Progressives are all up in arms over the privatization plan Indiana governor Mitch Daniels signed into law this week.
Here is the program, via Blue Texan at Firedoglake:
The legislative reform package backed by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels opens the door to more charter schools; creates the most expansive private school voucher program in the country; and limits teachers’ collective bargaining to wages and wage-related benefits. Also, Daniels on Saturday signed legislation that overhauls teacher evaluations and links teacher pay to student performance.
The Barack Obama Race to the Top policy has also opened the door to more charter schools and helped link teacher evaluations and pay to test scores in many states (including my own - New York.)
In addition, by demonizing the public school system as a "drop-out factory" and public schools teachers as "failures," Obama and his Secretary of Education Privatization Arne Duncan have set in motion an environment where public schools that serve high needs students and communities are starved of needed funds and resources and eventually closed.
In some cases, those closed schools are replaced by for-profit charter schools. In some cases the cases the money that was going to the closed schools now goes to a voucher school program.
In either case, traditional public schools and teachers are demonized, marginalized, and eventually replaced by either non-unionized charters or voucher programs.
How is any of this stuff different than what Daniels is now doing in Indiana (or Christie in NJ? Or Scott in Florida? Or Snyder in Michigan?)
To be frank, the pro-privatization, pro-corporate education reform policies of Barack Obama are quite similar to the are the pro-privatization, pro-corporate education reform policies of Jeb Bush - which is why Obama was so comfortable sharing a stage to talk about education reform with Bush not all that long ago.
Union members in Florida were furious that Obama was so excited to share a stage and extol the pro-privatization, pro-corporate education reform policies of Jeb Bush - but why wouldn't Obama be comfortable doing this? While Obama's rhetoric toward unions and unionized teachers is nowhere near as incendiary as the Bush/Daniels/Scott/Christie/Snyder contingent, the policies have been ALMOST as damaging.
So if you're going to get upset about Daniels, Scott, Snyder, Christie, et al. when it comes to education policies, to be consistent, you have to be upset at Obama and Duncan too.
There is STILL too much water carrying in progressive circles for Obama on this.
Obama is a neo-liberal corporate education reformer out to destroy the public school system, bust the unions, turn teaching into an at-will job full of Teach For America missionaries on a three year hitch in the inner cities, and finish opening up the public education sector to the Wall Street and hedge fund crowd.
If his NCLB Jr. blueprint passes as currently constructed, that will happen.
If Obama gets his way, there will be federalized tests in every subject at every grade levels (which his cronies at the Gates Foundation, McGraw-Hill and Pearson Education will stand to make billions on), teachers will be evaluated using value-added methods on those scores, teachers will paid by "merit" (again, using only test scores), scores of schools will be closed and scores of teachers fired EVERY year, and the primary mode of operation in the public schools system will be FEAR and PROFIT.
Change we can all believe in?
Nope - just more corporatized, neo-liberal evil.
Whether it's Mitch Daniels or Barack Obama pursuing this course, the result is the same.
It would be nice if some water carrying progressives would drop the buckets and live in reality about this administration and its neo-liberal policies.