Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Collateral Damage of "School Reform"

The term "School Reform" has, until recently, possessed great cache among policy makers.  Many cities, such as Philadelphia, and  many states, such as New York, have created "School Reform Commissions" to revitalize, and in some cases replace, allegedly "failing" public schools.  But in implementation,  the term"School Reform" has  been a convenient euphemism to hide policies which privatize public education and institutionalize a program of national testing and teacher evaluation. 

Behind the benign rhetoric lies a history of disastrous consequences for students, teachers, families and entire communities where "School Reform" - a toxic mix of testing, school closings, charter school preferences, and data driven teacher evaluations- has been implemented.

Here are some of the major examples of the Collateral Damage experienced on the ground from School Reform from No Child Left Behind ( 2001) through
Race to the Top. Please feel free to list others in the comments section below:

1. The termination, marginalization and forced retirement of hundreds of thousands of veteran teachers, whose accumulated skills were not only a resource to students, but to recently hired young teachers

2.  The sharp reduction in the perecentage of teaches of color in virtually every American urban center where school reform policies have been implemented, from Washington, to Chicago, to New Orleans, to Los Angeles.

3.  The destabilization of low and moderate income urban communities through school closings, leading to consequences ranging from rising crime rates to real estate speculation and gentrification.

4. The deprofessionalization of teaching and the proliferation of mental health issues for teachers as a result of intrusive, unscientific, and humiliating teacher evaluation protocols, leading to the lowest levels of teacher morale ever recorded.

5.   The humiilation and marginalization of Special Needs and ELL students through the forced participation in developmentally inappropriate tests

6.    The closing of arts and music programs because of the expenses incurred as a result of high stakes testing.

7      The elimination of recess and even physical education programs in high needs schools as a result of the panicked use of all available school time for test prep

8.     The across the board transformation of instruction to test prep, making a whole generation of students, in every social category, hate going to school.

9.  The transformation of teaching into a revolving door profession, with a majority of teachers staying less than five years

10.  The erosion of local control of public education as state and national mandates control more and more of what is taking place in public school classrooms.

11.   Profiteering and influence peddling on a grand scale in the distribution of test contracts, charter school licences, and consulting services for
"school transformation."

   School Reformers say public education was in "crisis"  before they took over.  It is in more of a crisis now.