The item below is by a quite distinguished American educator, W.L. Sanders. It offers brilliant insight into what is being done to New Brunwick schools by the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies. It should be read by every teacher and parent in the province. It should, in particular, be read aloud to the chairman of the district two education council who is, I suspect, playing political games with our taxes and our children.
But now to Mr. Sanders:
Although I’m a career educator, I'm also a skeptical, questioning independent,not a mindless defender of
public schools. I believe our nation’s public education system must bechanged (dramatically so at the secondary level) for the U.S. to retain its economic competitiveness and democratic freedoms.
I worry that many of the changes proposed for schools could be motivated by aims other than economic
or democratic ideals. Simply, a growing number of the changes to the public education system may be motivated by entrepreneurial greed with little or no consideration for the consequences of the changes.
Hypothetically speaking, if I wanted to end public support for schools and privatize the system, Americans
would have to believe privatization was necessary. To justify privatization, the public schools would
have to be discredited.
If I wanted to discredit the public education system,I would:
1. Reluctantly and minimally fund the system and restrict spending flexibility within the system.
2. Mandate punitive accountability standards thatforce school districts to stress the basics at the
disadvantage of elective courses.
3. Legislate burdensome compliance standards thatrequire more administrative personnel to complete.
4. Discredit those who defend the system and those who work to make schools successful.
5. Divide the ranks of school employees by creating suspicion about compensation decisions made by administrators and boards of education.
6. Hype the instances of public school violence,mismanagement, incompetence, and the results
7. Shift blame for violence and poor student behavior to educators.
8. Absorb any discretionary school district funds by creating unfunded or minimally funded
9. Blame teacher turnover on the lack of administrative support for effective classroom discipline
instead of on low salaries and the vexing societal maladies that spill over into classrooms.
10. Minimize the benefits of the teacher retirement systems and increase the cost of school district
and individual contributions to those systems.
11. “De-professionalize” the art of teaching by
promoting a recipe-driven method of instruction that minimizes the importance ofpedagogy and great expectations for all children.
12. Devalue teaching certifications by allowing “just about anyone to teach,” but simultaneously
require all school districts to have highly qualified teachers.
13. Develop legislative incentives that encourage competition among public schools and
minimize the compliance and accountability standards for the competition.
14. Implement a comprehensive strategy, accompanied by unlimited private funds, to continually
tout the advantages of home schooling, private schools, charter schools, and virtual schools.
15. Call attention to political differences between wealthy and poor school districts and encourage
feuding over limited resources.
16. Deny that market forces are driving up administrative salaries or be proactive and blame increasing administrative salaries on incompetent school boards.
17. Disguise the aforementioned actions as school improvement efforts.
These strategies aren’t all inclusive. I’m certain that other public school supporters can add ideas from
their own experiences.
I hope my intention here is clear: I want citizens to be savvy about distinguishing between changes that
could bolster our democratic and economic ideals and support public schools and changes that would harm
public education for enigmatic, avaricious reasons.