Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools?

Reviewed by David Smette

Superintendent, Jamestown Public Schools, Jamestown, N.D.


Our nation’s schools have seen the most intensive intrusion on local control through the No Child Left Behind Act since special education was federally mandated in the 1970s. Kathy Emery and Susan Ohanian, co-authors of Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools? make a strong argument that the Business Roundtable and corporate America are attacking the public schools in order to institute their own ideas about change.


Emery and Ohanian are long-time teachers. Emery currently works with Teachers for Social Justice. The documented material in the book comes largely from her doctoral dissertation.


Each chapter describes in detail how the Business Roundtable has used the bully pulpit to systematically bash America’s public schools and push its agenda to privatize or change the public schools to its liking. State standards and one-size-fits-all testing have been used to force states and school districts into complying with that change.


Their book also documents how individual school boards have been hijacked or taken over by mission and vision statements that push the corporate agenda as well as the election of pro-corporate board members. They focus particularly on the Houston Public Schools when the district was run by then-superintendent Rod Paige.


If you have a need to understand why our public schools are getting bashed by the media and the agenda that is being proposed, then you need to take a look at this work by two leading defenders of public education.


(Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools? by Kathy Emery and Susan Ohanian, Heinemann, Portsmouth, N.H., 2004, 266 pp. with index, $22 softcover)