The fight for public education

BY:Dallas-Fort Worth Club| May 19, 2024
The fight for public education


This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

At the moment, the capitalist ruling class is attempting to privatize public education. This includes capitalists such as Jeff Bezos, the Koch Brothers, the Walton Family, Bill Gates, Betsy DeVos, Michael Bloomberg, Laurene Powell Jobs, Eli Broad, Reed Hastings, and many other billionaires (Ravitch, Slaying Goliath, Location 106). They have their sights set on public education to make more profits. Part of this is breaking down public schools in order to break teachers unions, which are some of the largest unions in the country. They are seeking to make money off of public education in any way that they can with the ultimate goal being to completely privatize public education. This also involves creating a separate and unequal education system: one private-for the wealthy, the other public-underfunded and inferior.  The capitalist class would like to get rid of public education altogether if they could and make education completely privatized, meaning everyone would have to pay tuition for their child to get an education. Of course this means, the poor, oppressed, and working class will be left out of receiving a good education or any education at all.

This has been picking up since George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” and Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top.” This involves constant standardized tests, teacher evaluations based on standardized tests, opening up charter schools, and closing schools that perform low on standardized tests (Ravitch). The entire capitalist ruling class is involved in this. You can see it on the local level in Dallas. The Dallas Chamber of Commerce has two political action committees to help candidates that support their agenda to attack public schools. These are called Dallas Kids First and Educate Dallas. The candidates and school board trustees supported by these PACs support merit pay based on standardized test scores, a system which is hated by the vast majority of teachers in Dallas Independent School District but is lauded by the capitalist camp and their privatization supporters. This group used to be called the Public Education Reformers. The goal is to close public schools by saying they are failing according to low standardized test scores and open up charter schools which make money for the capitalist class.

Billionaire Eli Broad has a Superintendent Academy where he trains future superintendents to go beat up on public schools. Michelle Rhee, who took over DC Public Schools, went to this Academy. Mike Miles, who was placed in Dallas ISD, went to this Academy. Miles was just placed in Houston Independent School District (ISD) after the Texas Education Association (TEA), led by privatizer Mike Morath and appointed by far right Governor Greg Abbott, took over Houston ISD. These superintendents are supposed to be super tough and strict, increase standardized tests, incorporate merit pay based on standardized test scores, and tell principals and teachers who teach in impoverished areas that they are failing. Miles has also closed libraries and made them into detention centers. This is designed to demoralize these educators and get them to quit. This makes it easier to say public education is failing so public schools can be closed and charter schools can be opened.

The capitalist class has led a propaganda campaign to say that public schools are failing. They say that since public schools are failing, this is the reason why constant standardized testing systems have been installed into public schools all over the country. Meanwhile public schools receive low funding. Urban school districts have failing infrastructure all over the country. The capitalist class’s propaganda campaign says that public schools are failing and this is why we have poverty and inequality. According to the capitalist class, poverty and inequality are not the fault of the exploitative and oppressive capitalist system, it’s the fault of public schools. They say that parents should have the choice to move their kids out of these “bad” public schools and into charter schools.

The extreme right of the capitalist class has also led an attack on black studies, ethnic studies and any attempt at teaching this history of racial oppression in this country. This is a part of the backlash against the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests which changed the collective consciousness about systemic racism in the United States, raising the collective consciousness in the whole country.

Teachers unions and community movements have been fighting back against the privatization effort and have been winning. The Communist Party USA must join these teachers unions and community movements and help strengthen them. If the capitalist class keeps getting their way, public schools could become weakened so much and more and more people will have to pay for their children to receive a quality education. We must fight so that education to the highest level is a human right. We must also incorporate the movement to fight for African American studies and ethnic studies against the far right’s attempt to attack it. It must also incorporate the fight back against the far right’s hateful attack on books about the LGBTQ community and other hateful attacks on LGBTQ people.



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