By Sally Absher

The Knoxville community is invited to attend a FREE screening of the brand new documentary, Education, Inc., at 6 p.m. on Friday August 14. The screening will be held at the United Campus Workers building, 1415 Elm Street. Refreshments and Pizza will be provided (while it lasts).  You can watch the trailer here:

Why should you attend? Because Public Education is up for sale and based on post-Katrina New Orleans, where public schools have been completely replaced by charter schools, the results are disastrous.

This is not some conspiracy theory – corporations and the financial industry are buying school boards, state legislators, congress, and regulatory agencies.  They are selling privatization via charters, vouchers, and the “choice” movement. Education reformers are spreading myths and lies about teachers, and public schools.

Dr. Amos Hatch of UT’s Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education exposes the massive effort to dismantle public education in his recently published book, “Reclaiming the Teaching Profession: Transforming the Dialogue on Public Education” (2015).

Hatch describes 10 myths and lies about public education. How many of these have you heard? How many do you believe?

1.            Public schools are failing

2.            Teachers are inept

3.            Teachers will only work hard to avoid punishment or earn external rewards

4.            Standards based testing for accountability is the best way to reform schools

5.            Test scores accurately reflect what students are learning and what teachers are teaching

6.            Public schools need to be privatized

7.            Business models have a direct application to education

8.            Teachers’ unions are the reason public schools are so bad

9.            Alternative teacher licensure programs are better than traditional teacher education

10.          Wealthy individuals, entrepreneurs, and politicians know more about education than school professionals.

These myths and lies have their origin in a 1983 report by the Reagan Administration – “A Nation at Risk.” This report came at a time when America’s education policymakers embraced the idea of tying school reform to “scientifically based research.”

But much of the “research” and reports redefining education today are little more than junk science. Education initiatives such as Value-added measurement (VAM) including Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS), TEAM/TAP evaluation models, and charter school research were presented in white papers with little educator input or peer review.

Private “think tanks” at both the state and national level have significant influence in education policy discussions by producing an array of well-funded and slickly produced “research” and news releases. The myths and lies permeate the media.  According to P.L. Thomas of Furman University, we are left with two truisms about education publications and education reform: (1) If “Education” is in the publication title, you better do your homework, and (2) if education reform is touted to achieve outcomes that seem too good to be true, then they likely aren’t true.

At the state level, pseudo news outlets include The Beacon Center, State Policy Network, Professional Educators of TN, StudentsFirst, and the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE). Not-for Profits/Charities include Great Schools Partnership, Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), the New Teacher Project (TNTP), and Teach for America (TFA).

At the national level, players include multinational corporations, ALEC (responsible for writing much of TN legislation), U.S. Chamber of Commerce/Business Roundtable, National PTA, Wall Street, Hedge Funds, and Democrats for Education Reform  and Foundations including Gates, Walton, Broad, Freidman Center, Dell, and many others, including Carnegie Corporation. These organizations and foundations launder donations through other foundations and media outlets to spread education reform propaganda and/or fund lobbying groups.

TV/news media including Fox News and all major networks, Netflix (via CEO Reed Hastings), and others also contribute to the myths, lies, and propaganda.  Hollywood has joined in with movies including Waiting for Superman, Won’t Back Down, and The Cartel.

Is it any wonder that so many people have “bought the lies” about failing schools, failing teachers, and the need to privatize education?

But there are pro-public school allies at both the national and state level.  Diane Ravitch is perhaps the best known, having served as Assistant Secretary of Education under Lamar Alexander; she is a historian, author, public education advocate and whistleblower. The author of the 2013 book “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools,”  she is the founder of the Network for Public Education ( and blogs at

Another whistleblower with ties to the US Department of Education, Charlotte Iserbyt served as Senior Policy Advisor during the first Reagan administration. She wrote the landmark 1999 (2011) book “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America,” and blogs at

Other pro-public education allies include Julian Vasquez-Helig, (; Elaine Weiss, (; Mark Weber,  (; Parents Across America (; Jennifer Berkshire (, and many more.

In Tennessee, public education advocates/allies include:  Andy Spears (; Momma Bears (Memphis –; TREE (Nashville –; Dad Gone Wild (Nashville –; and SPEAK (Knox County – find them on Facebook)

The bottom line is that education reform is not about improving education for your children. Education reform is about lining the pockets of corporations and the financial industry. Please plan to attend the FREE screening of EDUCATION INC. to learn more.

The screening is sponsored by Students, Parents, Teachers Across Knox County (SPEAK), United Campus Workers, Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment (SOCM), and Jobs w/Justice of East TN.