Archives for category: Corporate Reformers

Sarah Lahm has written an important article about an infusion of corporate reform campaign money for a school board seat in Minneapolis.

Do corporate reformers see Minneapolis as the next Néw Orleans, the next city where they can privatize the public schools?

She writes:

“In the aftermath of a failed 2013 bid for mayor, former Minneapolis city council member Don Samuels is running for a spot on the school board. If he wins, he will undoubtedly be able to thank the extensive financing and canvassing support he’s received from several well-heeled national organizations, such as the Washington, D.C.-based 50CAN, an offshoot of Education Reform Now called Students for Education Reform (SFER), and various people associated with Teach for America, which has been called a “political powerhouse” for its growing influence in policy and politics beyond the classroom.

“These groups often project an image of grassroots advocacy but are in fact very well-funded, often through the support of extremely wealthy hedge fund managers and large philanthropic foundations. Together, they and like-minded “education reform” proponents have dramatically, but not necessarily democratically, altered how public education works throughout the United States.

“While August campaign finance reports show Samuels out-raising his main competitor, incumbent Rebecca Gagnon, by almost 4 to 1 through local donations, they also show that Samuels is getting tremendous support from outside of Minnesota. The D.C.-based 50CAN Action Fund filed a campaign finance report in Minnesota showing that it was devoting $14,350 in financial resources to the Minneapolis school board race, as well as in-kind donations valued in the thousands of dollars. Since 50CAN Action Fund is a 501(c)(4), its reports do not have to disclose which candidates it is supporting, but 50CAN Action Fund’s Minnesota chair Daniel Sellers told a reporter in July that the group had spent money on Samuels.”

Minnpost.com reports that out-of-state campaign cash has turned funding of Minneapolis school board race from a raging sea to a tsunami of cash.

“The sea of cash being poured into a Minneapolis School Board race just officially became a tsunami. According to campaign finance disclosures filed Tuesday, spending in the blazing hot four-way race for two citywide seats likely has surpassed $500,000.

The most astonishing donations on the disclosures, the last due before next week’s election: The Minneapolis Progressive Education Fund has received $100,000 from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, $90,000 from Teach for America board member Arthur Rock and $25,000 from Jon Sackler, who sits on the boards of the education advocacy groups 50CAN and Students for Education Reform.”

John Thompson reviews Anthony Cody’s néw book THE EDUCATOR AND THE OLIGARCH. The book recapitulates Cody’s five-part debate with the Gates Foundation. Thompson says Cody demolished their spokesmen.

Thompson writes that Cody won the debate, hands down:

“They probably didn’t expect a mere teacher to assemble and concisely present such an overwhelming case against their policies. But, who knows?, perhaps they were completely unaware of the vast body of social science that Cody drew upon, and they blamed the messenger for the education research he brought to the table. The Educator and the Oligarch explains how the failed Gates reforms could create an education dystopia.”

Best of all is Thompson’s summary of Cody’s proposal for how Gates ought to be evaluated.

Example:

“Since Bill Gates, more than any other person, is responsible for the absurd evaluations that are now being imposed on teachers, Cody wonders if Gates’ practice as a philanthropist should be evaluated. If so, what would it look like? Cody makes a strong case that in the tradition of the Danielson and Marzano teacher evaluation frameworks, an abbreviated version of his evaluation would look like the following:

Standard 1: Awareness of the Social Conditions Targeted by Philanthropy

Rating: Below Standard

… Actions and statements by him and his representatives indicate ignorance of the pervasive effects of poverty, and the overwhelming research that indicates the need to address these effects directly.

Recommendation for Professional Growth: We recommend Bill Gates take a year off from his work as a philanthropist, and work as a high school instructor in an urban setting. …

Laurel M. Sturt, education activist, explains here why she is voting for the Green Party this November. In New York, where she lives, the two major parties have become indistinguishable.

She writes:

“In the last decade, the Democratic party has become increasingly indistinct from the Republican, both parties in virtually impervious thrall to the siren of money. As exacerbated by the Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court decisions, the–for all intents and purposes–wholesale prostitution of both parties to special interests has forced the true agenda of today’s elected officials into the light: the sacred civic duty supposedly embodied in a position called, after all, “public service,” has been exposed to be less motivational than the perks and influence inherent in a position of power. While we watch, haplessly marginalized on the sidelines of integrity, these unworthies blithely ply their incompetence–via obstructionism (McConnell), corruption (Rangel), or any number of ignominious affronts to decency, or democracy. This laser-focused drive to maintain a privileged position, moreover, comes with the most flagrant, arrogant dismissal of accountability. We came very close, after all, to electing a president with the hubris to trumpet the slogan “Country First” while simultaneously exposing us to the possibility of governance by Sarah Palin–and Rod Serling wasn’t even in the room when that decision was made! Indeed, her very choice as a running mate was a perfectly indicting metaphor for a system whose morality has gone AWOL, in a scenario increasingly where an elected official is not a bonafide public servant but simply playing one on tv. As such, our national script has abandoned the dignified legacy of John Adams, alas, in favor of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

