Tuesday, October 08, 2013

ExxonMobil's Cart before the Horse

by Edd Doerr

On October 8 ExxonMobil ran an extravagant two-page full-color ad in the New York Times plugging the new Common Core State Standards for schools. But there was not a word about such common sense, real world recommendations for improving American education as those put forward by Diane Ravitch in her important new book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools.

Here, briefly, are Ravitch's recommendations: prenatal care for all women; proper care-giving, nutrition and medical care for all children; pre-kindergarten for all kids;  small classes and rich balanced curricula for all kids; cutting back on standardized testing; PE every day; librarians and media specialists in all schools; nurses, psychologists, guidance counselors and social workers for all schools; after school programs. And I would add summer programs for lower income kids.

Equally important: elimination of all diversion of public funds to church-run and other private schools though vouchers or tax credits; trimming back charter schools until there are only a small number of experimental ones locally controlled and working with regular public schools; elimination from public schools of all traces of sectarian proselytizing. Teaching "about" religion is acceptable, but this area is so sensitive to imbalance that  very few schools are able to handle it satisfactorily.

All this will cost money, but our rich country can afford it. All it takes is will.

(Edd Doerr is a former teacher, has headed Americans for Religious Liberty since 1982, and is a columnist for Free Inquiry.)

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