"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"In God We Trust: All Others Bring Data"

While doing some research on my US DOE Corruption Flow Chart, I came upon this piece by Daniel Pryzbyla from EducationNews.org that is so good that it warrants some extensive quotes for its contribution to the continued unmasking of the whores, scoundrels, and hucksters now hauling off billions from the NCLB budget, Bush's disastrous corporate relief project for an education industry that he built with tax dollars intended to help the poor and disadvantaged. The context is a speaking event in Indiana with Mom Spellings:

. . . . Congress passed the “Goals 2000 Educate America” act in March 1994. “Within a month of its passage,” wrote Mike Ferner of Program on Corporation, Law and Democracy, in its summer 2000 newsletter, “the ideological foundation of Goals 2000 was revealed in ‘Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America’s Public Schools.’” It was co-authored by Louis Gerstner, then CEO of IBM. Gerstner and his corporate colleagues define students as “human capital,” urging schools to compare themselves to each other as “Xerox compares itself to L.L. Bean for inventory control.” A “Goals 2000” follow-up meeting 2 years later in 1996 wasn’t even held in a typical hotel conference setting, but a more conducive hideout – IBM headquarters. Fortune 500 planning committee members included luminaries from IBM, Eastman Kodak and Proctor & Gamble. Privatization zealots from the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation attended as resources to promote their conservative education “reform” agenda.

With all that “human capital” in Title 1 public schools, data banks would be critical apparatus. “Thanks to No Child Left behind, we’re no longer flying blind,” echoed Spellings. “This is the time of the year when our schools release their ‘adequate yearly progress’ (AYP) data. That data help states target their finite resources to the classrooms where the need is greatest and most urgent.” Who’s really “flying blind” here? While Spellings was singing “sweet nothings” to attendees, charter and voucher vultures were already circling NCLB “sanctioned” public schools.

. . . . Originally focused on grades K-8, NCLB hustlers have now advanced their draconian sanction schemes to high-schools. Stalled because of the unexpected backlash against privatization of Social Security, Spellings now had to rekindle the high-school coals. “The president and I believe it is time to introduce the principles of No Child Left Behind to grades 9-12,” she gleamed. “We have every right to demand that graduates in Indiana and elsewhere be given the skills to compete in the world and not just be ‘socially promoted’ to life. I know you agree, or you wouldn’t be here today.” But nobody knew what she was going to say before they had even arrived. Maybe they came because it’s just another annual Indiana high-school summit they attend every year. Why should everyone in attendance necessarily “agree” with what she said “or (they) wouldn’t be here”? Maybe some were ordered to attend by their supervisors. Mrs. Jones at Hoosier High is having a baby. Not attending meant she “didn’t agree”? Yeah, she went into labor early too, so she didn’t have to show up.

After listening to the NCLB fan club long enough, you begin to hear the same recordings – over, and over, and over, and over. It’s the age-old marketing gimmick; repeat, repeat, repeat. A consistent drumbeat of NCLB marketplace strategy is “dumbing-down” certified, qualified, experienced education professionals in public schools. Packaging arrogance taught at CEO “reform” academies, they act as if they’ve reinvented the wheels of learning. Their fantasies include driving in “demolition derbies.” Their favorite toys are bulldozers and wrecking balls. Hundreds of new practices (reforms) that have been introduced in public education throughout past decades are deemed meaningless, “outdated.” Targeting Title 1 public schools, their “human capital” privatization bulldozes forward, wearing the label of education “reform.”

Of “social promotion,” who is Spellings to complain? She’s the political candy-stripe who has been “socially promoted” to Secretary of Education because of her long-standing political association with her boss, George W.

Spellings displayed another “social promotion” educator onto the dance floor during her high-school prom in Indianapolis. “The high-school model of today is not much different from that of our grandparents’ day,” said the education chief. “As Bill Gates has said, ‘Training the workforce of tomorrow with today’s high-schools is like trying to teach kids about today’s computers on a 50-year-old mainframe.’” Anybody have any idea how the “college drop-out” made it into the NCLB education club? Hint: Be a multi-(b)illionaire, set up an education foundation for a tax write-off, and toss Title 1 public school districts millions of dollars to implement his “small high-schools” experiments within existing “large” public high schools. Of course, with this brainstorm will come his Microsoft monopoly system into the classrooms to help facilitate the technology learning, testing, teacher training in specialized programs, and school district data processing for NCLB needs. Strangely, nobody is asking why Gates’s “small high-schools” are needed in Title 1 districts, but not in the mostly Anglo, suburban middle and upper-middle class “large” high-schools with student populations numbering 1,500 to 3,000 students. Could it be because of mounting (“shh, hush now…don’t go there…”) socioeconomic inequalities?

“I am encouraged by the unity I’ve seen today and throughout my brief tenure as secretary,” proclaimed Spellings. “While we may feel occasional gusts of opposition, the prevailing wind continues to point toward reform.” First they call their education “reform” marketplace “competition.” Now she complains of “opposition.” Sounds like she’s being tutored by “college drop-out” Monopoly Bill.

Maybe a “reformed” Texas data punch line too: “In God we trust; follow the money.”

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