Here we go again. As happened last year, in the past two days I received emails from Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. This organization has incredible reach by virtue of its corporate partners and political funders, as described below. I posted a similar piece a year ago.
Let's rebut the school choice lobby the democratic way -- by sharing this response throughout America via Facebook and Twitter.
Dear Mr. Campanella:
Please stop sending me your cheery emails. I'm not buying what you're selling and, frankly, I'm wondering how you can engage in such a scheme without some sense of shame. I'm publishing this response because I hope other school administrators, teachers and families won't fall for this devious marketing ploy.
You offered me a complimentary box of supplies to use to "celebrate" National School Choice Week: 24 fleece yellow scarves, posters, postcards, a banner and more - at no cost. I don' t even have to pay shipping and handling, you promise. I suppose you expect me to drape the scarves around my students' shoulders, hang a banner from my school, place posters throughout the neighborhood and send postcards to my friends and colleagues.
You hope I will "... help make National School Choice Week the biggest, most incredible celebration of educational opportunity in history."
Really? Or do you hope that your work, funded by the most conservative, anti-union, anti-progressive and anti-teacher forces in America, will accelerate the demise of public education in America? I'm proud to acknowledge the generosity that supports my progressive school. Are you not proud of your support? Why does your website not have any information about who you really are and who funds the emails, scarves, banners, posters and other "supplies?"
My research shows that your support comes from places like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is funded by the Koch brothers, Big Pharma and some of the most rapacious corporations in America. A great deal of your support, according to Media Matters for America, comes from the Gleason Family Foundation, which also paid the discredited lobbyist Dick Morris to shill for them. Your support comes from FreedomWorks, a right-wing organization that shares Grover Norquist's hope to shrink government to a size where it might be drowned in the bathtub. Do you wish the same for public education?
Perhaps you felt I would be eager to join the celebration because my school is a private school.
I, like many of my private school colleagues, am deeply ambivalent about my own work. Ambivalent, but not embarrassed. My school is among many privileged schools that declare an unambiguous public purpose. We partner with public schools, argue for school funding and stand with many others who imbue a deep sense of social justice in our students. We know that public education is essential to the future of our country. Schools should be equitably funded, teachers should be cherished and unions should be appreciated for their historic role in resisting the drift toward plutocracy.
By contrast, "school choice" means further segregating schools by race and class. "School choice" diverts critical resources from underfunded public schools to for-profit education management organizations. Courtesy of your efforts, "school choice" means tax dollars flowing to fundamentalist religious schools through contrived mechanisms, clearly violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the First Amendment. You demean the profession by claiming that any young college graduate with a few weeks training is a "teacher."
I suppose I sound rather harsh. I don't mean to personally attack you. But your message and your organization are fundamentally dishonest. You don't want to "celebrate" my school. You want to co-opt us for your lobbying effort. You want to have us identify with your "brand" so as to create the appearance of very broad public support for your very narrow and self-serving agenda. You want this so that even more misguided, misinformed legislatures and politicians will pound nails in the coffin of pubic education.
It's a free country. Your activities are probably legal, but it is manipulative to exploit children and unaware adults to advance your political agenda.