New School Realities
Governor Bevin has called for annual performance based analysis as criteria for future funding. This calls into question who does this performance analysis, what transparency is allowed, and what possible educational/economic consequences are possible in view of the Governor's political and educational philosophy? Sarah lahm's article in The Progressive, May 2016 describes how a conservative for-profit consultancy can be used to promote and justify conservative political and economic goals. The following are direct quotes and paraphrases of statements that appear in the article.
- There is a movement leading to shuttering public schools based on the advice of outside business consultants and the insistence that schools must do more with less.
- The promise is for more "equitable" education related to the creation of charter schools - The District Management Council is a for=profit education reform consulting group, part of a market based reform movement, focused on "educational opportunities".
-It conducts "time studies" in order to analyze how efficiently district staff gets work done.
- It focuses on revamping costly special educational departments, by cutting staff and reducing the number of kids who get services.
- The Council's stated bottom line is cost-effectiveness performance.
- The Council exists in a crowded education reform consultant playing field with several other big name consultant agencies. Most are for-profit groups selling similar managerial-level advice services that emphasize cost-cutting and downsizing, and recommend belt-tightening strategies.
- The American Enterprise, a conservative think tank tends to favor such efforts.
- The Council holds national summits at which school officials receive tax funding to attend.
- School superintendents in attendance decided to close three schools with the motivation of saving their district $1.2 million per year.
- The Council frames all resource shifts as a way to impact student achievements as an effective support-building measure.
- The Council-rigged middle school "time study" was conducted on a day when students were taking standardized tests, during which it suddenly announced a decision to move a group of children out of one school into another.
- The District Management Council-influenced administration cur itself off from the community it serves.
-Superintendents learned how to " minimize pushback" to the austerity minded reforms the Council sold them. This meant that in one district the Council and the district operated in complete secrecy. - The Council received six figure grant for conducting its audit.
- No one in the community was allowed access to Council's report.
- Private citizens were denied access to the audit report since it was ruled that the audit report was the property of the Council and not the school system that paid for the service.
- There was no peer review conducted on the articles written by the Council to verify its claim that "best practice" procedures were followed. Conclusion The article demonstrates how it is possible for a political entity to contract with a for-profit agency to administer an audit of specific schools or an entire school system. The expected result of such operations will to report of deficiencies that will promote either the closure of specific schools (thus facilitating cost cutting and staff reductions), or recommendations for an alternative Corporate-chartered system. Since such procedures do not permit maximum citizen participation or transparency, it allows for political manipulation and abuse utilizing a paid consultant to justify ideological objectives.