Who owns public education? Teaching teachers in the age of online education, school choice, and the audit culture
America's faith in democracy remains evident in its support of public schools. Locally-controlled public education remains the great equalizer to many an emigre, a bridge to economic opportunity and political enfranchisement in this, the great experiment in freedom and democracy (Price, 2009).
Yet the period spanning 2001-2017 in the United States of America might best be characterized in the words “shock and awe” (Price, 2014). During this tumultuous period, the public good was placed under increasingly austere measures as a direct result of war, widespread financial speculation, tax cuts for the wealthy and the subsequent crash of the financial, investment, and real estate market (Price and Gershon, 2007).
To add insult to injury, banking industry bailout(s) of epic proportions—shouldered disproportionately by hard working American taxpayers—led to political upheavals, and an increasingly divided body politic.
Public education amongst other sectors in the “commons” was severely impacted. Not inconsequentially and as if by design, a number of education reforms were pitched to “fix” the problems associated with public education’s supposed failings, solutions that cynically attempt(ed) to rest ownership of the system away from the citizenry and usurp it for venture capitalists and hedge fund managers’ stock portfolios.
This session aims to shed light on how it came to be, that our nation’s system of locally-controlled public schools, were threatened with hostile takeover, yet continue nonetheless continue to meet the challenge, providing excellent teaching and learning for our children. I will aim to highlight some of the groups leading this resistance, whose aim it to turn back “the barbarians at the schoolhouse” (Berne, 2009).