It is highly arguable with evidence and data that the corporate education reform movement mostly funded by a handful of billionaire oligarchs is driven by endless oxymorons. For instance, the oxymoron of a movement that claims it’s the Civil Right Movement of our time while Corporate Charters practice segregation on a grand scale (click the link to learn more), and the other major oxymoron alleges the public schools are a monopoly that must be destroyed.
For instance, in New York State, Governor Cuomo (The Crook) characterized public education as a ‘monopoly’ that he vowed to break. For the rest of this post, I will focus on Governor Cuomo’s claim that the public schools are a ‘monopoly’ that must be broken.
First, the public schools are supported by taxes paid by the public, and they are non-profit, transparent and held accountable through that transparency. In addition, they are governed by democratic values—except where reformers like Cuomo the Crook have used their executive power to hijack entire school districts and remove the democratically elected school boards. Because of the transparency and democratic nature of these schools, every public dollar spent is tracked to make sure it was spent to support the education of children.
A monopoly by definition, would be John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, and his Standard Oil (with an emphasis on his) incorporated oil producing, transporting, refining, and marketing into one single behemoth which grew both vertically and horizontally (he bought the producers and distributors). In 1882, all of Standard Oil’s properties were merged into the Standard Oil Trust, and by the end of the decade (1890), it controlled 88% of the refined oil flows in the United States.
To be clear: John D. Rockefeller was ONE man who controlled 88% of the refined oil that flowed in the United States, and he answered to no one until President Teddy Roosevelt went after his monopoly to break it up.
How does that compare to the corporate education reform movement’s claim that public education is a monopoly that must be broken?
Even though the Obama Administration—with help from, for instance, mostly Bill Gates in addition to the Walton family, Eli Broad and a squad of other powerful private sector corporate oligarchs—did all they could to make Arne Duncan the John D. Rockefeller of the alleged public education monopoly, when we sweep away all the lies and allegations, what’s left is almost 14,000 individual public school districts. Most of these school districts are managed by their own democratically elected school boards and each district has its own CEO who often comes with the title of superintendent, who is hired and can be fired by those elected school boards. Those superintendents answer to the elected school boards and nothing can be hidden because of the transparency, and through that transparency every state and territory in the United States watches over those almost 14,000 public school districts to make sure they are not breaking any laws or legislation that applies to public education.
If you’re interested, you might want to read:
When that alleged public school monopoly is broken as Cuomo has pledged, what is already taking its place?
The answer: opaque, often fraudulent, often worse or the same as the public schools they are replacing, segregated, private sector, for-profit corporate charter schools that are not democratic and not answerable to the laws of each state that are meant for the public schools (even when a corporate charter claims to be non-profit, when we follow the money, it almost always flows like fast moving sewage to a private sector, for-profit corporation.)
For a sampling of this fraud, I suggest you read the following:
Release: “A new report released today reveals that fraudulent charter operators in 15 states are responsible for losing, misusing or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money.”
- Charter Schools Gone Wild: Study Finds Widespread Fraud, Mismanagement and Waste
- New Report Finds over $200 Million in Fraud and Abuse at Charter Schools
- Fraud, Waste, and Lies: Charter Schools Cheating Communities Out of Millions of Dollars
- In Arizona, a retired Principal Exposes Charter Chains’ Financial Games “Some nonprofit chains outsource daily operations to for-profit charter management companies. Two examples in Arizona include the Leona Group and Imagine Schools.”
