Speaking of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, a new report looks at the state of New Orleans' public education since last year's disaster -- and raises serious concerns about efforts to privatize the system in the storm's wake.
New Orleans' public schools were already in serious disrepair before Katrina devastated the city last August. Lacking resources and poorly managed, the system was undoubtedly one of the worst in the nation.
But rather than use the disaster that destroyed over half of the city's school buildings as an opportunity to build a first-class education system, the Bush administration and allied privatization advocates used the storm as a chance for social experimentation on a grand scale.
"Dismantling a Community" by the Center for Community Change in Washington documents the consequences:
Over the past twelve months, buoyed by the support of the federal government, a network of conservative anti-government activists have moved with singular intensity to patch together a new vision for K-12 education that they hope will become a national model.
It is a vision that disdains the public sector and those who work within it. It is a vision based on competition and economic markets. It is a vision of private hands spending public funds.
Most disturbing, it is a vision that casts families and students as "customers," who shop for schools in isolation from -- and even in competition with -- their neighbors. It is a vision that, like the game of musical chairs, requires someone to be left without a seat.
Besides analyzing the politics behind what's happening to New Orleans' schools, the report includes personal essays by students and teachers who were involved with Students at the Center, a writing program based in those schools that teaches students to express themselves and to engage in their communities.
To download the report, click here.