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An Oakland Teacher Speaks on Privatization and No Child Left Behind
by Manny Lopez
Monday Dec 6th, 2004 1:12 PM
Manny Lopez speaks out on privatization and the No Child Left Behind Act. Manny teaches at E. Morris Cox Elementary and is a member of the Oakland Education Association’s Executive Board.
The privatization spider that spun the “No Child Left Behind” web knew that the public education fly was in the house and that it would only be a matter of time before it would trap its lunch. In a joint statement released late last October more than twenty national education, civil rights, disability, children’s, and citizens’ groups acknowledged the radical impact the law is having on our nation’s schools and urged Congress to make substantial changes to it. Among them: American Association of School Administrators, Children’s Defense Fund, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), and the National Education Association.



NCLB = Privatization? You be the judge. According to the Education Industry Association (EIA is an association of education entrepreneurs) education is a trillion-dollar industry representing 10% of the GNP, second only in size to the health care industry. EIA recognizes that the law’s punitive accountability measures represent a tremendous market opportunity for the private enterprises it represents, enterprises that are rapidly multiplying to take advantage of the public dollars that seemingly rain from the sky. These include private after-school tutoring providers, school improvement and management services, charter schools, educational content providers and suppliers, etc. The notion that one’s education should be tied up with the return on another’s investment is anathema to the hard won right of free universal public education, one that any concerned citizen must resist.



Regrettably, our neediest schools are taking the biggest hit. Meanwhile, district officials stand at the door and passively allow the business backed “education reformers” to march through to, according to Steve Jubb of Gates funded BAYCES, “interrupt the culture of acquiescence to failure”. The NCLB mandated and district imposed small schools reform choice violate the spirit of the Harlem reforms described in The Power of Their Ideas, a seminal work by reform movement leader Deborah Meier. These so-called reformers are well aware that small school reform should be a grassroots effort. They fail to admit that they are caught in a space between this reform (which seized their imagination in the first place) and the artificial, accelerated and coercive one we are currently witnessing.



Sadly, the sea change coming to our city schools will not only greatly impact the school community’s morale but it will destroy many existing teacher/student relationships, disrupt school’s long established traditions, and chip away at the stability that any parent would want in their child’s school. It will drive away our very best teachers and severely impact our teacher recruitment efforts as well. We must gain an understanding of the “No Child Left Behind” law that’s allowed all of this to occur, renew our commitment to our public schools, and do everything possible to save them.



Manny Lopez teaches at E. Morris Cox Elementary and is a member of the Oakland Education Association’s Executive Board.



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OEA demands...reality checkTuesday Dec 7th, 2004 10:11 AM
Charter Schools are Public Schoolsreality checkTuesday Dec 7th, 2004 9:59 AM
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