Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


April 8, 2014

We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

CROSSVILLE — A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change. The biggest pockets were: The Gates Foundation, the Walton Family, Eli Broad (rhymes with ‘toad’) and Wall Street fund managers. These billionaires are very good at what they do (making money). However, NONE of them has any training or experience in education or developmental psychology.

Perhaps the Waltons, Gates, Broad, etc. have suddenly become interested in our general welfare. Based on their past history, however, it seems more likely that they see an opportunity to grab some of the six hundred thousand million dollars (per year) we spend on the public education of our children.

To be fair, not each member of the “Gang of Four” pushes exactly the same detail. The Wall Street guys hope to be able to sell shares of education companies. Eli Broad and the Waltons push ‘charter schools,’ in which they both have financial interests. Gates promotes the use of computers in schools for testing and the student data-mining program, InBloom. (Microsoft recently signed a pact with Pearson to market the ‘only’ Common Core approved learning software and the related curriculum materials.)

However, the entire Gang advances the following claims with no reliable evidence: 1) Public Schools are Bad. 2) Public Schools need to be ‘replaced’. 3) Common Core testing is Good! (it will ‘prove’ numbers 1 and 2 and lead to the replacement of our schools by directing public money to “charter” and private institutions with no accountability to local citizens).

How will the Gang squeeze money out of their new system to benefit themselves? By mandating more standardized and patented “computer-based learning tools” and then replacing experienced, dedicated teachers with cheaper, poorly trained novices and temporary workers who push buttons and crank out the ‘product.’ It’s the MacDonalds business model applied to public schools!

We are almost at the endgame. The money has already been spread into the right pockets. The National Governors Association backed the Common Core before it was even written, and 45 states (including ours) signed on. Laws were changed in exchange for some of that money. Our local school board is being directed from Nashville. Nashville covets “Race to the Top” money and has joined a pact to enforce a national test and, therefore, curriculum.

On this issue, Democratic leadership is no better Republican. Both depend on money from the Gang. The presidents of both major “teachers’ unions” have accepted Gates money. Neither will publically represent their membership’s growing resistance to the inappropriate Common Core.

Our nation’s public school system allowed a thriving middle class to create the world’s greatest economy. Our children need to be carefully tended by knowledgeable, flexible and sympathetic adults. They should NOT be standardized and assembled by commuter-driven robots.

The only way to stop this takeover is for groups of parents to forget political labels, quickly. Parents must demand an end to excessive computer drill and standardized testing. They must fight the national attempt to gut our public school system for profit.


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