Re: DSM: Sharing the SVS model

John Axtell (
Thu, 09 Nov 2000 20:00:29 -0800

Dear Ben,

I may have my head in the sand but I believe that vouchers can result in real
educational reform.

The interesting thing is that here in the State of Washington the Legislature has
passed laws that allow real educational reform. Teachers, administrators,
Superintendents and dead school boards have made sure nothing happens. School
boards have never been functional.

It is the lack of competition that deadens any company, public education, ATT or
defense contractors. It makes no difference - no competition results in a dead
organization that pretends to be alive.

Only when we have a full range of options in this country will there be any real
hope for massive improvement in the lot of our citizens. I do not believe that
either major political party have any desire to take on the teachers unions so it
will have to wait until the parents are mad enough to make a change in the
system, politicians will not do it as teachers are the reason they get reelected.

Just this week the teachers union did a good job and got their two education
initiatives passed. (They spent LOTS of union dues doing it !) Because of these
initiative we will see more money go into decreasing class size and an automatic
cost of living pay increase, forever, for all teachers. Of course the rest of the
state employees do not participate in this little windfall. The charter school
initiative, which I spoke out against, just failed by a few points.

The State School Superintendent, a past state union teachers president, just got
reelected with no one opposing her. Who has the money to fight the teachers
union? The citizens have exactly the school system they so richly deserve. As
the masses continue their rapid fall downward those few who are really educated
will have a much easier time succeeding in their life's endeavors.

We must remember that the educational system exists for the benefit of the titans
of our economy, so who better to have at the helm of the educational ship !!!

If public money can be put into vouchers that can be used at public or private
schools I think you will see real educational reform.

John Axtell

"Ben B. Day" wrote:

> On Wed, 8 Nov 2000 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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