Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby has chosen his weapon to use in the battle between a public education that offers an opportunity for all children to receive an excellent education with the hope for a bright future and an education model that would privatize and corporatize education that best serves the profit motive of its investors and would have the public believe that the concept of a democracy is the antithesis and enemy of free enterprise.
This article by Will Sentell appeared in the Baton Rouge Advocate Aug. 31:
The anti-reform label that has been placed on educators and groups representing them, like the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education, flies in the fact of the reality of the education model promoted by privatization supporters like Mr. Grigsby and friends.
The test and drill, march in a straight line, narrowing of the curriculum, diminution of creativity and critical thinking, dissolution of community voice and support by bussing students away from neighborhood schools, authoritarianism and lack of accountability that "autonomy" has brought that disregards the democratic rights of parents and taxpayers to elect their school boards, monitor administration and collaborate with teachers to best serve the needs of their children and grow the social and economic base of their communities, hiring of unqualified non-certified instructional personnel while putting experienced teachers back into the unemployment lines and preventing new education graduates from serving the schools and children they understand best. . . phew!
These are beyond the "status quo" practices that public schools are accused of perpetuating - they are HISTORY. They are history because the years of public education development, research, and experience that have brought about so much improvement and progress in the psychology of education and child development have replaced them with valuable practices like individualized curriculum, critical thinking skills development and assessments, integration of technology for teaching NOT JUST TESTING AND DATA COLLECTION. . .
CHOICE for the so-called reform advocates is artificial. Students are not only NOT allowed to attend the schools of their choice, but they are placed in schools that were CHOSEN for them via methods like limited and selective enrollment, "counseling" out, illegal suspensions and expulsions, refusal to provide needed special education services. . .
AUTONOMY of the kind many charters are enjoying are resulting in charter contracts being revoked, allegations of child endangerment, poor instruction by non-certified personnel and total loss of transparency in the financial and administrative responsibilities of schools. . .
Where are the public servants elected by the public to safeguard their children and their tax dollars? Why are the taxpayers allowing millions of dollars to go to out of state contractors, consultants, charter corporations, Teach for AmericiCORP, charter school personnel, outrageous salaries for unqualified and inexperienced administrators like RSD's John White. . .
The public should look beyond the slick rhetoric, empty promises, and false claims of miracles to see that the takeover of our public schools by BUSINESS is not the panacea it may appear to be. Businesses are created to MAKE MONEY for the owners - not to grow our country's next crop of entrepreneurs, productive workforce, creative artists, talented scientists. . .
Now is the time to elect educators who can provide the expertise to address the component that has been ignored - the quality of instruction and curriculum, the process of learning in the classroom, and the methodology for accurately and meaningfully assessing the individual progress of our students and the effectiveness of our teachers. We have to "turnaround" the culture of failure and start measuring success.
The product of Mr. Grigsby's "investment" of money promises only to beget money. The investment that educators make every day through the public education system is PRICELESS!!