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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Oct 03rd 2009, 10:52 PM
That might be a possibility. The GOP language strategist, Frank Luntz, warns about using the words "school choice", and tells the GOP what words to use.

13. School Choice - Parental Choice/Equal Opportunity in Education

NEVER SAY: School Choice
INSTEAD SAY: Parental Choice/Equal Opportunity in Education

Americans are still evenly split over whether they support "school choice" in America’s schools. But they are heavily in favor of "giving parents the right to choose the schools that are right for their children
," and there is almost universal support for "equal opportunity in education." So frame the issue right and you get the support you need.

Luntz 2006: 14 Words Never to Use

It's the same thing, they just changed the words around.

Maybe there is something to those words. We hear them everywhere now. Not good to use the words "school choice." Good to use the words "equal opportunity" or "parents choose right schools for children."

It would not be surprising if it were code. We have been victims of right wing code words on women's rights, gays, and minorities for years. "Family values" covered all of those groups. And like the drive to privatize Social Security...words matter a lot. Bush tried "private accounts", and it made people nervous. He switched to "personal accounts", but we caught on to that as well. Now some in our party are trying "universal savings accounts"...that should not work either.

School choice can be had strictly within the traditional public school system, just do away with districts. There would be many ways to have a choice of schools in the public sector. So there is more going on than just "choice." It seems to mean a choice of a private school, home schooling, or charter schools.

Not surprisingly the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation are in the forefront on this issue of "school choice."

The Movement to Privatize Public Schools in the U.S.

"School choice" is the public code word for the political movement to privatize public education in the U.S., but the movement's real agenda is made clear by its ideological vanguard. The Cato Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank, explicitly advocates privatization in its school choice policy statement:

"Classical liberals seek education policies that will empower parents and clear the path for entrepreneurial activity. We envision a day when state-run schools give way to a dynamic independent system of schools competing to meet the needs of every American child. ("Education and Child Policy: School Choice")"

The progress of the school choice movement in the U.S. is monitored and reported on annually by The Heritage Foundation, another conservative Washington-based think tank that is at the vanguard of the privatization movement. Its 2005 progress report is celebratory:

"Parental choice is growing. Six states and the District of Columbia offer government scholarships (vouchers) to attend a private school of choice; six states offer tax credits or deductions for education expenses or contributions to scholarship programs; 40 states and D.C. have enacted charter school laws; 15 states guarantee public school choice within or between districts; 21 states have comprehensive dual enrollment programs; and home schooling is legal in every state. ("Choices in Education: 2005 Progress Report")

Left unsaid by both Cato and Heritage is that the money is coming from traditional public school systems...and as the money is shifted away from public schools, more is demanded of them.

In Florida, last I heard my tax money was sending around 40,000 students to private schools with vouchers...many of them religious schools.

Here is more about who is behind this powerful movement to turn the public schools over to private entities. From the LA Progressive:

Who Is Behind the Privatization of Public Education?

Greedy corporate interests that are politically well-connected, that’s who. Just as our health care system has been crippled by insurance companies that deny treatment so they can divert medical care dollars to generate corporate profit, our public education system has been targeted by corporate bandits that are increasingly successful at siphoning off education funding for their own profit. They are in fact destroying public education in order to grab the tax dollars that support it. This did not happen overnight.

First it was necessary to destroy the reputation of public schools and the teachers who give their heart and soul to the young people of our nation. So, while everyone was giving lip service to the idea that “children are our future” public schools have been starved for funding and teachers (and our unions) have been bashed at every opportunity.

The next nail in the coffin was spurious testing. Remember No Child Left Behind? Wonderful slogan, bad public policy.

Then those schools can be reconstituted under NCLB – turned over to a charter operator who can fire all the teachers and abolish union contracts that might have protected any teacher brave enough to speak out against abrogation of students’ and families’ rights, higher class sizes, pay cuts or loss of benefits. Union-busting is profitable for the corporations.

Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, was closing many schools in Chicago and turning them over to private operators. He has militarized many schools.

Obama's agenda for education

President-elect Obama has appointed Chicago Public School CEO (yes, his title was CEO), Arne Duncan, to the position of Education Secretary in the next White House. Does this represent “hope” or “change”? Or, is this a betrayal of public education?

Arne Duncan as CEO of Chicago Public Schools practiced a market-based approach to “reforming” the educational system, including outsourcing and privatizing public schools, militarizing public schools, greatly narrowing the curriculum and use of the “No Child Left Behind Program.”

