Yes, 2017 was a rough year for public school supporters, with the ascension of President Donald Trump and his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, the continued underfunding and undermining of local public schools, and the increased attacks on teacher professionalism and students’ civil rights.
But there’s hope for 2018. The public has grown far more skeptical toward the movement to privatize schools through vouchers and charters. States are retreating from the notion that high-stakes test can measure “education effectiveness.” Citizen-led lawsuits and voter demands are pressuring more government leaders to increase school funding, and a growing movement for education justice is spreading across the nation.
The Progressive’s Public School Shakedown Education Fellows explain what to expect and what to push for in the year ahead.
The Year Democrats Push an Alternative to ‘Reform’ is my 2018 prediction porn in The Progressive:
The well-documented failures of so-called education reform during the past two decades have prompted educators, students, parents, and politicians to question the reform agenda. The effort involves incentivizing the expansion of school vouchers and charters, using high-stakes testing to rate schools and teachers, and dictating school governance through top-down, private control. But the public image of these education reformers has wilted as Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, and their allies in the Republican party have emerged as the movement’s most prominent cheerleaders. Recently, Democratic candidates have begun to use their opponents past support for education reform against them. In Virginia and Massachusetts, Democratic party candidates are speaking out about the growing lack of accountability and transparency in charter schools.
2018 should be the year that Democrats who support community empowerment—and those Republicans who truly value local control—embrace community schools.
What alternative should Democrats embrace? Community-based, democratically-controlled education is a direct affront to the Trump, DeVos and the Republican agenda. The Intercultural Development Research Association, a civil rights organization, supports community-based education, describing it as a system based on “valuing families and communities and [recognizing] that they are capable of initiating and sustaining involvement in educational change.” The organization argues for “broad-based local participation in comprehensive planning and decision-making at the local level as well as at the policy level.”
The California NAACP has resolved that community schools are a key alternative to privately-control charters. And recent public conversations—like those taking place in San Francisco—are calling for alternatives to the failure of privatization, especially in communities of color where it has colonized their schools and taken away community control.
2018 should be the year that Democrats who support community empowerment—and those Republicans who truly value local control—embrace community schools as a powerful alternative to failed top-down, privatization and private-control education reforms.
Go here to see all of the 2018 prognostication at The Progressive.
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