Education Beat: Haillie Irregular, The Chosen; Common Corpse Revisited; Local Color; What TFA?
by John Konopak, Ph.D. (LSU, 1989, Education) WWH/CJE
A group of billionaires and astroturf groups is trying to buy a Los Angeles school board election to expand the corporate education policy agenda in that city. One big goal is to defeat one-term incumbent and former teacher Steve Zimmer. The “Coalition for School Reform” has gotten $1 million from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But the group wasn’t exactly brokebefore Bloomberg’s contribution, according to the LA Times:Education and arts philanthropist Eli Broad leads the way with a contribution of $250,000 to the coalition, which includes L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Also in for $250,000 is billionaire A. Jerrold Perenchio, who headed the Univision network for years. Lynda Resnick, the entrepreneur behind POM Wonderful pomegranate juice and other ventures, has donated $100,000 to the coalition. Investor Marc Nathanson and his wife, Jane, have together given $100,000.Bloomberg’s former schools chancellor, Joel Klein, who now runs NewsCorp’s education division, looking to turn corporate “reform” into profit for Rupert Murdoch, also chipped in $25,000, followed by another $25,000 this week. Also this week, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst threw in $250,000.
On the surface, School Choice is purportedly about increasing opportunities for inner city and rural youth. The all-important subtext, however, is that School Choice is really about freeing up dollars for Christian-based education. An important arrow that energizes today’s religious quiver is the intentional misuse of language in changing the debate by referring to public schools as “government schools” and public education as a “government school monopoly,” thus instantly and directly speaking to Tea Partiers and Libertarians….During the 2011-2012 school year, thirty-two private school choice programs were in place with more than $800 million available for vouchers and scholarship tax credits, money that by all rights should have gone to our public school systems, many of which are in dire need. Groups with heart-warming names like The Alliance for School Choice and American Federation for Children encourage naive donors to support vouchers for reasons that are as deceptive as they are fundamentally non-democratic.
…(About) the Common Core State (sic) Standards (CCSS) and there are two things to remember: The Common Core did not originate with the states and it is speculative and experimental–in a word, cuckoo. I use the (sic) in its title because putting the word “state” in there is a political move, a public relations ploy. Learning from President Bill Clinton’s failure to get the national test he wanted, corporate leaders and their political allies try to keep this school remake as distant from the White House as possible, insisting over and over that it’s a “grassroots initiative” –what the people asked for. Every time they say this, the press repeats it. The Common Core reality is about as far from Mom and apple pie as a zombie invasion.
Writing in Bloomberg Businessweek, Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Golden was one of the few journalists to acknowledge the closeness of the White House to the Common Core: “Today, the Gates Foundation and Education Secretary Duncan move in apparent lockstep.”
In Senate bill 409, he wants to shift the responsibility for teacher licensing from the state to teacher preparation programs.Why? Banks, a Columbia City Republican, didn’t offer an explanation in a meeting with our editorial board, but it’s not hard to guess. So-called education reformers are all about accountability. They would like nothing better than to tie particular teacher education programs to struggling schools. It would harm any efforts to place the best teacher candidates in classrooms with the greatest needs, but improving Indiana schools is not their intent.
“…TFA goals derive, in theory, from laudable—if misguided—impulses. But each, in practice, has demonstrated to be deeply problematic. TFA, suitably representative of the liberal education reform more generally, underwrites, intentionally or not, the conservative assumptions of the education reform movement: that teacher’s unions serve as barriers to quality education; that testing is the best way to assess quality education; that educating poor children is best done by institutionalizing them; that meritocracy is an end-in-itself; that social class is an unimportant variable in education reform; that education policy is best made by evading politics proper; and that faith in public school teachers is misplaced.”