Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rahm: I don't like what they're doing in Wisconsin. However...

Our new mayor's  inauguration speech yesterday takes demagogy to new heights.
"I reject how leaders in Wisconsin and Ohio are exploiting their fiscal crisis to achieve a political goal. That course is not the right course for Chicago's future. However..."

Yes, if you want to know what these guys really think, always ignore the part that comes before the but or the however.

The mayor reminds me of Bush's  Ed Sec. Rod Paige who wrote in his book, The War Against Hope, "I have no problem with teachers," he wrote. "What I do have a problem with are the powerful unions."

Whenever you hear someone begin a statement with, “I have no problem with…(blacks, Mexicans, Jews, or fill in the blank (_____), you know there’s a “but” coming and that they actually do have said problem. Paige definitely had a problem with teachers.

Rahm implies he doesn't go along with Gov. Walker's attacks on public employees' collective bargaining rights. Then comes the "however." You know what's coming next. He actually does agree as his support for SB7 clearly demonstrates. Like any good demagogue, Rahm counter-poses taking away teachers' rights to "opposing reform" or "doing everything the same way we always have." Actually, Rahm's reform is basically doing the same thing as his predecessor -- more privatized charter schools, more testing madness, more school closures and mass teacher firings, all under the name of reform. It's Duncan's Race To The Top and  Daley's failed Renaissance 2010 on crack. Only this time around, with massive budget cuts.

I guess the only appropriate answer is: YES, we support reform. HOWEVER, this crap isn't really reform.

Case in point: Rahm's call for a longer school day (which nobody argues with) is based on the Houston model (shades of Bush's "Texas Miracle").
By high school graduation, a student in Houston has been in the classroom an equivalent of three years longer than a student in Chicago even when both started kindergarten on the very same day. 
Yes, if you can afford to add 30 minutes/day (4 minutes & 45 seconds/class) for 13 years, it does add up to somewhere around 3 years of seat time for kids. But more seat time doesn't necessarily add up to more or better learning. If kids are bored stiff in test-crazy schools, doing the same  longer will only push more of them out of school altogether.  Rahm fails to mention that HISD doesn't graduate any more students than does CPS and hasn't made AYP in 3 straight years or that they are cutting out a day per week of summer school.  For more on Rahm's infatuation with Houston, see my post on Huffington, Rahm Still Believes in Texas 'Miracles'.

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