Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Conn. Business -- Fomenting class conflict?

An article in the New Haven Register (via CSLC) discusses CT business involvement in promoting legislation good for charter schools this year.

Business involvement in school reform has always fascinated me. In college I wrote a term paper about PA business leaders' involvement in getting the state's charter law passed. My belief was that business leaders are attracted to charter schools because they try to mimic business practices and values, because they are traditionally affiliated with anti-union forces, and because they can instill these values into their future work force.

But when I interviewed Bob O'Donnell, who now runs the PA Charter School Resource Center but who was Speaker of the House in PA at the time the charter law was coming into being, he quickly relieved me of the idea that Business would support initiatives like charter schools out of a desire to create a pliant future work force, because charters put power into the hands of parents (particularly poor and minority parents) -- basically, they rock the boat, something Business never wants to happen. He also scoffed at the idea that Business is really that organized and has that much foresight that they would lobby for education policies that would help indoctrinate the kind of workers they're going to want in 15, 20 years.

I still don't have it all figured out. But if New Haven business leaders were as influential in the CT legislature on behalf of charters as this article suggests, then maybe O'Donnell's theory needs some revisiting.

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