The last refuge of a scoundrel

Samuel Johnson said that it was patriotism
and by, jingo, he’s still right but I have another contender: the R WORD. Reform. If you have something unpalatable, you sell it as a
“reform.” Bobby Jindal, David Vitter and Scott Walker are just a few
wingnuts who use the word “reform” to roll back the clock with their
retrograde ideas. I think it tests well but it really should not.

The
reason I’m trotting this out is the latest news out of school “reform”
land. The entire “reform” movement seems to be imploding with even
“reformers” like Paul Vallas backtracking.Diane Ravitchcame over from
the dark side quite some time ago.Michelle Rhee remains defiant but she should not be:

That gets to the news that exposes “reformers'” schemes — and all the illusions that surround them. According to a new U.S. Department of Education study,
“about one in five public schools was considered high poverty in 2011 …
up from about to one in eight in 2000.” This followed an earlier study
from the department finding that “many high-poverty schools receive
less than their fair share of state and local funding … leav(ing)
students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools
attended by their wealthier peers.”

Those data sets powerfully
raise the question that “reformers” are so desperate to avoid: Are we
really expected to believe that it’s just a coincidence that the public
education and poverty crises are happening at the same time? Put another
way: Are we really expected to believe that everything other than poverty is what’s causing problems in failing public schools?

Because
of who comprises it and how it is financed, the education “reform”
movement has a clear self-interest in continuing to say yes, we should
believe such fact-free pabulum. And you can bet that movement will keep
saying “yes” — and that the corporate media will continue to cheer them
as heroes for saying “yes” — as long as public education money keeps
being diverted into corporate coffers.

The worm slowly but surely
seems to be turning. The privatization of the public schools here in New
Orleans looks worse and worse every day. Right after Katrina and the
Federal Flood, it was plausible to say that anything would be better
than the previous system. It may not be worse but it’s not a helluva lot
better either.

Education is not the only area full of sham reforms and fake reformers but I don’t have all day. Suffice to say that every time I hear the R WORD, I make sure that my wallet is secure and not within reach.

Repeat after me; Reform is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

That is all.

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