Bruce Baker of Rutgers is one of the wisest and sharpest critics of the privatization movement (aka “reform”).
In this post, he analyzes two favorite terms of the privatizers: “relinquishment,” which means “give up,” abandon your antique belief in public education, turn your school over to private management and get over it. The other is “sector agnosticism,” which means pretty much the same thing as relinquishment.
You have to wonder where these guys get this jargon. Do they make it up all by themselves? Or do they hire Republican pollster-linguist Frank Luntz to help them figure out words and terms that will make them sound high-minded, thoughtful, and important as they scheme to dismantle and hand off the public schools?
Then there is that term that Baker refers to here: The privatizers want “not a great school system,” but “a system of great schools.”
I first heard Joel Klein use that term about a decade ago, and I didn’t fully understand what he meant by it.
Now I understand.
It means that the privatizers have no idea how to improve low-performing schools, so they close them. Then they hope that some entrepreneur will step up and offer to take some of the students and start over. The others, well, they are out of luck; they will be bounced around from school to school. If the new school doesn’t work out, then the privatizers close that too.
At some distant point in the future (or never), the city will have only “great” schools because all the “bad” schools were closed. But that point never arrives, as we have learned in New York City. Instead, the Mayor just keeps closing schools every year, the schools that enroll the kids that no one wants.
The bottom line: the privatizers will keep trying to persuade you to give up (relinquish) as they hand off the students, the buildings, and the funding to private operators. The private operators won’t do any better, if they take the same students, but that doesn’t matter. The victory (for them) comes as a result of the dissolution of public education. Once gone, can it be reassembled? The loss (for us) comes as a result of the destruction of one of our great institutions of democracy.