Back in December, I posted about attending the premiere of “Rise Above the Mark,” a documentary aimed at starting a discussion about the merits of privatization/voucher/charter movement on public schools:
It is an effort spearheaded by the West Lafayette Schools Education Foundation — an organization associated with West Lafayette School Corporation but funded separately. WLCS superintendent, Rocky Killion has been instrumental in its development. The documentary, I think, has two primary goals: start a discussion that is focused on finding the best way to develop the children who will be our citizens in the future; and to give a voice to the public schools and public school teachers who feel that they have been largely voiceless in the debates that have gone on in recent years. The pro-voucher side is well-funded, well organized, and seems to have the ear of most of the decision makers.
Relentless standardized testing is panned by this film. We spend a lot of money paying testing companies to waste a good bit of our kids’ educational time in order to provide information that the teachers and principals already knew. (The implication (not mentioned in the film) is that those advocating standardized testing don’t particularly trust public school teachers and administrators.) It also distorts the educational process; tending to produce students who lack creativity and the ability to self-direct their studies. Our democracy depends on creative, self-directed citizens far more than it relies on citizens with superior Scantron bubble filling skills.
Another primary point is that we have had 20+ years to experiment with public funding of alternative schools and, turns out, they don’t produce results that are notably better than traditional public schools. Often enough, they perform worse.
The Rise Above the Mark efforts have continued, the latest in Kokomo according to an article by Lauren Fitch in the Kokomo Tribune (who (mistakenly I believe) credits the effort to the West Lafayette School Corporation instead of the Education Foundation). The article indicates that a screening of the documentary and a discussion will take place, starting “at 4:30 p.m. Thursday (July 17) at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library South Branch, 1755 E. Center Road. The first hour will be a social hour, with the film starting promptly at 5:30 p.m.”
My sense of the privatization movement, as I concluded in my IBJ column in January:
I’m not saying any of the people involved in this debate are nihilistic opportunists, mining the educational system for power and profit. I’m just saying that if such people designed an educational system, it would probably look a lot like the one we’ve been developing over the last 20 years.