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The Myth of the Education Crisis

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The Profit Motive

It is that last sentence that should get your attention. The leaders of the “education reform” movement — the Michelle Rhees, the Bill Gateses, the Walton family — have been pushing hard to make education function more like a business, profit motive and all. We are told that overpaid teachers are all that stand between us and a well-educated nation. We are told that more testing (designed by and run by private firms), more charter schools (which can and do earn profits), and Teach for America (a federal program that replaces experienced teachers with recent college grads) can fix all the problems of America’s school.

Among the solutions pitched are using Rosetta Stone language software instead of hiring foreign-language teachers, eliminating classroom instruction in favor of online classes and hiring “data-driven” leaders, who view education not as a mission to impart knowledge to the next generation, but rather a service to be delivered at the lowest-possible cost.

Therein lies the basis for myth of our failing schools. Education is big business. Literally every American is required to get schooling in some form for some time. Today, the vast majority of those students go to public school for free, where they’re taught by teachers whose only goal is to teach. If those students can instead be funneled into for-profit charter schools, supported by government money, they can become the same sort of profit-generators that for-profit online colleges have become.

There are a few things standing in the way of business and all this money, however. Chief among them are the teachers, women and men who chose a career that is not especially lucrative, and indeed is constantly disparaged. The vast majority of teachers decided on their career not because they wanted to get rich, but because they truly want to help children learn. They understand that providing education to every American free of charge is the precise opposite of running education like a business, and thank goodness — because business would spend less time educating the “unprofitable” kids.

We can, and should, continue to strive to improve our education system. We should not be satisfied with an education system that gets diplomas into the hands of only 88 percent of adults. But neither should we pretend that this system is badly broken, or in decline.

Improving educational outcomes does not depend on breaking the unions, or converting our public schools to charter schools. Rather, it depends on our ability to address problems outside of school — poverty, access to health care and child care, access to early childhood education. These are not problems our school system can fix. Indeed, as long as we continue to cut social services, these are problems that will only get worse.

Our schools have done a great job of improving outcomes over the past 70 years, despite a general lack of support. Our schools are not failing. Despite the demands of high-stakes testing, the attacks on educators as a group, the continuing sneering as schools in general, our education system just keeps doing what it’s always done — educating children, as best they can with what little we give them. They don’t deserve a free pass, but neither do they deserve the opprobrium heaped on them. Our education system is better now than it has ever been. For that, educators deserve nothing but respect.

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161 comments

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3:54AM PDT on May 8, 2014

I envisage feeling to have the increase that your knowledge.accounting help online

6:26AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

12:48PM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

they keep raising the bar. kids in 1st and 2nd doing algebra. you heard me. it's sad and insane

1:55PM PDT on Sep 18, 2012

To put it all simply....yes the dumbing down of the next generation.
Republicans are not the only ones who wish this but they are the most noticeable and ACTIVE of this group.
Most folks do not believe this simply because they themselves can see no purpose for it.
It doesn't make "sense" to them. Children need to be able to DO things to work and earn a living don't they...they ask ????
The for profit idea as a negative idea can get through to some but the problem is deeper than either of these two.
Knowledge is NOT what is a stake here......THINKING is.
Being able to perceive, understand, reason, create, etc. and...the biggest of all...
QUESTION PRECONCEIVED IDEAS/THEORIES and..... IDEALS.
They want a NATION OF DRONES !!!!!!
Placid CONTROLLABLE drones.
Think...beehive or anthill.
Perfect example of the 1 % controlling the other millions.
Works great in nature for a few exceptions but it is TOTAL DISASTER FOR HUMANITY !!!!!!
Whether or not our children obtain KNOWLEDGE is not the question...
It is the question of whether or not our children WILL BE FREE !!!!!

5:56PM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

That last comment was to Elaine A, NOT Elaine P. I could not agree more with the latter!

5:53PM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

Elain- Do you even know 55 people? When was the last time you put all 55 of them in one room with you? How did you go about meeting their every need in 50 minute intervals and expect to get all you planned to get done even started by yourself? Unless you can honestly say YES, I have dealt with the individual issues of 55 people in one place at one time IN 50 minutes, daily, then you really should keep your mouth shut. Your ignorance of reality in the class room is beyond reproach. You are a fool. ANd I mean that in the nicest way...

5:47PM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

Taking public money and handing it to parents to use in private schools is what offends me most. As if those private schools have to take the discipline problems, the under privilaged, the mentally challenged, black, hispanic, Jewish, Hindu....no, they don't have to take them, folks. Vouchers are simply sweeping the dust under the carpet- does NOTHING for the kids or their futures.
THe only thing that does is take money from ailing schools so that they will be closed. Those kids move to another school, causing more over-crowding, eventually that school closes, and it goes on and on.
Corps are hoping we dumb down our kids so they don't know the difference between a sallery and $5.00 an hour with no bennies. Hopefully, the kids will be desparate enough to accept jobs that require no thought and deserve no compensation.

3:28PM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

NOTED

12:32PM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

Thanks

3:24AM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

Thanks.

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