“The convergence of the two political parties in a shared embrace to protect the power status quo–enabled by money overriding principle–has been nowhere more evident than in the attack on public education. No Child Left Behind, despite its feel-good soundbite of education as a civil right, has been revealed to be a privatizing agenda from conservatives not compassionate but impassioned, in fact, by the prospect of public dollars pouring into private coffers. Indeed, the tools for this, among them a pervasive culture of high-stakes testing, have had the added bonus of busting teacher unions, the last inhibition to fully exploiting the education cash cow, a trillion dollar business opportunity here and abroad. Yet far from coming to the rescue of public education, Obama and likeminded Democrats such as New York’s Governor Cuomo have taken up their own torch and pitchfork with alarming alacrity: Race to the Top, and its proponents, have seized on the malevolent premise–and promise–of NCLB, simply ramping it up with steroids. Between the Common Core and other elements designed to privatize a public good, our education system is on the verge of devastation; incredibly, both parties have proven to be equal opportunity plunderers not just of any resource but that most precious of all, our children, the very future of our nation. We could use a Patriot Act, alright, one expressly for education.”

Let’s face it. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t like public schools. He sneers at teachers. If he is re-elected, expect the attacks on public education and teachers to escalate.

Don’t vote for the lesser of two evils. In this race, there is no lesser.

Vote Green.

California blogger “RedQueeninLA” reviews the contest between Marshall Tuck and Tom Torlakson for state superintendent and concludes that Tuck is unfit for the office.

Tuck is the candidate of the power elite, the billionaires who cynically employ fake rhetoric about “it’s all for the kids,” when their real goal is to demonize teachers and invest in technology. They have zero commitment to public education as a civic responsibility.

Tuck comes from the world of investment banking. His education experience at Green Dot Charter Schools and at former Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa’s takeover schools was a failure. On that ground alone–his dismal experience–he should be disqualified.

But his greatest liability is his contempt for public education. With him at the helm, public school students would have no advocate in Sacramento. But the oligarchs would.

On behalf of the power elite, Marshall Tuck is running a:

“professionally organized, PR-driven, fact- and experience-free, 1%-obsessed campaign. With relentless repetition their agenda is focused on issues to degrade the influence of organized labour and drive the market predominance of high technology. The challenger, Marshall Tuck, simply blusters through one Big Lie after another, disingenuously claiming to be all about “the children” when in fact this is seemingly the opposite of his agenda. Marshall Tuck’s resume offers no evidence to suggest children’s best interests are the focus of his attention. What all these billionaire-backed candidates – whether Sanchez I v Kayser, Anderson v Zimmer, Sanchez II v Ratliff, or Johnson v McKenna – is about, is the corporate interests of their paymasters.”

Will the 1% buy the state superintendents’ job in California? Will Tuck–the puppet of the oligarchs–win despite his record of failure? Will the public ignore his contempt for public schools and their teachers?

Or will they see through the mask of power politics and reject his deceptive and divisive rhetoric?

I hope that the voters choose Tom Torlakson, a veteran educator who will truly fight for the kids, their teachers, and their public schools.

The race in California is a test of democracy? Can the voters be hoodwinked by Big Lies and Big Money?

Governor Andrew Cuomo promised, in a meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board, to “bust” the public school monopoly.

 

 

Vowing to break “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” Gov. Cuomo on Monday said he’ll push for a new round of teacher evaluation standards if re-elected.

Cuomo, during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, said better teachers and competition from charter schools are the best ways to revamp an underachieving and entrenched public education system.

“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

He said the key is to put “real performance measures with some competition, which is why I like charter schools.”

Cuomo said he will push a plan that includes more incentives — and sanctions — that “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.”

Cuomo expects fierce opposition from the state’s teachers, who are already upset with him and have refused to endorse his re-election bid.

“The teachers don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations — I get it,” Cuomo said. “I feel exactly opposite.”

 

Cuomo sounds more and more like Scott Walker of Wisconsin every day. Bust the unions. Humble the teachers. Crush public schools and introduce free market competition.

Marshall Tuck, running against educator Tom Torlakson, got a late infusion of huge campaign contributions.

Former Mayor Michael Blomberg sent $250,000.

Eli Broad sent two checks totaling $1,000,000.

Alice L. Walton of the Walmart family sent two gifts totaling $450,000.

Carrie Penner (of the same Walton family) sent $500,000.

Doris Fisher of the family that owns The Gap sent two gifts totaling $950,000.

Arthur Rock, a member of TFA’s board, sent $250,000.

Laurene Powell Jobs sent two checks totaling $500,000.

There are many other very large contributions, plus earlier contributions made by many of the same people.

The reformers really, really, really want to elect Tuck.

Think of the expansion of privatization!

Think of having a charter advocate running the State Department of Education. Their guy!!

Do the voters know about this? Are they informed? Will they allow the billionaires to buy this job?

 

Laura H. Chapman explains that education is not a business.

“I live in Cincinnati, world headquarters for P&G. There is something more to notice than this observation:
“Proctor and Gamble hasn’t remained a very successful company because it keeps tossing out its leadership every three months.”

