The McEducation of the Negro

by theschoolprincipal on January 4, 2011


Read this powerful January 3, 2011 post entitled The McEducation of the Negro. [My apologies. Another broken link I need to track down.] It was written by Natalie Hopkinson, who writes for theRoot.com

I’m sure you’ll recognize that she’s talking about the wisdom (or not) of  turning schools into businesses and giving parents “choice.” Choice and competition are synonymous with President Obama’s prescription for improving schools:  the creation of more and more charter schools.

Victoria Young, a parent who has her own blog, is preparing a mailing to newspapers in every state, hoping to galvanize other parents into action against the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. She reminds us that No Child Left Behind is a 2001 reauthorization of the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

According to Victoria, the purpose of ESEA was ” to strengthen and improve educational quality and access to opportunities. Supportive funding was targeted at educationally deprived children.”

Because ESEA and NCLB have as their goal “equity of opportunity,” we need to pay special attention to voices from the very communities  initially targeted by Congress, voices you can hear in Hopkinson’s post. These voices, the voices of parents, can tell us whether or not NCLB is working.

In my opinion, ESEA made much more of a positive impact through its Title 1 funding than most people realize —  as long as administrators spent the money wisely.  Did ESEA/Title 1 cure all ills and transform American education? Of course not.There is no quick fix for improving America’s schools. But ESEA’s latest reincarnation, No Child Left Behind, — along with Race to the Top — has done little to improve schools in the very communities Congress wanted to help. Instead, NCLB has done much to hurt them. And . . .  NCLB has hurt schools across the country that had been doing well before NCLB was implemented.

As for charter schools, here’s an excerpt from a post by Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System, in edweek.org:

“As the states remove their caps on charter schools, the entire sector will expand rapidly and become the Wild West of entrepreneurship. As more students are handed over to the private sector with public dollars, there will be financial scandals. It is inevitable. Greed is a powerful motivator.

During the 1930s, educators debated whether the schools were reflections of society or whether they might lead the way to social change. I think it is pretty clear that the so-called “reform” movement reflects the dominant values of an earlier decade. Remember how policymakers became excited in the early 1990s by the idea of reinventing government, outsourcing, and deregulation? The formula for success, they believed, was choice, competition, and accountability. Charter schools were born in this era and are only now becoming the Great Hope for the Future of Education, the darling of the big foundations and the Obama administration, as they were for the Bush administration.

Look what deregulation did for our nation’s financial institutions. Over the past year or so, we have seen the ruin that unchecked greed unleashed on our society. Let’s see what it does to our nation’s public education system.”

And thanks to Nancy Flanagan, here’s a link to more food for thought on the subject of school reform and vulnerable communities. Read New York Times op-ed columnist, Nicholas Kristof, in his January 1, 2011, post: “Equality, a True Soul Food.”

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