“School Reform” sounds good. The devil hides in the details.
“Reformer” Tony Bennett was the commissioner of education for (first) Indiana and (next) Florida. Tony was named “Leader of the Year “by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and an “Education Idol” by the Fordham Institute. A month ago, Tony resigned when it was revealed that he ordered grading standards to be changed so that the “grade” of a charter school (run by a major Republican donor) moved from “C” to an “A.”
Surely, Bennett knew his measure of school performance (forced on Indiana and Florida by their Republican legislatures) was imperfect. Perhaps, he saw embracing the “reform” movement as a way to promote his career. Whatever his motivation to cheat, he either failed to understand how many lives would be forever damaged by his meddling or else he just didn’t care.
But, Republicans aren’t exclusively at fault. Michelle Rhee claims to be a Democrat. She has been supported by both President Obama and Rahm Emmanuel. Rhee started her career in education as a “Teach for America” volunteer. She, herself, said that she couldn’t control her class of elementary students and taped their mouths shut. When she pulled off the tape, their lips bled. The children all started to cry. So, why isn’t she in jail for child abuse?
Despite her short and checkered past, Rhee was chosen to head Washington, D.C schools and is the current poster child for “school reform.” She wants increased standardized testing in teacher evaluation and promotes charter schools. Unfortunately, however, it has now been revealed that she was warned during her first year in DC about extensive cheating, making a mockery of the “school report cards” she used to reward “good teachers and schools” and fire “bad” ones. She ordered no investigation to correct the problem and continued to trumpet the inflated “improvement” of DC’s scores.
Rhee founded (the ironically-named) “StudentsFirst,” a political lobbying organization that promotes charter schools and standardized testing as tool to identify and punish “bad” schools. The organization supported “reform” in Florida (hence, the link to Tony) and similar legislation in Tennessee.
David Coleman was Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst treasurer during its opening year. Coleman is the author of the “Core Curriculum Standards.” A wealthy child of privilege, Coleman said he once tried to teach, but nobody would hire him. (As a former math/science teacher, that’s hard for me to believe, unless, of course, he had a glaring inadequacy). Coleman then went to work at McKinsey (“business consulting”) and founded an outfit to analyze data that was bought by McGraw-Hill. Next he founded Student Achievement Partners that wrote most of the Common Core standards being imposed by the Tennessee Legislature.
So, the three most nationally prominent “school reformers” (privatization advocates) appear to include two with integrity problems (Tony and the lip ripper) and someone with no classroom experience, whatsoever.
We, the People, have allowed corporate lobbyists and ideologues to direct educational policy in Nashville and across the country. We continue to discourage experienced professionals and elevate arrogant hucksters.
But, of course, plutocrats want obedient servants, not competent, creative, educated and difficult-to-control citizens. They applaud the “reformers,” but seldom send their kids to public school.
“School Reform” sounds good. The devil hides in the details.
LION AND THE LAMB: The life journey of a troublemaker
When Nelson Mandela was born into a Xhosa family in South Africa in 1918, he was given the name "Rolihlahla," a term meaning "Troublemaker." Later, when his mother sent him to a local Methodist mission school, his teacher gave him the English forename of "Nelson." Mandela later commented that he had inherited his father's "proud rebelliousness" and "stubborn sense of fairness."
WE THE PEOPLE: Fear communism? Try capitalism
We’ve been taught that "capitalism" is the fairest and best “ism” in the world! Capitalism, we are told, is the means to get rich in our economy. The number of billionaires today sure shows how well it works... for some. Unfortunately, it no longer seems to work for the average American worker.
TIDBITS: Calm down. It's just a game
Perhaps it's because I haven't had my favorite team make it to a conference championship in a year or five. It could be because my favorite team has been "rebuilding" for several years now. Or maybe it's the drought of bowl games where I get to see my favorite Orange and White take the field after November.
STUMPTALK: Why do they care?
In his recently published, first apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) Pope Francis reaffirms the Catholic Church’s teaching on the male priesthood, and that is that the Catholic priesthood is reserved for males.
Lion and the Lamb: Celebrating good news
There's been a lot of bad news in the media recently: floods, droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, gun violence, healthcare system problems, airplane, train, and bus crashes, assaults on girls and women, high unemployment, house foreclosures—the list could go on and on. But there are two examples of good news worth celebrating these days.
We the People: The Good Old Days?
After the acorns and hickory nuts had all fallen, the old men in faded bib overalls gathered at the big black rendering kettle, stirred the fatback and stoked the fire. Kids brought wood to feed the fire to melt the hog fat down into lard and cracklings. The old men told stories about when they were young and complained about the general incompetence of politicians and government.
Tidbits: It's the most hurried time of the year
It's the most hurried time of the year, with kids presents to purchase and everyone telling you "be of good cheer," It's the most hurried time of the year.
Stumptalk: We will remember November 2013
On November 21, 2013, Senator Harry Reid tried to destroy our Republic with the blessing of President Barack Obama by changing the rules of the Senate. This action could be remembered in the future as being as important as the 150th anniversary of November 19, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg address and the 50th anniversary of November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed.
LION AND THE LAMB: Three planetary riddles
This past week anthropologists reported on DNA tests they had made on the 24,000-year-old body of a four-year-old boy found in eastern Siberia. The DNA matches that of Western Europeans who migrated from Europe during the last Ice Age and also the DNA of 25 percent of living Native Americans. The body had been found under a stone slab wearing an ivory diadem, a bead necklace, and a bird-shaped pendant.
WE THE PEOPLE: Take a moment to be thankful
Yay! It’s Thanksgiving week — one of the best weeks of the year. Great food, amazing sales, vacation days … But let’s all take a moment during the busy holiday activities to identify and appreciate the good things in our lives.
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