Leistyna, Winfield and Kohn all focus on how the government is committed to privatizing education rather than improving the current public school system. Leistyna argues that the government is being influenced by corporate powers that strive to maximize profit in our capitalist system. The government has established exclusionary and discriminatory policies that perpetuate inequality in society. Due to the gross inequities and injustices, neoliberals turn to “a better system of education” as the answer (144). However, as Leistyna argues, “all this rhetoric about accountability, efficiency, effectiveness, and excellence in public education is really an ideological trap intended to ensure that public schools fail, thus paving their way for their complete privatization” (155). When looking at NCLB, it was an act put in place to line students and schools up to fail. Students, teachers, administrators, and parents have had no power in the decisions that have been made. Education reform has been placed in the hands of corporate executives and politicians. The goals laid out in NCLB are seen as impossible to achieve for many schools. Therefore, these schools will likely be closed down and put in the control of charter schools or private companies. As Leistyna discusses, the ones benefitting from NCLB are the large corporations, such as the four big publishing houses, that are making billions due to the high costs of standardized tests. Public education reform has become a way for corporations to maximize profit through privatizing schools.
Winfield also focuses on the push for privatization of education, but examines the role of eugenics in shaping the structure of our society today. He argues that the “basic tenets of eugenic ideology have long supplied an explanation for the establishment, evolution and perpetuation of inequality” (147). Eugenic ideology is based on the assumption that poverty has to do with people’s bloodline rather than the environment in which they were raised and developed. As a result, people, specifically those who are white and wealthy, are seen to be worth more than others. Winfield believes eugenic ideology is ubiquitous in America today. The current push for privatization serves to protect the “worthy” elites and prevent social mobility for others.
Kohn makes similar arguments to Leistyna and Winfield about the dangers of privatizing education. He recognizes the dissatisfaction with the current state of our public schools, but argues that privatization won’t fix the problems. He believes there is a greater danger in concentrating power in the education system in private hands (82). Corporations are not held accountable to anyone and are once again only concerned with maximizing profit. He also argues that NCLB is an act that works to shift public schools into the hands of the private sector. Due to NCLB, accountability is all that matters in education. Schools are under a lot of pressure to perform well and many students are being negatively impacted as a result. Because NCLB is not committed to improving schools, we need to resist it as Kohn says. However, he does not present any solutions to the failing education system. What should we do next?
After reading these authors’ pieces, it is clear that the public education system isn’t working. However, privatizing schools does not seem to be the answer. While NCLB was created with the positive intentions of giving all people an equal, substantial education, it has not done so and will not by 2014. It is commonly believed in society that education is key to social mobility and all people deserve equal opportunities. Therefore, what steps should be taken to ensure that the public education system is serving the needs of children, rather than the desires of large, wealthy corporations?