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

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Hickok Still Henchman of Ed Industry

(Chart from People for the American Way (pdf)--click it to enlarge)

Gene Hickok, Asst. Secretary of ED under Paige, was the inspirational leader of numerous scams to dump public money into the laps of neocon hacks and cronies, some of whom (Lisa Keegan included) slipped away into the shadows as Congressman Miller's dimly-lit investigation flickered in their direction. Hickok was also the point man at ED for vouchers and any other privatization alternatives to public schools, the public schools for which he had been hired to steward, rather than deconstruct. Hickok dished out millions left and right in discretionary grants, even to his old buddy and high roller, Bill Bennett, whose K-12 virtual venture sucked away $14 million before Hickok, himself, hit the door without getting his arm got stuck in the cookie jar.

There was the Education Leaders Council (ELC), whose Following the Leaders project disappeared from public view with its millions in ED funds long before ELC's website was scrubbed or before Lisa Keegan, whose CEO salary became an embarrassment to Andy Rotherham's political climb. And the ELC begat the National Center for Teacher Quality, which begat ABCTE, which, of course, begat dozens of millions for all the ed industry insiders who earn their keep sitting on the Boards of these federal fund sumps, churning out their phony reports to further demonize the public education sector that provides their sustenance.

All of this rehash is to provide the context for the re-emergence of Hickok as the hit man for the tutoring industry. His commentary in WaPo has been picked up by a number of other papers, so it is time shine a little light on Hickok before he slides back under his rock at Dutko International.

What Hickok's accusatory piece does is to suggest that those lazy, corrupt public schools are hoarding Title 1 money that was intended to go for tutoring failing children. What Hickok does not say is that the tutoring mandate, just like the school transfer mandate, are to be funded by existing Title 1 money that, heretofore, has been used to fund programs, supplies, materials, personnel, etc. What the poorest of schools are being faced with, then, are choices of whether to cut existing programs for children to give money to tutoring corporations who offer their entirely-unaccountable and untested services at four times the cost of non-profit tutoring services.

The ed industry wants that 20% of Title 1 funds, and they are willing to pay top dollar for former "public servants" to write their nasty and accusatory opinion pieces suggesting the poorest of public schools are lawbreakers. If there was any true oversight to the Bush crooks, any truly investigative journalism remaining, Hickok's piece today would have as much credibility as a Ken Lay op-ed on the corruption of public utilities.

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