By Dianne Khan
First they came for the trained teachers,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a teacher.
Then they came for the special needs children,
and I didn’t speak out because my child didn’t have special needs.
Then they came for the schools,
and I didn’t speak out because there were other schools.
Then they came for free public education
and I didn’t speak out because I was exhausted.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
It’s no understatement to say there is an attack under way in education around the world. Corporate reformers have realised how much money there is to be made off the back of our kids’ education, and man are they going to damned well get a finger in that pie.
Global reform goes like this:
- Create the perception of a huge problem in education “Arghghghg the kids are all failing!!!!!!!!!!”
- Use that perception to justify reforms to solve the perceived problem “The only solution is to sell schools off, test more, de-professionalise teaching!!!!”
- Use the reforms to create fear in parents that their child may fail the test “Your child might not pass the standardised test!!!!!”
- Use that fear to sell good to parents “Come buy these great test prep books, apps, tutoring packages, supplements….”
And who profits? Is it the kids? Is it the parents?
Or is it the big companies like Pearson, Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify, The Gates Foundation and so on, who are all so fond of promoting education reforms and just happen to have goodies for sale in that arena, too. (But they only do it for the kids y’all…)
“Now, let’s get back to the business of sucking every last penny out of Mr. and Mrs. Average Knucklehead.”
Taking Murdoch’s Amplify as an example… the Tablet Plus costs US$349 per device, and requires a two-year contract. That contract will set you back $179 a year. The tablet itself has just a one year guarantee. So, over US$700 per tablet and they want one for each kid in each classroom in the whole school. Yes, that sure as heck looks like a nice money spinner. And oh look! Mr Murdoch has his own newspaper and TV news empire that can promote such ideas. How nice for him.
Sure, sometimes they get caught out, like Pearson did here… but how often do you reckon they get away with it? Walk off with Millions of tax dollars that could have been better spent on the kids’ education?
But hey, so long as we go whizzing into the 22nd Century and beyond with a couple of Android tablets and some cool apps, who cares. It’s not like we can teach using books and pens, is it…
Is this just happening in America?
Well no, there’s a fair bit going on in England, Australia, and it’s creeping into Aotearoa, too. Let’s look at Aus just last week:
“An urgent inquiry will be held into the impact high-stakes Naplan testing is having on kids,
amid growing concern over the pressure applied by schools and parents to students”.
Children are showing high levels of stress around testing in Aus, just as happens in the UK when SATS take place.
Is this really necessary in order to get a good education? I do have to wonder, when Finnish students have the shortest school days and only one national test at the age of 15 and yet constantly are one of the top 5 in the world for education, whether we are being sold snake oil.
I look forward to seeing what the Naplan report says, at the end of June…
And you might be forgiven for thinking “Wellll, this is not in NZ, this is Australia, this is the USA, we’ll be right…”
Speak out about this lunacy.
It is not good education. It does not improve children’s learning (often quite the opposite). It is not for choice or for equality or for raising the bar: It is for making money for a small select few.
If you sit by and don’t make a stand, sooner or later the reforms will affect you,and who will be left to shout on your behalf?
Further reading & viewing: