What is Integrity in Education?
Integrity in Education is a new effort to restore integrity to the education conversation in this country. People are doing incredible things in our schools and communities right now, but their work is being obscured by outside interest groups funded by profit-driven corporations. Integrity in Education exists to shine a light on the people making a positive difference for children, and to expose and oppose the corporate interest groups standing in their way.
How is this project funded?
Integrity in Education is funded principally by donations from a diverse group of individuals and grassroots supporters, not by corporations or outside interests.
When did Integrity in Education launch?
The project officially launched in January 2014.
What are the project’s principal policy goals?
We favor policies that put children’s needs and the community’s well-being ahead of profit-driven corporations. Over the last few decades, corporate-backed front groups have spent considerable time and money trying to convince Americans that our public education system isn’t worth investing in. As the resulting budget cuts, combined with policies that revolve around high-stakes testing, threaten school quality nationwide, these front groups are taking advantage of the “crisis” their rhetoric helped create. Their lobbyists have rigged the policymaking process at the state and federal level, doing the bidding of companies that benefit from policies which increase the demand for products like tests and pre-packaged curricula, or allow for-profit companies to run and manage schools.
Instead of paving the way for more companies to profit off of our children and schools, we favor policies that empower communities to protect our public schools from privatization. That means advocating for full and fair school funding, as well as for the freedom communities need to create positive learning environments with and for their children. It also means advocating for policies that address and reverse the underlying issues that block some children from reaching their full potential, like poverty, inequality, and discrimination in its many forms.
What types of activities constitute the project’s main focus?
Integrity in Education works with a diverse network of advocates, policy makers and members of the media to expose the lies spread by corporate front groups and remind the public that public schools are valuable community institutions and a cornerstone of democracy, not a scapegoat for complex societal problems. We highlight the links between key players in the privatization movement and profit-motivated corporations while shining a light on the many success stories that are possible within our public education system when community members work together in the best interests of children.
What’s wrong with privatizing education?
Privatizing our education system means allowing corporations to transform the education of children from a public good into a profitable industry. And when corporations focus on their bottom line, children’s best interests stop being the top priority.
Even on narrow measures like standardized tests, these privatized schools perform no better, and often worse, than their fully public counterparts. And although for-profit charters, charter management organizations, and virtual schools are relatively new in many communities, stories already abound of CEOs and top executives being indicted for fraud, schools being open one day and shut the next because of shady or incompetent leaders, and other examples of egregious harms to students. All of this upheaval leaves children and parents scrambling to find a place to learn, while tax dollars that should be spent on children end up in executives’ pockets.
Public schools should be run by community members looking out for the best interests of our children and our shared future, not by corporations who are legally required to prioritize their shareholders before they can even consider our children.
What is Integrity in Education’s vision for the future of education in the United States?
As empowered, lifelong learners ourselves, we want schools to be places where every child can have the kinds of joyful, fulfilling learning experiences that inspire them to continue learning to be their best selves (and working for the common good) long after graduation.
Further, we envision a public education system that is fully democratic: where everyone has a meaningful say over the policies that govern our schools and where all stakeholders, including students, are welcomed to work together and create the kinds of learning environments that work best for them. That means engaged community members, parents and students working together with teachers and administrators guided by the best available evidence, while limiting the influence of outside groups looking to profit off of children and taxpayers.