[Susan notes: The writer asks for answers. What do you think
the chances are that any will be forthcoming?]
Submitted to President Obama but not published
While some of your change is in the best interest
of Americans, some is not. Your approach to
education is neither change, nor in the best
interest of the people. Privatization of
education, is the point at which the public good,
and corporate greed diverge. Those who think
of themselves as CEO's are part of the problem,
not of the cure. The misuse of testing data, the
sham called merit pay and increasing the number
of private/charter schools, are the children of
the same system which is based the destruction of
our public education system.
Testing as it is now used in Florida(FCAT) and
most of the other 50 states, is punitive in
nature. Failure is punished while success is
rewarded. Testing in public education should
serve the same master as it does in medicine.
Find the problem, and work toward the cure. The
simple fact is, test scores are more related to
socioeconomic conditions than to success in the
Merit pay for teachers is, now, and has been a
javelin aimed at the heart of teacher solidarity.
The parts of an education must be a cohesive
whole, not one in which, relative merit is based
on some administratively concocted formula. The
physical education or music teacher does as much
to educate a child as the English or math
teacher. To separate such departments is to
shred the fabric of teaching the whole child.
Inevitably the idea of merit pay creates an
elites society on the one hand, and a culture of
the flawed on the other.
Less affluent children do make poorer grades on
standardized tests than the wealthy. Educational
researchers have promulgated this fact time and
again, but the right wing of our government has
chosen to ignore that point, and press fiscal
rewards upon those for whom success on
standardized tests is a part of their
socialization process. Rewarding the wealthy,
and punishing the poor is not one of the pillars
upon which you built your campaigned.
Allowing private schools, or for that matter
charter schools to take the place of public
schools, will result in leaving the masses in the
backwater of the society we hope to build. Those
who want to denigrate the public operation of
America's education system, point to the post
office as an example of failed government
industry. I would hasten to point out that, out
postal system is the wonder of the world. It is
a common carrier for all the people. Where else
may a citizen, for $.42, send a letter, or other
document across 3000 miles, and have an
expectation that it will arrive undamaged in less
than three days.
I challenge the person who reads this letter, to
present it to our president. I am sure the
mechanical return message will flash across the
screen as soon as my fingers have left the keys;
however, this problem demands an answer from
someone who cares; real answers for real problems
may be the best way to go, Mr. President.