By Edith Morgan
Worcester’s MCAS scores are published, and once again the public is treated to a bunch of truly meaningless, worthless numbers, designed, not to enlighten or help improve our public schools, but to denigrate the performance of those most abused by this money-mad society and to hold them down longer and most surely.
Many years ago our public schools undertook the unique task of educating EVERY child – no matter what that child brought to school.
This was a most remarkable goal, and well beyond what most nations did: they selected the cream of the crop, and funneled them through their systems, tested them, and supported and encouraged them to go as high as they could (Thus were created the Olympic stars, etc of many nations.) But America chose another path, at least on paper. (Things tend to get watered down or even perverted when left to the states). For several decades, with impetus from the Federal Government, we tried very hard to give every child in America an even chance – regardless of poverty, minority status, mental or physical handicaps, or abusive home environment, – to become a full-fledged citizen, neighbor, family member and worker.
I was teaching at the time, and it was demanding work, but very fulfilling.
But then, gradually, almost unperceived, there was a change: several things occurred (not in this order, but equally important):
We elected a President who convinced too many people that “Greed is Good”, with the obvious deadly results.
We started to believe in the “wisdom of the Market”, and despite all the data to the contrary, began to import the philosophy and methods of industry into our schools, making them more like factories (of late we have also imported the business model into medicine with disastrous results)
In a well-funded and orchestrated campaign, we were told: that our schools were mediocre, our teachers overpaid, and our goals of creating lifelong learners and good citizens should subverted and instead we should produce workers for business.
In a real slap in the face to parents and citizens, a major move to “privatize” (i.e. take over the public schools from the public) was instituted, under the thinly disguised excuse that these “model” schools would try new and better things, from which the local public schools could then learn and adapt their methods and curricula. (I was at that time involved with several years of Federal programs funding experiments in the public schools, designing better ways to teach reading, literature, etc.. and these programs, since they were federally funded, were available to all. Imagine my surprise when one major supplier of charter programs turned out to be using these ideas, not creating their own, new ones.)
We were told that we needed these alternatives, because the public schools lacked innovation and creativity and flexibility. So, instead of giving our public schools the flexibility they needed, we created this spurious alternative, siphoned funds away from the neediest, and enthroned the profit motive in one more place where it has no business being.
Not everything in a decent society can turn a profit: I strongly believe that education and health care should not be privately held by for-profit, enterprises (and maybe we should add public transportation and parkland to the list).