Further to my previous post on this issue, which can be found here, is this article that totally puts into context how shamelessly Milton Friedman’s free-market principles have been (and are still being) applied to education:
“…U.S. Secretary of education, Arne Duncan declared, “Let me be really honest. I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that ‘We have to do better.’” Yet if there is one particularly frightening example for the future of public education it lies in the aftermath of Katrina. The case of using the disaster as a way to push through the largest and quickest privatization scheme of any public school system ever attempted, was made widely known in Naomi Klein’s best-selling book The Shock Doctrine.
Three months after the hurricane hit, free-market fanatic Milton Friedman wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Most New Orleans schools are in ruins, as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity to radically reform the educational system.” As Klein points out:
Friedman’s radical idea was that instead of spending a portion of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money on rebuilding and improving New Orleans’ existing public school system, the government should provide families with vouchers, which they could spend at private institutions, many run at a profit, that would be subsidized by the state. It was crucial, Friedman wrote, that this fundamental change not be a stopgap but rather “a permanent reform.”
A network of right wing think tanks seized on Friedman’s proposal and descended on the city after the storm. The administration of George W. Bush backed up their plans with tens of millions of dollars to convert New Orleans schools into “charter schools,” publicly funded institutions run by private entities according to their own rules….”
The current New Zealand government is treading more softly (or perhaps more sneakily?) but the expected rhetoric about an “ailing education system” and “bad teachers” is a constant refrain, with the mainstream media joining in loud and long to reinforce the idea that there is a crisis. Charters, of course, have already been enshrined into The Education Act and the first charters have opened, with more to come this year.
How long before Christchurch schools are charterised? How long before public and charter schools are pitted head to head? How long before your local school is closed against community wishes and forcible turned into a charter? You think it wouldn’t happen? It does, just ask communities in England and the USA. Aotearoa is not that far behind.
We are presently seeing just the tip of the iceberg.