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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NCATE, Ed Week, UTRU, and Eli Broad

. . . this current effort is focused in large part on undoing the legacy of licensure and preparation decisions made more than a half-century ago.  --Rick Hess, Ed Week Commentary on the NCATE Report 11/17/10

In the first coverage by Ed Week of the big NCATE shake-up or shake-down of teacher education, Stephen Sawchuk reports the following:
The report’s main recommendation: Supervised, structured work of teacher-candidates in diverse classroom settings must be the foremost component of preservice teacher training, with other aspects like coursework embedded in that training. It draws heavily on the teacher-residency model and a handful of university-based education programs that take such an approach to training new teachers.

“The general message is that teachers have not been prepared well—or enough—and we need to make changes both on the front end, with preparation, and at the back end, with accountability,” said Anissa Listak, the executive director of Urban Teacher Residency United, a Chicago-based network of teacher-residency programs across the nation. “State interest, federal interest [in those reforms], I’m seeing it every day, at every level. I’m seeing funders getting involved in it in a way they haven’t before.”
Interesting, isn't it, that Ed Week's Sawchuk would go first for a quote to Urban Teacher Residency United (UTRU), whatever that is, rather than to NCATE or to one of the panel members or even to Ed Week's go-to guy from AEI, Rick Hess. So I did a some googling to find out about UTRU.

It seems that URTU was founded in 2007 as a non-profit outfit with lofty aspirations for "setting the standard for urban teacher preparation on a national scale."  It is essentially a modified TFA model that offers the added bonus of a mentor during the first year that their highly-recruited and closely screened neophytes are learning to teach on poor people's children.  The URTU mandate is to work "closely with school districts, not-for-profit organizations and universities to launch and support effective Urban Teacher Residencies."

Now the question is, who funds URTU?  Glad you asked.  That would be a venture philanthropy outfit called Strategic Grant Partner (SGP) founded in 2002 by fourteen unnamed families in Massachusetts.  From the website:
In September 2002, fourteen families agreed to join the collaborative Strategic Grant Partners. The families established the common mission of helping struggling individuals and families in Massachusetts improve their lives. Since that time, SGP has granted $26,000,000.


The philosophy and practice of SGP continued to develop over the years. We began with informal strategic support and business advice to potential and existing grantees. This work matured into our current model of close working partnerships with grantees. The pro bono consulting services we provide include helping grantees develop organizational strategies, theories of change and strategic plans as well as tactical support on key implementation issues.

Once an organization becomes an SGP grantee, SGP staff continues to provide ongoing advice and strategic assistance as well as hands on, practical implementation support to ensure the organization is as successful as possible. . . .
Now the person in charge of SGP's portfolio of educational ventures such as URTU is a former English major with an MBA from Cornell named Barbara Sullivan. She is no doubt young and full of enthusiasm, with the added benefit of her own residency (2004-2006) at Eli Broad's training camp for edupreneurs, the Broad Center. Small world, isn't it?

While at the Broad Center, Sullivan had a residency with Boston Public Schools, where she "served as Special Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer and spearheaded the redesign of the district’s student assignment process."

Sullivan's Broad-sponsored work is the same segregative student assignment plan that BPS Superintendent, Carol Johnson, has been trying to get replaced since 2009:
Johnson had been scheduled to submit a revamped proposal to the School Committee next month after parents, educators, and civil right activists raised concerns that the original plan would leave low-income students with fewer options to attend high-quality schools.

Instead, Johnson said she plans to study how other urban districts maintain the economic and racial diversity of their schools without spending huge amounts of money on busing.
A new proposal may not be ready for another year. The district applied for a $230,000 federal grant Friday to fund the study and expects to hear in October about approval.
“We are committed to opportunities for children to attend schools where they work with a diverse student population,’’ Johnson said in a meeting with reporters yesterday. . . .
Try as Dr. Johnson may, Broad's lemmings don't seem to be a hurry to end the segregation and containment that they helped put in place.  And we may guess who really runs BPS.  The lack of movement, transparency, and public involvement has been so bad, in fact, that three civil rights organizations (read the letter here as a pdfwithdrew their participation from the process in July:
. . . . School officials were informed of the decision in a letter sent by e-mail Monday by the three organizations — the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association. 
“We have reached this decision based on what many perceive as BPS’ lack of meaningful engagement with the community during this process,’’ the organizations wrote in the letter, which they provided to the Globe yesterday.
Superintendent Carol R. Johnson called the severed partnership unfortunate and surprising. She disputed the lack of community engagement, saying that she has been gathering public opinion as she speaks to parents, students, and other community members on a variety of issues confronting the district. 
“I think it’s unfortunate they decided not to work further with us,’’ Johnson said. “I think these are very difficult sets of questions and conversations to have about student assignment. That’s why we reached out to them in the first place.’’
According to a new timeline, the district plans to formally consult parents and students on student assignments next January, while the School Committee would vote later in the year on a resulting plan so it can be enacted for Fall 2012.
So the inner and invisible workings of the Oligarchs continues in every public domain, shaping policies to fit the agendas of corporate America to reward the haves and to contain and control the have nots, all the while creating a new class of arrogant, ignorant, and blind technocratic and positivized do-gooders whose own lack of understanding allows them to believe they are doing good by bringing corporate control to public institutions.

The question, however, remains for Mr. Sawchuk of the "objective" Education Week:  how did he choose a rep from an outfit created and funded and managed by the corporate education reform industry as the lead quote on a big story about changes to teacher education accreditation??  Now THAT is transparency!

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