Page 10 -12
America’s schools, both public and private, are the grounds upon which a battle is being waged for the very future of the United States and we are losing the battle. Many communities throughout the nation are perceived to have exemplary schools yet in cities across the United States the percentage of students unable to pass state competency exams ranges from twenty to over eighty percent. More often than not, the lowest passage rates are found in urban public schools. While outperforming their urban counterparts; even our best schools, whether public, private, parochial, or charter are not performing well enough to propel the U.S. into the top-twenty list of developed nations with respect to the performance in math and science. That we rank as high as 15th in language literacy is hardly cause for celebration. That China, arguably our biggest competitor in the international marketplace and also our nation’s largest creditor, ranks first in all three categories should be cause for alarm if not outright panic.
The consequence of this systemic indifference is that the number of children exiting our public schools with little in the way of marketable skills and who are functionally illiterate is growing at an untenable rate. Under the misguided belief that greatest problems with public education in America are poverty, bad schools, and bad teachers and in the wake of such federal initiatives as President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) legislation and President Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” our educational leaders and policy makers are under great pressure to reverse the declining performance of American school children.
Under the leadership of what are thought to be the best and brightest minds from the world of business and public policy think tanks, and with the backing of billionaires and private foundations we are in the midst of a rush toward privatization of our schools, Common Core, charter schools, holding schools and their teachers accountable on the basis of standardized competency examinations, minimizing if not eliminating the role of teachers unions, and the expansion of voucher programs. With full support of federal and many state governments, the sentiment is that private enterprise can do a better job of educating our children than community-based school corporations.
It is even suggested that, with the application of business principles such privatization can even bring an end to poverty, which is widely believed to be the root cause of the problems of education and almost every other social problem in America.
That poverty is an outcome of the evolution of our free-market economy, along with the federal government’s ineffectual tampering, begs the question of why we would ever think privatized schools will somehow create different outcomes. The one thing we can say with certainty is that free market forces will follow the money. This will remain true whether the marketplace is producing goods and services or educating our children. We can also say with some certainty that there “ain’t no money” in the poorest neighborhoods of urban or rural America.