Monday, January 20, 2014

Wise Words for Plutocrats from Dr. Martin Luther King

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. - MLK

When I read this quote from Dr. King this morning my mind went immediately to the corporate education reform movement. If you throw into the mix an obscene amount of money, you get something truly dangerous. I believe that most of the voices of corporate education reform are sincere and they are certainly conscientious in the sense that they are diligent and wish to do the right thing. I am sure that their desire is to have a positive impact on society and that they see education as a key area where they can have this impact. And so Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family and others spend their millions on a sincere effort to improve schools and schooling.

The only problem is that their sincerity and concientiousness is trumped by their ignorance and stupidity. Instead of trying to understand what public education is, what teachers do, and how children learn, these plutocrats arrogantly decide that they know best and what is best is a business model for education. And so we get millions of dollars tossed at a "market driven" view of school improvement that undermines public education, narrows curriculum, stunts learning, denigrates the teaching profession and increases inequality. This corporate "philanthropy" assuages the guilt of the filthy rich and as a bonus allows them to dictate their world view on the rest of the nation. It also allows them to look like they are doing something about real problems like poverty; something that they don't actually want to touch.

What the plutocrats fail to understand is that education is not the way out of poverty, relieving poverty is the way into education. Why would they not spend their money on the real, tangible societal issue of poverty and leave the education of the children to the professional educators who know what they are doing?

Better yet, instead of using education philanthropy as a tax dodge, why not just pay your fair share of taxes and see what the educators can do with the money.