Professor: Why I am ‘incredibly pessimistic’ about the future of public education

Reblogged from The Washington Post by Valerie Strauss

Mark Naison is a professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University and director of Fordham’s Urban Studies Program. He is the author of three books and over 100 articles on African-American history, urban history, and the history of sports, and he blogs at “With a Brooklyn Accent.” A number of his posts have appeared on The Answer Sheet, including one titled, “Why Teach For America can’t recruit in my classroom.”

In this post, Naison reveals why he is pessimistic about the future of public schools in the United States, which in recent years have sustained assaults from believers in the privatization of the public education system. This post is something of a contrast to the previous post, which takes a more optimistic view of where the new K-12 education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, can take the public education system. The different takes on the future represent the wide range of thinking in the education world about where we are headed.


By Mark Naison

As a student of history who has watched how the financialization of capital and the expansion of technology has affected labor markets, housing markets and the political process, I am incredibly pessimistic about the future of public education.

After the 2007-2008 financial crisis in the United States, a growing number of those with investment capital seeking profitable outlets are seeing education — and educational technology – as growth areas. Resistance by students, parents and educators to high-stakes standardized testing and the Common Core State Standards confronted them with a temporary setback, but now they are poised to make an end run around the Opt Out movement by concentrating on “personalized learning” which requires a huge investment in computerization of classrooms as well as software.

Along with this remaking of schooling, the powers that be plan a data-based reinvention of teacher education that will require the closing, or reinvention of colleges of teacher education. If these plans go through, a majority of the nation’s teachers and teacher educators could lose their jobs in the next 10 years, replaced by people who will largely be temp workers making little more than minimum wage.

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