Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A real-estate and hedge-fund concern that happens to have a college attached

Annie Lowrey writes in NY Mag:
There's an old line about how the United States government is an insurance conglomerate protected by an army. Harvard is a real-estate and hedge-fund concern that happens to have a college attached. It has a $32 billion endowment. It charges its rich students — and they are mostly from rich families, with many destined to be rich themselves — hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition and fees. It recently embarked on a $6.5 billion capital campaign. It is devoted to its own richness. And, as such, it is swimming in cash.
If it wanted to maximize its $32 billion worth of utility, it could, say, admit more students, especially poor ones, reduce its focus on property development, and double down on its focus on research, which currently makes up $800 million of its $4.2 billion in annual operating expenses.
Harvard alum include a gaggle of current corporate school "reformers" and ed profiteers, including Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, TFA's Wendy Kopp, John Schnur, Geoffrey Canada and Joel Klein. This group alone may be reason enough to yank Harvard's non-profit status.

But it has also produced some of our best old (W.E.B. DuBois, Ted Sizer...) and current thinkers, researchers and progressive ed activists like... Well, I'm sure there are some (just kidding). There are some great and distinguished education faculty in the Graduate School of Education. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot comes to mind as does Linda Nathan, Eleanor Duckworth, Marshall Ganz, Howard Gardner, Patricia Graham and others too numerous to mention.

Susan Moore Johnson
Here's a good one. Harvard GSE Prof. Susan Moore Johnson has produced several studies showing the positive effects of teacher unions on school practice. At Harvard, Johnson directs The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, an ongoing research project addressing critical questions regarding the future of our nation’s teaching force. Since 1998, The Project has examined a range of issues related to attracting, supporting, and retaining skilled, committed, and effective teachers in U.S. public schools.

She dedicated much of her early career to the study of teachers unions, collaborative bargaining, and teachers’ working conditions. A modern pioneer in these areas, Moore Johnson has drawn attention to the contexts in which teachers perform their work, specifically highlighting the importance of schools’ collaborative culture in teacher retention.

Writes Johnson:
Many people think that national unions dictate school practice. They don’t realize how much is determined at the local level when contracts are negotiated. Contracts, each of which is locally negotiated, establish pay and working conditions — hours, class size, and evaluation — for teachers. Collective bargaining provides a legal, structured process in which local unions and management can develop reforms, such as peer review or performance-based pay.
Speaking of Kopp and TFA,
Members of  the Urban Teacher Education Consortium,  is a national consortium of teacher educators, have just released a position paper on the training of teachers, releasing it at a time of “encroaching dehumanization and disempowerment of both teachers and their students.”
The paper blasts some alternative teacher prep programs, including (though not by name) Teach For America, which gives newly graduated college students five weeks of summer training and then places them into high-poverty schools. -- Washington Post
WaPo's  Valerie Strauss has republished the statement in full including a list of signers:

Kenneth Zeichner – University of Washington
Esther Ohito – Teachers’ College, Columbia University
Lori Chajet – CUNY Graduate Center and Brooklyn College
Robert Lee – Illinois State University
Heather Johnson – College of the Holy Cross
Ann Burns Thomas – SUNY Cortland
Dale Ray – University of Chicago
Joseph Featherstone – Michigan State University (ret.)
William Kennedy – University of Chicago
Thomas DelPrete – Clark University
Victoria Trinder – University of Illinois at Chicago
Karen Hammerness – UTEC Coordinating Committee
Helen Featherstone – Michigan State University (ret.)
Jennifer Robinson – Montclair State University
Bernadette Anand – Banks Street College of Education
Cecilia Traugh – Long Island University, Brooklyn
Klaudia Rivera – Long Island University, Brooklyn
Sheila Resseger – Coalition to Defend Public Education (Rhode Island)
Sandy Grande – Connecticut College
Lisa Gonsalves –UMass Boston
Amy Millikan – San Francisco Teacher Residency
Jonathan Osler – San Francisco Teacher Residency
Les Blatt – Clark University (ret.)
Sharon Feiman-Nemser – Brandeis University
Andre Perry – Davenport University
Kathy Schultz – Mills College
Anna Richert – Mills College
Marvin Hoffman – University of Chicago (ret.)
Kavita Kapadia Matsko – University of Chicago
Kate Bielaczyc – Clark University
Eric De Meulenaere – Clark University
Ricci Hall – Clark University partner principal, Worcester Schools
Sarah Michaels – Clark University
Patti Padilla – Clark University partner principal, Worcester Schools
Jie Park – Clark University
Heather Roberts – Clark University
Nastasia Lawton-Sticklor – Clark University
Thea Abu-El Haj – Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Dirck Roosevelt – Teachers College, Columbia University
Beth Rubin – Rutgers University, New Brunswick

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