Who Doesn’t Like the Sound of Corporate-Free Public Schools?

Another goody from Zazzle.com.

United Opt Out National shares a vision for “CORPORATE-FREE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.” What would it look like if these demands were met?


  •       ALL high stakes testing and punitive policies that label schools, punish students, and close public community schools
  •       ALL high stakes testing that ties teacher evaluations, pay, and job security to high stakes test results
  •       Corporate interventions in public education and education policy
  •       The use of public education funds to enact school “choice” measures influenced and supported by the corporate agenda
  •       Economically and racially segregated school communities
  •       “Model” legislation that provides special rules to charter schools that are forced upon public schools
  •       Corporate run for-profit charter schools that divert public funds away from public schools
  •       Mandates requiring teachers to use corporate approved, scripted programs that sublimate and negate authentic and meaningful learning experiences imparted by varied and rich curricula


  •       Libraries and librarians to all schools and communities
  •       Teaching force educated through accredited college teacher education programs only
  •       School buildings in ALL neighborhoods that meet health codes including clean drinking water, heat and air conditioning
  •       Developmentally appropriate, problem-based, literacy-rich, play-based and student-centered learning, with the return of nap, play, and snack time for kindergarteners
  •       Smaller student-to-teacher ratio (25 or fewer to one)
  •       Wrap around services for schools that offset the effects of poverty and social inequality, including but not limited to:  school staff such as nurses and health providers, social workers, community organizers, family counselors; free quality community daycare and preschool programs, healthy food availability, safe and healthy housing options, community social facilities, and after school programs to enhance learning and provide safe recreational spaces for all students
  •       Fully funded arts and athletics programs
  •       Recess and adequate time allotted for lunch
  •       New national funding formulas that ensures EQUITY in funding to ALL public schools regardless of zip code
  •       Requirement that a significant percentage of textbook or testing company PROFITS go BACK TO public education
  •       Requirement that all DOE positions are filled with qualified and experienced educators
  •       Requirement that Superintendents and school administrators have exceptional, extended teaching and school-based experience

Download the complete set of demands from their website: http://unitedoptout.com/ And feel free to discuss them below.


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“Portfolio”: The Vocabulary of Education Reform in Baltimore City – Lesson One


9 Comments to “Who Doesn’t Like the Sound of Corporate-Free Public Schools?”

  1. This list doesn’t sound Utopian to me, it sounds like my rural public school, circa 1974 – 1986. That school has been replaced by a public/private-funded charter school in order to keep its doors open (wish I knew more about the arrangement, but am looking at it with wary eyes). This decree, in my opinion, is a return to normalcy.


  2. Can someone direct me to a study showing most charters are run by for-profit entities owned by hedge funds? I’ll take at least 50% and am willing to consider that “most.” Otherwise, much of this manifesto sounds like the well-wishes of the privileged. It conspicuously addresses poverty at a very surface level and seeks other aspects of “good” community schools that existed in the very same places that have been churning out uneducated masses for decades.

    What if community schools remained untouched with all the items in this manifesto? Wouldn’t we be in a communist state? Shouldn’t communities and families choose what is best for their students? The whole “corporate takeover” seems like bandwagoning or a distraction at best. Privileged people with a clear safety net seem to assert platitudes about what’s wrong with education.

    When will someone just say it’s hard for the poor to excel in an oppressive system structured to maintain low expectations which perpetuate a cycle of ignorance.


  3. Let me rephrase the issues for those who need some clarity:

    HOW High Stakes Testing DESTROYS CHILDHOOD…a list of a few out of a sea of many….
    AFFECTS SOCIO-EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING: Our system of constant testing seems designed to produce anxiety and depression.
    KILLS CURIOSITY AND LOVE OF LEARNING: Actually limits and reduces the amount of QUALITY learning experiences. Rather than focusing on a child’s natural curiosity, HST emphasizes (and drills in) isolated facts limiting teacher’s ability to create environments that stimulate a child’s imagination.
    ACTUALLY REDUCES A CHILD’S CAPACITY FOR ATTAINING NEW KNOWLEDGE: If children cannot actively make connections between different topics of study, they don’t remember what they learn from day to day. Most standardized tests are still based on the recall of isolated facts and narrow skills. (www.fairtest.org).

