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

Friday, October 06, 2006

Bloomberg's New Privatization Plans for New York Public Schools

Last spring we noted Bloomberg's latest round of intensive $5 million dollar meetings with a small army of corporate socialists to work out the details for the next steps in privatizing New York's public school system. Central to those powwows were Chris Cerf, former head of Whittle's Edison Schools and Michael Barber, who earned the reputation as Tony Blair's education "hit man" for his efficiency is shutting down British schools that were not meeting the national test targets.

Three years ago big-hearted Bill and Melinda Gates provided the seed money to plant private management groups in 50 city schools to take on part of the responsibility for curriculum, instruction, and hiring in those schools. Those grants will dry up next year, which is one reason Bloomberg's planning sessions this past April had some immediacy attached to them. It seems clear now that the privatizers have come up with a short list of options for 07-08, none of which has received public airing, and all of which are intended to use public money to pay private firms to begin the real takeover of New York's public schools.

It will, no doubt, require another public outcry to send these high-dollar corporate welfare artists packing once again, as they were in 2001 when Whittle launched his first failed raid on city schools. This time the best that Bloomberg's PR machine can produce goes something like this: These Gates-funded private groups have been stymied from true effectiveness in their work by having to partner their decision making with public education people. What they need to be truly effective is full public funding and responsibility, which will, in turn, make them accountable to, who else, Bloomberg's office. It is not control that they seek, but accountability. But they can only become accountable if they achieve control. Got it? Here is the way that Bloomberg smoothie, Garth Harris, frames the notion of private outfits running public schools:
“We are not abdicating any of our responsibility, but what we are doing is sharing some of that management responsibility,” said Garth Harries, the chief executive of the department’s Office of New Schools. “What we are trying to accomplish is greater accountability for partners that are involved in the schools over time and an alignment of management.”
Garth is in charge of Bloomberg's Office of New Schools. New schools, indeed.

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