Here is a comment, pulled out as the start of a new thread.
My review of the proposals made by Education Reform Organizations shows that all of their efforts, in the end, are either about reducing the costs of education - and therefore keeping a few tax dollars in their pockets - or about directing some of those tax dollars into their friends' pockets. It's all about their money, not the students. I wish someone could prove me wrong about that.
Teach for America - While Teach for America is a wonderful service for regions of the country with teacher shortages, TfA is now moving into areas, like Seattle, where there are plenty of certified teachers available. The use of TfA Corps members in these areas de-professionalizes teaching, promotes the idea of teaching as a temp job done for a few years (without climbing the pay scale), and promotes teacher turnover. It worsens educational opportunities for students but reduces payroll costs for school districts thereby reducing taxes.
End of seniority - Reformers want to replace seniority with performance evaluation order for ordering lay-offs in times of budget cut-backs. Bear in mind that this only matters when budgets are being cut and budget cuts do not help students. Second, remember that all of the teachers with poor performance evaluations are already getting fired - with or without cut-backs and lay-offs, so this is a question of which of the good teachers gets laid off first. This idea allows the dismissal of higher salary teachers thereby reducing payroll, makes teaching a less attractive career, promotes the idea of teaching as a temp job rather than a career. All of these worsen education for students but reduce taxes.
You will notice that the end of seniority for determining lay-offs doesn't come with a companion proposal to end the use of seniority in the pay scale. You'll notice that the proponents of the idea that newer teachers could be as good as experienced teachers don't suggest paying the newer teachers the same as the experienced teachers. That, while still a bad idea, would increase payrolls, and that is antithetical to the goal.
Pricipal authority to hire and fire - Reformers are very keen on putting more authority in the hands of principals, at the same time that they are trying to take authority away from teachers. They have a lot of faith in these middle-managers. They want to give principals the authority to hire and fire teachers for their school. Let's remember that it was the abuse of exactly this authority that caused teachers to organize and collectively bargain in the first place. This plan does not come with any protections, limitations, oversight or accountability that would mitigate the return of the worst kind of abuse. This idea allows the principals to fire some senior teachers and take their larger salaries off the payroll. It makes teaching a less attractive career and comes with no oversight or accountability.
Blended education/online education - This is the idea of having kids get their instruction partly or mostly from software rather than people. It directs money to private interests - hardware and software companies - reduces payroll, and de-professionalizes teaching
Charter schools - Charter schools are privately owned and operated schools funded by public money. While charter schools are typically freed from much of the regulation that governs schools and have the freedom to innovate, there is no concurrent and commensurate effort to free public schools from those regulations. Instead, Education Reformers pile more regulation on public schools in the name of accountability. And while charter schools have the freedom to innovate, they rarely operate much differently from traditional public schools. Meanwhile there are plenty of opportunities for public schools to innovate. Charter schools have not proven to be a reform that improves education. Charter schools are also renown for hiring un-certified teachers and for a lot of teacher turnover. This idea directs money to private interests, de-professionalizes teaching, reduces payroll, promotes the idea of teaching as a temp job rather than a career
Testing, testing, testing - Education Reformers promote a lot of testing in the name of accountability. Then they work very hard to convince people that the test results mean something other than they were ever intended to mean. The focus on testing diminishes education to test prep. Any curricula that is not tested at risk of dropping from the syllabus. This idea directs money to private interests, de-professionalizes teaching
Accountability - Education Reformers talk a lot about accountability, but not for everyone. Oddly they hold the least responsible people accountable while refusing to appy any accountability to the most responsible people. They apply accountability from the bottom up rather than the top down. The first people held accountable, the students, are the people with the least power to change the system. The second people held accountable, the teachers, are the people with the second-least power to change the system. The people who control the system and really drive the outcomes are never held accountable. Where are the accountability and consequences for the state officials and the district officials? Nowhere. This idea worsens education by narrowing the curriculum, de-motivating students, de-professionalizing teachers, and making teaching a less attractive career.
It's clear to me that the real focus of Education Reform is money, not education.