For the second time in world history, the public schools of a country are under attack by powerful men. The first time a country waged war on its public schools was when Mao launched China’s Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976).
How successful was Mao in destroying more than 2,000 years of public school tradition in
China? The answer may shock you. By the time Mao died in 1976, the literacy rate in China had plunged to 20%, and the poverty rate was 85%.
In the United States the biggest crime of the corporate education reformers is chasing profits and not dealing with the challenges of poverty. In fact, corporate education reform supported by billionaire oligarchs—for instance, Bill Gates, the Walton family, Eli Broad, and the Koch brothers—are doing nothing to deal with poverty. Instead they claim that if they get wealthier that will somehow magically solve poverty. When, at any time in history, has the wealthy solved poverty by getting richer?
In a Chicago Sun Times Op-Ed piece, Laura Washington writes about Ted Manuel, an African American who lives in Hyde Park: Manuel said, ‘Although we have one or more churches on every other block, what effect are the preachers having? Why is there no partnering of schools with corporations, where glimpses of future possibilities can inspire the kids? I know of no such connections, if they exist.’”
To answer Ted Manual’s questions, the reason that corporate education reformers are doing nothing about poverty is because dealing with the causes of poverty is not profitable.
And how can the public schools do anything? Funds for public schools have been cut drastically while other funds have been diverted to the Common Core test taking culture supported and driven by Bill Gates—the wealthiest man in the world. Mao had his Little Red Book, and Bill Gates has his Common Core.
Who will profit the most from Bill Gates war on the public schools? UK’s Pearson—a company that will make money every time an American child takes one of their tests, and they want to test children from pre-school to high school graduation—hours of tests annually.
What about China? Starting in the late 1970’s under Deng Xiaoping’s leadership, who do you think China learned from as they started to rebuild their public schools after Mao’s Cultural Revolution?
If you answered the United States and Europe, you would have been right. China sent teams to the United States to learn from America’s public schools—and this all happened before A Nation at Risk, NCLB, Race to the Top and Common Core—and according to the last two international PISA tests, China’s 15-year-olds in Shanghai are ranked #1 in the world thanks to what China learned in the United States before the corporate war on public education.
In fact, China is moving away from a test-based public education system and toward what the United States is abandoning thanks to Bill Gates and the $5 – $7 billion he is spending in his crusade to destroy what works and replace it with a market-based education system that several Stanford studies have already proved is a failure.
Education Week.com reported in 2010 that Schools in China and U.S. Move in Opposite Directions. Schools in China are slowly trying to break away from their emphasis on memorization (and testing) toward adopting strategies that stress creativity. Until now, schools believed that the former was the best way to score high on the gao kao (the college entrance exam taken the last year of high school). But recognizing that the approach is counterproductive in the new global economy, China is attempting to change.
Meanwhile, Education Week.com says, “In the U.S., a different trend is underway. Convinced that high-stakes tests are the best way to measure educational quality and assure our economic hegemony, (corporate) reformers are running roughshod over those who believe otherwise.”
France dealt with poverty more than thirty years ago when they introduced a national early childhood education program starting as young as age two, a program that is transparent and part of the French public education system. France, unlike the United States, puts its education dollars in one pot and then shares that money equally among all of its public schools. But in the U.S. funding is not equitable. School districts in wealthy communities spend heavily on their public schools while schools in communities infected with poverty spend much less.
Thirty years after France implemented its national early childhood education program in the public schools—not run by the private sector—poverty has been cut drastically. In 1970, 15% of France’s population lived in poverty. By 2001, only 6.1% lived in poverty. In 1970, about 86% of the population of France was literate, but by 2003, the literacy rate improved to 99%. – Our World in Data.org
China had to wait for Mao to die before its war on public education ended. Will the United States have to wait for the oligarchs to all die before the corporate war on public education ends?
Don’t forget, Mao had his Little Red Book, and Bill Gates has his Common Core.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
Runner Up in Memoir
2014 Florida Book Festival
Honorable Mention in Biography/Autobiography
2014 Southern California Book Festival and at the 2014 London Book Festival
His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves
Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).
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