By Ben Rosenblatt
I am a public school student. I have spent my entire educational career in the New York City public education system, but my education is being privatized. And that is wrong.
Privatization of education is antithetical to a strong public educational system. As former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch noted, the privatization movement is taking our public school system hostage under false pretenses, attempting to bring our education system back to the “good old days,” despite the fact that the quality of public education has only risen over the past decades. These “reformers” promote private charter schools as a solution, a way to fix our “broken” public education system. But they fail to disclose the facts.
Yes, our public education system has declined in world rankings. On international exams such as the Program for International Student Assessment, we’ve fallen multiple spots, but U.S. students performed better on tests before the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. That’s not a coincidence – high-stakes standardized testing doesn’t work.
But our teachers and public education system are not to blame.
We must stop victimizing our teachers. How can we expect our teachers to help students learn when we replace them with charter school teachers and bash their unions, while using a merit pay system that attacks their ability to teach by furthering high-stakes standardization?
Privatization puts major restrictions on teachers and the curriculum. Through legislation and programs such as No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now the Common Core State Standards Initiative, students are falling even farther behind in international rankings. Meanwhile, they are studying solely to pass tests, rather than learning. As a student myself, I can state that fact stronger than any adult can refute it.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a way to privatize and standardize our public education on the Federal level. But not only is it wrong; it was rushed. As evidenced by New York State’s decision to push back implementation of Common Core from 2017 to 2022, the privatization movement is trying to take control of our education system without looking in depth.
We must invest in our public education system. As the New York Times notes, we’ve already started by pushing for universal public pre-kindergarten, a key part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s platform. But we must go further.
We must support our teachers and eliminate merit pay. We must abolish high-stakes standardized testing, and replace it with individualized portfolio-based assessments. And we must retake our public education system, diminish the privatization movement, and reinvest in our public schools.