Search results for: "Stand for children"

Read Alan Singer’s column posted in Valerie Strauss’s blog The Answer Sheet to learn how the Obama family opted out.””

Singer says that the Obamas opted out of high-stakes testing by sending their daughters to Sidwell Friends, which does not give standardized tests to every child every year and does not evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students.

Now you can opt out your children from high-stakes tests too. It’s not hard. NYS Allies for Public Education has a sample “refusal” letter and video instructions on its website. All parents have to do is fill out the letter and deliver it to the school principal, either in person or via email. They also recommend a follow-up call before the test dates to remind school personnel. Last year approximately 60,000 New York State students refused to take the tests. In New York State, high-stakes Common Core aligned math and reading tests will be administered in grades 3-8 from April 14 – 16 and April 22 – April 24.

Karen Magee, president of the New York state teachers’ union (NYSUT) is calling for a statewide boycott of the Common Core-aligned tests to protest new testing regulations and test-based evaluations of teachers propagated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Despite evidence against the validity of evaluating teachers using student scores on these tests, Cuomo demanded that 50 percent of every teacher’s evaluation be based on test results in their schools. Meanwhile, he is unable to explain how the 70 percent of teachers who do not teach tested subjects can legitimately be judged based on the tests.

Open the links and learn how you can opt out with sending your children to private school to escape the test prep and high-stakes tests imposed by NCLB and made worse by Race to the Top and the new Common Core tests.

The Gesell Institute of Human Development issued a statement in 2010 that was completely ignored, but its warning bears hearing.

In March 2010, the Gesell Institute released this statement. It fell on deaf ears.

 

The core standards being proposed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers are off the mark for our youngest learners. We at Gesell Institute call for a new set of standards for Kindergarten through Grade 3 that adhere to solid principles of child development based on what research says about how and what young children learn during the early years, birth to age eight. The proposed standards for Kindergarten through grade 3 are inappropriate and unrealistic. Policy must be set based on hard data and not on unrealistic goals surrounding test scores.

If the achievement gap is to be closed, child development must be respected and scientific research surrounding how children learn must be taken into account. Research clearly shows that early readers do not have an advantage over later readers at the end of third grade, and attempts at closing the achievement gap should not be measured in Kindergarten based on inappropriate standards.

The work of Gesell Institute has long been focused on research and best practice in child development and education – our legacy is based on the ground-breaking work of Dr. Arnold Gesell, a pioneer in the field of child development who observed and documented stages of development with normative data reflecting what children typically do at each age and stage. Currently, our national study collecting developmental information on over 1400 children across the country is in its final stages of data collection. This data, to be released in Fall 2010, is expected to further support what we know about how children develop and what they know at various ages, as well as the importance of focusing on appropriate methods for teaching young children.

We urge the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to respect the individual developmental differences of children and revise the K-3 standards based on research and the advice of experts in the field of early childhood. Having endorsed The Alliance for Childhood’s Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative, we support the call to withdraw the early childhood standards and create a consortium of experts “to develop comprehensive guidelines for effective early care and teaching that recognize the right of every child to a healthy start in life and a developmentally appropriate education.” (http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/

Earlier today, the news broke that the notorious Wall Street-funded corporate Stand on Children had selected John R. Connolly as their favorite for mayor and planned to give him $500,000-700,000.

But it must have played badly in Boston, because Connolly announced that he would reject their campaign contribution.

Surely there are enough successful hedge fund managers in Boston to pay for their guy’s campaign without seeking funding from out of state.

Let’s keep an eye on this and see what candidates actually say, as opposed to ads saying that they love little children and are devoted to improving education.

We have heard that song before.

The corporate reform group, Stand on Children, dumped $500,000 into the Boston’s Mayor Race, and selected their candidate, City Councilor John R. Connolly.

It is prepared to spend even more, dwarfing the spending of other candidates.

This follows the pattern of the infusion of large outside money by corporate reformers in races in Louisiana, Colorado, California, and elsewhere.

After reviewing a large field, Stand on Children decided that Connolly was their man, the one who is likeliest to push hardest for privatization of public schools and to emphasize test scores as the highest goal of public education.

Stand began its life in Oregon as a civil rights group, but then discovered that there was a brighter future representing the interests of equity investors and Wall Street.

Subsequently, many of its original members left, but the budget greatly expanded, allowing them to be a major presence in states like Illinois and Massachusetts, where they promote charter schools and the removal of teacher tenure.

In Illinois, they bought up all the best lobbyists and got passed a law that made it illegal for the Chicago teachers to strike unless they got a 75% approval vote.

The Chicago Teachers Union got more than 90% and went on strike, much to the surprise of the big-money funders who thought they had crippled the union.

Edelman boasted at the Aspen Institute Festival about how he had “outfoxed” the teachers’ union by working with the state’s wealthiest hedge fund managers, buying up lobbyists, and winning anti-union legislation.

Stand pretends to be a “progressive” organization. It is, in fact, as Edelman boasts on the Aspen video, a mouthpiece for the 1%: Pro-privatization, anti-union, anti-public education.

The session title was, “If It Can Happen in Illinois, It Can Happen Anywhere.”

 

Robert D. Shepherd, one of our many brilliant readers, offered the following explanation of the impulse to standardize the education of children across the nation:

“It’s no secret that income inequality has skyrocketed in the United States in recent decades, that economic and social mobility have plummeted, that wealth has been increasingly concentrated at the top, and that increasingly, the affluent in this country are isolated in their own circles–living in their own separate neighborhoods; sending their kids to their own separate schools from preschool through college; keeping their money offshore; spending much of their time in homes outside the country; and so on.

“Isolation from ordinary people breeds contempt and prejudice. Lack of intimate, long-term interaction with ordinary people makes it easier for the wealthy to generalize about “those people,” whoever they might be–workers, teachers, the poor, etc., and to buy into across-the-board, one-size-fits-all prescriptions regarding those Others. It becomes easy to think that it makes sense that we have a top-down, mandated, invariant curriculum for the masses based upon the vise of invariant standards on the one side and invariant tests on the other if one thinks of teachers, students, workers, the poor–of any group of people outside the privileged class–as homogenous. “If only we held those people accountable via a standardized test!” begins to sound sensible, even though giving the same test to every third grader is equivalent to giving the same certification exam to plumbers, doctors, airplane mechanics, and NBA players. And when the privileged, with all their accomplishments and clout, make such generalizations, others buy in out of fear and self interest and, of course, respect. How could a man as clearly brilliant and skilled as, say, Bill Gates, be so terribly wrong? Our politicians left and right have almost entirely bought into the absurd generalizations underpinning the accountability movement. And our educational “leaders” have lacked all leadership; they haven’t had the courage to say that the emperor has no clothes.

“There are two main issues here: First, we can have liberty, or we can have standardized objectives (and, inevitably, the standardized curricula that follow from them) mandated by a small, centralized, unaccountable, totalitarian authority. Second, we can recognize students’ uniqueness and diversity and foster their individual propensities and talents, or we can give them a homogenous, one-size-fits-all education.

“It’s astonishing to me that there is even any debate about which we should do. And it’s horrifying that our “leaders”–professional education people–have come down so often on the side of taking away educators’ autonomy, their ability to make their own decisions about what to teach, when, and to whom.”

Long ago there was an organization called Stand for Children that advocated for children and their public schools. Unfortunately, the organization jumped on the money train and joined the corporate reform movement. Now it is flush with cash. It still pretends to care about children but it uses its clout to strip teachers of any rights and to advocate for privatization. It is anti-teacher, anti-union, and anti-public education. Some of its former supporters now refer to the organization as Stand on Children.

In Colorado, where there is a heated contest for control of the Legislature, Stand on Children removed the mask. It has endorsed five Republicans who support privatization. Corporate money is bolstering the GOP campaigns, along with Stand on Children and Wall Street hedge fund groups devoted to privatization of Colorado’s public schools.

