Feb
04

Because It’s Not About Education – It’s About The Money

By

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held an education “academy” for legislators this week at a resort in Florida. Last week, ALEC released its 17th Report Card on American Education.  Dustin Beilke at Truthout explains the ALEC report card this way: “Imagine getting a report card from your teacher and finding out that you were graded not on how well you understood the course material or scored on the tests and assignments, but rather on to what extent you agreed with your teacher’s strange public policy positions.” Better yet, imagine L. Ron Hubbard writing your child’s lesson plans.

Beilke explains that rather than actual educational achievement, ALEC bases its grades on how well states “retain ‘effective’ teachers and fire ‘ineffective’ ones,” as well as on success in expanding homeschooling, alternative teacher certification, charter schools, private school choice and virtual learning, and union busting.

ALEC’s education bills encompass more than 20 years of effort to privatize public education through an ever-expanding network of school voucher systems, which divert taxpayer dollars away from public schools to private schools, or the creation of new private charter schools with public funds, and even with private online schools (who needs actual teachers when you can have a virtual one?). The bills also allow schools to loosen standards for teachers and administrators, exclude students with physical disabilities and special educational needs, escape the requirements of collective bargaining agreements and experiment with other pet causes like merit pay, single-sex education, school uniforms, and political and religious indoctrination of students.

States where students score well on tests but where ALEC’s legislative agenda around school choice, charters, merit pay, de-unionization and alternative certification have not yet taken hold get low grades. States where elected officials are gung-ho for ALEC’s agenda but the students are not faring so well are still graded generously.

For comparison, look at the grades awarded for student performance on the the Department of Education’s National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) exam. Beilke continues,

Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Kansas, New Hampshire and New York comprise the top 10 states in NAEP performance. Among them, only Colorado is among the 13 states ALEC gives a B or better on its report card. Vermont, even though it scored number two on the NAEP, is tied for dead last for policy with a D+. Missouri, ALEC’s star pupil with an A-, scored 47th on NAEP.

If it seems Alec’s idea of education reform is really not about improving student performance, you would be right. It’s not. It’s about the money. It’s about the money. It’s about the money.

Categories : Education

Comments

  1. It’s not just about the money. I mean, that might be all there is to it for the ALEC, but for Republicans generally there is another big payoff to destroying public education and that is that the only way they can continue long term to be a dominant force in American governance is by keeping the general population dumb, confused and off-balance.

    Fortunately for them there is a large and growing patsy demographic in this country that is more than willing to believe things that are patently ridiculous.

    I think of the second amendment guys who really think they might one day have to take on the American Government from the bunker in their yard, or the folks that believe the stuff about the founding fathers and their Christian Fundamentalism, mostly because they have no idea of the historical context within which the founding fathers operated.

    The appeal of Ron Paul’s support of Austrian economics and a return to the gold standard, Herman Cain’s 9,9,9 plan, and a lot of what passes for policy positions on the Right owes its acceptance in the marketplace of eligible voters to the fact that entire generations of American citizens are making it into full adulthood without anyone ever offering them enough educational fortitude to know what’s bullshit and what’s not.

    In my view, if the people who fancy themselves the intelligentsia in this country truly want to bring the country forward into the light of reason, then education is the ultimate battlefield.

  2. Tom Sullivan says:

    It’s not just about the money … for Republicans generally there is another big payoff to destroying public education and that is that the only way they can continue long term to be a dominant force in American governance is by keeping the general population dumb, confused and off-balance.

    True, but those guys do almost nothing that isn’t a twofer or a threefer.

    In the context of a business/financial cult hot to systematically (in Dylan Ratigan’s word) extract as much private value as possible from public coffers under the rubric of, you name it — innovation, efficiency, smaller government, lower taxes, deficits, choice, the Constitution or freedom — money is still the driver. Any political advantage for its allies is just a sweetener, a bonus. Privatizing education is of a piece with selling Chicago’s Skyway and parking meters to investors, efforts to sell off state-owned turnpikes, the explosion of the private prison system, and using contractors in war zones to do grunt jobs (at a markup to taxpayers) that we used to pay enlisted men grunt wages to do.

    Deep Throat said it best during Watergate.