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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Schools Resist Corporate Takeover: Feds Sweeten the Bribe Pot

As the U. S. Department of Education adds a few dirty dollars to further grease the corporate takeover of American public education, some states and some elected school boards and some teacher unions and even some teacher educators have finally figured out that this could be the last opportunity to check the full corporatization of American schools and the complete containment of the poor and the brown in segregated corporate reform schools.

Could we be about to realize that the fulfillment of the eugenicists' war against the weak from the previous century has now and horrifically become the "civil rights issue of this generation." All under the approving gaze of an African-American President who yells out "No Excuses" to those who must come to school hungry and those who must dodge bullets on the way home. Or could something else be about to happen, something that sounds like NO THANK YOU, or just NO. A clip from an NPR report yesterday:

. . . .To improve their chances at getting the money, about a dozen states changed their laws or introduced new legislation to comply with some of the more controversial requirements. Some removed the cap on the number of new charter schools that can open every year. Others will now allow schools to link teacher evaluations to student achievement.

Teachers And Unions Divided

That's a huge concession, and only one of the nation's powerful teachers unions has agreed to it. Despite opposition from many of its rank and file, the American Federation of Teachers says it now supports the idea. The National Education Association has not commented.

Tom Dooher, president of Education Minnesota, that state's largest teachers union, calls Race to the Top "coercive." He says superintendents are telling teachers that they should go for it because it may be the only money they get for years.

"But we shouldn't have the pursuit of money be a blind stampede to something that doesn't really help students," says Dooher.

He says teachers in Minnesota did not endorse their state's application for Race to the Top funds because they had little or no say in the application process.

Teachers and local school officials in California, Kansas, Florida, Michigan and Indiana also withheld their support. About a dozen states, including Texas, didn't even apply. Some thought the money came with too many strings attached. Others simply weren't sold on the reforms the administration is pushing.

More To Come?

Duncan says he doesn't care if Race to the Top is a tough sell.

"All of this money is voluntary," he says. "If states don't want to apply or compete they have every right not to do that. But I will tell you that when we put billions of dollars on the table, you'll see people more than step up. . . .
And so the Race to the Top becomes the Race to the Trough, all for a few tasty scraps thrown out by the those who would replace democratic institutions with boards of directors appointed by a handful of despots.

2 comments:

  1. It would be troubling but understandable if the aims of RTTT were ones that education progressives disagreed with but which have been shown to achieve the goals they target. The real absurdity, though, is that we continue to get evidence that similar prior efforts in Duncan's own Chicago Public Schools did not achieve his puported goals. One conclusion would be that Arne Duncan is really dumb. (I doubt this is the case.) Another conclusion would be that the purported aims of RTTT are not the real aims; the real aims are entirely political and have little to do with students or teachers. Sadly, I am afraid this is true. Am I surprised by this move from Arne Duncan? No. Am I suprised by this move from Barack Obama. Yes, and feeling duped.

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  2. As a public school teacher, when Obama named Duncan, I felt that I would be consigned to riding in the back of the bus. Now, I find that the bus doesn't even stop for me, and guess what - Weingarten is driving!

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