“Corporate” Education Reform

One exciting piece of new jargon I’ve noticed lately from education reform proponents is to just tack the word “corporate” on to the phrase. Lots of Americans are committed progressives with no particularly strong view about education policy so when they hear that one faction of people favors “corporate education reform” they’re inclined to think it’s a bad idea. So, for example, not only does this guy think I was only getting what I deserved when I was randomly assaulted the other night, he thinks that the appointment of new New York State Education Commissioner John King, Jr represents “Meet the new corporate ed deform boss, same as the old corporate ed deform boss.”

And of course it’s true that King is the current Deputy Commissioner so we’re unlikely to see major change here. But what’s “corporate” about King? Right now, he’s a public servant working for New York State government. Previous to that he was the director of Uncommon Schools, a non-profit charter school operator. Before that, he founded Roxbury Prep Public Charter School in Boston. Before that, he was a high school history teacher in Boston and before that he was a high school history teacher in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is a very strange way to go about foisting a nefarious corporate agenda on American education. It actually looks to be suspiciously like John King, Jr has a perfectly sincere interest in educating poor children in the United States and that this has been the driving force of his entire career.

Reasonable people can differ, of course, about how to improve school quality. But beware apologists for the status quo bearing jargon about “corporate” reformers and the like.