Strengthening Our Public Education Systems
This is why our guest editor Carol Anne Spreen of New York University has brought together a diverse group of contributors who have illustrated with great clarity the scope of the challenge facing many of our affiliates. With perspectives ranging from academia, the classroom and teacher unions, this edition provides a wide ranging look at how privatisation affects teachers, students and public education as a whole. From the campaign itself, to the businesses seeking to profit off of our public systems and the efforts underway to implement legislation to protect public education, this edition brings into clear focus not only the threat of corporate interests, but the global efforts underway to subside them.
When the United Nations set its new global development agenda last September and declared that primary and secondary education should be free, it reinforced the importance of public education. But too many countries are heading in the opposite direction. Authorities are outsourcing publically funded education to profit seeking corporations at an alarming rate. Pay as you learn, seems to be the axiom. In the world’s poorest nations so called “low fee” education comes at an ever rising cost for those who cannot afford it. Even where public education remains strong, we are witnessing the influence of private companies through testing and curriculum. The commoditisation of public education must be brought to a halt, which is why Education International’ Seventh World Congress last July adopted a resolution to counter the wave of privatisation.
Clearly, we do not want corporations to run our schools like businesses on a for-profit basis and increase social inequity, where they set up supply chains, or where they invade teachers’ professional space and dictate what and how to teach. We know from our own research that the simplistic transfer of ideas from the corporate world does not advance the quality of our school systems. The idea that quality can be improved by introducing standardised testing, league tables and performance pay, by ranking schools, by measurement, is false. It does not work.
The articles in this edition highlight these topics in great detail and make clear why our public school systems are the most successful public enterprises ever, which is why we must resist any attempt to weaken them.
Enjoy this latest and important edition of Worlds of Education. We welcome and look forward to all of your comments and queries.