Free Market education reform and the destruction of our public Schools!

By Thomas J. Fiala

Pardon me but I am frustrated beyond belief!!!!  I’m about ready to take a long break from the acid reflux creating world of education reform and trying to help folks understand how we got to this point in the continued assault on our democratic system of locally controlled public school!  So you can take this as a rant or an example of sour grapes – or –  I hope, a post that will allow you to actually understand what Diane Ravitch is now trying to explain!!  However, while I appreciate Diane Ravitch’s mea culpa around 2008 when she had an epiphany that there were forces out to destroy our democratic system of public schools, and that she acknowledged she had actively participated in that attack  prior to her epiphany, perhaps I can speak for many of us who find her new new more crystal clear revelation about the free market to be “kinda?” self-serving.  While some think she is the new savior who will lead the re-taking of our public schools by the PUBLIC, she constantly puts me in a state of angst when it comes to education reform.  Perhaps I am not alone.  Here is why.

Now I am not talking, for example, about her organization endorsing the new ESSA even when some saw the act as a flawed document. That’s bad enough, but it’s even worse than that reality! That’s because this act, when her organization endorsed it, was already a product of exactly what she is now criticizing, which is fundamentally the source of the multifaceted attack on the system of public education Ravitch seems to want to be seen as championing!

Here is what she recently proclaimed as if this is some new profound revelation upon which she is an expert!!  Ravitch states, “As we have seen again and again, the corporate education industry is eager to break into U.S. public education and turn it into a free marketplace, …”

Understand that there were some of us who were accurately seeing this happening “again and again” and pointing this out in more crystal clear and well researched terms before Ravitch now seems to be intent on making this explicit and even before the ESSA was first floated out to the public. You need to read a really good book Diane, since the book had already explained the impact of the free market Friedmanomic neoliberal free market education reform on our democratic system of public schools both before and after your epiphany – and well before the ESSA became the law of the land!!!!   Very importantly, this book was out there prior to you and your group’s jumping on the ESSA bandwagon of which you now seem to be expressing “buyer’s remorse!”  Of course, others were also warning you about this!!!  However, you did not listen it seems.  The question therefore remains, why did you not listen even after your mea culpa epiphany, and even as “The Origins of the Common Core: How the FREE MARKET Became Public Education Policy” (a book endorsed by Susan Ohanian, a long time champion for public schools) made the corrosive effects of free market education reform explicitly clear both after the creation of NCLB (2001) and when you were actively supporting free market corporate privatizers prior to NCLB – and before the creation of the ESSA?  Maybe you just did not know about it?  Maybe you just learned about free market education reform?  I have no clue as to the right answer to these questions.

All I can say is that while no single book totally explains how the “free market” is assaulting our public schools, I believe, and perhaps some might even agree, that the public will never get even close to the real story of how this happened by simply relying on Diane Ravitch!

You know, you can indeed, lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink!!! The question remains, what source of water from which the public is drinking will actually enable the public to understand how the free market neoliberal corporate privatizers began engaging, and continue to engage, in destroying our public schools as even Diane Ravitch now admits is happening.  Problem is – all this was starting to happen prior to 2016, prior to the CCSS 2010, prior to 2008, and prior to NCLB (2001).  Very importantly, during this election year we might ask, “What Presidents were engaged on facilitating these corporate free market efforts to destroy our public schools?”  Answer, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama!  I think the research is clear!!!  But even more importantly, what does the public believe and know about the complex invasive insidious world of corporate free market education reform?

How long will it take for America to wake up???  Diane Ravitch once said that we need to get the story about education reform out to the public!  On this point I would agree!