Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Book on the Neo-liberal Assault on public education

There is a new book form on the ills that we have been talking about.

As publicized at Mercedes Schneider's blog. What is special in this instance is that the author pulls no punches in identifying the politicians responsible.

David Hursh’s New Book, The End of Public Schools: The Corporate Reform Agenda to Privatize Education November 3, 2015 University of Rochester (New York) education professor David Hursh has a new book coming out on November 23, 2015: The End of Public Schools: The Corporate Reform Agenda to Privatize Education (Routledge). the end of public schools hursh (The Kindle version is already available on Moreover, this flyer from Routledge includes information on a 20 percent discount.) David_Hursh_2014-108-S David Hursh Hursh’s The End of Public Schools is divided into five chapters: Chapter 1: The Demise of the Public in Public Schools Chapter 2: Understanding the Rise of Neoliberal Policies Chapter 3: Governor Cuomo and the Neoliberal Attack on Public Schools, Teachers, and Unions Chapter 4: The Gates Foundation, Pearson, and Arne Duncan Chapter 5: Manufactured and Real Crises: Rethinking Education and Capitalism In this post, I offer a glimpse into each chapter via thought-provoking excerpts that attest to the overall quality of Hursh’s book. (Note: In-text citations removed for ease of presentation.) From Chapter 1, “The Demise of the Public in Public Schools”: We need to understand that the education reforms are not minor changes in how schools are administered, or how tests and curriculum are created, or teachers evaluated. Instead, the current reforms have transformed the purpose of schooling, teaching, and learning. The curriculum is being reduced to what will be tested, teaching to implementing lessons designed to resemble the test questions and often scripted by someone else, and learning reduced to test taking strategies and memorizing for the test. Good teachers are retiring early or finding other jobs and enrollments in teacher education programs are declining. … No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, the rise of charter schools, and the increasing privatization and corporatization of public education are not accidental developments. Rather, I argue that the current debate over the direction of public education exemplifies a larger debate occurring in the United States and globally: On the one hand we can continue pursuing the neoliberal agenda that aims to create a society in which decisions about how we are to live are made through unregulated markets, with a diminished governmental role as what was once public is privatized, schools focus on holding students and teachers accountable [through a system] in which students and teachers are infinitely examined… and the rich and powerful become even more so. On the other hand, we can pursue what I will call a social liberal democratic agenda in which the government plays its required role in the creation and development of markets, provides services that are best provided through the government, creates schools as learning communities that support the development of trusting and caring relationships, and aims to create democratic institutions and structures so that everyone has opportunities to participate in democratic processes. From Chapter 2, “Understanding the Rise of Neoliberal Policies”: …Economic and political power has been concentrated in the hands of the rich, who are unelected and unaccountable, and gain influence through means outside the democratic process. Therefore, as I will describe, we need to develop forms of governance that are more transparent and promote democratic decision-making. …Corporate reformers focus on education as a means of reducing economic inequality to avoid confronting the inequalities created by neoliberal capitalism. Pushing back will require both promoting more democratic forms of education but also working to reduce economic inequality and poverty and provide health care, housing, and other services that improve the quality of life. … …Market fundamentalists promote the idea that societal and economic decisions should be made through markets, rather than the political process. In response, I concur… that all decisions are really political decisions. …Recognizing that neoliberalism is necessarily political and that it privileges some groups over others helps refute the notion that we can and should use markets to make all decisions. From Chapter 3, “Governor Cuomo and the Neoliberal Attack on Public Schools, Teachers, and Unions”: …Over the last fifteen years, corporate reforms have encompassed a widening range of reforms, including evaluating teachers through standardized test scores, privatizing the developing of curriculum and assessments, and promoting charter schools. …These reforms are part of larger effort to turn education into a profit-making industry and are promoted by those who desire to profit financially from the changes. …Understanding the motives behind these proposals that aim to restrict teacher autonomy and open up opportunities to invest in and profit from privatization requires understanding the financialization of education…. …When Cuomo tells us that he aims to destroy the “public school monopoly” because he is the only one that cares about the students… the opposite is the case. His reforms are motivated not by caring about the students but by a desire to provide investment opportunities and tax breaks to the lobby groups and hedge fund managers who have contributed to his and his allies’ political campaigns. … …Contributions [to New York legislators and politicians] come from numerous groups promoting privatization and the corporate reform agenda. Some of these groups, including Education Reform Now, Students First NY, Families for Excellent Schools, and NY for a Balanced Albany, have interlocking boards and shift funds between each another. … Cuomo’s now blatant attack on public schools, teachers and unions has been building steadily over the last year. In this chapter I highlight three events that reflect his increasing support for charter schools and denigration of the public schools. These events include his convening and participating in a three-day retreat in May 2014 on educational reform called “Camp Philos.” His speaking, in October, just ten days before election day, at an Albany rally promoting charter schools…, and his January 2015 State of the State speech….. These attacks have culminated in what Bill Cala calls“a war on teachers”…. From Chapter 4, “The Gates Foundation, Pearson, and Arne Duncan”: …Education policy-making has shifted from the local and state levels to the state, federal, national and international. Two exemplars of international organizations are The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Pearson Education (hereafter Pearson). The Gates Foundation is the largest philanthropic organization in the world, headed by the wealthiest person in the world. Pearson is the largest education corporation in the world. Duncan is, of course, the federal secretary of education. … …They promote privatization and markets to solve what are social and political problems. … …They propose solutions to societal problems that assume that the political, economic and the social do not matter. … …[They rely] on technological solutions. … …They promote private solutions to public problems. … …Proponents of unregulated free markets have an unreasonable faith or quasi-religious certainty that markets can exist without regulation. </blockquote>
See the rest of Schneider's blog for the continuation of the book synopsis.