Deborah Meier, one of the great education thinkers of our time, says we were duped.

The corporate reformers stole the good words like “reform” and “choice,” to cover their intentions. They borrowed language from the civil rights movement but not its noble goals.

What do they want?

Bust the unions.

Make money.

Their favorite vehicle: charter schools.

She writes:

“However, the idea of Charter Schools opened the eyes and ears of folks with quite different intentions. They saw that there was money to be made right and left and center. Buildings were “sold off” for nothing or nearly nothing. Public funds were used to start schools whose principals and leaders were paid a half million and more for being the principal” or “superintendent.” Publishing companies and private tech companies saw $$$$$ everywhere. By the time we wake up to what is happening we will no longer have a public education system in reality. Some charters will be legit—truly serving public purposes with public money and boards made up of educators, community members, etc. But most will be in the hands of folks with no other connection to the schools they “serve” than they have to anything else stockholders have—how much money can be made off of this! Meanwhile… that their revolutionary ideas will have demonstrated no significant improvement in the situation facing America’s poor children in terms of test scores is just fine without them.

“They did this with language resonating with the valiant words of “borrowed” from the civil rights movement. Except they seemed to have left out terms like “equal funding” or “integration.” They did it despite the cost to teachers of color, to public unions which Martin Luther King Jr. died defending. And on and on. They did this by adopting noble words (mea culpa) like choice and autonomy and self-governance and small scale and on and on. They did this by playing with data to confuse our judgment.

“Shame on us for being duped.”