Cross Posted at MNProgressive Project
Only in the world of modern education reform are folks like Rupert Murdoch, the Koch Brothers, the Walton Family, Bill Gates and right wing groups like A.L.E.C. considered progressive heroes of the underprivileged. The A.L.E.C. Education Agendaand Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst Policy Agenda are almost identical. The wording of the StudentsFirst agenda is more nuanced and subtle, but the legislative objectives are the same.
Probably the greatest thing these paragons of the dominant culture could do to improve education would be to pay their employees a living wage, raising our students out of poverty. WalMart won't locate in Washington D.C.because of their demand for living wages. The Kochs and A.L.E.C. literally want to end the minimum wage. This is the money and the power behind modern education reform. We are supposed to believe these folks have the best interests of the underprivileged at heart?
Meanwhile, they are savvy and cunning enough to put a palatable face on their privilege protection programs. Enter StudentsFirst, Teach For America and Michelle Rhee. Same agenda. Same ideology. They will convince you that the biggest problem with education is just an overabundance of lousy teachers and union due process rights that protect them.
For them, the conclusion is all that matters. Shysters of old would have a conclusion and find or manufacture evidence to support it. Our modern day snake oil salespeople in education reform do not even bother finding evidence. The conclusion is all that matters. It does not matter that we have plenty of states that are "right to work" with no unions and have horrible education outcomes. It doesn't matter that most top performing states have strong unions. Unions, labor, and horrible teachers are the number one problem with education.
Imagine, for a moment, your lovely home you share with 5 dogs. One day you walk in, four of the dogs are loyal, hard working and doing what they are supposed to be doing. One dog is peeing on the brand new carpet. A problem that needs to be addressed for sure. However, at the same time the curtains are on fire, a burglar is breaking in, the basement is flooding, and the mortgage is due. Of all the problems that would have the most impact on saving your home, what would you do? If you were a modern education reformer you would beat the peeing dog. Beat the other four just for good measure. Then bulldoze the house.
In Minnesota we finally have a Governor willing to stand up to the privileged powers trying to take over our schools. He rightfully vetoed over a million dollars in taxpayer money earmarked for Teach For America. The state review board, in accordance with state law, denied a group waiver for TFA's five week training course. Of course our local progressive media are the perfect spokespeople for TFA, Students First, and the destruction of the public school system. Our local media fawn all over the modern reformers while simultaneously criticizing the right wing ideologues behind them. The cognitive dissonance is mind boggling.
Take a look at the type of schools that the privilege protection programs demand for their own kids. Then take a look at the programs they demand for the underprivileged. Draconian discipline at charters that is condemned in public schools. A focus on only math and reading while kids from the dominant culture get a broad based education in the arts and critical thinking. When underprivileged kids need a better school, we close their schools instead of trying to make them better. We make them move. It is easier on us that way.