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

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Privatizers Without Borders: The "Reculturing" of Canadian Schools and Beyond

Canadian investigator, George Thompson, has spent some time tracing the connections between the world's most dweebish oligarch, Bill Gates, and the sagging face of academic pomposity, Michael Fullan. These connections are particularly compelling in the schooling disaster that disaster capitalism enabled in New Orleans, with the creation of a corporate charter system that is now being nurtured and grown by Fullan groupie, Paul Pastorek.

Fullan, however, has a long history of how to inspire the screwing up of public education, and since the welcome mat was snatched in Britain, he has been ensconced in Ontario, where he now has the ear of Canadian conservatives as well as other patrons such as Gates. Below is a clip from Thompson's article that appears at The Daily Censored. Do read the whole thing and the other accompanying pieces. What he writes about is not an international conspiracy but, rather, an emerging and real plan for corporate schooling around the globe. Happy New Year.

Premier McGuinty’s Special Advisor on education and the architect of Ontario’s reforms was also a key advisor to the Louisiana superintendent, Paul Pastorek, in directing the post-Hurricane Katrina reforms which led to America’s charter-dominated city.

Katrina had presented an opportunity for what Naomi Klein refers to as “disaster capitalism”; “Within nineteen months,” writes Klein, “New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools.” (The Shock Doctrine, 5) The hurricane was the ideal opportunity to replace the public schools with a new system of charter schools which would serve as the model for a broader movement across America. Danny Weil, author of Charter School Movement, argues that this shows “how public school systems in their entirety are being targeted for sweeping conservative change in the form of a contractualized charter school experiment that is the most radical of its kind in the nation.”

The fact that Michael Fullan, McGuinty’s Advisor since 2004, was also a key player in the New Orleans reform should be the cause of great concern to advocates of public education, for it not only explains the nature of what Fullan has called Ontario’s “large scale” reform, but also the extent to which the province is committed to following the New Orleans model.

When Fullan and OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) got involved after the hurricane it was clear that they were there to help reform, not rebuild the system. Fullan’s crew was specifically brought in to help save the “gains” made by post-Katrina reform (i.e. the replacement of public with charter schools) and build the “sustainability” needed to ensure the long-term success. While Bush’s NCLB Act had already to some extent provided the necessary “disaster” throughout the U.S. with its provision that all schools that were failing to graduate all students by the 2014 deadline faced restructuring, there was, as yet, no reliable way to capitalize on this impending Bush-made disaster. Many restructurings that had already taken place based on schools failing to meet “Adequate Yearly Improvement” had resulted in charters that were not outperforming public schools. New Orleans was thus an opportunity to develop a working model from the ground up for the large-scale restructuring facing the rest of America in the very near future. And it is clear in the Senate Subcommittee’s blueprint for “A Fresh Start for New Orleans’ Children” that Fullan’s strategies were the key to a “sustainability” that NCLB reforms had so far lacked:

“Even after a decade of whole school reform models and 5 years after the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, we find educators struggling to maintain gains made once a visionary leader or core team of teachers leave or when a shift in student demographics occurs. In order for the gains seen from these reforms to be sustainable, we must think now about the issue of sustainability. As defined by Fullan, ‘‘sustainability is the capacity of a system to engage in the complexities of continuous improvement consistent with deep values of human purpose.” Through research, we have learned that sustainability is only possible when there is capacity building throughout the system at all levels that is developed intentionally. To this end, the RSD[Recovery School District] and OPSB [Orleans Parish School Board]have jointly entered into a partnership with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, headed by Dr. Michael Fullan and the Center for Development and Learning in Covington, LA to develop and implement a 5-year plan for systemwide capacity building.

Herein, what Fullan calls “capacity building” would have to take place more effectively than before. Fullan’s strategy of reform differed from other NCLB restructuring approaches, as he revealed during a workshop:

“[the] big feature of our work is to play down accountability in favor of capacity building, and then re-enter accountability later. If you lead with accountability, which most states do, then people are immediately on the defensive and it doesn’t work so well.

Fullan’s studies had revealed that it wasn’t enough for schools to merely be made accountable overnight; key parts of the “capacity building” such as a complete overhaul of professional development and a “reculturing” (Fullan’s term) would enable charters to succeed when subjected to the same accountability as the public system.

Fullan and OISE’s other partner, the Center for Development and Learning, was a pro-charter organization, led by members such as vice-chairman, Kathy Riedlinger, whose husband ran Algiers Charter Schools and who personally saw her salary as a principal more than triple since converting to a charter.

Fullan, the change guru, was now needed for “sustainability” to help make the charter system stay on top. To this end he had clearly become the leader of an experiment in cultural engineering within the state-run Recovery School District, whose June 2007 report reveals:

“The professional-development plan will be based on the research of Dr. Michael Fullan and other experts who focus on how to bring about systematic cultural change. The professional-development plan will work across all levels of the organization including: Teacher Institutes, Principals, School Leadership Teams, System Leadership [and] Policymakers.”

And it is clear that Fullan played the central role in transforming New Orleans teaching, for a message from state superintendent Paul Pastorek on the Louisiana Department of Education website explains:

“The three pillars that Michael Fullan proposes are already being implemented in New Orleans, and there is reason to believe that we are setting the stage for real transformation of the quality of teaching in New Orleans RSD school.” http://www.doe.state.la.us/LDE//misc/pastorek_032707.html

The three pillars of Fullan’s reform model are accountability, capacity building, and partnerships, all of which provide the ideal soil for privatization. Pastorek’s commitment to the Fullan approach is also shown by his investment of $250, 000 in a five month contract with Michael Fullan Enterprises Inc. in 2009 to continue the reforms.

Danny Weil observes that, dating right back to the immediate, post-Katrina period, the man who brought in Fullan, Paul Pastorek, had been the driving force behind a New Orleans education system that would be based on free enterprise:

“[Pastorek] was quickly ushered in to help run the new “reform” effort. Pastorek had come to believe, in concert with [Paul T. Hill at the Center for Reinventing Public Education] and those who held the same conservative free-market ideology, that the problem with ailing school systems was their governance structure that hindered the freedom only found in the marketplace.”

Lest there be any question as to where New Orleans and the state of Louisiana have been headed since Pastorek took the reins, the Louisiana Department of Education website itself boasts in its banner that “Louisiana charter schools outperform public schools.” As the keynote speaker at the 2009 leadership conference of the National Association of Charter School Authorities, Pastorek was hailed for “leading the most significant transformation of a state’s public education in America.” The advertisement elaborates that:

“He has been a driving force behind the development of the charter school sector in New Orleans. Less known to the rest of the nation is Pastorek’s use of charter schools to turn around failing schools elsewhere in the state, in cities like Baton Rouge and Shreveport as well as small towns like Pointe Coupee.”

Pastorek says his involvement with Fullan goes back to when he read Fullan’s Change Forces:

“Dr. Fullan talked about Accountability as the first horizon of education reform, but he observed that while Accountability was necessary, it would only take us part of the way to where we need to be. It was a lever, but it could only leverage so much. More levers were needed. He argued that we needed to move to the Next Horizon of reform. That resonated with me.” . . . .

Do read the rest.

1 comment:

  1. Judy Rabin10:07 AM

    To everyone at SchoolsMatter who continue to work tirelessly exposing the dangerous and destructive education reform policies perpetuated by a corporate oligarchy intent on preserving their own self interests...happy new year to you too.
    Warm regards, Judy Rabin