President Reagan’s 1983 Commission on Excellence in Education developed, “A Nation At Risk” that indicated, “our society is presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people.”
Today, another rising tide threatens the future of public education. That tide is privatization disguised as reform.
Bills and policies to “reform” education by changing the dates of school board elections, or changing school governance (eliminating the right to elect a school board) — as state Rep. Nancy Landry’s bills suggest — or increasing the testing of students, or supporting Common Core, or ultimately privatizing the public school system into groups of publicly funded for-profit schools have been written or endorsed by groups as diverse as the American Legislative Exchange Council and Stand For Children, once funded largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
These types of bills now being considered in Baton Rouge are less about improving education and more about facilitating agendas designed by national organizations.
Privatization is not reform, and Common Core is not an educational panacea.
It is estimated that at least $7 million in local tax dollars will be going to private charter school businesses next year. That dollar figure will increase in succeeding years, and there is no accountability to the public for the expenditure of those tax dollars or for the academic performance of those schools.
The Chamber of Commerce and state business groups LABI, and CABLE have embraced many of these ” reforms.” When and how these groups became experts in the field of education is a conundrum.
The legislative agenda of our local Chamber of Commerce includes “school governance,student/teacher accountability and testing, Common Core standards, and charter schools.” These are similar to the agendas of Stand for Children and ALEC.