On The Public Humiliation Of Teachers

...The discourse of these so-called educational reformers is simplistic and polarizing. It lacks any understanding of the real problems and strengths of public education, and it trades in authoritarian tactics and a discourse of demonization and humiliation.

For example, rather than educate the public, "Waiting for Superman" carpet bombs them with misrepresentations fueled by dubious assertions and denigrating images of public schools and teachers. Beneath its discourse of urgency, altruism and political purity parading in a messianic language of educational reform and a politics of generosity are the same old and discredited neoliberal policies that cheerfully serve corporate interests: privatization, union busting, competition as the only mode of motivation, an obsession with measurement, a relentless attack on teacher autonomy, the weakening of tenure, stripping educational goals of public values, defining teacher quality in purely instrumental terms, an emphasis on authoritative modes of management and a mindless obsession with notions of pedagogy that celebrate memorization and teach to the test.

High stakes accountability and punishing modes of leadership, regardless of the damage they wreak on students and teachers, are now the only game in town when it comes to educational reform - so much so that it is called revolutionary. At the same time, Gates and his billionaire friends gain huge tax write-offs from the money they invest in schools, while at the same time reaping the rewards of controlling institutions funded by public tax revenues. Gates and his cronies use these tax deductions to control public schools and the tax paying public, in this case, loses valuable tax revenue, and cedes control of publicly funded schools to the rich and powerful corporate moguls. This isn't philanthropic, it is morally and politically irresponsible because it represents a form of hostile generosity that serves to expand the power of the corporate rich over public schools, while offering the illusion of enriching public life.(10)

It gets worse. Many hedge fund operatives and banks invest in charter schools because they get windfall profits by "using a little-know federal tax break" called the New Markets Tax Credit "to finance new charter-school construction."(11) Once the buildings are finished, they are rented out to public school districts at exorbitant prices. For instance, one Albany "school's rent jumped from $170,000 in 2008 to $560,000 in" 2010....

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