THE HIDDEN PUSH TO PRIVATIZE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Thursday, September 23, 2004   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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With the election looming, George W is back to claiming that he's a "compassionate conservative" and as evidence he cites his centerpiece education law, the No Child Left Behind Act.

This is supposed to be a "tough love" reform, compelling all public school kids to pass standardized tests. If the kids fail the federal government's strict tests, they'll be held back, and their schools can lose federal funding and be replaced by corporate-run chain schools.

But instead of tough love, Bush's law actually is a "tough luck" scam, for he has callously refused to fund the reform part. To get congress to approve the law he had agreed to put up tax dollars for smaller classes, special teachers, tutors, educational equipment, and other resources needed for schools to improve the ability of our kids to learn and pass Bush's tests.

He reneged. In this year's presidential budget proposal, George shorts his own No Child Left Behind reform by nine billion bucks! That's on top of $17 billion he withheld in his previous two budgets. In fact, this spring, Bush offered more of our tax dollars in the form a bribe to try to get the government of Turkey to send some troops to Iraq than he has offered to America's school districts to implement his federally-mandated education laws.

By so severely shortchanging our public schools, the Bushites can advance their ideological agenda of school privatization. As more and more schools lack the resources to achieve the passing rates required on the mandated tests, a little-known provision in George's law will kick in one that encourages states to privatize schools that fail his testing system.

This is Jim Hightower saying... Lest you assume that private schools will be better thus more compassionate recent data from Bush's own education department now reveals that children in such schools are doing worse academically than are those in our public system. George's "reform" is not about compassion, it's about profits.

Sources:
"Bad News on the Charter Front," New York Times, August 18, 2004.
"Effort by Bush On Education Hits Obstacles, New York Times, August 18, 2004.
"A National Task: Why high-quality public education is the democratic challenge of our time," American Prospect, www.prospect.org/print/V15/2/borosage-r.html

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