Yesterday I wrote a diary about how a school district is privatizing public education using the Disaster Capitalism method. I wrote about for-profit organizations contracting with school districts.
Today, instead of focusing on Capitalism, I will write about Disaster.
This time of the year I like to re-read Onward! : Twenty-five Years of Advice, Exhortation and Inspiration from America's Best Commencement Speeaches. Not only does it provide a nice modern history lesson, I like to think of what I would say to graduating high school seniors as the schoolyear comes to a close.
This year I have decided that I would say "Sorry.". You, the class of 2008 have had to bear the brunt of of The Disaster created by No Child Left Behind.
Roy Carter speaks for me:
During my forty-year career in public education,...
We must address the problems that the No Child Left Behind Act and its misguided emphasis on testing over teaching has created for our teachers, administrators, and students. I firmly believe that No Child Left Behind is the cruelest thing to happen to public education in my entire career. The challenges we face and the failure of this act have led some to throw up their hands and walk away from our students and public schools. In Congress, I will reject any attempt to funnel public funds to schools that are exempt from public policy. I will work to replace No Child Left Behind with a fully funded program developed by leading educators, to ensure that every child in America has a fantastic public education. I will also make sure that teachers and schools have the tools and the local control they need in order to be successful.
Not only have you, Class of 2008, had to sit and take standardized test after standardized test - many school districts have their own in addition to the state-mandated - but you have had to watch your school be bombarded with Fear. Fear that you will let your parents down. Fear that you will let your fellow students down. Fear that you will let your teachers down. Fear that you will let your community down.
Yet, you, the class of 2008 still managed to have the courage to continue your studies. You were able to cling together despite much effort being made to separate you by religion , gender, ability and who knows what else? I could Google more demographic separations but you get the picture.
America owes you an apology, Class of 2008. We
took the NCLB bait bickered and bickered with each other about the need to "fix" public education while you dutifully went about your studies. Some of you lucky ones even discovered how much you enjoy studying Math and Science. Others? Not so lucky. Your favorites like music or foreign language or whatever were a casualty of The Disaster. It may be difficult for you to Capitalize on your talents and interests since you were forced by someone sold the Fear Card but good luck.
I would like to end this diary with an excerpt from Lee Iacocca's 1986 Commencement Speech at Duke University:
Think for yourselves. Let me repeat it: just think for yourselves.
This isn't the first time you've heard it, but it's the best advice you'll ever get from me or anybody else.
By the way, you might just find it tough advice to take these days, because thinking for yourself doesn't seem to have much status anymore. Today, no matter what the problem, somebody has already worked out the solution and packaged it.
If you're too fat, you can buy a thousand books to tell you how to get thin.
If you want to get rich, there are a million foolproof schemes.
And just think how luck you people are - you've even got Dr. Ruth!
Yes, Class of 2008, think for yourself but watch out. When some cry "we must teach them how to think in our schools" what they may really mean is "we must teach them to think like me" in our schools.
But, hey, I'm OK with teaching logic provided it's free and accessible for all children in a public school!