an epic thread populated by some intelligent, some self-important and some cool-headed folks, this:
Tom Conry Says:

I am concerned that the real context of this faux “teacher accountability” movement is rarely if ever acknowledged by its enthusiasts, including the author of this insultingly condescending and adolescent post.

It is no secret that there has been a sustained effort on the part of the right to devalorize and destabilize public education as part of the program toward eventual privatization. This is part of the neoliberal agenda, that there must be nothing that is not-the-market; in Margaret Thatcher’s words, there is no such thing as society, only individuals.

Ever since Milton Friedman’s essay on school choice, the right has been hammering away at these themes, the better to get at the last big piece of virgin public territory left in the American economy. When Lehman Bros. was still a going concern, they had held a yearly conference for at least eleven years on how to profit from the privatization of public schools.

The “blame the teacher” movement is an essential part of that strategy. It is about getting rid of the union, about subverting solidarity, about recapturing control of the shop floor. It is about the necessary Taylorization of learning (more than it is now), of its final re-packaging as a commodity and the transformation of students into consumers.

Teachers are all who stand in the breach between a humanistic classroom and the student-as-product. If history is any guide, teachers aren’t the type to be handed a script and reliably recite it. They claim a special relationship to the student that supersedes their obligation to a test bubble. They claim that their training and expertise and continued presence in the classroom gives them better tools to understand growth and ability than does a battery of standardized tests. They are right.

Do you want to help students learn, really? Are you actually concerned “for the children?”

Honestly, reading many of the posts here over the past months, that is hard to believe. But, let’s say I’m wrong about motivation. Let’s say everyone’s motives are pure.

Then make an equal society. Make a society where my students have the same number of books in their home as do the rich children. Make a society where my undocumented students are not looking over their shoulder. Make a society where my students have not experienced years of racial bigotry. Make a society where my students come to my classroom having had adequate medical care. Make a society where my students do not read in the paper that the school across town is adding Arabic, and their school is cutting French. Make a society where my students have adequate nutrition. Make a society where my students’ parents are employed at wages equal the students on the other side of town. Make a society where my students come to my class knowing the same vocabulary, having the same cultural capital as the kids across town.

Do you want to help? Get to it.

And get off the backs of the teachers, unless you’re there to help out.

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