A few organizations have attempted to answer The Good School Question. Each asks, "What epitomizes a great learning center?" "How might we, as a society, give birth to quality institutions?" The solutions are many. All of the associations speak of guiding principles. A few also strongly favor Principal or Teacher Leadership. The various alliances advance the premise; our first and foremost priority must be our children. In prose, beautifully composed, mission statements submit, adult wants cannot come before the needs of our offspring. Yet, after careful examination it is difficult to discern this truth. Many aspirations. Many a mirage. How might we know which is which? Once reviewed, every one of us will decide what works well in education and how might we execute a plan. Will principles, Principals, or pedagogy lead learners to salvation.
Some associations are familiar to most Americans. Several, such as Michelle Rhee's Students First, have recently come into being. For most of these prominent groups, the goal is to shape legislation. The guise or what guides these alliances is an intense interest in our children. Missions are eloquently composed. However, a constant thread transcends each mission statement. Cash Counts!
Backers such as the Broad Foundation bring big bucks to the charge. "Transforming K-12 urban public education through better Governance, Management, Labor Relations, and Competition" is the banner headline displayed boldly in Broad Education literature. The developer "s investment firm, cleverly characterized as an "entrepreneurial philanthropy," stresses the need to "dramatically" change "urban education." The implication might be that suburban and rural children can and do help themselves. Possibly, this philosophy might be associated with an acknowledged truth stated in the original adopted Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965). Poverty is a significant problem. Except the profoundly poor are frequently enrolled in rural schools.
President Lyndon Baines Johnson understood this veracity; he lived it. The father of the nation's "War On Poverty" spoke of his own reality as he signed the education Bill into law, "As a son of a tenant farmer, I know that education is the only valid passport from poverty." President Johnson also put forth a plan. He said"
(ESEA) represents a major new commitment of the federal government, to quality and equality in the schooling that we offer our young people. By passing this bill, we bridge the gap between helplessness and hope for more than five million educationally deprived children. We put into the hands of our youth more than 30 million new books, and into many of our schools their first libraries.
We reduce the terrible lag in bringing new teaching techniques into the nation's classrooms. We strengthen state and local agencies, which bear the burden and the challenge of better education, and we rekindle the revolution -- the revolution of the spirit against the tyranny of ignorance.
The President did not say, as a nation, we need place the onus on our Teachers. Mister Johnson did not claim to be the bearer of corporate gifts. Quite succinctly, the Head of State spoke of the need to strengthen civil services within our State and Local communities. Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed a deep desire to connect our children, not corporations and the dots these industries print on innumerable test sheets.
However, over time, the essential element expressed in the original legislation evolved. While the progression was slow at first, with the 2001 Reauthorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act, the language and the leaning changed. No longer was equality for pupils and people at-large the issue of import. Instead private firms and their financial gains became the subject and the ones served.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) explicit "purpose is to raise achievement for all students and to close the achievement gap. This is done through accountability, research-based instruction, flexibility and options for parents, so that no child is left behind."
In other words, our nation's youth will be assessed relentlessly and repeatedly. Scores gathered will be used to validate and generate further well-financed studies. Versatility for Moms and Dads was defined as a choice; lift your child out from the ruins of schools (selectively) deemed "failures" and place that little learner into a crisp and clean Charter School.
No one mentions that students who do not meet a set "standard" need not apply. Attendance will be refused to those who might stain a record of exemplary performance. Nor will anyone give voice to a disturbing statistic. "By the end of the 2004-05 school year, national K-12 education spending will have increased an estimated 105 percent since 1991-92; 58 percent since 1996-97; and 40 percent since 1998-99." The thought loudly articulate and promoted is, "Importantly, the increase in funds has been linked to accountability for results, ensuring taxpayers get their money's worth."
Actually the massive infusion of money into the school system ensured that, education could be bought and paid for. The delivery of dollars, Entrepreneurs saw as an endowment to their cause. Philanthropy for profit.
The Broad charitable fund, just as Students First and its subsidiary Teach For America informs us that adults are both the nemesis of the young and the saviors our offspring need. You might wish to evaluate the message of each fraternity. It would seem from the rhetoric, there is a consensus; Teachers or adult Leaders are the salvation or the bane of struggling students. Circumstances such as poverty, hunger, and the lack of reading resources within a home matter not to those who profess a Teacher can provide all a child needs to learn. A parent's education and socio-economic status are of little consequences when, as is posited by these "Foundations," an excellent "tested" Teacher is available to lift a young learner up from the weight of Earthly concerns.
Let us examine the messages. Perhaps, you too might see a trend.
Many more "coalitions" clamor for controlled corporate education change. Stand for Children sees "Empowering" education as an "entrepreneurial" enterprise. Trained "Leaders" will reshape our schools and policies that pertain to our progeny, our pupils.