Listening to politicians speak about education is a practice in ironic vacancy. It is the easiest topic for practice in shining your own apple. There are few missteps a slick politician can slip on when challenged by questions such as, “do you support arts in the school, and how will you expand the supporter?” I was thirsty for just one of the candidates to respond with a resounding “NO”. But instead I was fed a lucky charms buffet of delicious gold gilded placebos of no nutritional value.
The placebos prescribed for ills not even existing or misdiagnosed.
Beyond the emotional response I have to people thirsting for votes by discussing “our children”, there is an intellectual, academic response that I need to share.
The following all come from the book, “Educating the ‘Right’ Way” by Michael W. Apple
“I pointed out earlier that the role of the state have been altered along the lines of a radical redefinition of of the boundaries between public and private. We can think of this as involving three strategic transformations. First, many public asset have been privatized. Public utilities are sold off to the highest bidder; schools are given to corporation to run. Second, rigorous competition between institutions is sponsored so that public institutions are constantly compared with supposedly more efficient private ones. Hense, even if schools and other institutions are still state funded, their internal procedures increasingly mirror those of the corporate sector. Third, public responsibilities have been shifted onto the informal sector, under the argument that the government can no longer afford the expense of such services.” (p.29)
“…growing empirical evidence indicates that the development of “quasi-markets” in education has led to the exacerbation of existing social divisions surrounding class and race…The result is even more educational apartheid, not less.” (p.41)
“Further, as in the research in England, in nearly all the countries studies the market did not encourage diversity in curriculum, pedagogy, organization, clientele or even image. It instead consistently devalued organization, clientele, or even image. It instead consistently devalued alternative and increased the power of dominant models. Of equal significance it also consistently exacerbated differences in access and outcome based on race, ethnicity, and class.” (p.77)
It is due time that teachers and those who actually value the possibility of education go to the storehouses of courage, recall the historical leaders of social justice that inspire us, and stop cowering in the face of a political dialogue that has been framed by corporate interests and can only lead to greater inequity. Political wind can be changed, and politicians simply use that to lift their wings to the fly to the promised land of public service. Ah the irony once again, those who seek public office do so by tearing down public institutions. I can only wait until cities have CEOs rather than Mayors, appointed by the selected board of directors who hold the credentials that designate them the representatives of us, the public.