8/24 Reframing The “School Choice” Debate w/ Jon N. Hale

August 24, 2021

Emma hosts Jon N. Hale, Associate Professor of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois, to discuss his recent book The Choice We Face: How Segregation, Race, and Power Have Shaped America’s Most Controversial Education Reform Movement, on the misrepresentation of the “school choice” debate at the behest of the profit motive. Professor Hale gives Emma the run down, stemming all the way back to the responses to Brown v. Board, of how the concept of “school choice” was birthed from the liberal desire to have segregation, without appearing as a segregationist, building up to the Zelman v. Harris case that approved public funding for vouchers in 2004. Next, he and Emma dive into how terms like “taxpayer” and “bussing” allowed for liberals to simply object to the interference in the “educational marketplace,” looking at how this neoliberal theory hooked into the Republican Party of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, providing the privilege to design how our school system should look to the white and wealthy when Brown v. Board was supposed to make it more equitable, before the Clintons and moderate Dems of the 90s cemented it as the system of American education. With the Gatesian influence on education in the 2000s, Emma and Jon look into how the profit motive and the drive of “efficiency” have seen a complete deflation of the American public school system over the last century, resulting in Eric Adams’ recent pitch for a 300:1 student to teacher ratio, before they touch on the inflammatory effects of the pandemic on the institution. They round out the interview by touching a little more on recent organizing for charter schools, both from white communities and communities of color, what a world that commits entirely to either public schooling OR school choice would look like, and how teachers unions have consistently been construed as the villain of the story. Emma wraps up the first half by touching on the “mod squad’s” obstructionism on behalf of their wealthy suburban constituents.

And in the Fun Half: Nomiki joins as the MR crew discusses the necessary emphasis on self-determination in addressing the future of foreign policy in Afghanistan, requiring a turn away from neoliberal foreign relations and an over-reliance on elite NGOs. Teacher Lauren calls in to discuss her experiences with charter schooling and what documentaries she feels appropriately get at the issues, JD Vance pulls some Islamophobic fear-mongering right out of his ass live on Tucker Carlson, Donna Shalala calls out centrist Dems obstructionism, and Pradeep calls in from up north to remind any Canadian listeners to register to vote. The crew hits on some key pop culture issues for millennials (whether Harry Potter was ever cool, the NFC East, and Applebees), plus, your calls and IMs!

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