To me, “reform” has become a somewhat dirty word. When I wrote the words “education reform” in the title of my first blog it felt like stepping into a world that is fighting against my ideals. This is because the privatization of public schools has been the hidden agenda of the reform movement and now, with Trump’s education pick, is the not so secret agenda.
If you’re not familiar with the demands on the public education system and the great successes of the system it might be easy to buy in to the rhetoric of the reform movement: “U.S. Schools are Failing!” A Gallup poll conducted in June 2016 asked people to report how much confidence they have in various American public institutions. The largest group of people, at 40%, reporting having some confidence in public schools while 29% had very little confidence and 14% had a great deal of confidence in public schools (Norman). We see our education system as a system of “they” and not us, a public system. This gives us allowance to dismiss the issues of the system because we are reluctant to be a part of it.
If you care about an honest and open democracy, you should care about this. If you care about what our children learn, you should care about this. If you want our communities to belong to the people and not corporations, you should care about this.
Each citizen of this country has a stake in each child’s success. The way we educate our younger generations has an impact on our nation’s success both in terms of standard of living and quality of life. We may be raising global citizens but we should still instill some level of national identity and pride in our students. The school system should provide a center for open dialogue, inclusiveness, and achievement that breaks down barriers.
When did we lose our sense of civic duty and community living? Public education is dependent on the communities that support them and the schools in turn provide benefit to the community.
Many local communities are forced to financially support schools through district referendums. It is not ideal to fund a school locally but at least it keeps the school accountable to those around it. A corporation running the same school owes the community nothing.
To privatize education would be to give up an important piece of our democracy.
We must remain in charge of our own education. Change is still needed and change will look different in different parts of the nation but as a whole the citizens of the United States must fight to keep the public in public education.
Write to your senators and representatives; tell them not to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary. Call them, write a letter, or even show up at their local office. They should represent us and in order to do that they need to actually hear from us!
If you’re not sure how to contact your representatives click here.
If you’re looking to read more on this topic read this.
If you’re looking for a deeper dive into privatization read this great piece by Diane Ravitch.