If you live in Colorado, please support these five Democrats:

Evie Hudak (SD 19)
Andy Kerr (SD 22)
Daniel Kagan (HD 3)
Brittany Petterson (HD 28)
Max Tyler (HD 23)

Public education advocates also urge a NO vote on Bond 3B, which allocates disproportionate funding to charter schools while neglecting the needs of students who are poor, black, and Hispanic and attending overcrowded schools.

Opponents of the bond say:

• A zip code shouldn’t determine the quality of a child’s education. This bond reinforces that race and class still largely determine which children are prioritized depending on where they live.
• Though SW Denver’s low-income children have suffered years of chronic overcrowding, there is little money allocated through the bond to address the needs of the 12 SW Denver schools which are over 100% capacity.
• Lincoln High School will remain overcrowded. Lincoln is the only high school designated by the district for English Language Learners. Many students must travel from throughout the district to attend this program.
• Charter schools will get millions of taxpayer dollars at the expense of neighborhood schools. Nearly 40% of non- technology monies will go to select charter schools. Of the $119M for new facility capacity, $80.6M will go to charter schools directly or through co-locations.
• Nearly $40 million or 32% of the new facility bond funds will go to Stapleton even though there is space in nearby schools. Manual High (4.4 miles from central Stapleton) and George Washington High (4.9 miles) have a combined 1500 open seats, and Smiley Middle School (2 miles) has 381 open seats. The planned location of the proposed Stapleton high school, at 56th and Spruce St, is 3.8 miles from central Stapleton.
• The amount to build a Stapleton high school is more than all bond monies allocated for the high schools of East, George Washington, North, South, Kennedy, Lincoln and TJ combined.

Sabrina Stevens answers the question here.

Who worked to get children out of the factories and into school?

Who worked for a shorter work day for women?

Who worked to help poor people enter the middle class?

Not the Wall Street hedge fund managers.

Not the equity investors.

Not the big corporations.

One guess.

Vermont decided not to apply for a waiver from NCLB.

Not because it loves NCLB. No one does.

But because Vermont education officials had their own ideas about how to help their schools.

And they discovered that Arne Duncan’s offer to give them “flexibility” was phony.

He did not want to hear Vermont’s ideas. Contrary to his claims, the waivers do not offer flexibility.

What Arne Duncan wants states to do is to agree to his own demands, not to shape their own destiny.

He wants them to allow more privately managed charters. He wants them to evaluate teachers by student test scores. He wants them to adopt Common Core state standards.  He wants them to agree to threaten and close down schools with low test scores. He has a laundry list of what he wants them to do.

Of course, this is all very puzzling since none of Arne Duncan’s mandates have a solid basis in research or evidence. In that regard, they are not much different from NCLB. You might say they represent NCLB without the timetable.

Even more puzzling is the assumption that Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education know how to reform the schools of the nation. It is not as if anyone would look at Arne Duncan’s Chicago as a model for the nation. That district is once again being “reformed,” this time by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

And from a strictly Constitutional point of view, the U.S. Department of Education has never been empowered to tell schools and school districts how to reform themselves.

Quite candidly, there is no one at the U.S. Department of Education who is competent to tell entire states how to reform their schools.

So, kudos to Vermont.

A state that said no to federal control, federal mandates, privatization, and other bad ideas.

As often, I add a footnote to the original post: Bruce Baker of Rutgers alerted me to a change in governance in Vermont. The legislature just passed a bill to have the state commissioner of education report to the governor. This opens the way for business community and privatizers to exert more influence. Privatizers like to eliminate input from parents and communities, making it easier for them to get what they want.

Vermonters: Don’t let it happen.

Stay outside the consensus.

Keep Vermont and Vermont parents and communities in charge of your schools.

Diane

Chris Lubienski has done comparative studies of public and private schools for years. In this latest study, he notes the paradox that choice schools tend to become standardized over time, betraying the claim that they would meet the differing needs and interests of students.

DOCUMENT RESUME
ED 439 519 EA 030 327
AUTHOR Lubienski, Chris
TITLE Diversification and Duplication in Charter Schools
PUBTYPE EDRS PRICE
Ontario,Canada,April14-18,19). InformationAnalyses(070) Speches/MetingPapers(150)
DESCRIPTORS
MF01/PCO2 Plus Postage. *CharterSchols;Diversity(Institutional);Educational
IDENTIFIERS
ABSTRACT
Change; *Educational Economics; Elementary Secondary Education;ForeignCountries;FreEnterpriseSystem; Privatization;School Choice Grant Maintained Schols (GreatBritain);*MarketSystems Aproach
Grant-MaintainedSchols:AnExplorationinthePolitical
EconomyofScholChoice. PUBDATE 19-04-0


NOTE


47p.;Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (Toronto.)


This paper examines the political economy of charter schools to understand the tendencies toward standardization and emulation that these schools exhibit. It draws on the developed model of grant-maintained schools in the United Kingdom as an example of the market model’s evolution in mass education. It analyzes the promise of such approaches to explore reformers’ underlying assumptions and thus offers a window into perspectives that have driven these prolific reforms. The paper contrasts the emerging evidence with the public promises of reformers and contrasts these with the disappointing lack of diversification of options for education consumers. It states that widespread and controversial reforms in education across the globe entailed the introduction of market mechanisms of consumer choice and competition among providers in mass education. The text explores the promise of choice plans and charter schools, the effects of competition, and the reaction to uniformity. It concludes that there is a standardizing tendency inherent in markets that both accompanies and counteracts the potential for diversification that competitive markets can generate. The paper claims that market-oriented reformers generally ignore the constraining properties of competitive markets in their discussion of the potential effects of competition in education. (Containsaproximately25references.)(RJM)


Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made from the original document.

