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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

College Board Chooses Dollars Over Fairness

In 2002 the College Board decided that allowing multiple takes of the SAT was unfair to those who could not afford the coaching and multiple fees involved in squeezing out scores good enough for Tier 1 colleges. Now as the Recession/Depression sets in for real and their revenue stream becomes threatened by fewer test takers and by the emergence of the ACT as a serious competitor, the College Board's $core-Choice has been pulled out of mothballs to become once again the law of the testing land. A clip from today's the NYTimes:

. . . .Some argue that it is really a marketing tool, intended to encourage students to take the test more often. Others say that, contrary to the College Board’s goal, the policy will aggravate the testing frenzy and add yet another layer of stress and complexity to applying to college.

“In practice, it will add more anxiety, more confusion, more testing for those who can afford it and more coaching,” said Brad MacGowan, a college counselor at Newton North High School in suburban Boston and a longtime critic of the College Board and standardized testing.

Many students take the SAT more than once, and the College Board automatically sends colleges the scores of every SAT test a student takes.

Under Score Choice, students can choose their best overall SAT sitting to send to colleges, but they will not be able to mix and match scores from different sittings. (Each sitting includes tests in critical reading, mathematics and writing, with a top score of 800 in each area.)

There is no additional charge if a student selects Score Choice, which also applies to SAT subject tests, formerly called SAT II and given in areas like history, sciences and languages.

Score Choice is not a new concept. From 1993 to 2002, students were allowed to take as many SAT subject tests as they wanted and to report only their best scores to the colleges they applied to.

In ending that policy in 2002, the College Board said that some students who had stored their scores had forgotten to release them and missed admissions deadlines. It also said that ending Score Choice would be fairer to low-income and minority students, who did not have the resources to keep retaking the tests.

Now, the College Board sees things differently.

“It simply allows students to put their best foot forward,” said Laurence Bunin, a senior vice president with the College Board. . . .
Earlier this month Newsweek reported that their reporters had unearthed an email that shows the new old policy was clearly linked to concerns for the continuation of the three-quarters of a billion in annual revenue that the College Board rakes in every year in "non-profit:"

. . . .Score Choice once again puts the College Board in the crosshairs of an endless debate over testing. Opponents of the new policy say it's financially motivated. The SAT has been losing market share to the ACT, another admissions exam, which already has a version of Score Choice. The Board denies the motivation, though an internal e-mail from February, obtained by NEWSWEEK, suggests otherwise. Laurence Bunin, general manager of the SAT, referred to "less kids taking SAT," thereby "threatening the viability of the program itself."

Officials at many elite schools excoriate Score Choice. In an e-mail discussion among them earlier this year, Pomona's admissions dean worried "how much more financially well-off kids could play the selection- and score-reporting game." Rice's admissions director mocked the College Board for professing to be motivated by concern over students. "I've never known the CB to cave into pressures from students," she wrote to colleagues. "What spin." . . . .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Washington Post Cheerleading for Duncan

If Maria Glod had read anything more than the talking points provided to her by the Duncan PR folks, she might have found out a few facts about the Chicago Public Schools miracle and its "portfolio manager," Arne Duncan that may have offered some heft for her journa-mercial for "change" in today's WaPo. But that would have ruined Maria's gushing puff piece for the dunking Duncan, who has brought forth a model of change, according to Glod, that we should all believe in.

In doing a little Googling, which Glod didn't bother to do, I came across a couple of sites that offered some troublesome facts about the Chicago Miracle that extra pay to teachers (and students) for test scores has not yet resolved. A few facts:

  • Chicago Public Schools (CPS) rated a 3 (out of 10) on the Great Schools rating scale, which is based on test scores for the most recent year. When compared to nearby Illinois city school systems, Chicago was near the bottom, with only one other school system, Broadview, receiving a 3. Two others, Cicero and Maywood, earned 2s. Fourteen other systems ranked higher than Chicago, with ratings from 4 to 10.
  • Chicago Public Schools have not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as a school district since the State of Illinois began keeping records in 2004.
  • The percentage of Chicago (CPS) high school students meeting the College Readiness Benchmark as measured by the ACT has remained flat or gone down since the State began maintaining this record in 2006. Reading readiness has gone from 23% in 2006 to 21% in 2008. Math readiness inched up from 14% who are ready for college to 16%. Science, the most dismal of all, clicked up from 8% to 9% of students who are ready for college science. And English went from 41% to 39% from 2006 to 2008.
  • The other high school exam that the State tracks is the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE), and results here are stunning. This composite score (PSAE) is derived by combining the ACT and three other tests given over two days, and they are used to measure academic strengths and weaknesses relative to the Illinois Learning Standards. Results of the PSAE are used, too, to determine high school AYP. While scores for Chicago white students show steady, if small, declines from 2003 to 2008, minority achievement scores fell off the cliff. The percentage of black students meeting or exceeding the state standard went from 35% in 2005 to 22% in 2008. Hispanic achievement showed a 12-point drop from 40% to 28% of students meeting or exceeding the state standard. Asian students dropped from 64 to 53, and Native Americans sunk from 71% to 44%.
If you were to ask me, Maria, just from this cursory glance at the numbers available online to anyone willing to look, I would say that Arne Duncan's PR firm is doing a heckuva job--and that your editors are doing a helluva coverup.

The Idiots at the Seattle Times

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for children, this idiocy from the brain trust of the Seattle Times editorial board pops into your Google Alert box:
. . . .The question of whether to assess children at the outset of kindergarten is practically a no-brainer. There are few other ways for teachers to learn how to meet individual student needs. The majority of districts already screen children before they start kindergarten or soon afterward. But the effort is less effective because it is voluntary and not all districts do it, or can afford to.

A statewide policy on readiness testing would ensure proper assessment of students in all districts. This solution is backed by the state Department of Early Learning and is part of the agency's report to the governor and the state Legislature on early-learning needs. . . .

. . . . It would make sense for all schools to assess children for developmental delays, allowing for earlier intervention. But only three-quarters of the schools in the study do so. Changing this ought to be a priority. Teachers teach best when they understand the needs of their students.

Enthusiasm for early screening is tempered by understandable concern over how the test would be paid for. The process, including tests, ought to be seen as a part of basic education and funded accordingly. . . .
The call for "interventions" to combat the naturally-occurring developmental differences of young children ought to be enough to these numbskulls fired. As the discussion on early childhood education gets underway in the new Administration, however, watch for more of this empty-headedness masked as tough talk by the accountability cons. Will the pediatricians and child psychologists step forward this time, or will they cower as they have for the past eight years of NCLB child abuse.

Purity Ring Proves to Be No Chastity Belt

It turns out just saying no to sex before marriage more likely ends up meaning just saying no to condoms when sex eventually occurs--which proves that the neo-puritan sex education practice is not only ineffective but downright dangerous to the lives of teens. From WaPo:
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 29, 2008; Page A02

Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a "virginity pledge," but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.

"Taking a pledge doesn't seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior," said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. "But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking.". . . .

Monday, December 29, 2008

Corruption Rampant in a Third of DC Charter Schools

A reader kindly reminded me of this piece from WaPo December 14 on the sweet deals enjoyed by the corporate charter bottom feeders inside the Beltway:

When a band of Brookland neighbors packed a public meeting to try to stop one of the District's public charter schools from moving to their quiet cul-de-sac, their pleas seemed to receive a warm reception.

Thomas A. Nida, chairman of the board that supervises one of the nation's largest charter school systems, encouraged testimony from the group on that summer evening in 2007. "And anything else you've got to say, put it in writing and we'll take it," Nida said, noting that the charter board would not decide on the move for a month. "That way we will give everybody a chance to express their views."

What Nida failed to mention was his own stake in the matter. As a senior vice president at United Bank, he had been working on a $7 million loan to the Elsie Whitlow Stokes charter school to finance the very relocation that neighbors opposed.

By the time the D.C. Public Charter School Board approved the move in August 2007 -- with Nida recusing himself from the vote -- the loan deal was done. Nida's employer would receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments for years to come.

Homeowners on the losing end of that dispute had encountered one of the hidden financial conflicts of interest in the city's burgeoning charter school movement. Key members of the public bodies that regulate and fund the schools have taken part in official decisions that stood to benefit themselves, their colleagues, employers and companies with whom they have business ties, The Washington Post has found.

The Post's review found conflicts of interest involving almost $200 million worth of business deals, typically real estate transactions, at more than a third of the District's 60 charter schools. The conflicts are documented in thousands of pages of internal charter board documents, land records, tax returns, audits and other records reviewed by The Post. . . .

Charter School Corruption 2009 Style

The first time a major U. S. newspaper looks into the sounds-too-good-to-be-true charter school story, guess what they find. First of a two part piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
First of two parts.
To many in the impoverished city of Chester, the Chester Community Charter School is a beacon of hope.

The state's largest charter school, it boasts safe hallways, new facilities and energetic teachers. It outperforms the city's regular elementary and middle schools on state tests.

But there's another side to the school's operation that Pennsylvania Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak and Barbara Nelson, a top aide, say raises questions about whether the school is spending too much of its budget on administration and too little on teaching. Zahorchak says he has asked the Chester Upland School District to report on financial data from the school "to the last penny spent."

