Sunday, September 8, 2013

School reform goals that (amazingly) gag even Governor Markell

The so-called Center for Education Reform has lauded Jack Markell for being an educationally reform minded governor, but apparently fears that he is being held hostage by the forces of darkness (that would be you, apparently, John Kowalko, and John Young, and kilroy, and pandora, and me) from going far enough in the "right" direction.

Thus Delaware is only in "the middle of the pack" on education reform.

What is interesting is that today's WNJ shows us the breadth of the education reformers' ultimate goals, and this is fascinating both for what is said and what is not said:

The report offers Delaware a to-do list if it wants to follow those states’ lead: 
• Create a voucher system that gives public money to parents who want to send their kids to private schools. 
• Create an independent charter school authorizer outside of the Department of Education. 
• Make it easier for more charter schools to open in the state. 
• Allow state capital money to pay for charter school construction and renovations. 
• Place more emphasis on students’ test scores in decisions on teacher pay and layoffs.
Please note what's NOT in any of the goals for school reform:

There's no mention of the need to provide an education for ALL students, regardless of how well their parents make choices, or how poor they are, or what color their skin is, or where they live.

There's no acknowledgement of the fact that the overwhelming impact of this sort of reform is to transfer state money away from certain populations and toward others.  The winners happen to be those who have more money, and who vote.

This CER agenda is nothing more and nothing less than another despicable piece of political pandering to pay off middle-class white suburban voters and continue the disenfranchisement of the people who aren't in order to maintain political power.

Carried to its ultimate end, it will result in a public school system that would make the proponents of Plessy v. Ferguson proud.

I have Libertarian and libertarian-leaning friends who do not truly understand this issue.  They see charter schools and school choice and vouchers as somehow being innovative strategies to break the power of the State over education.

That's utter horseshit.

What the education reform agenda amounts to is using your tax dollars to pick winners and losers among our children (this sounding familiar now?) and to create a massive new middle-class entitlement program (charter and/or "private" school education).  The price tag on this program will only go up, and you will be eventually told that only a Federal takeover of education and education funding (with attendant higher taxes) can sustain it.

If you don't believe me, ask yourself what the endgame is.  Ask yourself what constitutes "victory" for the reformers.

They will be honest enough to tell you that they are committed to redefining the purpose of public education away from "educating all children" to "making sure all parents have choices."

Since they can no longer raise taxes, and since they've raised the "defense" budget to the point where there is actually no money in most government budgets, the only option left is to transfer the money to their most loyal followers vis a vis a restructuring of public education.

(Oh, and a note for other "special needs" parents like myself, John Young, Dana Garrett and thousands of Delawareans:  You and your children are not part of the reformers' vision AT ALL.  Educating special needs children is expensive, and playing on the fear of middle-class parents that their own healthy kids will be harmed by mainstreaming is a card that has been played already.)

I don't actually know if, in his heart of Wall Street hearts, Governor Markell would ultimately like to move toward vouchers, or an independent charter approval system.  His political acumen tells him that he is currently pushing the envelope as far and as fast as he can, and the pushback last session in the General Assembly has to tell him that the momentum for extravagant reforms is slowing.  My best guess is that he will eventually decide that the last "big" thing he can reasonably get in office is "equity" in capital funding for charter schools.

I hope he's wrong, and that the line can be held there, because capital funding for new charter construction and renovation will in fact be disastrous not just for the entire system, but will cause your taxes to skyrocket with no return like you wouldn't believe.


Nancy Willing said...

whoot! yup, once again, you beat me to a punch this week.

Hube said...

Once again, great stuff here, Steve. :-)

downwithabsolutes said...

Thank you for this, Steve.

delacrat said...

Thumbs up, Steve.