We cannot mention enough the concern we have that those that believe in the free-market, to the extent that capitalism has become an ideology rather than an economic system, have taken over the education reform movement. We have economics professors publishing studies that garner the majority of the media's attention, we have corporations funding the charter school movement, and we have our government catering to the business world and including them, while excluding parents, students, and teachers, when it comes to to the education reform debate.
It is our heartfelt belief that the direction education reform is taking has been generated by education myths that are rooted in fear, and the steps being propagated, based on these myths will destroy public education and create a new system of educational segregation in this country; reinforcing the roles of privilege and subordination that already exist.
Parents and Educators who choose to send their children to charter schools and/or work in charter schools are often making a tough choice that they believe is best, and may in fact be best, for them or their child. We, in Red Hook, know many parents who struggled with the decision to put their child in PAVE charter school, and only did so because their other choice, due to zoning, was a failing school. This dilemma is heartbreaking in that all children should have a successful public school they can send their child to, but it is also short-sided. What we take in the short run, another option to counter failing schools, we will pay for in the long run. In this country we always seem to be playing catch-up, we always seek the quick fix. Charter Schools are the new quick fix, and the intended (or if you want to give the benefit of the doubt- the unintended) consequences of this movement will be catastrophic to students without fierce advocates, it will hurt children with special needs and language barriers, and it will damage our collective culture- our society.
All children deserve a great public school option in their neighborhood and that is where the dollars and education reform efforts should be focused. There is more at play here than simply offering parents choice- if what was really desired was successful public schools for all, we wouldn't be promoting a system that will benefit children who win a lottery and hurt the children who don't. We wouldn't be promoting a system that is funded by those with other motives- to privatize education- who believe in the free market with such conviction that capitalism is their operating ideology, even when it comes to social policy.
We have seen in the last year the economic consequences of less regulation. We have seen the consequences of allowing capitalism to go unchecked in our economic policies... why would anyone want to see this repeated with our eduction system? Why, especially, knowing what we know now, are we allowing the corporate world to drive education reform? 1% of the country owns 90% of the wealth and therefore the perceived power, but last we checked this was still a democracy- we have the power of our vote, the power of our voice, and the power in our numbers. Education reform isn't 'sexy', but it is the most important issue in terms of the preservation of our culture and the progress of our citizenry. It is time for parents, educators, and children to mobilize and, even though it is not asked for, make their voices heard... stand up, take back our schools and our neighborhoods and say no to capitalist ideology being the driving force behind education reform.