The state is also seeking changes in the school's special-education program, which has a high percentage of mildly disabled students. Under state law, the school receives three times the regular-student subsidy for each special-education student, whether he or she is mildly or severely impaired. But it spends only a fraction of that on services to those students and uses the rest for other purposes.

The school denies any improper practices and has challenged the state's review in Commonwealth Court, which has ordered hearings and arbitration.

The charter, a nonprofit, pays millions of dollars in annual rents, management fees and salaries to a for-profit company and its chief executive officer, Vahan H. Gureghian, a wealthy lawyer and Republican fund-raiser who lives in one of the largest mansions ever built on the Main Line.

While the charter pays its teachers among the lowest salaries in the state, Gureghian and his company are being paid $14 million in salaries and rent this school year. That brings the total he has received since he began running the school in 1999 to $60.6 million, according to school records submitted to the state.

The portion of the school's money going to business and administration is consistently among the highest for charter schools in Pennsylvania, state records show, and its spending percentage on instruction is among the lowest.

The charter - with 2,350 students in kindergarten through eighth grade - enrolls almost half the Chester Upland School District's elementary and middle school students and is larger than half the school districts in Pennsylvania.

In a written statement, Gureghian said he was "most proud of the work I've been able to do, through my management firm, on behalf of the Chester Community Charter School."

He told an audience at the school this month: "We are having a real impact, and we're putting the students of Chester on a level playing field, where they belong, against the students of our region's leading districts." He declined to be interviewed.

Test scores at Chester Community Charter are significantly higher than those in the Chester Upland School District. Nonetheless, the school has not met state educational standards in four of the last five years.

Nelson, chief of the division that collects spending and revenue data at the Department of Education, called the school's spending "off-balance" compared with other charters and school districts. The school spent 44.6 percent on administration and business in 2006-07, compared with the average for all charters of 17.3 percent, and 30.5 percent on instruction, compared with the charter average of 50.3 percent.

About 14 percent of the school's total enrollment last school year were classified as speech- or language-impaired. This compares with 1.4 percent in Chester Upland and 2.4 percent statewide the year before.

The school receives $23,279 for every Chester Upland special-education student, regardless of whether the student has a mild disability that can be addressed with a modicum of additional instruction or a major one, such as severe mental retardation, that requires far more costly intervention. The state's charter law allows schools to keep whatever special-education money they don't spend on special education.

"This school has its priorities backwards, it's very clear," said James Lytle, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education and a former Philadelphia School District official. "It is working with kids from the most disadvantaged community in Pennsylvania, and one of the goals should be to maximize the amount spent on direct instruction."

Kevin Dooley Kent, Gureghian's attorney, wrote in a letter to The Inquirer that there was no way the school could achieve its academic results without spending ample amounts on instruction. The school and the company "have provided, and will continue to provide in the future, the necessary resources" that students "require to continue their quality education," he wrote.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Duncan Gets a D

from Marc Hill:
Arne Duncan (Secretary of Education) — Instead of selecting change-oriented experts like Linda Darling-Hammond, President-elect Obama went with the CEO of Chicago Public Schools. While some depict Duncan as a passionate reformer, others view him as a pro-privatization union buster who has only intensified the city’s educational apartheid. At a moment where the very notion of “public” is coming under attack, Duncan represents a disturbing move toward the educational Right. Grade: D


From Pantagraph.com:
This is in response to discussion of No Child Left Behind. As a District 87 teacher who recently moved to Bloomington from St. Paul, Minn., I saw how NCLB destroyed good urban schools with dedicated teaching staff.

The school where I worked in St. Paul had many disadvantaged students: 94 percent were classified as living in poverty and 65 percent were English language learners.

I taught English to junior-high-level Hmong refugees from Thailand who were just beginning to learn English and had never attended school before coming to the United States. Under NCLB, my students were expected to pass a grade-level reading test intended for native speakers. If, due to their scores, the Asian or ELL subcategory failed to meet the standard, the whole school would be labeled a failure.

From pressure under NCLB, the district reprogrammed the school, brought in an incompetent principal and pushed out a talented principal and many dedicated teachers. The beginning ELLs were also pushed out and moved to other schools so as not to bring down the test scores of the new school.

Did NCLB help this school? I doubt it. In the end, people were just shuffled around. It didn't matter that the old school was considered by the district administration to have one of the best ELL departments among junior highs in St. Paul. Only test scores mattered.

From this experience, I believe that the goal of NCLB has nothing to do with school improvement. Rather, NCLB is designed to stigmatize urban public schools as failures, so as to open up the terrain for private and charter schools, which often are not subject to the same testing standards.

When NCLB comes up for reauthorization in 2009, we should push for its elimination. Despite Barack Obama's intention of reforming it, NCLB is unsalvageable.

Corey Mattson


Bruce Dixon Examines the Agenda of the "Reformers"

You have to love the question:
Did Barack Obama Just Appoint an Underqualified Political Hack and Privatizer to be Secretary of Education?
By: bruce.dixon Tuesday December 23, 2008 6:38 pm

(This is a transcript of a 24 minute interview broadcast on WRFG Atlanta 89.3 December 22, 2008)

BD: Our next guest George Schmidt was a Chicago Public School teacher for 28 years. A longtime union activist, he was once a candidate for presidency of the 28,000 member Chicago Teachers Union, one of the largest union locals of any kind in the nation. He is a founding member of Substance and Substance News, an organization and a newspaper originally founded to represent the views of Chicago's substitute teachers. Substance News, which you can find online at substancenews.net is still required reading for anybody who wants an unfiltered view of the road public education has taken in Chicago and nationwide over the last two decades. How you doin' Mr. Schmidt?

GS: It's been a fun week, to be sure.

BD: We've got a lot to cover. Can you tell us about your own background for the first minute or so of this?

GS: Well, I spent almost all my public school teaching career in the inner city high schools of Chicago, starting at Dusable in the upper grade center, and teaching at schools like Manley, Marshall, Collins and Tilden. My last years of teaching were at Bowen High School on the city's far south side near the Indiana border where I taught English and where I also served as union delegate and what we called the school security coordinator. During those years I was also very active in the union, as you pointed out. At one point I got over 40% of the vote in a race for president of the Chicago Teachers Union, but I didn't win.

BD: Yeah, it takes a little more than 40%. Well, we're talking to Mr. Schmidt because last week president-elect Barack Obama tapped Arne Duncan, who heads the Chicago Public Schools to be his Secretary of Education. Now Chicago has the third largest school system in the nation, so if you can make it work for the citizens of Chicago maybe you ought to get a chance to do it nationwide. So how's it workin' in Chicago, man?

GS: Basically, it's not. It's not working for the majority of children in the city and it's certainly not working for the majority of teachers. In order to understand how that particular sentence can be nuanced, you have to understand two things. The first is the dominance of the corporate narrative of “school reform”. In 1995 democratic control of the Chicago Public Schools was taken out of the hands of parents, teachers and citizens and put into the hands of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley. A new law which was passed by the all-Republican state government at the time gave Mayor Daley the power to appoint a seven member school board eventually --- at first he appointed a five member thing that was called the School Reform Board of Trustees --- and the power to appoint a newly created chief executive officer based on the corporate model to run the Chicago Public Schools. Daley was also given power over the entire school system's budget, and for the first time in 17 years, the school system was freed from the oversight of an outside entity called the School Finance Authority.
What Daley did since then was basically massively increase the public relations spin that was put on every activity performed in Chicago, to the point where the gap between the reality of the public schools we have in our city and the claims that have been made about them is as great as any between fact and fiction anywhere on the planet.

BD: We hear a lot about “reforming education.” I'm from Chicago, and back in the 80s when I was involved in school reform, school reform meant giving more power to parents and to rank and file teachers, power to determine curriculum, even to let parents evaluate the performance of teachers and programs and principals. You talked about the corporate narrative of school reform. Just what is that?

GS: The corporate narrative is the dictatorial model that you get in any corporation under a chief executive officer or CEO. And just as it's failed now miserably in corporate America, with the collapse of Wall Street and the finance industry, it's failed in the public schools as well. But just as a year ago you would find very few dissenters on the private sector analogy so today we still find not a loud enough voice for those who dissent against the claims that the corporate model (of education reform) has succeeded. Basically what you're talking about by the late 1980s we had one of the most democratic models – with a small d – of school improvement anywhere in the United States. In 1988 Illinois passed a law which gave an elected Local School council of ten or eleven members the power at every school to hire and fire the principal to set curriculum and to have an enormous say over the budget. The majority of those Local School Council members were parents. Those of us who were active at the time participated in those elections and those processes.

BD: So that was school reform in the eighties.

GS: That was school reform in the eighties, and that grew primarily out of the work of Harold Washington who we elected mayor of the city of Chicago in 1983 in a mass movement that locally rivaled the mass movement which just elected Barack Obama president of the United States.

BD: So now we've replaced democratic school reform that gave parents the power with what exactly? I understand one of Arne's pet things is giving public high schools over to the US military.

