Jeff Bryant has an excellent article in Salon about the year that the out-of-touch Establishment reformers saw their narrative of failure collapse.
A well-funded elite has labeled public education as generally a failed enterprise and insisted that only a regime of standardized testing and charter schools can make schools and educators more “accountable.” Politicians and pundits across the political spectrum have adopted this narrative of “reform” and now easily slip into the rhetoric that supports it without hesitation.
But in 2013 a grassroots rebellion growing out of inner city neighborhoods from Newark to Chicago and suburban boroughs from Long Island to Denver began to counter the education aristocracy and tell an alternative tale about schools.
The education counter-narrative is that public schools are not as much the perpetrators of failure as they are victims of resource deprivation, inequity in the system and undermining forces driven by corruption and greed. In other words, it wasn’t schools that needed to be made more accountable; it was the failed leadership of those in the business and government establishment that needed more accountability.
The uprising has been steadily growing into an Education Spring unifying diverse factions across the nation in efforts to reverse education policy mandates and bolster public schools instead of punishing them and closing them down.
2015 became the year the uprising reached a level where it forever transformed the hegemonic control the reformers have had on education policy.
NCLB is gone, and the battle for control of children’s education now shifts to the states, where parents and educators have a shot at taking back their schools. Hillary Clinton let slip her skepticism about charter schools and her recognition that teachers should not be evaluated by test scores.
The bigger, more important story emerging from 2015 is that the American public is increasingly at odds with a reform movement that seeks to remake schools into an image promoted by wealthy private foundations, influential think tanks and well-financed political operations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The evidence against the education establishment’s case piled up as the year rolled on, and the narrative of public education policy will never be the same.
The reformers are not about to give up and go away–yet. But as it becomes clearer that their goal is to destroy public education, their claims of “good intentions” ring hollow and the mask of reform falls away. As some point, the big money propping up this hoax will pull out. Wise investors don’t like to throw good money after bad. The Status Quo is failing, and the reformers own it now.