Diversification&DuplicationinCharter&GMSchols 20
ofsectionsofthemarket inefect,privatizedsuper-LEAswithprimaryacountabilityto shareholders,notcitizensoreven”consumers.”Thereisaneconomicincentivetolimitthe diversityofaproducttosomextent,becauseofresearch,development,production, distribution,andsuportcosts;asTeryMoenotes,”inovationscostmoney.Sometimes alotofmoney”(citedinMolnar,196,p.72).27Thus,thehated”one-size-fits-al” aproachtoeducationthatcriticsclaimisinherenttopublicontrolisalsolikelythrough thecostsavingfactorsofthe”cokie-cuter”aproachtomasprovisionofeducational services.Thesestandardizingtendenciesarebecomingmorevidentwithgrowthoflarge- scalenterprisessuchastheEdisonProject,TeseracT(formerlyEducationalAlternatives Inc.),AdvantageScholsInc.,orSabisInternationalSchols alofwhicharetryingto increasetheirshareofthecharterscholmarket,andalofwhichaveasetaproachto educatingchildren(Farber,198a;Hofman,198;Pole,198;Rhim,198;Sides& Decker,197;Toch,196;Vine,197).Inded,whenDykgraf&Lewis(198)studied charterscholsrunbymanagementcompaniessuchasthese,theyfoundstrongcentral controlexercisedbycorporateauthorities,andlitleopenesabouttheiractivities,which hinderspublicasesmentoftheirpractices.
Thistendencyfliesinthefaceoftheclaimthatcharterscholswilsharetheirinsightsand inovations.ThepromisewasmotivatedbyaperceptionthatLEAscholsareplaguedby adeadeninguniformity(Peterson,190),andnedinterventionsthatareproduced primarilyintheprivatesector(Coleman,190;West,195).28However,sucha perceptiondoesnotexplainhowalackofcompetitionecesarilyimposesuniformity acros15,0LEAsintheUS.Whatisthestandardizinginfluencefor15,0diferent bureaucraciesandmilionsofclasroms?Infact,theargumentcouldbemadethat, inasmuchasclasromsnowapearsimilaracrosdiferentcontexts,uniformaspectsmay beduetomarketinfluencesonthecuriculum,privatesectorcontrolofemployment posibilitiesforgraduates,theriseofindividualism,thecomodificationofpublic education,andothermarketefectsinstandardizingschols(Hogan,192;Labare, 197).Furthermore,itdeniesthemanyinovationsproducedinthepublicsector,and, moreover,ispremisedonhighlyhypotheticalpresumptionofinherentselfishnesof humanaturethatpositsthatinovationspringsfromtheposibilityofself-enrichment.
ButwhileadvocatesjustifiedcharterslargelyasR&Dcentersforpublicschols,itis becomingincreasinglyaparentthat evenifcharterscholsweretodevelopaplethora ofnewpedagogicalaproaches therearenotadequatemeansavailablethroughwhich otherscholscouldhaveacestothosediscoveries(Wels,etal.,198).Whilemarket-
orientedreformersclaimthatitissimplythefectsofcompetitionthatwilforceLEA scholstoimprove,thelogicofmarketsalsocounteractsanyrolethatcharterorGM
27Yet,thecomonlyapliedbusinesprincipleofeficiencyefectivelylimitstheresourcesrequiredfor inovationandexperimentation(seWelch,198).Inded,ironicaly,themarketizationofapublicsector institutionsuchaspubliceducationrepresentsanoveralstandardizationofoptions,chalengingtheunique aspectsofpublicscholsaspublicinstitutions,andforcingthemtoconformoretothedominant “eficiency”modelofaprivatebusines(seOetle,197). 28However,theasumptionthatinovationsareproducedintheprivatesectorignoresthextenttowhich inovativeideasandinstitutionshaveariseninthepublicsector,andthenexitedthepublicscholsystem (e.g.,Wiliams,19).Furthermore,thereismuchevidencethatmanyGMandcharterscholsused market-orientedreformstosimplyprovideaprivate-typeducationatpublicexpense.IntheUK,thishas benthecasewithGMscholsthatembracethegramarscholcuriculum,forexample.InNorth America,theownerofacharterscholmanagementcompanycaledtheEducationDevelopment Corporation(EDC)claimshedoesnotpursueinovativetechniques,but”usessucesfulChristianschols asaneconomicmodelforEDC’snonreligiouscharterschols”(MackinacCenterforPublicPolicy,197; sealso,Opel,19;Red,194;Sanchez,195;Schnaiberg,19;Simons,19;VanDunk, 198).
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Diversification&DuplicationinCharter&CMSchols 21
scholsmayplayincontributingtotheoveralimprovementofscholing.Thatis,ina competitivemarket,scholssucedorfailbasedonhoweltheyatractandretain studentsrelativetothercompetingschols.Inacasewherecertainscholsare establishedtoproduceinsightsintoimprovingteachingandlearning,butalsoare dependentfortheirsurvivalonatractingconsumers,thereisaninherentincentivenotto shareimprovementsorinsightswithotherschols except,ofcourse,anyotherschols intheircorporatechain,asthecasemaybe.(Ontheotherhand,iftherewereadequate chanelssetuptodiseminateinovations,thefre-riderphenomenonsugeststhatmany schoblswouldnotasumethecostsofinovationifotherscholswildosoandshare withthemthediscoveries.)29
EmulationandDuplicationinConsumerMarkets Whilemarket-orientedreformersjustifytheiragendalargelyonthegroundsthatmarkets creatediversityofoptions,anexaminationinthepoliticaleconomyofconsumermarkets indicatesthattheyareignoringanequalyevidentstandardizingefectofcompetition. Dependingonthecircumstances,acompetitivemarketcanalsohaveconstrainingefectson experimentation,andfosterduplicationinsteadofdiversity.Inadynamicsystemofpublic choice,thelogicofmarketsdictatesthatproviderswiltrytostakeoutpositionsof advantageinordertocomandthepatronageofthemajorityofconsumers.Ifaprovider movestocornerasegmentofthemarket,thereissomeincentiveforotherprovidersalsoto moveinthatdirection,althoughnotquitetothesamextent,inordertocaptureal remainingbusinesuptoandposiblyincludingsomeofthemarketshareoftheirrivals (Hirschman,1970,p.63).Thiscanhavethefectofstandardizingoptionsavailableto consumers,asinasystemofscholchoice.
Forinstance,thisphenomenonisveryevidentinthearenaofpartypoliticsinrecentyears. InboththeUSandtheUK,”liberal/leftist”partiescametopowerlargelybyemulatingtheir oponentsonmanyisues.Ratherthanoferingvotersrealoptions,Clinton’sDemocrats (throughisDemocraticLeadershipCouncil)notonlyatractedvotes,butsimplycornered blocsofvotersbymimickingtheRepublicansoneconomicandsocialquestions.Thus, theytokforgrantedvotersfurthertotheleft,knowingthattherewasnotherviable alternativetowhichthosevoterscouldturn.Blair’snewLabourPartysucesfuly embracedClinton’sstrategyintheUK(Ford,19;Zakaria,198),andtheLiberalsin CanadandotherEnglish-speakingdemocracieshavelargelyembracedmarketprinciples previouslythoughttobethedomainoftheirconservative(clasicaly”liberal”)competitors. Whilesuchtrendsmayindicatethepresumptiononthepartofthesepartiesoftheloyaltyof theirmembers,italsosugeststhatviablealternativesarenotavailabletotemptthese peoplewiththeposibilityofexitingpartiesthatnolongerreflecttheirbeliefs.Regardles, theoveralefectistofervoterslesofaclearchoiceofdiferentoptions,andmany comentatorsfromboththerightandlefthavenotedthatthepoliticalmarketplacecurently
29Onceagain,Coulson(19) asapuremarketadvocate ofersbeterinsightsintotheworkingsof themarket.Whilehewritesoftheincentivesforcharterschols”balancingresearch-and-developmentcosts
againstthenedtokeptuitiondown”(p.305),healsonotesthatthe”onlywaytoenticeducational entrepreneurstotakeontheserisksistoprovidethemwithanincentivethatmakesthefortworthwhile”
(p.318).Yet,whileIagrewithisinsightsintothecorectdynamicsofthemarketpervertedbycharter scholdesigns,Icontinuetodisagrewithisprescriptionthatwemovetowardpurermarketstocorect thebastardizationofmarkettheory.Ifcharterscholsarepublicschols,astheyclaim,thentheyhavea responsibilitytothegreaterpublic,andnotjusttheirimediateclientele.ButunderCoulson’sfremarket model,ashenotes,charterscholswouldbeabletownandprofitfromtheirinovations,andexcludeal otherstudentsfromthenjoymentoftheirbenefits unlestheywerepersonalyabletoafordtopay. Thisistheantithesisofanyconceptionofapublicsystem.Furthermore,itdemeansthefortsandenies theinovationsofalwhoworkforchildrenbecauseofahumanitarianimpulse,insteadasumingthatonly personalgainmotivatesgodworks.
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Diversification&DuplicationinCharter&GMSchols 2
ofersconsumersoptionsthatarelargelyindistinguishable.30Thus,whilestealingisues mayworkmostefectivelyinaduopoly,italsoapearstohavesomefectinmulti-party systems.InHirschman’sframework,isuemulationwilleadtodiscontentof peripheralizedconsumers/voters.31Butduopolisticorevenpolyopolisticpowerssystems canconstrainthatdiscontentmentthroughefectivecoperationexercisedby”competing” parties.Theirconfluenceofinterestsmayleadtointentionalyconcertedefortsor colusioncausedbythefectsoftheircomoninterestsinmaintaininganefective oligarchy.Thatis,evencompetingplayersmaycoperateinesenceinordertoprevent othersfromalsojoiningthegame.Thus,majorpartiesandproducershaveaninterestin themaintainingthe”thirdparty”statusofthirdparties.Whileattimestheymightlokfora minor-partyalyinordertotipthebalanceofpowerintheirfavor,theyalsohavean interestinremainingtheprimarypartnerinanycoalition.
Consumermarketsalsodemonstratethisconstrainingefectofcompetition,whetheritbe PCsandWindowsbothemulatingandcrowdingoutMacintoshproductsfromthe computermarket,VHSreducingandthenridingthemarketofthebeterBetasystems, bokstorechainsmimickingtheservicesofandtheneradicatingsmalneighborhod bokstores,JapaneseproducersintroducingtheminivanonlytohaveUSmanufacturers adoptstheideandthendominatethemarket,orlarge-scalevideochainscrowdingoutthe cornerstore.Whilesimplelogictelsusthattightcompetitioncaninhibitinovationin existingprovidersbylimitingresourcesavailableforexperimentation(whichisriskyand mayentailalos),evidencealsosugeststhataconfluenceofcompetitors’interestsand efortscanalsolimitinovationandoptions.Dunleavy(197,p.3)notesthese standardizingtendenciesforconsumerchoices(from”hamburgersorcomputers”)inwhat hetermsglobal”Macworld”capitalism:”Thescaleofmarketsandcompetitionhas decisivelyescalatedinsomeareas,screningoutlocalsolutionsandcorporationsinfavour oftransnationalcompanies,dominantbrandsandstandardizedsolutions.”32Whilehe notesadiversityofoptionsinsomeareas,thegeneral”resultisthatsingle-marketchoices
30Se,forexample,Fraser,198/19;Pres,196;Reves,197;andSobran,195. 31Hirschman discusingtwo-partysystems sesanycentralizingtendencylimitedbyideological
diferences,alertandvocalactivists,andpracticalconsiderationsofmaximizingvotersuport(ononehalf ofthepoliticalspectrum,withasmuchofanimperialisticforayintotheotherhalfascouldbereasonably puledofwithoutalienatingtheparty’snativebase):”adoptionofaplatformwhichisdesignedtogain votesatthecentercanbecounter-productive”(p.72).Yetacentralizingtendencycanbeunlimitedinan emulativecontextofnoveridingideologicaldiferences thatis,tacitagrement(perhapssubconscious) onmajorunderlyingisues,aswiththeneoliberalDLCapingRepublicansonisueslikeNAFTA,the deathpenalty,gaymariage,andefensespending.Thisunrestrictedcentraltendencyleavesthemore ideologicalyradicalwingofaparty(anditsnon-partyasociates/sympathizers)unrepresented.Voterson thextremearecertainly”captives”ofthemainpartiesintermsoftherealityoftheunlikelihodofsuces oflaunchinganalternativeparty,andthustheirpowerofexitislimited(bytheirnumbers)whiletheir powerofvoicewasoftenamplified(bytheiralertnes).Butwhenideologicalyemulativemainstream partiesdisowntheideologuesatthends,loyaltykepspeoplewithdiscernibleideologicalconvictions fromcreatingapotentialysucesfulpartythatwouldoferaclearlyideologicalalternativetothemasof votersinthecenter.Manysuchdisenfranchised”havetriedtoexertinfluencewithinoneofthemajor parties,havefailed,andlaterdecidedtoworkontheoutside”(p.85).Butmuchoftheirpotentialsuport restsinsimilarlyfrustratedpeoplewhorefusetoleavetheparty,despitethefactthattheirrapidly diminishingvoiceandpotentialorganizationalalternativepointstothexitsign.Thesealertvoters,even morethanthepotentialyfertilepolofinertvotersmoretothecenter,areletingtheirloyaltyprecludea “rational”option.Butthisaparentirationalityservesapurpose,asHirschmanstates:”Even though.partiesinatwo-partysystemareleslikelytomovetowardandresembleachotherthanhas sometimesbenpredicted,thetendencydoesasertitselfonocasion.Themorethisissothemore irationalandoutrightsilydoesthestubornpartyloyaltylok;yetthisispreciselywhenitismost useful.”(p.81)
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32Or”McWorld”capitalism.

