Friday, November 9, 2018

Reformsters vs. Democracy

Many of us have said that one aspect of school reform is not simply about fixing schools, but is an attack on democracy itself.

Occasionally a leading reformster will just come right out and say it. Reed Hastings (Netflix) has been exceptionally clear that the whole elected school board thing has just got to go. Visionary CEOs shouldn't have to answer to anybody-- not employees, not unions, and not voters. Mayoral control has been a popular method for cutting elected school boards out of the loop.

Now Reformsters have spoken plainly in Arizona. Out in Koch country, the attempt to expand education savings accounts, a form of super-voucher, was thwarted by Save Our Schools Arizona, a true grassroots group that forced the ESA question to be decided by the voters. The voters hated ESAs by a two to one margin.

Did ESA hackers say, "Well, the people have spoken"?

Of course not.

“Empowerment Scholarship Accounts help families create a custom educational experience— one as unique as each child. Unfortunately, school choice opponents were successful in denying this option to all Arizona families, regardless of income,” Goldwater Institute President Victor Riches said in the statement.

“Across the country, ESAs have garnered the support of Republicans and Democrats alike because they provide a commonsense way for families to help pay tuition, provide tutoring, and purchase the tools they need to give their students the best chance at success in school and down the road.”

Well, no. Unless by "school choice opponents" he means "two thirds of the voters." ESAs have "garnered" support of some politicians in six states (and one, Nevada, created a program and then refused to fund it).

The voters of Arizona have been remarkably clear in rejecting the expansion of a system that already proved to be rife with unaccountable wastage of taxpayer money. The elected officials of Arizona, including their aggressively pro-privatization governor, can either listen to the voters, or they can listen to the deep-pocketed Reformsters. They can show themselves to be elected officials in a democracy, or the bought-and-paid-for hirelings of wealthy oligarchs.

Here's hoping they choose democracy.

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