“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: Four ways to demonstrate opposition
Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem.
WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?
The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.
TIDBITS: I found it at the library
I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.
STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning
If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.
Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?
The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?
We the People: Public education or business opportunity?
A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.
Stumptalk: Just another government lie?
There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.
GARY'S WORLD: The chance to speak your mind
Are you tired of hearing people complain about the way things are run in Cumberland County? Or, do you like the way the county government is run and operated in our beautiful county?
Are you happy with the way things are, or would you like some change?
LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines
Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.
WE THE PEOPLE: SNAP, health and work
A recent letter from Representative Diane Black to me states that she voted for the farm bill (with $8 million in Food Stamp (SNAP) benefit cuts) because she, like me, is a supporter of food stamp benefits for Tennessee families who qualify. That’s a lot of families, as most recipients are families with children and the elderly. Now, recall that there was already a major cut to the food stamp program back in the fall. But for some Republicans, that was not enough.
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