Friday, June 24, 2011

  Paul Karrer,                             How Did We Get Here?

 The public has gone from venerating teachers to vilifying them  .How did things get to this  state of affairs?
Answer – a confluence of impacts.
   1. The influence of those who reject public education on religious grounds. Those who say “government” is the problem.  Many who hold this belief system despise science, evidential revelation, and secularism. Quite simply they “believe” the world is 6000 years old and they reject any and all worldly proofs in conflict with their vision. They were among the first to begin home schooling. They feared contamination and resented paying taxes for the general good.
  2. Bill Gates - An expose by the Los Angeles Times revealed that a major education reform force for well over a decade has been Bill Gates. And all of this has been under the radar.  The Gates foundation desires to overhaul schools and the philosophies running them. His ideal envisions a market based education system. He has created entirely new advocacy groups which smell like grass root organizations but in fact they are Gate’s initiated. “His foundation is paying Harvard-trained data specialists to work inside school districts, not only to crunch numbers but also to change practices. It is bankrolling many of the Washington analysts who interpret education issues for journalists and giving grants to some media organizations. “. Over the next five or six years the foundation expects to pour $3.5 billion more into education, up to 15 percent of it on advocacy. Few policy makers, reporters or members of the public who encounter advocates like Teach Plus or pundits like Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute realize they are underwritten by the foundation.  “It’s easier to name which groups Gates doesn’t support than to list all of those they do, because it’s just so overwhelming,” noted Ken Libby, a graduate student who has pored over the foundation’s tax filings as part of his academic work.

Mr. Gates later acknowledged that it achieved little, but in the years since, the foundation has helped leverage sweeping changes. Its latest annual report, for instance, highlights its role — often overlooked — in the development and promotion of the common core academic standards that some 45 states have adopted in recent months.
3. A diminished middle class. A group which believed it had a social contract (and a future) with America. This middle class is evaporating as jobs disappear and livable wages are wratched downward or eliminated entirely in the name of fiscal soundness. And in hand with this loss (and debatably related)  has been an epidemic growth of  the desperate, poverty-infused, underclass. A group which teachers find more and more represented in their classes.
4. The Federalization of education. It is ironic that the party which screams so much about government interference had President Bush as their cheerleader (pun intended) and architect for the Federally imposed No Child Left Behind.  This contagion set the stage for Federal regulations, intrusion, and brutal punishments for impossible standards (ex. 100% of all children will be proficient by the year 2014) President Obama has done even more damage with his Federalized education contest -  Race To The Top.
5. Market based out comes based on data systems sold and lobbied for (Hi Bill).  An end to a full, deep, rich educational experience that included art, music, latin, science, and social studies. They are shadowy ghosts no longer heard of in public elementary schools.  Much of this rested on the shoulders of those who believe schools need to be training camps for employers.  They are private education business opportunists who promote private schools, vouchers schools, and the testing industry. All of whom have no stake in the public good and much to gain by its’ piecemeal privatization.
Paul Karrer is a teacher in Monterey County.

        
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