Stan Karp of Rethinking Schools gave this talk at the Northwest Teachers for Social Justice conference held in Seattle on October 1, 2010.
Look again at the issues the corporate reformers have made prominent features of school reform efforts in every state: rapid expansion of charters, closing low performing schools, more testing, elimination of tenure and seniority for teachers, and test-based teacher evaluation. If every one of these policies was fully implemented in every state tomorrow, it would do absolutely nothing to close academic achievement gaps, increase high school graduation rates, or expand access to college. There is no evidence tying any of these proposals to better outcomes for large numbers of kids over time. The greatest gains in reducing gaps in achievement and opportunity have been made during those periods where concentrated poverty has been dispersed through efforts at integration or economic growth for the black middle class and other communities, or where significant new investments in school funding have been made.