Diversification&DuplicationinCharter&GMSchols 23
expand,buttheoveralrangeofchoicesacrosdiferentcountries’marketsmayreduce.” Inhisdiscusion,hepointstotherestaurantindustryasanexampleofaninstanceof globalizationwhichnoneanticipatedfourdecadesago,butwhichasheavily standardizednotjustfodchoices,but”howcustomersareserved.”Ritzer(196)writes ofthe”McDonaldization”ofmarketsocietyasmarketforcespursueandimposea predictabilitythatreducesalhumaneds,desires,andrelationshipstoacomon economicalculus.Otherobserversalsonotethe”Disneyfication”ofculturethatundercuts globaldiversity(Hanigan,198;Seabrok,198).Similarly,inthe”marketplaceof ideas,”severalauthorshaverecognizedtheconstrainingefectsofcorporatecontrolofthe mediainacompetitiveconsumermarket.Mazoco(194,p.5)writesthatthenarowing competitivefieldlimitsthescopeofwhatisconsideredreasonablebythenewsmedia,and thuswhatislegitimizedaspertinentforpopulardiscusionandebate(sealsoBagdikian, 197;Herman&Chomsky,198).
And,ofcourse,sucesbredsemulation.Whetherthroughinovationorthe reintroductionof”triedandtrue”practices(oranyotherinexplicablypopularproductor service),ifsomething”works”intermsofatractingconsumers,competitorswiltryto duplicatethatsucesbyduplicatingwhateverbroughtonthatsuces,uptoandincluding impingingonanyproprietaryrightsofthesucesfuloperation.Thisemulationisreadily aparentfromtheresearchonthechoicesystemintheUK.There,ratherthanengagingin educationalinovations,market-orientedproviderstendtoemulatesucesfulschols institutionscharacterizedbytheirup-marketclientele throughtheintroductionof inovationsoftenperipheraltotheclasromsuchasuniforms,disciplinecodes,symbols oftraditionalism,andotherformsofimagemanagement(Glater,etal.,197).Whenthey makechangesinclasrompractices,theygeneralydonotintroducenewpractices,but reintroduceolderaproachesasociatedwithmorexclusivelitescholing suchasthe academicemphasisofthegramarscholcuriculuminordertoatractthebeststudents withtheleastamountofproblems,whowouldbetheasiesttoeducateandcosttheleast amountofresources.InNorthAmerica,charterscholreformersalsonedtoshow results.JoeNathan(198,p.502),aleadingproponent,warnscharterscholstoconsider “bestpractices”alreadyproveninotherschols:”Charteradvocatesoughttolokat carefulyevaluated,provenaproaches.”Moreover,thejustificationforcharterschols thatcalsforthetodiseminatetheirinovationsasumesthatotherscholswilduplicate theirpractices(althoughitisnotclearwhatincentiveunderthelogicofmarketsmight encouragescholstosharesucesfulsecretswithcompetitors).
Partoftheisueinthesecasesmaybetheilegitimacyoftheasumptionofmarket-oriented reformersthatconsumerdemandshapesmarkets.IntheiradvocacyofcharterandGM schols,proponentsofscholchoicecontendthatscholswilriseinresponseto consumerpreferences.Theyasumethatapre-existinglandscapeofthewantsandneds ofeducationalconsumerswilbereflectedinthegeographyofareactivemarket.Schol choiceadvocatescontendthatconsumerscontrolthemarket.However,thereismuch evidencetoindicatethatthecausalarowalsopointsintheotherdirectionaswel;thatis, marketscanalsoshapeconsumerpreferences.Producerscultivatewantsandnedsin consumers.Inthatrespect,simplywitnesthebilionsthatmarketentitiesinvestin advertisingandimagemanufacturing,particularlyaroundproductsforwhichtherewasno pre-existingdemand.Furthermore,insomemarkets,producersorproviderscanselect theirconsumers.Ineducation,thismeansthatscholschosethestudents.Thishas increasinglybenthecaseintheUK,asscholsnowsetoutcriteriaforprospective studentsinordertobeterpursuetheschol’smisionorphilosophy(Dean,193b;Dean,
193c;Edwards&Whity,197;Fitz,etal.,197;Walford&Pring,196;Whity& Power,197).Whilethishasbenoficialyencouragedinrecentyears,itwasinitialy donethroughcovert-selectiontechniques e.g.,parentinterviews,requiredalegianceto disciplinecodesoraschol’sspecializedmision/philosophy,andsymbolictrapingsof
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traditionalism(Dean,192;Francis,190;Glater,etal.,197;Walford,197a;West, etal.,197).ThereisnoreasontoasumethatthesametrendwouldnotocurinNorth Americancharterschols,asmanyscholsnowrequireparentorstudentcontracts, volunterhours,adherencetomisionstatements,orothermeansthatencourageself- segregationbyparentstomaskselectionofstudentsbyschols(Carl,198;Farber, 198a;Farber,198b;McGhan,198;McKiben,19;McKiney,196;Rothstein, etal.,198).Itsemslikelythatregulationstoblockovertselectionwilbelargely inefectual,asmarketcompetitionencouragesorevenforcesparentsandscholstofind waysofsortingthemselves.
Inovation,Diferentiation,andImageManagement Thistendencytowardemulationincompetitivemarketsraisestheisueofthedegreto whichdiferencesbetwenchoicesarereal,orperceivedresultsofimagemanagement. Eveninamorestableorstaticmarketcontext,diferencesbetwencompetitorsin consumermarketsareoftenemphasizedorexageratedinmarketingandpresentation. ThereisnotmuchdiferencebetwenPepsiandCoke,orbetwenFord,Dodge,andGMC trucks.Asexperienceshows,therearetwowaystomakeaprofit:(1)inovationinorder toatracttheconsumerwithabetervalueonabeterproduct,(2)orbetermarketing.In situationswhereconsumerinformationisobscureorinacesible(orcanbemadethatway throughimagemanagement),thelaterismorelikely.So,producerstrytocultivatetheal- importantbrandloyalty(recently,byintroducingtheirproductstothecapturedclienteleof schols).Therefore,advertisingcampaignsoftenfocusonsmaldiferencesofdegres, andnotoverwhelmingsimilaritiesbetwencompetingproducts.Infact,thecoland hamburgerwarssugestthatthebigestcompetitorsareoftenthemostsimilar,withthe majorairlines,networkandlocalnewscasts,andbigthreautomakersalbut indistinguishablefromeachother.Butinsteadoffocusingonthequalityorcost- efectivenesofproductsasrational-choicetheoristswouldlike,thesecompetitorsoften emphasizequestionsofstyle,atitude,andasociationinapealingtocustomersand workingthemarket.3Whilesmaldiferencesandbels-and-whistle(orsmoke-and- miror)inovationsmaybeusefulandcost-efectiveforproducers(oftensimplyto enhanceprofitmargins),itisthefectivenesandcosteficiencyofmarketingthatdeters theincentivetoferrealimprovementsandcostlyinovationsinaproductline.34Itis oftencheapertocultivatediferencesinimage-asociationintheyesofconsumersthanto researchandevelopabeteralternativetoacompetitors’product.Andmarketingisoften (evenusualy)designedtobscurewhetherachangeinaproductisanimprovement,or simplyachange.
Thisaspectinthelogicofmarketswouldalsobepresentforcharterscholscompetingfor per-studentfunding.AsscholsintheUKandtheUSbecomemoreinvolvedin marketingthemselvestopotentialconsumers,itwilbeimportanttonotethextentto whichemphasizediferencesareamateroftruecuricularorpedagogicalinovations,or simplyrepackagingofolderideasandtargetingthemataparticularsegmentor demographicgroupofthemarket.Niche-marketingsimplylimitsproducerstonon-growth areasofthemarket.So,whilerationalconsumersmaysekoutascholbasedon academicriteria,muchevidencesugeststhatthisisnotthecase.Whilechoiceplansin theUKandmanyjurisdictioninNorthAmericaresuportedbythepublicationofleague tablesorotherindicatorsofrelativestudentachievement,itisverydificult,ifnot
3Inafascinatinganalysis,Wink(192,ch.10)observesthisphenomenoninmanyareasofhuman competitionandconflict includingpoliticsandwar asoposingpartiesoftenemploythesamemeans inacontest,therebyemulatingorimitatingeachotherinpractice,andbecomingmorealikeinesence, whilexageratingdiferencesinordertojustifytheirpublicpositions. 34Inded,aproductioncost-orientedincentivenednotbepasedontotheconsumerintheformof savingsexcepttothextentthatitwouldslightlyundercutacompetitor’spriceifatal.