One last thought—while no one can buy the public schools and create a private sector monopoly like Standard Oil once was under John D. Rockefeller, one oligarch—for instance, Bill Gates, Eli Broad or the Walmart Walton family—will be in a position to do just that once the public schools are gone and have been replaced by corporate charters that can go bankrupt and close or be merged and/ or sold on a daily basis.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
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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May 15, 2015 at 19:23
The reformsters always talk about choice. Well, public schools–especially large school districts offer choice. There are specialty schools, such as schools for the gifted as well as for the very disabled within, for example, the New York City Department of Education. In NYC, we even have a Newcomers High School geared to the older immigrant student. What choice do the charters offer? Very little. They do not want ELL or disabled students. For the gifted, these test prep factories are stifling For two years, no middle school students from the Success Academy have scored high enough to get into Bronx Sci, Stuyvesant, or Brooklyn Tech. My eldest son graduated 11 years ago from Townsend Harris High School. This is the city’s high school for gifted liberal arts students. Their admission process is more akin to applying to college. They look at the total child, not only high grades, but what type of contribution the child has made to their school and greater community. They only take 250 students a year. Needless to say, most are the best and brightest. The school has never taken a charter school student. The test prep factories do not teach students how to play music, create an art portfolio, learn chess or debating skills. Test prep factories do not have community service programs in which students volunteer in a soup kitchen or a nursing home giving some hope to the hopeless. There is no choice when these test prep factories are all cut from the same segregated mold and have the same motto: Test scores uber alles.
May 15, 2015 at 19:33
Choice is also built in to the public school systems. That’s what electives are—those classes students may take as they are completing the required courses that the law mandates are necessary to earn a high school degree. Universities do the same thing.
For instance, I taught HS English and it was required for HS graduation—a mandatory class—but I also taught one period of journalism and that wasn’t required but the class always maxed out from students who choose to be there. The HS where I taught offered a wide variety and selection of electives.
In fact, the corporate Charters are shrinking the choices by getting rid of classes that are electives in the pubic schools and focusing on a basic set of drill until you drop.
May 15, 2015 at 20:09
I would have wanted to be in your journalism course!!! By the way, when I was in HS, every English course was an elective. Every term, the course would specialize in a different type (genre) of literature. And yes, we read WHOLE novels and not two page excerpts. It was in high school that I learned to love science fiction, mysteries and historical fiction which I avidly read to this very day. What i remember the most from those courses were the heated discussions we often had about different pieces of literature. Those courses taught me how to do something that the reformsters despise–think.
May 16, 2015 at 07:06
In high school I read about 2 paperbacks a day—mostly SF and Fantasy. Historical Fiction came in third. I didn’t do much work in class or pay attention because I was sitting in the back with my paperback hidden by the class textbook.
But when I was teaching (1975 – 2005), after A Nation at Risk, the freedom to teach what you wanted to teach slowly vanished. The state ushered in standardized testing and its importance grew through the years. Eventually California had its own its own standards and a list of approved books we could teach in our classes beyond the textbook. We had our list of standards that we were required to teach and by the 1990s, the district had meetings at the beginning of each year where we would get hand outs of our new students that told us where there weaknesses were from the results of the previous years standardized tests and we were told to individualize instruction to focus on the overall weakest areas of our students and pay special attention to the kids who were nearing the next percentile leap to push them across. But we hadn’t reached rank and yank yet probably because Bill Gates wasn’t involved. David Coleman and Bill Gates may be the worst thing that has ever happened to public education in the United States but only after we factor in 1st place, the fraudulent A Nation at Risk Report.
What is interesting is that before A Nation at Risk we didn’t have standards, high stakes tests or even enough textbooks to go around. As an English department we focused on the basics and nights and weekends I was creating my own ditto masters for the lessons I was teaching. The one positive thing A Nation at Risk did was to boost funding for the public schools because after that lying report, we had enough new textbooks for every child and the district’s English department, like all the other departments, made the decision of what textbook we would buy. No one from the top made those decisions. In the beginning teachers were working together like they do in Finland to decide what material we were going to use and where we would focus the curriculum and our teaching.
Then the Walton family and their obsession with vouchers happened and the rest is history. The Waltons would not give up. For decades, they have poured money into the campaign to get vouchers in every state and they lost repeatedly until the Koch brothers or Bill Gates found a way around that pesky people’s ballot box and started to go directly to the elected representatives and buy them.
May 16, 2015 at 14:57
Reblogged this on David R. Taylor-Thoughts on Texas Education.