Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The "School Choice" Reformers Never Promote

In the third chapter of Diane Ravitch's new book "Reign of Error" she points out that what Reformers call "Choice" is really privatization. The measures they promote- vouchers and charters schools, all work toward undermining public schools systems. They NEVER promote measures that enhance parent choice WITHIN public school systems. There are two such options which I think BATS should embrace:

1. Radically expanding the number of public "portfolio schools" which are exempt from state and national tests and which rate students on the basis of assessments of their classwork developed by teachers. There are several such schools in New York City which are highly successful, but their number has been capped by the city and state departments of education. Why not give teachers and administrators a chance to create many more such schools all over the country, as an alternative to the test centered schools following a one size fits all curriculum. That would give parents a real choice while allowing teachers to maintain the union protections they have in public schools that are lacking in most charter schools

2. Create, or recreate the vocational and technical high schools that were once a fixture in every American city, and give them full or partial exemptions from state tests. Let these schools to be targeted to growth areas in the American economy as well as sectors where high wage jobs have existed for a long time- construction, automobile and elevator repair, computers and the like. These schools would give parents a most welcome alternative to schools which feature little more than test prep and no direct job preparation. And would create positions for a new generation of teachers who would love their jobs.

Think about these options. If you were a parent, wouldn't you want to have choices like this for a child

Then how come no major Reformer is pushing for them? Makes you wonder, doesn't it, whether as Diane Ravitch reminds us, what they call choice really means Privatization and Profit.


Anonymous said...

Indeed, the one choice so-called reformers refuse to provide is an amply resourced neighborhood public school.

Unknown said...

Michael, exactly. The corporatists avoid talking about resources by masking their barbaric plans behind training- we all need more 'training'

Case in Point: Kevin Huffman's TN DoEd is spending money to train teachers & higher ed profs in reading instruction: Here's the e-mail UT Knoxville received 1 day before the registration deadline. (One training day is on Halloween!)

This year, the Tennessee Department of Education is offering reading courses to 10,000 teachers across the state. The department has also created three reading classes for teacher education professors in order to ensure alignment between what teachers are learning in their in-service professional development training and what prospective teachers are learning in teacher preparation programs. These classes are focused on current, research-based strategies and practices for teaching reading in the primary grades. The classes are free of charge and open to faculty at all higher education institutions in Tennessee, including private colleges/universities and community colleges. The first two classes in October, November, and December will be four hours each (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.), and the last class in April will be six hours long. These classes will be offered throughout Tennessee and will replicate the ones that are being offered to teachers across the state. Each class focuses on a different area of reading instruction. Attendance in all three classes (October, November, December, and April) is expected.

The kickoff dates for Class 1 and the locations are:

· Oct. 31, 2013 in Knoxville,

· Nov. 7, 2013 in Jackson, and

· Nov. 8, 2013 in Nashville.

The dates for the other classes are:

· Dec. 11, 12 and 13 (Class 2); and

· April 2, 3, and 4 (Class 3).

The specific locations for the December and April classes will be announced soon.

Registration will open today (Oct. 7, 2013) on and can be accessed at under “Higher Ed Reading Course”. Registration will close once classes are filled.

Dr. Candice McQueen

Location on TNCore website:

Attachment(s): None
C&I Point of Contact: Etta Crittenden –

Date of communication: - October 1, 2013; Higher Ed List Serve – upon approval