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imposible,togiveconsumersasnapshotofhowmuchonescholenhancesthe achievementofastudentascomparedtotherschols.Suchefortsarebefudledby problemssuchasfindingtheapropriatecomonmetric,orcontrolingforconfounding variablessuchasper-efectsandsocioeconomicstatus.
25
Inlieuofaneasyindicatorofaschol’sabilitytoenrichastudent’spotential,rational consumersareforcedtorelyonotherevidenceofaschol’sworth.Unfortunately, evidencefromtheUKsugeststhatsuchindicatorsareoftensymbolicreflectionsofre- emergingsocialhierarchiesuniforms,theracialandethnicompositionofaschol,etc.
ratherthanimediateacademicfactors.Inded,thereismuchevidencefromboth NorthAmericandtheUKthatconsumersactualygravitatetowardsthesenon-academic
criterianywaywhenchosingaschol(Bal&Gewirtz,197;Carol&Walford, 197a;Carol&Walford,197b;Glazerman,198;Hirsch,194;Petronio,196;
Smith&Meier,195;Walford,192).Manyifnotmostparentsarenotusualyloking forinovationorevenexcelence.Whilerational-choicetheoristsasumethatconsumers sekthemostefectiveducationaloptionfortheirchildren,real-worldexperienceshows parents constrainedbysuchfactorsasconvenience,transportation,location,work,and theabilityandesiretoparticipateinandvalueachild’seducation lokatotherfactors suchassportsteams,proximitytohomeorwork,tradition,astudentbodythatreflects theirchildracialyoreconomicaly,achild’sdesiretobewithfriends(orawayfrom enemies),andsoforth.Evenrational-choicetheoristimplicitlyafirmthisphenomenon, oftenusingracialcodewordsthatmaskretrenchedracism,orsegregationisttendencies basedonsocial-clas noteducational diferentiation.Forexample,Moe(194,p. 27)debatesthecontentionthatBritishparentsfocusoncriteriaperipheraltoacademic enrichment,denyingtheimportanceof”sportsanduniforms”andinsteadclaimingthat informedpeoplewant”disciplineandorder,achievement,andproximity”(Mano,etal., 198a;Mano,etal.,198b;Schneider,Marschal,Teske,&Roch,198;Vanourek,et al.,197).Whatisnoteworthyabouttheseparentalpreferenceshereisthat,asadvertising increasesinimportanceinacompetitivemarket,thesetendenciessugestthelikelihodthat scholswilfocusonon-academicriteriaintheirmarketingcampaigns,promoting imagesthatdonotfocusimediatelyonpotentialacademicenhancement,butonon- academicriteriasociatedwithracial,ethnic,andsocialclasdiferentiation.
ConstrainingEfectsofConsumerPerceptionsinaCompetitiveMarket Ontheotherhand,whilemarketsshapeconsumers,consumers’perceptionsofwhatare apropriateproductsoftenconstraininovationthroughmarketforces.Parental asumptionsofwhatagodproductorserviceis whethertothpasteorscholing providesincentiveforstandardization,notjustdiversificationofoptions.Ifpeoplethink thatcolashouldbecaramelcolored,thenPepsiClearwilfail.Ifpeoplequatediscipline, rotememorization,andhightestscoreswitha”god”education,thentheromfor inovationinamarketcontextisconstrained.ThiswasthecaseintheUK,wherepopular conceptionsofeducation(atleastforactiveconsumers)meantthatmoretraditionalismand elitismwouldbetheprimary”inovation”drivenbythemarket.Subsequently,intheUK, scholshavebenforcedtopayatentiontotheirimagemanagementthroughmarketing, administration,andpresentation,oftenatthexpenseofeducationalconcerns(Bal& Gewirtz,197;Gewirtz,etal.,195).Thismay,infact,beoneofthecentralelementsof themarketdynamicthatistheconstrainingfactorineducationquasi-marketsinNorth America,asparentalperceptionsofwhat”god”scholingisaremanifestedinaconfining demandfor”back-to-basics”scholing.Kohn(198),forexample,claimsthatafluent andambitiousparentsintheUSdonotwantinovationsintheirchildren’seducation,but, instead,whatarecomonlysenassolid,tried-and-trueducationalpractices.Onthe otherhand,peopleoftencanotreachacomonunderstandingoftruly”inovative” education.GlobalLearningAcademyinCalgarywasestablishedtotry”diferentiated”
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learning,an”inovative”aproachtoeducation.Butthescholclosedafterparentsand evendiferentteacherscouldnotagreonwhatthatmeans(Shepard,198).
Discusion Thisesayshouldnotbeunderstodasanargumentagainstthepotentialformarket-
orientedscholstofosterdiverseandinovativeoptions.Instead,Ihaveatemptedto demonstratethattherearestandardizingtendenciesalsoinherentinthemarketmechanisms importedintopubliceducation,andthatacountingforthesetendencieshelpsus understandtheunexceptionalrecordofcharterscholsinpromotingexperimentationin teachingandlearning.However,theprecedingdiscusionraisesbothimplicationsand questionsthatdeservefurtheratention.
Diversity Diverseoptionsareoftenaparentincharterschols,GMscholsandCTCs.Inded,
someofthesescholsapeartoembraceintensiveuseoftechnology,ofervarious pedagogicalaproachessuchasa”back-to-basics”ordiscipline-areaorientedcuriculum,
andsmalerclasandscholsizes.However,whileIhavenotedthatnoneofthese “inovations”arerealynew,anothertrendistowardethnic-basedandhome-scholed instruction.Theseoptionsdefinitelyoferadiferentiatedsetofoptionstoconsumers. Althoughscholsegregation(bylaw,tradition,residency,orevenself-segregation)isnot neworinovative,whatisuniqueaboutsuchtrendsisthattheylegitimizeresegregationof “public”scholsinthepost-Brownv.Boardera.Ofcourse,publicscholshaveben notoriouslysegregatedbyraceandclasinrecentdecades.Butpursuingthediferentiation ofprovisionthroughtheoptionofrace-andethnic-basedscholsrepresentsalegal institutionalizationofthatsegregationthroughtheauspicesofademocraticaly-run institutionthathadoncebenknownasthe”comon”schol.Likewise,”home- instruction”islargelyamovebyhome-scholerstopt-intopublicfinancingofprivately- orientededucationafterhavingexitedpublicschols(se.g.,AmericansUnitedfor SeparationofChurchandState,197;Fin,etal.,197;Rothstein,etal.,198).These newconsumeroptionsraisequestionsaboutthebalanceofpublicly-fundedprivate consumerrightsagainstthepublicinterestincultivatingacomonculture,tolerance,and socialcohesionwithpublicresourcesforthepublicgod.Such”diversity”ofconsumer choicesincharterscholoptionsstandsinstarkcontrasttoliberalefortstoachieve diversityoverthelastseveraldecades.
ContrastingSourcesofInovation Charterscholreformerspubliclyadvancetheiragendasaconsumer-orientedreform measure.However,experiencewithconsumermarketsindicatesthatmarketscanalsobe producer-oriented aphenomenonthatturnsthecausaltablesoncharterreformers’ asumptions.Yetthisfactisignoredbymarket-orientedreformersintheiradvocacyof charterschols.Furthermore,asitbecomesmorevidentthatprivatebureaucraciescanbe justasinflexibleaspublicbureaucracies,onewonderswhythisisnotalsoreflectedinthe rhetoricpromotingcharterschols.Ifgovernmentbureaucraciessquashinovative tendenciesduetoself-interest,donotloyaltiestostockholdersalsodivertinovative potentialitiesthatarisearoundcustomerserviceinprivatebureaucracies?Yetmanycharter scholreformerspersistinadvancingthesimplisticimageofaninovativeprivatesector juxtaposedtoaconstrainingpublicsector.Thisstarksimplificationisreminiscentof Orwel’sAnimalFarmtwofet,bad;fourfet,god(Chomsky&Barsamian,196,p. 121).Butthisasumptionignoresconsiderablevidenceoftheinovativepowersof publicsectors,constrainingfactorsinprivatesectors,andthefolyofautomaticaly opositionalizingthemalofwhichshouldproblematizeandcomplexifysuchclaims (Cohen,1982;Kutner,197;se,e.g.,Coulson,196).
