The reform of public education has been an elusive goal. All seem to agree that public school reform is much needed. International rankings and national tests show American public school students falling behind their peers. Many scholars have studied public schools and their failures, governments have written thousands of studies addressing this issue. So what must happen to truly change public schools for the better?
A natural disaster like hurricane Katrina!
Walter Isaacson, a former managing editor of TIME, president of the Aspen Institute and chairman of the board of Teach for America, in his 2007 column “The Greatest Education Lab” wrote:
“Paul Vallas, the man who took over the troubled school systems of Chicago and then Philadelphia and upended them, stood before a crowd of New Orleans parents in a French Quarter courtyard earlier this summer and offered a promise. ‘This will be the greatest opportunity for educational entrepreneurs, charter schools, competition and parental choice in America,” he said. Call it the silver lining: Hurricane Katrina washed away what was one of the nation’s worst school systems and opened the path for energetic reformers who want to make New Orleans a laboratory of new ideas for urban schools‘.” [My emphasis]
What did New Orleans do to reform its broken public education system? It chartered every school in the district. Hurricane Karina emancipated the parents and students from the old public school structure and allowed them to achieve control of what was once a government monopoly.
C. Bradley Thompson in his article “The New Abolitionism: Why Education Emancipation is the Moral Imperative of our Time” wrote:
“I begin with my conclusion: The ‘public’ school system is the most immoral and corrupt institution in the United States of America today, and it should be abolished. It should be abolished for the same reason that chattel slavery was ended in the 19th century: Although different in purpose and in magnitude of harm to its victims, public education, like slavery, is a form of involuntary servitude. The primary difference is that public schools force children to serve the interests of the state rather than those of an individual master.” [My emphasis]
A radical conclusion notes Thompson. But is it?
Thompson wrote, “Twenty-first century Abolitionists are confronted, however, by a paradoxical fact: Most Americans recognize that something is deeply wrong with the country’s elementary and secondary schools, yet they support them like no other institution. Mention the possibility of abolishing the public schools, and most people look at you as though you are crazy. And, of course, no politician would ever dare cut spending to our schools and to the ‘kids’.”
Thompson states unequivocally, “The solution is not further reforms. The solution is abolition.” Read more here.
The Emancipation Proclamation was signed 150 years ago. Perhaps it is time for an Education Emancipation Proclamation?