reformers' resumes

Many Pushing to Change Public Schools Attended Private Ones - NYTimes.com It is an interesting article in several ways: the list of so-called reformers who attended private schools is long. (Note that Michelle Obama is a public school veteran) and the link of reform to increased reliance on testing. God help us as the expanding upper class seeks to improve things: with the collapse of the real economy, they are literally manufacturing jobs for themselves out of others' failures.  Perhaps some will someday assess the situation and realize they are part of the problem and work alongside the rest of us to change the algorithm. 

Are private school kids socialized to accept measuring and control?
Many people who come from good schools, who got good test scores and went to good colleges and got good jobs and generally adapted and thrived, cling to extending opportunity to everyone because they see themselves as successful and accept that their environment was a good one. The measuring and control they experienced was mitigated by so much that they underestimate the impact of many policies in other environments.  We don't need opportunities: we need good outcomes across the board and good quality experiences every day for every child. No one can design that into a system: you can only try to make your system supportive of people and humane.  Hopefully, people will respond to those values because human beings learn naturally and enjoy learning when not harassed or manipulated or judged.

Let's make the public schools public 
Community school activists are up in arms and I am hoping they first understand and then build on homeschooling activism to make the schools into voluntary, community-based learning centers. It isn't a dream: solar cells really do run on the sun and schools really can be voluntary and functional. Both movements share an emphasis on families and kids that makes testing and factory-based approaches obsolete. The net worth of building positive social structures and networks, within and without schools, will increase everyone's intelligence without any tests at all.

Real institutional change will require grasping the changing nature of social institutions and moving ahead of where we were 150 years ago. The spontaneous citizen movement of homeschooling is already on the ground making change happen.  Indeed, homeschoolers have changed compulsory attendance laws in 50 states. Homeschoolers are educating kids without almost all of the things these quants insist are vital, like organic agriculture, that does just fine without any chemicals at all, something many found pretty unbelievable at first. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...
Charter schools are the mainstream buzz approach and the corporate stranglehold on the economy extends into our schools as well. Lots of corporations benefit from these trends (money in charters goes to even bigger top salaries) while families lose.  Poor people are completely written off or criminalized. Kids are on meds, colleges are too expensive and wasteful of time and energy for most working class US citizens, colleges are increasingly filled with middle-class kids from other countries, everywhere teachers are laid off, and truancy prosecutions expand and bizarre so-called theft of education crimes are appearing as wealthy districts raise their taxes (the ones they don't pay to the Feds anymore) to keep their districts funded.  Democracy in Washington grows weaker by the hour as millionaires and lobbyists, who went to private schools, earn good money trying to fix what they don't understand, remember, or know.
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