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Inded,thisquestionofinovationleadingtodiversityineducationparalelsevidencein theconsumermarketsthatcharterscholreformersoftenhighlight.Buttheirreferencesto thesemarketsonlyapeartoconsideronesideofthequation.Anotherexamplemightbe seninthedialecticalprocesoutlinedbyDarwin’stheoryofevolution(and,inded,much ofmarkettheoryreflectsthisinitssurvival-of-the-fitestethos).Oneofthethrebasic dynamicsonwhichthistheoryoforganicprocesesisbasedisstandardization(asthe synthesis).Thatis,evolutionpositsthatthethesisofuniformityischalengedbyan aberation(theanti-thesis),which,dependingontheconditions,maychalengeoreven overwhelmthestatusquo,resultinginanewsynthesis.Thus,standardizationisjustas muchanesentialpartofsuchaprocesasisinovation,andisnecesaryfortheproces ofchangetounfold.35Bothpublicandprivateinstitutionsareoftenlikenedtorganisms, andtheycanbeflexibleintheiryouth,andstagnantandefensiveinmaturity.Wink (192)usesareligiousanalogytodescribethispatern:institutionsarecreated,falen, and/orredemed.
Market Fundamentalism Religiousimagerymayalsohelpexplainthetreatment,orde-emphasis,ofevidencein market-orientedreformers’advocacyoftheiragenda.Thesingle-mindednesofmarket- orientedreformersinperceivingonlyfavorablevidencefromconsumermarketssugests azealotryoffaithinmarketmechanisms.Inded,theprolificaplicationofmarketmodels topublicscholswasprecededbyverylitlehardevidenceastotheirefectsinmodern education.Whilethiswaspartlyduetothefactthattherearevirtualynocomprehensive andanalogousmodelsfromwhichtodrawpolicyinferencesonhowmarketswouldwork inschols,36itisalsoindicativeofanideologicalfaithinmarketprocesesabelief systemthatasuresthefaithfulofthepowerofmarketdisciplineasacorectiveto waywardpublicsectorinstitutions(thusdiscountingthenedforevidence).Infact,the discourseisliteredwithreferencesto”beliefs”onthisisue,inlieuofhardorcompeling evidenceonthepowerofmarketstodiversifyandinovateprovisionofeducation.37But, aswithanyfundamentalist,market-orientedreformersapearcapableofselective perceptionlimitedtoconfirmingevidence.Theyareabletoignoreorexplainawayany confoundingevidencethatchalengestheirbeliefsinthepowerofmarketstoprovide.38 Charterscholadvocatesdonotdemonstratethatmarketsfosterinovationincharter scholclasroms,becausetheyhavealreadysenenoughevidencefrom(aone-sided viewof)theautoindustryto”prove”thatdiversificationandinovationfalwithinthe purviewofmarkets.Hence,marketreformersareunableorunwilingtoconsider,much lesembrace,contradictorytendenciesinmarketsthatbothdiversifyandstandardize consumer options.
35Naturalprocesesareparticularlypertinenthere,sincemanymarket-orientedreformerspromotetheir agendasanaturalororganicalternativetoartificialstateregulation premisedontheasumptionofa universalhumanaturepreocupiedwithpursuingone’sownself-interest.Forafascinatingdiscusionof standardizationindynamicorganicproceses,seGould(1989). 36Coulsondisputesthelackofevidence(196;194;19). 37Ironicaly,thisissimilartohowscholexpansioningeneralisoftenforwardedbyreligious-likefaith andrhetoricregardingthepowerofeducation(Bowen,19;Meyer,1986;Mockler,194;Tyack,Kirst, &Hansot,1980;Walkom,190). 38AfterDisneyboughttheAmericanBroadcastingCorporation,MexicanovelistCarlosFuenteswrote: “Inaworldtornbyeverykindoffundamentalismreligious,ethnic,nationalistandtribal wemust grantfirstplacetoeconomicfundamentalism,withitsreligiousconvictionthatthemarket,lefttoitsown devices,iscapableofresolvingalourproblems.Thisfaithasitsownayatolahs.Itschurchisneo- liberalism;itscredisprofit;itsprayersareformonopolies;andnowitshalosareMickeyMousears.” (quotedinTheMenonite,196,p.17;sealsoWalkom,190)
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Moreover,likeanyfaith,marketfundamentalismestablishesaversionofhumanatureasa universaltruth.Theirclaimthatinovationwilflowfromindividualswhentheyare unleashedtonaturalypursuethenhancementoftheirself-interestdependsonavery debatableasumptionofauniversalhumanature.Whilemarket-orientedreformersclaim thatmaximizingself-interestisthedrivingforceofhumanprogres,thereisalsoevidence tosugestthat,inded,”humanature”isshapedbysocial,cultural,andinstitutional conditionsaswel.Furthermore,itapearsthatsomepeoplearewilingtotakerisksand pursueinovationsoutofphilanthropicandhumanitarianimpulses,orsimplecuriosity.
ResearchandPolicyBorowing Whilethelackofcompelingevidencefromeducationsugeststheideological(asoposed
toempirical)natureofthisreformagenda,theglobalscaleofmarketreformsraisesisues regardingtheroleorresearch,evidence,andideologyacrossocio-politicalcontexts. ParticularlyinthecasesoftheUKandNorthAmerica,thesimilaritiesofthesereforms pointtoeitherintentionalpolicysharingoraplicationsofuniversalaspectsofmarket ideology.Forthemostpart,theUKledthewaywiththesereforms,fromThatcher’s governmentthroughthepresentBlairadministration.YetthegeneralycriticalBritish researchliteraturehasfailedtopenetratetheUSdiscoursetoanygreatextent(Moe,194). Thatis,whilepolicyborowingapearstobeprevalent,policymakersdemonstratea concurentandcurioushesitancytoengageinserious”researchborowing.”Whilepartof thismaybeduetoachronicethnocentrismonthepartofAmericanpolicymakers,such parochialismisincreasinglyinexcusableinatimewhenresearchiswidelyacesible,and contextsandpoliciesarebecomingmoresimilar.Whity,forinstance,whohasbenvocal inhisobservationofthelackofinovationintheUKmarketreforms,hasbenquite wilingtosharehisinsightswithNorthAmericanaudiences(e.g.,Miner,197).Itis unclearwhytherehasnotbenmorediscusioninNorthAmericaoftheUKexperience beforembarkingonrapidandwidespreadmarket-orientedreforms,andonecanonly speculateabouttheknowledgeandintentionsofpolicymakersandmarketreformers.This raisesquestionsabouttheabilityofresearchandevidencetoinfluenceanideologicaly- drivenreformagenda.Butitalsoraisesquestionsabout”hegemonic”controlofthe discourse;thatis,whataretheinterestsofthepeoplewhohavethemicrophone,andhow aretheirinterestsandagendaservedandchalengedbyresearchevidence?
Ontheotherhand,someobserversspeculateonthexistenceof”policynetworks”to explaintheaparentpolicycopyingbetwendiferentcontexts(Carl,194;Whity& Edwards,198).Inded,thereisevidenceoftrans-Atlanticolusionandcoperationof like-mindedthinktanksandotherinterests.Yetwecanotdiscounttheposibilitythat similaritiesinmarket-orientedpoliciesareindicativeoftheideologicalparadigmofthe times reflectingnotsomuchpolicy-borowingaswhatLevin(198)sesasadiseaseor “epidemic”ofsuchpolicymakingintheraitdefines.However,whilehisanalogy discountsintentionallearningandaplicationbypolicymakersofthemarketzeitgeist explanation,otherevidenceindicatesthatrecently,deliberatepolicy-copyingisnow ocuringinaneasterlydirection.AlthoughtheUKsettheprecedentforquasi-market reformsofeducation,thelectionofBlair’sLabourPartysetthestagefortheUSto becomeamodel.ItapearsthatBlairhasmodeledmuchofhispoliticalstrategyonhis neoliberalmentorinClintononisuessuchaswelfarereform(Jones,198;McGuire,
198/19).Ineducation,likewise,there-emergenceof”crisis”rhetoricintheUK sugestsnotadisatisfactionwiththeresultsoftheToryeducationpoliciessomuchasa desiretocontinuetocultivatepopularsuportforreforms(e.g.,BritishBroadcasting Corporation,19).IntheNewStatesman aforumforNewLabour”modernizers” Bilefsky(198)recentlyadvancedtheposibilityofemulatingUSfor-profitmodelfor charterscholsintheUK.Nowitapearsthatthismodelwilbeimportedasthe corectivedisciplinarianforporlyperformingschols(MacLeod,19a;MacLeod,
19b;Raferty,19),therebylegitimizingthelocationofblameasthefaultofindividual 30

