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J. PATRICK REDMOND was born and raised in southern Indiana and recently returned to his home state after sixteen years of living in South Florida and teaching for the Miami-Dade County Public School System. Patrick holds a BA in English from Florida International University in Miami and an MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook University in Southampton, New York. He is a contributing blogger for the Huffington Post, and his writing has appeared in the NOH8 Campaign blog, the Southampton Review, and in the Barnes & Noble Review’s Grin & Tonic. He is also the 2012 recipient of the Deborah Hecht Memorial Prize in Fiction. Some Go Hungry is his first novel, and when asked about it, Patrick says, “It’s about God, guns, gays, and green beans.” Additional information is available at jpatrickredmond.com

The Corporate Kidnapping of Public Education

Retiring elementary school principal Don Sternberg is right! (Principal Don Sternberg’s Letter to Parents) There is not an education crisis in this country there is a corporatization of education crisis in this country. His words are worth the read; below is an excerpt:

“The issue that most upsets me, and that I see as counterproductive, is the desire to record, in a quantifiable fashion, the educational development of our children. There is clearly a ‘quota system’ being applied to schools, school children, teachers and principals — and it is negatively impacting our children! When I was growing up I was never measured with some insidious number that categorized my ability and progress, and that served to measure the effectiveness of my teachers and my school. We are constantly told that when the students of the United States are compared to other countries from around the world, we do not measure up to them. I ask, measure up to what? All that is being compared is a measurement against other measurements.”

As an educator myself I believe that we citizens of the United States should be guaranteed four basic civil rights provided by our government and funded by our tax dollars:

  • The right to an education
  • The right to healthcare
  • The right to police protection
  • The right to fire protection

How can it be argued that we as American citizens don’t see and feel the effects of corporatized healthcare and that we aren’t beginning to see and feel the effects of corporatized education? How long before the corporate business model using “quantifiable data” usurps our police and fire protection?

I agree, there are incompetent teachers out there, some who need to get out (or be forced out) of the profession. But our country, collectively, also needs to make education a priority. We as citizens have failed miserably in doing so. We, every one of us, are to blame for allowing incompetent teachers to remain in our public schools. It will also be our failing if we allow corporations to kidnap our nation’s public education system.

Principals should be granted greater opportunity to make hiring and firing decisions in their own schools. The counter argument: “But what about a bad principal, one that has it out for a certain teacher?” What about it? Everyone at some point works for a jerk. If a teacher is being unfairly scrutinized by his or her principal then the teacher must be professional, proactive, and document the alleged abuse. Practically every other workplace in America operates under this construct. Labor conflict is not new. Teachers’ unions, while still warranted in some matters, can be their own worst enemy. And an enemy to teachers and public education. Do they really have the teachers’ and students’ best interests at heart? I would argue they don’t.

However, and it’s a big however, “for profit” schools — the direction in which our nation is headed — is not the answer to our supposed “broken public education system”. Monied interests taking over public education is not the answer either. Once monied interests are involved free public education in this country is dead. If my argument doesn’t seem credible, consider Congress. Monied interests have it practically deadlocked. Nothing seems to get done and only the very wealthy have privileged access.

Of course, if my Congress analogy doesn’t seem parallel check out the links provided below. After all it’s only our future at risk. And if nothing else, get involved in the local school system. See if they’re testing instead of teaching local students. I think parents will be shocked and appalled to find it’s true. If not, they should be. We all should be.

The Inconvenient Truth of ‘Education Reform’ – The Washington Post

Shall We Corporatize Public Education Too? – The Politics of Selfishness

For additional information on ‘Education Reform’ check out Round the Inkwell

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