Need a quick primer on "corporate reform" in public education and its consequences? Stan Karp's got you covered. The director of the Secondary Reform Project for New Jersey's Education Law Center, Karp spoke last month at the Northwest Teachers for Social Justice Conference, criticizing the corporate attitude that is guiding major "reform" legislation. (We've compiled his speach into a nice PDF, which you find here on our Resources page.)
Karp says that the hallmarks of this corporate attitude are easy to identify: Increased emphasis on test-based student and teacher evaluation; the weakening of teachers' tenure or seniority rights; closing low-performing schools and replacing them with public funded, but privately run, charters; and voucher programs. All in all, Karp argues that corporate-minded policies are transforming the teaching profession and creating a "less experienced, less secure, less stable, and less expensive professional staff."
"A larger corporate reform goal, in addition to changing the way schools and classrooms function, is reflected in the attacks on collective bargaining and teacher unions and in the permanent crisis of school funding across the country. These policies undermine public education and facilitate its replacement by a market-based system that would do for schooling what the market has done for health care, housing, and employment: produce fabulous profits and opportunities for a few and unequal outcomes and access for the many."
The worst part of this corporate reform attitude is that it goes after the wrong target, says Karp.
"They didn't go after funding inequity, poverty, reform faddism, consultant profiteering, massive teacher turnover, politicized bureaucratic management, or the overuse and misuse of testing. Instead, they went after collective bargaining, teacher tenure, and seniority. And they went after the universal public and democratic charter of public schools."
Read a transcript of Karp's entire speech (or watch it on video!) here.