The privatization of public education movement sometimes called “ed reform” has always had one fatal flaw – none of their claims are supported by the evidence. In modern American politics being completely nonfactual is only a minor handicap, especially if like the “ed reform” movement you have money behind your agenda. Just shout louder and bribe anyone who still has their hearing left.
But now we may have finally hit a tipping point due to overreaches by the privatizers in Chicago and elsewhere. The backlash is growing and heightened scrutiny on the central claims of the privatizers is leading people to discover what many already knew, the privatizers are completely wrong about how education works.
According to a new U.S. Department of Education study, “about one in five public schools was considered high poverty in 2011 … up from about to one in eight in 2000.” This followed an earlier study from the department finding that “many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding … leav(ing) students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.”
Those data sets powerfully raise the question that “reformers” are so desperate to avoid: Are we really expected to believe that it’s just a coincidence that the public education and poverty crises are happening at the same time? Put another way: Are we really expected to believe that everything other than poverty is what’s causing problems in failing public schools?
Yes, we are. Not only is that a central claim of the “ed reform” movement, it’s the reason for the movement itself. The Department of Education study demonstrating the link between educational achievement and poverty is just the latest confirmation of what anyone smart enough to poor piss out of a boot knows – it’s hard to focus on your studies if you are dodging bullets and spending most of your time scraping together enough money to survive.
But privatizers do not want to talk about the clearly demonstrated link between poverty and educational performance because the privatizers and their benefactors are rich and talking about inequality and educational achievement might lead to discussions about higher taxes, redistributing wealth or altering the American economy that the rich privatizers are benefiting from. In a real sense then the “ed reform” movement is one of the most cynical political movements in American History. It is a smoke and mirrors campaign to distract concerned parents from what really influences their lives and their children’s futures.