A variety of causes are cited for cancellation of Michelle Obama’s appearance at a high school graduation ceremony in Topeka. There was limited seating for the venue. Parents raised concern over the proposed topic of her speech- the Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education, which outlawed segregation in schools. That decision was handed down a short distance from the school 60 years ago; making it pertinent. Parents objected to the overflow crowd expected, which would have necessitated a broadcast to a separate audience. There was also voicing of politicizing the graduation, which some saw inappropriate. 1) The afore mentioned incident is an example of what some see as the Federal Dept.of Education going beyond what should be a locally determined process.
There is a continuing dialogue about public schools, administration, political agendas, unions, cronyism, mismanagement of public funds and curriculum.
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ); co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus was candid speaking with Salon, and claimed Obama’s education policy is a continuance of No Child Left behind, instituted by George W. Bush. Grijalva believes public schools are “starved” and called charter schools a “step towards privatization”. He also cited standardized testing as divisive in terms of cultural differences. These factors, Grijalva states set public schools up to fail. Test scores on a consecutive decline tend to either “let the school be run by private management or let the students then go somewhere else; usually to a private charter school”. Enrollment in public schools is declining. He sees a lack of diversity and declining financial resources as a serious threat to reversing the trends he outlined in his interview with Salon. 2)
Recently Common Core curriculum has come under fire from parents, students, and school districts. Many object to what they see as puzzling methodology and strange mathematics procedures. Others object to explicit text book content as well as questionable accounts of History and the Constitution. The text book publishing industry has many long time associations with public and private schools and supporters of Common Core, including Bill Gates. A recently settled lawsuit between NY Atty. General Eric Schneiderman and the Pearson Charitable Foundation was based on the determination that the foundation marketed common core products that would “generate tens of millions of dollars” for Pearson Inc., the largest educational publisher world wide and sister company to the Pearson Foundation. The market targeting of common core material by Pearson was examined by Schneiderman dating back to 2010. According to the ruling, Pearson used for it’s non profit organization to receive endorsement from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which was a financial contributor in the creation of Common Core standards. Evidently, intent was established to make profit by developing the course under the non profit Pearson Foundation and then the corporate sister, Pearson Inc. would sell the common core materials at a substantial profit. When the investigation began, the Pearson Foundation sold the courses to Pearson Inc. for $15.1 million. They have denied any wrong doing in their statement. They did add some independent directors to the Foundation’s Board and admitted “we recognize there were times when the governance of the Foundation and it’s relationship with Pearson could have been clearer and more transparent.” Additional stipulations of the agreed settlement of $7.7 million paid by Pearson include the separation of the Pearson Inc. commercial products from that of Pearson Foundation. 3)
Vigilance and involvement by Parents in Public Education is difficult, but certainly is worthy of more careful scrutiny as soon as possible by those affected. The public school system bears a good portion of responsibility for whatever is the future of our Country. The present bears innumerable consequences.