Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two N.Y. editorials

There must be something in the drinking water inside the editorial offices of the Times & Daily News. N.Y. editorial writers are falling all over themselves to echo Arne Duncan's school "reform" message. Problem is, the message is so muddled and the writers so ignorant about the most basic notions of public education that their daily exhortations to close more schools (including colleges of education) and fire more teachers are beginning to sound comedic.

By far the goofiest, was in Sunday's Daily News. The board has joined Duncan in his assault on ed schools. Of course there are many valid criticisms of ed school programs that can be made. But their argument is that prospective teachers are learning too much theory--you know, all that crazy stuff about cognitive development, experiential learning, and (OMG!) democracy in education.  

We don't need no stinkin' theory says the DN, especially that left-wing stuff. You know, those guys they teach up there at Columbia T.C., Bank Street, and City College, like Freire (sounds like he's French or something). Just stick to teachin' 'em how to teach and forget all that other crap.
Newbie instructors too often emerge from ed school stuffed with the ideas of everyone from Thomas Dewey to Brazilian Marxist theorist Paulo Freire (author of "Pedagogy of the Oppressed") - but clueless about how to help kids learn.

That's John Dewey they're stuffing into the heads of "newbies," you idiots-- you know, our country's greatest pedagogue and philosopher, father of American pragmatism. Not Thomas Dewey, the former governor of your state--NEW YORK! This is what you get with educational know-nothings running the USDOE and the country's great newspapers.

Almost as ridiculous was Sunday's editorial in the Times, "When the system works," which posed North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg's school system as a model for implementing Duncan's Race-To-The-Top. Under C-M's new staffing initiative, super-principals are given ultimate power over teachers (they think). 
Once at the new schools, the principals are permitted to remove as many as five teachers if they consider them to be hostile to reform.

That's right. The principal can override the collective-bargaining agreement the district signed (OOPS, there is none. Don't like no damn unions down here in N.C.) and fire teachers who don't agree with RTTT. The catch-22 is that, at the heart of Duncan's RTTT reform is the firing of teachers and principals en masse. In other words, teachers can be fired for disagreeing with the plan to fire themselves and their principals. A great paradox.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg's Wake County has also become a model for racial re-segregation and for the abandonment of many of the hard-won gains made during the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s.

Could it be that there's a connection between racism, union busting, and attacks on democratic educational theories being taught in the best colleges of education? Of course. Not that anyone at the Times or Daily News would notice.

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