    HIGHER ORDER THINKING IS REPLACED WITH SKILL, DRILL AND KILL: Most tests include many topics that are not important, while many important areas are not included on standardized tests because they cannot be measured by such tests. Teaching to the test does not produce real and sustained gains on independent learning measures. (www.fairtest.org)
    HOW High Stakes Testing DESTROYS PUBLIC SCHOOLS…a list of a few out of a sea of many….
    NARROWS THE CURRICULUM: The loss of a rich curriculum has been documented in research, in the media, and in teacher testimony. Forget art, music, and PE (in spite of the decades of research that correlates student overall school achievement to participation in these experiences). State-wide testing focuses only on math and reading. And with these critical subjects, teachers are forced to focus only on those test taking strategies that reflect the way material is presented on the tests.
    LOSS OF SOCIALIZATION AS A CENTRAL CORE OF LEARING: The opportunity to learn to socialize through recess, and collaborative classroom activities reduces children’s opportunities to develop healthy social skills. Being seated alone at a desk all day isolates children from learning how to develop community-based problem solving skills they will need as adults.
    MOVING FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLING FOR THE COMMON GOOD TO PRIVATIZATION OF ALL SCHOOLS: 80% of all schools are anticipated to fail meeting their federally-mandated test score goals (called AYP) by 2014. Private sector charter schools are invited to take over local public school not meeting federal rules. Our tax dollars—intended for public schools for the common good—are then diverted to these for-profit enterprises, often run by hedge fund entrepreneurs.
    DIVERTS GREATLY NEEDED FUNDS FROM SCHOOLS TO CORPORATE INTERESTS: The Department of Education has invested 4.5 BILLION dollars (Krashen, S., 2008) in developing new tests while millions of schools have cut art, music, and suffer from limited resources including clean drinking water or air conditioning.
    TEACHING TO THE TEST: Schools, grades K-12, on average, spend 10-12 WEEKS before the testing solely on test preparation, replacing meaningful hands-on instruction with skill and drill.
    VIOLATES THE 1st and 14th AMENDMENTS: The 14th amendment to the Constitution protects our rights to religious/spiritual freedom and this federal law supersedes state in regard to parental control over one’s child. Many school administrators, desperate for funding, try to intimidate parents from opting out of testing to keep federal funding for site participation; school participation is a requirement for federal funding under NCLB.
    VIOLATES FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT OF 1938: If a child is given work or assessments to do in the classroom that will eventually determine the income of a teaching professional, that student is providing the catalyst for the pay. This breaches the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, which states that sixteen is the basic minimum age for employment. It also says that when young people work, the work cannot jeopardize their health, well-being, or educational opportunities.
    VIOLATES ALL CHILDRENS’ RIGHTS TO A FREE AND APPROPRIATE EDUCATION: High stakes testing leads to under-serving or mis-serving all students, especially the most needy and vulnerable, thereby violating the principle of ‘do no harm.’ For example, students living in poverty, who already lack critical access to books and free reading, are condemned to test prep instead of having opportunities to read. Monies desperately needed for vital school resources such as clean drinking water and roofs that don’t leak are being spent on testing materials.


  4. Edit, thanks for posting this set of demands. Aside from the fact that I think some of these demands would do more harm than good (e.g., a new “national funding formulas that ensures EQUITY in funding to ALL public schools regardless of zip code” would set many of our poorer communities back), as a general comment I really feel that the end-high-stakes-testing rhetoric has become so disassociated from the facts that it is as counterproductive as the testing it assails. The anti-corporate arguments, used to link public education reform to the Occupy movement, fail to appreciate how we got here and, thus, fail to meaningfully address how it can be fixed.

    Testing has been a staple of American public education since the 19th century and, frankly, historically the stakes were much higher on an individual basis – if you failed to demonstrate mastery you did not go on to the next grade level (this form of high stakes testing was cast off in the social promotion movement). But the modern interest in outcome and accountability testing was not a product of “corporations” but, at least initially, driven by reformers in the 1960s who examined education equality based on results rather than the inputs. It was out of that movement/discussion that we began to discuss “results” based upon test data. As we pushed for higher student achievement as depicted by those tests, government put more and more money into education budgets and with more money came a push for increased accountability and transparency. Thus, test data (viewed as results) came to be the measure for accountability. The claim that any of that had anything to do with corporate America is intellectually dishonest.

    While I appreciate that profit should never drive education policy, and accept that there are opportunistic corporate entities trying to do just that, blaming the pariah de jour (Wall Street / corporate America) for all the ills of public education is just not helpful.


  5. This is great stuff! The common law marriage between public ed and socialism is now on full public display!


    • Funny. But isn’t socialism dead? We’re witnessing a populist struggle against the excesses of late stage capitalism. Profiteers – capitalist seekers of infinite growth – are quickly exhausting their resources. So they’re coming home to capitalize on other people’s children. Data collection is the name of the game. Human beings – the littlest ones with the most minimal rights – are converted into abstract figures. Profiteers make bank by innovating in the realm of computer-based testing and psychometrics. In terms of wiping out the individualism that Americans prize so highly, the testing regime is worse than socialism. If you think about it, opting out of standardized testing is a very American movement. (U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!)


  6. By “requirement that a significant percentage of textbook or testing company PROFITS go BACK TO public education,” do they mean to levy a special tax on textbook and testing companies? Why? Why should those companies bear a greater financial burden than any other company on the planet? What about other companies that school systems do business with: food services, building contractors, landscape companies, law firms, accounting firms? Why are the textbook and testing companies on the hook but the other firms not? And what about the publishers of books used in the classroom but not technically classified as textbooks (e.g., novels)? Are they covered by this requirement? At the same rate as the textbook suppliers? What about companies for whom testing of public schools is just a portion of their total business model?


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