“True, P&G has a history of promoting from within. The wheel does not have to be reinvented every time there is a change in leadership.

“But P&G routinely does a triage on its underperforming product lines, and many of the people who are in charge of them.

“In August of this year, the CEO of P&G announced the company would cut 70 to 80 “core strategic” brands, and reorganize management of other brands into about a dozen business units under “four focused industry sectors,” creating a much simpler management and operational structure.

“The CEO said 
“There’s a lot of evidence in a number of our business categories that the shopper and consumer really doesn’t want more assortment and more choice, they want more value.

“And P&G wants more tax breaks than the last count several years ago of $3.2 billion, about in the middle of the pack of the largest U.S. corporations that we subsidize for doing business and making a profit.

“Education is not a business. It is a public service, a public responsibility, and civic virtue to the extent that it prepares students to be active participants in determining how the larger society is governed and the values it honors.

“The current triage in education seeks to close “underperforming schools,” fire “underperforming” teachers and principals, and blame students who are “underperforming” for not having enough grit, not having the right stuff, and not fixing the economy.

“Unlike brands that can be vanished from the marketplace, our “underperforming” students do not go away.”

Ewin Chemerinsky, Dean of the School of Law at the University of California in Irvine, wrote this compelling article about the Vergara decision and teachers’ due process rights.

 

He writes, in part:

 

American public education desperately needs to be improved, especially for the most disadvantaged children. But eliminating teachers’ job security and due-process rights is not going to attract better educators — or do much to improve school quality.

 

In recent months, several respected progressive scholars and politicians have endorsed litigation, like a successful case in California, to weaken the protections afforded public school teachers. Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown is spearheading a suit in New York. Their goals are laudable, but their means are misguided.

 

The problem of inner-city schools is not that the dedicated teachers who work in them have too many rights, but that the students who go to them are disadvantaged in many ways, the schools have inadequate resources and the schools are surrounded by communities that are dangerous, lack essential services and are largely segregated both by race and class.

 

Taking the modest job security accorded by tenure away from teachers will address none of these problems.

 

The causal relationship alleged by the plaintiffs in these lawsuits — that teachers’ rights cause minority students to receive substandard educations — is belied by readily available empirical evidence.

 

If the plaintiffs were correct, similarly situated students in states with weak protection of teachers — such as Texas, Alabama and Mississippi — would have higher levels of achievement and the racial achievement gap would be smaller in those states. But there is no evidence that minority students in Houston, Birmingham or Jackson outperform those in Los Angeles or New York.

 

He adds:

 

One of the biggest challenges in education today is teacher retention. In the District of Columbia, 80% of teachers leave within five years. Getting rid of tenure and due process will not encourage more teachers to stay in the profession. It will drive them out and discourage other qualified people from entering the profession in the first place.

 

The plaintiffs who are bringing these lawsuits have misappropriated the soaring rhetoric and fundamental principles of the civil rights movement. Civil rights lawyers have worked for decades to end racial segregation in schools and neighborhoods and equalize school funding.

 

Cloaking the attack on teachers’ rights in the rhetoric of the civil rights movement is misleading. Lessening the legal protections for teachers will not advance civil rights or improve education.

 

Mercedes Schneider, no fan of the Common Core standards, here reviews a new proposal for Common Core accountability, this one funded by the Hewlett Foundation. We are supposed to believe that the ideas are new, but almost everyone involved was a key player in the creation of the standards or the federally-funded CC tests.

 

Schneider says that what is needed is not more accountability for standards that have never been reviewed, revised, or piloted, but accountability for a dozen years of testing post-NCLB.

 

Why no piloting for CCSS? She writes:

 

Piloting was needed for CCSS, and it never happened. Instead, overly eager governors and state superintendents signed on for an as-of-then, not-yet-created CCSS. No wise caution. Just, “let’s do it!”

That word “urgency” was continuously thrown around, and it makes an appearance in the current, Hewlett-funded report. No time to pilot a finished CCSS product. Simply declare that CCSS was “based on research” and push for implementation.

This is how fools operate.

America has been hearing since 1983 that Our Education System Places Our Nation at Risk. I was 16 years old then. I am now 47.

America is not facing impending collapse.

We do have time to test the likes of CCSS before rushing in.

 

She identifies where accountability is needed most, and that is for programs that have been tried and obviously failed:

 

How about an accountability report on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and its strategic placement on a life support that enables former-basketball-playing US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to hold states hostage to the federal whim?

The Hewlett-funded report notes that between 2000 and 2012, PISA scores have “declined.” Those are chiefly the NCLB years and beyond, with the continued “test-driven reform” focus. It is the test-driven focus that could use a hefty helping of “accountability.”

And let us not forget the NCLB-instituted push for privatization of public education via charters, vouchers, and online “education.” An accountability study on the effects of “market-driven,” under-regulated “reform” upon the quality of American education would prove useful.

There is also the very real push to erase teaching as a profession and replace it with temporary teachers hailing from the amply-funded and -connected teacher temp agency, Teach for America (TFA). A nationwide accountability study on the effects of the teacher revolving door exacerbated by TFA would be a long-overdue first of its kind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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