Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Wal-Martization of Education

Check out this piece in the Black Commentator. The market-based money-making, profit-seeking agenda is laid bare in this, as well as the Saltman piece mentioned below. -Angela

  • The Wal-Martization of Education

  • This message is from Monty Neill at Fairtest. We all need to check out the following book on the story of Edison schools:

    The Edison Schools: Corporate Schooling And The Assault On Public Educaton (2005) Routledge
    by Kenneth J. Saltman

    The story of the Edison Schools is a gripping tale of money, kids, and greed. What began in the 1980s as an enterprise to transform public schools quickly became a troubled business battling falling test scores and dismal stock prices. How did the most ambitious for-profit education company in U.S. history lose respect, money, and credibility in such a short time?

    Revealing how American McEducation went from glory to crisis, The Edison Schools tracks entrepreneur Christopher Whittle's plan to introduce a standardized nationwide curriculum and cutadministrative waste.
    Education specialist Kenneth J. Saltman finds that the critics' predictions came true in Edison schools across the country: Experienced teachers left in droves, students were virtually given answers to standardized tests to drive up scores, and difficult students were
    "counselored" out.

    Saltman uses the Edison saga to highlight key debates about the role of schools in American democracy and illuminate broader issues of privatization and cultural diversity. Showing how the profit motive helped created "Edron," the book will force teachers, parents, students,and general readers to reconsider the role of private money in this critical part of our public life.

    * A full expose of the Edison schools, the largest attempt ever to privatize public education
    * Uses the schools to studylarger issues ofaccountability, trust in our institutions, and the social role of publiceducation
    * Uncovers the reasons for the collapse of Edison, from falsified score reports and accounting scandals to a near-takeover by right-wing radicals

    Kenneth J. Saltman is the co-editor of Education as Enforcement, and author of Collateral Damage and Strange Love: Or How We Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Market.


    1. As a professional teacher and a taxpayer I am not surprised that the people running my state and my country are perfectly willing to gamble on such programs as Edison schools. I have known about Edison for some time; they are failing to meet even minimum standards, they are hostile to professional teacher organizations and at the end of the day they are only responsible to stockholders.
      Education is not a business, it is the very basis of what transforms us from unknowing children to knowledgable adults. It is what we base most of our professional standards on and it is what will make or break us as a nation.
      I can not concieve a worse scenario than the one that is being played out in our state, much less the nation (NCLB?)If No Child Left Behind is such a great program why the incredible backlash? Why aren't the people that work in education being consulted about what they feel might be better policy and legislation? I will never tire of petitioning the government to listen to experts nor will I willingly let them dismantle a system that with the right kind of attention will serve countless generations of deserving children. The government will fall all over itself to save a braindamaged woman in Florida, but they won't do a damn thing towards protecting our most precious natural resource, our children.

    2. I have heard something about Jeb Bush borrowing from the teacher retirement system of Florida in order to pay for Edison Schools' services--does anyone know if this is indeed the case?

      Jane Saunders

    3. Thanks for letting us all know about, what appears to be an important book.

    4. I agree with McMurrey on the importance of consulting professionals or experts on any legislative issue. This is especially important with education since teachers (the experts on education) are sure to advise the legislature in the right direction.
      Teachers have no financial incentive to give any one piece of advice over the other because they are terminally bound to a low-paying salary in our country. This is not the case with other experts like medical doctors and scientists who are often rewarded (monetarily) for advocating for a certain drug or policy. Despite this, doctors and scientists seem to be more freely consulted by the legislature on medical issues than teachers are consulted on education issues. It seems like a no-brainer to me when all the teachers are advocating for the same thing.

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