During the time that Arne Duncan was CEO of Chicago Public Schools, public schools have been turned over to private operators – usually in the form of charter and contract schools – at a rate of about 20 per year. Privatizing schools results in union-busting since charter and contract schools operate union-free. As one of the last major district initiatives under schools chief Duncan, it was announced this month that 6 Chicago public schools will be closed in a move that could affect as many as 25 schools through closings and “turnarounds” (firing all the faculty and privatizing the school). At a recent public hearing, parents, teachers and community leaders, accused the district of closing schools only to reopen them as schools under private control and without the same accountability as regular district schools. Parents expressed outrage that now that classroom sizes were smaller, 20 rather than 40 students in a classroom, school authorities want to close the schools.

Chicago Public School teacher Jesse Sharkey states, “Duncan has resuscitated some of the worst ‘school reform’ ideas of the 1990’s, like firing all the teachers in low-performing schools (called ‘turnarounds’). At the same time, he’s eliminated many Local School Councils (LCSs) and made crucial decisions without public input . . . Charter schools and test-score driven school ‘choice’ have been watchwords of Duncan’s rule in Chicago” (Sharkey 2008).

Some Chicago teachers are organizing to prevent more school closings. Seems they are not satisfied with their union leaders, a situation which is quite common now. The carrot being held out by Arne Duncan for those schools systems which go with his mantra of more testing and more charter money, big money. School and union leaders will swallow the bitter pill to take the money.

We don't hear stuff like that in our media, though. We only hear praise and glory of these school systems and their former leader. That is how the media works.

Chicago Teachers Organize Against Privatization

As the CEO of Chicago Public Schools heads to Washington to run the nation’s schools policy, a new reform caucus of Chicago teachers is glad to see him go. But with their union in chaos, and city leaders hell-bent on privatizing schools, what’s a teacher to do?

The Caucus of Rank and File Educators formed this summer to fill that void. Frustrated with the union leadership’s inept response to Mayor Richard Daley’s privatization scheme, CORE and its community partners called a city-wide public hearing on the plan January 10, attended by more than 500 students, parents, community members, and teachers representing 81 schools.

The organizers are trying to head off a Board of Education announcement of 20 school closings and 12 “turnarounds,” a euphemism for school privatization that entails firing every teacher in a building and rehiring new staff.

There was a very good article at Truth Out last December. It pointed out the direction we are heading in no uncertain terms.

Obama's Betrayal of Public Education? Arne Duncan and the Corporate Model of Schooling

Right-wing efforts to disinvest in public schools as critical sites of teaching and learning and govern them according to corporate interests is obvious in the emphasis on standardized testing, the use of top-down curricular mandates, the influx of advertising in schools, the use of profit motives to "encourage" student performance, the attack on teacher unions and modes of pedagogy that stress rote learning and memorization. For the Bush administration, testing has become the ultimate accountability measure, belying the complex mechanisms of teaching and learning. The hidden curriculum is that testing be used as a ploy to de-skill teachers by reducing them to mere technicians, that students be similarly reduced to customers in the marketplace rather than as engaged, critical learners and that always underfunded public schools fail so that they can eventually be privatized.....

Barack Obama's selection of Arne Duncan for secretary of education does not bode well either for the political direction of his administration nor for the future of public education. Obama's call for change falls flat with this appointment, not only because Duncan largely defines schools within a market-based and penal model of pedagogy, but also because he does not have the slightest understanding of schools as something other than adjuncts of the corporation at best or the prison at worse. The first casualty in this scenario is a language of social and political responsibility capable of defending those vital institutions that expand the rights, public goods and services central to a meaningful democracy. This is especially true with respect to the issue of public schooling and the ensuing debate over the purpose of education, the role of teachers as critical intellectuals, the politics of the curriculum and the centrality of pedagogy as a moral and political practice.

There really has been no party standing up for public schools. That is the sad truth. The group that sets Democratic policy..the DLC...sold out to charter schools years ago. In 2000 Al From, then leader, made their stance very clear.

"New Democrats" Call for School Choice

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) is now calling for reforms including school choice and merit pay for teachers.....America is a tale of two public school systems: one that works reasonably well, although it could certainly be better, and one that is by almost any standard a disaster," says From.

.."From argues that the public school system too often serves the interests of teachers and administrators at the expense of the students themselves. It is a "monopolistic" system that "offers a 'one-size-fits-hardly-anyone' model that strangles excellence and innovation" he says.

Characterizing charter schools as "oases of innovation," From writes, "The time has come to bring life to the rest of the desert-by introducing the same forces of choice and competition to every public school in America."

There is no one powerful voice defending traditional public education. Ronnie Reagan started the verbal onslaught on teachers and public schools during his first term. The media took up the attack.

There was no one with a strong voice saying wait a minute now...our country is strongest with a good public education system not subject to the whims and ideology of outside groups.

There is no one saying it now.

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