Research from The Educational Forum: Our Educational Crossroads

University of Rochester’s David Hursh, PhD. Professor, Teaching and Curriculum, Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Photographed February 26, 2016 // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

University of Rochester’s David Hursh, PhD. Professor, Teaching and Curriculum, Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Photographed February 26, 2016 // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

Today’s blogger is Dr. David Hursh, Professor of Teaching and Curriculum at the Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, University of Rochester. He writes here to describe research recently published in an article (coauthored by Dr. Camille Anne Martina) in The Educational Forum.

In the United States, we are at a critical moment in society and schooling that demands our attention. Depending on who wins the upcoming elections, public schools may go in either of two directions. If the neoliberals win, schools may become increasingly privatized, as the support for and number of charter schools increase, and students and teachers will likely be subjected to intensified evaluation through standardized tests. Or, on the other hand, schooling could be redesigned to take advantage of what researchers have learned about supporting students’ thinking and the best ways to help students to tackle the crucial issues we face as a nation and global community. For example, schools could take the lead in preparing students to analyze the evidence regarding climate change, and to develop appropriate responses.

Schools could also become models for democratic citizenship and serve as resources for their communities.

In our article, “The End of Public Schools? Or a New Beginning?,” we show how philanthro-capitalists, non-governmental organizations, corporations, hedge fund managers, and state and federal commissioners of education promote a neoliberal way of thinking about the world that prioritizes individual entrepreneurship within a privatized market system. Readers of this blog will likely be familiar with a number of ways in which we see this at play in U.S. education today. Examples include the increase in the number of charter schools and voucher programs, and the constant portrayal of public schools and public school teachers as failing. The result of such influences is that teaching is transformed into following a script, and teaching becomes deprofessionalized as teachers lose protections including due process.

In response to these threats, we urge teachers to develop a new way of thinking about the world: one based on promoting equality, ending poverty, solving problems, creating community, and supporting one another.

We also suggest that teachers, parents, students, and university educators work together to show how critics of public schools misuse test scores and other data to inaccurately portray schools as failing. Teachers must be willing to enter the political process, work to prevent the end of public schools, and collaborate with their communities to transform schools into places where knowledge is created and shared with the aim of creating an equitable, democratic society.

KDP is proud to partner with Routledge to share Dr. Hursh and Dr. Martina’s article free with the education community through March 31, 2016. Read the full article here.

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