Has a “manufactured catastrophe” fueled education privatization?

This piece by Dean Patton published in Yes! Magazine challenges the conventional wisdom about public school “failure.” Beginning with the now infamous “A Nation at Risk” study in 1983, Patton argues, advocates for privatizing public education have distorted the data to make the case that public schools are failing children when that’s not actually the case. According to Patton the Reagan administration “flunked math” when it came to education appledetermining a direction for “education reform.” More recent eras such as “No Child Left Behind,” the proliferation of standardized testing, and even the “Race to the Top” have been based on a “manufactured catastrophe,” he says. The article isn’t totally a downer, however. Patton cites efforts such as a teacher uprising against testing in Seattle to show how some are pushing back against harmful efforts done in the name of “reform.” According to Patton:

In a land where the free market has near-religious status, that’s been the answer for a long time. And it’s always been the wrong answer. The problem with education is not bad teachers making little Johnny into a dolt. It’s about Johnny making big corporations a bundle—at the expense of the well-educated citizenry essential to democracy.

And, of course, it’s about the people and ideas now reclaiming and rejuvenating our public schools and how we all can join the uprising against the faux reformers.

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