Our discussion about chapter three had a tone of enlightenment and deep frustration and took us back to the first day of class where we were challenged to differentiate between politics, policy, and law as it relates to education. I will admit that this question stumped me. Through discussion on that first day we arrived at an explanation that compares the trio to the human psyche. Educational policy is casted as the “ego”, the rational aspects of education. Politics is the more primal and self-driven “id” and, in turn, politics has a direct and strong impact on policy. Law is casted as the idealistic “superego”. In the past, politics balanced interests and the way decisions were made. However, whose interests are being served when schools close down and reopen as charters?
As we read through chapter three we became more familiar with the “id” called politics. The neoliberal agenda pushes to bring education, along with other public sectors, in line with the promotion of self-interest and unrestricted capital accumulation (Lipman, 2011, p. 14). After navigating the chapter, I agree with Lipman (2011) in that dismantling public schools furthers the neoliberal agenda without consideration on the detrimental effects doing so has on the community and students served in that given area.
Setting the Stage
No Child Left Behind’s (2001) ranking schools process laid the groundwork for the national privatization agenda (Lipman, 2011, p. 52). Public schools are being phased-out and charters are springing up, even here in Miami-Dade County. I work at a middle school that is in the final year of being phased-out, next year it will be completely closed. Two years ago, when plans to phase out our school were announced, we were told that the reason for closing down was due to the school’s low-performance, we were ranked an F school- the lowest scoring school in all of Miami-Dade County. Since then, we have then steadily improved our scores and we are now ranked a C school, well within the range of being a B. However, the plans to phase out the school have not wavered. In fact, a different reasoning surfaced after our rank changed for the better. We were then told that our enrollment was too low to remain open. They failed to admit that the entire neighborhood was rezoned the previous year and that most of our students were sent to a similar middle school about a mile away under the new zones. Lipman (2011) testifies of similar happenings in Chicago; “school staff in schools slated to be closed or phased out in Chicago also report that school district policies-changes in school boundaries and cutting back bus transportations for students-contribute to lower enrollment” (p.68).
As Teach for America corps members, what is our role? How do we impact the neoliberal agenda? We joined Teach for America and joined the movement with the aspirations of making a change for the better, to improve a child’s education and ultimately the opportunities they will have in...