Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools?
According to Susan Ohanion [sic] and Kathy Emery, the phrase "failing public schools" has a lot in common with "war on terror": get the media to parrot these phrases often enough so that you can't hear "terrorism" without thinking thereís a need for war, and you can't hear "public schools" without thinking they are failing and need to be fixed. This language
works: ordinary people without an ax to grind, people who haven't set foot in a school for thirty years or more, will testify to failing public schools. This technique forestalls debate about what matters in public schools because the corporate and political elite have already defined both the problem and the solution. We have all become prisoners of their rhetoric, and itís time we break the chains that bind us.
The beginning of education for democracy is to call things by their right name. And then to stand by those words. In the hands of the U.S. Department of Education, the very title "No Child Left Behind," hijacked from the Childrenís Defense Fund, has become the moral equivalent of the Pentagonís "pacification." Of course, other verbal pyrotechnics are at work here -- what Orwell called doublespeak.
No Child Left Behind means the opposite of what it says. It is a plan not to help every school succeed but to declare public schools failures and accelerate the use of vouchers, turning public education over to private, for-profit firms. It is also a plan to blame the victim: the government declares itís leaving no child behind, so if a kid ends up on the streets after tenth grade, it must be his fault.
Thereís nothing new about politicians using slippery language to round up and herd the citizenry. Every time we hear the ubiquitous ed-bizspeak (schools as data-driven institutions, data-driven reform, total data control, and data-driven decision making) we must stop and challenge it.
Stop and ask about the numbers game that obscures the very real needs of real children.
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