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WORKSHOP #5: THE POLITICS of EDUCATION: Overcoming the Corporate Matrix

The danger of education...is that it so easily confuses means with ends...it quite easily forgets both and devotes itself merely to the mass production of uneducated graduates...people literally unfit for anything except to take part in an elaborate and completely artificial charade which they had and their contemporaries have conspired to call "life." ~Thomas Merton, Love and Living.

Prepare yourself for some disturbing viewpoints about education in this workshop. These sites reveal historical, social, and psychological findings that neither teachers nor teacher educators have been heretofore informed about.

  • Read and keep a Journal of your responses to sites 1 through 8, the findings and viewpoints of former New York City and state Teacher of the Year, John Taylor Gatto.
  • Continue your Journaling as you read the first eight links on site 9. Joseph Chilton Pearce's work, reflected in these links, takes the view that schools overlook the heart of learning, compounding the damage done during hospital childbirth, 6,000 hours of television by age 5, and day care. If so, there are implications for Charter Schools and all types of schooling. Be sure to discuss these in your Journal.

  • Site # 10, New Democracy ~ MCAS' Corporate-Government Background, has articles explaining the role of corporate domination affecting the Standards and Standardized Testing movement. Relfect in your Journal both on site 10, on sites 11, 12 and 13, and on the concluding paragraphs at the end of this workshop--from a 50 page study--all reflecting the invisible "matrix" in corporate control and "dumbing down," in TV news journalism, as well as schools. If corporate America does this to media news, as well as to schools, what do they hope to benefit?

  • Spend time looking at a wide variety of links on the "Suggested Solutions" sites at the end of this listing. Reflect on what you believe a single teacher can work on.
  • When your Journal for Workshop 5 is completed, for graduate academic credit, mail it to

    Chad C. Osborne
    923 West Mission St.
    Santa Barbara,CA 93101

  1. Choice in Education
  2. The Makers of Modern Schooling
  3. Thoughts on Education
  4. The Public School Nightmare: Why fix a system designed to destroy individual thought?
  5. The Curriculum of Necessity
  6. The 9 Assumptions of Modern Schooling
  7. Gatto's Dumbing Us Down Essays
  8. John Taylor Gatto-Selected Excerpts
  9. Reasons Reform Will Likely Fail: Joseph Chilton Pearce
  10. New Democracy ~ MCAS' Corporate-Government Background
  11. TV News: What Local Stations Don't Want You to Know!
  12. Maitland School of Advanced Learning Student Handbook Third Edition (1999)
  13. Question Authority: An Essay on Educational Reform

    ARE THERE ANY SOLUTIONS?

    **Parker Charter Essential School in Ayer, Mass. (on the former Ft. Devens grounds) is the best example of a public school moving in the direction of a high quality, democratic education. Check out their curriculum, assessment, and other online resources!

    **Schools of Hope -- Tools and ideas for solutions!

    The **Coalition of Essential Schools Field Book also has numerous links showing how SOME schools avoid the problems Gatto cites.

    **Tools for Small Schools has resources to aid in converting big schools into several smaller schools--the single most powerful reform method.

    **Empowering Students: Essential Schools' Missing Link shows the process and difficulties experienced as teachers turn more resposibility for learning over to students.

    **Essential Questions in Teaching and Learning -- Activating students' higher mental and emotional capacities to overcome "high stakes" testing's trivialization of learning.

    **Yreka High School School Accountability Report Card -- One school's effort to make school learning more pwerful and meaningful!

    **Defensive Routines and Organizational Learning -- Searching for the way out of "political" decision making and leadership

    **Questing the Web: Web Quests As Essential Questions -- A highly motivating class-wide inquiry strategy

    TEACHER EDUCATION REFORM

    Constructing Outcomes in Teacher Education: Policy, Practice and Pitfalls
    by Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Boston College

    Constructions of outcomes that are embedded within market approaches to education reform legitimize the dominance of "private goods" and undermine the view that public education is an enterprise for the public good in a democratic society. Emphasis on private goods and the privatization of education is a trend that is not limited to the U.S. Rather the free-market approach to educational reform is a global phenomenon. Along these lines, Apple (2000), Whitty, Power, & Halpin (1998), and Robertson (1998), among others, have pointed out that the tendency in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and in parts of the U.S. has been to devolve blame for the "failures" of public education to the local level-schools, teachers, and teacher education programs-while at the same time over- regulating the content of education and dramatically curtailing the role of universities in teacher education (Thiessen, 2000).

    Many of the recent attacks on teacher education are best understood in terms of this larger global debate. There is a striking similarity in many of the attacks on teacher education and in their allegiance to market-driven reforms that make the anti-democracy theme very clear . In these attacks, multicultural education is often constructed as a villain (Farkas & Johnson, 1997; Schrag, 1999)-at best politically correct but meaningless, and at worst an evil political movement that is denying white middle class citizens their share of space in the pages of textbooks and causing a downward trend in children's skills (Stotsky, 1999). In many of the attacks on teacher education, the commentator presumes to speak for "the public," for "public school teachers," or for "parents," all of whom want the same things-order, discipline, basic skills, and a return to American traditions (Farkas & Johnson, 1997). There is also an assumption that knowledge is a static and inert commodity that is (or should be) transmitted directly from teachers to students. Finally there is the presumption that what would save our schools is the "return" to an earlier and idealized time when American values were uncontested and shared by all, when the "canon" of western European history and literary works was unchallenged, and when academic standards for all students were rigorous and culturally neutral (Ravitch, 2000). Each of these entirely faulty presumptions and historical inaccuracies has been critiqued and deconstructed in great detail elsewhere (e.g., Apple, 2000; Banks, 2001; Ladson-Billings, 1999a).

    The similarities among many of these attacks, though, are not surprising-nor are their explicitly conservative politics and their gestures toward racism-when it is understood that they are part of a market-driven approach to educational reform and part of the larger conservative political agenda for the privatization of American education. Although it claims to be neutral, this agenda begins with the premise that we need to deregulate and dismantle teacher education, certifying teachers solely on the basis of high stakes test scores and letting the market decide which children will have the most qualified teachers. These are anything but neutral premises and neutral assumptions about the purposes of American education, the purposes of teacher education, and the role of public education in a democratic society.

    Mary Heaton Vorse once wrote, "In the last analysis, civilization itself will be measured by the way in which children live and by what chance they have in the world" (quoted in Maggio, 1997, p. 8). As we construct outcomes for teacher education, we need to keep in mind how we will be measured by our own measures. As researchers, practitioners, and policy makers in teaching and teacher education, we will not measure up unless we preserve a place for critique in the face of consensus, unless we keep at the center of teacher education rich and complex understandings of teaching and learning that are not easily reducible to algorithms, unless we acknowledge that although teachers have a critical role in educational reform, they alone are neither the saviors nor the culprits in what is wrong with American schools and American society, and unless we remain vigilant in demanding time and space on the outcomes agenda not just for professional discussions about meeting the needs of all students but for deep interrogation of questions related to diversity, equity, access, and racism.. At this critical juncture in the reform and development of teacher education, if we do not take control of framing the outcomes in teacher education, then the outcomes will surely frame us and undermine our work as teachers, teacher educators, researchers, and policy makers committed to a democratic vision of society and to the vital role that teachers and teacher educators play in that vision.

    The Ed Reform Tool We Most Need:

    CHAD OSBORNE

    ozpk100@aol.com