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

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Bloomberg-Klein Business Model of Ed Leadership

The emulation of business efficiency models in education is nothing new--it goes back to the beginning of the 20th Century and the first generation of administrative social engineers that included Stanford's Elwood Cubberley and Lewis Terman. Those racist efficiency zealots were the first to look to tests, the IQ variety, as the preferred "scientific" tool for their generation's WASPy war on the weak and the poor and the brown.

For these present-day "education experts" like Bloomberg and Klein, the lessons from that Nazi-inspiring era of enthused raceology and eugenical exuberance are likely to remain neglected mysteries, since these present day anti-scholars view educational history as something that might get in the way of their own contrived corporationist worldviews that are grafted on to education. An examination, too, of their own use of tests to maintain class and race divisions would likely threaten the cozy blindness that allows their own abuses against children to continue without any signs of conscience or concern or caring.

The Times today has a piece on the latest attempt by the edu-entrepeneurs to turn educational leadership into business management in the City schools. One thing is for sure: at the rate that experienced principals are fleeing the schools, the new leadership academy will be running overtime to fill those slots. Of course, this outcome is most likely a part of the Bloomberg-Klein plan--to seed the schools with their own trainees who share their blindness and lack of compunction when it comes to treating children like commodities or manufactured components. Here is a clip:

The upheaval in New York’s corps of 1,451 principals — more than half have resigned or retired in five years — cannot be laid entirely to Mr. Klein and his approach. Higher salaries in the suburbs, periodic buyout offers and protracted periods without a new contract have all contributed to the current situation.

The method of filling those vacancies, however, has been markedly altered under Mr. Klein. As chancellor, he jettisoned the so-called Distinguished Faculty program, which used veteran or newly retired principals to nurture newly appointed ones. The Distinguished Faculty program, which reached 500 principals for a total cost of $1.5 million, was replaced by the $70-million Leadership Academy, which drew much of its curriculum from corporate management training. The academy’s first leader, Robert E. Knowling Jr., had most recently demonstrated his leadership skills as chief executive officer of the telecommunications company Covad, which he left $1.4 billion in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy while he received a $1.5 million severance package.

The controversy over the academy has outlasted Mr. Knowling, who resigned in April 2005. In its first three years, the academy has produced 162 principals from 275 enrollees. A former Department of Education official, Barbara Bartholomew, wrote recently in Educational Leadership magazine that the academy was part of a misguided policy of “disbanding an operable system that required thoughtful reform, not dissolution.”

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