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Every Teacher Who Declares She's Not Political Should Read This

Posted: 2015-12-21

The End of Public Schools: The Corporate Reform Agenda to Privatize Education
by David Hursh
138 pages

David Hursh provides the overarching theme of his new book in the title: The End of Public Schools: The Corporate Reform Agenda to Privatize Education. Hursch offers documentation of the oozing together of corporations, private foundations, and governmental agencies with the result of privatizing public education.

Although traditionally a favorite claim in the faculty room has been a loud "I'm not political," books like Hursh's provide evidence that this cop-out is not only ignorant; it's shameful. Teachers must come to grips with the political reality that began in the late 1980ies when Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton held hands with IBM chief Lou Gerstner to deliver the Business Roundtable agenda.

Since then, the drumbeat to take education policymaking away from local school boards and embed it in federal mandates and financial coercion has been steady and increasing in volume.

In Chapter 4, titled "The Gates Foundation, Pearson, and Arne Duncan," Hursh details how the wealthiest person in the world is in synch with the largest education corporation in the world and the US Department of Education in pushing a neoliberal agenda for public education.

Hursh points to a number neoliberal positions shared by Gates, Pearson, and Duncan, positions that affect every public school child in the country:

ΓΆ€ΒΆ Promoting market solutions to social problems

ΓΆ€ΒΆ Promoting solutions that ignore economic inequality

ΓΆ€ΒΆ Putting huge emphasis on technological solutions

ΓΆ€ΒΆ Promoting private takeover of public institutions

As an example, Hursh points to the Gates Foundation involvement in Chicago. From promoting and then dropping small schools to embracing Renaissance 2010 (which included closing 100 schools and reopening two-thirds of them as charters), the Gates plan was adamant about excluding teachers from the planning because that "would be like having the workers run the factory." This public school closing and charter renaissance netted $100 million from the Gates Foundation.

What started in Chicago has spread throughout the country. Following Gates money through a love of KIPP schools and Common Core, we see the emphasis on top-down administration and a standardized curriculum as the key to excellence: excellent teachers and excellent students. For a look at how Gates is controlling curriculum, I suggest putting LearnZillion and Student Achievement Partners into a search on my website. And don't overlook the AFT's disreputable Share My Lesson, which also involves Gates money.

Traditionally, teachers insisted, "This, too, will pass." We figured all we had to do was shut the classroom door and wait for the pendulum swing. I hope that books like this one will convince a great number of teachers that this neoliberal plan for the schools has deep roots and won't go away without a fight. Resilient and determined teachers can't just shut their doors and outlast the pollution. This book will help teachers understand what's at stake and why we must stand up and fight.

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