Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Occupy Nashville should lead on public education

New York City occupiers look behind the wizard's curtain.
I found it curious during the past few days that Occupy Nashville welcomed students from Lead Academy, a local charter school, without so much as a protest against what the corporate influence behind charter schools is doing to public education. Maybe local occupiers do not see like occupiers in other cities how privatization, under the influence of the Bill Gates Foundation and campaign-financed politicians, is not positive for the general welfare of public school kids. It seems to me that the Nashville protesters could have provided a civics lesson for the students simply by dissenting on the tokenism and selectivity that drives the charter school model.

I do not know if Occupy Nashville is simply avoiding the question of charter schools because they're catering to Tennessee Democrats or if they just do not grasp the income gap disparities driving the charter schools movement, but if the latter is the case, education blogger Jim Horn lists the top 10 reasons that those who claim to represent the 99% ought to think more critically about public education:


1. Urban charter schools require minimal public investment in physical plants, library programs, the arts, science labs, athletics, personnel, and transportation infrastructure.

2. Urban charter schools are cheaper because they depend upon an endless stream of young beginning teachers with few benefits, no retirement payouts, and no collective bargaining.

3. Urban charter schools make it easy to segregate based on race, economics, gender, and disability.

4. Urban charter schools allow for the exclusion or dumping of problem students whose abilities, behaviors, or test performance that could damage to the charter brand.

5. Urban charter schools make it easier to hide the problems of the poor by pointing to testing success by those who survive the charter gauntlet.

6. Urban charter schools allow for the imposition of cultural and psychological control techniques in urban areas that are not subject to public scrutiny.

7. Urban charter schools put decision-making and control into the hands of unelected executives with no oversight beyond hand-picked board members.

8. Urban charter schools (not for profit CMOs) allow corporations and wealthy donors to reap huge tax benefits for their generosity to corporate charter schools.

9. Urban charter schools (for profit EMOs) expand business opportunities for the education industry & testing-industrial complex.

10. Urban charter schools make it possible to take the state tax dollars saved from the forced choice of urban charters and use that money to enrich suburban public schools without raising taxes.

I am still waiting for Occupy Nashville to address local issues. Metro's wholesale sellout to charter schools is a good place to dive in locally. But embracing a charter school is a big belly flop of a failure.

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