Sunday, January 21, 2018

AZ: How Privatizing Damages Schools

It can be hard to connect the dots between charter/voucher movement and damage to public education, but here's a video that does a pretty good job in under two and a half minutes. The speaker is the head of the Arizona School Board Association. She's also a retired Air Force Colonel, and she's seen how this business of outsourcing critical support to businesses works out in that setting. Take a look.

Linda Lyon from S4E Media on Vimeo.

We start with some fundamental problems, like the poverty-based inequity already in place by the time students get to school. Private companies promise to fix that, but they can't-- instead they siphon resources from public schools and turn the charge "public schools can't handle the problem" into a self-fulfilling prophecy, in turn creating the widespread morale issue that are chewing away at the teacher supply line. And what is true for Arizona is true for every other state.

I particularly like this line-- as Lyon encourages her audience to get involved in local politics (even-- gasp-- running for school board) she says this:

When we blame government for its problems, we're really blaming ourselves.

Maybe it's because I just got home from the Women's March in Pittsburgh, but that line resonates for me. It is necessary to act.

We're all going to see lots of noise and PR in the next seven days for National School Choice Week, much of it slickly polished PR 9and most of it paid for with tax dollars that were meant to educate children). As all that self-congratulatory puffery comes rolling out, it's good to remember Lyon's final point-- businesses, whether defense contractors, charter management groups, or ed tech enterprises are not responsible to the children or the troops; ultimately, they are responsible only to their shareholders.

That doesn't make them evil, but it does make them lousy people to entrust with the care, safety and education of valuable human beings.

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