I’m writing in response to a News Press story about the “medicine show” that passed through Castle Rock two weeks ago.
National School Choice Week (NSCW) – the “snake oil” sold by special interest groups and conservative billionaires – promotes itself as a social justice movement. But it’s not about making public education better. Rather, it’s a deeply partisan fight. Supporters of NSCW include the New Jersey Tea Party Caucus, Heritage Foundation, Goldwater Institute, Friedman Foundation, Heartland Institute and other right-wing groups such as Americans for Prosperity. These are deeply conservative activist organizations. Their goal is to dismantle public education and replace it with for-profit, privatized (though still publicly-funded) schools.
As Reagan did with fabricated welfare queen stories to scapegoat the poor, Dick Morris, Hugh Hewitt, Bob Schaffer (our not-so-impartial state Board of Education chairman) and our school board are scapegoating teachers. Teachers unions are blamed for public educations’ ills. Really? The unions do not hire or fire teachers, set policy, develop curriculum, or slash budgets. They do negotiate for benefits and make sure teachers have due process — not tenure or “jobs for life” as some would have us believe.
When did it become fashionable to bash teachers…especially here in Douglas County? We should be patting our teachers on the back for what they have been able to accomplish with limited funds. DCSD is the top-ranked Denver-metro school district. Douglas County is the seventh-richest county in the U.S., yet spends 41 percent less per pupil than the national average ($6,212 vs. $10,591 for the 2011-2012 school year).
So much for investing in our future.
For school choice to benefit public education, it must prioritize the needs of ALL students. Are children who are able to get out of public schools the only ones worth educating in our society? Of course not. Successful teaching outcomes are based upon recognizing the strengths inherent in families and communities when they work together, rather than against each other.
Public schools are the core of our democracy and society. It’s going to take all of us working together to save them from an emerging oligarchy.