Feb 23, 2013

Scott Walker's Attack on Public Schools

GOP-Religious right attack on schools -
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Scott Walker's 2011 "unprecedented $900 million cut to school funding, coupled with a scheme to create a state-run system of charter schools" is an attack on professional public teachers, unions, and staff.

Two year later, Wisconsin sees Walker propose "$73 million more for voucher schools, $23 million more for charter schools, and $21 million for special needs students to attend private schools."

Walker took his show on the road in 2011,12, and 13 at right-wing venues such as the American Federation for Children's "School Choice Now: Empowering America's Children" policy summit.

Walker, and the right-wing billionaires and Christian zealots he represents, seek nothing less than the destruction of the public school system, replaced with a tax-payer-financed, Christian-oriented, biblically-centered 'learning network.'

Now (Feb. 13), Walker proposes a nearly $70 billion biennial budget that again hits public schools, municipalities, and anything public, including selling off public assets such as state power plants.

K.C. Boyd has an excellent summary:

One can trace the development of today’s right wing Christian think takes to the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. Religiously conservative people, motivated by their perceived degradation of society, quietly perfected their skills, all the while grooming their own young adherents, played an effective long-game that continues to win (and corrupt) the hearts and minds of a significant segment of our youth. Indeed, there is no better way to affect the future than by propagandizing the young. In this current post election season, the Biblically driven, often racist, members of society are once again regrouping to fight another day.

With the money of wealth funders like Richard and Betsy DeVos (sister of Blackwater scion Eric Prince and daughter of Elsa and Edgar Prince of the Amway fortune) and the Walton, Koch and Scaife Foundations, simpatico politicians are hard at work bringing Dominionist ideals quietly into the forefront of American education policy. While much of the country argues about budgets, deficits, and guns, a cleverly camouflaged package of School Choice and ”Bible-driven curricula“ make their way up the ladder.

On the surface, School Choice is purportedly about increasing opportunities for inner city and rural youth. The all-important subtext, however, is that School Choice is really about freeing up dollars for Christian-based education. An important arrow that energizes today’s religious quiver is the intentional misuse of language in changing the debate by referring to public schools as “government schools” and public education as a “government school monopoly,” thus instantly and directly speaking to Tea Partiers and Libertarians. ...

Of particular concern is the textbook-like use of scripture to condone homophobia, to slander blacks and Jews, and to deny basic climate and evolutionary science. And Texas is not alone. According to The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools’ website over a half a million students have already taken these courses nationally for credit. Take a half a million public school minds along with those who are already enrolled in religious schools or who are homeschooled, multiply it by a decade and it’s easy to see why it matters. ...

It is critical that Americans recognize not only the intent to privatize our schools but the vast Christian Right agenda behind it. Whether from curricula control and out of order teachers in our public schools, or from the voucherization leading to fundamentalist Christian-based schools, charter schools and Christian homeschooling, a generation of children so educated will graduate from high school ill-equipped to face the realities of a science based world.

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