Thursday, November 8, 2012

A call for Obama to change course on ed reform

Athena on my mind

I'm hoping to be able to get to Providence tomorrow for the start of the Coalition of Essential Schools Fall Forum. I'm on a panel with Deb Meier and Xian Barrett from the CTU about the strike and ongoing struggle for public education in Chicago. But now I hear that Athena is battering the east coast, cancelling lots of flights. Better pack my snow shoes.

My pre-travel reading includes an excellent piece, "A call for President Obama to change course on education", in yesterday's WaPo by Arthur H. Camins who's the director of the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.

Camins writes:
Is there evidence to support the notion that private sector innovation in product quality – not short-term profit — is advanced by fear?  Is there evidence that fear and competition will spur more effective teaching?  If anything, the evidence suggests the opposite.  There is no credible evidence to support the reformers’ theory of action that merit pay and of the threat of firing of presumably low-performing teachers will drive systemic improvement.  It is pure unsubstantiated ideology. 
 It's a good companion piece to Bill Ayers' Open Letter to President Obama.

Bennett bites the dust
There's lots I skipped over in my election hangover post yesterday. As Hoosier Daddy commented, I should have mentioned the defeat of  State Supt. Tony Bennett in Indiana.

HD writes,
Bennett was the arch enemy of public schools. He was responsible for pushing "reform", which included school takeovers, vouchers, and privately run charter schools. He was defeated by Glenda Ritz, who was outspent by Bennett's billionaire backers 4-1. She's a veteran teacher and teachers union leader, who campaigned on halting corporate school reform. A great victory!
Then there was the passage of Prop 30 in California, which will raise income taxes on the wealthiest citizens in the state and temporarily increase the state sales tax by a quarter of a cent to fund K-12 schools, community colleges and state universities.

It's most interesting and exciting to see how these ballot initiatives are changing the political landscape and how they are no longer owned by the right-wing. Victories for marriage equality initiatives in four states are a prime example. They're not a panacea. They're expensive and require lots of legal skill, strategic planning and organizing. But with another four years of legislative gridlock on the horizon, such initiatives can be a great organizing tool for participatory democracy.

How about a Prop 30 here in Illinois to go along with our elected school board initiative?


  1. Despite your preparations for the conference, were you able to read Lynn Sweet's article,"Valerie Jarrett for Chief of Staff? Possible shake-ups in 2nd term" (Page 19, Thursday, 11/8, Chicago Sun-Times)? Her comments about Education:

    "Education Secretary Arne Duncan,the former
    Chicago schools chief, wants to stay--and
    there is no plan for a change."

  2. Work still needs to be done.
    President Obama needs to understand
     The folly of discriminatory charter schools that operate for profit;
     The folly of using public money for privatization;
     The folly of “for-profit” cyber schools;
     The folly of value-added modeling used to measure student learning and for teacher evaluation;
     The folly of merit pay and competition;
     The folly of ignoring why students fail;
     The folly of devaluing public school teachers and their rights and benefits;
     The folly of out-of-state money that influences another state’s local school issues and determines education policies;
     The folly of hedge-fund billionaires and their officiousness, the corporate entrepreneurs/school “reformers” such as Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Alice Walton, Joel Klein, Betsy DeVos, Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen, Tony Bennett, David Coleman, and Michelle Rhee…;
     The folly of wealthy factions, such as ALEC, Stand for Children, Students First, American Federation for Children, National Alliance for Charter Schools, New Teacher Project, Teach for America and their ilk;
     The folly of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core Standards…

    Besides continuing the writing campaign about the folly of President Obama’s education reform, I would like Diane Ravitch and a few of her colleagues (perhaps Linda Darling-Hammond, Richard Rothstein or Daniel McCaffrey…) to meet with President Obama.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.