Thursday, March 04, 2010

Jose Lara - Republican Education Plan: Same as the Democratic one

Support Parents and UTLA against corporate charter cash cowsJose Lara was kind enough to give me permission to reprint his excellent take on the bi-partisan right wing school privatization agenda, and how it impacts communities of color and poverty.

Dear Social Justice Educators,

I recently ran across an article in Newsweek Magazine titled, How the GOP Sees It: What Republicans would do if given carte blanche to run the country.

As the title suggests, the article was all about what Republicans would be if they were in charge.

The most interesting part of this article was the section on education where Republican authors suggest that, "Since the 1980s, Republicans have led the debate on education. They have introduced some of the most successful reform ideas for improving failing schools: increasing competition and choice, raising standards and expectations, and relying on hard data to determine what works and what doesn't."

Moreover, it goes on further to suggest that, "Education may be the one significant policy domain where the Obama agenda is winning reasonable points from a lot of Republicans."

One of the major problems in our fight against Corporate Charter Schools, Merit Pay, and School Choice is that proponents wrap these moves in the language of civil rights with no real intentions of truly advancing the civil rights of the poor or people of color. Moreover, they use tactics usually used by progressives to further their movement, such as community organizing, rallies and direct action. A prime example of this is the Green Dot Charter School Corporation's funded group "Parent Revolution."

This has confused some progressives and caring educators into viewing these "right wing" reforms are actually progressive reforms. Unknowing parents also accept these reforms because they are unsatisfied with the current school system and they should be. The truth is that for many poor and people of color, the school system IS failing.

The challenge for social Justice Educators is to reframe the debate and suggest feasible alternatives to right wing reforms now championed by Democrats. Secondly we must unmask these so-called "reform" efforts being pushed by Democrats as advancement of free-market ideology that seeks to "WalMart-ize" our educational system. In other words, rally to the cause of the slogan "My child is more than a standardized test score!" Further more we must STOP supporting Democrats just because they likely to win or support some of our lesser important issues.

We can no longer pander to Democrats.

Lastly, as we expose the truth of these false "progressive reforms," we must not forget that we MUST provide true socially just alternatives and true reforms that work. Moreover it must be in a discourse that the community can understand. If Charter schools, Merit Pay, and Closing Down poor performing schools don't work what does?

Below is the text of the Newsweek Article referenced above.


Jose Lara
Social Justice Educator
Santee Education Committee


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