New book critiques 'corporate' school reform

January 25, 2012

Neoliberal education reforms, including No Child Left Behind and Chicago's Renaissance 2010, tend to "marketize" schools and threaten to dismantle public education as we know it, according to a new book edited by a University of Illinois at Chicago education researcher.

William Watkins, professor of curriculum and instruction, criticizes the replacement of neighborhood schools with and the replacement of education leaders with corporate officials in "The Assault on Public Education: Confronting the Politics of Corporate Reform" (Teachers College Press, Columbia University, 2012), a collection of essays by scholars across the country.

Watkins writes that free-market principles should not be applied to school reform.

"The corporate intrusion into school reform is connected to realignments in the labor market. Renaissance 2010, for example, was ideologically and politically driven, not based on informed school research. The shuttering and altering of schools torpedoes the concept of universal and the common school as we know it," Watkins said, referring to the "tax-supported, mandatory and accessible common school" advocated by 19th-century reformer Horace Mann.

"Free-market policies and practices needlessly reposition schools in competition, where there are winners and losers," Watkins said. "Schools become more stratified and parents have little input. In many cities, children now travel miles across town as they are unable to attend the 'selective admission' school down the street from their home."

Watkins said the current emphasis on testing has created "pushouts" -- students who have not dropped out, but have not tested well enough to enter the newly selective schools.

"We must identify achievers, but not create barriers to others becoming achievers," he said. "Schools cannot be treated like chain stores, where only the 'profitable' remain open. The closing of schools is reprehensible in all cases."

The book's contributors explore related issues such as labor economics, urban renewal, unionism, race relations and religious fundamentalism as they apply to school reform. They include Pauline Lipman, UIC professor of educational policy studies; Kenneth Saltman, DePaul University associate professor of educational policy studies and research; Alfie Kohn, a Boston-based critic of standardized testing; cultural critics Malila Robinson and Catherine Lugg; teacher and union activist Jack Gerson; eugenics scholar Ann Winfield; and scholar Kristen Buras, who has written on the New Orleans schools before and after Hurricane Katrina.

Explore further: Trying to satisfy too many agendas slows school reform

Related Stories

Study: Privatized Philly schools did not keep pace

April 9, 2009

Public middle-grades schools placed under private management in 2002 as part of a state-run overhaul of the Philadelphia School District did not keep pace with the rest of the city's public schools, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rsklyar
1 / 5 (1) Jan 26, 2012
It is necessary an education reform to eliminate plagiarism at the neighboring university by united italian research gang from the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Joint Research Centre, universities of Ferrara and Genova with a leading bandit at Northwestern University as: http://issuu.com/...saivaldi
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Jan 26, 2012
Freedom of information is natural and would solve many problems.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.