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schols(seThrup,198).Moreover,theEdisonProjecthasplansforinternational expansion,includingtheUK(Walsh,198a).
Questions for Further Investigation Thisexplorationalsoraisesseveralquestionforwhichasearchforanswersisbeyondthe scopeofthispaper.Isuesdeservingoffurtheratentioninclude:
Whatmarketconditionspromoteitherthediversificationorstandardizationof consumeroptions?Whatconditionssuportorconstraininovations?Towhatextentcan thoseconditionsbemanipulatedthroughpolicyinstruments?Howouldtheyaplyto educationquasi-markets?
WhatprecedentsareavailableregardingpublicfinancingofR&Defortsby privateproviders,particularlyexamplesthatspeaktothepotentialbenefitsandangers
inherentinthecharterscholmodel?Whilepublicmoneyhaslongonetonon-profit researchfoundationsanduniversities,whatlesonscanbelearnedfromthexamplessetin publicresourcesandprerogativesgoingtofor-profitendeavors?Somemightclaimthatthe defenseindustry,forexample,hasabuseditspositionwithwastefulandfraudulentuseof publicmoniesforresearchandevelopment(e.g.,MultinationalMonitor,19).Others mightpointtothegeneralbeneficialefectsofpublicfunding,proprietaryalowances,or privateprerogativesgrantedtoprivatendeavorsinpharmaceuticalresearch,forinstance (e.g.,Tulock,196).
Towhatextentdoestheparticipationorpenetrationofinvestmentcapitalpromoteor constraininovationsinmarket-orientedschols?Dosucesfulinvestmentcapital operationstendtobecomecautious,lokingforwaystomaintainposition?Oraresuch endeavorsmorelikelytopursuerisksandsuportentrepreneurialeforts?(Onthistrendin education,seWalsh,198b)
Whatistheroleofthecomongodinconstrainingandcultivatinginovationand diversification?Furthermore,whatistheroleofthestateorthepublicindefiningthe comongodanditsaplicationtothisquestion?Thereapearstobeapresumptionthat diversificationisinherentlygod.Butaremorechoicesalwaysbeter?Towhatextent doesthediversificationofconsumeroptionsencourageamovetowardthelowestcomon denominator,andrivedownthegeneralqualityofchoices?Forexample,some neoconservativesmightclaimthestatehasaninterestinregulatingthentertainment industrytothextentthatthepursuitofprofitspromoteslicentiousnes,hedonism,andbad taste.Similarly,healthadvocatesmightmakeaparalelclaimregardingthedutyofthestate tomonitororregulatethefastfodortobacoindustries,therebyconstrainingconsumer choices.Abeterexample,perhaps,involvesconsumerrightsintheautoindustry. Benetetal.(198)claimthatamonopolisticDetroitautoindustryfailedtohedconsumer preferencebybuildingtomany”expensive,gas-guzlingvehicles”inthe1970sand
1980s(p.28).WhiletheDetroitautoindustrydideventualyrespondtothechalenge posedbymorefuel-eficientJapaneseimports,recenttrendsindicatethat atleast partialybecauseofconsumerdemandandmarketingalautomakersarenowbuilding more”expensive,gas-guzlingvehicles”thaneverbefore,aslighttrucksandsportutility vehiclesnowoutnumbercarsinewvehiclesales.Doesanyoneclaimthatmore dangerous,leseficient,morepolutingvehicles(drivenbyconsumerpreferenceand imagemanufacturing)enhancethecomongod?Theagregatefectsmaybe detrimentaltoal.Butwhatistheroleofthestateandthepublicsetagainsttherightsofthe consumerinthisquestion?Theanswerwouldhaveimplicationsfortheroleofthestate andpublicintheregulationofconsumerchoiceandcompetitiveprovisioninmarket- orientededucation.
Finaly,whatistheapropriateroleofthestateinademocraticsocietyinrequiring rationalchoice?Theimplicationsofthisquestionareimportant.Sinceitisnotalways cleartoconsumerswhenevermarketingrepresentsinformationoninovationsorthe obfuscationofalackofimprovements,doesthestatehavearoleinregulatingthis informationintheinterestoffuldisclosure?Ifafre-marketsocietyispremisedonthe
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fre-flowofinformationtoalowfulexerciseofrationalchoice,doesthestatenedto intervene,ironicaly,inordertodefendthelaisez-fairelementsinherentinacompetitive systemofinformation-basedchoice?Furthermore,doesthestatenedtorequirethe provisionoftruechoice,ortheguaranteofarangeofoptions,ifmarketfailureconstrains thoseaspectsofasystemofconsumerchoiceinanarealikeducation?
Inconclusion,thisesaydemonstratesthatthereisastandardizingtendencyinherentin marketsthatbothacompaniesandcounteractsthepotentialfordiversificationthat competitivemarketscangenerate.Thisanalysisisanatempttoprovideamorebalanced viewofthelogicaldynamicsofmarketprocesesineducationthanthatwhichisnow evidentinpolicydiscourseofchoiceineducation.Thus,whilenotdisputingthatthereare someconomicincentivesforinovationandexperimentationembededinthelogicof markets,thexamplesdiscusedhereindicatethattendenciesneglectedinpolicydiscourse canalsohaveoposingefects.Market-orientedreformersgeneralyignorethe constrainingpropertiesofcompetitivemarketsintheirdiscusionofthepotentialefectsof competitionineducation.Theirasumptionsofdiverseandinovativeoptionsareoverly optimisticandsimplistic.Inlieuofevidenceontheworkingsofmarketmechanismsin education,theymakeone-sidedalusionstoconsumermarkets,orideologicalasumptions abouthowmarketsshouldworkineducation.
ThexperiencesofcharterscholreformersinNorthAmericahasledtoareconfiguration oftheclaimsforcharterschols.Premisedontheclaimthatpublicscholclasroms wereinherentlyunproductivebecauseofbureaucraticLEAgovernance,charterschol reformerspromisedthatachangeingovernancewouldleadtoinovationsinthe clasrom.Asreal-worldproblemsandcompetitivemarketsdynamicsconstraintheability todeliverinovations,theyefectivelyretracttheirpromiseofclasromexperimentationin favorofthemoreasilyatainablegoalofoferingoptionsinvariouslocalities.Reformers ignorethexamplesofcompetitivequasi-marketsintheUK,andfailtotakeamore balancedviewofconsumermarkets.Thisanalysiscalsintoquestiontheclaimthatthe lackofeducationalinovationwasunpredictable.Thus,whilepromisesofeducational inovationcanbesenasharmlesorwel-intentionedinthemselves,theactual standardizationtrendsexposetheimprecisionofsuchclaims.Andtheirpredictability highlightstheservicethatthosefalseclaimsprovidedforinvestorsinopeningupublic educationasamarketforprofit-makingventures.
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PTC is joining with many parent groups and school boards to fight this direct assault on local control and democracy.

