I like pictures of old midwestern country schools (ghostsofnorthdakota.com).
by Dan Burns
Feb 14, 2022, 7:30 AM

Are the school deformers shifting their tactics?

I’m in full agreement with what’s in most of the article from which I’m quoting.

“School choice” advocates often claim to promote “freedom” for parents to choose the form of education they see best for their children.

But the strategy of “school choice” is to move public funding away from public schools into private hands. Joanne Barkan, an author who writes about education reform, has argued that four words sum up education privatizers’ objective: public funding, private management.

This helps explain the recent right-wing reframing of the attacks on public schools as “parental rights”: If these dark money actors can successfully argue that private citizens should outrank publicly elected officials in school leadership, they will have won private management over a publicly funded good.

In fact about my only little quibble is with characterizing what’s been going on recently as a “reframing.” Those who want to destroy public education have always used the tactic of throwing all the “number two” they can think of out there, and then trying to run with what sticks. Purveyors of irrational, imbecile ideology in general have always done that. It should be understood, though, that they themselves are mostly “true believers,” and not responsive to rational, fact-based argument. Such responsiveness is not how motivated reasoning and cognitive rigidity work.

Rational, fact-based argument certainly is worth trying, for those who aren’t true believers. There are plenty of those out there, too.

Last November, in the Minnesota metro, reactionaries who tried to take over school boards mostly lost. But not always. In any case, it wasn’t as easy as you’d think to find that information in a compact, easily accessible article, because most of corporate “news” media prefers scaremongering to racist wingnuts about critical race theory.

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Comment from Steve: I have thought this quote in a Valerie Strauss column in the Washington Post’s Answer sheet addresses what Dan is talking about very well.

When champions of market-based reform in the United States look at public education, they see two separate activities — government funding education and government running schools. The first is okay with them; the second is not. Reformers want to replace their bête noire — what they call the “monopoly of government-run schools” — with freedom of choice in a competitive market dominated by privately run schools that get government subsidies.

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