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Answer Sheet
Posted at 02:04 PM ET, 08/15/2011

The corporate lobby and public education

My colleague Steven Pearlstein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist, wrote a scathing piece in The Wasington Post that has resonance in today’s corporate-driven education reform world.

The headline: “Blame for financial mess starts with the corporate lobby.”

Here’s part of the column, in which he talks directly to “Mr. Big Shot Chief Executive:”

What started as a reasonable attempt at political rebalancing turned into a jihad against all regulation, all taxes and all government, waged by right-wing zealots who want to privatize the public schools that educate your workers, cut back on the basic research on which your products are based, shut down the regulatory agencies that protect you from unscrupulous competitors and privatize the public infrastructure that transports your supplies and your finished goods. For them, this isn’t just a tactic to brush back government. It’s a holy war to destroy it — and one that is now out of your control.

Right he is.

No, I am not suggesting that all school reformers are out to privatize the school system, but some of them — including some with a great deal of money and influence — are, and the effort is no longer on the fringes.

The public education system — the nation’s most important civic institution — is not a business and shouldn’t be run like one.

Phony business-like accountability measures (such as judging everything on a single measure, a standardized test) are being applied to schools, where they don’t actually hold anybody really accountable, and public money is being funneled into privately run ventures that, again, have less real accountability than traditional public schools.

Vouchers and for-profit charter schools aren’t going to help fix the system that educates the vast majority of students.

Are traditional public schools failing kids? Many are. Are there ineffective teachers in schools around the trouble who have no business being in a classroom? Of course.

Is the fix for all of this using principles adopted by American’s business leaders? Not a chance.

Read Pearlstein’s entire column here.

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By  |  02:04 PM ET, 08/15/2011

 
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