Pastors for Texas Children is a staunch ally of public schools and of separation of church and state. They have vigorously fought vouchers and now they are fighting an all-out attempt by the yet the aggressive charter industry to open wherever they want, without the approval of local elected officials. The lobbyists also want to slash the state board of education’s power to veto new charters.

PTC is working with parent groups and other activists to stop this direct assault on local control and democracy.

PASTORS FOR TEXAS CHILDREN

SB 28 HEARING IN HOUSE COMMITTEE TOMORROW

The public education advocacy community–which includes YOU–has had some great success despite this being a very difficult legislative session.

First of all, one piece of legislation that PTC is hoping to see made into law is the “community schools bill.” HB 81 by Eddie Rodriguez would give struggling schools the ability to partner with the community to improve educational outcomes for their students. HB 81 unanimously passed out of the House Public Education committee recently.

Second, you might have heard about the House of Representative’s budget debate this past Thursday. The House sent a clear message to us: they want to support public education. There were two big ways they did this on Thursday:

  1. They voted to ensure the legislature will appropriate the $18 billion in federal relief money to public schools, and to only spend that money on public schools.
  2. They overwhelmingly voted down a private schools voucher amendment.

Job well done, faithful servants! This is a huge celebration, but we still have work to do…

Tell the House Public Education Committee to reject unlimited charter school expansion.

 

Tomorrow, April 27, the House Public Education Committee will meet to consider SB 28. This bill makes it easier for the State Board of Education to approve new charter applications, and makes it easier for charter schools to locate anywhere they want without restriction.

SB 28 affords special privileges to charter schools. It unfairly disadvantages smaller cities from zoning restrictions to charter schools. And it prohibits school districts from providing information to the public about the impact of a new charter school.

SB 28 also changes the process for State Board of Education approval of a new charter school.Previously the SBOE was able to veto the commissioner of education’s approval of new charter school applications with a simple majority. SB 28 would require a larger majority of 3/5, or nine out of 15 members to veto. With a State Board of Education who is usually split down the middle on charter schools, this would make it significantly harder for the board to use their veto power. The SBOE has not abused this power; in fact, many public education advocates would like to see them use it more often. Since holding this privilege, the SBOE has only vetoed seven new charter school applications in eight years. 

Help us oppose this bill! Please call the members of the House Public Education committee