GS: Yeah, that's one example of several and it's a very good one. Beginning in the first days of the 21st century, literally Chicago instituted military high schools. And we're not talking about high schools that have ROTC programs, we're talking about high schools that are run by and for the military. The first of those was established in the heart of Bronzeville, the south side community at 35th and Giles, in the old armory there. It's now the Chicago Military Academy. Since then they've set up two more army high schools. Carver and Phoenix, a Marine high school and a naval academy which is named the Hyman Rickover Naval Academy inside Senn High School.

BD: Except for the naval academy operation inside Senn High School all of these are in African American communities, are they not?

GS: Yes they are.

HG: George this is Heather Gray. Is this a model that's in other parts of the country as well? Are other cities doing this?

GS: No.

HG: So this is unique to Chicago.

GS: This is unique to Chicago.

GS: Most places where you have more democracy, even where you have this CEO type dictatorship now, the citizens are better positioned to resist it than we are here in Chicago.

BD: In chicago, for the benefit of our audience, we're in Atlanta GA now, the mayor is Richard Daley. 2009 marks his 20th year in office. His father was the mayor too for almost as long, from about 1956 if I remember right to 1975, I think, eighteen or ninetten years. So out of the last fifty or so years, for forty of them the city of Chicago has been run by the Daley clicque, the Daley Regime, or as we call it in Chicago, the Machine. Arne Duncan, is he a product of the Machine.

GS: Exactly, Daley as I pointed out, in 1995 was given dictatorial power over the ChicagoPublic School system. It was based upon the lie that the system as a whole had failed, and the repetition of that lie from the eighties on. Daley has appointed two CEOs and roughly two school boards since then. Both of the CEOs have been white non-educators who replaced African American educators. Both of the CEOs had no experience in education or in corporate America. This is an important point since it's supposedly a corporate model. They were funamentally political puppets who would do his bidding.

BD: The predecessor to Mr. Duncan (in Chicago) he's a guy named Paul Vallas, isn't he?

GS: That's true. Mr. Vallas came to the chief education job in Chicago through his position as budget director at City Hall under Mayor Daley.

HG: George, just going back to the military model (of education) again. What have been Barack Obama's comments about this, if any at all.

GS: I haven't heard comment from Barack Obama himself, and I've known him since he was in the Illinois State Senate, and I was working for the Chicago Teachers Union. Never to my knowledge, and that may be contradicted by something on the record did he comment on this assault on the openness of Chicago high schools. But his newly incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuael has been a proud proponent of the military academies and even bragged on one occasion I was covering a press conference and he was with Mayor Daley that he got a million dollar earmakr speicifically for the military academies while he was in the US House of Representatives as my congressman.

BD: So it does say something that out of all the superintendents of school systems, CEOs or whatever nationwide, Barack Obama reached around and found one that not only liked the corporate model but liked the military model too. Since we're talking about Chicago's unique contribution to education on the national stage, let's stick with Paul Vallas. You said Paul Vallas got his start just an average guy on the budget team on the City Hall budget team, where did Mr. Vallas go after leaving the Chicago Public Schools”
GS: After Daley dumped Vallas in 2001, he was picked up by Tom Ridge, the governor of Pennsylvania who was trying to privatize the Philadelphia school system. Vallas was made head of the Philadelphia school system in mid 2002 after a failed attempt to get himself elected governor of Illinois. He ran Philadelphia for four years I believe, the chronology may be a little off. Presently he's been sent to New Orleans where the public school system has been obliterated after Hurricane Katrina and replaced by a system of primarily charter schools, many of which have been modeled on the charter school privatization plans originally hatched here in Chicago.

BD: Arne Duncan is going to be the nation's number one guy on education. Surely this guy must have years and years of classroom and administrative experience,

GS: Wrong. He has none.

BD: So he's never been in a classroom?

GS: No.

BD: Except as a student, perhaps.

GS: He talks now, as he tries to brush over his resume, about how when he was a student at the very privileged University of Chicago Lab School where his father was a professor at the University of Chicago, that after school he would go to a tutoring program his mother ran in that area north of the University of Chicago called Kenwood, where he apparently, according to Arne's narrative helped poor black children with their homework. That's the extent of Arne Duncan's actual educational experience or praxis. His career after Harvard, where he supposedly got a BA in Sociology, I've never got to see a resume, was in professional basketball...

HG: What do you mean you haven't been allowed to see a resume? Why do you say that? You've asked for a resume and you've never seen one?

GS: For the past 14 years we've asked for the curriculum vitaes and resumes of top officials of the Chicago Public Schools under the Freedom of Information Act. And the answer we get every time we repeat this request is that this is classified privileged personnel information.

BD: Of course the new Obama administration is pledged to openess and transparency everywhere, so I'm sure that Arne's resumes and cv's and all that will surface really soon.

GS: If that's the case, people are going to find out that he spent most of his adult life either playing basketball or working with some very wealthy financiers from his old neighborhood of Hyde Park in Chicago.

BD: Since we are talking about applying this Chicago model of public education nationwide, what has the regime of high stakes testing and closing schools that don't meet testing goals which is now national policy thanks to No Child Left Behind meant to Chicago – oh, and one other thing I'd like to see if I can get your comment on is that Hillary Clinton at one point said let's repeal No Child Left Behind while Barack was saying, well, he didn't quite say mend it but don't end it, but something like that. So what has the regime of high stakes testing done for African Americans in Chicago and public education in Chicago?

GS: Basically the vast majority of the schools that have been closed for supposed academic failure, which means low test scores, have been those schools which served a populaiton of 100% poor black children via a staff that was almost always majority black teachers and usually a black principal. Since Arne Duncan took over in 2001, he has closed over 20 elementary schools. Most of them have been privatized into charter schools, and he's closed six high schools. In all the cases I know of, the majority of the staffs of those schools who were then kicked out of union jobs and forced on the rooad to try to get new jobs, were majority black teachers and principals, many of which I knew personally. The six high schools he closed, Austin HS, Calumet HS, Collins HS, Englewood HS, Orr HS, and Harper HS, were either all black, in the case of five of them, or majority black and Latino in the case of Orr. That's the active record of what Arne Duncan has done in his school closings for which Barack Obama has praised him. .

BD: We're not seeing much of any criticism of Barack Obama's nominations, especially not this nomination...I understand there was a meeting of the Chicago Board of Education soon after the nomination was announced, and some people who were at that meeting took issue with the nomination. Can you tell us about that?
GS: If you don't mind I'll give you a six day backup of that. The teaser stories began on December 11. On that day, Margaret Spelling, who's George Bush's Secretary of Education came to Chicago to stand on stage with Arne Duncan and Mayor Daley and praise the (teacher) merit pay plan that they'd introduced jointly, and to say that Arne Duncan was the same type of educational leader that she and George Bush favored. By Monday the 15th, word was out around Chicago that Duncan was probably the front runner for the Secretary of Education...

BD: He plays ball with the president-elect

GS: Exactly. On the night of the 15th it was made official. Barack Obama held a press conference with Joe Biden at Dodge School on the 16th. On the 17th, the Board of Education had its regular monthly meeting scheduled for downtown Chicago. Even though they apparently, expected it to be a love fest for Arne Duncan, what happened was that more than a dozen teachers and community activists from seven schools got up and exposed Duncan's public record of sabotaging public education, of privatizing schools, of union busting, and of fraudulently cooking the educational statistics books. By the middle of the meeting Duncan had walked out for an hour and these testimonies continued to go on. By the end of the meeting members of the board were heatedly arguing with the teachers, and after the meeting two of the teachers were threatened. Members of Duncan's staff called their principals demanding to know why they had been allowed to take the day off work to talk about Arne Duncan's crimes (against public education) before a school board meeting.

BD: Now I haven't been to a meeting of the Chicago Board of Education in a long time, but it's hard to believe that the day after Duncan had been tapped to be Secretary of Education, it's hard to believe that room wasn't full of corporate media. We haven't seen or heard anything about this. Have we? Or did I miss it?

GS: No, the dog and pony shows were on the 16th, at Dodge School where Barack Obama made the announcement with Duncan sitting there. At the Board of Education (meeting), one of the most interesting things that happened... was that not one of the TV stations was there to film or video any of this activity during the board meeting. The only photographer there besides me, because I cover every board meeting for Substance, was a woman from the Chicago Tribune and the only photograph the Tribune did was of Barbara Easton Watkins, who according to speculation here is in line to succeed Duncan here in Chicago. The TV stations boycotted the meeting completely, the story in the Tribune was a wacky one that ignored most of what happened in the meeting. The Sun-Times which is our other major daily newspaper covered the meeting slightly accurately, and NPR had a reporter there who missed 98% of what was actually going on, typical for the way Chicago Public Radio has been covering this type of story.

BD: The regime of high stakes testing and closing schools that came into national prominence which became national policy with No Child Left Behind, then is going to be with us for a while. What does that do to public education? Does it work?

GS: First of all, it has gradients. As soon as I say this you'll know what I am talking about. Public education in the United States is not a unified system of equal access for all children. It's a highly stratified system of at least four or five components. In the wealthy suburbs of any major city you'll find some of the best public schools anywhere on the planet. In Chicago we're talking about Wilmette, Winetka, the north shore, Glen Ellyn in the western suburbs, where the high schools are just everything you could want for your children if you could only afford a home in those areas.


GS: You move from there and you have rural schools in some of the most challenging schools in some of the most desolate parts of rural North Dakota or Montana. When you get to our cities and the immediate suburbs which have declined industrially too, right now what we have is a three part system, Chicago is the exemplar of that. We have a magnet school system which selects kids on the basis of IQ scores and test scores in kindergarten or the first grade, and keeps them in that magnet school system for twelve years, and that's one of the best school systems you'll find anywhere. Michelle Obama is a graduate of Whitney Young High School which is a part of that system, the magnet and elite schools in Chicago...

BD: We're down to our last minute and a half...

GS: Well then, basically... the place where the impact of high stakes testing has been most devastating has been in those schools which serve the poorest children with the fewest resources and in the most challenging environments. In that area, the schools have not been improved, but instead the teachers and schools have been under attack for failing at things the society has never taken responsibility for.

BD: Last question, if you can do this in ten or twenty seconds or so, people in their millions or tens of millions voted for change. Insofar as education goes, are we gonna get it?

GS: If this the kind of change we needed, then I am still glad I voted for Barack Obama. I'm proud I was able to publish pictures of him and our colleagues. But this is not the kind of change we needed or we hoped for here in Chicago, we the people who supported that man, and who've known him and his wife for years and years.

The audio of this interview can be downloaded from http://www.blackagendareport.com/newsite/sites/all/sound/interviews/20081222bd_george_schmidt

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We're # 1

While the education industry parasites, corporate tax cheats, and the privatizing politicians continue to use the lagging achievement of poor children as the phony justification for their self-serving education "reforms," the bottom quartile of students who are poor, in poverty, or in extreme poverty, remains unaltered--just as it has remained unaltered by the past 50 years of education reform after reform. The only reform that will improve the educational lots of the bottom quartile will be ending the grinding poverty that affects one out of six American children.

Which of the politicians or philanthropists will be held accountable for these dubious distinctions? Or will they blame teachers and parents that

. . . children in America lag behind almost all industrialized nations on key child indicators. The United States has the unwanted distinction of being the worst among industrialized nations in relative child poverty, in the gap between rich and poor, in teen birth rates, and in child gun violence, and first in the number of incarcerated persons.

Below is the press release for a new report issued today by the Children's Defense Fund. HT to Monty Neill:

WASHINGTON,DC Today the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) released The State of America's Children 2008® report, a statistical compendium of key child data showing epidemic numbers of children at risk: the number of poor children has increased nearly 500,000 to 13.3 million, with 5.8 million of them living in extreme poverty, and nearly 9 million children lack health coverage―with both numbers likely to increase during the recession. The number of children and teens killed by firearms also increased after years of decline.

"It is a national disgrace that the richest nation on earth lets every sixth child live in poverty," CDF President Marian Wright Edelman said. "Our poor children exceed the population of all ages in the state of Illinois. The number of uninsured children exceeds the population of the country of Switzerland. We continue this neglectful waste of our precious human capital at our collective peril. We can and must do better!

"Investing in our children―the seed corn of our nation's future―is key to our nation's economic recovery and competitiveness in the global economy. And we do not have a minute to waste as a child drops out of school every 11 seconds of the school day; is born into poverty every 33 seconds; is abused or neglected every 35 seconds; is born without health coverage every 39 seconds; and is killed by guns every three hours. No external enemy poses such a grave threat to our children’s and nation's security as these facts," stated Mrs. Edelman.

According to the CDF report, children in America lag behind almost all industrialized nations on key child indicators. The United States has the unwanted distinction of being the worst among industrialized nations in relative child poverty, in the gap between rich and poor, in teen birth rates, and in child gun violence, and first in the number of incarcerated persons.

"A cradle to prison pipeline crisis is fueling a massive and costly prison system that is becoming the new American apartheid. It is draining tens of billions of dollars from crucial health and education investments all children need to get into a pipeline to college and productive work. Poverty and continuing racial disparities in all child serving systems are sentencing countless children to dead-end lives. That a Black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime and a Latino boy has a 1 in 6 chance is a personal tragedy and national catastrophe. We can and must change these horrifying outcomes. If we can bail out Wall Street bankers who have brought our economy to its knees, we can rescue our children from hopelessness, despair, sickness, illiteracy and preventable poverty," Mrs. Edelman said.

The State of America's Children 2008 compiles the most recent and reliable national and state-by-state data on poverty, health, child welfare, youth at risk, early childhood development, education, nutrition and housing. Highlights of the report are attached. The full report is available at www.childrensdefense.org/stateofamericaschildren.

The Children's Defense Fund is a non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for 35 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. CDF champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education, and a moral and spiritual foundation. Supported by foundation and corporate grants and individual donations, CDF advocates nationwide on behalf of children to ensure children are always a priority.

The Children's Defense Fund’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Op-Ed Blasts Duncan

From AJC, Tuesday, December 23:
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hailed by some as a pioneer in education reform, Arne Duncan was recently selected by President-elect Obama to be our next secretary of education. However, his track record as the CEO of Chicago Public Schools for the past seven years shows that Duncan is the wrong choice for America’s schools.

Behind the rhetoric of “reform” is the reality of Duncan’s accomplishments, particularly the problems behind his signature initiative, Renaissance 2010. Launched in 2004, Renaissance 2010 aims to open 100 new smaller schools (and close about 60 “failing” schools) by the year 2010. To date, 75 new schools have opened.

However, many of them are charter schools that serve fewer low-income, limited-English proficient and disabled students than regular public schools. More than a third of them are in communities that are not high-needs areas. During Duncan’s tenure, district-wide high school test scores have not risen, and most of the lowest-performing high schools saw scores drop.

This should not be surprising. Central to that strategy was the creation of 100 new charter schools, managed by for-profit businesses and freed of local school councils and teacher unions, groups that historically have put the welfare of poor and minority students before that of the business sector.

Duncan’s reforms are steeped in a free-market model of school reform, particularly the notion that school choice and charter and specialty schools will motivate educators to work harder to do better as will penalties for not meeting standards. But research does not support such initiatives. There is evidence that encouraging choice and competition will not raise districtwide achievement, and charter schools in particular are not outperforming regular schools. There is evidence that choice programs actually exacerbate racial segregation. And there is evidence that high-stakes testing increases the drop-out rate.

Duncan’s track record is clear. Less parental and community involvement in school governance. Less support for teacher unions. Less breadth and depth in what and how students learn as schools place more emphasis on narrow high-stakes testing. More penalties for schools but without adequate resources for those in high-poverty areas. Duncan’s accomplishments are not a model.

America’s schools are in dire need of reform, and in 2009, we have the opportunity to overhaul the failed policies of No Child Left Behind. The research is compelling: students need to learn more, not less. Parents need to be involved more, not less. Teachers need to be trained more. Schools need to be resourced more. We need new ways to fund schools, to integrate schools, to evaluate learning and to envision what we want schools to accomplish.

Education should strive to prepare every child to flourish in life. We need a different leader, one with a rich knowledge of research, with a commitment to educating our diverse children and with a vision to make that happen.

• Kevin Kumashiro is associate professor and chair of educational policy studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of “The Seduction of Common Sense: How the Right has Framed the Debate on America’s Schools.”

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Daley/Duncan Steamroller Loses One in Court

From a post from PURE at ARN:
This afternoon, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall DENIED a Chicago Board of Education motion for summary judgment which asked her to throw out the small and alternative schools Local School Council (LSC) lawsuit filed by a number of LSCs, LSC members, parents, and advocacy organizations.

In making her ruling, Judge Hall raised her voice and threw her legal pad down, seemingly in disgust that CPS lawyers were unable to produce evidence in support of their arguments that CPS had followed the law or even their own policies in disbanding a number of LSCs and replacing them with appointed advisory bodies.

Read more on PURE Thoughts!

And, folks, if victories like this mean something to you, please consider making a small (or large!) end-of-year donation to PURE so that we can survive into 2009 and keep challenging CPS's bad acts!

Here's a link to our Donate Now! button - and Happy New Year to one and all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Meier and Klonsky on Duncan

Interview transcript from Democracy Now:

As chief executive officer of the Chicago public school system, the third largest in the country, Education Secretary-designate Arne Duncan expanded charter schools and launched a performance pay plan for teachers. Duncan was seen as a compromise pick between progressive and conservative education advocates. We speak to Michael Klonsky, professor of education and longtime school reform activist in Chicago, and Deborah Meier, a well-known teacher, writer and public advocate. [includes rush transcript]

Michael Klonsky, professor of education and a longtime school reform activist in Chicago. He is the director of the Small Schools Workshop and author of Small Schools: Public School Reform Meets the Ownership Society.

Deborah Meier, spent more than four decades working in public education as a teacher, writer and public advocate. She is currently senior scholar at the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University.

Rush Transcript

This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
Donate - $25, $50, $100, More...

JUAN GONZALEZ: On Tuesday, President-elect Obama announced Chicago School Superintendent Arne Duncan as his nominee for Secretary of Education. Obama formally named him at a news conference at a Chicago school, where he outlined some of the challenges ahead.

    PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: If we want to out-compete the world tomorrow, then we’re going to have to out-educate the world today. Unfortunately, when our high school dropout rate is one of the highest in the industrialized world, when a third of all fourth graders can’t do basic math, when more and more Americans are getting priced out of attending college, we’re falling far short of that goal.

JUAN GONZALEZ: As chief executive officer of the Chicago public school system, the third largest in the country, Arne Duncan expanded charter schools and launched a performance pay plan for teachers. In 2006, he called on Congress to double funding for the No Child Left Behind Act. At the news conference Tuesday, Obama praised Duncan as a reformer.

    PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: When it comes to school reform, Arne is the most hands-on of hands-on practitioners. For Arne, school reform isn’t just a theory in a book; it’s the cause of his life.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Duncan served as Obama’s education adviser during his presidential campaign and helped shape his education platform. After Obama formally named him, Duncan outlined part of the vision for the coming four years.

    ARNE DUNCAN: Our children have just one chance to get a quality education, and they need and deserve the absolute best. While there are no simple answers, I know from experience that when you focus on basics, like reading and math, and when you embrace innovative new approaches and when you create a professional climate to attract great teachers, you can create great schools.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Klonsky is a professor of education and a longtime school reform activist in Chicago. He is the director of the Small Schools Workshop and author of Small Schools: Public School Reform Meets the Ownership Society. He is joining us from Washington, D.C.—from actually Chicago.

We’re also joined on Skype by Deborah Meier, spent more than four decades working in public education as a teacher, writer and public advocate. She is currently senior scholar at the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University.

Let’s begin with Michael Klonsky in Chicago. Your assessment of Arne Duncan as the next Education Secretary?

MICHAEL KLONSKY: Yes. Hi. You know, I think people on the left and progressive educators and school activists aren’t really thrilled about the pick of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. I think part of the reason, though, is that he’s—I think he’s been too closely associated over the years with the Daley machine here in Chicago and with the No Child Left Behind policies coming out of the present Department of Education.

But I think Arne Duncan has the potential to be a good Secretary of Education, and I think he has some real positives going for him. So I kind of have a—I kind of see this whole thing as contested territory, and I don’t think we should—like most of Obama’s picks, I don’t think we should be dependent too much on, you know, this issue of this individual heading the department.

But I think—you know, I’ve had a lot of struggle and a lot of issues with Duncan over the years, and I think my main criticism is his relationship too much with the Daley machine and with No Child Left Behind and the fact that he is one of the people responsible for bringing in this wave of privatization and ownership society politics here in Chicago.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Michael, the way that this has been portrayed over the last few weeks in several of the national publications was this raging battle and pressure from educators, the more progressive ones supporting Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor out at Stanford and involved in school reform, the more conservative pressing for someone like Joel Klein, the chancellor here at the New York City schools. And Obama appears to have chosen a centrist candidate, in effect, to basically to avoid major criticism from both sides. Is that assessment accurate, in your view?

MICHAEL KLONSKY: Yeah, I think it is. I think Duncan was kind of a safe pick, a middle ground pick, somewhere in between the most—more conservative union-busting types like Klein and—but I think that’s pretty typical of the way cabinet picks and the way Obama’s choices have been being made so far.

AMY GOODMAN: Deborah Meier, you’re a well-known school reform activist, currently a senior scholar at the Steinhardt School of Education at NYU. What are your thoughts on Arne Duncan and where you want to see education going in this country?

DEBORAH MEIER: Well, first of all, can you hear me?

AMY GOODMAN: We can. We can hear you. And for those people who are watching on TV, they can see you, as well. Just look directly into the lens of the Skype, as opposed to our picture.

DEBORAH MEIER: Alright. This is a new age. We spent an hour last night trying to make this thing work, and I don’t know that we quite got it right.

So, first of all, I think we’re—it’s not two sides. It’s sort of a—it’s different views about the purpose of education, and there are different views about how human beings learn well. And I think there’s a very predominant view right now that gets—has been called by the name of reform and that has nothing to do with red and blue. It’s a kind of market view of education, though. And I think there are a lot of people on the red side who are more close to my views and a lot of people of the blue side who are more close to Arne Duncan’s views. And that part does worry me, maybe even more than it does Klonsky, my friend Mike Klonsky, because it’s—I think we need a different discussion about what the point of education is.

And I was thinking about the data there is about how few kids graduate, even graduate. After all, less than half or half graduate, at best, from Chicago schools, and that’s excluding the number who never make it into high school in Chicago. But even those who graduate, how few manage to get to four-year schools or get a B.A. I think it’s three or four percent. And it’s that they’re not prepared for the kind of intellectual flexibility, the kind of tough-minded intellectual perseverance, really asking questions, thinking critically, that I think is essential for a democratic society. And I suspect it’s even going to be good for the economy, partly because politics and the economy overlap so much, as we can see these days.

But I think we’ve bought into, and Arne Duncan has bought into, the worst parts of the business mentality or the business model. I think there are things we can learn from the business world, but accountability is not one of them. And I think we’ve bought into some of the shoddiest accountability mindset, in which everybody is forced to lie. You know, high-stakes numbers means you play with the numbers. There’s something, I think, in sociology called Campbell’s Law: the higher the stakes, the more corrupt the data. And Obama, I think, quotes data about Chicago’s success, which I can’t expect him to be an expert on, but I’m enough of an expert to tell you it’s nonsense. And the test scores, NAEP test scores, which are the only test scores that are consistent around the nation, which shows no progress in the last seven, eight years in Chicago.

If you remember, we were preceded by another miracle worker in Chicago, Vallas, who is now producing miracles in New Orleans. And that’s—we had one after another superintendent comes in and produces a miracle, just as the previous Secretary of Education before Spellings, Rod Paige, came in from Houston claiming that there was a Houston miracle and, before that, there was a Texas miracle. And closer look at the data turned out to simply say it was somewhere between shoddy bookkeeping and lies. And I’ve engaged in that myself in the school business, because it’s so easy to do when we have such a narrow way of looking at school accountability.

I mean, kids who graduate our high school need to be kids who have learned to play with ideas—and that starts in kindergarten—who learn to ask uncomfortable questions, who are in the presence of adults who are used to asking uncomfortable questions and persevering.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Debbie Meier, I’d like to ask you whether you were surprised both—in terms of the teachers union, both Randi Weingarten, the head of the AFT, and the head of the Chicago Teachers Union both praised Duncan as somebody who at least is accessible and willing to hear them out.

DEBORAH MEIER: I think they’re being politically smart, which I don’t have to be. And maybe they see something in these people that I don’t know about. I mean, they’re both possible, that I’m wrong, and there’s a possibility that they’re being political. Are you still seeing me? Hello?


AMY GOODMAN: We see you just fine.

DEBORAH MEIER: OK, OK. My screen went off.

So, part of that is, once you’ve posed the issue as being union lackeys or reformers—and the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, a variety of magazines, as you mentioned earlier, have said there are two sides: unions lackeys, people who want to—who are worrying—you know, who are dependent upon the union, and on the other side are real reformers. I think it made it hard for the union to speak for its own membership on this question.

And the history of reform has almost nothing to do—I shouldn’t say that. There has always been a struggle between these two wings in reform. But they have posed me as an anti-reformer, as though there are—since I’m not for market-style reforms, this testing mania, this narrow focus on prepping kids for a small selection of skills, that makes me a dupe of the union and an anti-reformer and someone who doesn’t care for the future of the economy or democracy. I think it’s been posed that way for so many years now.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Michael Klonsky for a minute, again, speaking to us from Chicago, where Arne Duncan is head of the schools there, now been picked as Education Secretary nominee by President-elect Obama. He’s a strong supporter of No Child Left Behind Act, called in 2006 for a doubling of the funds for it. What are your thoughts on that? And for people who really don’t follow education policy issues, what’s your assessment of No Child Left Behind?

MICHAEL KLONSKY: Well, I don’t think Duncan is really a strong supporter of No Child Left Behind. I remember when President Bush came out to Chicago and kind of cut a deal with Mayor Daley and got some kind of a tentative support for No Child. But I think Duncan has been pushing more for, like most big city superintendents, pushing more for kind of a loose application of No Child’s most punitive aspects. In other words, he’s been trying to get waivers for Chicago. He’s been trying to get rid of the—I mean, he’s really rejected the idea of moving kids out of schools. And so, I have to give him that.

Look, I think the real point is that we have an opportunity here to do something that the Bush administration has stopped us from doing. We need to put public back in public education. And I think Duncan, once he’s kind of liberated from Chicago, I think could be a person who could do that. I think he’s got to use the bully pulpit of the Department of Education to really promote support for urban public schools and for teachers. And I think we’ve got to get rid of No Child Left Behind’s approach, which has been to really turn the Department of Education into a cash cow for politically aligned companies and that have gone into the education business.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, Michael Klonsky. I want to thank you for being with us, professor of education and director of the Small Schools Workshop and author of Small Schools. Deborah Meier, longtime school reform activist, now at the Steinhardt School of Education at NYU.

Science Returns the White House Soon

From HuffPo:

President-elect Barack Obama's selection Saturday of a Harvard physicist and a marine biologist for science posts is a sign he plans a more aggressive response to global warming than did the Bush administration.

John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco are leading experts on climate change who have advocated forceful government action. Holdren will become Obama's science adviser as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Lubchenco will lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees ocean and atmospheric studies and does much of the government's research on global warming.

Holdren also will direct the president's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. Joining him as co-chairs will be Nobel Prize-winning scientist Harold Varmus, a former director of the National Institutes of Health, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Eric Lander, a specialist in human genome research.

"It's time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America's place as the world leader in science and technology," Obama said in announcing the selections in his weekly radio address.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Duncan's Charters Dumping Students: Parents Call Turnaround a Sham

After the standing ovation died down for Mr. Duncan at the last CPS Board Meeting conducted by Daley's appointed stooges, a group of parents from PURE (Parents United for Responsible Education) brought to the floor some inconvenient truths about the Chicago Miracle. From the Sun-Times:

A parade of teachers, parents and students complained Wednesday about the new breed of Chicago schools President-elect Barack Obama touted the day before when he tapped Chicago's school chief to be his U.S. secretary of education.

The Chicago Board of Education meeting began with a standing ovation for schools CEO Arne Duncan. Board President Rufus Williams told a packed chamber that Obama had "identified Arne early'' but then "looked around the country to find the best person possible. He ended up with Arne.''

But not everyone was full of praise for Duncan's initiatives. With the school closing hit list due next month, teachers charged that CPS charter schools -- which have replaced some closed schools -- are "destroying'' neighborhood schools by luring away high-scoring kids. Meanwhile, they said, neighborhood schools are being forced to absorb low-scoring kids.

Jesse Sharkey, a Senn High union delegate, said that after a fight at a charter school in March, 19 kids showed up at Senn with letters saying they had been "dis-enrolled'' from the school. Charters "are allowed to kick people off the island,'' Sharkey said. "We're supposed to take all children. How is that fair?"

"I couldn't agree with you more,'' Duncan responded. He said CPS would investigate allegations of schools dumping kids for academic reasons. However, charters are allowed to create and enforce their own disciplinary code.

Julie Woestehoff of Parents United for Responsible Education said the "turnaround'' at Sherman School of Excellence was actually "a sham.'' . . . .

Arne Duncan Post Gets A Response

A fellow teacher educator over at Education Policy Blog had some comments on one of my Arne posts yesterday, but he took his remarks back over there, where they could be enjoyed by an audience more likely, perhaps, to offer moral support for his snippy remarks. Below I have given good buddy, Craig, center stage for his comments here. I hope he doesn't mind me sharing the stage to offer my comments on his comments.

Craig's initial remark was in reference to George Schmidt's contention in yesterday's post that the Chicago charterizers under Duncan are making segregation worse in Chicago.
1. yes, of course CPS's charter schools are segregated (that is, mostly all black or Latino). That's because most of Chicago's neighborhoods are segregated. (http://www.luc.edu/curl/cfm40/data/minisynthesis.pdf.) Only 8.3% of CPS students are white (http://webprod.isbe.net/ereportcard/publicsite/getReport.aspx?year=2008&code=150162990_e.pdf) and they are concentrated in a very few pretty good schools near Hyde Park and on the north side. Where are the white children supposed to come from to "desegregate" either the CPS neighborhood schools or the charter schools.
There is an interesting phenomenon going around, Craig, called socioeconomic school integration. Having had Bush's SCOTUS to eviscerate the Brown Decision in 2007, this kind of conscious integration effort shows some promising social and academic results, particularly in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. But, then, you would have to sell that notion to the ethnically-diverse and economically-similar parents of the leafy suburbs who would rather keep Hyde Park just as it is. That, or send their children to a school like Sidwell.

By the way, Craig, there is an interesting study just out from the University of Minnesota that looks at a 15 year history of charters in Minnesota. Among their conclusions: charter schools exacerbate segregation, both economic and racial, while driving down performance in charters as well as public schools:
After two decades of experience, most charter schools in the Twin Cities still underperform comparable traditional public schools and intensify racial and economic segregation in the Twin Cities schools. This is the conclusion of a new report issued today by the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Entitled “Failed Promises: Assessing Charter Schools in Twin Cities,” the new study evaluates the record of charter schools in terms of academic achievement, racial and economic segregation, and their competitive impact on traditional public schools. The study finds that rather than encouraging a race to the top, charter school competition in fact promotes a race to the bottom in the traditional public school system.
Craig's second point was again in response to Schmidt's remarks on the miltarization of Chicago Schools under Duncan.
2. Duncan's support of military academies in the high schools isn't support for the "militarization" of high schools. It's support for a set of charter schools that have proven highly popular (and "effective" in some senses), not support for militarization of high schools. As I mentioned, Duncan is a pragmatist; he's not going to exclude military academies simply because they are affiliated with the military.
It might not bother you, Craig, that ten percent of Chicago school students, and the vast majority of them poor, wear a military garb to school every day. In fact, some would say that the military offers them the only reasonable chance to have a job when they leave school. Who needs a draft, right, when we have all this human capital ready to be turned in boots on the ground for the next oil war. For a little reading, Craig, on the connection between the the corporate schooling and militarization of society, you might dip into Pauline Lipman's book, High Stakes Education: Inequality, Globalization and Urban School Reform, which uses the Chicago Schools as a case study to examine globalizatio, education, and the corporate state.

And here's a clip from some other academic boots on the ground in Chicago, from January, 2208, a piece by Quinn, Meiners, and Ayers:
. . . .Today, Chicago has the most militarized public school system in the nation, with Cadet Corps for students in middle-school, over 10,000 students participating in JROTC programs, over 1,000 students enrolled in one of the five, soon-to-be six autonomous military high schools, and hundreds more attending one of the nine military high schools that are called “schools within a school.” Chicago now has a Marine Military Academy, a Naval Academy, and three army high schools. When an air force high school opens next year, Chicago will be the only city in the nation to have academies representing all branches of the military. And Chicago is not the only city moving in this direction: the public school systems of other urban centers with largely Black and immigrant low income students , including Philadelphia, Atlanta and Oakland, are being similarly re-formed—and deformed— through partnerships with the Department of the Defense. . . .
Craig, cont'd:
3. Yes, Linda Darling-Hammond is a more "progressive" educator than Duncan. (Duncan is not an educator...he's an administrator.) But Darling-Hammond has lately had the luxury of a country-club professorship at Stanford and isn't really accountable for anything other than the force of her ideas; she has the luxury to speak about education as if money, personnel, facilities, transportation, poverty, and huge size weren't the issues they remain in CPS. (Don't get me wrong...I love her...and I think Arne will rely on her for advice and counter-advice, as he should.)
Duncan is a lawyer trained by Paul Vallas in how to create a corporate welfare charter school system for the poor at a 20% savings (no unions) that functions at the behest of a CEO, once known as the school principal, who reports to another CEO, once known as the superintendent, who reports to another CEO, once known as the mayor. Now if you like this kind of business model for society that makes everyone accountable except the CEOs, Arne is your guy, no doubt about it.

But to marginalize Darling-Hammond's huge body of research, scholarship, and service as the product of a "country club professorship," her work that is usable on a daily basis to teachers and people like you, Craig, who teach future teachers, well, that is simply a cheap insult by someone, I would imagine, with his meek liberal dander up. The value of the work that Darling-Hammond has done with NCTAF, alone, will eclipse anything that Arne Duncan may ever hope to do in education as the non-educator he is.

Go Craig:
4. To critique Duncan for supporting accountability by lumping in all that other anti-progressive crap that goes on to meet NCLB standards ("the perceived urgency for social control and a population suited to mindless labor helped form a bipartisan coalition aimed at replacing city schools with small manageable work camps based on stringent behavior modification, scripted instruction, and cognitive decapitation") is simply sloppy. Duncan doesn't support that stuff, but as CEO of CPS, his job #1 was to improve test scores--that's what he was hired by Daley to do--and as a pragmatist he allowed multiple means to be employed toward that end. The sad truth is that some of these approaches "work" in that limited sense (Kipp Schools, take note).
Mutliple means? To raise test scores? Is there some confusion with multiple measures here? The fact is, Craig, that your denial of Duncan's support for all the "anti-progressive crap" is the real crap here. There is good reason that Margaret Spellings describes Arne Duncan day before yesterday as "a visionary leader and fellow reformer." There is good reason, too, that Duncan is described recently by another phony miracle worker, Rod Paige, as the "budding hero of the education business." This guy is just what he appears to be to those who are willing to see him without the benefit of their Obama-tinted glasses.

By the way, Craig, I suggest you do a little more reading on KIPP than what you find in the Chicago Tribune or the Washington Post. KIPP is the Hampton Institute of the 21st Century, where children are brainwashed daily to internalize the mantra, Work Hard, Be Nice, while their capacity to become autonomous and healthy educated adult citizens is squelched. A clip below is from my recent commentary on a new study of KIPP in California, a study that shows that the big gains in test scores at KIPP are clearly linked to extremely high attrition rates. In short, school scores soar as low performers are dumped, which, of course, feeds the corporate school to corporate prison pipeline:
Student attrition, then, is a real problem, to say the least--but one that does nothing to dampen the heat of enthusiasm among those looking for a rigorous solution to the achievement burden. The idea of "scaling up" a system that leaves over half the students to give up may be an laudable model for folks like Don Fisher who "thinks that education is a business" and that a school is "not much different from a Gap store," but such a system would throw gasoline on the failure fire that is already consuming poor communities where hope has already been airlifted out. Consider this non-shocking, though certainly troubling, finding from the Report:
Together, the four schools began with a combined total of 312 fifth graders in 2003-04, and ended with 173 eighth graders in 2006-07 (see Exhibit 2-3). The number of eighth graders includes new students who entered KIPP after fifth grade (p.12).
That amounts to a 55% attrition rate, even when adding all the new enrollees during the three years. Imagine what the attrition rate might be if the "researchers" took a measure of the beginners vs. completers without the new recruits.
I thought he had just a couple of points!
5. I'm guessing that Linda Darling-Hammond wasn't chosen because Obama's financial backers can't understand how what she supports fits into the actual management of education in the US. I'd rather have Linda as head of OER, frankly.
Craig, this says a whole bunch about how you view the shaping of education policy in America. Outside of Illinois, is public policy openly dictated by the ignorance of "financial backers?" I thought that Obama represented a break from government by those who can afford to buy it. As for the "actual management of education," the federal government does not have, yet, a Mayor Daley who appoints a Board of Education to place his dictates behind the fig leaf of democratic participation. But you are correct: Obama's financial backers will never understand schools designed for children.

Now for the real snippy part:
6. It's great to have the left-wing to keep the left-of-center pragmatists honest. I think that's what Jim's post is meant to do....not to suggest that Obama would have been wiser to have appointed someone like Alfie Kohn, Peter McClaren, Henry Giroux, or William Ayers as education secretary. Or, um, maybe it was to suggest that?
It's a very common ploy among some pundits to attempt to marginalize those with whom they would otherwise engage in dialogue. As I said before, however, I would gladly take any of the names you sarcastically include as a superior choice to Arne Duncan. And if your position, Craig, represents "left of center," then I am Che Guevera.

Jim, do you have a few names of people--that is, those who might actually be appointed by Obama--that you WOULD be happy to support as education secretary?
A couple of other guys (I don't know about the quality of their basketball game) who would have been great choices:

Doug Christensen, Former Nebraska State Superintendent
Peter McWalters, Former Commissioner for Rhode Island Schools

Both were recently canned for not supporting the blowing up of public education.

Some Analysis of Duncan and the Disruptors

From Truthout:

Obama's Betrayal of Public Education? Arne Duncan and the Corporate Model of Schooling

by: Henry A. Giroux and Kenneth Saltman, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

President-elect Barack Obama with Arne Duncan.
President-elect Barack Obama with his nominee for secretary of education, Arne Duncan. (Photo: Reuters)

Since the 1980s, but particularly under the Bush administration, certain elements of the religious right, corporate culture and Republican right wing have argued that free public education represents either a massive fraud or a contemptuous failure. Far from a genuine call for reform, these attacks largely stem from an attempt to transform schools from a public investment to a private good, answerable not to the demands and values of a democratic society but to the imperatives of the marketplace. As the educational historian David Labaree rightly argues, public schools have been under attack in the last decade "not just because they are deemed ineffective but because they are public."[1] Right-wing efforts to disinvest in public schools as critical sites of teaching and learning and govern them according to corporate interests is obvious in the emphasis on standardized testing, the use of top-down curricular mandates, the influx of advertising in schools, the use of profit motives to "encourage" student performance, the attack on teacher unions and modes of pedagogy that stress rote learning and memorization. For the Bush administration, testing has become the ultimate accountability measure, belying the complex mechanisms of teaching and learning. The hidden curriculum is that testing be used as a ploy to de-skill teachers by reducing them to mere technicians, that students be similarly reduced to customers in the marketplace rather than as engaged, critical learners and that always underfunded public schools fail so that they can eventually be privatized. But there is an even darker side to the reforms initiated under the Bush administration and now used in a number of school systems throughout the country. As the logic of the market and "the crime complex"[2] frame the field of social relations in schools, students are subjected to three particularly offensive policies, defended by school authorities and politicians under the rubric of school safety. First, students are increasingly subjected to zero-tolerance policies that are used primarily to punish, repress and exclude them. Second, they are increasingly absorbed into a "crime complex" in which security staff, using harsh disciplinary practices, now displace the normative functions teachers once provided both in and outside of the classroom.[3] Third, more and more schools are breaking down the space between education and juvenile delinquency, substituting penal pedagogies for critical learning and replacing a school culture that fosters a discourse of possibility with a culture of fear and social control. Consequently, many youth of color in urban school systems, because of harsh zero-tolerance polices, are not just being suspended or expelled from school. They are being ushered into the dark precincts of juvenile detention centers, adult courts and prison. Surely, the dismantling of this corporatized and militarized model of schooling should be a top priority under the Obama administration. Unfortunately, Obama has appointed as his secretary of education someone who actually embodies this utterly punitive, anti-intellectual, corporatized and test-driven model of schooling.

Barack Obama's selection of Arne Duncan for secretary of education does not bode well either for the political direction of his administration nor for the future of public education. Obama's call for change falls flat with this appointment, not only because Duncan largely defines schools within a market-based and penal model of pedagogy, but also because he does not have the slightest understanding of schools as something other than adjuncts of the corporation at best or the prison at worse. The first casualty in this scenario is a language of social and political responsibility capable of defending those vital institutions that expand the rights, public goods and services central to a meaningful democracy. This is especially true with respect to the issue of public schooling and the ensuing debate over the purpose of education, the role of teachers as critical intellectuals, the politics of the curriculum and the centrality of pedagogy as a moral and political practice.

Duncan, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, presided over the implementation and expansion of an agenda that militarized and corporatized the third largest school system in the nation, one that is about 90 percent poor and nonwhite. Under Duncan, Chicago took the lead in creating public schools run as military academies, vastly expanded draconian student expulsions, instituted sweeping surveillance practices, advocated a growing police presence in the schools, arbitrarily shut down entire schools and fired entire school staffs. A recent report, "Education on Lockdown," claimed that partly under Duncan's leadership "Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has become infamous for its harsh zero tolerance policies. Although there is no verified positive impact on safety, these policies have resulted in tens of thousands of student suspensions and an exorbitant number of expulsions."[4] Duncan's neoliberal ideology is on full display in the various connections he has established with the ruling political and business elite in Chicago.[5] He led the Renaissance 2010 plan, which was created for Mayor Daley by the Commercial Club of Chicago - an organization representing the largest businesses in the city. The purpose of Renaissance 2010 was to increase the number of high quality schools that would be subject to new standards of accountability - a code word for legitimating more charter schools and high stakes testing in the guise of hard-nosed empiricism. Chicago's 2010 plan targets 15 percent of the city district's alleged underachieving schools in order to dismantle them and open 100 new experimental schools in areas slated for gentrification. Most of the new experimental schools have eliminated the teacher union. The Commercial Club hired corporate consulting firm A.T. Kearney to write Ren2010, which called for the closing of 100 public schools and the reopening of privatized charter schools, contract schools (more charters to circumvent state limits) and "performance" schools. Kearney's web site is unapologetic about its business-oriented notion of leadership, one that John Dewey thought should be avoided at all costs. It states, "Drawing on our program-management skills and our knowledge of best practices used across industries, we provided a private-sector perspective on how to address many of the complex issues that challenge other large urban education transformations."[6]

Duncan's advocacy of the Renaissance 2010 plan alone should have immediately disqualified him for the Obama appointment. At the heart of this plan is a privatization scheme for creating a "market" in public education by urging public schools to compete against each other for scarce resources and by introducing "choice" initiatives so that parents and students will think of themselves as private consumers of educational services.[7] As a result of his support of the plan, Duncan came under attack by community organizations, parents, education scholars and students. These diverse critics have denounced it as a scheme less designed to improve the quality of schooling than as a plan for privatization, union busting and the dismantling of democratically-elected local school councils. They also describe it as part of neighborhood gentrification schemes involving the privatization of public housing projects through mixed finance developments.[8] (Tony Rezko, an Obama and Blagojevich campaign supporter, made a fortune from these developments along with many corporate investors.) Some of the dimensions of public school privatization involve Renaissance schools being run by subcontracted for-profit companies - a shift in school governance from teachers and elected community councils to appointed administrators coming disproportionately from the ranks of business. It also establishes corporate control over the selection and model of new schools, giving the business elite and their foundations increasing influence over educational policy. No wonder that Duncan had the support of David Brooks, the conservative op-ed writer for The New York Times.

One particularly egregious example of Duncan's vision of education can be seen in the conference he organized with the Renaissance Schools Fund. In May 2008, the Renaissance Schools Fund, the financial wing of the Renaissance 2010 plan operating under the auspices of the Commercial Club, held a symposium, "Free to Choose, Free to Succeed: The New Market in Public Education," at the exclusive private club atop the Aon Center. The event was held largely by and for the business sector, school privatization advocates, and others already involved in Renaissance 2010, such as corporate foundations and conservative think tanks. Significantly, no education scholars were invited to participate in the proceedings, although it was heavily attended by fellows from the pro-privatization Fordham Foundation and featured speakers from various school choice organizations and the leadership of corporations. Speakers clearly assumed the audience shared their views.

Without irony, Arne Duncan characterized the goal of Renaissance 2010 creating the new market in public education as a "movement for social justice." He invoked corporate investment terms to describe reforms explaining that the 100 new schools would leverage influence on the other 500 schools in Chicago. Redefining schools as stock investments he said, "I am not a manager of 600 schools. I'm a portfolio manager of 600 schools and I'm trying to improve the portfolio." He claimed that education can end poverty. He explained that having a sense of altruism is important, but that creating good workers is a prime goal of educational reform and that the business sector has to embrace public education. "We're trying to blur the lines between the public and the private," he said. He argued that a primary goal of educational reform is to get the private sector to play a huge role in school change in terms of both money and intellectual capital. He also attacked the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), positioning it as an obstacle to business-led reform. He also insisted that the CTU opposes charter schools (and, hence, change itself), despite the fact that the CTU runs ten such schools under Renaissance 2010. Despite the representation in the popular press of Duncan as conciliatory to the unions, his statements and those of others at the symposium belied a deep hostility to teachers unions and a desire to end them (all of the charters created under Ren2010 are deunionized). Thus, in Duncan's attempts to close and transform low-performing schools, he not only reinvents them as entrepreneurial schools, but, in many cases, frees "them from union contracts and some state regulations."[9] Duncan effusively praised one speaker, Michael Milkie, the founder of the Nobel Street charter schools, who openly called for the closing and reopening of every school in the district precisely to get rid of the unions. What became clear is that Duncan views Renaissance 2010 as a national blueprint for educational reform, but what is at stake in this vision is the end of schooling as a public good and a return to the discredited and tired neoliberal model of reform that conservatives love to embrace.

In spite of the corporate rhetoric of accountability, efficiency and excellence, there is to date no evidence that the radical reforms under Duncan's tenure as the "CEO" of Chicago Public Schools have created any significant improvement. In part, this is because the Chicago Public Schools and the Renaissance Schools Fund report data in obscurantist ways to make traditional comparisons difficult if not impossible.[10] And, in part, examples of educational claims to school improvement are being made about schools embedded in communities that suffered dislocation and removal through coordinated housing privatization and gentrification policies. For example, the city has decimated public housing in coveted real estate enclaves, dispossessing thousands of residents of their communities. Once the poor are removed, the urban cleansing provides an opportunity for Duncan to open a number of Renaissance Schools, catering to those socio-economically empowered families whose children would surely improve the city's overall test scores. What are alleged to be school improvements under Ren2010, rest on an increase in the city's overall test scores and other performance measures that parodies the financial shell game corporations used to inflate profit margins - and prospects for future catastrophes are as inevitable. In the end, all Duncan leaves us with is a Renaissance 2010 model of education that is celebrated as a business designed "to save kids" from a failed public system. In fact, it condemns public schooling, administrators, teachers and students to a now outmoded and discredited economic model of reform that can only imagine education as a business, teachers as entrepreneurs and students as customers.[11]

It is difficult to understand how Barack Obama can reconcile his vision of change with Duncan's history of supporting a corporate vision for school reform and a penchant for extreme zero-tolerance polices - both of which are much closer to the retrograde policies hatched in conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institution, Fordham Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, than to the values of the many millions who voted for the democratic change he promised. As is well known, these think tanks share an agenda not for strengthening public schooling, but for dismantling it and replacing it with a private market in consumable educational services. At the heart of Duncan's vision of school reform is a corporatized model of education that cancels out the democratic impulses and practices of civil society by either devaluing or absorbing them within the logic of the market or the prison. No longer a space for relating schools to the obligations of public life, social responsibility to the demands of critical and engaged citizenship, schools in this dystopian vision legitimate an all-encompassing horizon for producing market identities, values and those privatizing and penal pedagogies that both inflate the importance of individualized competition and punish those who do not fit into its logic of pedagogical Darwinism.[12]

In spite of what Duncan argues, the greatest threat to our children does not come from lowered standards, the absence of privatized choice schemes or the lack of rigid testing measures that offer the aura of accountability. On the contrary, it comes from a society that refuses to view children as a social investment, consigns 13 million children to live in poverty, reduces critical learning to massive testing programs, promotes policies that eliminate most crucial health and public services and defines rugged individualism through the degrading celebration of a gun culture, extreme sports and the spectacles of violence that permeate corporate controlled media industries. Students are not at risk because of the absence of market incentives in the schools. Young people are under siege in American schools because, in the absence of funding, equal opportunity and real accountability, far too many of them have increasingly become institutional breeding grounds for racism, right-wing paramilitary cultures, social intolerance and sexism.[13] We live in a society in which a culture of testing, punishment and intolerance has replaced a culture of social responsibility and compassion. Within such a climate of harsh discipline and disdain for critical teaching and learning, it is easier to subject young people to a culture of faux accountability or put them in jail rather than to provide the education, services and care they need to face problems of a complex and demanding society.[14] What Duncan and other neoliberal economic advocates refuse to address is what it would mean for a viable educational policy to provide reasonable support services for all students and viable alternatives for the troubled ones. The notion that children should be viewed as a crucial social resource - one that represents, for any healthy society, important ethical and political considerations about the quality of public life, the allocation of social provisions and the role of the state as a guardian of public interests - appears to be lost in a society that refuses to invest in its youth as part of a broader commitment to a fully realized democracy. As the social order becomes more privatized and militarized, we increasingly face the problem of losing a generation of young people to a system of increasing intolerance, repression and moral indifference. It is difficult to understand why Obama would appoint as secretary of education someone who believes in a market-driven model that has not only failed young people, but given the current financial crisis has been thoroughly discredited. Unless Duncan is willing to reinvent himself, the national agenda he will develop for education embodies and exacerbates these problems and, as such, it will leave a lot more kids behind than it helps.


[1] Cited in Alfie Kohn, "The Real Threat to American Schools," Tikkun (March-April 2001), p. 25. For an interesting commentary on Obama and his possible pick to head the education department and the struggle over school reform, see Alfie Kohn, "Beware School 'Reformers'," The Nation (December 29, 2008). Online: www.thenation.com/doc/20081229/kohn/print.

[2] This term comes form: David Garland, "The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society" (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).

[3] For a brilliant analysis of the "governing through crime" complex, see Jonathan Simon, "Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear," (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007).

[4] Advancement Project in partnership with Padres and Jovenes Unidos, Southwest Youth Collaborative, "Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track," (New York: Children & Family Justice Center of Northwestern University School of Law, March 24, 2005), p.31. On the broader issue of the effect of racialized zero tolerance policies on public education, see Christopher G. Robbins, "Expelling Hope: The Assault on Youth and the Militarization of Schooling" (Albany: SUNY Press, 2008). See also, Henry A. Giroux, "The Abandoned Generation" (New York: Palgrave, 2004).

[5] David Hursh and Pauline Lipman, "Chapter 8: Renaissance 2010: The Reassertion of Ruling-Class Power through Neoliberal Policies in Chicago" in David Hursh, "High-Stakes Testing and the Decline of Teaching and Learning" (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).

[6] See: www.atkearney.com

[7] "Creating a New Market of Public Education: The Renaissance Schools Fund 2008 Progress Report," The Renaissance Schools Fund www.rsfchicago.org

[8] Kenneth J. Saltman, "Chapter 3: Renaissance 2010 and No Child Left Behind Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools" (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2007).

[9] Sarah Karp and Joyn Myers, "Duncan's Track Record," Catalyst Chicago (December 15, 2008). Online: www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/index.php?item=2514&cat=5&tr=y&auid=4336549

[10] (See Chicago Public Schools Office of New Schools 2006/2007 Charter School Performance Report Executive Summary)

[11] See Dorothy Shipps, "School Reform, Corporate Style: Chicago 1880-2000," (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2006).

[12] See, for example, Summary Report, "America's Cradle to Prison Pipeline," Children's Defense Fund. Online at: www.childrensdefense.org/site/DocServer/CPP_report_2007_summary.pdf?docID=6001; also see, Elora Mukherjee, "Criminalizing the Classroom: The Over-Policing of New York City Schools," (New York: American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties, March 2008), pp. 1-36.

[13] Donna Gaines, "How Schools Teach Our Kids to Hate," Newsday (Sunday, April 25, 1999), p. B5.

[14] As has been widely, reported, the prison industry has become big business with many states spending more on prison construction than on university construction. Jennifer Warren, "One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008," (Washington, DC: The PEW Center on the States, 2007). Online at: www.pewcenteronthestates.org/news_room_detail.aspx?id=35912


Henry A. Giroux holds the Global TV Network chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. His most recent books include: "Take Back Higher Education" (co-authored with Susan Searls Giroux, 2006), "The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex," (2007), and "Against the Terror of Neoliberalism: Politics Beyond the Age of Greed," (2008). His newest book, "Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability?," will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2009.

Kenneth Saltman is associate professor in the department of Educational Policy Studies and Research at DePaul University in Chicago. He is the author, most recently, of "Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools," (Paradigm Publishers 2007), and editor of Schooling and the Politics of Disaster (Routledge 2007).