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

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Gray/Henderson Social Justice Minstrel Show

Since Mayor Gray was brought to office last November by angry voting parents and teachers disgusted with the arrogant puppets, Fenty and Rhee, he has gone from sounding tough on the corporate oligarch containment and control plan for poor children to performing a deep bow to the billionaires who have let him know who runs DC and DC Schools.  In January, Gray was critical of the Gates-Broad teacher evaluation scheme based on test scores, but now, not so much. Not nearly so much, as Bill Turque at WaPo reports:
Gray said at a forum on school reform Jan. 15 that there was a significant difference between teaching at Stanton Elementary in Southeast Washington, where 90 percent of the 269 students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (a common barometer of household poverty), and Horace Mann Elementary in Northwest Washington, where none of the students meet the guidelines for subsidized lunch.

“That’s a very different challenge,” he said then. “And frankly, I’m not convinced that we have figured out yet how, with an evaluation system that covers all teachers across the city, that you account for the social challenges that inevitably are to be addressed.”

Asked Wednesday whether he had followed up with Henderson, Gray said he had but deferred to her.

She said that under no circumstances would she support changes to IMPACT that would hold teachers to different standards if they worked in schools with high concentrations of children from low-income homes.

“We will never support an evaluation system which allows teachers in challenged areas to teach less than teachers in other areas,” said Henderson, who took a leading role in shaping IMPACT as Rhee’s deputy for “human capital.” “In fact, we owe it to those students to ensure that we maintain a high standard,” she said.

Asked whether he was “on board” with Henderson’s view, Gray said: “I’m on board with supporting the chancellor.”
Does Henderson and her corporate brain trust believe that people are so stupid as to believe that maintaining high standard for all children means we can expect all children to perform the same to the same standard?  Are we to give blind students books for the sighted simply because seeing children use them to their benefit?  Are we to believe, as Plato did in ancient Greece, that women may become guardians and warriors only if they can demonstrate the same physical strengths as men?  Or should we return to the day when we told girls that they can play varsity basketball if they make the boys' team?

When we look at Civil Rights history, including Title IX, we see repeated examples of the Courts and other sane people deciding that in order to treat people equally, we sometimes must treat them differently.  Or as John Dewey said, it says nothing about the deficiency of beef steak that we do not feed it to infants.

And yet, that is exactly what Henderson would have teachers to do.  And if the children whose unique disability that results from soul-and-body corroding poverty do not respond like the pink-cheeked children of the leafy suburbs, then it is the teacher and the children who are to be blamed.  The end result: the behavioral screws are tightened on children as they sink deeper into docile failure, and teachers are turned into goats and/or prison guards.  What could be more socially just than that for an out-of-control capitalist regime that must keep urban America entirely diverted by a manufactured failure based on entirely phony measurements? 

Henderson and Gray have defined their roles as just another pair of puppets dancing a minstrel show of social justice in blackface, whose strings are managed by the anti-democratic forces that must be sent packing if America and the world are to survive.

Parents and teachers of DC:  say yes to humane schools, and no to the penal pedagogy plan that continues under the new puppets.

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