Re: DSM: Sharing the SVS model


Ben B. Day (bday@cs.umb.edu)
Thu, 9 Nov 2000 01:11:32 -0500 (EST)


On Wed, 8 Nov 2000 Avenfeliz1@aol.com wrote:

> I don't
> care for the public school system. I never have. Generally, I find it quite
> oppressive.

Just a quick note, since I've seen this recur several times in the last
batch of messages here. I would say that, in general, private schools are
much more oppressive than public schools. The for-profit charter school
movement scares me much more than public schools ever have. If public
schools seem to be getting more oppressive (a la the MCAS), it's probably
because the corporate lobby for vouchers and charter schools controls the
Massachusetts Board of Education (thanks to the Weld administration) and
they don't like public education either (but for different reasons than
SVS junkies - public schools are stealing their market).

Remember, education constitutes 10 percent of the U.S. economy, but only 1
percent of the stock market. The most important change to happen in the
politics of education over the last decade is that investors and
corporations have set their sites on education as the new "emerging
market" (as third world countries are sometimes referred to), which
promises to be very profitable, at the great expense of what
remaining freedoms and liberties students and their families currently
enjoy.

It would be a great folly to fail to recognize this sea change in the
political climate surrounding education. Policy makers in education have
been replaced with high-level corporate executives. The Board of Trustees
running the University of Massachusetts system - whose Boston campus I
currently attend - is composed of the President and CEO of Citizens Bank
Boston, the Vice President and Director of Corporate Affairs of
FleetBoston Financial, the Executive Vice President of Frontier Capital
Management, the President of Borden and Remington Corporation, an attorney
for Foley, Hoag & Elliot, the senior partner of Karam Insurance Agency,
Weld's former chief fund-raiser (before he withdrew during a conflict of
interest scandal between his political and business associations), and
many other exemplars of civic virtue.

A move towards privatization in education will NOT lead to more radical
(i.e. SVS-style) educational settings or schooling methodologies. A quick
glance at the money behind the privatization lobby should be enough to
assure one of this. I think, furthermore, that it would be disastrous for
the survival (much less expansion) of SVS-style private schools, which
would suddenly appear as competition in a liberalized education market.
For-profit schools would have the distinct advantage in this competition
of their avid proponents holding all of the seats on state-level
policy-making bodies.

If there's one reason to be grateful for the relatively small scale of
SVS's presence at the state and national level, it's that we seem to slip
beneath the radar screen of the for-profit lobby. Think of the mentality
that produced the MCAS test - a test which approximately 85% of black and
latino students in Boston failed last year (which would prevent them from
graduating by 2003, when the MCAS requirement goes into effect) - and ask
yourselves what they'd think about Sudbury Valley schools. The MCAS was
pushed through based on the justification that its contents must be
mastered before a student can reasonably expect to go on to college or a
high-school level job. The MCAS contains questions like "What spirit is
expressed in Mayo Angelo's poem 'Why does the caged bird sing?'" - many
public schools are so underfunded that they don't even HAVE Mayo Angelo
books. The single greatest threat to the survival of SVS schools is the
repopulation of education boards with corporate interests, instead of the
parents, teachers, and community leaders who once determined policy.

----Ben



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