Thursday, September 22, 2011

The plight of public schools in Florida (from Joe Hopkins)

Joe Hopkins, a correspondent from Florida, has provided the following update on the plight of public schools in that state. SDS

The clock is ticking for Florida public schools

The clock is ticking down on Florida's Liberty County School District. Liberty School District has had their $9 million budget chopped by more than $3 million since the 2007-2008 school year.

The 1300 student liberty district has been labelled "failing" under George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB). NCLB is the law that requires students to study for standardized tests in Math & Reading which reduces "learning activity" to institutionalized "operational activity"; programmed teaching - the result is that student creativity (real learning activity) is banished to the dustbin. "When learning is carried out at the level of operations, the child follows in the teacher's footsteps, very much like a puppet." [1]

Jack Jennings, former General Counsel for the House Education Committee said this is the worst environment for education funding since Ronald Reagan proposed abolishing the U.S. Department of Education in the 1980s.

Even Arne Duncan, current Education Secretary, says NCLB, which requires all students to pass standardized tests in Reading & Math encourages schools to dumb down their curriculum because it judges them on a rigid pass-fail system.

"Duncan estimates that about 80 per cent of schools - including those that are generally high-performing - are in danger of being labelled failing because of the system's rigidity." [2] Liberty School District is considered a high-quality district of Florida but NCLB seems designed to fail most public schools in the country to open up Public Education to market forces through management or ownership of schools by private, for-profit corporations. In the market, cost of production must be reduced in the extreme to be competitive (A profit must be made to stay in business.) - This leads to a good looking balance sheet . . . . and stupid kids. Pupils and students are transformed into market commodities that perform low-paying low-level chores in the workplace.

The dominant and monied class, with their long established business and political connexions, send their children off to elementary and secondary schools that have a student teacher ratio of 5:1 in their effort to reproduce themselves and maintain the conditions of the status quo.

There is, and has been, a class war going on in the United States since the U.S. Constitution was drafted. It was transported here from England. It's been going on for so long the class war has become concealed behind the veil of normalcy - it's hidden in plain sight. It's just the way things are to the dominated class of workers.

What Is To Be Done?

The corporate class has commandeered the Charter School Project to their advantage. The good idea behind Charter Schools at its inception was to allow concerned groups - teachers, communities, social organizations - to start their own schools with the boost of public funding. This aspect of Charter Schools has for the most part (to the general population) fallen from view and died out because of lack of attention and knowledge.

When groups of interested and dedicated people know something positive is possible that particular "something" becomes site and stake in the struggle. All world history is a chain of social struggles and it behooves us not to allow history to die from lack of participation.

Talk to each other about Charter Schools being in the hands of community organizers, in the hands of teachers themselves - with the added input and participation of the students themselves. Talk about organizing with an emphasis on the struggle against the Goliath and then organize.

Incite insight. It must be done. If we don't do it - who will? Organize - Organize - Organize!

[1] V.V. Repkin, Learning Activity, Journal of Russian & East European Psychology, (M.E. Sharpe, 2003), 18 (V.V. Repkin is Vice President of the International Association for Developmental Teaching).

[2] Bloomberg Businessweek, (July 11-July 17, 2011), 29.

No comments: