The Mayor of Boston was out and about this week using his bully pulpit to urge passage of state legislation intended to remove legal obstacles to the unlimited growth of apartheid corporate charter schools in urban areas of the Commonwealth. Side benefits of the new legislation for the Broad, Gates, and Boston Foundations include the crippling of collective bargaining and tenure for teachers, the limiting of school committee oversight in favor of the CEO model of governance, and the imposition of teacher evaluation based on test scores. As he walked and talked, Mayor Menino was heard to use the bold corporate reformers' advertising jingle: "Education is the civil rights issue of this generation."
And that it is. It is just too bad that the Mayor and the Legislature and the Governor have bought in on the wrong side of this civil rights issue. Ostensibly, the new legislation would help close the Commonwealth's achievement gap (one of the widest in the nation) by giving the Commissioner and his superintendents unprecedented powers to hire, fire, shut down schools and turn them into corporate charters. Oh yes, the other reason: to collect a couple hundred million dollars from Duncan's bribery fund (RTTT), an amount that represents about 2% of MA annual funding for education. Meanwhile, poverty and apartheid are not mentioned.
This strategy, devised by the corporate foundations and fostered by their purchase of the editorial board of the Boston Globe, will do nothing to close the poverty and opportunity and segregation gaps, which are the basis for the education debt that remains unpaid to those who now inherit the racism, discrimination, and containment (both physically and psychologically) that can be traced to the founding of the nation. This new bill, which Mayor Menino now describes as "made in heaven" will do everything to hasten the advance of penal pedagogy and total behavioral containment that is already occurring in the scripted apartheid schools that will now be expanded without limit and run by corporations (for profit and non-profit) at public expense--all while draining money away from the public schools.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General considers criminal referral after finding the State Board engaged in the illegal shredding of documents to cover the fix that was put in by the Oligarchs for approval of the Gloucester charter school. (Someone could have guessed the outcome when no one from the State Board showed up at the first hearing on the new charter). Secretary Reville's subsequent uncovered email says it best, I think:
“Our reality is that we have to show some sympathy in this group of charters, or we’ll get permanently labeled as hostile and that will cripple us with a number of key, moderate allies,’’ such as the Globe’s editorial page and the Boston Foundation, Reville wrote. “ “It’s a tough but necessary pill to swallow.’’This has not stopped the House, however, from moving forward with the Oligarchs' reform plan in soldierly precision, while refusing the void the illegal approval of the Gloucester charter. The legislative blitzkrieg is so fast that some legislators can't get their hands on a copy of what they are voting on. From the Gloucester Daily Times:
The state's House of Representatives has denied a bid by Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, supported by Gov. Deval Patrick, to void a charter awarded to the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School.
But the state's Inspector General also vowed yesterday to continue looking into an alleged "coverup" by the Department of Education in the Gloucester charter approval process.
Approaching midnight Wednesday, House leadership — including Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop — decided that amending a sweeping education bill to strike down an individual charter school set an uncomfortable precedent, Ferrante said yesterday.
Based on those concerns, the amendment that would have killed the charter and seven others filed by Ferrante in response to alleged misdeeds by the state officials who approved the Gloucester charter, was rejected before the education bill was passed early yesterday.. . . .
"What's absolutely astounding and outrageous is that the department could think it was alright to shred documents that would allow us to view that process," said Ferrante, who called it the culmination of a "worsening pattern of behavior" that started when no member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education showed up for the initial public hearing on the Gloucester charter in the fall of 2008.