February 28, 2012

The Worst Case Scenario School

I've been thinking a lot about the changing face of education lately. I was going to write a post about a conversation I had with a friend discussing subsidized remote schooling in South Carolina. Then I read this piece by Seth Godin about how to improve public education in America, and I was going to post about that, too.

As part of these posts, I imagined writing a news article from a future where all education in South Carolina has been privatized. I was going to write about schools where children are warehoused and barely educated because the companies running them want to maximize profits and don't want to pay for real teachers. I was going to write about a single mom, upset that her son is learning nothing and constantly getting in trouble, taking her case to the media because she has no other educational option in her small town and the papers she signed when her child entered the school mean she can't sue for negligence; mandatory binding arbitration is her only option.

Stop Imagining: It's Real

While I was imagining this future nightmare scenario where the unethical and greedy siphon money from the public to line their own pockets at the expense of the children they're ostensibly educating, it's already happening in Florida: Controversy over Scientology influence clouds future of Pinellas charter school.

Photo by Judy Baxter
This is why simply privatizing education is not the answer. This is why we need to make sure that the primary goal of the people running American schools is educating the next generation, not indoctrinating future cult members or enriching their shareholders.

What Can We Do?

There is some good news here: there's still time to make the future a good place for our children, for all children in South Carolina and in America, for that matter. We the people stopped Howard Rich's push to defund public education in South Carolina four years ago. We can stop groups like ALEC from doing the same now. Our lawmakers are bought and the corrupting influence of money is everywhere. It's up to us, to you and me and ordinary people everywhere who have a real stake in the success of public education, to band together and preserve it.

 Read Seth Godin's Stop Stealing Dreams (PDF, other formats available via link above), and think about how public education could be not just better, but great.

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